Yankees at Orioles – Free Pick September 6th

New York Yankees -105 vs. Baltimore Orioles -105 (Total: 9)

David Phelps vs. Jason Hammel

It’s an incredibly light day in Major League Baseball today with only five games on the schedule.  Two are afternoon matinees and two are basically unwatchable; Texas v. Kansas City and Chicago at Washington.  That leaves only one game in the evening worth covering, and fortunately for baseball fans, it might just be the most intriguing series of the season thus far.

The New York Yankees and their slim one game lead in the AL East travel to Baltimore to begin a four game series that will go a long way towards determining, finally, if these Baltimore Orioles and their -43 run differential are really, honestly, legitimately, contenders to earn the franchise’s first playoff berth in fifteen years.

Let’s start with the pitching matchup.  The Yankees send David Phelps to the mound for the biggest start of the rookie’s career.  He has been very good this season, and exactly the boost the beleaguered Yankee pitching staff desperately needed, but how will he handle the sudden pressure of a playoff race?   He is 3-4 on the season with a very good 3.18 ERA and a solid WHIP of 1.18.  He also defeated the Orioles several weeks ago, the lone Yankee win in the series, but lasted only 4 2/3 inning in the process.  Tonight will be a whole different animal, and I expect the young hurler to show a few bobbles along the way.

The Orioles will counter with an interesting situation of their own, with Jason Hammel making his first start since June 13rd, returning from a knee injury.  He looked sharp in his rehab start for Class A Frederick, but that ain’t exactly the Yankees in a one-game separated playoff race!  Expect some nerve on his side as well, and some possible location issues as he tries to find his footing and arm angle and everything else that can be slightly askew after a two month layoff.

This is going to be a great series, and I like the teams to split four games and keep things fun throughout September.  Tonight’s game is a bit of a coin flip picking a winner; both teams have some huge pitching question marks but also some huge potential pitching upsides.  New York has a better offense, but the last three weeks the Orioles have been raking.  Factor in their phenomenal tendency for eeking out one-run wins, and I’m hesitant to wager either side.

The wager I do really like is the OVER.  Nine is a relatively high line, but it is easy to envision both teams scoring runs and getting to the opponent’s bullpen early.  This feels like a wild one to me; one of those 8-5, 7-6-type ballgames.

Free Pick:  Run TOTAL OVER 9 (-105)