Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: July 23, 2014

Despite both extra-inning games going fourteen innings and still going my way, it was not a good picking day for the old guy here. A lot of underdogs won including the Cubs and Astros. But mostly I just got them wrong by underestimating the Orioles, Rays and Brewers.
The big one that hurt was the Astros game. I had the A's as the Game of the Day behind Scott Kazmir. That should have worked, right? But Brett Oberholtzer matched him despite not striking out anybody and the Astros' bullpen actually performed better than the A's.
Wednesday's picks:
  • The Indians over the TwinsTrevor Bauer seems to be getting better all the time and the Indians are playing well. The Twins are falling back hard and Anthony Swarzak is not going to help.
  • The Brewers over the Reds: The woes continue for the Reds who are beset with injuries. Kyle Lohse is good at home and even though Mike Leake is on my fantasy team, I have to pick against him here.
  • The Royals over the White SoxJames Shields should be traded, but seeing as he won't be, he might as well go out and beat the White Sox. I have been pushing Jose Quintana all season, but despite great outing after great outing, he never wins.
  • The Rockies over the Nationals: I have become so disenchanted picking Stephen Strasburg that I use any excuse not to pick him now. How about Coors Field? Okay, that will work. Jorge De La Rosa is a guy being mentioned in trade talks.
  • The Tigers over the Diamondbacks: The D-backs surprised me by beating the Tigers yesterday. Can they do it again? I doubt it. Anibal Sanchez should be fine and Trevor Cahill is unlikely to survive here.
  • The Mariners over the MetsTaijuan Walker hasn't been all that impressive thus far since coming back this season. But tonight, he'll put it together. Bartolo Colon cannot even be given away by the Mets as they try and try to trade him for something...anything...
  • The Pirates over the Dodgers: I am assuming that Francisco Liriano is healthier than he was earlier in the season. His five innings in his first start back from the DL was pretty impressive. So let's go with that. Dan Haren faces a hot Pirates lineup.
  • The Rangers over the Yankees: There are two stories going on here. First, Yu Darvish has pitched three times in his career against the Yankees and has yet to have a bad outing. Secondly, he is averaging 6.77 innings per start, very important after a 14-inning game. David Phelps can be efficient and go long too. But will the Rangers' bats stay quiet?
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: The bad Clay Buchholz showed up last time. But perhaps that was just a blip. I cannot imagine R.A. Dickey having a good day against the Red Sox, but I could be wrong.
  • The Braves over the MarlinsErvin Santana has had a good enough season for the Braves that it seems safe to pick him most times. Nathan Eovaldi, on the other hand, hasn't been safe to pick in a while.
  • The Cardinals over the Rays: Now come on, the Rays can't win every game they play, right? Even though it seems they can. Alex Cobb is tough, but Lance Lynn is probably tougher. Lynn should at least fare better than Wainwright did. Grrr.
  • The Cubs over the Padres: I picked the Padres yesterday, but that was before I knew Headley would get traded. Today, the Cubs pitch 33-year-old Tsuyoshi Wada against the Padres who do not like lefties. They neutralize guys like Seth Smith and others. Ian Kennedy will have a good night in a losing effort.
  • The Orioles over the Angels: Alright, alright already, you win. The Orioles are a good team and I should take them seriously. Chris Tillman over Jered Weaver who might give up three homers tonight.
  • The Athletics over the Astros: Yes, Brad Peacock was good his last time out. Yes, Jesse Chavez has not been good since the early part of the year. But the A's should win this thing.
And the Game of the Day is:
  • The Giants over the Phillies: It's funny watching all the baseball shows on television talking about A.J. Burnett being traded. Imagine all the fans in each suggested city going, "No! No! Not here!" Yeah. Madison Bumgarner with the win.
Yesterday: 6-9, July: 146-113, Games of the Day: 58-46, Season: 829-688

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Is Devin Mesoraco the Reds' catcher long term?

Devin Mesoraco has risen among catchers like a rocket this season. He has certainly made a lot of fantasy players happy (including this one) with his sixteen homers in only 244 plate appearances. His .406 wOBA is outstanding and he was an All Star this season. That's pretty heady stuff. But, of course, there are two sides of catching. There is the offensive side, which Mesoraco is killing and there is the defensive side. I am concerned about the defensive part of his game.
I watched him closely for the three game series with the Yankees recently and Devin Mesoraco did not seem very smooth behind the plate. He seemed to stab at everything and if the pitch had any kind of movement, he was slow to react. This resulted in some balls bouncing off his mitt and had to make the umpire's job that much harder.
But the eyes are not the only test to look at catchers. I'd like to think that I have watched the game for fifty years and know what I am looking at. But do the numbers back up what I observed? After digging around, I found that they did indeed back up my observations.
Let's start with a somewhat discredited statistic called Catcher's ERA. While nobody thinks this should be any kind of guide on good catching or bad catching, I do note that Mesoraco has a CERA of 3.52 compared to Brayan Pena's 2.91 with the same pitching staff. Pena, as observed on Sunday, seemed much smoother in his receiving. I will also note here in fairness to Mesoraco that Pena is the personal catcher for Johnny Cueto. Twenty starts with that bad boy will improve your CERA any day.
Okay, now that I have the least respectable stat out of the way, I'll look at some more advanced stuff. There is a site called StatCorner that actively scores catcher framing. This is still a work in progress, so that should be stated up front. But according to this site, Mesoraco is 73rd in the league among catchers at framing pitches. His score is a -3.2 runs. Pena, on the other hand, is 30th. Framing is the ability to get the umpire to call a strike, not only in the strike zone, but "steal" strikes out of the zone.
Devin Mesoraco has also regressed a bit in the amount of passed balls he allows. He had four last year in 782 innings behind the plate. This year, he is only at 527 innings behind the plate and already has seven passed balls. His rate of allowing wild pitches to get by him has improved however with only eleven compared to 22 last year.
Mesoraco is only slightly behind the league average of 27% for throwing out potential base runners. He is at 26%. But you have to consider that stolen bases are just as much the pitcher's responsibility as it is the catchers. But again, you have to compare him to Brayan Pena who is at 35% for the year.
It appears that my eyes were on to something when I observed Devin Mesoraco catching. He is only 26 but he has a long way to go before becoming what would be a good receiver behind the plate. And sometimes, you either have the soft hands or you don't. If he keeps producing when he hits, he would be a Posada-type catcher: Big on offense, not so great on defense. A lot will depend on how the Reds' pitching staff feels throwing to him. Sometimes staffs will rebel. I haven't heard anything from there, so perhaps they are fine with him behind the plate. Lord knows, the man is killing the ball on offense.

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: July 22, 2014

All I could muster was a 6-6 record yesterday as there were several surprises for me. The Orioles beat the red-hot Angels and kept both Pujols and Trout off base. The Yankees played one of their top ten worst games all time and made a really struggling pitcher look good in the process (as usual). The Twins beat Cleveland, which I did not expect. And what was I thinking to pick the Rockies to win!? It was only late West Coast games that saved me as I was 4-6 before they finished out with expected results.
Tuesday should be a better day. We are back to a full schedule and that suits me just fine. Then again, it is a beautiful day in what has been a gorgeous July here in Maine, so nothing really is throwing me much for a loop.
Tuesday's picks:
  • The Dodgers over the Pirates: I picked the Pirates yesterday and paid for it. I hate to feel that this is a reaction pick. Sometimes it feels that way. Josh Beckett has already beaten the Pirates this year and Vance Worley doesn't exactly do it for me. So maybe it is not a reaction pick.       But maybe it is.
  • The Giants over the Phillies: Just about every time I have scoffed at a team starting a guy who has spent most of the year in the bullpen, I lose the pick as the reliever pitches quite well in his start. So this IS a reaction pick as Yusmeiro Petit is coming out of the bullpen to start this one. Roberto Hernandez goes for the Phillies.
  • The Yankees over the Rangers: As mediocre as the Yankees are especially with Mark Teixeira sitting and with Chase Whitley pitching, I cannot pick Nick Martinez to win a game. But then again, the Yankees can make him look like Chris Sale and make five more errors. Who knows.
  • The Blue Jays over the Red Sox: The Red Sox sure went boom yesterday and scored more than a baker's dozen runs. But first, Jake Peavy never gets that kind of run support and second, J.A. Happ has been throwing pretty well. I would feel better if Edwin Encarnacion wasn't still out.
  • The Braves over the Marlins: The Braves are terribly inconsistent on offense. And Mike Minor has not had a good year for them at all. But Jacob Turner has really not been good either and I should think the Braves would out-slug the Marlins in this one.
  • The Padres over the Cubs: What a blah game. Kyle Hendricks pitched decently in his first start at the small little Great American Ballpark. And Eric Stults has lost eleven games. But Stults has been better of late and I don't like the Cubs against lefties.
  • The Reds over the Brewers: The Reds have to win after the All Star Break some time. Tonight's as good a time as any. Jimmy Nelson has started two games for the Brewers. One was great, the second was awful. I have no idea how the third will go. But I like Homer Bailey.
  • The Indians over the Twins: I like and root for Yohan Pino because of how long it took him to get to the Majors and he has pitched well for the Twins. But I'm thinking that Danny Salazar is back from the minors and won't want to go back. He will be dynamic today.
  • The White Sox over the Royals: I think I secretly hope that the Royals lose every game the rest of the year so they will make the changes they need to make that are so long overdue. Adam Eaton has been hot for the White Sox who have a decent offense now. Bruce Chen's shtick works better at home than on the road and Scott Carroll has been pitching well.
  • The Cardinals over the Rays: Interesting series as the Rays have been red hot facing a team that needs to get it together. If the Rays beat Adam Wainwright, I'll know they are for real again. Jake Odorizzi goes for them and I don't think he'll keep up.
  • The Nationals over the Rockies: I won't make the same mistake two days in a row. I am worried about Jordan Zimmermann's health here, but the Nats are going with him, so I will try to relax. Yohan Flande has given up a lot of runs in his three starts.
  • The Tigers over the DiamondbacksChase Anderson is having a nice season and he should always win pitching in a stadium called, "Chase Field." But I don't think the D-backs will solve Rick Porcello and score enough to support Anderson.
  • The Angels over the Orioles: The Orioles picked up a game on both rivals in the AL East yesterday. But Miguel Gonzalez is their weakest pitcher and that isn't good against a team like the Angels. I sure wish MLB.com would get rid of that duck-lipped picture of Hector Santiago on his player page. It drives me crazy.
  • The Mets over the Mariners: This is my upset pick of the day. I really like Jacob deGrom, partly because he has a cool name. Besides, Erasmo Ramirez is never very good for long.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Athletics over the Astros: The A's have pretty much won their division already. Do they coast? I doubt it. Scott Kazmir has been awesome. Brett Oberholtzer? Not so much.
Yesterday: 6-6, July: 140-104, Games of the Day: 58-45, Season: 823-679

Monday, July 21, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Monday: July 21, 2014

For the third time in the last six days, I correctly picked eleven out of fifteen games. That's pretty sweet. July has been a good month, but I should not say that too loudly or I'll jinx myself.
Of the four incorrect picks yesterday, the Yankees finishing the sweep of the Reds was fairly impressive and lucky as it turned out. Tim Lincecum had another good outing but made two mistakes, one to Casey McGehee and the other to Giancarlo StantonJohn Danks finally returned to 2011 - 2013 form and the Marlins pounded out seven extra base hits. And lastly, I never should have picked the Cubs to win.
There are twelve games on the schedule today. Let's take a look at them:
  • The Pirates over the Dodgers: The Pirates have done it again by taking a terrible pitcher and rebuilding him. After Burnett and Liriano of the past, they have again done the impossible and made a good pitcher out of Edinson Volquez. It's shocking really. I'm taking him over Hyun-jin Ryu. Maybe I'm just crazy.
  • The Giants over the PhilliesCliff Lee is back and the Phillies really want him to pitch well for trade purposes. But it is just his first game back. So I think the Giants will win as long as Ryan Vogelsong has a decent game.
  • The Yankees over the Rangers: This pick depends on two things. First, it depends on whether or not Shane Greene can continue pitching as well as he has, which would be surprising. Second, it depends on woods elf, Miles Mikolas to continue being as bad as he has been. Poor Mikolas has been lit up more than 42nd Street on a Friday evening.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: For all of you who hoped that the Red Sox and Rays were dead, sorry. They are not. Yes, they have a lot of teams to hop over. But they have a good vibe lately. I think John Lackey will out-pitch Drew Hutchison tonight.
  • The Braves over the MarlinsJulio Teheran has been sort of confusing lately. The obvious first thought is that he will dominate the Marlins. But there is doubt there in the mind. Tom Koehler has been pretty good for the Marlins.
  • The Brewers over the RedsWily Peralta bounced back in his last start after three bad starts in a row. The Brewers are playing well at home. The Reds just got swept by the Yankees and might be on their heels a bit. A lot will depend on how Mat Latos pitches.
  • The Indians over the Twins: I hate picking games where I do not believe in either pitcher. T.J. House goes for the Indians and Kris Johnson for the Twins. See what I mean? I'm going with House because Johnson hasn't made it to the fifth inning in either of his starts.
  • The Rockies over the Nationals: Perhaps I am out of my mind here. But I do think Franklin Morales will pose some problems for the Nats throwing from the left side and Doug Fister's amazing pitch movement will mostly disappear in Coors Field. Scary pick.
  • The Tigers over the Diamondbacks: Yes, the Tigers lose a batter as there will be no DH. But that shouldn't matter much against Vidal Nuno. And no, I don't believe in the success Nuno has had for the D-backs. Justin Verlander spent the All Star Break with his model girl friend. The poor schlub. Does "pillow talk" take on a different meaning here? Anyway, he has to pitch better than he has been.
  • The Angels over the Orioles: Look at those Angels go! They have become such a good team and they expect good things to happen every night. Trout, Pujols and Hamilton have done it all. Bud Norris shouldn't hold that back and though Matt Shoemaker has been a little shaky lately, he has still won seven of nine decisions.
  • The Mariners over the Mets: This one is really tough. Jon Niese is a quality pitcher who hasn't pitched since early July. Roenis Elias is a quality pitcher who has had three really rough outings in a row. I wish I knew on this one. When in doubt, go with the home team.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The White Sox over the Royals: You can forget about the Royals being buyers in the trade deadline. Instead, you can put a fork in them. I will continue to scream in the wildnerness: "Ned. Yost. Is. Not. The. Right. Guy!" Chris Sale over Jeremy Guthrie.
Yesterday: 11-4, July: 134-98, Games of the Day: 57-45, Season: 817-673

Sunday, July 20, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: July 20, 2014

After two good days in a row, all I could muster was an 8-8 record yesterday. And for the first time in a long time, the game of the day feature was incorrect. I was having a terrible time with that feature and at one point was six picks under .500 with it. I went from that to twelve picks over as of Friday, but it was finally wrong yesterday.
Sunday's picks:
  • The Reds over the Yankees: I'd like to predict a Yankee sweep here, but I don't really believe it would happen. Hiroki Kuroda traditionally is good at home and during the daytime. But Johnny Cueto is one of the best pitchers around. I have to go with Cueto.
  • The Blue Jays over the Rangers: I can't see the Rangers winning this game today. Nick Tepesch against the Blue Jays lineup should not cut it and Mark Buehrle is consistently enough to keep giving the Jays a chance to win. Though, Buehrle hasn't won much lately.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: The Tigers are something else. They seem like the best team in the universe and then go out there and lose three in a row to the Indians at home with their best pitchers. So today, it would be easy to pick the Indians. But life is never that simple. Josh Tomlin goes for the Indians and The Emoticon, Drew Smyly goes for the Tigers.
  • The Giants over the Marlins: The Marlins have had their pool dry up at home. They were nearly unbeatable there, but lately, it is not happening. Brad Hand is not going to beat Tim Lincecum.
  • The Pirates over the Rockies: This pick is not a locke, but Jeff Locke will probably win. Tyler Matzek tries to prevent that from happening.
  • The Red Sox over the Royals: I am one of the few people around who doesn't think the Red Sox should sign Jon Lester long term. Yes, he's been very good for them for much of his career. But it's just too much of a risk for that kind of money. He'll win today, however, and give Red Sox fans more angst about it. Yordano Ventura goes for the Royals.
  • The Nationals over the Brewers: Both Gio Gonzalez and Yovani Gallardo are capable of shutting the other team down on a good day. The question is: Which one? I am going to go with Gio at home, but I don't feel great about it.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: I was wrong with this pick yesterday, but that was with Cole Hamels pitching. Hamels didn't get any run support, but for this one time, he won. Kyle Kendrick is not Hamels. Alex Wood makes the pick riskier than it should be.
  • The White Sox over the AstrosJarred Cosart has given up six runs in his last two outings. That is not a good harbinger. The young Astros have stopped hitting and can't stop striking out. John Danks isn't a big strikeout guy, but he'll do for today.
  • The Angels over the Mariners: What a great game between these two last night with the two aces going! But there are no aces going today. It's between Tyler Skaggs and Chris Young. I have to go with Skaggs.
  • The Athletics over the Orioles: A battle of two young guns today as Sonny Gray goes against Kevin Gausman. I like Gausman, but Gray is my guy who hardly ever lets me down.
  • The Cubs over the DiamondbacksJake Arrieta gentille Arrieta has been one of the best things to happen to the team this season. He has just been terrific. I look for him to continue that today and be better than Josh Collmenter. The only question is whether the Cubs bullpen can hold the lead.
  • The Padres over the MetsDillon Gee lost yesterday and my whole world is shaken. That's not supposed to happen! Zack Wheeler has been great lately, but this Odrisamer Despaigne guy never seems to have a bad game. I just wish I did not have to spell his danged name.
  • The Dodgers over the Cardinals: I can never pick against Clayton Kershaw. Ever. And he may lose today, but the odds wouldn't be good to predict that happening. Carlos Martinez has made good of his desire to start...mostly. Yasiel Puig will probably not play though.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Bay Rays over the Twins: The Twins haven't looked like they had any chance in this series. The Rays are playing great. The question is whether they have dug themselves too big a hole in the AL East. Chris Archer will finish off the Twins and Kevin Correia will continue to make the Rays feel good about themselves.
Yesterday: 8-8, July: 123-94, Games of the Day: 56-45, Season: 806-669

Saturday, July 19, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: July 19, 2014

Did you soak it in last night when baseball finally got back to our living rooms or at the ballpark? I know I did. And it was a fairly good day. Heck, any day of a baseball season where I am in the black is a good day. I needed a walk-off by Josh Donaldson and a bullpen meltdown by the Orioles, but I'll take it.
That's the one problem with doing this and also by playing fantasy baseball: You end up happy when you know the heartbreak the fans for those teams are feeling. Oh well, it goes with the job description I suppose.
Saturday's picks:
  • The Yankees over the RedsBrandon McCarthy will make his presence felt and the Yankees will score enough on Alfredo Simon to make it work out. Simon is due for a loss and the Yankees are going to start playing better at home.
  • The Blue Jays over the Rangers: The Rangers probably got the only win they will get this series. It is not safe for children when Colby Lewis pitches and Marcus Stroman will take care of what little offense the Rangers have.
  • The Indians over the Tigers: These two teams are playing two games today. In the first game, the Tigers will give Drew VerHagen his MLB debut. His MiLB numbers are not overpowering and he is not considered a top prospect. So Corey Kluber is the pick.
  • The Dodgers over the CardinalsJoe Kelly wasn't great his first game back from the DL. I am a little worried about Zack Greinke getting Cardinals out, but his pitch count should stay in control since the Cards are a bit swing-happy.
  • The Pirates over the Rockies: While I am not a big fan of Charlie Morton, I am going to pick him because nothing good ever happens when Brett Anderson pitches.
  • The Nationals over the Brewers: Strasburg got me again last night. But Tanner Roark has been good to me this season. So I am going with him over Matt Garza. The Brewers look better after the break. They were a bit moribund before it.
  • The Astros over the White SoxDallas Keuchel has given up at least four runs in his last four starts. But being lefty, he does pose a problem for Dunn and Adam Eaton. I think the Astros' young hitters will star in this game against Hector Noesi.
  • The Red Sox over the Royals: The Red Sox will force Danny Duffy's pitch count up early and then feast on the middle relievers. Rubby De La Rosa needs to have a good game or this pick blows up. Until the Royals get a new manager, I will always find it hard to pick them.
  • The Braves over the PhilliesCole Hamels is 11-19 in his last 49 starts for the Phillies despite pitching well. So 38 of his last 49 games have either been losses or no decisions. Poor blighter. I'm going with the Braves and Aaron Harang.
  • The Marlins over the GiantsHenderson Alvarez is always a good choice at home. He does have to face Tim Hudson though. Hudson has been shaky in his last few starts, but he is one of the best of his generation.
  • The Rays over the Twins: Everything in this game points to a Rays' win. That's what scares me. David Price is on the mound and he has been terrific. Phil Hughes might run into a few bats, particularly Ben Zobrist or Matt Joyce.
  • The Diamondbacks over the CubsWade Miley has been on a nice run and seems back from the dead. Travis Wood is only throwing 88 MPH fastballs these days and hasn't had a great game in a while.
  • The Mets over the Padres: In all the years I have been doing this, Dillon Gee has been my lucky charm. Picking him hardly ever goes against me. Of course, I probably just jinxed myself. Tyson Ross goes for the Padres.
  • The Athletics over the OriolesWei-Yin Chen has done nothing but win games this season. But I like Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris against him today. Jason Hammel has to pitch well.
  • The Angels over the Mariners: This one will be fun to watch! Felix Hernandez versus Garrett Richards. Both pitchers are 11-2. Both have been dominant. I'm going with the Angels because The King has been mostly just so-so against the Angels in his career. Huston Street closes the game?
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Tigers over the Indians: The Tigers take the second game behind Max Scherzer who gets Zach McAllister for an opponent. Scherzer has been on a roll.
Yesterday: 9-6, July: 115-86, Games of the Day: 56-44, Season: 798-661