Saturday, May 04, 2013

Jimmy Rollins - on legacy and leading off

Jimmy Rollins is a legacy player for the Philadelphia Phillies. In a game where few stars play at a premium position such as shortstop and play it as well as he has, Rollins has had a great thirteen seasons. has given him a total of 41.8 WAR for his career. has given him 44.8 WAR. So both agree that Rollins has been a terrific player in his career. My one problem with his legacy really is not his fault. Some 78.4% of his career plate appearances have come as a lead-off batter. This season, when Ben Revere got off to a slow start, Jimmy Rollins was again put on top of the lineup and has now been there for the last fifteen games. Rollins is not a good lead-off batter.

"But wait, William," you say, "he has scored over a hundred runs on six different occasions including last season." Yes, I hear you. He has also stolen over thirty bases ten times, four of those times over forty and had over thirty steals last year. I get it. But that still does not mean he is a lead-off batter. Let me explain. You might even think he has been a better lead-off batter than Derek Jeter (who has really only batted lead-off for about half his career. Look at the following War Graph from Fangraphs and remember that most of Jeter's value comes from his offense whereas at least a third or more of Rollins' value comes from defense:

Jeter has clearly been the better offensive player.

Here is some facts to back my argument about Jimmy Rollins as a lead-off batter. Look at this spreadsheet picture of Rollins' on-base percentage compared to the entire major leagues for each season he has played and then also compare it to the average on-base percentage of lead-off batters year by year:

There have only been five of Rollins' seasons where he had a higher on-base percentage than league average and only three times has he had a higher on-base percentage than the average lead-off batter in baseball. Two of those times, he was just barely over average. Only his 2011 on-base percentage was significantly higher than the average lead-off batter. To see it better, here is the same information in graph form:

You might be stuck on those 102 runs he scored last season. You might counter that Rollins was on base 210 times last season. Yes, he was. But that was 78th in baseball. And Rollins played 156 games last season. 

So who, then, should bat lead-off for the Phillies? I would go with Michael Young. Young's current on-base percentage is .386. Young's career on-base percentage is .347, which is 19 points higher than Rollins' career on-base percentage.

Again, do not get me wrong here. Jimmy Rollins has been worth every penny he has made from the Philadelphia Phillies. When his bat was not great, he glove was. He has earned his legacy place in Phillies history. If he plays six or seven more seasons, he will come close to 3,000 hits. All I am saying here is that he is not the best suited for lead-off. His on-base percentage has often not been high enough. And the one thing you want from the first guy in your lineup is to get on base.

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: May 4, 2013

The month of May has not been kind to this old game picker. For every brilliant pick like A.J. Burnett shutting down the Nationals, there is the Mets beating the Braves because all-world closer, Craig Kimbrel could not save a game. And who would ever expect that the Red Sox, Yankees and Orioles would all be shut out?

The weather has really been frustrating too. The Royals were washed out again and they were the Game of the Day and they could have been the tie breaker for the day too. Ah well. That is the way it goes.

Here are Saturday's picks:

  • The Reds over the Cubs: As much as I love Jeff Samardzija, he is up against Tony Cingrani, who is making the Major Leagues look easy so far. And even if these two hot pitchers cancel each other out, the advantage goes to the Reds because of their bullpen, which is so much better than the Cubs' bullpen.
  • The Twins over the Indians: I keep picking against Kevin Correia but "Chick" keeps winning. I would not expect him to beat the Indians except that Scott Kazmir is pitching is pitching for the Indians. And in this case, jazz is better than Led Zeppelin.
  • The Yankees over the Athletics: Yes, Shrek (Bartolo Colon) is back in Yankee Stadium and yes, Yankee Stadium means a homer or two off of Phil Hughes. But if Hughes can keep those to being solo homers, the Yankees win this one at home.
  • The Mariners over the Blue Jays: I am really feeling for the Blue Jays fans. This was going to be the year. I predicted it. You predicted it. Instead, ennui. And they face a weak team like Seattle and face the two hottest pitchers right now in Hernandez and today, Hisashi Iwakuma. R.A. Dickey is not feeling good and his velocity is down.
  • The Angels over the Orioles: So I look at the pitching line on this one and see the name, "Garcia," listed for the Orioles. So I thing, "Who is that?" So I click on the name and it says, "Freddy Garcia." Freddy! The Chief is back! Oh. But the Chief is back. The Angels win behind Tommy Hanson.
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: I was thinking about picking Yovani Gallardo in this one, especially since he is home and has his home run stroke back. But then I looked at some statistics (you thought I just winged this, didn't you). And Gallardo has faced the Cardinals fifteen times in his career. He has won one of those games. His has lost ten of them. His ERA in those games is close to seven. Yes, this pick is for Adam Wainwright.
  • The Nationals over the Pirates: I am very worried about Stephen Strasburg. I do not want him to be hurt. But neither do I want to see him keep losing either. Jeff Locke has won a surprising number of his starts so far, which is a concern.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: Jose Fernandez's starts are beginning to have diminishing returns. His outings are getting shorter and his success less. It was fun for one start though. Meanwhile, Cole Hamels is starting to pitch like Cole Hamels.
  • The Royals over the White Sox: It is surprising that the teams would not play a double-header today to try to make up some of these games. But why do something today that you could put off until later, right? The pitching line is the same with Jeremy Guthrie versus Dylan Axelrod. You would have thought the White Sox would skip Axelrod.
  • The Braves over the Mets: The Braves have now lost two in a row and they are too good of a team to make it three even if Julio Teheran is pitching. Jonathon Niese always seems better than his results and when he does pitch well, the Mets do not score. And let's face it, Craig Kimbrel is too good to keep blowing saves.
  • The Rangers over the Red Sox: The Red Sox got a nice outing out of John Lackey last time and that was encouraging for them. But my feeling here is that Alexi Ogando shuts them down today at home. The Rangers will score three or more against Lackey.
  • The Rays over the Rockies: As thought, Matt Moore was not as effective in the thin Denver air yesterday and the Rays still won the game. David Price will have the same kind of day and still win. Power pitching is the ticket at Coors. Jon Garland has been a nice story for the Rockies this year though.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Padres: The D-Backs have lost three straight and have not look good doing so. I guess they need to scrap a little harder. Patrick Corbin is a nice looking young pitcher but I still think the D-Backs need to separate him from Miley in the rotation since they are so similar. Anyway, going with Corbin over Clayton Richard who is pretty decent at his home park.
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: Matt Magill had a nice first start for the Dodgers last time. If he can repeat it, the Dodgers should score a few off of Ryan Vogelsong. The only problem is that the Giants always seem to win these games somehow. They really are a remarkable team.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Tigers over the Astros: The Astros have their best pitcher, Lucas Harrell, going in this one, but there is no way the Astros hit Max Scherzer. Heck, do not be surprised if Scherzer ties the record with 20 strikeouts in this one.

Yesterday: 7-7
Week: 43-37
Month: 16-21
Season: 246-185
Games of the Day: 23-9

Friday, May 03, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Friday: May 3, 2013

I hate short schedule days. A few games go wrong and you cannot make them up with a larger schedule. In this case, nearly everything went wrong. And all of the wrong picks featured the visiting team winning the game. How often does that happen? Heck, even the Game of the Day pick was wrong for the first time in a very long time.

Oh well. I am not going to dwell on it. It is a beautiful sunny day and it is supposed to be like that all weekend and the golf course opened last night for the season. It is all good. With that kind of attitude, and with a hop, skip and a jump, here are Friday's picks:

  • The Reds over the Cubs: The Cubs' starter, Carlos Villanueva has done a good job thus far this season in keeping the Cubs in the game. But the feeling here is that the Reds will get to him for a few runs with perhaps Joey Votto having a good game and then Mike Leake handing a lead over to that lights out bullpen.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: Ricky Nolasco has to feel like a man on an island sometimes. I wish he could get traded to someone that has a chance. He should have a chance in this game facing the Phillies and Jonathan Pettibone. But the Marlins struggle to score and Nolasco will come up empty.
  • The Indians over the Twins: This is one of those "who knows" games. Justin Masterson is not predictable. He can be fabulous. He can be awful. I made fun of the Twins starting Pedro Hernandez in his first start and he won the game. So...yes...who knows.
  • The Yankees over the Athletics: Another day for the Yankees, another injury. Joba Chamberlain is on the DL now. David Robertson is day to day. Thank goodness for horses like CC Sabathia. Sorry for not using punctuation in C.C.'s name, but's player linker does not like it otherwise. Anyway, the big guy will get the Yankees seven or eight strong innings. The A's have struggled historically in Yankee Stadium (until last year, I believe). And every time I pick A.J. Griffin to win, he loses.
  • The Pirates over the Nationals: Yes, this is an upset pick. The Nats just had a big series against the Braves, right? So, naturally, they will lose a game to the Pirates. The Pirates have started to hit a bit better and will get to Ross Detwiler. They will get a big game from A.J. Burnett and Russell Martin will have something to say about the day.
  • The Mariners over the Blue Jays: In the battle of the dome teams, no one has a dome field advantage. Ha! Felix Hernandez is an advantage though. And he has to be the pick. In a scary thought for the Blue Jays, Ricky Romero is back and makes his first start of the season after working on mechanics in the minors. He only pitched seven innings down in A+ ball so it is hard to gauge anything by that. Even if he pitches well, he will not pitch much more than five innings. And the Blue Jays' bullpen is frightening. And yes, I know Safeco is not a dome but a retractable roofed complex.
  • The Braves over the Mets: Mike Minor seems interchangeable with Tommy Hanson. Maybe that is my own unintelligent bias. But I cannot seem to trust him. As little as I trust him, that goes in spades for Shaun Marcum, about whom, the only good thing I can say is that he is a good hitter.
  • The Red Sox over the Rangers: Until teams start knocking off the Red Sox, I have to pick them nearly every day. They win nearly every day. Felix Doubront is not exactly a rock in the rotation. His success bobs up and down like the float on a sump pump. But he is 3-0 and Derek Holland has struggled thus far.
  • The Orioles over the Angels: I flip-flopped on this one three times. And I probably still got it wrong. Miguel Gonzalez has been so average that I never know what to do with him. And Jason Vargas is better than his 0-3 record. In the end, the Orioles' offense just seems too much in this one.
  • The Tigers over the Astros: How can you pick this game any other way? Doug Fister is 4-0. Bud Norris is never as good as I think he is. The pick has to be the Tigers.
  • The Brewers over the Cardinals: Kyle Lohse haunts his old team by out-pitching young Shelby Miller by a run or two as the Brewers are pretty tough at home. The Cardinals have played well there in the past though, so this pick is not a lock.
  • The Bay Rays over the Rockies: Will Matt Moore's stuff translate to Coors Field? That is always the question here. But how can you pick against Moore at this point? It is not like the Rays have this great lineup that can kill Jeff Francis. But they should get by with a couple or three runs.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Padres: Wade Miley is one of my favorites and he is pitching well despite his 2-2 record. He should shut down the Padres in Petco while his teammates scratch out some runs against Jason Marquis.
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: This game is so hard to predict. And Barry Zito makes it that way. Either he will throw a surprisingly good game baffling the Dodgers for six or seven innings, or he will be terrible and give up bombs all over the place. There is no middle ground. Clayton Kershaw has not been a lock to pick this season thus far. But how can you not pick him?

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Royals over the White Sox: The dang weather. The Royals were winning, 1-0, yesterday in the fourth inning when the rains came and washed it all away. Jeremy Guthrie has been great this season. And Dylan Axelrod is not exactly a household name. Royals with the win.

Yesterday: 2-6   oh pipe down over there.
Week: 36-30
Month: 9-14
Season: 239-178
Games of the Day: 23-9

Thursday, May 02, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: May 2, 2013

A couple of lousy relief efforts by the Brewers (What is wrong with you, John Axford?) and Rays turned what would have been a slightly positive day into a slightly negative one. Both of those teams mentioned above gave up huge leads late in the game and it was incredible. For the Chicago, it was a good day with a mild upset as the White Sox beat the Rangers in Arlington and then Scott Feldman beat a former Cubs' pitcher for his second straight good outing. Both of those games were wrong. But Chicago fans are happy, so that is something at least.

I also did not expect Cliff Lee to give up eleven base runners in six innings and for Trevor Bauer to get away with giving up six walks in his five innings of work. And the Indians are suddenly a hot team that has approached the .500 mark. I am still not used to a Phillies team that is sort of pathetic offensively.

So the first day of May caused a bit of a mayday. And Thursday brings a dreaded short day where a couple of mistakes can ruin the entire day. Thursday's picks:
  • The Royals over the Bay Rays: This Royals team is fun, is it not? The Royals, to make this pick correct, need Ervin Santana to keep the ball in the park and they need to score a few runs against a struggling Roberto Hernandez. Since the team is at home, I think these will both be accomplished.
  • The Cubs over the Padres: I picked against Eric Stults for his first start of the year and he was great and won. I have been picking him ever since and that has not gone well. So my 2013 season is zero for Stults. Today I am not picking him and instead going with Travis Wood. Watch Stults pitch brilliantly today. Sigh.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: Alex Sanabia is really kind of a 4-A pitcher and is not quite good enough to be pitching in the majors. Kyle Kendrick has seemed to be the same kind of pitcher for years, yet somehow keeps winning and staying employed. Go figure.  It is too bad that Giancarlo Stanton got hurt just as he was heating up.
  • The Blue Jays over the Red Sox: Just call it a hunch that J.A. Happ will be better today than Ryan Dempster and that Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista will hit a big fly. The Red Sox sure look invincible at this point though.
  • The Braves over the Nationals: Kris Medlen has not been as good as last year. But then again, who could be that good? In this game, he will just need to be good enough as Bryce Harper sustained an injury and I believe Werth was already missing from the lineup. Plus, I think the Braves will score on Dan Haren.
  • The Rangers over the White Sox: I love this Justin Grimm kid. For a young pitcher, he does not walk a lot of batters and he is exciting in the rotation. Jake Peavy is one heckava pitcher too but I think the the Rangers will score a few in their home ballpark.
  • The Tigers over the Astros: I picked against Rick Porcello last time and that did not go so well. Have you noticed that those kinds of things affect my picks the next time? They should not, but I get gun shy. Oh well, your Flagrant host is human. Plus, the Tigers should rough up the return of Jordan Lyles, who is back in the majors for this one.
  • The Brewers over the Cardinals: The Brewers are due to take one of the games in this series. This is their best chance as Jake Westbrook can be had. Wily Peralta is a wildcard I know little about but he seems decent enough most of the time. Both teams are having bullpen issues.

And the Game of the Day!
  • The Angels over the Orioles: In theory, the Orioles' big bats should hit Joe Blanton pretty hard. Chris Tillman, though, is uneven and is probably the weakest link in the Orioles' rotation. Mike Trout is heating up and Mark Trumbo is hitting bombs again. So the pick is with the Angels as the big pick of the day.

Yesterday: 7-8
Week: 34-24
Month: 7-8
Season: 237-172
Games of the Day: 23-8

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Edwin Encarnacion and his arm bar home run trot

After hitting 42 homers in 2012 and finishing April with nine more, it is pretty apparent that Edwin Encarnacion has arrived as an elite power hitter in Major League Baseball. And Mr. Encarnacion does not hit little cheap shots either. He crushes baseballs. He hit two in last night's game that were just crushed. But I noticed something unique in his home run trot. While he was circling the bases, he puts his right arm in a stationary position. I am not sure how how Major League pitchers feel about his trot, but they sure look fun.

Here is what I am talking about. Here is one of the homers. Watch him as he rounds second and heads to third. Gosh, that ball was crushed!

Here is the other one and he does it again on the second homer. I could not embed these so you have the link instead.

Have you ever seen anyone do that before? I have not. I am sure that someone has asked Edwin about the move, but until I find it, all I can do is speculate about what he is doing. Here are my guesses:
  • He is taking his Blue Jays' teammates on a pony ride.
  • He is strolling with his lady friend around the bases.
  • Hitting homers is like leaning at the bar of his favorite Toronto pub.
  • He is making sure his armpits are aired out before he gets greeted by his teammates.
  • He is walking the dog and the pitcher was his dog.
  • Hitting home runs is like square dancing.
  • The game is so easy for him that his arm is resting up on his easy chair.
  • He needs the aerodynamics to keep making left turns.
  • He is warding off bad mojo from glaring outfielders.
  • He is waiting for a hawk to land on his arm.
  • Hitting homers is like being a passenger in a car with the window down.
Do you have any more ideas? Or maybe you have read an article about it. Whatever Encarnacion is doing, it is kind of cool and different. One thing is also sure: Edwin Encarnacion has become one hitter I would gladly pay to see hit again and again.

Update** My good friend, Navin, who knows all things Toronto sports says (in the comment section) the move is called, "The Edwing." I could not find a Google reference, but if Navin says it, it is gold to me.

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: May 1, 2013

Happy May Day! The month of April is in the books and it was a good month here. And it also ended well with a 10-5 day. The month ended up with a 58% success rate, which is slightly above normal around here. That may sound rather ordinary. But try it some time to see how difficult this can be.

I was surprised by the Blue Jays' win over Boston as a combination of good hitting against Jon Lester, terrible defense by Jarrod Saltalamaccia, and power by Edwin Encarnacion overcame a couple of deficits to put the Blue Jays on top.

Picking Seattle to win was sort of stupid. The Indians jumping all over Roy Halladay was a surprise, and I should have picked Oakland over the Angels. But there were good picks too. The Royals over the Rays was a good one as was the Marlins over the Mets. Overall, it was a good night of picking.

So here comes May! Wednesday's picks:

  • The Mets over the Marlins: The Mets are on a losing streak and they have to break out of it with a win here sooner or later. This afternoon is as good a time as any. Dillon Gee is coming off a decent couple of outings and Wade LeBlanc should not be that tough against to score some runs.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: Anibal Sanchez is coming off a 17-strikeout appearances. That makes me a big leery. He will not get as many against the Twins, but he should be better than Scott Diamond. Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera have already combined for 55 runs batted in. Holy cow.
  • The Brewers over the Pirates: I am not sure about picking Hiram Burgos. Burgos is not exactly missing a lot of bats, but he has been somewhat effective. This picks is more about Jeanmar Gomez making his first start of the season for the Pirates. Gomez is a fringy sixth or seventh starter.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: Lance Lynn has powered his way to a 4-0 record on the basis of his stuff. But the command is still not there and the walks are concerning. If he is on, the Reds will not score. If he is not, this pick will look bad and Homer Bailey would get the win.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: Tommy Milone has been the A's most consistent pitcher and he is averaging over a four to won strikeout to walk ratio. He has six walks total in five starts. I like that. C.J. Wilson is 2-0, but can be had by some of the bigger boys in the A's lineup.
  • The Yankees over the Astros: Erik Bedard has been awful. So there is always the danger that he will have a great game just because you pick against him. And David Phelps in the rotation is a bit scary. Joe Girardi will have his bullpen up early and will use it because of the day off tomorrow.
  • The Phillies over the Indians: The Indians should have saved some of those runs from yesterday. They will need them against Cliff Lee, who returns to his original Major League home. Trevor Bauer has never impressed me, walks too many batters and seems uncoachable. But I am just believing what I am reading there.
  • The Nationals over the Braves: My man, Jordan Zimmermann, pitches tonight. He is a strike throwing studly man. I think he does well tonight while Paul Maholm is either good or not depending on where his batted balls go. This could be a big Bryce Harper game.
  • The Rangers over the White Sox: I like this Nick Tepesch kid. I am not sure he will be consistently successful, especially pitching in Arlington. And Chris Sale for the White Sox is a tough opponent. But I think this will be a low-scoring game with the Rangers coming out on top by a run or two.
  • The Padres over the Cubs: The Padres are a different team with Chase Headley back in the lineup. Andrew Cashner has a great arm and is going back against the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2008 draft. He will be pumped. Scott Feldman goes for the Cubs and had a good outing his last time out.
  • The Bay Rays over the Royals: Luis Mendoza goes for the Royals tonight and he confuses the heck out of me (and probably most Royals fans). Sometimes he looks so good and other times, not so much. Jeremy Hellickson has pitched much better of late for the Rays.
  • The Giants over the Diamondbacks: Picking Tim Lincecum to do well in Arizona is asking a bit much. But, he looked a lot like his old self in his last start. Brandon McCarthy has not won yet this year, so he is due and that is the scary part of this pick.
  • The Orioles over the Mariners: I learned my lesson last night. The Orioles should beat the Mariners eight out of ten times if given the chance. Wei-Yin Chen goes for the Orioles while Aaron Harang has lost all thre of his decisions thus far.
  • The Rockies over the Dodgers: This is my upset pick of the day. And the only reason is that Juan Nicasio is a pretty good pitcher and Josh Becket used to be a pretty good pitcher.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: Clay Buchholz is 5-0 and it is a really strong 5-0. He should quiet the Blue Jays' bats while Mark Buehrle gives up his normal three or four runs.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 27-16
April: 230-164
Games of the Day: 22-8

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: April 30, 2013

There were too many upsets last night. That is often a fun thing for baseball and proves the old point about any given night. But it is not good for a game picker. I did get one upset pick correct with the Mariners over the Orioles. But the Astros creamed the Yankees. Ubaldo Jimenez pitched a good game, which is an upset in itself. The Mets blew a save and then lost in extra innings to the Marlins, ruining another good Matt Harvey outing. The Braves came back on Stephen Strasburg and won the game despite Julio Teheran giving up eleven base runners in five and a third innings. It did not help the Nationals' cause to have two runners picked off in the game.

So it was not a good night. The week is still largely in the plus side thanks to Sunday and at least the Game of the Day came in correctly. But it was definitely a night to bounce back from. Here are Tuesday's picks:

  • The Yankees over the Astros: Okay, so last night was a blip, right? The Yankees should be the better team here, especially at home, right? So let's try this again. Hiroki Kuroda over the 0-5 Philip Humber. Now watch Humber throw a perfect game or something.
  • The Phillies over the Indians: Zach McAllister confuses me. I always thought he was better than this. But perhaps he is not. Roy Halladay confuses me too. Is he still a stud? Or is he over the hill? These are the burning questions as the pick unfolds. The Phillies are in Cleveland in unfamiliar territory, but they do get an extra bat in their lineup. Lord knows, they need all the bats they can get.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: Jon Lester had an 0.79 walks per nine going into his last start and promptly walked seven batters. Baseball is so easy to predict. Sheesh. Brandon Morrow looked so flat against the Yankees last week that it sure seems stupid to pick him in this one.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: Joe Mauer has gone zero for his last five games. How weird is that? The Tigers just keep rolling with good offense and good pitching. Justin Verlander should not lose this game. And Vance Worley should not stop this Tigers' attack. Should nots are scary things.
  • The Marlins over the Mets: Don't look now, but the Marlins have won two straight. Can they make it three? I think they can because Jeremy Hefner is not very good for the Mets. The only problem making this pick is that Kevin Slowey has shown nothing thus far on the mound.
  • The Braves over the Nationals: Tough game to pick here. Gio Gonzalez seemed to find himself in his last outing to regain his fine form. But his lefty-ness plays right into the Braves' lineup stacked with all those good hitting right-handed bats. Tim Hudson is still one of the best pitchers of his generation.
  • The Cubs over the Padres: This pick could have gone either way and I am still not sure I have it right. Edinson Volquez actually pitched well last time without a ton of walks. Hmm.. But the Cubbies are at home and another erstwhile pitcher in Edwin Jackson is due for a win.
  • The Brewers over the Pirates: I have gotten in trouble picking against Marco Estrada on several occasions. I do not feel like getting burned again. The only problem is that if James McDonald is on, he is tough.
  • The Royals over the Bay Rays: James Shields gets to pitch against his old team and show young, Mr. Alex Cobb how it is done. Shields has to come up big here and he should have all the incentive in the world.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: This fun-filled series resumes with Jaime Garcia versus Bronson Arroyo. The Cardinal offense has been inconsistent. Sometimes they look overpowering and just as many times, they roll over. I am not confident in either pitcher. And usually when that happens, I go with the home team.
  • The Giants over the Diamondbacks: Now that the Giants have overcome their Ian Kennedy disease, they have to feel good about themselves. Trevor Cahill does not impress me in the least. Madison Bumgarner impresses the heck out of me.
  • The Angels over the Athletics: How long do the A's stick with the struggling Jarrod Parker? Parker was much better at home last year, but this year, it does not seem to matter. Garrett Richards was banged around last time and is better than that.
  • The Mariners over the Orioles: Why the heck not. Brandon Maurer has been very good his last two starts despite me ragging on him. If he has another good start, even the Mariners should get to Jason Hammel, who has a bit of a homecoming here.
  • The Dodgers over the Rockies: This same pick last night made me look stupid. And I remain unconvinced about Hyun-Jin Ryu. I am also concerned about this pick because Jorge de la Rosa has been good this season. But the pick is still the Dodgers.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Rangers over the White Sox: Yu Darvish has looked wicked good so far this season (to use a Maine expression). Jose Quintana has looked good too. I still think Darvish will be too much for the White Sox and Quintana will cough up a couple of runs at least in Texas.

Yesterday: 5-7
Week: 17-11
Month: 220-159
Games of the Day: 21-8

Monday, April 29, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Monday: April 29, 2013

From Giancarlo Stanton's two homers to bring in the Miami pick to Clay Kershaw pitching nothing but zeroes to the Indians and Royals' double-header going exactly as predicted, Sunday got off the week off to a flying start here in Game Picks land. Twelve correct picks to four incorrect is a heck of a way to start the week. It certainly beats the 3-13 debacle that started last week.

The Yankees only recorded four hits against R.A. Dickey. But two of those hits were homers by the motley crew to account for the three runs it needed to beat Dickey. Hisashi Iwakuma shut down the Angels as predicted to give the Mariners two straight wins. Yes, it was a good day (with apologies if your team lost).

There are twelve games on the Monday schedule. The picks:

  • The Yankees over the Astros: The poor Astros just got spanked by the Red Sox up at Fenway and now have to spend three days at Yankee Stadium. The first two might be a bit damp as showers will plague the area. Lucas Harrell at times gives the Astros a fighting chance. But Andy Pettitte should be able to exploit the Astros' batters lack of patience and wrack up some easy outs.
  • The Mets over the Marlins: The Mets just got swept by the Phillies and the Marlins got a win yesterday over the Cubs because of Stanton. And in a battle of young phenom pitchers, Matt Harvey should blaze through the Marlins while Jose Fernandez gives up a run or two.
  • The Nationals over the Braves: Stephen Strasburg really has not broken out of the gate yet. I keep waiting for him to do so. The Braves just got crushed by the Tigers over the weekend and will be looking to bounce back. Julio Teheran is still confusing. He will either give up three homers to the Nats or have a great game. You never know.
  • The Cubs over the Padres: The Padres are playing better baseball, especially now that Chase Headley is back. But Clayton Richard anywhere outside of Petco is a scary proposition. Perhaps if the wind is blowing in at Wrigley? Jeff Samardzija is the real thing for the Cubbies.
  • The Royals over the Indians: My wife is feeling sorry for Nick Swisher, who she loves, because he has gone from the Yankees to the Indians. I miss Swish in pinstripes, but gosh, the guy has a model wife and tens of millions. It is hard to get all misty-eyed there. What does make you cry is the career of Ubaldo Jimenez, who cannot seem to put his mechanics back together. Wade Davis with the win.
  • The Brewers over the Pirates: I like both pitchers in this game. Yovani Gallardo is tough to beat at home. Wandy Rodriguez is tough to beat anywhere. The Pirates have been the hotter team and Andrew McCutchen has not started hitting yet.  I have to go with Gallardo at home despite all other things pointing the other way.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: This has become one of the best rivalries in sports. The match-ups are everything here. And I have to go with Adam Wainwright over Mat Latos. Both are terrific pitchers, but Wainwright is just so freaking smart. Wainwright better go long though as that Cardinal bullpen is messy. The Reds' bullpen is their strength. If it comes down to the bullpens in this one, this pick is a dud.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Giants: As much as Giants' fans are sick of hearing it, Ian Kennedy has their number. They just cannot seem to beat the guy. Matt Cain has been surprisingly easy to hit thus far and has not looked like an ace at all this season.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: First, the A's are tougher now that Yoenis Cespedes is back. Secondly, Tommy Hanson was given up on by the Braves for a reason. And lastly, Dan Straily looked really good in his first start of the season.
  • The Mariners over the Orioles: Woo boy! That is an upset pick! Zach Britton does have a 1.98 ERA in Triple-A this season. But it is a complete mirage as his strikeout to walk ratio is 0.67. Joe Saunders will have to be the good version of his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act. Otherwise, this pick will get ugly. Mike Morse could hit a dinger in tis one.
  • The Dodgers over the Rockies: Uh. What do you do when you have two pitchers you have absolutely no faith in at all? Ted Lilly? Tyler Chatwood? Yeesh. You go with the home team and you remember that Troy Tulowitzki got hurt again.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Tigers over the Twins: The Tigers just finished destroying the Braves. And "destroy" is being mild. They are a team on fire and it is doubtful that Mike Pelfrey will be able to stop them. Max Scherzer has an amazing arm and gets better all the time on figuring out how to use it.

Yesterday: 12-4
Week: 12-4
Month: 215-152
Games of the Day: 20-8

Sunday, April 28, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: April 28, 2013

The week's comeback is complete. After a disastrous 15-27 start to the week, the picks then went 36-19 the rest of the week to finish in the black after a 10-5 day yesterday.

The day had trouble getting started as the Tigers beat the Braves again. I guess it is official that Kris Medlen has regressed to the mean. The Orioles beat the A's again as A.J. Griffin lost for the first time in his career at home. And the Twins took care of Derek Holland and the Rangers which was a surprise. I did not get the Marlins win I had expected, but Giancarlo Stanton hit his first homer of the year and boy was it a bomb.

There are sixteen games on the schedule today as the Indians and Royals make up a game as part of a double-header. Sunday is easily the best baseball day of the week. Here are the picks:

  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: As surprising and good a season as the Yankees have had so far, they have had trouble completing sweeps. The Blue Jays are such a down team right now. I still believe they will bounce back, but until they do, it is hard to pick them. Phil Hughes over R.A. Dickey.
  • The Marlins over the Cubs: Sure. Maybe I was just a day too early. Stanton is going to get hot now. He did the same thing last year. The exact same thing. Ricky Nolasco over Carlos Villanueva. Nolasco better be good because Villanueva has been dealing this season.
  • The Phillies over the Mets: Is Cole Hamels this year's Cliff Lee in that he cannot buy a win? Jonathon Niese is good at home, so Hamels will have to be at the top of his game. But his left arm should neutralize Duda and Davis at least.
  • The Reds over the Nationals: The Reds avoid the sweep here behind Tony Cingrani, who has been terrific thus far. I also like that he is left-handed against this Nats' lineup. Ross Detwiler will keep the Nationals in the game though. This one could go either way.
  • The Red Sox over the Astros: Ugh. This one is tough. John Lackey is back from the DL and I do not expect him to pitch well or last long. But the Astros have never won at Fenway. The Red Sox lineup is hot. They are at home. I just cannot predict an Astros win.
  • The Royals over the Indians: The Indians are off to a bad, bad start. The Royals are above .500. Justin Masterson started the season great but has faltered a bit. Jeremy Guthrie has been terrific for the Royals. The Royals win the first game.
  • The Rangers over the Twins: This pick is a complete distrust of Kevin Correia. Yeah, "Chick" is capable of a good game now and then when his batted balls against end up in someone's glove. But I cannot pick him. Alexi Ogando for the win.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: Here is what the Cardinal manager should do. The previous day's starter should be the closer the next day. That way, only starting pitchers are pitching and none of those bullpen guys are. Makes sense right? And yes, I know who the Cardinal manager is. I simply did not want to look up how to spell Methany or whatever it is. Trevor Miller over Jeff Locke.
  • The Orioles over the Athletics: I struggled big time with this one. Every time I pick against Bartolo Colon, he wins. But these Orioles are really good and are not going away any time soon. Miguel Gonzalez might be the weakest link in the Orioles' rotation. But the A's are struggling on offense too.
  • The Mariners over the Angels: I have a lot of trust in Hisashi Iwakuma, especially at home. Jason Vargas returns to his roots for the Angels and that might mean a good game for him too. A low scoring game means a bullpen game and the Mariners have the edge over the Angels there.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: I really think the D-Backs should separate Patrick Corbin (who pitches today) from Wade Miley (who pitched yesterday) as they are too similar. Two days in a row with basically the same pitcher gives the other team time to adjust eventually. But I still like Corbin in this one at home against Jon Garland. Garland has been a nice comeback story thus far so it is hard to root against him.
  • The Dodgers over the Brewers: Clayton Kershaw has not been as dominant in his last three starts, but he is definitely the choice at home. Kyle Lohse will keep the Brewers in the game but he cannot match Kershaw in zeroes.
  • The Giants over the Padres: As long as the game does not go into extra innings, we are good here. The Giants do not do extra innings well. Jason Marquis does not inspire me. Neither does Ryan Vogelsong if truth be told. The Giants are the better team.
  • The Tigers over the Braves: Okay. I give up picking the Braves in this series. Which almost guarantees they will win today. Doug Fister over Mike Minor.
  • The Indians over the Royals: Here is some fun for you all. Every time I read Corey Kluber's name in my head, it sounds just like the chef on the Muppets. Try it. Picture that chef's voice and say the name in your head a few times. There it is, right? Anyway, the Indians have to win one of these games. The Caucasian Will Smith pitches for the Royals.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Bay Rays over the White Sox: The White Sox are a black hole to me for some reason. I bet that I could not even name most of their lineup. I do know the Bay Rays' lineup and it is flawed. But David Price is hard to pick against even though Dylan Axelrod has been pretty good for the White Sox.

Yesterday: 10-5
Last week: 51-46
Month: 203-148
Games of the Day: 19-8