Yay! Baseball is back! Ever since the All Star Break went to four days, the time in between meaningful games seems like forever. I'm glad the players, umpires and officials get a break. Everyone deserves one. And, in reality, it gave a guy like me who does a daily column like this, a break from getting up early to complete the task. But still, it was a long week pining for the game.
The last we met for this feature was on Sunday and the picks went really well that day with eleven out of fifteen correct. Let's see if the break kept my focus sharp with Friday's picks:
- The Yankees over the Reds: The Yankees open the post-break with ten straight games at home. In the past that would be a great thing. But this year is odd because the Yankees are losing at home more than on the road. You have to think that trend will reverse eventually. David Phelps has pitched good ball for the last few weeks and all Girardi's bullpen arms will be rested. Mike Leake is pitching fairly well too, but I am predicting two Yankee homers off him.
- The Rockies over the Pirates: Francisco Liriano has been a mess this season and his first game back from the DL did not show his healing helped any. I'll go instead with Jorge De La Rosa.
- The Nationals over the Brewers: I never get a 'win' when Stephen Strasburg pitches. And Kyle Lohse is a dependable starter. My thinking here is that the Nats' offense is finally healthy and in place and they will have a big offensive day.
- The Rangers over the Blue Jays: The key to picking games Yu Darvish pitches is figuring out when outing he has that is going to be dominant. If he walks a lot of guys early, then he usually loses. And his team is really bad this season. I'm thinking he comes up big today and the Rangers score three runs off of R.A. Dickey to win.
- The Tigers over the Indians: The Tigers have taken over the AL Central and have swatted all pretenders in the last three weeks. Anibal Sanchez is a big reason for that. Trevor Bauer has pitched well, but I think the Tigers will get to him early and fairly often.
- The Red Sox over the Royals: Despite the owner's belief that his GM and manager are dreamy as he reiterated during the break, the Royals need new leadership on the field. I have always believed that. James Shields could have a big game, but I doubt it. Clay Buchholz has been really good since he returned from the DL.
- The Giants over the Marlins: The break might have come at a good time for Nathan Eovaldi as he is in uncharted territory for innings pitched. But I still think that Madison Bumgarner will be better.
- The Braves over the Phillies: The Phillies got hot at the wrong time right before the break, which will give the team the false hope they can compete instead of blowing it all up. The Braves had a good stretch before the break too. Ervin Santana over A.J. Burnett.
- The Rays over the Twins: Alex Cobb is a good pitcher with a good strikeout rate. Kyle Gibson is a good pitcher without a good strikeout rate. I trust the former rather than the latter.
- The Cardinals over the Dodgers: I still have this belief that the Cardinals are going to take off one of these days and take over the NL Central. That's why I pick them most of the time. Lance Lynn has had a very good season. Dan Haren is good too, but the Cards can get to him I think.
- The Cubs over the Diamondbacks: Edwin Jackson was awful in his last outing and said he was embarrassed. Yeah, he is, all the way to the bank. But he'll have one of his once-in-a-while brilliant starts today to beat Trevor Cahill and the D-backs.
- The Athletics over the Orioles: I am one that doesn't believe that Jeff Samardzija will shine as much for the A's as people think. He can be had and the Orioles have the lineup to get him. But the A's can get to Chris Tillman just as much and are at home.
- The Mariners over the Angels: Hisashi Iwakuma has been brilliant his last three starts and the break had to have been good for his back. The Mariners' offense is still not great, but I think they can get to Jered Weaver enough to support Iwakuma here.
- The Padres over the Mets: The Padres desperately want Ian Kennedy to have a couple of good starts so they can trade him for some prospects to a contender. So maybe they will get their wish here. Bartolo Colon hasn't been as good lately and face it, he is 41-years-old. Seth Smith has a good game today.
And the Game of the Day:
- The White Sox over the Astros: I have been singing the praises of Jose Quintana for quite a while now. He is the best 5-7 pitcher in baseball. Scott Feldman hasn't pitched well enough for even the Astros to use him for trade bait.
Sunday: 11-4, July: 106-80, Games of the Day: 55-44, Season: 789-655