Saturday, April 27, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: April 27, 2013

After a horrendous 15-27 pick performance after the first three days of this week, there was a long, uphill climb back to respectability. And after an 11-3 night last night (yet another postponement), the picks have climbed to .500 for the week at 41-41 and are within a successful Saturday of finishing in the black.

But as long as I am feeling good about yesterday, I can still laugh at picking the Braves over the Tigers. I gave Anibal Sanchez's lifetime stats against the Braves, which were horrible and based the pick on that. But then he goes and strikes out seventeen, breaks a Tigers record and pitches the best game of the season. Congrats, Anibal. Nice game.

Matching Sanchez on the plus side was my man, Jordan Zimmermann, who pitched a complete game, one-hit shutout for the Nationals. The Cincinnati Reds, who have a pretty great lineup, have been one-hit by the Nationals for two consecutive nights.

Will the Reds rebound? Let's take a look along with all the rest of Saturday's picks:

  • The Braves over the Tigers: I do not know about the Reds until we get there, but the Braves will bounce back tonight against Rick Porcello. I do not believe Porcello is a bad pitcher. I simply feel that he is in a bad atmosphere with a team that does not believe in him. Kris Medlen has not been as lights out as last year, but he will win today.
  • The Nationals over the Reds: Yes, the Reds will recover their batting stroke against Dan Haren. The trouble is that the Nationals will recover theirs as well against Mike Leake. I am predicting a high scoring game with the Nats coming out on top.
  • The Phillies over the Mets: Man, this is a tough one. I do not like picking against the home team. And the Phillies are pitching a rookie in Jonathan Pettibone. But Pettibone pitched well in his first outing and Shaun Marcum is making his first start of the year for the Mets after starting the season on the DL. Marcum was never reliable when he was healthy never mind coming off the DL.
  • The Athletics over the Orioles: The O's have run roughshod over the A's so far in this series. And today's A's pitcher, A.J. Griffin, got roughed up in his last start. But Griffin has never lost a game at home in his young career and that sways the pick despite the fact that Chris Tillman has not pitched that badly for the Orioles.
  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: Edwin Encarnacion is killing the Yankees and Juan Bautista is getting his homer stroke back. The problem is that the homers are all solo jobs because the top of that lineup is sucking wind. CC Sabathia wins over J.A. Happ.
  • The Rangers over the Twins: Pedro Hernandez is yet another Twins' pitcher who is a soft-toss, BABIP-controlled pitcher whose effectiveness comes from the quality of contact and where the ball is hit. Like all the other Twins' pitchers, that does not inspire confidence. The Rangers have not exactly smoked the ball this season though. Derek Holland goes for the Rangers.
  • The Pirates over the Cardinals: A.J. Burnett's stats are huge so far this season. I mean, he is really pitching well. But his team is not scoring him any runs. That could change today if the improving offense of the Pirates can get to Jake Westbrook. Andrew McCutchen is really due for a breakout soon.
  • The Marlins over the Cubs: I have no idea who is going to win this game. I have to be honest here. The Marlins are demoralized and have little talent. Alex Sanabia is not going to blow people away. But gosh, the Marlins are going to win at least fifty games this season so it is a question of when to pick them. Travis Wood pitching for the Cubs seems like a good time. I will probably regret this.
  • The Royals over the Indians: Rained washed out this pitching match-up yesterday and I am surprised the Indians are sticking with Scott Kazmir instead of skipping him. But I guess they have to figure out if he can help them. The guess for me would be no. Ervin Santana goes for the Royals.
  • The Red Sox over the Astros: I just do not see the Astros having a chance against the Red Sox under any circumstances. Brad Peacock is capable of a decent game. But the Astros are not going to score enough despite Felix Doubront's unpredictability.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: The Rockies have been playing extremely well but I think Wade Miley will slow them down today just enough to give the D-Back hitters enough space to catch up to Jeff Francis. If this game was in Coors, the pick would go the other way.
  • The Giants over the Padres: I really do not know what to do with this game. Barry Zito just throws me for a loop. Will he get bombed? Will he throw a shutout? Who the heck knows. The Padres beat Lincecum yesterday despite a great performance by the Giants' pitcher. And then Eric Stults has looked brilliant and then the opposite. Crap. Picking the Giants.
  • The Mariners over the Angels: How often does Felix Hernandez win two in a row? Not very often. But that is what I am asking him to do here today. Even the Mariners should score a few runs against Joe Blanton. So all King Felix has to do is hold the Angels to two runs.
  • The Brewers over the Dodgers: Here is another game I do not know what to do with. First, the Dodgers are pitching Barney Fife...uhh...wait...that is Stephen Fife. And Fife is simply not a Major League pitcher IMHO. But the Dodgers are at home and it is not as if Wily Peralta is a household name. Crap again.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Bay Rays over the White Sox: Matt Moore has been so good so far this season that until he stumbles, he has to be the pick every time out. Gavin Floyd will never have that said about him.

Yesterday: 11-3
Week: 41-41
Month: 193-143
Games of the Day: 18-8

Friday, April 26, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Friday: April 26, 2013

If I could keep score of the picks this week, I would say that the good days outnumbered the bad days, 3-2. That sounds good, right? But the two bad days were so bad that the week will never catch up with just two days to go despite those three decent days going 23-13. The good news is that today is always a new day.

Perhaps the Angels can say that after getting blanked by Seattle's Brandon Maurer and two relievers. Perhaps Jarrod Parker can say that after starting he season, 0-4 with an ERA over eight after getting bombed by the Orioles last night. Perhaps the 9-14 Phillies can say that after the bullpen blew a late lead against the Pirates. All of those three surprises led to bum picks that kept the day in check. I also had the Marlins, who had the lead going into the late innings, only to blow it to the Cubs. It is hard enough to pick what the starting pitchers are going to do, never mind the bullpens.

Speaking of bullpens...what was the thinking behind putting Bruce Rondon's debut in a high leverage situation? Most of the time, those rookie relief pitchers get put into low leverage situations and then work their way up from there. But the Tigers threw him right into the fire and it cost the Tigers and Justin Verlander a win...and me a pick, doggonit.

Friday's picks:

  • The Nationals over the Reds: This might be the series that turns the Nats around after a rugged couple of weeks. They got Gio Gonzalez straightened out last night and now follow him with the terrific, Jordan Zimmermann. The Reds' Homer Bailey is capable of shutting a team down though, so the pick is not a lock by any means.
  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: Of course, Josh Johnson can finally regain his form and make this pick look silly. Or, Ivan Nova (pronounced, "Nover," in Maine) will implode against a decent lineup and make this pick look silly. But I always like the Bombers at home.
  • The Braves over the Tigers: Anibal Sanchez has pitched against the Braves seventeen times in his career. He is 4-11 with a 5.63 ERA against them. That does not fill me with confidence. Paul Maholm has been bamboozling me all season thus far. I might as well not fight it anymore.
  • The Cubs over the Marlins: If the Marlins were smart, they would bunt all game. Scott Feldman has three errors in just eight chances. So, if the Marlins bunted 24 times, they should get on base nine times, right? Hey, it would work. Both Feldman and Wade LeBlanc are 0-3 and are not having fun this season. But take away Feldman's errors and he has been the better pitcher.
  • The Mets over the Phillies: I picked against Dillon Gee last time and he was terrific. Put him at home against a weak offense like the Phillies and he should be good right. We will see. Kyle Kendrick goes for the Phillies.
  • The Royals over the Indians: Scott Kazmir is in the, "show me if you want me to pick you," stage. It would be cool if he makes a career comeback. But time will tell if the story will have a happy ending. Ervin Santana has been pitching fairly well for the Royals and he is the pick despite the jitters his 2012 season give me.
  • The White Sox over the Bay Rays: The White Sox are like a black hole team for me. I have no idea if they are a decent team or a bad one. All I know is that when Jake Peavy is pitching, I have to pick him. Roberto Hernandez had a good outing for the Rays last time out and has more strikeouts than innings pitched thus far. So it should be a close game.
  • The Rangers over the Twins: This Jason Grimm / Tepesch combination is doing great fro the Rangers. The latter won his game last night and now it is Grimm's turn. I am still not sure about the Rangers' bullpen though. Scott Diamond goes for the Twins.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: :::blink::: Yeah, Jonathan Sanchez is still in the rotation for the Pirates. Well, I'll be. As such, the nod goes to Lance Lynn and the home-team Cardinals.
  • The Rockies over the Diamondbacks: The Rockies need to get another good performance from Juan Nicasio for this pick to work. But it should anyway because despite the home park advantage, I am not sure what the Diamondbacks will get from Brandon McCarthy.
  • The Orioles over the Athletics: The Orioles have a .755 OPS against left-handed starters as a team and a .783 OPS against left-handers in general thus far this season. That does not bode well for Tommy Milone and the A's. But then again, Wei-Yin Chen has not started the season all that well. But the A's are banged up a bit too.
  • The Angels over the Mariners: Are the Angels really this bad? I cannot quite fathom it. C.J. Wilson at least give the team a chance to win and perhaps the Angels' lineup can erupt a bit on Aaron Harang, who gets the starts for the Ms.
  • The Dodgers over the Brewers: I am not really buying into Hiram Burgos' first start with five innings and only a single run allowed. He only struck out one batter and that is a hard way to win in the majors. But is Josh Beckett done? I mean...can he ever be effective again? The Dodgers win this in a high scoring game.
  • The Giants over the Padres: Andrew Cashner has terrific stuff. But can he maintain it over six or seven innings? He will have to prove it for the picks to go his way. Tim Lincecum can get away with some mistakes at Petco Park.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Red Sox over the Astros: It is series like this that will kill the Astros in the American League. Ryan Dempster did not have a good start his last time out, but should bounce back and have a decent outing this time around. Erik Bedard will try not to get hurt for the Astros.

Yesterday: 7-5
Week: 30-38
Month: 182-140
Games of the Day: 17-8

Thursday, April 25, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: April 25, 2013

The good news from yesterday was that it was not a disaster like two of the previous three days that preceded it. The bad news was that it was not good enough to make up much ground in the hole the week has put me in.  At least it was a positive day with eight correct picks and six incorrect ones. I thought sure there was going to be nine correct picks as the Braves brought in Craig Kimbrel in the ninth with a two run lead. That is a lock, right? Wrong. Kimbrel coughed up the lead and the Braves lost in extra innings.

The other strange development was a walk-free, seven-inning shutout performance from Edinson Volquez to beat the Brewers. Seriously? Edinson Volquez? One more strange one for you. First, the Astros scored ten runs. If that was not strange enough, Brandon Laird played first base and batted third for the Astros and went three for four with two doubles and a homer. Crazy.

There are twelve games on Thursday's schedule including three day games. The picks:

  • The Phillies over the Pirates: James McDonald was really good his last time out. The question is whether he will get any run support against Cliff Lee. The pick is that he will not.
  • The Tigers over the Royals: For the second time this season, Justin Verlander will match up with James Shields in what should be a great game. The edge has to go to Verlander at home. I watched a highlight of last night's game and yes, Jose Valverde got his first save. But man, those were three really loud outs. His performance bears watching.
  • The Dodgers over the Mets: The Mets got a big walk-off grand slam from an unlikely source last night in a Mets win behind another good outing from Matt Harvey. But Jeremy Hefner is not Matt Harvey and Hyun-Jin Ryu is doing pretty well in this country so far.
  • The Red Sox over the Astros: There is perfect symmetry here as Clay Buchholz is 4-0 and Philip Humber is 0-4. The strong opinion here is that the symmetry will continue as the former gets win number five and the latter gets loss number five.
  • The Nationals over the Reds: The Nationals have been a major disappointment thus far and are under .500. Mostly, their bats have been sleepy. I think they will bust out today against Bronson Arroyo. But they will need a good performance from Gio Gonzalez who so far has not looked anything like the 2012 version.
  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: Mark Buehrle is a lefty. The Yankees' lineup against lefties has been pathetic with no switch hitters in the lineup for the first time in decades. Kevin Youkilis needs to be in the lineup but is having back problems. The key to the Yankees winning is Hiroki Kuroda. If he is on, they win.
  • The Marlins over the Cubs: Geez. What a match-up. Kevin Slowey versus Edwin Jackson. Now there's a pitching lineup that will get your day going. Going with the home team on this one for a lack of any other reason.
  • The White Sox over the Bay Rays: Chris Sale needs to come up big for the White Sox for this pick to come in. But he is capable and the Rays struggle to hit. Jeremy Hellickson was very good in his last start. Will he carry that over into this one? If so, the pick is in trouble.
  • The Rangers over the Twins: Nick Tepesch has not yet convinced me that he is going to stay in the rotation for the Rangers. If he gets hit tonight, this pick is doomed. But if he can hold the Twins to three runs, the Rangers win with more than that against Vance Worley.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: I do not see any clear favorite in this game. Trevor Cahill has been a disappointment for the D-Backs. Jorge de la Rosa has been decent for the Rockies. But the Diamondbacks are at home and I am definitely going with a home bent in this picking day.
  • The Athletics over the Orioles: Jarrod Parker is in serious need of a good outing. He has been lit up so far this season. Heck, he has more walks than strikeouts. But he is pitching at home against an aggressive swinging team. So maybe that will work for him. That is the thought process behind this pick anyway. Jason Hammel goes for the Orioles.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Angels over the Mariners: I officially threw up my hands on the Mariners when they benched the slick-fielding shortstop who cannot hit in Brendan Ryan and replaced him with a non-shortstop who cannot hit in Robert Andino. And it does matter that Garrett Richards is facing Brandon Maurer.

Yesterday: 8-6
Week: 23-33
Month: 175-135
Games of the Day: 17-7

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cardinals' rotation is killing it

A couple of years ago, when Jaime Garcia was considered the first or second best starting pitcher on the St. Louis Cardinals, I thought they had a problem. And with the career demise of Chris Carpenter and the rebuilt elbow of Adam Wainwright, the team's rotation was a concern heading into the 2013 season. But now, Jaime Garcia is the fourth or fifth best starter on this team and (albeit) early this season, the Cardinals' rotation looks like a beast.

The St. Louis Cardinals' rotation leads baseball with a 75% rate of quality starts. And while not an overly popular statistic, that combined with another not entirely popular stat, the Game Score Average, the Cardinals lead that category in baseball too with a score of 59. 51 is average. They are also tied for the Major League lead in innings pitched per start.

The easy question to ask here is if this early season performance can last. Have the starters been lucky thus far? That does not appear to be the case. The rotation's ERA is 2.38, the best in baseball. But their collective FIP is only 2.74, also the best in baseball. Let us look at each starter and try to answer that question:

Adam Wainwright: Wainwright has been downright nasty. How he has even lost a game is beyond imaginable. He is 4-1 with an ERA of 1.93. But his FIP is an amazing 1.11! He is doing this well despite an unlucky BABIP of .340. And I just love this set of stats: In his starts thus far, he has struck out 8.95 batters per nine innings while walking only 0.24. Wainwright has walked one batter in 37.1 innings pitched. One! His ground ball rate is fantastic at 56.7 percent. He just has it going on right now.

If Wainwright stays healthy, this kind of pitching is not a stretch. Wainwright is fantastic.

Shelby Miller: Miller has made three starts and is 3-1. His ERA is 2.16 and his FIP is only 2.42. Miller is striking out 9.36 batters per nine while only walking 2.52. His home run rate is low. The only concern with Miller is that he is young and if he will run into a wall at some point. So far, Miller's BABIP against is insanely low at .226 and his strand rate is high at over 78%. I think he regresses just a bit. But he has a great arm and a great future.

Lance Lynn: I was surprised again to look and see that Lynn won 18 games last season. He is 3-0 this season with a very similar start to his season of a year ago. Looking back at Lynn's month to month stats in 2012, I think the Cardinals pulled the plug too quickly after a really tough month of June. If you look closely at that month, he actually had his best strikeout rate of any month except the last one when half of his time was split coming out of the bullpen.

My one problem with Lynn is the walks. His strikeout rate is great at 10.3 strikeouts per nine, but the walks increased in the second half of last year and are sitting at 4.1 per nine this year. This leads to too much stress with runners on base (1.273 WHIP). When he throws strikes, he is really tough to hit and batters are batting only .217 against him.

Even so, his FIP is 39 points below his ERA and his ERA is league average or just a little better. Lynn should be left in the rotation this year and do not be surprised if he wins another eighteen games.

Then you get to Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook. Westbrook's impressive numbers are a mirage as his FIP is a good three runs higher than his ERA. But he will keep the Cardinals in games he pitches, get his share of ground balls (64.8%!) and double-plays and that is all you want from a fifth starter.

Garcia is always a bit of a stress factor. He will have his good games and his bad games. He is not as reliable as Westbrook, but again. for a fifth starter, you will take whatever Garcia offers. Put it this way, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook should be .500 pitchers. If that is what they are and what they do, the Cardinals are in great shape.

Rotations starters one to three can rival any top three in baseball right now. Whether it stays that way or not is the big question as to how far the Cardinals go this season. If they keep up this current pace and Westbrook at Garcia finish at the .500 mark, this could be a very fun year for Cardinal fans.

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: April 24, 2013

Oh my. This is embarrassing. Suddenly in this office chair sits an old man reverted back to little boy saying in a small voice, "Mommy." There have been three days so far this week. Two of them have been unmitigated disasters. There is no reason to even be mildly annoyed that two more freaking games were postponed by the weather. They would not have mattered.

There were two double-headers played yesterday. I got both ends of both wrong. The Game of the Day was wrong. Everything was wrong. And this was a worst of days despite correctly picking the Cubs to beat the Reds. Gosh, this is bad.

I want to take my whiffle ball and bat and just go home and say, "I'm not playing anymore." But I cannot. It is a long season and like the Blue Jays, I just have to keep plugging away and perhaps I can dig myself out of this huge hole. I doubt it will happen this week. But there will be better days. As George Harrison once said, "All things must pass."

I counted the list of games on Wednesday three times and came up with fourteen games. Fourteen!? On a Wednesday? Why would there only be fourteen games on a Wednesday? Many of the fourteen are of the getaway variety. I love day games.

Wednesday's picks:

  • The Reds over the Cubs: I want to pick Jeff Samardzija over Mat Latos. But I could not be correct in the Cubs beating a team like the Reds for two days in a row. Not with the Reds at home.
  • The Blue Jays over the Orioles: Yes, the Blue Jays are off to a disappointing start and so has Brandon Morrow. The rotation was supposed to save this franchise and instead has melted it. But gosh, my Josh, the Orioles are starting journeyman, minor league pitcher, Josh Stinson. Stinson's minor league numbers do not wow you.
  • The Nationals over the Cardinals: Okay, so this was the year there would be no limitations on Stephen Strasburg. Now we would be able to enjoy him completely. And yet, he has only been so-so so far this season. Is the overpowering pitcher still in there somewhere? Perhaps tonight will tell us. Jaime Garcia goes for the Cards.
  • The White Sox over the Indians: Same match-up as the one yesterday that was rained out. And I still think Jose Quintana beats Zach McAllister.
  • The Mariners over the Astros: Justin Maxwell broke his hand and that does not help the Astros' cause. The M's really are not that much better than the 'Stros and proved out by the Astros' win yesterday. But Joe Saunders finds ways to win. Lucas Harrell goes for the Astros.
  • The Braves over the Rockies: This one sounds completely like a mismatch. And that is what scares me. But in every perfect world, Tim Hudson should beat Tyler Chatwood. Too bad Coors Field is not a perfect world.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Giants: Yeah, picking against Madison Bumgarner would not seem to help the cause this week. But what the heck. Ian Kennedy has made it a habit of beating Giants' pitchers for two years now.
  • The Red Sox over the Athletics: The drubbing the A's put on the Red Sox yesterday was rather indicative of how the day went for me. But I just wrote about Jon Lester for Big Leagues Magazine so I have got to pick the guy, right? Brett Anderson goes for the A's.
  • The Phillies over the Pirates: I cannot get these two teams correctly this week. Wandy Rodriguez has been really good for the Pirates. But he faces Roy Halladay, who has looked a lot like the old Roy Halladay lately.
  • The Tigers over the Royals: Same pitching line as the one rained out yesterday and I still think Max Scherzer beats Wade Davis.
  • The Mets over the Dodgers: Matt Harvey should come down a little to earth here eventually. But picking when is the problem. I do not think it will be today as he is pitching at home and gets to go against Ted Lilly. Lilly is making his first start of the season after coming back from shoulder surgery.
  • The Yankees over the Bay Rays: It is impossible for me to pick against Andy Pettitte at this point in his career. His last few years have been such a bonus that I want it to last forever. I also like Alex Cobb and his ground ball stuff. So I will just leave this pick here and see what happens.
  • The Brewers over the Padres: I continue in my constant quest to never pick Edinson Volquez for a win. It is not that Marco Estrada fills me with glee. But still.
And the Game of the Day!
  • The Rangers over the Angels: Okay, here is my big line of the day for the big finish. Are you ready? Here it comes: I have chosen against a Roth ERA. Sorry about that. Anyway, Michael Roth has started all of ten professional games in his career. And here he is going to start against the Rangers? If that was not difficult enough, he gets to face Yu Darvish. Good luck, kid.

Yesterday: 4-11    Just shoot me
Week: 15-27     Yeah, that is pretty
Month: 167-129
Games of the Day: 16-7   Yesterday was so bad, I even had a typo on this stat.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: April 23, 2013

Thank goodness Monday was much better than Sunday. After a disastrous start to the week, Monday provided some recovery as only three picks were incorrect. One of those was picking against Boston. I never expected A.J. Griffin to pitch that badly. And I did not expect Jonathan Pettibone to pitch as well as he did for the Phillies. Or perhaps the Pirates' bats are that bad. The third bad pick was the Angels as their bullpen totally ralphed the game against the Rangers. But other than those three, it was a good night.

Of course there were two more postponements yesterday and of course they were in Minnesota and in Colorado. And of course, the Twins' postponement came against an interleague opponent. The scheduler should be fired. Both games will be attempted to be made up today in double-headers. So, there are seventeen games on the schedule. Wow! That is a lot of picking to do.


  • The Marlins over the Twins: I still think Ricky Nolasco beats Kevin Correia. That is, of course, if they play the game.
  • The Rockies over the Braves: And I still think Coors Field makes a difference in this one. Jeff Francis has pitched there forever. Mike Minor has not.
  • The Red Sox over the Athletics: This is not a lovely pitching match-up. For the A's, we have Bartolo Colon, or "Shrek" as my wife likes to call him. For the Red Sox, we have Alfredo Aceves. The Boston bullpen should be the difference.
  • The Phillies over the Pirates: Cole Hamels has not pitched like the Cy Young Award pitcher I predicted he would be before the season. But he should be better than Jeff Locke. Neither team is hitting very well.
  • The Cardinals over the Nationals: This is a tough one. I really like Ross Detwiler but the Nationals are sputtering out of the gate so far. And, Adam Wainwright has been fabulous so far this season. It is hard to pick against the Nationals at home, though, and that Cardinal bullpen worries me.
  • The Blue Jays over the Orioles: Picking a knuckleball pitcher is so difficult because they are either very effective or absolutely terrible. R.A. Dickey has been both at times this season. The pick goes to the Blue Jays because Miguel Gonzalez has not been very good so far for the Orioles.
  • The Tigers over the Royals: The Royals are not an automatic team to pick against this season. I like them actually. And I like the way Wade Davis has been pitching. But I think the Tigers will get to Davis and if Max Scherzer has a good day, the Royals won't hit anything.
  • The Cubs over the Reds: Before you laugh at this one, both teams are in need of the starters going deep in the game after playing thirteen innings. Carlos Villanueva has averaged seven innings a start for the Cubs and the Reds have youngster, Tony Cingrani, pitching, which does not seem to be a likely long start. That is the rationale.
  • The Dodgers over the Mets: Tough game to call again. Normally, the easy pick here would be Clayton Kershaw. But he has lost his last two. Jonathon Niese can be good at home and his Mets are hitting well. I have to go with Kershaw. If he is on, nobody can hit him.
  • The White Sox over the Indians: This is an ugh game. I am not fond of Zach McAllister or Jose Quintana. But one of them has to win. This is a home town pick as that is the only advantage seen in this one.
  • The Twins over the Marlins: I hate picking against the kid, Jose Fernandez. But I cannot see the Marlins sweeping a double-header and Mike Pelfrey has done a decent job for the Twins and should be good at home.
  • The Mariners over the Astros: Hisashi Iwakuma has been fantastic and I dearly paid whenever picking against him. Bud Norris can be brilliant and he can be abominable. The trick is to figure out which day he will do which.
  • The Rockies over the Braves: Look at me getting all jiggy with this pick. Julio Teheran has been a homer magnet in the big leagues. He is pitching today at Coors Field. Does that not seem to be a bad combination? Jon Garland makes me smile and I like that he has come back from the dead.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: I do not care that the Angels are at home and are starting to hit the baseball. I simply cannot pick Jason Vargas against the Rangers. It is that simple. Alexi Ogando does not fill me with confidence either.
  • The Brewers over the Padres: The Padres are a sad team right now and Clayton Richard, though often okay at home, should not be able to contain the Brewers. Yovani Gallardo, on the other hand, should not have much problem against the weak-hitting Padres.
  • The Giants over the Diamondbacks: It is time for Matt Cain to break out of his funk and pitch like Matt Cain. His home ballpark is a good place to make that happen. Patrick Corbin is a good-looking young pitcher though for the Diamondbacks. If Cain is to win, it will be close and low-scoring.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Rays over the Yankees: The Yankees were 2-7 in Tropicana Field last year and 3-6 the year before that. They are already 0-1 this year. Tropicana is premium orange juice and the Yankees are pulp in that field. David Price over Phil Hughes.

Yesterday: 8-3
Week: 11-16
Month: 163-118
Games of the Day: 11-6

Monday, April 22, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Monday: April 22, 2013

Sunday was a pick-astrophy. That was easily the most brutal results of picking baseball games this daily feature has suffered in its four year history. There were sixteen games. Only three were picked correctly. Holy crap. It is no solace that one of the three correct picks was the Game of the Day feature coming in correctly. One of three correct picks was picking against my favorite team. That was brutal.

Monday would have to be a heck of a good day to pick up that disaster of a day. So here are the picks for Monday:

  • The Athletics over the Red Sox: Here is a stat for you. A.J. Griffin has started 18 times in his Major League career and has only lost once. And the A's are 15-3 in those eighteen starts. Sure, a .900 winning percentage is not going to be maintained. But are you going to argue with it until it starts to falter? No, me neither. Felix Doubront starts for the Red Sox.
  • The Pirates over the Phillies: I am being set up on this one, right? The Pirates just gave the Braves all they could handle over the weekend and the Pirates' A.J. Burnett faces an untested young kid named, Jonathan Pettibone, who has so-so statistics in the minors. This should go to the Pirates. I am being set up, I tell you...
  • The Cardinals over the Nationals: This is not good. I have picked against three straight home teams. But this is the logical pick. Dan Haren has been awful for the Nats and Shelby Miller has been lights out for the Cardinals. This is logical. This makes sense. Oh crap.
  • The Orioles over the Blue Jays: This is not a verdict for Chris Tillman, the weaker spot of the Orioles' rotation. The pick is more of a verdict of the Orioles being at home and getting J.A. Happ who became Happless again in his last start after starting the season with some magic pixie dust. And can baseball players stop coming to the big leagues with initials for names, please?
  • The Reds over the Cubs: Just when I gave up on Mike Leake, he had a good game and won. The Cubs being the visitors seems right for the pick to go Leake's way again. Travis Wood, whose name is better suited for a country singer, gets the start for the Cubs.
  • The Bay Rays over the Yankees: Everything except C.C. Sabathia (more initials) points to a Rays win in this one. Matt Moore has been surreal so far. He is 3-0 with an ERA under two. He has given up lots of walks, but only eight hits in eighteen innings. Plus, he is left-handed and the Yankees have a crappy lineup against lefties.
  • The Indians over the White Sox: The White Sox are the home team, but that seems to be discounted by a start by young Dylan Axelrod. I do not have confidence in him. I had a lot more confidence in Justin Masterson before he blew up in his last start.
  • The Marlins over the Twins: The Twins are a lot better team than people expected. But Kevin Correia does not inspire confidence even if I do call him, "Chick." Ricky Nolasco really needs to get traded to some place where he has a chance. The poor guy. Well, as poor as a rich pitcher in Miami could be, I suppose.
  • The Mariners over the Astros: These two teams are going to baffle me on all eighteen of their contests together this season. Felix Hernandez, for all his accolades, is never a safe pick. And Brad Peacock pitched well his last time out too. Gosh, I hate these kinds of days...
  • The Rockies over the Braves: I like Jeff Francis' odds to pitch well in Colorado since he is used to it. I do not like Mike Minor's odds at Coors Field. The Rockies are off to a great start. The Braves were, but have dropped off a bit since then.
  • The Angels over the Rangers: This is a double-reverse-logic pick. Derek Holland has not pitched well, but will pitch well tonight. Joe Blanton is 0-3 and has been awful, but just when you pick against him every time, he comes back to bite you. The Angels are at home and have started to hit better.
  • The Brewers over the Padres: Every time the Brewers go on the road, I want to pick against them. But Kyle Lohse in Petco should work for him. The Padres got swept by the Giants over the weekend and are due for a win. I do not think it will be tonight behind Jason Marquis.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Giants over the Diamondbacks: Ryan Vogelsong at home seems like a good pick even against a good pitcher like Wade Miley. The Giants really are a remarkable team, are they not?

Yesterday: 3-13  #headdesk
Week: 3-13    I had to type it twice!?
Month: 155-115
Games of the Day: 15-6

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Joba Chamberlain as Lenny Pike

I do not often try to cross post, but I liked this a lot today. So check it out on It's About the Money, Stupid. With all due apologies to Joba Chamberlain.

The resurgence of Jon Lester

Jon Lester has started this early 2013 season with three wins in four starts against no losses and currently sports a 1.73 ERA, an 0.885 WHIP and a 5.75 strikeout to walk ratio. He and Buchholz have provided the major push towards the Red Sox great start to the season. I wrote about what I have seen from Jon Lester so far this season in Big Leagues Magazine and the article appears on page 42 of the current issue.

There are over 75 pages of baseball bliss in the current issue that features Jackie Robinson on the cover and a great retrospective of that Hall of Fame player's impact and career by staff historian, Lew Freedman. The magazine also features articles on Cano, Kershaw, Verlander and others along with scouting reports, fantasy baseball information, news, a section for kids and a great interview with Jim Callas of Baseball America.

So go check out Big Leagues Magazine for a great Sunday of baseball reading.

Anatomy of two really bad starts

Rick Porcello of the Tigers and Philip Humber of the Houston Astros both made starts yesterday for their respective teams. To say that those starts did not go well is like saying that a glacier might move slowly. Between the two of them, they totaled one inning pitched. Combined, they gave up seventeen runs. Now that, folks, is a bad day.

Let us start with Rick Porcello. Porcello threw 47 pitches and got two outs. Both outs came on a double-play grounder. He threw 32 strikes, ten of which the Angels put in play. Of those ten in play, nine fell in safely for hits. Eight of those hits were singles and then Mike Trout hit a grand slam to finish Porcello's day. In between was a walk and a wild pitch. Here is Porcello's pitch chart courtesy of Brooks Baseball:

While Rick Porcello got singled to death before giving up the grand slam, Humber was whacked all over the place. Humber actually recorded the first out with the first batter. He never got another batter out. The sequence went: single, single, double, walk, homer, double, single and double. Ouch. 

Philip Humber made 29 pitches. 17 of them were strikes. Ten of those were put in play. Eight of those put in play led to thirteen total bases. Eight of the ten batters he faced scored.  Here is his pitch chart. It appears to me that he threw a lot more meatballs than Porcello:

So what do you get when you add both outings together? You get a real nasty mess:

Porcello Humber combined
Innings 0.2 0.1 1
Pitches 47 29 76
Strikes 32 17 49
Batters 11 10 21
Balls in play 10 9 19
Hits 9 8 17
BABIP 0.900 0.889 0.895
Runs 9 8 17
ERA 121.44 215.57 153.00

That would pretty much tell the tale of two pitchers having a really, really bad day.

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: April 21, 2013

This was a tough week for the old game picker. But considering that the country had a real tough week, how can I complain? Yesterday was no different than the rest of the week as the picks struggled to a 9-7 day. I was zero for the Dodgers. The Astros pick made me look foolish. The Twins had a nice pitching day to out-pitch Jake Peavy and company. The Yankees won on an error in Toronto. Jeremy Hellickson stuck his tongue out at me and had a good outing. Apparently, Russell Martin took James McDonald out to the movies and that made him a Major League pitcher. Okay. So, yeah, it was a struggle.

The result was a very mediocre week that finished only eight picks above .500 after two really good weeks to start the season. I hope this week is much better.

It all starts with Sunday's picks:

  • The Blue Jays over the Yankees: Yes, I have been picking this result all weekend and have looked like an idiot all weekend. But, gosh, Josh, one of these pitchers for the Blue Jays has to step up here eventually. Josh Johnson over Ivan Nova.
  • The Reds over the Marlins: Alex Sanabia has had the most success as a Marlins' pitcher. But it is a bit of a mirage as his WHIP is 1.71. He is not overpowering and the Reds should get to him. Homer Bailey is confusing. But he is the pick.
  • The Nationals over the Mets: Jordan Zimmermann has long been one of my favorite pitchers. I will rarely--if ever--pick against him. He is 3-0 so far. Just the opposite is Dillon Gee. Gee has gone from a guy with a lot of lucky wins to a guy who cannot seem to buy a win. Gee is 0-3.
  • The Braves over the Pirates: The Pirates have done a nice job of slowing the Braves down this weekend. But that should end today as Jonathan Sanchez has been taking a beating thus far. Kris Medlen had a much better outing his last start.
  • The Red Sox over the Royals: The Royals had a chance yesterday and did not get it done. Today, they play two against the Red Sox. That will not be fun for them. They get Ryan Dempster in the first game and Dempster has looked good in a Red Sox uniform. Ervin Santana goes for the Royals.
  • The Orioles over the Dodgers: Call this pick the light socket pick. After sticking my finger in the Dodger light socket yesterday twice, I cannot pick them today. Chad Billingsley goes for the Dodgers and Jake Arrieta goes for the Orioles.
  • The Athletics over the Bay Rays: Roberto Hernandez has not been quite as bad as his record indicates and knowing the Rays' organization's success with pitchers, he will be pretty good here after a while. But I just do not think the Rays will score much against Tommy Milone.
  • The Brewers over the Cubs: I do not like either option at starting pitcher in this game. Scott Feldman has been terrible and Wily Peralta has not been very wily. So the pick is for the home team.
  • The Astros over the Indians: Can I in my right mind pick Ubaldo Jimenez to win a game? Even after the Indians scored 19 runs yesterday? No, I cannot. Ubaldo has fallen and cannot get up. Oh yeah, picking Erik Bedard is such a picnic. Oy.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: I have flip-flopped on this pick three times already. The White Sox simply are not very good and Gavin Floyd is 0-3. But the Twins are not great either and Scott Diamond was in the rough last time out. See what I did there? Oh, never mind. White Sox.
  • The Tigers over the Angels: The Angels have busted out and their offense will now roll most of the season. My problem has not been their offense, but their pitching. C.J. Wilson simply does not impress me. Doug Fister has to be spot on to win though.
  • The Padres over the Giants: Picking the Padres on any given day is sort of silly. But I like this kid, Eric Stults. Barry Zito was great...up until his last start. And they he became Barry Zito again. Which will it be today? Because that will make all the difference.
  • The Rockies over the Diamondbacks: I will freely admit that I picked the Rockies to come in last in this division. But their pitching has been surprisingly good. I like Juan Nicasio in this game more than I like Brandon McCarthy in Coors Field.
  • The Red Sox over the Royals: Jeremy Guthrie has been terrific ever since he joined the Royals. But he gets beat today by the Red Sox and it will not be pretty. The only concern is Allen Webster going for the Red Sox. His numbers look terrific, especially his control. But picking youngsters is always a problem.
  • The Cardinals over the Phillies: While I am not a big fan of Jake Westbrook, I am not a big fan of Kyle Kendrick either. If both pitchers are equally yuck-worthy, then go with the better team. That would be the Cardinals.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Rangers over the Mariners: The Rangers' offense has been far from impressive in this early part of the season, but they are holding their own because of pitching. Today depends on Justin Grimm and how good he can pitch for the Rangers. Aaron Harang in the Rangers' ballpark is a scary proposition.

Yesterday: 9-7
Last week: 48-40
Month: 152-102
Games of the Day: 14-6