Saturday, May 18, 2013

Chris Sale is quietly terrific

The Chicago White Sox' Chris Sale might be the quietest superstar in baseball. Whether it is because his team gets little national exposure or because he is not doing Head & Shoulders commercials, I do not know, but he just goes out there every fifth day and is devastating. And he keeps getting better. Sale has now started 38 games in his big league career and is 22-10 in those starts with a 2.93 ERA. Yeah, that is good. Really good.

Last night, he beat the Angels. He did not allow a run. He struck out twelve. Ho hum. As maligned as they have been this season, the Angels do have some bats. Granted, they are all not working together so far this season. But for Sale to limit them to three hits in seven and two-thirds innings is pretty terrific.

For a long time, I have been fearful for Sale. He is six feet, six inches tall and weights only 180 pounds. He looks like the wind can blow him over. He came straight out of college for the White Sox when they selected him with the thirteenth overall pick in the 2010 draft. The White Sox immediately put him in their bullpen. He was terrific there in 79 appearances between 2010 and 2011. I thought that was where he would always be.

And then the White Sox converted him to the starter role and I was fearful of how that would play out. Coming in sixth in Cy Young Award voting gives the answer. But he increased his innings from 71 in 2011 to 192 last season. How would that effect him? The answer this year is, "Stop worrying, William." He looks elastic and electric.

Of course, Sale is not throwing 95 MPH gas like he was in the bullpen. But he is still throwing in the upper 91 range. He was mostly a four-seam fastball pitcher as a reliever but is now throwing mostly two-seam fastballs when he throws hard stuff. His two-seam according to PitchF/X is already worth seven runs above average this season. And that is not even his best pitch.

In his 38 starts, Chris Sale's change-up has been worth nearly twenty runs above average. So far this season, only Doug Fister's change-up is rated higher. And over the last two seasons, only Jason Vargas' and Cole Hamels' change-ups rate higher. And those other two do not have the value in their other pitches like Sale does.

And Sale's results are not flukes. His FIP is only slightly higher at 3.18 and his xFIP, SIERA and tERA are all in the same ballpark. His walk rate is lower this season making his strikeout to walk ratio over four and better than a season ago when he was terrific.

Chris Sale is a terrific pitcher who is getting better as he goes. He may be quiet, but he must speak loudly in fantasy baseball circles. Despite being this tall beanpole, he appears to be durable and consistent. Perhaps the rest of baseball fandom will start recognizing him when he starts an All Star Game or wins a Cy Young Award. He is certainly good enough where both would not surprise me.

If you want to see what this kid can do, check out this video. Be forewarned that you will have to listen to Ken Harrelson, but it is worth it.

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: May 18, 2013

Ten correct picks out of fifteen is nothing to sneeze at. But I still have to laugh at picking the Marlins to win. Heh. What a dope. The logic behind that pick was that the Marlins--as bad as they are--are still going to win 50 games this season. So you have to pick them once in a while. Yesterday was not that day.

A lot of the correct picks were sort of lucky. The Astros coughed up their game to the Pirates with two errors in the ninth and a collision in the outfield that allowed the winning run to score. The Red Sox, Indians and Nationals all won in extra innings. But hey, they all count against you when they go wrong, so I will take them all.

It is time to look at Saturday baseball, which features six day games. There should be something for everybody today. The picks:

  • The Cubs over the Mets: Scott Feldman has been grooving and as long as he keeps grooving and not grooving fastballs in the zone, he should win today over Jeremy Hefner, who is not having a good season. David Wright is on fire though, so watch out for him.
  • The Indians over the Mariners: The Indians are tied for first place in the AL Central. That seems sort of incredible. But there it is. Zach McAllister has been decent, particularly in his last three or four starts. Joe Saunders for the M's can be great or terrible depending on the day.
  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: This is the Blue Jays' best chance to win a game in this series with David Phelps starting for the Yankees. But the Yankees seem to have the Jays' number thus far this season. If Phelps can keep the big boys in the yard and Brandon Morrow does not pitch well, the Yankees will win.
  • The White Sox over the Angels: My gosh, the Angels are in this endless funk. Albert Pujols is batting .242. Josh Hamilton is at .210. They keep insisting that Aybar is a lead-off batter. Ugh. Joe Blanton is 0-7. What are the odds of him winning? Like zero? Hector Santiago with the win.
  • The Phillies over the Reds: The Phillies are going to win just enough games this season to force them to keep everybody when what they really need is a trade or three to rebuild. Kyle Kendrick is a pitcher I always mock, but he always wins. So what does that tell me? The Reds are confusing and Bronson Arroyo is at the head of that class.
  • The Bay Rays over the Orioles: Jair Jurrjens makes his first start for the Orioles. Those situations always scare me. I picked against Ramon Hernandez (I miss Fausto) last time and he was quite good. So I will go with the Rays with Longoria in the middle of it.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Marlins: Man, D-back fans are totally surrealistic sometimes. Pick against their team and they take it totally personal. I am just picking games over here. One called me ignorant yesterday. Sheesh. Okay, okay, I will never pick against your team again. Brandon McCarthy over a kid named Tom Koehler.
  • The Twins over the Red Sox: I think I am zero for Scott Diamond this season. Pick against him and he throws a gem. Pick with him and he gets knocked out early. He has a chance if he pitches well today since Ryan Dempster is going for the Red Sox.
  • The Braves over the Dodgers: Los Angeles is not having much baseball fun this season is it. Between the Angels and the Dodgers, which is more disappointing? Today will not be any better as the Dodgers run Chris Capuano out there and the Braves have enough power to make that hurt. The only problem with this pick is Kris Medlen, who has not pitched well for the Braves.
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: This pick sounds easy. Lance Lynn has been unbelievable. The Cardinals' offense has been on fire. Matt Holliday is quietly having a great season. It should be an easy pick. Nothing is ever easy with the Cardinals. I would suggest they walk Aramis Ramirez today. That guy loves him some Cardinals. Marco Estrada goes for the Brewers.
  • The Rangers over the Tigers: This is a really good series and they have split their first two games. The Rangers have to be the pick at home, though Justin Grimm is no lock by any means. Anibal Sanchez is capable of a shut down game anytime he takes the mound. Rangers at home.
  • The Giants over the Rockies: Tim Lincecum at Coors Field does not sound fun. But then again, neither does Tyler Chatwood. This game will be like 10-8 with the Giants coming out on top.
  • The Nationals over the Padres: My man! Jordan Zimmermann! Got to go with him and ride him like the horse he is. Eric Stults is totally baffling to me and I do not think I have picked one of his starts correctly.
  • The Royals over the Athletics: The Coliseum should keep Ervin Santana's gopher balls in the park and when he is not giving them up, he is okay. Tommy Milone can be tough at home. This game will be low scoring like last night's. Either team can win, to be honest with you.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Pirates over the Astros: Wow, was last night the ultimate disaster for the Astros? What a way to lose a ballgame. A.J. Burnett will get a win and Erik Bedard will not remind anyone of the stuff he used to have.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 47-33
Month: 132-93
Season: 361-257  First time over the 100+ mark.
Games of the Day: 33-13

Friday, May 17, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Friday: May 17, 2013

For a short schedule, Thursday was a good day. Seven of nine correct is a fine tally. But as always, it was the two that got away that get all of my attention. If you reread yesterday's version, you can even see me say that Jonathon Niese was due for an overpowering performance. And yet, I still picked against him because it was the Cardinals he was facing at home. The Mets won easily despite facing Adam Wainwright.

The other wrong pick was the Yankees. Aaron Harang was supposed to start. I predicted the Yankees would rough him up. Instead (and I never heard why), Hector Noesi got the start. He was part of the Jesus Montero deal and has an astronomical ERA as a member of the Mariners. Noesi shut down the Yankees for four and a third and then five other relievers held onto the lead while Andy Pettitte hurt his back in the fifth inning.

But again, it was a good day. And now on to Friday:

  • The Mets over the Cubs: The Matt Harvey show makes a stop at Wrigley and it will be an afternoon game and is must-see TV. The kid is amazing. Edwin Jackson will try to keep the Mets scoreless to at least give the game to the bullpen.
  • The Phillies over the Reds: The Phillies are at home and Phil Lee is having a good season with a 4-2 record. With the Phillies not playing well, few have noticed. Tony Cingrani still has not lost a game and experts are poo-pooing his fine start to his MLB career. Time will tell if they are right or not.
  • The Pirates over the Astros: Neither pitcher fills me with much enthusiasm. Jeanmar Gomez has pitched okay, but I still do not trust him. Jordan Lyles still sounds like the name of a country singer rather than a pitcher. The Pirates had a good series in Milwaukee. The Astros lose a DH as if their offense can afford to lose another bat.
  • The Indians over the Mariners: Interesting game and one that is hard to peg. The M's won two of three from the Yankees. The Indians are pitching better. Among those pitching better is Ubaldo Jimenez. But it is still hard to trust him. Brandon Maurer has had some good games. Hard one to judge.
  • The Orioles over the Rays: The Rays just cannot get going. And the fact that Fernando Rodney is not locking it down at the end is killing them too. When I see a guy like Rodney who was so good last year go through this, it again makes you amaze at Mariano Rivera. Rivera never had such a stretch. Jason Hammel over Jeremy Hellickson.
  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: The Yankees lost two more players yesterday in Andy Pettitte and Chris Stewart. Hiroki Kuroda will try to keep their ship afloat against a tough Blue Jays' lineup. Mark Buehrle is having a tough season, but he could hold the Yankees in check.
  • The Marlins over the Diamondbacks: The Marlins will win 50 games this season. As I have said before, the trick is to figure out which games those will be. I think this one will be one of them. Kevin Slowey can have a good BABIP game and the Marlins can squeeze a few runs out of Trevor Cahill.
  • The Braves over the Dodgers: Hyun-Jin Ryu has been very good. There is no doubt about that. But the Braves have the kind of right-hand hitting pop that can get to him I think. At least, that is my story and I am sticking to it. Paul Maholm goes for the Braves.
  • The Rangers over the Tigers: I am not feeling this as strongly as I did yesterday when Darvish was the winner as predicted and Verlander got whacked. Rick Porcello pitches well on the road. Nick Tepesch is the wild card for me. I simply have no idea how good he is or is not.
  • The Red Sox over the Twins: Clay Buchholz is really good. And it has nothing to do with tanning oil and rosin. The Red Sox had a huge comeback win against the Rays last night so they should be pumped. I really thought Vance Worley would be better for the Twins than he has been.
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: I hate picking the Cardinals. I just do. In my mind, they should win this game as Jaime Garcia is usually good at home. But Wily Peralta is an unfamiliar pitcher to me. I have just seen his name every five days doing this every day. But I really know nothing about him.
  • The Giants over the Rockies: How the heck did the Rockies blow a 6-0 lead against Matt Cain, no less? Amazing. It is that kind of thing that will always keep the Rockies from contention in the end. Madison Bumgarner over Jorge De La Rosa.
  • The White Sox over the Angels: Glub, glub, glub go the Angels as they lose day after day. Extraordinary development. Chris Sale will not make it any easier on them today. C.J. Wilson will not be head and shoulders above Sale. Did you see what I did there?
  • The Royals over the Athletics: I kind of root for the Royals, just so you know. That might influence the picks a bit. But I do think that James Shields is better than Jarrod Parker so, all feelings aside, the pick should be correct.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Nationals over the Padres: Burch Smith made his major league debut his last time out. It did not go well. I am not expecting much better today. Gio Gonzalez should enjoy Petco and have a good day.

Yesterday: 7-2
Week: 37-28
Month: 122-88
Season: 351-252
Games of the Day: 32-13

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Who is Jean Segura and what is he doing on my leaderboard?'s leaderboard is always a fascinating place. If you keep track of players from year to year, surprises show up there before they do in the national consciousness. Headley of the Padres was last year's big surprise. Recently, upon scouring the list, the name, Jean Segura, popped up. And while I should know every player in baseball since writing about the sport is what I do, Segura was an unknown to me. Who the heck is this guy and what is he doing tied for sixth among all position players in value?

One of my weak areas is keeping track of prospects. Guys like Craig Wieczorkiewicz (@mwltravelor) and Mike Schwartze (@Mike_Schwartze) as follows on Twitter help me get better at it, but it is still my weakness. As such, there was probably no way that I would have seen Jean Segura on Baseball America's top prospect list the last two years (55th and 57th). I would not have known that he was a free agent signing by the Angels way back in 2007 when he was only seventeen years old (Dominican Republic) and toiled in the minors for six seasons.

His .807 OPS in the minors is not eye-popping. But those numbers did include a good batting average, little plate patience, decent pop and good stolen base possibilities.

And I probably would not have noticed that Segura was part of the Zack Greinke trade that sent Greinke to the Angels and Segura as the best of the three players to go back to the Brewers. The Angels should have sent somebody else. Between Angels' shortstops, Harris and Aybar, they have totaled -0.3 in WAR this season. Jean Segura has already been worth 2.1 fWAR (2.2 rWAR) this season.

Thus, Jean Segura has been a bright spot in the otherwise dismal (last place) season the Brewers are having thus far in 2013. Segura's numbers are eye-popping now. His triple slash line is: .349/.392/.575 are very pretty. The slugging percentage is the most surprising. With six doubles, two triples and seven homers, Segura has already driven in eighteen runs and scored twenty-two. Add in his thirteen stolen bases out of fifteen attempts and some fantasy baseball player is probably hugging him or herself with making that selection earlier in the season.

Plus, Segura plays a prime position at shortstop and is showing above average range and above average reliability making the plays. And the best part is that he is only 23 years old.

Will Segura regress during the season? Well, sure. He is not going to hit .349. His BABIP sits currently at .373. He does not walk enough. Projections showing regression here too as thus far, his percentage of pitches swung at outside of the strike zone are down from his cups of coffee last year. I do not think his walk rate will regress as much as the projections are stating.

The power (His ISO sits at .226) has to regress. The most homers he ever hit in the minors was ten and his current seven already match his tops from the last two seasons. There is no way his home run to fly ball ratio is going to stay at the twenty percent level. But with his speed, the doubles and triple can keep coming.

Segura hits a lot of ground balls. His line drive percentage is driving his average right now at 20.3%. But his 1.88 ground ball to fly ball ratio will force the average to come down a bit if his line drive rate does not sustain itself. Of course, his speed still makes those ground balls a factor.

Jean Segura is currently the most valuable shortstop in baseball and the sixth highest position player overall. While I cannot see those placements maintaining themselves, there is no reason not to believe that Jean Segura should not finish with at least a four WAR season.

The poor Angels are scuffling along and their farm system is considered toast. Jean Segura is one that got away. From the Brewers' perspective, this is the kind of deal you make when making a trade deadline deal. Now I will know who Jean Segura is and if he plays like this, more people will know too. If he is not on the All Star ballot, write him in.

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: May 16, 2013

My last night in Augusta, Maine, brought more mediocrity as the picks just barely broke .500. And it was truly a bizarre night in baseball. Cole Hamels was awful...again. David Price was terrible and hurt, which explains the terrible. The Orioles lost to the Padres and Jason Marquis shut them down. Whuh? Adam Dunn has done something to his mechanics and is killing the ball all of the sudden. Oh sure, Dunn, make my last magazine article look stupid. As predicted, Zack Greinke only lasted five innings. But the bullpen did its job and that was not predicted. The Astros beat the Tigers and Max Scherzer. I did not see that coming. I did see Hisashi Iwakuma beating the Yankees, but what the heck, Phil Hughes?

So, yes, it was a night where I was probably lucky to break just above even. But I need to get going on these picks because I need to pack up and hit the road.

Thursday's picks:

  • The Cardinals over the Mets: Jonathon Niese is due for a good performance. But it will not matter if he does because Adam Wainwright will be better. And by the way, I really enjoy watching Carlos Beltran hit a baseball.
  • The Pirates over the Brewers: See, this is the thing. Francisco Liriano has made a career the last four years of giving you hope after a good performance by then going back to being terrible. But he looks different this time. Is he really? Or am I just being suckered for the thirty-fourth time? Oh, and Hiram Burgos goes for the Brewers.
  • The Yankees over the Mariners: After King Felix and Iwakuma, Aaron Harang is going to look like manna from heaven. That then should give them a win as long as Andy Pettitte pitches like he did his last outing and not like the two outings before that.
  • The Red Sox over the Bay Rays: I do not know I picked the Rays yesterday. I had every intention of picking the Red Sox. Weird. Anyway, I am tempted to go with Alex Cobb. But the Rays have a terrible time against lefty pitching and that is what Felix Doubront is. As long as Doubront does not melt down as he is apt to do, He should win.
  • The Reds over the Marlins: Yes, phenom, Jose Fernandez is pitching for the Marlins. But Mat Latos is pitching for the Reds. I cannot see the Reds losing here.
  • The Rangers over the Tigers: What a match-up! Justin Verlander against Yu Darvish. How cool is that? Justin Verlander's velocity is still down a few ticks, but he is pitching great despite his 4-3 record. But I am going with Yu Darvish at home. Darvish versus Miguel Cabrera is going to be worth the price of admission by itself.
  • The Giants over the Rockies: Matt Cain has pitched eleven times at Coors Field and has held his own there with a 5-3 record and a 4.11 ERA. Not bad considering. Jhoulys Chacin is uneven and up and down and it is hard to predict what you will get from outing to outing. Cain seems the better choice.
  • The White Sox over the Angels: If you cannot beat them, join them. The Angels continue to spiral down. Jerome Williams has been their best pitcher. But he is due for a clunker. Adam Dunn is killing the ball and Carlos Quintana can be decent.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Nationals over the Padres: This is supposed to be the guaranteed pick of the day and Stephen Strasburg is 1-5. Bryce Harper out hurts the Nats' lineup a lot. But Strasburg is the pick as Edinson Volquez is pitching better, but is due to return to form.

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 30-26
Month: 115-86
Season: 344-250
Games of the Day: 31-13

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: May 15, 2013

I watched the games and the picks with interest last night from my hotel room in Augusta, Maine, where I traveled yesterday for a conference. The beginning of the night really started rather brilliantly. I predicted that Barry Zito was ripe for a clunker. He was. I correctly predicted that if the Yankees could match up CC Sabathia with Felix Hernandez and make it a bullpen game, they would win. They did. I even predicted a 5-2 score for the Tigers and they won by the score of, 6-2. Pretty heady stuff. But then the rest of the night was only ordinary to finish the day at, 9-6.

Dumb picks of the day included the Mets beating the Cardinals. The Mets did not have a prayer in that game. The other was going one start too many with Jeremy Guthrie. He was not bad, really. But four solo homers did him in. And Jason Vargas did a good job limiting the Royals. The Brewers pick went twelve innings to be proven wrong. But the one that hurt the most was the Padres beating the Orioles because that was the Game of the Day.

Wednesday's picks:

  • The Orioles over the Padres: Which rehashed pitcher should one choose in this game? Freddy Garcia? Uhh...Jason Marquis away from Petco? Uh... Both pitchers are so ordinary that I have to go with the better offense and that is definitely Baltimore's.
  • The Phillies over the Indians: If I was to ask you which pitcher between Corey Kluber and Cole Hamels was 1-5, who would you guess? I would not pick Cole Hamels if I had not been following along. Pretty amazing really. He is a better pitcher than that and will show it today.
  • The Tigers over the Astros: I really could make the Astros the Game of the Day every day. But that would not be sporting, would it? They keep playing great teams and are just over-matched in every way. Today will not be any different as Max Scherzer will beat Dallas Keuchel.
  • The Twins over the White Sox: This series keeps going back and forth. I like the Twins in this one because Mike Pelfrey seems better than Dylan Axelrod. Pelfrey had a really bad start his last time out though. That is the trouble with having a rotation full of BABIP pitchers for the Twins.
  • The Rangers over the Athletics: Yesterday was probably the A's best chance to win and they did not. Alexi Ogando should shut them down (which does not take much these days) and allow the Rangers to score a few off of Dan Straily. The Rangers are way ahead in the AL West.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Braves: Ian Kennedy likes facing the other team's ace and is best in those situations. He gets Tim Hudson in this one. That will work as an ace in my book. But then again, I am blinded by my man-crush for him.
  • The Pirates over the Brewers: I like Wandy Rodriguez at home here. It is not that Yovani Gallardo is a chump for a match-up though. Gallardo is a consistently underrated pitcher. But I still like Wandy at home against a struggling Brewers' team.
  • The Mariners over the Yankees: Phil Hughes gives up a homer or two and Mr. Hisashi Iwakuma does to the Yankees what he has been doing to the rest of baseball all season.
  • The Giants over the Blue Jays: Ryan Vogelsong scares me. He simply has not pitched well. But Ramon Ortiz pitching for the Blue Jays? Geez. How can you pick them with that?
  • The Bay Rays over the Red Sox: The Red Sox have lost three straight and are 2-8 in their last ten games. Jon Lester is having a very good season. But he is up against David Price tonight. Price has not be right (yeah, there is a pun in there somewhere), but he is hard to pick against at home.
  • The Reds over the Marlins: Once again, like the Astros, it is hard to pick the Marlins on any given night. Oh, they will win their 55 to 60 games. But the odds are much better picking against them. Alex Sanabia is a Four-A pitcher. Mike Leake is at least a little better than that.
  • The Cubs over the Rockies: This was a real bad pick yesterday. But that was yesterday. The Rockies jumped all over the Cubs after a long hitting slump. But Jeff Samardzija can put those bats to sleep again if he is on. I cannot say the same thing about Jon Garland.
  • The Cardinals over the Mets: No, I am not going to make that same mistake twice. Shelby Miller was untouchable his last outing. Can he be nearly as good back to back? It may not matter because Shaun Marcum is simply terrible for the Mets.
  • The Nationals over the Dodgers: Yes, Zack Greinke is coming back to pitch this one. But he will go five innings and then what? I never like these first game back scenarios. Ross Detwiler needs to be a lot better than he was his last time out though.
And the Game of the Day!
  • The Royals over the Angels: Barry Enright for the Angels? No. Not good for them. Enright has never had success in the big leagues. Why he keeps getting the opportunities is beyond me. I would much rather go with Wade Davis who should be able to give up four or five runs and still win this one.

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 22-19
Month: 107-79
Season: 336-243
Games of the Day: 30-13

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: May 14, 2013

Monday started off in good shape as both ends of the Yankees - Indians double-header were called correctly. But the day only ended up with seven out of eleven correct. Only one A.J. won yesterday and I predicted both would. Picking Wade Miley and Joe Blanton to win did not work out very well. And I did not expect the Twins to totally bash the White Sox. And no, Jeff Keppinger still has not walked this season after 126 plate appearances. His batting average is .183 and his on-base percentage is .180. Incredible. Between he and Adam Dunn, they make quite a pair.

The week stands at a super blah 13-13. That needs to be fixed. Here are Tuesday's picks:

  • The Indians over the Phillies: There is no DH for the Indians, but they should still have enough offense. Scott Kazmir is missing a ton of bats and gets better every game. I am rooting hard for the guy. Jonathan Pettibone has been pretty good for the Phillies. Not an easy pick to start off with.
  • The Brewers over the Pirates: Another tough pick. Kyle Lohse will almost always keep his team in the game allowing his offense to take over. But will it? The offense has been spotty at best. Even so, it has been a better offense than the Pirates. Of course, I say that and the Pirates will explode today. Jeff Locke has been pretty good for the Pirates.
  • The Yankees over the Mariners: This is a big time match-up between Felix Hernandez and C.C. Sabathia. King Felix always dominates the Yankees, so it will depend on if Sabathia can match the zeroes. If he can, it becomes a bullpen game and favors the Yankees. Curtis Granderson should be back for this one.
  • The Blue Jays over the Giants: This has the feel of one of those Barry Zito clunkers that happen once in a while. The artificial surface and the power of Bautista and Encarnacion as right-handed batters just makes me feel that way. Of course, R.A. Dickey has to be better than he has been to make the pick come out alright.
  • The Tigers over the Astros: Doug Fister was not good his last time out. But the Astros do not hit well and strike out a lot. The Tigers should score a few off of Lucas Harrell and win like 5-2 or something.
  • The Bay Rays over the Red Sox: Matt Moore has been awesome, dude. And he could give the Red Sox fits. John Lackey has looked pretty good so far with just a bad luck happening here or there. I need to go with the Rays at home.
  • The Reds over the Marlins: Homer Bailey should get double-digit strikeouts in this one as the big ballpark in Miami keeps his mistakes in the yard. Poor Ricky Nolasco keeps slinging it for the Marlins in a losing battle.
  • The Cubs over the Rockies: Don't look now, but the Cubs are on fire! And the Rockies have fallen into a serious hitting funk. Carlos Villanueva will keep the Rockies in that funk and the Cubs will club Jeff Francis.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Why do I keep picking the White Sox? Am I nuts or what? In this case, I just think Jake Peavy is better than Kevin Correia. But the Twins are playing good baseball right now, so I am probably an idiot.
  • The Mets over the Cardinals: This is a battle of pitchers with one-syllable names. Gee. Gast. I like the symmetry there. Heck, John Gast even has two one-syllable names. We will have to call Dillon Gee, "Dil." Now we need John Buck to catch for the Mets and Tony Cruz to catch for the Cardinals and we will be right near a record for low syllable matchups. @dianagram will be all over this.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Braves: I will say it over and over again, but Kirk Gibson and those plucky D-backs are too stubborn. You. Need. To. Separate. Wade Miley and Patrick Corbin in the rotation. Corbin has much better stuff, but the deliveries are much too similar to give the other team the advantage to see both in a row. But Corbin still beats Julio Teheran.
  • The Royals over the Angels: The Angels have been like nurses in Death Race 2000. Yeah, that is a sick thought. But anyway, Jeremy Guthrie has been so good. He has to be picked. Jason Vargas? Not so much. Billy Butler was five for five yesterday.
  • The Rangers over the Athletics: The A's got the better of the Rangers last year and the only thing preventing the Rangers from running away with the division is the same thing happening this year. They have a chance to get off to a good start as Derek Holland is starting to pull it together and Bartolo Colon will throw 90 fastballs.
  • The Dodgers over the Nationals: Dan Haren looked better in his last start and Clayton Kershaw has not been a guaranteed win for the Dodgers. But the latter gives the Dodgers their best chance to win, which is sad considering how big their budget is.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Orioles over the Padres: The Padres will get a DH. But who? The Orioles' offense can crush people and they might do that today against Andrew Cashner, who has been up and down. The Padres face Chris Tillman, who still confuses me.

Yesterday: 7-4
Week: 13-13
Month: 98-73
Season: 327-237
Games of the Day: 30-12

Monday, May 13, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Monday: May 13, 2013

Picking baseball games is a humbling thing. I was celebrating two mornings ago to one of the best days of picking ever. And since then, the picks have gone 13-17. That's the way it goes it seems. You cannot predict that Scott Feldman would throw a gem and that the Nationals bullpen would blow the game at the same time. You cannot predict that Ryan Dempster would yield three homers and his bullpen two more. You cannot predict that Bronson Arroyo would not allow any homers in a game. It is just baseball and that is the beauty of it all.

There are eleven games on the schedule due to a make-up double-header between the Yankees and the Indians. And it is an old fashioned double-header with one game right after the other. That is kind of cool--totally difficult to predict. But cool.

Monday's picks:

  • The Indians over the Yankees: The first game of the double-header seems to give the Indians a slight advantage with Justin Masterson pitching at home against David Phelps. Phelps is pretty decent, but the Indians are hitting well these days and just had a big series against the Tigers.
  • The Yankees over the Indians: The truth is that anything can happen in these two games. Either team could sweep depending on the bullpens, the line-ups and how well young starters do in a special chance to shine. The latter is the case as Vidal Nuno gets his first start for the Yankees and Trevor Bauer goes for the Indians. This Yankees lineup is not the same patient lineup as the regulars who are all on the DL. Bauer's biggest problem is control. Can this Yankees' makeshift lineup be patient enough to wait Bauer out? How well will Nuno do? Who knows.
  • The Pirates over the Brewers: A.J. Burnett is pitching really, really well. But he gets no support from the Pirates when he pitches. Marco Estrada is a serviceable pitcher, just nothing spectacular. The Pirates' lineup has to help AJ out.
  • The Tigers over the Astros: It seems the Astros always play the best teams in the American League. That is kind of unfair with their young and inexperienced roster. Bud Norris, if he is on, gives the Astros a fighting chance. But Anibal Sanchez should get the win.
  • The Cubs over the Rockies: The Rockies have really hit the skids lately. The Cubs are playing decent ball. Travis Wood over Juan Nicasio.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Hector Santiago is quietly putting together a good start to his season. His K/BB ratio is over three and he is striking out nearly a batter an inning. Pedro Hernandez is your typical Twins' pitcher who will need the BABIP gods to win.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Braves: The Braves are such an all or nothing club. They will either club you to death or strike out a dozen times. The pitching is what saved them last year and does not appear to be as strong this year. Mike Minor will try to reverse that. But I think he will be out-pitched by Wade Miley.
  • The Angels over the Royals: Joe Blanton is 0-6. Something has to give there. The Angels were one-hit yesterday by Chris Sale and will be frothing to hit Luis Mendoza. These are two very unpredictable teams.
  • The Athletics over the Rangers: The A's have fallen on hard times and are now below .500. A.J. Griffin makes the Yankees look silly but has been ordinary every other time out. Justin Grimm is still feeling his way. The Rangers have opened such a large lead in the division that the A's have to sweep to stay in the same zip code.
  • The Nationals over the Dodgers: The Dodgers had a good weekend at the Marlins' expense. The Nats continue to disappoint. But Jordan Zimmermann has not disappointed anyone. He is the man. Josh Beckett used to be the man. "Used to be," the key words.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Cardinals over the Mets: I would really be surprised if this game did not go to the Cardinals. Lance Lynn has been blowing people away and Jeremy Hefner is just barely holding on in the majors. Allen Craig is heating up. I said I would never pick the Cards again for the Game of the Day. Ugh.

Yesterday: 6-9
Week: 6-9
Month: 91-69
Season: 320-233
Games of the Day: 29-12

Sunday, May 12, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: May 12, 2013

After a thrilling day on Friday, I was hoping to repeat a little magic yesterday. It did not happen. The day finished one game under .500. It would have been a game over .500 if the Padres had not lost their game with two out in the ninth. Good on Evan Longoria for the homer though. There were quite a lot of surprises. The Cubs beat the Nats. Though I should not be surprised that the Nats played like crap when Stephen Strasburg pitched. It seems to happen every time. The Blue Jays beat the Red Sox despite a Clay Buchholz start. And the Indians made Justin Verlander look like a Joe Blow pitcher.

The one game that did not surprise me was the Pirates game. I saw what Francisco Liriano was doing in the minors. I saw the good control. I know that if he throws strikes, he can be real good and I did not pick him. Shame on me for that one.

Sunday's picks:

  • The Indians over the Tigers: Zachary Taylor McAllister has pitched very well of late. Has he turned the corner on his career and about to reach his potential? Will Rick Porcello continue to be the pitcher Tigers fans hate? Zach McAllister for the win. Plus, the Indians are hitting well as a lineup.
  • The Brewers over the Reds: The Brewers are going to hit Bronson Arroyo. I am pretty sure about that. The question then becomes how good Wily Peralta will be against the Reds. This is one I am torn about.
  • The Mets over the Pirates: If you had to pick between Matt Harvey and Jeanmar Gomez, who would you pick? Exactly. But the scary part is that the Mets' offense has been stinky and Gomez might make them pound the ball into the ground all day. I have to go with Harvey.
  • The Nationals over the Cubs: The last time I picked against Scott Feldman, he beat his old team pretty badly. Perhaps he will pitch well again. I would not guess that he will. But he could. Gio Gonzalez, then, has to be better than whatever Feldman does.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: I do not get how the meritocracy works with minor league baseball sometimes. Chad Jenkins has not had a pretty minor league career. And yet he has been consistently promoted. Last year, he got a cup of coffee with the Blue Jays and was just as ordinary as he was in the minors. And yet, he, of all pitchers in the Blue Jays' minor league system gets the call. I do not get it. Ryan Dempster with the win.
  • The Padres over the Bay Rays: Yeah, I saw how good this worked yesterday and decided to do it again. :::eyeroll::: But I do like Eric Stults better than Ramon Hernandez. I miss Fausto. It was so much more fun to say.
  • The Twins over the Orioles: Scott Diamond has been on a roll and has been killing my picks for quite some time. So I decided to look him up. The bad news is that he has only struck out 15 batters in 29+ innings of work. The good news is that he has only walked three batters. Three! That makes him the ultimate Twins pitcher! Going with him over Wei-Yin Chen.
  • The Yankees over the Royals: If the Royals do not get to Hiroki Kuroda early, they won't get to him at all. Whereas the Yankees can get to Ervin Santana all day.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: The Astros usually play a good three innings or so and then all heck breaks loose. Have you noticed that? Nick Tepesch over Jordan Lyles, who still has a great name for a romance novel.
  • The Cardinals over the Rockies: The pent up Rockies are going to explode against somebody. Will it be Jaime Garcia? Could be. But I cannot pick that way. Garcia is pretty tough at home. And the Cardinals should get to Jorge De La Rosa.
  • The Braves over the Giants: This pick does not feel great. The Braves just strikeout too much for their own good and their outfield defense has been cruddy lately. But I keep thinking Kris Medlen of last year and he is not. But I keep thinking of Tim Lincecum like 2008 and he is not.
  • The Dodgers over the Marlins: The Dodgers should get away with pitching Chris Capuano against the Marlins' offense. And Tom Koehler should be like a leaky faucet. Ha! I kill me.
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: There is no rhyme or reason to this series. Either team wins randomly and neither seems to have an edge. So all you can do is kind of try to find the pattern. And there is not a pattern. Tommy Milone over Joe Saunders.
  • The Phillies over the Diamondbacks: I cannot get Kyle Kendrick's success. I have never gotten it. But he just rolls along from year to year. Meanwhile, Brandon McCarthy has become an irritant to the Diamondback fans who want him jettisoned from the rotation. I still think he will come around.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The White Sox over the Angels: Supermodel fiance or not...nice hair or not...C.J. Wilson is just not a pitcher to count on. But Chris Sale seems like the real deal time after time. So though the Angels have won three in a row, the pick today is the White Sox.

Yesterday: 8-7
Last week: 59-34
Month: 85-60
Season: 314-224
Games of the Day: 28-12