Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mike Minor has been major

While completing my daily Game Picks post, I took a look at Mike Minor's statistics and was really surprised at what I found. He has really been pitching well this season. He has had one sub-par outing against the Tigers as the only blight in his nine starts this season. And then I went back to last season and the numbers really did not do much for me until I looked at his splits and saw that he has really pitched this well since the start of the second half last season. Over the course of his last 23 starts, he has been terrific.

Here are the numbers since the start of Minor's second half last season:
  • Starts: 23
  • Record: 11-6
  • WHIP: 0.9091
  • ERA: 2.40
  • BB/9: 1.73
  • K/9: 7.29
  • K/BB: 4.21
  • HR/9: 0.86
Does that surprise you as much as it does me? The WHIP, walk percentage and strikeout to walk ratio really stand out the most for me. is not as impressed as I am. While Minor's ERA in the second half of last season was 2.16, Fangraphs assigned him a FIP of 3.25 and an xFIP of 3.48. Similarly, his ERA is 2.78 so far this season, but his FIP is 3.48 and his xFIP is 3.81. That is quite a spread between the statistical ERA and the actualized numbers.

Part of that is a low BABIP. And while it is true that Minor's balls in play have resulted in a puny amount of safeties, he has sustained that over 23 starts now. His BABIP in the second half last season was .227 and his BABIP this season is .240. I can see how that seems unsustainable. But he has managed to carry that low a BABIP for 23 starts now. That cannot all be luck.

Minor is a fly ball pitcher. And he does seem to be beating the odds a little bit if you consider his splits on batted ball trajectories. For example, on fly balls this season, the Major League average is a .197 batting average and a .769 OPS. The batting average is offset by the number of homers to pump up the slugging percentage. Yet, Minor's splits show a batting average of just .134 on fly balls with an OPS of .578. And Minor's OPS when batters hit line drives against him are also much lower than the league average.

It has always been difficult for me to figure out that equation. Is Minor just lucky here? Or is he somehow inducing weak contact that gets him more outs? This is why I am not a sabermatrician as such things are beyond my grasp. Suffice it to say that Minor has a prolonged streak of way lower than normal BABIPs and way lower OPS figures against his fly balls than what is normal.

What else can we glean from Minor's numbers? Several things. His first pitch strike rate is the highest of his career at a very good 64.7% and tied for nineteenth best among all starters. His zone percentage, or the amount of his pitches in the strike zone are the highest of his career. His swinging strike percentage is his highest in the last three seasons and what I like best is that his pace is a full second and a half faster than last year. He is also inducing batters to swing at pitches outside the strikezone at a higher percentage than the last two seasons.

The pace and the first pitch strike percentage show me a pitcher who has gained confidence and is rocking back and firing. And it seems to be working out for him.

I do not know if Mike Minor's numbers can hold up. He is beating the odds on his fly balls and his homers per nine would seem to at some point regress back to previous numbers. But he has been doing this now for 23 starts and that seems to give pause to the regression aggression one would normally feel. What is known is that he is still only 25 years old and gives every indication that he is learning his craft and has a bright future.

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: May 25, 2013

The game last night between the Yankees and Rays typified the night. The Yankees won the game but lost Curtis Granderson again with another broken bone from getting hit by a pitch. Yesterday's picks could not escape bad news that followed good news. Plus it was incomplete with the Braves - Mets game suspended due to weather. Thus the day will remain incomplete until that game is finished. If the Braves win, the day will be, 10-5. If not, then 9-6.

I can relate to the weather thing. It started to rain here on Monday and has rained every day this week and is supposed to rain all bloody weekend. When did I move to Seattle and how can I get back?

Here are Saturday's picks:

  • The Braves over the Mets: How many people are aware of the season Mike Minor is having? His WHIP is under one and his only sub-par start this season was against the Tigers. He should be better than Dillon Gee. The other factor in this game is whether the bullpens will be all sapped out if the teams complete the suspended game first.
  • The Blue Jays over the Orioles: This outcome all depends on how well R.A. Dickey pitches. The Blue Jays will score, as they have been killing the ball and get to tee it up against Freddy Garcia. If Dickey can hold back the hard-hitting Orioles just a little bit, the Blue Jays win. I like their chances.
  • The Red Sox over the Indians: Jon Lester's last couple of starts have me a bit concerned that he is falling back to last year's patterns. But I think they are just blips and he will pitch a good game today. Scott Kazmir could shut the Red Sox down. But he probably will not.
  • The Royals over the Angels: There is so much to consider in this game. First, the Angels have caught fire. And they are winning left and right. But, they have Billy Buckner slated to start today and he has not pitched in the Majors since 2010. His minor league numbers are not promising. He has always lacked command and is homer prone. Then, there is the Royals, who have really hit the skids lately. They are flat and lifeless. But Jeremy Guthrie always give them a chance to win. Oy.
  • The Giants over the Rockies: I am going against the odds here because the game is actually determined on the field. The Rockies have had the best of the Giants so far. And Juan Nicasio is a pretty decent pitcher. But Barry Zito got his bad start out of the way and can now bamboozle the Rockies for six or seven. The Giants are too tight a team to get rolled over the entire series.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: It is really kind of sad that every pitcher the Twins can call upon is exactly the same--high contact, no strikeout guys. Someday, they will actually get some real arms. P.J. Walters is not it. Doug Fister with the win.
  • The Reds over the Cubs: Yes, Travis Wood is having a good season. Yes, the Cubs are playing pretty well...for them. But picking against the Reds at home is pretty dicey. Homer Bailey really has not gotten untracked yet this season. It is time.
  • The Pirates over the Brewers: The odds are saying the Brewers win this game. I am not liking Mike Fiers as the Brewers' starter. He is the true definition of a BABIP pitcher with few strikeouts. Everything has to go right in order for him to win. On the other hand, the Pirates just do not hit very much and have to hope Jeff Locke can shut down the Brewers. Maybe the odds were right. We will see.
  • The White Sox over the Marlins: The White Sox tried very hard to give the Marlins a win yesterday and the Marlins just could not do it. There seems to be no shot for the Fish to win today. Jake Peavy goes against the needs-to-be-traded Ricky Nolasco.
  • The Athletics over the Astros: That game last night was a heart-breaker for the Astros. But that is what happens to bad teams. Lucas Harrell could keep the Astros in this one, but give A.J. Griffin the edge for the win.
  • The Nationals over the Phillies: Yeah, Jonathan Pettibone is 3-0. But I just do not see it. His numbers do not fly off the charts for me. Dan Haren is a bit of a flier for the Nationals too. But he is the pick here.
  • The Cardinals over the Dodgers: I cannot see how Don Mattingly survives here. His team is dead in the water and now he has alienated Andre Ethier who really was not having that bad a season. The Dodgers put up a real dud last night and Ted Lilly will never inspire confidence. John Gast is the wild card in all this.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Padres: Andrew Cashner has the ability and the arm to shut down the D-backs. But then the Padres have to score. Wade Miley will do his best to make sure that does not happen.
  • The Mariners over the Rangers: Picking against Felix Hernandez at home just does not make sense. Granted, the M's have to score for him to win, but if they get a couple, he will make them hold up. Derek Holland goes for the Rangers. Hey! Brendan Ryan's average is over .200!

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Rays over the Yankees: The Rays have won every game that Matt Moore has started this season. How can you pick against that? Besides, he is left-handed and the Yankees' lineup against lefties is pathetic. Add in that Vidal Nuno is starting for the Yankees and that seals the pick.

Yesterday: 9-5  (still pending the suspended game)
Week: 42-34
Month: 181-135
Season: 410-299
Games of the Day: 35-18

Friday, May 24, 2013

Elmer Bliss - a record-holder of sorts for the Yankees

I wrote a historical piece for It's About the Money, Stupid on Elmer Bliss, who pitched one game for the Yankees (Highlanders back then) in 1903 that still stands as a record of sorts. Check it out.

MLB Game Picks - Friday: May 24, 2013

When there are only five games on the schedule, there is not much to work with and just a couple of wayward picks can sink the day. That was the case yesterday. Young, Kevin Gausman, was not terrible for the Orioles yesterday. But that team's bullpen is just awful lately and gave up eight more runs in three innings of work. Ouch. Speaking of bullpens, Ryan Dempster was not good again yesterday and gave up four runs in three innings of work. But then Clayton Mortensen and Alex Wilson gave up eight more to put that game way out of reach. And of course, waiting for Edwin Jackson to pitch a good game continues to be an exercise in futility. But hey, I did nail Joe Blanton winning his first game of the season.

Friday, weather permitting, should be back to a full schedule. The picks:

  • The Nationals over the Phillies: My guy, Jordan Zimmermann is on the mound tonight. The only question is whether the Nationals will put enough runs together off of Kyle Kendrick to get Zimmermann the win.
  • The Blue Jays over the Orioles: Yes, a rookie will be making his Major League debut for the Blue Jays. But Sean Nolin has really good numbers in the minors and the Blue Jays are killing the ball right now and should score often against Chris Tillman. This is a really tough pick. But taking the Blue Jays at home.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: This game might be closer than you think. Yes, the Twins are starting Samuel Deduno, but he is a big strong guy with a good arm. Anibal Sanchez should give the Tigers a quality start and Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder will do the rest.
  • The Braves over the Mets: Kris Medlen might find himself back in the bullpen when Brandon Beachy returns unless he can put some good outings together. Even so, he should be better than Jeremy Hefner, who goes for the Mets.
  • The Reds over the Cubs: I love that Scott Feldman is pitching so well for the Cubs. He has been fantastic. But this is the Reds he is facing. Bronson Arroyo goes for the hometown team.
  • The Indians over the Red Sox: The Red Sox' cracks are showing the past few weeks after a really good start. John Lackey has not been able to deliver quality starters and the only big question is if this will be a good Justin Masterson start or a bad one because it is either one or the other in equal measures.
  • The Yankees over the Bay Rays: St. Pete is usually a horror show for the Yankees and they are 5-16 there since the start of 2011. This might be the only game of this series that gives them a shot as Ramon Hernandez goes for the Rays. David Phelps goes for the Yankees. The Rays' bullpen has been a bit of a disaster thus far.
  • The Angels over the Royals: The Royals are not this bad. They really are not. But they are certainly in a horrible stretch. And they are catching an Angels' team that has gotten hot. Jason Vargas never fills me with giddiness. But neither does Luis Mendoza. Mike Trout is on fire.
  • The White Sox over the Marlins: The Marlins get an extra batter in the lineup with the DH. Insert jokes here. I do not like picking a pitcher coming off the disabled list like John Danks is right now. But against the Marlins? Yeah. Tom Koehler goes for the Fish.
  • The Athletics over the Astros: The A's have been somewhat lackluster and their offense is uneven and inconsistent. And still, they should beat the Astros. Tommy Milone has not been terrific. But he has talent. Erik Bedard had talent, but that was years ago.
  • The Pirates over the Brewers: Yeah, this is one where the "lines" might have a different outcome. But I do not care. This is my feature and I go with what I know come hell or high water. If A.J. Burnett is on, the Brewers will be shut down. It is as simple as that. Marco Estrada is a decent pitcher and is at home. But again, if Burnett is on, Estrada will not keep up. But then again, Burnett has to be on. Heh.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Padres: It was great to see Brandon McCarthy get his first win his last time out, his first since he was hit in the head so badly last season. But the D-Backs faithful are still itching for their team to ditch McCarthy, so we will see. Eric Stults goes for the Padres and I never get his games correctly.
  • The Cardinals over the Dodgers: The Mattingly death watch continues. What he said was dead on, by the way. Lance Lynn over Chris Capuano. This one should not be close unless the Cards get jet lagged.
  • The Mariners over the Rangers: This is my upset special of the day. Joe Saunders will have a good BABIP night and give Rangers' hitters soft oh-fers. Justin Grimm will be dinged around for three or four runs and the Mariners will steal one.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Giants over the Rockies: Tyler Chatwood has a 2.66 ERA with a 1.58 WHIP. Those two are not logical and will not continue. Tim Lincecum seems to be at least competitive in most of his starts. The Giants will win this one at home.

Yesterday: 2-3
Week: 33-29
Month: 172-130
Season: 401-294
Games of the Day: 35-17

Thursday, May 23, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: May 23, 2013

Wednesday was a decent day. The Game of the Day feature is on a bit of a losing streak. And a couple of games were surprises. The Nationals / Giants game was fantastic, but the pick got the final tally wrong. The Rangers winning behind Ross Wolf was a complete surprise. But overall, at least it was a positive day after several not so positive days.

A comment from yesterday provides me one more opportunity to tell you what this daily post is not. This is not some competition to Vegas betting lines. In fact, this daily post is not even about betting at all. If some of you use it that way, God help you. I am not picking by odds or by what experts say. All I do is simply look at the games each day, see the pitching match-ups, see who is home, weigh how teams are playing and then make a prediction. There is no science here. If that is not your cup of tea, that is fine. But again, I thought it was a good time to take a moment to tell you what this is and what it is not.

There are only five games being played today making this the lightest MLB day since early in the season. And the five games are fraught with difficult to decipher pitching match-ups.

Thursday's picks:

  • The Cubs over the Pirates: I have never been a fan of Edwin Jackson. Perhaps neither have Major League GMs considering how often he has been traded in his young lifetime. But even if I have not been a fan, I know he is not as bad as he has pitched thus far. Jeanmar Gomez has had a couple of good outings and is due for some slippage.
  • The Orioles over the Blue Jays: The Blue Jays just took two of three from the Rays. But Brandon Morrow has not looked good this season. The Orioles have not even announced their pitcher for today and I still think they will win.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: Rick Porcello gets no love in Detroit and he is pitching at home today. And that is enough to give this pick some pause. But even if this becomes a slugfest, the Tigers should outhit the Twins, especially with Scott Diamond on the mound.
  • The Red Sox over the Indians: I love how the Indians are playing and I really wanted to pick them today. But with the Red Sox at home, I simply have to go with them despite the fact that Ryan Dempster has been rocked a couple of times there this season. He will have his share of good games and today will be one of them. Zach McAllister will keep it close.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Angels over the Royals: Book it. Joe Blanton is going to get his first win today. The Angels have finally gotten their offense rolling. The Royals look flat and lifeless, which is a shame. Ervin Santana coughs up some homers against his former team.

Yesterday: 9-6
Week: 31-26
Month: 170-137
Season: 399-291
Games of the Day: 34-17

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Good players on bad teams - Jose Altuve

I thought I would start a little series on good players that play on really bad teams. The subject has always fascinated me. The ultimate example, of course, is Steve Carlton who won a Cy Young Award in 1972 by winning 27 games on a team that lost 97 games. Just to give you an idea of how much of an anomaly Carlton was that season, he went 27-10 that year. The rest of the starters went 19-68! Carlton was rewarded for his efforts. But usually, good players on bad teams are overlooked because nobody is paying attention to teams playing so poorly. Jose Altuve is one of those good players.

Altuve is not without some notoriety. Known as the shortest player in baseball, Altuve is generously listed as 5'5" and 175 pounds on his player page. And perhaps most know him as one of the best players on a really bad team. But I think he is still overlooked a bit. His numbers from his first two seasons in 2011 and 2012 do not blow you away. But most will not consider that he was only 21 and 22 years old during those seasons. Now in his third year, at the age of 23, he is still improving.

And despite his team's 13-33 record thus far, Altuve is certainly a bright spot. According to's leaderboard, Altuve ranks tied for sixth of the 28 qualifying second basemen in the majors. That is pretty darned good. While it is too early to really tell, one of the biggest upturns for Altuve has been his fielding.

In 2012, both B-R and Fangraphs ranked his fielding pretty poorly. B-R had him at 18 runs below average and Fangraphs at 13.4 runs below. This season, Fangraphs has him at 4.3 runs above average and B-R gives him five above. Altuve has made only one error this season, has improved his double play ratings and is showing more range.

And for a guy his size and considering that he has little support and protection, he is a very good offensive player. Altuve should easily surpass 180 hits at his current pace with an outside chance at 200. He has always had a good line drive rate and was over 20% in that category in his first two seasons. That rate is at 25% this year. He hits a lot of ground balls and that rate is up this year too. But that is not necessarily a bad thing for a small, quick guy. He has a .296 average on ground balls, which is way above the league average.

The big thing to watch for this season for Altuve is how he holds up during the season. Last year, his OPS for each month dropped every single month of the season. His OPS in the second half last year was 87 points lower than his first half. Like last year, Altuve is off to a good start. It will be interesting to see if he can hold up better than he did in his first full season a year ago.

I would not call Jose Altuve a superstar or even a great player. But he is a very good player who can do some things offensively, is playing better defense, will get his 30+ doubles, steal some bases and be an above average base runner.

Altuve is a very good player on a very bad team. That is a shame. He would get a lot more attention and be appreciated a bit more if his team did not guarantee that his efforts would be obscured by the mediocrity around him.

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: May 22, 2013

Good golly, I feel a rant coming. Statistics will show that Miguel Gonzalez pitched a great game against the Yankees. He went seven innings, gave up two runs on five hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Great game, right? His Game Score will be around 60 or a little higher. But I watched that game. He did not have a great outing. The Yankees hit at least sixteen balls hard. I mean absolutely squared up line drives. All but a couple of them ended up in someone's glove. And why the heck did the Nationals' bullpen have to blow Strasburg's win? That really torqued me. As did the fact that of the four games that went into extra innings, three of them went the wrong way for the picks. It is unfair I tell you!

There were a couple of stupid picks thrown in there. I will be the first to admit that. But picking baseball games is impossible when luck and chance play such a big part in each and every game. Last night's picks went 7-8. They just as easily could have gone 11-4 if balls bounced just a little differently.

Rant over. There are games to pick:

  • The Braves over the Twins: This game illustrates exactly what I was talking about. Vance Worley and Paul Maholm pitch for their respective teams and it all depends on where those batted balls go. There will be a lot of batted balls in this one.
  • The Reds over the Mets: Matt Harvey will pitch brilliantly, but will give up a run. Mat Latos will pitch brilliantly and give up no runs. The Mets' bullpen will cough up another couple of runs. The Reds' bullpen shuts the Mets down. Ballgame.
  • The Brewers over the Dodgers: The Brewers may be a lot of things as a team, but they are always good at home. They need a good game from Wily Peralta. But the Dodgers are so inconsistent offensively that the possibility exists. I am not yet on the Hyun-Jin Ryu bandwagon.
  • The Athletics over the Rangers: If the A's played the Rangers for 162 games, their final record would be 160-2. The Rangers simply cannot beat these guys. This feels so much like last year, it is not even funny: Rangers build a big lead in the division but cannot beat the A's head to head and end up out of the playoffs. Jarrod Parker over inexperienced, Ross Wolf.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: I am still zero for Trevor Cahill this season. Pick against him and he wins. Pick for him and he loses. So this is one of those reverse picks. I think he will get his butt kicked at Coors Field, but if I picked that, he would win. So I will pick the opposite. Jorge De La Rosa goes for the Rockies.
  • The Giants over the Nationals: It seems obvious that Jayson Werth is missed in this lineup. Dis his contract all you want, the Nats are better when he was in there. And I think they miss Michael Morse too. Madison Bumgarner over Gio Gonzalez.
  • The Blue Jays over the Bay Rays: Another battle of the Ays. I do not like either pitcher in this one. Jeremy Hellickson has not been anywhere close to dominant. And Mark Buehrle is that antithesis of dominant. Impossible game to predict.
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: I really hate picking against Jeff Samardzija. I really like him. But the Cubs do not score when he pitches. Or at least, so it seems. Besides, Francisco Liriano appears to have figured life out and is throwing a lot of zeroes up there.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: The Indians are easily the coolest story so far this season. And Ubaldo Jimenez has been much better of late. But Justin Verlander has to be given the pick despite the fact that he has appeared very human lately.
  • The Yankees over the Orioles: Hiroki Kuroda seems due for a clunker. But he needs to be good in this rubber match of the series. A two-game swing is in the balance. Jason Hammel always seems to pitch the Yankees tough. Interesting game and unpredictable to call.
  • The Angels over the Mariners: The Angels appear poised to go on a run. The offense is gelling a bit and all they need is decent pitching. C.J. Wilson will give them that and the Angels could get all over Brandon Maurer. And here comes Mike Trout.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: So much for the Marlins winning two in a row. I must have eaten some bad fish when I picked that puppy yesterday. Cliff Lee should be better than Kevin Slowey. I always want to call the latter, "Slow, Slowey, Sloweyest."
  • The Red Sox over the White Sox: The battle of the hoses goes on. The Red Sox had trouble with Quintana last night and Hector Santiago is a very similar pitcher. But Clay Buchholz is a very good pitcher and the pick has to go in that direction.
  • The Cardinals over the Padres: Tyler Lyons versus Burch Smith. Uh...What do we go by on this one? Let's see. Burch Smith has already gotten his feet wet in the majors with a few starts. He has gotten a bit bloodied. Tyler Lyons has excellent control from looking at his minor league numbers. But it has not translated to success. I love good control guys though.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Royals over the Astros: James Shields is one of the most reliable pitchers around. He seems to be a logical pick over Jordan Lyles. The Royals need to score some runs for Shields though.

Yesterday: 7-8
Week: 22-20  blah
Month: 161-121
Season: 390-285
Games of the Day: 34-16

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: May 21, 2013

Monday's picks started out at 5-0 and I was thinking that something groovy was going on. But then the Rangers lost, Cole Hamels lost...again, the Red Sox lost, the Royals lost and the Cardinals lost. By then, the day had turned just ordinary and finished with a final tally of, 8-5. But in the grand scheme of things, with so many lives torn by those awful storms in our country, silly little game picks seem puny and meaningless. My heart goes out to all of you affected by these storms that did so much damage in property and casualties.

We are back to a full schedule as the season grinds on for another day. Here are the picks:

  • The Pirates over the Cubs: Matt Garza returns and makes his first start off of the disabled list. Those kinds of starts hardly ever get picked around here because the pitcher will only last five innings or so as he builds back up to full strength. Besides, Wandy Rodriguez has been pitching really well for the Pirates.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: The Indians have something really special going on right now. But their train is slowed down a bit by Max Scherzer throwing darts and the Tigers getting some runs against Corey Kluber.
  • The Yankees over the Orioles: It is almost getting to the point that I hope the regulars on the DL stay there a bit longer for the Yankees. They have become a fun team to root for with rookies and castoffs all over the field. And they are catching the Orioles here in a real flat spot. The O's losing streak hits seven as Phil Hughes bounces back from a horrible start his last time out and the Yankees hit Miguel Gonzalez.
  • The Rays over the Blue Jays: The Blue Jays took the first battle of the Ays last night. And Alex Cobb has not been a shut down pitcher. But Cobb should yield fewer runs than the ancient Ramon Ortiz.
  • The Reds over the Mets: There does not seem to be much separation from Mike Leake to Jonathon Niese. Both have a WHIP close to 1.5, both have some good games and some bad. The Reds' lineup is better than the Mets' and Leake's bat makes a difference too. Gotta go with the Reds.
  • The Braves over the Twins: I saw a statistic the other night that only a half a dozen pitchers or so in rotations around baseball have an average against of .310 or higher and the Twins have three of them. The team's insistence on building rotations on strike throwing, BABIP pitchers is a model they have to break some day. Tim Hudson over Mike Pelfrey in this one as a strikeout-prone Braves' lineup is greatly helped by not facing strikeout pitchers.
  • The Marlins over the Phillies: There it is. A Marlins' two-game winning streak. Predicting it to happen is quite frightening actually. But I like the match-up of a flame-throwing Jose Fernandez against an old lineup. Tyler Cloyd was not half bad in his first start.
  • The Rangers over the Athletics: The A's have some special mojo against the Rangers. It is uncanny how they single-handedly have stayed in the race the last year and a quarter simply by beating the Rangers every time they play them. But they will not beat Yu Darvish if he is on and Dan Straily should not be able to keep up.
  • The Red Sox over the White Sox: Felix Doubront and Carlos Quintana do not have a lot of separation between them. But Doubront does have a tendency to let things rattle him.  Even so, I have to go with the Red Sox here.
  • The Astros over the Royals: Something historic will happen today. Both the Marlins and the Astros will win their second game in a row. That will not happen often this season. The Royals are flatter than a pancake right now. Bud Norris is exceedingly talented, but often frustrating. Wade Davis is a lot like Phil Hughes and sometimes he is good and sometimes he is bad.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: I do not like Ian Kennedy's chances in Coors Field. But I am not sold on Jhoulys Chacin either. This should be a high scoring game with the D-backs coming out on top in the end.
  • The Angels over the Mariners: Even the Angels should have a fighting chance in this one as Jerome Williams should be better than Aaron Harang.
  • The Cardinals over the Padres: This pick did not work out that well yesterday. But Edinson Volquez does not have the bamboozle like Jason Marquis. And I cannot believe that both Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright can both lose in San Diego.
  • The Nationals over the Giants: An on-paper good match-up between Stephen Strasburg against Matt Cain. My only concern with this pick is that the Nationals' offense has gone missing. This is more of a heart pick than a smart pick.

And the Game of the Day!

Yesterday: 8-5
Week: 15-12
Month: 154-113
Season: 383-277
Games of the Day: 34-15

And a very happy birthday to my beloved son, born this day 34 years ago. I love you, Bill.

Monday, May 20, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Monday: May 20, 2013

What a blah day of picking! With the rain-out of the Yankees - Blue Jays game and what would have surely been a correct pick, the final tally was a .500 day. Blah. When I went to bed, I was sure the day would end up barely in the black. The Tigers had a 3-1 lead on the Rangers. But apparently, when I went to bed, all heck broke loose and the game became batting practice. And despite three homers by Miguel Cabrera, the Rangers won the slugfest. Well, that is great for the Rangers but not so good on the picks.

Earlier in the day, the Game of the Day pick, Reds, had a 2-0 lead when the ball was handed to Aroldis Chapman. "That one is in the bag," I thought. Boom. Boom. The bag had busted open and a bunch of dust fell on the floor. Closers. Everyone says they are not important. Sure they aren't. :::eyeroll:::

Today is quite a busy day in baseball despite it being a Monday. Thirteen games are scheduled (weather permitting). Here are the picks:

  • The Indians over the Mariners: I was really torn over this one. For one thing, Hisashi Iwakuma has been the best pitcher in the American League thus far. Second, the Indians are starting Scott Kazmir, an iffy proposition. But I like the way Kazmir has been pitching and do not think the M's will score. And the Indians have been red hot. So that is the pick.
  • The Blue Jays over the Bay Rays: Another battle of the Ays. The Rays will start Jake Odorizzi and hope that he does not stink. That was joke, if you did not get it. Odorizzi is a former first round draft pick by the Royals and was part of the big Wade Davis and James Shields trade. Odorizzi has decent minor league numbers and two major league starts to his credit (they did not go that well). I am going with R.A. Dickey.
  • The Yankees over the Orioles: So Freddy Garcia will have extra incentive by facing his old team. But Freddy does not have a whole lot of gas left in the tank. CC Sabathia will have an extra day of rest. Not sure if that will help or hurt him. The Orioles will be dangerous after getting whipped by the Rays all weekend.
  • The Reds over the Mets: Johnny Cueto is back in this one and usually, a first start back from the DL is not one I like to pick. But Cueto has done this before and usually comes back fine. Plus, the Mets start Shaun Marcum, of whom I have no faith in at all.
  • The Braves over the Twins: I have no idea at all what will happen in this game. Julio Teheran and Kevin Correia are so unpredictable that anything can happen. So this is a flip of the coin / go with the home team sort of game.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: It is getting really, really old picking Cole Hamels to win every time just to see him lose. So he is 1-6 and is facing the 2-6 Alex Sanabia. What great fun. Do the Marlins play 162 games at home this season? It sure feels like it.
  • The Rangers over the Athletics: I was watching the highlights of the game last night and Adrian Beltre had four hits including two doubles. Then I laughed because the two doubles were doinks that landed perfectly and one of his singles was a slow roller that bounced through the infield somehow. Hey, they all look good in the box score. If the Rangers are not too tired from last night, they should win this one even though Josh Lindblom is starting for the injured Alexi Ogando. Lindblom was part of the Michael Young deal and has 101 relief appearances in the majors. But he is still 25 and is having a good year starting in the minors. Bartolo Colon goes for the A's.
  • The Red Sox over the White Sox: Jon Lester should make the difference in which foot covering wins this particular game. Dylan Axelrod goes for the White Sox.
  • The Royals over the Astros: What the heck has happened to the Royals' offense? It seems so unreliable. The kids that were supposed to blow up the majors have blown up themselves. I am confused. They now have some pitching and still cannot get out of their own way. Jeremy Guthrie was not treated well his last time out. But Dallas Keuchel is not among my favorites to pick.
  • The Dodgers over the Brewers: This one is ripe for being wrong. Clayton Kershaw got a little rest from the Dodgers. That is a bit scary. But he is the best there is and should win every game. But he does not because his team is inconsistent as heck. Then they are playing at Milwaukee where Yovani Gallardo is tough to beat.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: Patrick Corbin is one of my favorites. But then I picked Wade Miley yesterday and he is one too. So see what good that did me. And Corbin pitching in Coors Field is dicey. But he should be better than Jon Garland.
  • The Cardinals over the Padres: Jason Marquis sure has had a long and mediocre career, hasn't he? Included in there were two blah years with the Cardinals. Heck, if Dave Duncan could not make you successful, there is little there to work with. Shelby Miller, on the other hand, is the bomb. Of course, you do know that ever pitcher I make fun of wins, right?

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Giants over the Nationals: Zach Duke!? Seriously!? The Nats are going to start Zach Duke? Obviously, I am no enamored with that choice. But the Giants a lock behind the Ryan Vogelsong that has been beat up lately? Yeah. I will still take him over Zach Duke.

Yesterday: 7-7
Week: 7-7
Month: 146-108
Season: 375-272
Games of the Day: 33-15

Sunday, May 19, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: May 19, 2013

Four games yesterday hung in the balance until the last inning. All four went the wrong way. The Nationals wasted another Jordan Zimmermann beauty and could not score more than one run and lost in extras. A.J. Burnett left with a 2-1 lead after seven. Mark Melancon allowed Houston to tie the game in the eighth and the Astros won in extras. Those freakin' Cardinals tied the game late and the game went into extra innings. The Brewers won. That is the way the day went.

Of course, I should not gloss over the fact that some stinker picks were in there too. I had the Phillies over the Reds. That pick was only off by ten runs. I thought Scott Diamond had a chance against the Red Sox. I thought way wrong. I predicted a high scoring game with the Rockies and Giants with the Giants winning. But the Rockies were the only one of the two that went high scoring.

The bottom line was a 7-8 day, an rare incorrect Game of the Day and a bummer of a week-ender after two very good days that preceded it. Sunday cleans the slate (cliche alert!) and a new week starts.

Sunday's picks:

  • The Mariners over the Indians: Justin Masterson was really good against the Yankees in his last start. But he squares up against Felix Hernandez today. If the Mariners score two or three runs, they win.
  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: How can you pick this game any other way? The Blue Jays are already 1-8 against the Yankees this season and today face CC Sabathia. R.A. Dickey might make it interesting but the Yankees should complete the sweep.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Marlins: And this pick is not because one of my favorites, Wade Miley, is pitching. It is because I think Miley will hold the Marlins scoreless or close to it to allow his teammates to score two or three runs off of poor Ricky Nolasco.
  • The Pirates over the Astros: What kind of uniforms are the Pirates wearing lately? Are they fatigues? They must be because their offense is invisible right now. Even so, you cannot pick the Astros on a regular basis. Lucas Harrell versus Jeff Locke.
  • The Braves over the Dodgers: Mike Minor does not always fill me with great confidence, but I have to go with the Braves' offense against young Matt Magill.
  • The Bay Rays over the Orioles: The Rays complete the series they have dominated against the Orioles with their best pitcher, Matt Moore, taking the hill today. That should be game, set and match. Chris Tillman has been pretty good, but he is not in Moore's category.
  • The Red Sox over the Twins: Can we just say that David Ortiz is incredible? How many times has he been left for dead only to come back and dominate? I do not care if Pedro Hernandez is doing well and is a lefty. The Red Sox have really killed off last year, haven't they? There is only one problem with this pick: John Lackey. Oh boy.
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: Yeah, this pick was wrong yesterday. And yeah, John Gast is pitching and I have no idea how he will do. And yeah, Kyle Lohse could come back to haunt his old team. But you see, this is what the Cardinals do to me. They lull me to sleep and then kill my pick. It is personal at this point. I know it is.
  • The Cubs over the Mets: Feldman and Travis Wood have been a nice 1-2 combination lately. I bet you did not know that Wood has a 0.92 WHIP thus far after eight starts. Dillon Gee is always capable of a good game. But I think the Cubs take this one.
  • The White Sox over the Angels: The Angels exploded on the scoreboard yesterday. Does that mean they take off now? Are they over the hump? Time will tell. I am too skeptical to pick Jason Vargas despite his league leading change-up. I will instead pick Jake Peavy.
  • The Athletics over the Royals: The Royals' offense really confuses me. Sometimes they seem good. Other times, they seem to go in long stretches of coma-like trances. I do not get it. But the A's have Coco Crisp back and A.J. Griffin is tough in his home ballpark and Luis Mendoza seems like a bad idea to pick.
  • The Rockies over the Giants: Barry Zito has a meme of pitching a couple of great games followed by a shelling. And he was shelled last time. So this should be a good outing, right? Not in Coors Field. Juan Nicasio goes for the Rockies.
  • The Nationals over the Padres: Dan Haren at least seems to get run support that Strasburg and Zimmermann never get. Grrr. So will be the case today as the Nats score five or more against Andrew Cashner and company.
  • The Tigers over the Rangers: This has been a fun series of two pretty evenly matched teams. They have taken turns winning and today is the Tigers' turn. Doug Fister over Derek Holland. Miguel Cabrera should hit Holland if he gets pitched to.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Reds over the Phillies: Homer Bailey is a power pitcher whose fastball is averaging over 93 MPH this season. Why is that important here? Because the Phillies have 347 plate appearances against power pitchers and have a combined .493 OPS. Eww. Plus, I still think Jonathan Pettibone has led a charmed life thus far.

Yesterday: 7-8
Last week: 54-41
Month: 139-101
Season: 368-265
Games of the Day: 33-14