Saturday, August 03, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: August 3, 2013

Walk-off hits and homers, a young kid striking out fourteen batters, a tumbling catch into the seats and big hits by soon to be suspended players all went in favor of the picks and were only marred by the conspicuous failure of two former lefty aces. Only four picks went south out of fifteen. August has started just fine here at the FanDome. Chris Davis hit his 40th homer too, which is very cool. Still, one has to wonder if CC Sabathia and Jon Lester are done as elite pitchers. It sure appears to be so.

I have a golf tournament today, and I am pumped because I am really playing well these past couple of weeks. But as such, I better get right to Saturday's picks:

  • The Mets over the Royals: To make such a pick knowing that David Wright will be out for a long time is problematic. But the Mets have a bunch of punch and Judy hitters which could give Bruce Chen problems. Jeremy Hefner has to pitch better than he has the last three weeks though.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: John Lannon threw a good game his last time out. But he is John Lannon after all. Brandon Beachy's first outing back from TJ surgery did not go well. He will have to be a lot better today.
  • The Dodgers over the Cubs: The Cubs continue to lose and that lineup is a lot weaker without Alfonso Soriano. Jeff Samardzija is having a good season, but he gets no help. The scary part is wondering when this really good bubble that Chris Capuano is in will burst.
  • The Rangers over the Athletics: I got this wrong yesterday and went with the A's. But since Nelson Cruz got to play for the weekend, the Rangers should get the benefit. Matt Garza has been great since joining them and Jarrod Parker is the A's weakest starter.
  • The Pirates over the Rockies: I got this one wrong yesterday too. The Pirates have now lost two in a row! Oh no! Nah. Francisco Liriano has been lights out and though Jorge De La Rosa has had a fine season, the pick is the Pirates.
  • The Orioles over the Mariners: I am not overly excited about the Orioles picking up Scott Feldman. I felt they could have done better. But Feldman can be okay if he gets his ground balls. Erasmo Ramirez has won his last two starts, but does not go deeper than six innings and that bullpen is a mess.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Red Sox: Jake Peavy will make his first start for the Red Sox and I predict that it will not go well. Meanwhile, Patrick Corbin pitches beautifully every time out, even in his losses. And I like power lefties against Boston.
  • The Indians over the Marlins: Jacob Turner is a pretty good pitcher, but he is no Fernandez. Zach McAllister will need to pitch a good game and should be aided by the big ballpark in Miami. I am picking way too many visiting teams to win. This is scary.
  • The Twins over the Astros: Like I said in his last start (which did not go well), I like Kyle Gibson as a pitcher. He has a little more zip than most of his Minnesota cohorts. Erik Bedard will not get much help and probably will not pitch well.
  • The Bay Rays over the Giants: David Price is a seriously good option at home. I do not think he has walked a batter since he came back from the DL. Tim Lincecum should benefit from a bigger park down in St. Pete, but will not be able to match Price.
  • The Reds over the Cardinals: The Reds got walloped yesterday by these same Cardinals. But I like their chances better today at home with Tony Cingrani on the mound. Besides, I have no faith in Jake Westbrook.
  • The Nationals over the Brewers: I had written off Dan Haren for the season and then he goes and pitches a gem his last time out. So now I am confused. Donovan Hand has been decent for the Brewers since joining the rotation. But he does not strike anyone out.
  • The Yankees over the Padres: I really like the way Ivan Nova has been throwing lately and he should be aided by Petco Park. Then again, Tyson Ross is the kind of pitcher that gives the Yankees trouble. This could be a nail-biter.
  • The Angels over the Blue Jays: Esmil Rogers has been a batting practice pitcher lately so I do not like his chances against the Angels. That is especially the case since Jered Weaver is pitching for the Angels.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Tigers over the White Sox: I don't think this will only take two hours and seven minutes like Doug Fister took yesterday. But Max Scherzer should get a fairly easy win and give Brian Kenny more time to talk about how stupid the win statistic is. John Danks goes for the White Sox.

Yesterday: 11-4
Week: 50-32
Month: 18-8
Season: 921-716
Games of the Day: 71-47    +2

Friday, August 02, 2013

Batting third for the Indians, Ryan Raburn

The Cleveland Indians have won eight games in a row. They are two games back from the Tigers. If the season ended today, they would be the second wild card team. They have the best home record in baseball. And they have Ryan Raburn batting third last night against Chris Sale. Ryan Raburn batting third!?

This is the same Ryan Raburn the Tigers ditched after a disastrous .480 OPS last season, right? How can he be batting third when the third spot in the order is reserved for the team's best hitter? That is probably because, as of right now, Ryan Raburn is the Indians' best hitter. How the heck did that happen?

Raburn has never been a starting player for an entire season. He peaked at 121 games for the Tigers in 2011. And he has not been a regular starter for the Indians either. He has played in only 62 of the Indians' 108 games. Drew Stubbs started the season as the Indians' right fielder. And Stubbs has played more games than Raburn.

But Stubbs strikes out almost 30% of the time and his power does not warrant such a high strikeout total. Seeing this, Terry Francona has given Raburn more and more starts in right field in the last month or so. But still, Raburn is not out there every day. Both he and Stubbs bat from the right side, so this is not a platoon situation. And Raburn has an OPS over .900 against right-handed pitchers this season.

Perhaps Francona feels that Raburn is better in small doses. Judging from the results, it is hard to argue with him. After his two homers last night, Raburn now has an OPS of .961 with an impressive .377 on-base percentage and an even more impressive .584 slugging percentage.

So where did this Raburn come from? He has shown flashes of this kind of hitting in the past. He had an .847 OPS in 2007 and an .891 OPS for that same team in 2009. But then there have been some clunker years too. He had a .666 OPS in 2008 and then, of course, last year was a disaster.

Can we get a clue to what is going right for Raburn? It is difficult. A lot of his peripherals look the same as last year. His strike rate is actually a bit higher at 24.1%, but his walk rate of 11.6% is way above his 7.1% career average. He showed that kind of walk rate in the minors, but that was a long time ago. Corresponding to his walk rate, his rate of swinging at pitches out of the strike zone is currently the lowest of his career.

So, it may be said that he is being much more selective at the plate and is hammering pitches he can handle. His home run to fly ball rate is easily the highest of his career at 26.5%. Perhaps he is benefiting a lot from his fly balls being hit outside of that big ballpark in Detroit.

But other than the home run rate and the walk rate, the rest of his numbers look familiar. He has always been ground ball / fly ball neutral and that still holds. His line drive rate is still similar to his norms. His BABIP is only a little out of line at .321, but that jumped after last night's three for four performance. It was at .302 before the game started.

So, yeah, perhaps this is an outlier for Raburn this season. But these things happen and you ride it if you are Terry Francona. Raburn has a tidy little 1.310 in the second half thus far and had a 1.034 OPS in July. And of course, his August has started with a bang. Perhaps Francona should ride this hot hitter even harder until it falters.

Baseball is funny and it is hard to explain when a player like Ryan Raburn comes out of the blue to rake like he is. But there is no sense in trying to explain it. The best thing is to put him out there every day and ride it for all it is worth. It has been a charming season thus far in Cleveland and Raburn has been the biggest charm of all.

MLB Game Picks - Friday: August 2, 2013

The picks yesterday ended up seven of eleven, which is not bad. But they could have been nine of eleven if Jonathan Papelbon had done what he was supposed to do and then the Phillies could have scored in the bottom of the ninth when they had the bases loaded with nobody out, and, if the Mariners' bullpen could have gotten six outs after Felix Hernandez gave them a 7-1 lead after seven. What fiascoes. What ineptitude.

And the thing about the Phillies' game was that Cole Hamels left with a 1-0 lead, 116 pitches thrown and eight shut down innings. You would think Hamels should have had a chance to get three more of his own outs. But the mighty pitch count strikes again. What foolishness.

To give Seattle a little credit, Yoervis Medina did strike out Jonny Gomes with a perfect pitch on the outside corner and was not given the call. But the truth is that the Mariners should not have been in that position in the first place--not with a then five-run lead.

Oh well. Rant over. That is baseball. Friday's picks:

  • The Dodgers over the Cubs: Another Friday day game for the Cubs at Wrigley might be a close game as Travis Wood should hang with Hyun-jin Ryu. But the Dodgers will eventually win the game as they are the much better team.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: Ethan Martin makes his Major League debut for the Phillies and I am somewhat dubious of the decision. He has a good record in Triple-A and a low hits per nine there. But his control is not there and has averaged five walks per nine in the minors including this year. Kris Medlen for the win.
  • The Pirates over the Rockies: The Pirates finally lost last night to the Cards (in a big way) but should bounce back with a win today at home. Gerrit Cole is good. Jhoulys Chacin is good at times. But the nod is to the Pirates.
  • The Tigers over the White Sox: It is hard to count on Doug Fister for a win. At least that is my experience. But Hector Santiago is not a fearsome opponent. The White Sox are so bad...
  • The Red Sox over the Diamondbacks: Randall Delgado has had quite a few nice outings and could shut down the Red Sox. But there is no way the pick can go that way--not as good as the Red Sox are. Jon Lester had a better outing his last time out.
  • The Marlins over the Indians: There are so many questions in this one. Jose Fernandez is dazzling at home. But can his bullpen hold it? Ubaldo Jimenez seems to be back. But is he? Should I pick against the Indians losing streak? I have to go with Fernandez at home. Go kid go.
  • The Mets over the Royals: I have been poking holes at Wade Davis all season. And he shut me up a little with a great performance his last time out. Citi Field should be good for him with its length. But for that same reason, I am going with Dillon Gee.
  • The Giants over the Rays: Chris Archer looked fantastic against the Yankees. He sure is a cocky kid. But in this match-up, I favor Madison Bumgarner to shut down the Rays' offense.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: Judging from his last start, a little rest did Shelby Miller a lot of good. If he pitches like that again, the Cards will beat Bronson Arroyo. But Miller will need to be that good to win.
  • The Twins over the Astros: I really like Jarred Cosart and he will keep this game close early. But that bullpen is ravaged by the trade deadline and Sam Deduno has won a string of games with great outings.
  • The Nationals over the Brewers: For most of the season, Jordan Zimmermann has been my guy. But he has thrown like five stinkers in a row leading me to wonder about his arm. But I have not given up on him yet and think he will beat the Braun-less Brewers and Tom Gorzelanny.
  • The Athletics over the Rangers: I have not liked what I have seen from Alexi Ogando since he came off the disabled list. He just does not look overpowering anymore. Then again, Tommy Milone is not a stud either. But you have to go with the A's at home even if the Rangers really need to sweep this series.
  • The Angels over the Blue Jays: The battle of the disappointing teams continues. I don't like picking Todd Redmond or Tommy Hanson. But one of them has to win.
  • The Yankees over the Padres: CC Sabathia has been the worst pitcher on the Yankees' rotation for over a month now. Can he get it together in his home state? Will the Padres get the good Andrew Cashner or the bad one?

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Orioles over the Mariners: Can you pick the Mariners after last night's debacle? Does Aaron Harang at Camden Yards frighten anybody but me? Going with Chris Tillman who has put a great string of games together.

Yesterday: 7-4
Week: 39-28
Month: 7-4
Season: 910-712
Games of the Day: 70-47   +1

Thursday, August 01, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: August 1, 2013

The last day of July finished a bit limply with a day just barely over the .500 mark. I picked the Yankees win almost exactly. But the Pirates' amazing sweep of the Cardinals surprised me each and every day. Pittsburgh must be jumping and rightly so. Even so, July ended much better than May and June and came in at about a 59% success rate. Not too shabby.

Can you imagine how depressing the Angels' clubhouse is right now? Holy cow. Three straight walk-off losses. What a killer. And the Indians and Royals are on fairly long winning streaks. Things are getting interesting.

There are eleven games on our Thursday schedule. Only three of them are day games. Here are Thursday's picks:

  • The Indians over the White Sox: The Indians have won seven straight. And for the fourth straight day, they get to play the White Sox. Justin Masterson has turned into one of the best starters in baseball and should at least keep up with Chris Sale, who cannot buy run support.
  • The Mets over the Marlins: I praised Tom Koehler before his last start as a guy figuring things out. And then he had a bad outing. He should pitch well against the Mets. But the Mets are starting Matt Harvey. Sorry, Tom.
  • The Royals over the Twins: The Royals have won six straight. Eric Hosmer has been terrific. The pitching has been very good. How about a sweep then? Okay. James Shields over Scott Diamond in the daylight.
  • The Orioles over the Astros: The Astros destroyed the Orioles last night and the O's have hit a rough patch. The might get a boost tonight though as Bud Norris makes his first start for his new team against his old team. Jordan Lyle tries to beat his ex-teammate.
  • The Phillies over the Giants: Can we stop pretending the Phillies are contenders now? A big time writer tweeted yesterday that the Phillies would end up with more wins than the Braves. Poppycock. Cole Hamels will get a win today though and out-pitch Matt Cain.
  • The Pirates over the Cardinals: Okay, Pirates, you win. I have picked against you the entire series and you have made me look like an utter moron. So even though I hate picking Charlie Morton, I will. The Cards starting Joe Kelly makes it a little easier. Can you imagine a five game sweep? Wow.
  • The Braves over the Rockies: This is an interesting game. The Rockies will feature the Major League debut of Chad Bettis. Bettis was on the high prospect lists but missed all of 2012. He has the lovely combination of a high strikeout rate and a low walk rate. So he could stifle the Braves. But more likely, he will give up a couple of runs in five innings of work and Julio Teheran will get the win.
  • The Mariners over the Red Sox: This pick is contingent on Felix Hernandez totally stifling the Red Sox' offense. If he does, the M's get a few runs off of Ryan Dempster and get a rare win.
  • The Dodgers over the Cubs: The Dodgers had to fly to Chicago overnight for this game, which is tough. But Ricky Nolasco looks like a new guy since he moved to the Dodgers. Chris Rusin has had some success in his first crack at a full-time rotation gig. But he is not blowing people away and my feeling here is that he has been a bit fortunate.
  • The Angels over the Blue Jays: I would say that this is a series of two of the bigger disappointments for teams this season. The Angels were brutalized in the late innings by the Rangers. But may get to nurse some wounds against the Blue Jays. Josh Johnson is 1-7 and a puzzle. The Angels should really let Garrett Richards stay in the rotation the rest of the year and get a foundation for the rest of his promising career.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Rangers over the Diamondbacks: The D-backs are starting Zeke Spruill who, judging from his minor league numbers, is more of a finesse pitcher than a power pitcher. He has a low minor league K/9 rate. Besides, he will likely only go five innings or so. It would be nuts not to pick the Rangers and Yu Darvish.

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 32-24
July: 229-159
Season: 903-708
Games of the Day: 69-47    -1

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

On Scherzer, Brian Kenny and wins

The MLB Network has struck gold with the debates between Brian Kenny and Harold Reynolds. And because Kenny champions sabermetrics, he has become somewhat of a darling among the analyst writing crowd. Rob Neyer and others love the guy. But they should not. And Kenny's act is actually counterproductive when it comes to what they are trying to do. Kenny is a bit of a bully.

The analyst writing community is already perceived as an "I am smarter than you," community. Which is unfortunate because they are right most of the time. Being correct and being cocky in your correctness are two different venues. At the same time, being bold and deflating old and outdated writers is good for page hits. So it has worked to elevate the best of the analysts to stars.

Then you get Brian Kenny. The MLB Network boldly calls him a, "sabermatrician." First, I do not know where Kenny cut his teeth on such things. Does he really know his math or has he just done a good job of absorbing what he has read from the analytic elite? If you are going to make that claim, back it up with his pedigree. But perhaps that is on me as I have not researched his background thoroughly.

But the fact is that he wears this mantle as part of his network's world view. Most people on the fringes of these kinds of debates, the casual or older fan, are going to see their first broad stroke of what a numbers guy is going to look like and what he is going to say. But Kenny does not do that first big view justice.

And here is why: He comes across as a sort of arrogant, know-it-all. He is not going to allow himself to lose a fight. He is not going to impart his knowledge in a humble way. He bludgeons you with it. Of course, his network has encouraged this by making it great entertainment. But if Kenny wants to champion the analytic baseball point of view, he is doing more alienating than winning converts to this new religion.

During his arguments with Reynolds and even when he hosts the MLB Tonight broadcasts, he interjects his points in an, "I dare you to disagree and make yourself look stupid," way. For Reynolds, other player-analysts and the old school viewers, their only reaction can be to put their backs up in a defensive posture.

Kenny's latest bombast includes scathing indictments of the "win-loss" statistic. And there is no doubt that the "win-loss" statistic cannot and should not be the way to evaluate pitchers. There are much better tools now to do so. But how sexy and historic in the grand scheme of things is it to destroy completely a statistic that has defined baseball for more than a hundred years?

The Cy Young Award is not what it is because Young had a terrific FIP for his career. It exists because he had over 500 wins in his career. Wins and losses are a part of the fabric of history. Why do we have to completely destroy that to get to a better overall method of evaluating pitchers?

No matter what Kenny, Rob Neyer or anyone else is going to say, a 20-win season will always seem sexier than a 1.80 FIP. And part of that is the history of the game. Again, my question is, do we have to tear down history to have better evaluation tools? Why can't we add the new tools and leave the history alone as long as we all know that some old historic stats are not the be all and end all?

To a large degree, the analyst writers have already won on this issue. The CYA wins for Felix Hernandez and Zack Greinke proved that the bulk of the voters get it.

And yet, it has become a large target for Brian Kenny. I have seen him on at least three occasions denigrate what Max Scherzer has done this season (15-1) because wins do not matter. Several times, Kenny has put Scherzer's numbers against other pitchers to prove that Scherzer is not better than those other guys.

Are Max Scherzer's fifteen wins meaningless? I do not think so. Should that be the only way we evaluate him? No, I do not think that either. Scherzer has had a game score over 60 in fifteen of his twenty-one starts. An average game score is 50. He has kept his opponent under four runs in seventeen of his twenty-one starts. Those wins were not cheaply obtained.

Max Scherzer's FIP is thirty points below his ERA. Scherzer has a 5.29 strikeout to walk ratio. He has a WHIP of 0.92. This is a guy you are going to knock because he is 15-1? Although I am not an analyst and not smart enough, admittedly, to know what the heck I am talking about, Scherzer's fWAR takes somewhat of a hit because his BABIP is low and because his homer rate of 0.88 per nine innings is not elite. I do not see perfection in that fWAR calculation from a non-educated glance.

All I know is that the Tigers have only lost four of his 21 starts. All I know is that fifteen times, he allowed less runs than the other guy. I do not think the "wins" are meaningless. Nor do I think that is the only way to evaluate his season. But I am not ready to throw out the "win" no matter how much it threatens my street cred.

The bottom line for me is that Kenny is doing a disservice to the sabermetric revolution with his brashness and his lack of humility. The bottom line for me is that Max Scherzer's fifteen wins are no accident but I am willing to consider that perhaps Felix Hernandez is having a slightly better season with four less wins. Do I really have to kill the one side of me to have the other?

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: July 31, 2013

I picked both ends of the Cardinals - Pirates double-header incorrectly (nice, Pittsburgh) and still picked twelve out of seventeen correctly. That is pretty sweet. Besides the Cardinals double-whammy, the only other incorrect picks were Mark Buehrle pitching his second brilliant game in a row, the Reds' bullpen blowing up again and picking the wrong mediocre pitcher to do well between Barry Zito and John Lannon. But it was still a great night and went a long way toward erasing a rather bland start to the week.

Today is the last day of July. Geez, it went by fast. It is also the trade deadline day. So any number of these games could be impacted by players moving. Regardless, here are Wednesday's picks:

  • The Tigers over the Nationals: Justin Verlander has been the Tigers' worst pitcher for weeks now, which is really weird to say. And he faces Gio Gonzalez today, who is very good. But I have a feeling that the Tigers are playing so well and the Nats so poorly that the Tigers will still win the game at home.
  • The Athletics over the Blue Jays: Yes, this pick did not work out well yesterday. But, man, can you pick against Bartolo Colon right now? I don't think so. His 80% fastballs might play into the hands of the Blue Jays' big hitters, but you could say that against a lot of teams and look at Colon's record. R.A. Dickey goes for the Jays.
  • The Reds over the Padres: Okay, by now you know the drill. I was wrong on Eric Stults' first eighteen starts. So today, I think he will pitch well at home. Therefore, I have to pick against him. Besides, Homer Bailey is capable of a big game.
  • The Indians over the White Sox: Corey Kluber got lost there for a little while, but he has come back well in his last three games and has to be the pick here over Dillon Axelrod. My only concern with this pick is that the Indians' bullpen has to be a little gassed after the last few games this week and could use a rest.
  • The Orioles over the Astros: Erik Bedard could give the Orioles some problems. Nah, probably not. Miguel Gonzalez just wins and wins. The O's are the easy pick.
  • The Phillies over the Giants: Two teams that seem to be going nowhere this season. With two pitchers that are of the mediocre variety. Regression finally caught up to Chad Gaudin in his last start (as I predicted) and Kyle Kendrick will get his team a win.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: The Cards have to be a little shell-shocked right now and they do not have an easy task today against Jeff Locke, who I love. But can you pick against Adam Wainwright in a big game? I don't think so.
  • The Braves over the Rockies: Every time I pick Mike Minor to win, he does not. So this pick is again stressful. But the Braves are on a serious roll and are cementing their division with this stretch. They get a pretty tough pitcher today in Tyler Chatwood though.
  • The Mets over the Marlins: I have made fun of Henderson Alvarez for a month now and all he has done is pitch to superb games in a row. Shut up, William. Right? But he is canceled out by Jenrry Mejia, who was also terrific in his last start. If the two pitchers cancel each other out, go with the better team. Mets.
  • The Red Sox over the Mariners: I still do not quite trust John Lackey, especially at home. But the Red Sox are so good that they will hardly flinch against a very good Hisashi Iwakuma. If Iwakuma was at home, this pick might be different.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: The Angels have to be completely demoralized. They scored eleven runs yesterday and could not win. Their bullpen has blown two straight save opportunities. It's really sad. Compound that with Jerome Williams getting batted around a lot lately and even against the so-so Martin Perez, I cannot pick them.
  • The Brewers over the Cubs: Edwin Jackson has been better of late and Wily Peralta has not been that great. But the Brewers have had their way in this series, so I am sticking with them.
  • The Royals over the Twins: Don't look now, but the Royals are a game over .500. They are obviously a better team than the Twins. But on any given day, you know. I think the Royals will hit Kevin Correia though and Jeremy Guthrie is capable.
  • The Yankees over the Dodgers: Hiroki Kuroda goes home. Kuroda has been the Yankees' best pitcher, so he will slow down the Dodgers in his former home park. The Yankees, with Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano, are not as culpable against left-handers. Of course, Clayton Kershaw is no ordinary left-hander.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Bay Rays over the Diamondbacks: Jeremy Hellickson is a five or six inning pitcher who gets by and always seems to win. He is not great, but he plays on a real good team. Wade Miley pitched much better his last time out, but he will meet Will Myers and that will not go well.

Yesterday: 12-5
Week: 24-17
Month: 221-152
Season: 895-701
Games of the Day: 69-46   +1

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: July 30, 2013

The first five finals yesterday were correct. The last four were all incorrect. Such is the life of a baseball game picker. What are you going to do when Aroldis Chapman blows a save? Or when the Cubs were strapped for runs all game and then were Pedro Strop -ped in the ninth? The Marlins' Jacob Turner left with a lead and his bullpen could not hold it. And admittedly, picking the Blue Jays was just plain stupid.

But at least the day was in the black for the first time in three days. But the Game of the Day was wrong for the second day in a row. Thanks, Chapman.

There are seventeen games on the schedule today including two double-headers. So let's just get to the picks:

  • The Brewers over the Cubs: The first of two, Yovani Gallardo has been knocked around lately. But then again, so has Carlos Villanueva. So I will go with the pitcher who is supposedly better. Besides, the Cubs' bullpen is a mess.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: Lance Lynn lifts the Cardinals out of their little losing streak in this first game of two today between these two contenders. I like Lynn's ability to shut down the Pirates better than A.J. Burnett's chances to do the opposite.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: I hate to rain of the Pirates parade here with a double-header sweep prediction. Tyler Lyons goes for the Cards. He has started six games for the Cards going back and forth between the minors. Half of them have been good outings. The Pirates have not yet announced their starting pitcher and that is not ever a good thing.
  • The Indians over the White Sox: Is there nothing more entertaining in sports than Ken Harrelson getting disappointed in the outcome of a game. All those sighs and resignation. Heh. Jake Peavy is pitching for the White Sox, which gives them a chance. But Scott Kazmir has been great lately and I root for him.
  • The Giants over the Phillies: Ugh. This is a tough one. Barry Zito has not thrown a good game in quite a while and John Lannon has been terrible. How do you make heads or tails from that? Jimmy Rollins not waiving his 10/5 rights is probably a good thing for interested teams.
  • The Tigers over the Nationals: If it were up to me, Stephen Strasburg would go 30-0. And he has pitched well enough to do so. But the Nats never score when he is pitching and Anibal Sanchez will keep it that way today. Strasburg against Miguel Cabrera is epic.
  • The Rays over the Diamondbacks: Oh, excuse me. The Rays and the Red Sox are done with each other and instead the Rays play the Diamondbacks. My bad. Here is how this pick goes: Despite Roberto Hernandez's ineptitude, the Rays always beat the Yankees and Ian Kennedy is an ex-Yankee. Thus, they beat Kennedy.
  • The Braves over the Rockies: The Braves are on a roll and that should carry them through a shaky Alex Wood start and allow them to score against Juan Nicasio. The Rockies are just treading water at this point.
  • The Mets over the Marlins: Forgive me if I have little or no faith in Nathan Eovaldi. On the other hand, Zack Wheeler is having a bit of trouble with his command in the Big Leagues. But in the end, I like Wheeler's talent and not Eovaldi's.
  • The Red Sox over the Mariners: Brandon Workman has been (forgive me) workmanlike in his last two starts, which should be good enough against the Marlins. The Red Sox are mad and frustrated. That should be bad news for Joe Saunders at Fenway.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: The Rangers still haven't gotten any offensive help. Expect them to fix that today or tomorrow. Either way, despite C.J. Wilson pitching effectively lately, I expect Derek Holland to come out on top in this game.
  • The Brewers over the Cubs: I like Tyler Thornburg. He has a good arm and has had a good season for the Brewers in limited action. Jake Arrieta goes for the Cubs in his first start after the Feldman trade. He is a mystery and at times looked brilliant and hopeless. Maybe the Cubs can get him turned around.
  • The Royals over the Twins: Ervin Santana has been brilliant lately. His stuff has looked electric. A lot of teams are hitting on the Royals to ask about him. If he is still in Royals blue tonight, he will beat Mike Pelfrey and the Twins.
  • The Athletics over the Blue Jays. Mark Buehrle was really good in his last outing, but I am all done picking the Blue Jays. It is never a good thing and blows up in my face on a regular basis. I surrender. Dan Straily with the win.
  • The Reds over the Padres: Are the Reds the most frustrating team in baseball? It is close. Mat Latos takes on Edinson Volquez in a battle of pitchers that were traded for each other. The Reds should win this one.
  • The Dodgers over the Yankees: If this was Andy Pettitte two years ago, the pick might be different. But this is a non-sharp Pettitte who cannot bury the cutter down and in on right-handed batters anymore. And Puig and Hanley should enjoy that. Zack Greinke has never pitched well against the Yankees. But those were different Yankees than these.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Orioles over the Astros: The Orioles need to shine against the Astros to stay in the picture. Wei-Yin Chen should get the win and Bud Norris, unless he is traded, gets the loss.

Yesterday: 5-4
Week: 12-12
Month: 209-147
Season: 863-696
Games of the Day: 68-46   -2

Monday, July 29, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Monday: July 29, 2013

July has been such a good month. It is a shame that the month is not finishing well. Two straight negative days were the only blight on what was a great weekend around here. That being the case, the world is still a good place. Picking baseball games may be an obsession for me, but it is still just for fun.

My son is correct. The only time the Yankees win is when I pick against them. Heh. Derek Jeter, Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki turned back the clock for a day to win the boys from the Bronx a game despite Phil Hughes. Elsewhere, the Diamondbacks wasted another brilliant performance by Patrick Corbin and lost. That was the Game of the Day, so it was a double-ouchie.

Today is a short schedule Monday. Here are the picks:

  • The Bay Rays over the Red Sox: David Price is 5-1 in his career at Fenway Park with a 1.96 ERA. Those numbers (SSS) are hard to pick against. Felix Doubront pitches well against weaker competition but struggles a bit against good teams.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: Jered Weaver has been eye-poppingly good since returning from the disabled list. But he should be matched by Matt Garza, who has been just as brilliant. If the two starters cancel each other out and it becomes a bullpen game, the Rangers win.
  • The Indians over the White Sox: John Danks has not fared well the last two seasons and perhaps needs a change of scenery. I have a feeling quite a few Pale Hose players need a change of scenery. Not thrilled to be picking Zach McAllister here, but the Indians are clearly the better team.
  • The Pirates over the Cardinals: Jake Westbrook is not a great pitcher. But he does give his team a chance to win with most of his outings. But tonight, he will need to be perfect because Francisco Liriano has been on a roll. The guy, when on, is an amazing talent.
  • The Braves over the Rockies: The Braves are flying high after sweeping the Cardinals over the weekend and today they get Brandon Beachy back. If he is anywhere close to being as good as when he was injured, the Braves just got better. Jorge De La Rosa is a good pitcher too though.
  • The Marlins over the Mets: Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison have both been hot in the lineup and Jacob Turner has lost his last two starts, but pitched well. Jeremy Hefner had a hot streak going for about a month or more, but has since fallen on hard times again.
  • The Cubs over the Brewers: Jeff Samardzija is very talented. I would love to see him be a bit more consistent. The pick depends on him having a good day. Kyle Lohse might still be with the Brewers to pitch his turn. If so, this pick could be in trouble as Lohse has won six straight.
  • The Blue Jays over the Athletics: This game is a hunch. Esmil Rogers has not won a game since June 24. But he should benefit from pitching in that ghastly ballpark. A.J. Griffin is usually pretty strong at home. But I am feeling the Blue Jays here.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Reds over the Padres: The Reds had a tough series against the Dodgers. But the Dodgers are on fire. So that is not a surprise. They should have no trouble against the Padres. Sean O'Sullivan has a 1.88 WHIP. Enough said there. And all Mike Leake does is win games.

Yesterday: 7-8
Week: 7-8
Month: 204-143
Season: 878-692       I did some auditing and fixed this statistic
Games of the Day: 68-45  -1

Sunday, July 28, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: July 28, 2013

Yesterday was a really bad day for batters in Major League Baseball. There were six shutouts in total. According to @dianagram, that was just off the single day record of eight recorded on June 4, 1972. Four of those shutouts yesterday were of the 1-0 variety. And that, according to the same wonderful source, ties a record that has only occurred two other times (9/18/1915 and 9/2/2002). On the latter date of those two, there were five shutouts total. So as you can see, it was a really bad day for batters.

And it was not just a bad day for batters either. It was also a bad day for game pickers. Let's just say the week ended with a resounding thud. We can call it a market correction. We can call it whatever we want. But one thing you could not call it was pretty. At least one of the very small selections of correct picks was the Game of the Day.

The batters and this picker can only hope that today is better. Sunday's picks:

  • The Bay Rays over the Yankees: The Yankees are a bad team. There. I said it. Can anyone dispute it? Nevermind the won/loss record. They cannot hit. They have little zip behind them. They simply are not very good. Today, Derek Jeter returns. Will it make a difference? Will it last?  It does not matter. They will probably get shut out by Matt Moore. It will not matter what Phil Hughes does.
  • The Indians over the Rangers: The Rangers are only slightly better than the Yankees right now. They cannot hit either. I do not care what anyone says, the A's are not that great a team. Yet, they will win this division uncontested. Alexi Ogando loses to Ubaldo Jimenez.
  • The Astros over the Blue Jays: This game is horrible to pick. The Blue Jays are another dysfunctional group. The Astros are the worst team in baseball. But Jarred Cosart is pitching well. Todd Redmond is not. I hate this pick and this match-up.
  • The Tigers over the Phillies: Will the results of this series finally prove to the Phillies' GM that his team has no chance for the post season? Maybe. It should. It is kind of sad that the Phillies and the Yankees hit the wall in the same season. Rick Porcello over Jonathan Pettibone.
  • The Marlins over the Pirates: Young guns on parade here as Jose Fernandez takes on Gerrit Cole. Both are going to be stars in this league for a long time. One thing I have learned this season is that Fernandez does not lose in Miami.
  • The Red Sox over the Orioles: Jon Lester should be better than Jason Hammel right? Right? Oy.
  • The Mets over the Nationals: Taylor Jordan has not pitched badly. He has only walked four batters. And yet, he is 0-3. I would pick him to get his first MLB victory today except that he is facing Carlos Torres. Torres has been lights out for the Mets since joining the rotation. Do you know that the Mets have a better record than the Giants?
  • The Royals over the White Sox: Good golly, am I really picking Bruce Chen to win a start? This day has another disaster written all over it. But I cannot get myself to pick Hector Santiago and the White Sox. I just can't. When will pitchers smarten up and stop walking Adam Dunn? I just don't get why they do.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: The bulk of Jarrod Parker's wins have come at home. He is at home. So that seems reason enough for this pick. The second reason is that Albert Pujols is now gone from the middle of the Angels' lineup and while he was not the same, he was at least a presence. The third reason is that Tommy Hanson has to be really fine to win.
  • The Giants over the Cubs: Here I go continuing to blythely pick the Giants to win when they lose just about every day. And, I am picking Tim Lincecum to win. Egads, man! Have you no head? And Travis Wood is a good pitcher for the Cubs. I am still picking the Giants to win.
  • The Reds over the Dodgers: This has been a fun series. These two teams might face each other again in the post season. They will be closely matched. I am picking the Reds today because I think Tony Cingrani will beat Chris Capuano. But this is far from a guaranteed pick.
  • The Rockies over the Brewers: Donovan Hand is another guy who has not pitched badly and has nothing to show for it. But I do not see him succeeding today at Coors and Jhoulys Chacin should get the win.
  • The Twins over the Mariners: I sort of like this Kyle Gibson kid. I think he has a good chance of winning today. On the other hand, I do not think much of Erasmo Ramirez despite him getting his first win during his last outing. His team is not always going to score so many runs for him.
  • The Cardinals over the Braves: Either the Braves have pitched really well this series or the Cardinals' lineup has hit a wall of sorts. But the Cards can break away with a series split with a win today. I like Shelby Miller over Kris Medlen.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Diamondbacks over the Padres: No matter what else goes wrong for the Diamondbacks, every fifth day is Patrick Corbin Day. And that is a very good thing. Their batters need to be patient against Tyson Ross though because Ross will walk people.

Yesterday: 4-11  Ugh
Last week: 69-49
Month: 197-135
Season: 874-671
Games of the Day: 68-44