Saturday, August 24, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: August 24, 2013

Yesterday's picks could not have gotten much worse. They were terrible. Everything about what I wrote yesterday was wrong. King Felix was out-pitched by Garrett Richards. Kirk Gibson thought Heath Bell was a good idea in a tie game. Similarly, the Marlins went to Chad Qualls and they were ahead after a great game by Tom Koehler. Qualls quickly blew the game. I should know better than to ever think the Yankees could win in St. Pete and that wasteland dome of theirs. Everything was bad. Everything was wrong. Turn the page.

Saturday's picks:

  • The Dodgers over the Red Sox: The Dodgers' victory yesterday was certainly impressive. And now the Red Sox get Hyun-jin Ryu, who is nearly impossible to beat at his home ballpark. David Ortiz will probably sit. Jon Lester has been pitching well. But so did Lackey yesterday. It did not matter.
  • The Tigers over the Mets: Frankly, this game could go either way. Two of the best pitchers on the planet in Matt Harvey and Max Scherzer can take over the game. All it will take is two or three runs by the winning team. It depends on which ace is more ace-like today. The Tigers have the better offense.
  • The Phillies over the Diamondbacks: Andrew Martin. I am picking him? Well, not really. I am picking a hot team in the Phillies and against a dumb team in the Diamondbacks. A couple of Goldschmidt homers could make this pick look silly. But that is the only thing that will. Randall Delgado is pitching by the way.
  • The Indians over the Twins: This pick did not exactly work out yesterday. But then again, what did? I like the Indians at home with Zach McAllister on the mound. I do not like the Twins without Mauer and with Liam Hendriks on the mound.
  • The Marlins over the Rockies: Just keep Qualls out of the game, okay? Jose Fernandez is at home. I have said it before and I will say it again: He is a lock at home. The Rockies go with Jeff Manship. Oy.
  • The Reds over the Brewers: Another pick that was bad yesterday, but I am nothing if not stubborn. Bronson Arroyo has been very reliable and Wily Peralta has not. I am scared of this Khris Davis kid though even if his parents could not spell.
  • The Bay Rays over the Yankees: Okay, I learned my lesson. No more Yankee picks in St. Pete. David Price over CC Sabathia. Price better not give Alfonso Soriano a fastball though.
  • The Rangers over the White Sox: Another mistake I am not going to make twice. Hector Santiago. How did a Hispanic kid get a name like Hector anyway? Yu Darvish should win if he has his usual stuff.
  • The Blue Jays over the Astros: How low can the Blue Jays sink? Pretty low, it seems. The Astros sure did destroy them yesterday. And Chien-Ming Wang is making yet another comeback attempt. At least he knows what he is doing even if he cannot always do it. Brad Peacock has never pitched well.
  • The Nationals over the Royals: The Royals confuse me so much that picking their games is like throwing grass up and seeing which way the wind blows it. Wade Davis looks bloody awful and then pitches a great game. Who knows when or why. Jordan Zimmermann has lost his he-man status, but he is still the pick.
  • The Braves over the Cardinals: I cannot remember the last time the Cardinals won a game that Shelby Miller started. He has not always pitched poorly, but they always seem to lose (at least lately). Julio Teheran is the real deal--that is if the Cards don't force him to have a bad day. Sigh.
  • The Cubs over the Padres: I do not know anymore. Jeff Samardzija and Eric Stults have probably combined to make 42 starts. I might have picked four of those starts correctly between the two of them. My tea leaves have turned into coffee grinds.
  • The Pirates over the Giants: I just finished writing about Francisco Liriano, so I better pick him, right? And it would not be a bad pick as he has been fabulous. Tim Lincecum is still capable of a shut down game. But those odds are less than 50/50.
  • The Mariners over the Angels: Another crappy game I do not want to pick. Jason Vargas? Ugh. Erasmo Ramirez? Ugh. At least ole' Erasmo is 4-0 for some reason. Geez, anything can happen today.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Orioles over the Athletics: It is really tough to beat the Orioles at home. And it is especially tough when Chris Tillman is pitching. Poo-poo him if you want. The Orioles win when he pitches. Jarrod Parker is really better at home. He is an iffy on the road.

Yesterday: 5-10
Week: 44-38
Month: 180-132
Season: 1083-845
Games of the Day: 82-57   -1

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ryan Braun's confession refreshing

I do not know if Ryan Braun is telling the entire truth. On the surface, it seems rather dubious that his use was only that small window of time that he mentions in 2011. After all, we have heard the same thing from A-Rod and perhaps we cannot be convinced to believe anything at this point. But his level of contriteness and accepting the full blame for his actions was a bit refreshing.

In his statement listed in the linked article above, Braun outlines why he lied and when he lied. He makes an honest attempt to write about why his first reaction was the wrong one and that he compounded the problem by not being honest at the time. He apologizes to the man he smeared who handled his original tainted test.

We have heard a lot of apologies over the years, not just from baseball's PED users, but in politics and in business life. They all seem to be veiled in carefully considered words that deflect as much blame as possible. But this one seems a bit different. Ryan Braun has the sound (in his statement) of a contrite man who has a lot to apologize for and does not hide from doing so.

The statement gives hope that his overwhelming hubris and the over-arching pride--that comes from being gifted in a sport that grants entitlement from being very good at something that pays so well--will lead to personal growth for him in the future. His reputation is already tarnished. But he has a lot of life to live ahead of him and humility is a good start for the future.

I do not personally care what he did to his body. I have always maintained as much. But I hate, hate, hate dishonesty and that Nixon-like disease when people cannot admit they were wrong even when caught red-handed. We saw it with Bill Clinton. We have seen it a thousand times over the years. I hate that Braun was so self-righteous when he was guilty all along.

To release a statement that was so introspective was refreshing. It puts a little humanity back in how I view the man. I can at least understand a bit of the reasons he did what he did even if I wish he had not done them. With Braun, I hated the stance he took when caught much more than for what he was caught. His statement does not tear down that hate at his action and the bitterness that resulted. But it does knock quite a few bricks out of that wall.

I just hope that he was not lying about when he used and for how long. That would suck if we found out differently. It is the only part of the statement that gives me pause. But his level of humility and his total acceptance of his sins as his fault goes a long way in forgiving him. Forgiveness is the most powerful tool in the universe. Perhaps we have been given an opportunity to begin that process with Ryan Braun.

MLB Game Picks - Friday: August 23, 2013

This week has looked a whole lot brighter since going 17-7 over the last two days with the picks. Short schedules like yesterday can be bothersome, but it was navigated with a 6-3 day. It helps when you have guys like Clayton Kershaw pitching. He is just about a lock for the CYA, it seems.

Of the three games that were incorrect, a very off-putting performance by Justin Verlander was puzzling as the Twins hit him hard and then the bullpen did not help. The Royals got swept by the White Sox. Whuh!? And after thinking Matt Cain was back to being Matt Cain, Cain was not Abel to get anyone out on the Pirates.

The Yankees are only three and a half back now on the wildcard. Can it be? If only they could play the Blue Jays every day the rest of the way. They are now 11-1 against that club.

Friday's picks:

  • The Diamondbacks over the Phillies: This pick is extremely tricky. Wade Miley is pitching much better these days. The Phillies do not have any significant split against left-handed starters. So that should not be a factor. Cole Hamels is pitching as well as Miley or better. The Phillies are playing better. Ugh. Still picking the D-backs.
  • The Indians over the Twins: I was sort of amazed to see that the Indians are still in the wildcard hunt. Shows you what I know. Sam Deduno has been letting me down big time lately. Nick Swisher is showing signs on getting on one of his rolls. Ubaldo Jimenez has to pitch well though.
  • The Orioles over the Athletics: Dan Straily is not quite the same on the road as he is at home. Bud Norris has not been spectacular, but he has been solid and that is all the O's need from him. The Orioles are home and they have fun there.
  • The Marlins over the Rockies: This pick might be down right stupid. But the Rockies are really playing poorly. Jhoulys Chacin is very inconsistent and hard to count on. Tom Koehler deserves something good to happen. Giancarlo Stanton makes that home run sculpture dance? Am I the only person who likes that thing?
  • The Tigers over the Mets: The Mets have signed and are starting Daisuke Matsuzaka (dormez-vous, dormez-vous). That, is...interesting. Doug Fister needs to pitch well to make this pick. The Tigers seem to struggle against bad teams. We will see what happens.
  • The Reds over the Brewers: Two things about this game are troubling. First, Yovani Gallardo has come off the disabled list with a bang. Secondly, despite how talented Homer Bailey is, he still has a losing record.
  • The Yankees over the Bay Rays: If the Yankees can win in their own personal house of horrors, Tropicana Field, then they really are back in this race. If they cannot, then it is fools gold. Chris Archer made them look silly earlier in the year. Hiroki Kuroda has had a great season and needs to keep that up today.
  • The White Sox over the Rangers: Yeah, I know. In a normal universe, this should not happen. But the White Sox are hot lately. And Chris Sale can beat anyone on any given day if he gets some run support. He should get it with a few runs off of Martin Perez.
  • The Blue Jays over the Astros: It is so difficult to pick the Blue Jays. They have found so many creative ways to lose this season. Todd Redmond, however, has pitched well and already struck out ten Astros in six innings the last time he faced them. Jordan Lyles and his country crocodiles goes for the Astros.
  • The Royals over the Nationals: Bruce Chen has a .649 lifetime winning percentage at Cough-man Stadium. So this pick has a 65% chance of being correct. The other 35% depends on how well Gio Gonzalez pitches and he has not been quite right.
  • The Cardinals over the Braves: This was supposed to be a big series. But the Cards have caught the Braves with their pants down. Justin Upton is hurting. Jason Heyward is out. Brandon Beachy is heading back to the doctor. Not good. Adam Wainwright over Kris Medlen.
  • The Dodgers over the Red Sox: This is a cool game against two really good teams. John Lackey starts against the Dodgers. I wonder what he will think about Yasiel Puig? I picture a lot of ugly faces. Ricky Nolasco really mades a difference in this one I think.
  • The Padres over the Cubs: Two of the most dysfunctional starting pitchers in baseball start against each other. Edwin Jackson goes against Edinson Volquez. Wow. Is this the island of misfit toys or what?
  • The Giants over the Pirates: I was wrong with this pick yesterday and I do not seem to have much luck predicting when Madison Bumgarner will pitch well. But in a normal world, the Giants' pitcher is much better than Charlie Morton. Very few baseball games are normal though.

And the Game of the Day:

Yesterday: 6-3
Week: 39-28
Month: 175-122
Season: 1078-835
Games of the Day: 82-56   +2

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pirates win the lottery with Francisco Liriano

Or did they? I pick the games every day. Perhaps you know that. As such, I see trends. I also follow the games in the evening and on Monday night, I was watching as Francisco Liriano again won big with scary, impressive numbers. My first thought was, "Anybody could have had this guy." He was unwanted. His career was in such disarray that he could not ask for much money. It only took a million dollars for the Pirates to sign him. They did not do so until February. How lucky is that to get a pitcher pitching as well as Liriano for a million bucks that anyone else could have signed? Maybe not so lucky.

The questions posed by the first paragraph simply cannot be answered. Would Liriano be pitching as well for any other team? Was Pittsburgh just the right spot for him? In other words, the crux of the question is whether the Pirates got lucky signing such an effective pitcher or have they reached him and coached him to the point where he responded really well and may not have done so elsewhere. The Pirates turned around a similarly lost pitcher in A.J. Burnett last year.

To me there are only four possible answers and I will not pretend that I can answer definitively which is the truth here:
  • The Pirates struck lightening in a bottle
  • Liriano's success once again proves that it is easier to pitch in the National League
  • The Pirates have restored his mechanics and confidence
  • He is really no better, only luckier this year.
That is it. Those are the only possible answers. Let's take a look at them individually starting with the last one.

Francisco Liriano is not the same pitcher as he was a year ago or for the past few years for that matter. The biggest difference is his control. For the past two years, his walk percentage was five per nine innings. That is extremely high. This year, it is still high at 3.5 per nine, but that is significantly better and his best rate since 2010 and it shows in his stats.

His first pitch strike percentage is way up from 53.7% a year ago and a terrible 49.4% the year before to 58.4% this year. That is above his career average and his best since 2010. His zone percentage is not really higher, but his pitches out of the zone are being swung at with a much higher rate. So he is closer to the zone enticing batters to swing.

And the quality of his pitches is up. His slider has always rated high. It did last year and that pitch is just as good this year as it was last year. But his fastball scored abysmally the last two seasons and is scoring much better this year. The biggest significant change is his change-up. That pitch was valued negatively the past two seasons but is worth 6.3 runs above average this year, the best of his career.

So no, this is not luck. His BABIP might be down a bit from his career average but that might be because he is making better pitches.

What about this thing about pitching in the National League? There is simply not enough data to make a determination. He has pitched twice in American League parks this season. Once was in Comerica to play the Tigers and that did not go well. The second was in Anaheim to play the Angels and that went swimmingly.

There is something to be said about pitching to the number 8 and 9 spots in the National League that is totally different in the AL. With the DH, the AL has hitters from 1-9 in the batting order. That is not the case in the NL. For example, this season, Liriano has a minuscule OPS against of .317 against eighth place batters this season and .357 against the ninth slot. Last year, that was .513 against the ninth spot and .636 against the eighth. The year before was much higher on both. So there is some difference pitching in the NL for him.

The Pirates took a calculated risk in obtaining him. And really, at a million dollars for this season, it was a no-brain risk. Liriano has always been a high tools guy who many felt was misused in Minnesota. That organization values strikes and low walk totals and that is not what Liriano is. He is a swing and miss guy with walk as part of the equation. It is similar to taking a power hitter with high homer rates and a lot of strikeouts along with the package.

The Twins made his strikeout rate a question mark instead of an asset. He was always in the doghouse because of his walks. That is just who he is. The Pirates are letting him go out there and do his thing.

Have the Pirates helped him with his mechanics? I do not know. It is highly likely. Have they helped him with his confidence? You would think that would be the case.

The Pirates made a calculated risk in signing Liriano and it has paid off in spades. Other teams could have made the same deal and did not. It may or may not have worked out the same for those teams had Liriano gone anywhere else. It is not one of those hypotheticals you can answer.  But he is 14-5 with a 2.66 FIP.

Liriano's RA9-WAR of 3.7 is currently eighteenth among all Major League starters, and this is despite having six less starts than the leaders. If he had those six starts, he would be in the top ten. His FIP is sixth in all of baseball and those above him and just below him are the Who's Who of pitchers.

And he is the kind of shut down guy that everyone says you need in the post season. Whether the Pirates got lucky, or were shrewd, or have coached well or whatever, the Francisco Liriano to the Pirates story has been a real success story. Anyone could have had him. But the Pirates are the team that does. In fact, of all the stories in Pittsburgh in this first Pirates' winning season in forever, Francisco Liriano's might be the best story of them all.

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: August 22, 2013

Only four picks came in incorrectly yesterday, which was a good day. Of the four, Andre Rienzo pitching a good game to beat the Royals was probably the biggest surprise. Both Ross Ohlendorf and Jake Arrieta were terrible and the Nationals won a shootout. Hisashi Iwakuma survived two homers to beat the A's with a well-pitched game. And darned if Ian Kennedy did not mess with my head with his best outing of the year to beat the Pirates and Gerrit Cole. That loss combined with a perfectly predicted Cardinals win tightened up the NL Central to one game. The Reds won too so that race really is complicated.

I am happy with the results for a day at least. I was sad to see what happened to Jason Heyward. That was awful.

There are nine games on the schedule on this off day / getaway day. Five of them are played during the day. Cool. The picks:

  • The Reds over the Diamondbacks: It has been a long, long time since Mat Latos lost a ballgame. So he has to be the pick even though Trevor Cahill was mighty good his last time out. If the Reds win, the Diamondbacks might be headed to irrelevancy.
  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: Yes, let us predict a sweep. The Blue Jays are playing so poorly and the Yankees with such new life, that I cannot see any other outcome. Andy Pettitte does have to pitch well. J.A. Happ does have to pitch poorly. But the Yankees are on fire.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: Andrew Albers finally got touched up a bit in his last start after two great debut starts. His left-handedness should not concern the Tigers much except for Prince Fielder. Justin Verlander erases the rest of the doubt about the outcome. And just for good measure, Joe Mauer is out.
  • The Nationals over the Cubs: When Stephen Strasburg first burst on to the scene, the one thing that stood him apart was his control. That control is gone. And you have to hope he does not have that weird yip disorder that destroyed other pitching careers. So yeah, I am scared for him. But I am picking him over the Cubs in hopes that he will be okay. Travis Wood is always victimized by ace outings.
  • The Phillies over the Rockies: Chad Bettis is not having much success in his young Major League experience. A WHIP of 1.77 shows his ineffectiveness. I do not have much more faith in Kyle Kendrick, but he is a better alternative here.
  • The Royals over the White Sox: I have been saying all along that the White Sox are playing better. And Jose Quintana is the only pitcher they have with a positive record. But I think Big Game James Shields has a good day and puts the Royals back in the win column.
  • The Cardinals over the Braves: The Braves will miss Jason Heyward. Justin Upton has back issues. Paul Maholm is facing the Cardinals for the nineteenth time in his career. They know him. Joe Kelly is my only reservation as he starts for the Cards.
  • The Giants over the Pirates: Jeff Locke's last outing was abysmal. Has he hit a wall? Maybe. Matt Cain is pitching much more like Matt Cain lately and the Giants are at home.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Dodgers over the Marlins: The only way the Marlins win this game against Clayton Kershaw is if Henderson Alvarez pitches a terrific game and the Marlins can squeak out a couple of runs. Otherwise, I cannot see the Dodgers losing this one.

Yesterday: 11-4
Week: 33-25
Month: 169-119
Season: 1072-832
Games of the Day: 81-56

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: August 21, 2013

Ah, baseball. Anything can happen. How can some picks be so good like Kyle Lohse beating the Cardinals and Lance Lynn giving up a big inning in the fourth or fifth inning (I called it perfectly), or Patrick Corbin beating the mighty Reds and yet turn into such a bad night of picking? That's baseball. A nice commenter yesterday gave a long dissertation on why the Phillies would win yesterday. But on any given game, that does not work. I picked the Rockies and was correct. Every game on every night is a crap shoot.

For example, I picked the A's. I was all excited about Sonny Gray pitching and he did indeed pitch brilliantly and left with a 4-2 lead. But then Sean Doolittle did little to help the cause and coughed up the game. The Red Sox were picked and Jake Peavy was terrific. But then, manager, John Farrell, fell into the National League trap of doing a double-switch in the sixth inning with Peavy only at 89 pitches and the bullpen coughed up the game. Heck, even Phil Hughes pitched well at a Yankee Stadium game. Anything can happen.

Wednesday's picks:

  • The Braves over the Mets: I mulled this one around quite a bit. One of four afternoon starts today, Jonathon Niese has pitched well since coming off the DL. But Alex Wood has pitched really well for the Braves too. My sort of rule has always been that if the pitchers cancel each other out, take the better team.
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: The Cardinals really need wins. As such, it is hard to figure why they continue to start Jake Westbrook. Perhaps they feel they have no other options. The Brewers start Tom Gorzelanny, who really is not more reliable than Westbrook. High scoring game?
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: Another really tough pick. A.J. Griffin is a better pick at home and that is where he is. But Hisashi Iwakuma is back on his stingy ways. The A's win this late.
  • The Red Sox over the Giants: Felix Doubront had a rough outing against the Yankees, but you kind of saw that coming. But overall, Doubront has pitched well. The trouble with this pick is that Barry Zito gets the start for the Giants and you never know what to expect.
  • The Pirates over the Padres: I picked Ian Kennedy to pitch well in his new and big ballpark his last time out and he did not. I am kind of gun shy now. Gerrit Cole has held his own and his good stuff should hold the Padres at bay and allow the Pirates to win.
  • The Indians over the Angels: Again, a Trout-less Angels are wingless Angels. And Justin Masterson should have no trouble with them. Jerome Williams could have a good game to match him. But that is a pretty good stretch to think so. Wow. I am picking way too many visiting teams. I hate that.
  • The Phillies over the Rockies: I do not really think the Phillies are a lock here or that they even might win. They are just spinning helplessly and Charlie Manuel was not the problem. But I need a home team to win and Cliff Lee gives them a chance. Juan Nicasio goes for the Rockies.
  • The Orioles over the Rays: Again, I am not sure this is the correct pick. I have been wrong in this series every day. But I feel stronger in this one. Wei-Yin Chen can hold down the Rays. And Chris Davis and company could do damage to Jeremy Hellickson. Wieters is hot too.
  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: There is no way the Yankees should win this game. They are starting Adam Warren. The Blue Jays are starting R.A. Dickey. But the Yankees are so hot and the Blue Jays so bad and the pick cannot be anything else. Besides, Jose Bautista went on the DL.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: The Tigers lost to Pelfrey? Oh well. Anibal Sanchez is definitely not Porcello and Kevin Correia is still Kevin Correia.
  • The Reds over the Diamondbacks: This has been a good series. But the D-backs come up on the short end. As much as I root for Brandon McCarthy, I cannot pick him until he pitches well consistently. Mike Leake is a much better pick.
  • The Dodgers over the Marlins: Zack Greinke has been pitching so well that I would be a fool to pick against him. Plus, he can hit. Yasiel Puig came out of Purgatory last night to hit a big homer. The only wild card in this game is if Nathan Eovaldi will be more "up" for this game against his old team and if there really is such an effect.
  • The Cubs over the Nationals: Jake Arrieta was terrific his last time out. He has always had that kind of talent. But Ross Ohlendorf always seems to come out of the woodwork and win. Will he today? That would not be good for the pick.
  • The Royals over the White Sox: Andre Rienzo was really good in his last start. And the White Sox have been winning more of late. But the Royals are at home. Their fans have been good as always and Jeremy Guthrie can have really good games.

And the Game of the Day:

Yesterday: 7-9
Week: 22-21
Month: 158-115
Season: 1061-828
Games of the Day: 80-56   -1

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: August 20, 2013

Gee, Monday was a lot better than the previous days had been. Gee, of course, stands for Dillon Gee, who was great. Great also was Francisco Liriano, who would be a CYA candidate if he season had started six or seven games earlier in the season. He was awesome. Jon Lester threw a gem. Jose Fernandez was not his usual dominate at home, but he was still good enough to give the mighty Dodgers their second loss in a row. The Cardinals gave away Shelby Miller's lead and still came back to win. Yup, it was a good picking day.

There are sixteen games today as the Yankees and Blue Jays play a pair. The picks:

  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: Ivan Nova has been very good of late and as long as he can avoid the bombs, should pitch well today. Esmil Rogers was much better his last time out and will have to be again for the Blue Jays to compete.
  • The Rockies over the Phillies: Tyler Cloyd has thrown two good starts in a row, but they were against weak competition and he did not strike hardly anyone out. I think the Rockies will get to him. Jorge De La Rosa will have to be better for the Rockies to win though.
  • The Orioles over the Rays: This is sort of a must game for the Orioles. They cannot afford to fall that much further back. Miguel Gonzalez is a solid starter for them. But it all depends on what the Orioles' lineup does with Alex Cobb, who was very good in his first outing back from the DL.
  • The Blue Jays over the Yankees: The Yankees traditionally do well against Mark Buehrle, but it will not matter because Phil Hughes is pitching the second game and he is pitching at home. That spells disaster in most cases.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Reds: I love both of the lefties in this game in Patrick Corbin and Tony Cingrani. Since half of me is Sicilian, I love Cingrani, of course. But I have to go with Patrick Corbin. There have been some cracks in his season lately, but he is really, really good.
  • The Braves over the Mets: Zack Wheeler was really good in his last outing and should be fine at Citi Field. Brandon Beachy will be really good too. That will probably make this a bullpen game and a big advantage goes to the Braves if that happens.
  • The Dodgers over the Marlins: The mini-losing streak for the Dodgers ends but Chris Capuano will have to pitch well. At least he has a big ballpark to do it in. Jacob Turner has not had much success lately.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: I hate this pick. Travis Blackley is getting a spot start for the Rangers and he is not that great. Jarred Cosart has been good for the Astros and there is no way the Rangers are scoring another fifteen runs. But Cosart will only give you five or six innings and that same crummy Astros' bullpen has to finish the game.
  • The Cubs over the Nationals: There. It has sunk this low. I cannot even get a win from my man-crush, Zimmermann. Chris Rusin has been pitching well for the Cubs and I like him as a lefty against the Nats. Dan Haren is immensely likable and hardly predictable.
  • The Royals over the White Sox: The White Sox have been playing better. But they never win when John Danks pitches, it does not matter how well he pitches or not. So I am going with the Royals and Ervin Santana.
  • The Brewers over the Cardinals: I really like Kyle Lohse pitching at home against his old team. I really like Lance Lynn too, but the problem with Lynn is that he will be marching along with not a problem and then fall into a hole for an inning. It is usually around the fourth or fifth inning too. Such a tease.
  • The Indians over the Angels: I am not going to repeat the mistake of last night. No Mike Trout for the Angels means no chance. Danny Salazar against C.J. Wilson.
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: Sonny Gray! I love that name and I love how he pitched last time, especially since I picked it that way. Joe Saunders can still put a good game together (somehow) but I have to go with Sonny.
  • The Pirates over the Padres: A.J. Burnett does not have to be as good as Liriano. But he does have to be better than he was his last time out. But A.J. is A.J. So the Pirates better score often against Tyson Ross.
  • The Red Sox over the Giants: First, I think the Red Sox are going to be all over Ryan Vogelsong. Secondly, I think Jake Peavy is going to be great. Lastly, we are all salivating over seeing Xander Bogaerts!

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Tigers over the Twins: The Twins have hit one of their deepest wells in the season. Mike Pelfrey is not the kind of pitcher to dig them out of that. Rick Porcello is the weakest link for Detroit's rotation and he still wins his fair share of games.

Yesterday: 8-4
Week: 15-12
Month: 1054-819
Games of the Day: 80-55   +1

Monday, August 19, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Monday: August 19, 2013

Did Ryan Dempster throw at Alex Rodriguez on purpose? Of course he did. If he got suspended because of the act (which he won't because the tensions did not escalate), I am sure he would be glad that he had the appeals process in place. I can certainly understand not liking what A-Rod has done to the game. But the big complaint from players is that he is playing under the appeals process. Excuse me, union members, but that was a hard won victory for the union in the agreement process with MLB. If Marvin Miller is not turning in his grave, I would be surprised.

The point is that the Red Sox and my pick would have been okay if Dempster had not made it personal. Elsewhere, bullpens and lack of runs cost Matt Harvey and Yu Darvish wins after pitching brilliantly...again...and cost me picks...again. The only ray of sunshine of a cloudy day of picks was picking the end of the Dodgers' winning streak.

Monday's picks:

  • The Mets over the Twins: Kyle Gibson, like most Twins' pitchers does not strike batters out. That makes him have to be really fine with his pitching. His last four games were not really fine. Dillon Gee, on the other hand, is pitching great but cannot get help from his mates. Tough pick.
  • The Rockies over the Phillies: Talk about tough picks. Jeff Manship against Ethan Martin? How do I pick that? I am going with the Rockies because they have a better offense. But it is a total crap shoot on this one.
  • The Orioles over the Rays: I do not understand people making fun of Chris Tillman's won-loss record. I understand that such is not the best way to evaluate a pitcher. But Tillman has given up more than three runs just twice in his last ten starts. Anyway, it is tough to pick against David Price, but I like the Orioles at home.
  • The Reds over the Diamondbacks: This game is pretty significant in terms of playoff implications. The Reds, of course, would like to win the division, but they hold a small lead over the D-backs in wildcard terms. I like the Reds at home and the way they are playing lately. Bronson Arroyo versus Randall Delgado.
  • The Marlins over the Dodgers; Jose Fernandez has had an amazing season. But if you really want to be amazed, check out his home numbers. He is untouchable at home. Hyun-jin Ryu has been great too and will pitch well. But Fernandez will be dominant.
  • The Rangers over the Astros:  Matt Garza has done exactly what the Rangers wanted him to do when they traded for him. He should be fine today. Lucas Harrell has hung in there and taken his lumps every five days. Poor guy.
  • The Nationals over the Cubs: The sad truth is that the Nats currently are not that much better than the Cubs. I still can't get over their season. But Jordan Zimmermann is still my guy and even though I like Jeff Samardzija too, I have to go with Jordan.
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: The Cardinals are confusing and Shelby Miller is confusing. How good are they? I don't really know at this point. Milwaukee has never seemed that great a place for them to go either. But the Brewers are going nowhere and Marco Estrada is blah.
  • The Angels over the Indians: We can pretty much count the Indians out now, right? Right. And though I like Danny Salazar, I like Jered Weaver at home even better.
  • The Pirates over the Padres: This pick does not make me feel comfortable. Francisco Liriano has been unbelievable and the Padres' offense is not there. But Andrew Cashner has the kind of stuff to shut down the Pirates too. Going with the better team, but I am nervous.
  • The Red Sox over the Giants: After watching the Red Sox a lot, there are some holes on this team. Middle relief is one. Starting pitching is another. But they should win tonight even though they flew all day to get to San Francisco. Jon Lester goes against Tim Lincecum.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Athletics over the Mariners: The Mariners have not been an easy team to play lately. They certainly took it to the Rangers over the weekend. The A's are the weirdest good team ever though and they will win. Aaron Harang will be okay. Jarrod Parker will be okay. The A's win.

Yesterday: 7-8
Week: 7-8
Month: 143-102
Season: 1046-815
Games of the Day: 79-55  -1

Sunday, August 18, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: August 18, 2013

The week finished with a whimper on a day just barely over .500. I felt good about predicting one AL ERA leader (Felix Hernandez) would not fare well, but the guy right behind him (Hiroki Kuroda) faltered too and I did not pick that to happen. It was that kind of day. Edinson Volquez and Ubaldo Jimenez both had good days on the mound and as shocking as that is in tandem, it explains how they continue to pitch in the MLB. They have just enough glimmer of hope every once in a while to keep a team trying to "right" them. Call it the stuff conundrum.

Elsewhere, Rafael Soriano blew another save which I thought would save a pick. But the Nats held on in 15 innings with Dan Haren getting a save. As Mel Allen would have said, "How about that." And did you see that bomb that Giancarlo Stanton hit? Wow!

Sunday's picks:

  • The Tigers over the Royals: What do you do when the starting pitchers are a combined 22-1? Uh. Bruce Chen is 5-0 and has not lost since last year. His whiffleballs seem to totally confuse people. And of course, Max Scherzer is 17-1. I will go with Scherzer at home. Somebody has to lose the game.
  • The Giants over the Marlins: I hate making this pick because Stanton has a history of hitting his homers in bunches. But Madison Bumgarner over Tom Koehler is the right call.
  • The Pirates over the Diamondbacks: Well...I guess Locke was not a lock after all. Will Charlie Morton throw salt in my wounds? Ha! I kill me. What do you mean you didn't get it? Oh well, after getting 20 hits yesterday, the D-backs will get bamboozled by Morton and Wade Miley will give up four or so.
  • The Rockies over the Orioles: Perhaps getting Scott Feldman was not that great an idea. But usually, those kinds of trades work out for the Orioles. This one has not so far. Instead, I am going with Jhoulys Chacin who can go deep into the game with the DH.
  • The Phillies over the Dodgers: Sandburg gets his first win as Cole Hamels out-pitches Ricky Nolasco, just like he has for a half a dozen years now. But maybe picking against a team that has won 42 of 50 is sort of a dumb idea.
  • The Braves over the Nationals: Julio Teheran had his worst game in a while his last time out, but it was only four runs in six innings and he still struck out six. He bounces back and Gio Gonzalez is not quite healthy and it shows in his pitching.
  • The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: Chris Archer has not had any golden arrows in his pack lately. His last three starts have been less than stellar. He bounces back today and the Rays jump on Todd Redmond for a win at home in the latest installment of the Battle of the Ays.
  • The Twins over the White Sox: The White Sox are on a little bit of a roll, but maybe that is because they are playing the Twins. Samuel Deduno has been letting me down lately with three bad appearances in a row and two straight losses. This must be my day for picking pitching redemptions or something. Hector Santiago goes for the Pale Hose.
  • The Reds over the Brewers: Okay, maybe I should have picked Yovani Gallardo yesterday. But that does not mean I am going to pick Wily Peralta today. Instead, I will go with Homer Bailey who should have a better record than he does.
  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: If I recall correctly, the last three times I have picked Adam Wainwright to win, the pick went south. But geez, he is supposed to be an ace, right? And who knows what you will get when Edwin Jackson pitches. Why did I pick this hobby again?
  • The Astros over the Angels: I really like this Brett Oberholtzer kid and he has pitched three straight good games. I also like a lefty against the Angels. I am torn about picking him over Garrett Richards though, but that is my first instinct and I will stick with it.
  • The Indians over the Athletics: After pitching really good for a while, Scott Kazmir's last three games sat there like a dead zeppelin. Did you see what I did there? Anyway, I am looking for him to have a good day today and for the Indians to scratch enough off of Tommy Milone for the win.
  • The Mets over the Padres: Yeah, Matt Harvey let me down in his last start, but he is way better than the Padres and Eric Stults, so that is the pick IF the Mets can score a few runs for him. That is the big problem.
  • The Red Sox over the Yankees: The Yankees should hit Ryan Dempster. But CC Sabathia always is terrible against the Red Sox and if you watched the game yesterday, every thing in the world seems to go the Red Sox way. It is their year.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Rangers over the Mariners: Erasmo Ramirez is 4-0 and has pitched really well. Who knew? But Yu Darvish has to be the pick here.

Yesterday: 8-7
Last week: 55-42
Month: 136-94
Season: 1039-807
Games of the Day: 79-54   +1