Saturday, September 21, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: September 21, 2013

12-3. Now that is one fine picking day. The only three incorrect picks included: the Pirates, who had the lead over the Reds late into that game and could not hold it; the Phillies who lost to Dice-K and guaranteed themselves a losing season and the Rangers whose bullpen was out-pitched by the Royals bullpen. But heck, I cannot complain about a day like that. Nice.

A week and a day to go. It is incredible that the regular season is almost over. Saturday's picks:

  • The Bay Rays over the Orioles: The Orioles had their chances yesterday and battled for eighteen innings! But they could not get it done and that was probably their best chance to win for the weekend. Alex Cobb beats Miguel Gonzalez.
  • The Yankees over the Giants: There is no place like home for the Yankees and Ryan Vogelsong has not had a good year. Ivan Nova has been shaky in his last few starts. But I think he comes up big today as the Giants' offense is not great.
  • The Braves over the Cubs: I want to pick Travis Wood. The poor guy has pitched his heart out all season to no avail. But Kris Medlen has had an excellent second half and the Braves win the game. Too bad Travis Wood could not have pitched against Alex Wood. That would have been fun.
  • The Athletics over the Twins: Pedro Hernandez is somewhat effective as a starter. And his left-handedness might foul up the A's a bit.  But the A's will win. The A's always win and the Twins always lose. So there you go. Jarrod Parker goes for the A's.
  • The Indians over the Astros: Things are starting to look good for the Indians. Easy schedule with everyone else beating each other. Go Tito. Scott Kazmir (woh-oh woh-oh) should win and Paul Clemens gets another loss.
  • The Reds over the Pirates: I am sorry Pirates fans. It looks like the wild card for you. I do not see A.J. Burnett beating Homer Bailey in this one.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: I don't see the Nationals having enough time to get to the last wildcard spot. So I am not sure about the efficacy of starting Stephen Strasburg when his forearm has been giving him problems. Why not shut him down? He should have no problem beating the Marlins and Tom Koehler.
  • The Tigers over the White Sox: I thought I heard on MLB Network that Chris Sale was done for the season. But has him listed today, so maybe I dreamed it. And of course, I cannot check Yahoo Sports because they have totally messed up their MLB page. This is not a ringing pick, but Rick Porcello is the pick.
  • The Brewers over the Cardinals: Yovani Gallardo at home? Yeah. Left-hander against the Cards? Yeah. Lance Lynn starting for the Cardinals? That could help the Cardinals. But I am not feeling them today.
  • The Rangers over the Royals: Jeremy Guthrie has such lousy peripherals. I have no idea how he wins games. But he does. So the Royals have a chance today. But Matt Garza seems the better pick, though Garza has been stumbling a bit lately. The Rangers are in some trouble.
  • The Blue Jays over the Red Sox: I am going with the Blue Jays today because picking against the hung over Dodgers yesterday worked so well. Clay Buchholz won't go deep into the game. Mark Buehrle wins.
  • The Rockies over the Diamondbacks: Collin McHugh was pretty effective against the Cardinals his last time out. I am not liking Trevor Cahill at Coors Field. But maybe I just want the D-backs to lose because of their whining.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: I hate picking lame-duck teams that have already clinched. You never know how much effort they will produce. But Clayton Kershaw seems like a solid pick and Burch Smith can't be this good, can he?
  • The Angels over the Mariners: Joe Saunders. You never ever know how well he is going to pitch. Seventy percent of the time he is awful and then he will have these shut down games. Jerome Williams gets the nod.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Mets over the Phillies: Dillon Gee will be rewarded for his excellent second half and Tyler Cloyd will keep missing the mark trying to stake a claim as a Major League pitcher.

Yesterday: 12-3
Week: 52-32
Month: 155-124
Season: 1297-1019
Games of the Day: 98-69

Friday, September 20, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Friday: September 20, 2013

The great start to this picking week has stumbled in the last two days and I just broke even yesterday in the twelve games that were played. Congrats go to the Dodgers and Don Mattingly for clinching their division yesterday (even though I did not pick them to win) and no, I did not think it was classless to go for a dip in that pool. I think some panties are worn too tightly. And congrats to the Boston Red Sox for clinching the playoffs. They will clinch the division in short order. Going from 93 losses a season ago to 93 wins this season is quite the accomplishment.

This coming week is going to be even more difficult to pick games as clinched division winners will rest people and who knows what will happen then. Let's see if it affects today's Dodgers pick as we take a look at Friday:

  • The Braves over the Cubs: The Braves want to get their own clinching done and will push forward until that happens. Then they won't have to hear about last year's collapse any more. Scott Baker continues his comeback attempt with the Cubs and Paul Maholm goes for the Braves (which is my only concern for this pick.
  • The Pirates over the Reds: This game features a great, on-paper, pitching match-up as Mat Latos and Francisco Liriano go for their respective teams. Latos has seen his strikeout totals go down in his last four starts and his hits against go up. He may be tired. Liriano has been terrific.
  • The Indians over the Astros: Would it not be something if Terry Francona got his guys the wildcard and had to face the Red Sox in the playoffs? I really like Brett Oberholtzer but the Indians like lefties and should win behind Zach McAllister.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: If Jordan Zimmermann wins this start and his last one next week, he could reach twenty wins for the season. I would like that. Jacob Turner has had a tough time of it for the last month for the Marlins.
  • The Phillies over the Mets: Daisuke Matsuzaka actually pitched really well his last time out, but it was against the Marlins. Philadelphia doesn't have a much better offense than Miami's but enough to make a difference. Besides, Cole Hamels is pitching.
  • The Yankees over the Giants: What a weird series to be taking place this late in the season. And the pitching match-up is full of angst as CC Sabathia goes against Tim Lincecum. This game could go either way. If Girardi starts Vernon Wells again against a right-handed pitcher, forget it.
  • The Bay Rays over the Orioles: The Orioles go into a must game with Jason Hammel. If he beats David Price, I will be one surprised game picker. But surprise seems to be my middle name. Have you noticed Price's walk rate? 1.4 per nine, which is really impressive!
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: The Red Sox are not going to rest until they clinch the division. That means that Jon Lester and his offense behind him should pound Esmil Rogers into submission.
  • The Rockies over the Diamondbacks: What is it about the D-backs and their fans that get some upset about any perceived slight by the other team? Gosh, is it why Barry Goldwater came from that state? It makes it really hard to like them and pick them. Jhoulys Chacin over Randall Delgado.
  • The Cardinals over the Brewers: Did you know that Johnny Hellweg's full name is Johnny Hellweg? Why would parents give a guy a name that means he never grows up? He is right-handed so that means the Cardinals pound him. Shelby Miller with the win.
  • The Rangers over the Royals: This is a game that could go either way. Both are playing for a wild card. The Rangers have a better chance at it. Martin Perez over Ervin Santana.
  • The Athletics over the Twins: Bartolo Colon wins another one. Why the heck not. The A's need to clinch so they will keep playing hard. Andrew Albers is trying to hang on to the big league dream.
  • The Angels over the Mariners: Matt Shoemaker makes his Major League debut for the Angels after toiling six yeas in the minors. His Triple-A numbers are skewed by playing in the PCL. But it appears he has excellent control. I will pick him over the Mariners and Erasmo Ramirez.
  • The Padres over the Dodgers: I would imgaine that the Dodgers will be hung over after their little pool party. Expect a lot of fillers to play. Edinson Volquez will not be on the playoff roster I hope. Robbie Erlin goes for the Padres.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Tigers over the White Sox: The Tigers want to clinch and Max Scherzer needs to get to twenty wins. That would make it a win/win. The White Sox are just playing out the string and cannot even play spoilers here with Andre Rienzo starting.

Yesterday: 6-6
Week: 40-29
Month: 143-121
Season: 1285-1016
Games of the Day: 97-69

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Just another strange game at Minute Maid Park

The visiting Cincinnati Reds beat the Houston Astros in one strange and long game yesterday. It took the Reds five hours and eighteen minutes to do so. The game featured the coming out party, if you will, for Billy Hamilton who stole four bases in his first MLB start. Despite those four stolen bases and the fact that he was on base five times in the game, he scored only twice. That was the kind of game it was. Hamilton did, however, score the winning run.

The final score of 6-5 makes it sound like a high scoring game. The two teams combined to use fourteen pitchers. None of them were much to write home about. And yet, the score could have been ten runs or more higher.

For example, J.J. Hoover pitched an inning and a third. Of the 26 pitches he threw, only twelve were strikes. He did not give up a run. On the Astros' side, Josh Fields pitched an inning and threw 22 pitches and only six were strikes. He did not give up a run.

The two teams were a combined seven for 41 with runners in scoring position. That works out to a .170 average. The two teams combined for twenty walks in the game and 22 hits. There were also two wild pitches, an error and two hit batters. That is 45 combined base runners and only eleven of them scored. And this was despite the two teams combining for nine doubles and ten total extra base hits.

The two teams combined to strand 31 base runners. This despite the two teams' pitchers combining to throw only 57.6% strikes in the game.

Brandon Phillips did not have a good game at the dish. He went zero for seven with seven total runners left on base.

Ryan Ludwick had arguably a worse night. He went zero for six and left nine men on base all by himself. He did drive in one run with a sac fly.

Marc Krauss went hitless in the game (he did walk once) and stranded six runners all by his lonesome. He was the Astros' DH. The two designated hitters--a position meant solely for offense--combined to go zero for twelve with fifteen men left on base.

This was one strange game that had to be brutal to watch. Well, it would have been more brutal if not for the coming out party of Billy Hamilton. Just to wash out the bad taste of it all, I will leave you with the highlights of his steals. Enjoy.

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: September 19, 2013

Wednesday was a brutal picking day. There were five extra-inning games and four of them went the opposite way of the picks. What are the odds of that? There were two blown saves, one by Sergio Romo and the other by Mark Melancon. Both of those went against me. So that is six incorrect picks right there. The Yankees woke up suddenly and I did not expect that. Justin Verlander was terrible again and the Orioles beat the Red Sox, so that is two more incorrect picks. You can begin to get the picture of how bad the day was.

I usually use's schedule to get the pitching match-ups. The first picture I see there is Mitch Williams' stupid face. I am not having a good morning.

Thursday's picks:

  • The Pirates over the Padres: Let's try this one more time. Gosh, the Pirates are not going to lose four in a row to the Padres are they? Gerrit Cole tries to prevent it. Ian Kennedy will try to cause it. Not good for the Pirates this week.
  • The Tigers over the Mariners: I did not know what to do with this one. The Tigers are not playing well right now and Doug Fister is hit or miss. Plus, James Paxton has made two starts totally twelve innings and has only given up six hits. I am going with a low scoring game that the Tigers eek out at the end.
  • The Giants over the Mets: Another tough one. Jonathon Niese has had a very good second half. But then Madison Bumgarner is one of the best pitchers in the National League. The Giants blew it yesterday. I look at the Mets' lineup and wonder how they ever score. Going with the Giants.
  • The Cardinals over the Rockies: Who in their right mind thought the Rockies signing Roy Oswalt was a good idea? Sure, Oswalt was once an elite pitcher. And he might do okay in a big ballpark. But in Colorado? Predictably, he is 0-6 with an ERA over seven. His one start at Coors was brutal. Michael Wacha will need to have a good game though or else this will be more of a football score.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Dodgers: This is another game I went back and forth on. Ricky Nolasco had been brilliant and then got bombed in his last start. Wade Miley has had an excellent second half. The Dodgers hit better on the road. The Diamondbacks are playing to delay the Dodgers clinching and won last night. Ugh!
  • The Indians over the Astros: The Indians' schedule sure has been soft. The White Sox and now the Astros? I cannot see them losing this game. Ubaldo Jimenez has had a great second half and Dallas Keuchel is brave if not much else for going out there every five days.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: The Nats are intent on going out with a bang and they certainly are. They have won ten of their last eleven games. Gio Gonzalez goes for the Nationals and Henderson Alvarez goes for the Marlins. I miss Jose Fernandez.
  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: Todd Redmond pitched well against the Yankees his last time out and Hiroki Kuroda has sort of hit a wall in his last month of starts. But that late rally gave the dying Yankees some faint hope and they will win the game.
  • The Orioles over the Red Sox: The theme all year is that the Red Sox do not score for John Lackey. On the other hand, he has more often than not, given up more runs than the other team. So you can look at it both ways. The only way this pick works out is if Chris Tillman comes up big.
  • The Bay Rays over the Rangers: I am snake bit when it comes to Yu Darvish. If I pick him, he loses. If I don't, he wins. My thinking here is that Matt Moore can keep up with him and the Rays win late, just like last night.
  • The Athletics over the Twins: The A's would like to clinch and celebrate. The Twins just want the season to be over. Dan Straily over Kevin Correia.

And the Game of the Day:

Yesterday: 6-9
Week: 31-23
Month: 137-115
Season: 1279-1010
Games of the Day: 97-68

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: September 18, 2013

Although I had a decent picking day and am having a good picking week, a failure milestone was reached yesterday. I went past a thousand incorrect picks for the season yesterday. While I know from four years of experience that such a failure rate will occur, it is one of those numbers that brings reality home. I have been wrong a thousand times this season. I am pretty sure that this is the earliest I have reached the mark as this has been a difficult season.

It is hard to believe that there are only eleven days left in the season. Wednesday's picks:

  • The White Sox over the Twins: The battle of bad teams continues and the White Sox have won the first two games of the series. A sweep is in sight in this getaway day game. John Danks should finally get a win and Scott Diamond has the bullpen lose it late.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: A.J. Griffin at home is a really solid pick. Jason Vargas is capable of putting up a good game, especially in a big ballpark like the Coliseum. I expect low scoring and a tight game.
  • The Braves over the Nationals: The Nats have won nine out of ten and are surging perhaps a bit too late to reach the Reds. They are still four and a half games out. While Ross Ohlendorf has been amazing, I think Alex Wood will be better.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: This is a battle of fringe Major League pitchers. Zach Minor has had several turns in the Majors but has never been able to stick. He has pitched thirteen times in relief for Philly, but this is his first start. Nathan Eovaldi has had a good game here and there with a bunch of mediocrity thrown in.
  • The Pirates over the Padres: The Padres have beaten the Pirates two days in a row with some nice pitching. Either that or the Pirates bats have gone in a slump. The good news for the Pirates is that Tyson Ross is not nearly as good as the first two pitchers they faced in this series. Charlie Morton with the win.
  • The Blue Jays over the Yankees: Have you ever watched Survivor and one of the challenges is trying to stack these wooden card pieces to a certain height? That reminds me of the Yankees season. The Yankees come to the next to last week with their cards stacked wobbly near the top only to all come crashing down before reaching the end.  J.A. Happ over Phil Hughes.
  • The Tigers over the Mariners: Hisashi Iwakuma has had a very nice season. And he should do well in the Tigers' big ballpark. So the question remains of what Justin Verlander shows up. He looked much more dominant his last outing. I have to go with Verlander at the end of the season and the Tigers' lineup.
  • The Red Sox over the Orioles: I was wrong here yesterday and this pick is no guaranteed one either. Wei-Yin Chen has faltered this season after a strong debut season a year ago. I have to believe that he is not really healthy. Jake Peavy needs to prove his case for the post season. In my mind, he has not done that yet. I am still rooting for Chris Davis though.
  • The Rangers over the Rays: This is one of those reverse logic picks. Derek Holland has not pitched well this season and even worse of late. So naturally, he is screaming for me to pick against him. But then he shuts down the Rays and the Rangers score a few off of Chris Archer and foul it all up. I got you.
  • The Brewers over the Cubs: This is a battle for youngsters trying to make a mark in the Big Leagues. Tyler Thornburg has made a better impression so far than Chris Rusin has. So that is my pick.
  • The Astros over the Athletics: This is my upset special of the day. Brad Peacock has won his last two starts and four of his last six decisions. He has elevated his K-rate while lowering his walk rate. Combine those facts with the A's starting journeyman, Greg Reynolds, and you have a recipe for an upset.
  • The Royals over the Indians: These two teams beating each other up what I see. They have taken turns winning this series. Bruce Chen has a winning percentage at home over the years over .600 and that is too convincing for me to not pick him over Danny Salazar.
  • The Cardinals over the Rockies: Adam Wainwright did not pitch well the last time he was at Coors Field. He lives on the curveball and it will not curve as much in that park at that altitude. But the Cardinals are good enough to win a slugfest and I am still not convinced by Tyler Chatwood.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Dodgers: A win here would clinch the division for the Dodgers. But that day will be postponed a day as Brandon McCarthy has a good game and the random sighting of Stephen Fife doesn't work this time.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Giants over the Mets: The Giants have had their way this series and I expect it to continue tonight. Aaron Harang has Citi Field to help him with dinger-control. But the Giants have Matt Cain on the mound and I think that trumps it.

Yesterday: 10-6
Week: 28-14
Month: 131-106
Season: 1273-1001
Games of the Day: 97-67

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pitcher thinks somebody is going to catch Mike Trout's 454 foot homer

The Angels slowed down the Oakland Athletics' march toward the division title for one game as they blew out Jarrod Parker and others for a 12-1 drubbing. As usually happens in blowouts in September with expanded rosters, a young pitcher is put in the game to get some experience. Thus, Pedro Figueroa (who is not exactly young at 27) was given a chance to pitch some Major League innings. Then he ran into Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo.

The highlights of the inning focus on how far Mike Trout hit his home run. ESPN tracked it at 454 feet. Watch this highlight and see how all of the replays of Trout's bomb focus on how far it went. My focus went to Figueroa and what I saw made me guffaw out loud.

As soon as Trout hits the ball, Figueroa points up at it in the universal baseball body language of, "there it is, catch it." Perhaps they do not hit the ball that far in the minors. Perhaps he is unaware of who Mike Trout is. Perhaps he misread the sound of the ball off the bat. But point all he would, nobody was catching that ball. Take a look (if the embedded file works).


Apparently, Figueroa can learn from his mistakes. A few batters later, Mark Trumbo hit another bomb and Figueroa's hand started going up and immediately thought better of it. Either way, giving up 854 feet worth of homers is not a fun way to get some experience.

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MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: September 17, 2013

I did not expect both the Cardinals and Pirates to lose. I was worried about the Pirates and mentioned that Andrew Cashner had the stuff to shut them down. My worry was full of merit as he did just that. As for the Cardinals, they could not do much with Collin McHugh and after Lance Lynn threw a decent game, the Cards went to the Trevor Rosenthal well once too often.

I was also worried about the A's having a letdown after the Rangers' series and I should have listened to myself as they got killed by the Angels. And speaking of those Rangers, I figured they would rise up after the A's series. I figured wrong. They were awful and the Rays beat them easily behind Alex Cobb. The Rangers are in serious trouble.

But otherwise, I had a decent picking day. I picked James Shields perfectly. And I also figured Cliff Lee would win and he did. And my worry about Johnny Cueto (though I picked him anyway) was worrying about nothing. He was great.

There are sixteen games on the schedule as the Nationals and Braves will play twice to make up for yesterday's shooting postponement. My heart goes out to those shooting victims in what is a real tragedy.  Tuesday's picks:

  • The Braves over the Nationals: I was going to cheat and just predict a split and then it would not matter which team won which. But that would be low so I will not. Mike Minor beats Dan Haren in the first game.
  • The Nationals over the Braves: Okay, so Freddy Garcia pitched a great game his last time out. I can't in any lifetime believe that he will do it again. Tanner Roark is having himself some fun in the Majors and should have himself a good game.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: Brian Flynn is the opposite of Roark. He has made two big league starts and they have not gone well. Too many walks and too many hits have sunk him. Roy Halladay is a bit of a concern and he could give up a moonshot to Giancarlo Stanton. But he is the pick here.
  • The Pirates over the Padres: I am worried about this game too. Eric Stults has lost his last six decisions even though he has not walked anyone in his last three starts. Sooner or later he is going to win. Will it be today? Jeff Locke will try to keep that from happening and inch the Pirates closer to where they want to be.
  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: I am grasping at straws here for the Yankees. They looked so bad in the Red Sox series and the last time they played the Jays, they were treated rudely. But I think the Yankees will hit R.A. Dickey in the dome and that Andy Pettitte will benefit from having Brendan Ryan at short.
  • The Red Sox over the Orioles: Two years ago, the Orioles did a number on the Red Sox down the stretch and eventually knocked the beantowners out of the playoffs. Nobody is beating the Red Sox out of the playoffs this year. Ryan Dempster is a concern. But the Red Sox should beat Scott Feldman.
  • The Giants over the Mets: Yusmeiro Petit has been the bomb for the Giants. He has a six to one strikeout to walk ratio and a 1.00 WHIP. That is great pitching. In other words, he has been what Zack Wheeler would look like with better control. It will come.
  • The Bay Rays over the Rangers: The Rangers are sliding out of control and I cannot see them beating the Rays on their home turf. Jeremy Hellickson over Alexi Ogando.
  • The Brewers over the Cubs: Marco Estrada has quietly put together three good games in a row with 23 strikeouts in his last 20.2 innings pitched. And those were against the Cards, Angels and Reds. Nice. I am picking him over Jeff Samardzija.
  • The Reds over the Astros: Mike Leake reminds me of a young Andy Pettitte. His peripherals never blow you away but on a good team, he just wins and wins. He will win today against the Astros that will lose their 100th game of the season. Jordan Lyles will not be able to stop it.
  • The Indians over the Royals: Aren't the Royals still slightly in this wildcard race? They why are they choosing to give Yordano Ventura his big league debut? Yeah, the kid has a big arm. But this is a longshot, isn't it? I have to go with Corey Kluber.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: My gosh, I am predicting the White Sox to win two in a row. Somebody take my temperature, quick. Jose Quintana and his fiery self wins over Mike Pelfrey, who has been bloody awful.
  • The Cardinals over the Rockies: I have to admit that I have no idea who will win this game. Joe Kelly and Juan Nicasio seem like a wash to me. Coors Field means that anything can happen. Both teams are missing key players. I have no idea.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Dodgers: The Dodgers are banged up and now have to face Patrick Corbin who is pitching like he caught his second wind after a dead period. Corbin out-duels Zack Greinke in this one.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: The A's had their little party hangover yesterday and get back to business today. Sonny Gray should get the job done and the A's should do just fine against Garrett Richards.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Tigers over the Mariners: Brandon Maurer has given up thirteen runs in his last ten and a third innings. Ouch. If that continues, the Tigers will devour him. Anibal Sanchez should be good enough no matter how Maurer does.

Yesterday: 7-4
Week: 18-8
Month: 121-100
Season: 1263-995
Games of the Day: 96-67

Monday, September 16, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Monday: September 16, 2013

Finally! A good day. That was a long time coming but eleven of the fifteen picks were correct. The only four that were incorrect were the Blue Jays (a series that did not see one correct pick), the Braves (Burch Smith!?), the Rays (Joel Peralta meltdown) and the Dodgers, which was a toss up when picking it due to the starters. But that is not bad.

What is bad is how the A's dismantled the Rangers (which was a correct pick) and how the Red Sox totally blew away the Yankees (a correct pick). I am not sure either spanked team can rebound from that though the Yankees are in far bigger trouble than the Rangers.

There are twelve games on the schedule today. Monday's picks:

  • The Braves over the Nationals: This game depends on which Dan Haren shows up. He was terrific last time after several clunkers in a row. So I do not know which it will be tonight. If Mike Minor shuts down the Nationals, it might not matter.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: Sam Dyson is a pitcher the Marlins got off the scrap heap from the Blue Jays (waiver claim). He is not a strikeout guy and his success in the Big Leagues will depend on the quality of the contact he allows (and luck). Cliff Lee should be better and win.
  • The Pirates over the Padres: The Padres have been pesky lately and a lot of it is because Chase Headley has gotten hot after a mostly cold season. Andrew Cashner is also capable of shutting teams down. So this is not an easy pick and depends on how well A.J. Burnett pitches. Yikes.
  • The Tigers over the Mariners: There is not much of a difference between Joe Saunders and Rick Porcello. But there is a big difference between the Tigers' offense and the Mariners' offense.
  • The Rangers over the Rays: Alex Cobb was not that effective in his last outing and seems to be the weak link right now for the Rays' rotation. But the real fun of this game is the return of Matt Garza to Tropicana Field. I think he will be a bit pumped up.
  • The Brewers over the Cubs: Ugh. What an ugly match-up here. Wily Peralta has been on a long slide since the All Star Break and Edwin Jackson is occasionally decent and more often not. To give Jackson some benefit of doubt, thanks to the defense behind him, he has given up 13 unearned runs this season. That seems terrible.
  • The Royals over the Indians: The Indians just destroyed the White Sox, but everybody has done that. The Royals played the Tigers tough for three days. Both are in the way of each other for where they want to go. In such a game, I will go with James Shields, who has been there many times over Scott Kazmir.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Talk about the stinko bowl. One of these two bad teams have to win. I can't pick the Twins if Liam Hendriks is pitching. Not that Erik Johnson is any better a pick. Yeesh. Hide the children.
  • The Cardinals over the Rockies: This game could be like 13-10. Collin McHugh goes for the Rockies and in his four career appearances in the Big Leagues, he has given up a 404 batting average. Lance Lynn did not give up the big inning his last time out. But Coors Field? Boy.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Dodgers: The Dodgers are sort of spinning these days. Puig has not been healthy. Trevor Cahill has had a good second half and of his last four starts, only one was not in the good category. He will be better in Arizona's dry air than Hyun-jin Ryu I think. I am not confident with this pick though.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: After beating up on the Rangers, I can see the A's having a bit of a letdown today.But I am still going to pick them because they are on such a roll. C.J. Wilson is having a good season. But I am going with Sonny Gray.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Reds over the Astros: The Reds need to win some games to hold off the Nats for the wild card spot. I am not sure about bringing Johnny Cueto back at this point in the proceedings. But if he can be as good as he has been in the past, then perhaps it is good news. Erik Bedard goes for the Astros and I expect him to get hit hard.

Yesterday: 11-4
Week: 11-4
Month: 114-96
Season: 1256-991
Games of the Day: 95-67

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Arm-chair managing: Prince Fielder and Jim Leyland

The Kansas City Royals beat the Detroit Tigers, 1-0, yesterday in a crisp, well-pitched game to keep the Royals' fleeting wildcard hopes alive. They preserved their narrow margin of victory by throwing Prince Fielder out at home plate for the final out of the game. I hate to be one of those second-guessing, arm-chair managers, but what the heck was Fielder doing out there anyway?

Greg Holland came in the game to get the save. Holland has been one of the best relief pitchers in the league this year. But he walked Fielder to start the ninth. That is never a good thing. As Fielder lumbered to first, the first thought that comes to mind is to pinch run for Fielder, right?

After all, Fielder has the ignominious statistic of amassing a minus 43.9 base running runs in his career. In other words, he has lost some four wins during his career because of his base running. With Holland on the mound, even a lead-off walk does not lead to good odds that you are going to win the game, but still.

The perfect play would have been to pinch run Hernan Perez. This is the beauty of September rosters when you have all these other players to choose from. It is not like you are going to run out of players. Perez is a speed guy. He has stolen 78 bases in this past three seasons in the minors. He would be the perfect guy to pinch run for your club at this point.

But he did not pinch run. Fielder was left out there. Say Perez is out there. You could go for a stolen base. You can hit and run or try a bunt to small-ball a tie. With Fielder, you have no such options.

It did not seem like it was going to matter as Holland got Victor Martinez to pop out and then struck out Andy Dirks. With two outs, it seemed Holland was in control. So no harm leaving Fielder out there. Except Holland was not in control.

Omar Infante doubled to left. The ball rolled all the way to the wall. It took Alex Gordon a while to dig the ball out from against the wall. Fielder gave it his all and chugged around the bases as fast as he could. But it was not fast enough. The Royals handled the relay perfectly and by the time Fielder slid like he hit his wallet on the dirt, he was dead at home and the game was over.

No offense here, but a perfect relay would not have helped if Hernan Perez was running. He would have already been in the dugout. And then not only would the game be tied, but as the home team, the chances of winning the game would have been that much greater.

So why wouldn't Tigers' manager, Jim Leyland, pinch run for Prince Fielder? Fielder likes to play. It is important for Fielder to play every day. He has not missed a game in two years. There have been only a handful of games this season where he did not play a complete game. All of those were in lopsided games. Prince Fielder's contract is over $200 million. You don't mess with that and take him out of a close game.

Poppycock. The manager makes those calls and they all have to be at whatever will give you the best chance to win the game. Leyland did not do that. Perhaps to the Tigers' manager, it does not matter. The Tigers can pretty much sleepwalk into the playoffs. Their five game lead in the division with fifteen games to go would be pretty hard to dissolve. Even so, your job as a manager is to win games, not let one of your high-priced superstars lumber around the bases and not know how to slide.

There are repercussions of Leyland's lack of managing here. The Royals are a wildcard contender. Even if your division lead seems a lock, you have to play each other contender to win the game or the integrity of the game is going to be questioned. Think of the Yankees' decisions against the Rays back in 2011. They were blasted.

Leyland's non-play here will not get the scrutiny of the last game of the season because there are two weeks left. But if the Royals get in because Leyland sat on his hands here, then whichever team gets bumped has a right to squawk.

Again, I hate to be a second-guesser and I hate to act like I am smarter than any Major League manager, but come on now. That was a no-brainer.  With the Tigers needing a run to keep from losing the game, the correct play was to run for Fielder. Leyland did not do it. And it cost his team a win.

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: September 15, 2013

At least Saturday finished in the black. Not by much, mind you, but in the black as the blahs continue in my picking odyssey. Naturally, Yu Darvish did not get a win. How silly of me to pick him. Naturally, the Cardinals make any left-handed starter look like a god. But congrats, James Paxton. My man, Chris Tillman, pitched a complete game, but he lost. The Royals shut out the Tigers. Okay. And I depended on Gio Gonzalez and he did not come through. So, yeah, it was still a majorly blah result. Again.

Today starts a new week. There are only two weeks left including this one. I cannot believe how it has all flown by so fast. And quite a bit will be decided in the next two weeks. Sunday's picks:

  • The Blue Jays over the Orioles: I have not gotten a single game of this series correct yet. And I should probably go with the Orioles. But Mark Buehrle is just the kind of junk dealer that can shut them down. Besides, Miguel Gonzalez has not been that great and the Orioles have lost seven of nine.
  • The Tigers over the Royals: I hate when pitchers get stuck at nineteen wins. I have seen it a dozen times through the years. It is just a number. Why does the pressure get to be so much greater? Jeremy Guthrie and the Royals still hope for a wildcard spot. Good luck with that. Come on, Max Scherzer, get it over with.
  • The Mets over the Marlins: I predicted a Mets sweep in the double-header yesterday and they split.  But I think I will be correct today because Dillon Gee has had a fine second half and poor Tom Koehler hardly ever wins a ballgame.
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: Once again Travis Wood gets to match up against the other team's best pitcher. Good golly, the guy is a really good pitcher, give him a break already. Francisco Liriano has had some bad outings lately though.
  • The Nationals over the Phillies: The Nats lost a game to the Reds yesterday in the wildcard race. Can we put an end to that kind of talk. It is such a far-fetched thing. But my guy, Jordan Zimmermann is pitching and he has gotten back on track lately. Tyler Cloyd continues to have a weird name.
  • The Braves over the Padres: Apparently, the Braves are not going to shut down Julio Teheran with the playoffs coming. Interesting decision. I am not saying they should. I am just saying that it is interesting. That said, I do not expect him to go deep in the game. Burch Smith will not go deep in the game either for the Padres.
  • The Angels over the Astros: Two teams playing out the string. Two pitchers that have had so-so seasons. Take your pick. I will go with Jerome Williams over Paul Clemens though I have no idea. Mike Trout has been quiet lately. He is due for a big game.
  • The Brewers over the Reds: The only reason for this pick is Yovani Gallardo at home. He is tough to beat anyway, but even tougher at home. Bronson Arroyo has had a good season, which is sort of surprising at the end of the day.
  • The Indians over the White Sox: The White Sox having Chris Sale reminds me of that Armor All commercial where the viking says that the guy doesn't deserve the caddy. The Indians have an OPS as a team that is fifty points higher against lefties. Does that cancel out Sale's greatness? Maybe. Zach McAllister will need to be good either way.
  • The Cardinals over the Mariners: The Mariners have really been pitching well as they empty out their minor league prospects onto the big stage. While not a prospect, Erasmo Ramirez has been hugely effective since he joined the rotation. So why am I picking against him? Because I don't think his teammates will hit Shelby Miller either.
  • The Athletics over the Rangers: Have the A's dismantled the Rangers or what? Picture the Rangers as the stereotypical cowboy staggering out of the frontier bar after getting his butt whooped. Jarrod Parker is 6-1 in his career against the Rangers. He is 2-1 with a decent ERA when in Arlington. Martin Perez is the only thing standing in the way of an A's avalanche.
  • The Rockies over the Diamondbacks: Perhaps it is luck and I would have to study it further, but Jhoulys Chacin has had a very good season and it has gone pretty much out of notice. I think he wins today and that he is better than Randall Delgado.
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: This game is trying to sucker punch me. I can feel it. The Giants have played the Dodgers very well over the last couple of games. And I am still under the impression that Ryan Vogelsong is a good pitcher. Silly me. And the awful Edinson Volquez goes for the Dodgers. It is all trying to suck me in for a Giants' pick. But I am going to fight you to the end to pick how I want.
  • The Red Sox over the Yankees: Of course ESPN would make these two teams the Sunday Game of the Week. How novel. So why pick the Red Sox? Well, perhaps because Clay Buchholz has not lost a game this season. Perhaps because the Yankees' bullpen has broken down the levy. Perhaps it is because the Yankees have teased us all year and will finally die like we all thought they would earlier. Oh yeah, Ivan Nova goes for the Yanks if that makes a difference to you.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Bay Rays over the Twins: How fortunate has it been for the Rays to hit the Twins when they did? They were scuffling and in danger of falling out of their wildcard lead. Now they have their swagger back. Thanks, Twins. David Price over Pedro Hernandez.

Yesterday: 9-7
Last week: 53-45
Month: 103-92
Season: 1245-987
Games of the Day: 94-67