Saturday, June 21, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: June 21, 2014

Here I am getting up early in a hotel room so I can complete the task of getting these game picks up today before getting on a plane to head to Florida. And after last night's results, I wonder if it's all just a bad joke on you readers. It was a horrible day of picking. Just about every visiting team won games last night. The Game of the Day feature actually featured the Reds who had an eight run lead in the game and they lost. How bad is that?
Oh well, I have to get moving here. I have to hurry this morning. Saturday's picks:
  • The Orioles over the YankeesVidal Nuno is like nitro in Yankee Stadium. Bud Norris does not instill confidence either. But he has to be better than Nuno at home.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: No, picking two visiting teams to win so far is not an overreaction. It's a coincidence. I simply like Andre Rienzo better than Kevin Correia.
  • The Royals over the Mariners: The Royals do all that fighting to get to first place only to lose to the Mariners? They shouldn't lose today though. Chris Young is good at home in Seattle, but not on the road. Jason Vargas should be better.
  • The Athletics over the Red SoxRubby De La Rosa has had three good starts and one bad one. I predict a bad one today. Jesse Chavez holds the Red Sox to a couple of runs.
  • The Astros over the Rays: Yet another Major League debut tonight as Jake Buchanan takes the mound for the Astros. He is not a big arm, but relies on control and contact. I think that will play well against the Rays. Besides, Jake Odorizzi is really struggling.
  • The Brewers over the RockiesChristian Friedrich is a former #1 draft pick who got a short shot in 2012 and was terrible. He has been terrible in the minors too, so I'm not sure why he was brought up to pitch in the Majors. Then again, he pitches in Colorado Springs, one of the worst pitching parks in the minors. Let's go with Wily Peralta instead.
  • The Marlins over the Mets. I seriously have both Jacob deGrom and Tom Koehler on my fantasy team. So who do I start? Both?
  • The Phillies over the Cardinals: I am seriously stressing over Adam Wainwright pitching tonight. Is he okay? The Cardinals always have trouble with lefties and that's what Cole Hamels is. And Hamels has been hot.
  • The Blue Jays over the Reds: How can you count on the Reds after last night? Sheesh. Mike Leake can get bombed here. I still can't adjust to J.A. Happ as a good pitcher. How did that happen any way?
  • The Nationals over the Braves: Here's the thing...I have predicted the Nationals over the Braves a hundred times and it's never correct. Ever. The Nationals simply cannot beat the Braves. Ever. But the one time I didn't pick the Nats, they would win, right? Doug Fister over Julio Teheran.
  • The Indians over the Tigers: I am however tired of picking Justin Verlander to win when he never does. So I'll pick Trevor Bauer. So when Verlander actually does win tonight, you'll know why I picked the Nationals. Does any of this make sense to you? Because it doesn't to me.
  • The Cubs over the Pirates. The Cubs started the horrid picking day yesterday by beating the Pirates. I do like Travis WoodVance Worley was really good in his first outing. Seriously.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: The Dodgers are such a weird team. Anyway, Josh Beckett over Tyson Ross, even though Ross can be good at home.
  • The Giants over the Diamondbacks: This is not a ringing endorsement for Ryan Vogelsong, who worries me pitching in Arizona. It's more of a sad recognition that nothing good happens when Brandon McCarthy pitches.
And the Game of the Day:
Yesterday: 5-10 (ugh), June: 147-128, Games of the Day: 39-38, Season: 600-509

Friday, June 20, 2014

The tale of two MLB debuts - follow up

wrote yesterday about two pitchers making their MLB debuts in starts for their respective teams. The topic interested me because I am always rooting for a new guy to make an impression. But the difference between the two situations was so striking as to make it all the more interesting. The two pitchers were a phenom, highly touted prospect and a fighter who rode the buses in the minor leagues for a decade.
So how did they do? Let's start with the career minor-league player. His name is Yohan Pino and he pitched for the Twins. Frankly, he was brilliant. He gave up two runs in seven innings on five hits and one walk. Only one hit was for extra bases--a double. And Pino struck out seven.
When he left, the game was tied, 2-2, and the Twins went on to win the game. He did not get the win, but he allowed his team the time and ability to win it. Nice job!
I was worried that Pino would never get the start as heavy rain delayed the game for quite a long time.
Here is a link to the video of his outing.
The phenom, former Number One pick (9th overall), Andrew Heaney also pitched brilliantly. He faced the Mets, a weak-hitting team in a big home ballpark in Miami, which had to have helped. But even so, he gave up only one run in six innings pitched. He walked one and allowed four hits to go along with four strikeouts.
Unfortunately, one of those four hits was a first-inning homer to David Wright. Also unfortunate is that Zack Wheeler of the Mets had his best Major League outing of his career and blanked the Marlins on three-hits and pitched a shutout. So that one run allowed gave Heaney the loss.
But if Heaney pitches like that, he will win his share of games. Here is video of Heaney's first MLB strikeout.
All in all, it was a very satisfying night of debuts for two pitchers coming to the big leagues from opposite ends of the spectrum. Neither got the win they deserved, but both did themselves proud.

MLB Game Picks - Friday: June 20, 2014

I did not have a good day of game picking yesterday, but it was a fun night of baseball. Two rookies made their MLB pitching debuts, old friend, Nick Swisher, hit a walk-off grand slam (even if it killed that pick) and the mysterious reclamation of Scott Kazmir continued.
The only sad thing of the day was what happened to Gavin Floyd. What a horrible accident for his career, which might now be over. At least his last game was brilliant and something to put an exclamation mark on his career.
I am heading to Portland, Maine today so I can fly out to Florida tomorrow. So the next couple of days of picks could be fluff free and to the point! Friday's picks:
  • The Pirates over the Cubs: How many times already this season have I had to pick between Charlie Morton and Edwin Jackson? It's a horrible choice and baseball, I don't appreciate it.
  • The Nationals over the Braves: The Nats have the same problem with the Braves that the Blue Jays have in Yankee Stadium. Sooner or later, you have to be able to beat your rival at least once in a while. With Stephen Strasburg on the mound, there is no excuse. Of course, Mike Minor will try to keep the Nats scuffling against his team.
  • The Yankees over the OriolesUbaldo Jimenez is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Which one will the Yankees get tonight? Hiroki Kuroda must keep the Orioles in the park, sometimes hard to do with those O's bangers.
  • The Indians over the Tigers: Wasn't that weird yesterday when they interviewed Joe Nathan after yesterday's game and it was projected all over the stadium? That was weird and it was just one win. One win won't fix the Tigers' problems. Corey Kluber over Rick Porcello.
  • The Rays over the AstrosDavid Price has given up a lot of home runs. The Astros are a home run or nothing ball club. So which will happen? I have to go with Price to dominate and for the Rays to scratch a few off of Jarred Cosart.
  • The Marlins over the Mets: This game is a toss up. The Marlins' offense has dried up recently and the Mets never had one. Daisuke Matsuzaka has been pitching well, but is that a mirage? Henderson Alvarez has done great at home, but not last time. Questions abound...
  • The White Sox over the TwinsHector Noesi has surprised. It's not that he has been great. What is surprising is that he has not been awful. He could pitch decently enough to win over the Twins and the White Sox' power could derail Ricky Nolasco.
  • The Royals over the Mariners: I am still hearing reports that Hisashi Iwakuma is having problems with his back. That makes me too nervous to pick him. Instead I'll go with Big Game James Shields with the Royals staying hot.
  • The Cardinals over the Phillies: It's hard to argue with Jaime Garcia's two great road starts and I always like lefties against the Phillies. A.J. Burnett can be had, especially early in the game.
  • The Rockies over the Brewers: This game could be high scoring. Or Christian Bergman can have a third straight good start and win. Either way, Marco Estrada at Coors does not make me comfortable.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Giants: Except for two bad starts against the Dodgers, Josh Collmenter has pitched well. Tim Lincecum has pitched well twice in a row. This is a toss-up for me. So I'm going with the home team.
  • The Athletics over the Red Sox: The A's picked up Brad Mills for a dollar. So naturally, they will make hamburger look like filet mignon. It's the A's! They are the smartest cats around. It will help that the A's face Felix Doubront who has been awful this season.
  • The Angels over the RangersGarrett Richards is a stud. And Joe Saunders is...well...Joe Saunders. I have picked way too many home teams today. Scary.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: See? I had to pick a road win in here somewhere. So let it be Dan Haren handling the Padres while the Dodgers score four runs at least off of Ian Kennedy.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Reds over the Blue Jays: The Blue Jays are slumping and have lost nine of their last twelve. They then send Liam Hendriks out there to face the Reds in their park. Ugh. The Blue Jays lose a bat in the NL park and Mat Latos was great in his first start back from the DL.
Yesterday: 5-7, June: 142-118, Games of the Day: 39-37, Season: 595-499

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A tale of two MLB debuts - Andrew Heaney and Yohan Pino

Two pitchers will make their first Major League starts tonight--Yohan Pino for the Twins and Andrew Heaney for the Marlins. Their two paths to this point could not have been more different. Heaney was a Number One draft pick, but he's only pitched three seasons in the minors (this year being his third). Yohan Pino is not 23 like Heaney. Pino is 30-years-old and has been beating the bushes in the minors for ten long seasons. Like I said, you could not have had two different paths to this same point on the same day.
Let's start with Andrew Heaney. He was drafted in the 24th round of the 2009 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays right out of high school. But Heaney did not sign and instead went to Oklahoma State University. It turned out to be a good move because after his years in Stillwater, he was drafted in the first round of 2012, the ninth overall selection. The decision to go to college made him a few million dollars in salary.
And he has earned the draft selection. He struggled a little in his rookie league campaign despite great peripherals but the Marlins kept moving him up anyway and starting with the 2013 season, has had nothing but success along the way.
After 38 minor league games, Heaney is 17-7 overall with a 2.31 ERA, a 1.126 WHIP, 9.0 strikeouts per nine and only two walks per nine. He has given up only seven homers and sports a nifty 0.3 homers per nine mark. In other words, he is everything a young phenom should be and worthy of his status as one of the best prospects in baseball.
Heaney made Triple-A look easy to start this season despite being 3.9 years younger than the average age of his peers. His strikeout per walk ratio at New Orleans was an amazing 13.9. It seems natural for a young guy such as Heaney to make this next natural progression for a young team like the Marlins.
Nothing could be further from the truth for Yohan Pino. Pino was a free agent signing of the Twins out of Venezuela way back in 2005. He went 9-2 for the Elizebethton Twins in the Appalachian League in his first season in 2005. Teammates of his that season, Brian DuensingMatt Garza and Kevin Slowey have made hundreds of Big League appearances. But not Pino.
Pino went 14-2 in the next season for the Single-A Beloit Snappers, again with great peripherals. One of his teammates on that team was an 18-year-old Chris Parmalee. But Pino stalled the following season in Double-A.
Pino pitched for parts of three seasons for the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats. During the 2009 season, Pino started with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings but he was traded to the Indians' organization and was assigned to Columbus.  After finishing with the Clippers in 2009, he pitched the entire season there in 2010 and his numbers slipped. After a bad start for Columbus in 2011, he was traded to Toronto and really struggled for that organization as he bounced between Las Vegas in the PCL and New Hampshire in the Eastern League through the 2012 season. His career seemed stalled.
Pino, then 29, signed with the Reds' organization and split the 2013 season between that team's Double and Triple-A teams with decent peripherals but mundane win-loss totals.
He re-signed with the Twins, his first organization, to start the 2014 season. Coming full circle to the Rochester Red Wings and now three years older than the average Triple-A opponent, Pino was 9-1 this year for the Red Wings with a 1.92 ERA and a 0.934 WHIP.
But Pino only started seven of his fourteen appearances this year for the Red Wings. The Twins must have liked what they saw enough to give him a the Big Leagues.
Pino has thrown 1,093.2 innings in the minor leagues. He has a .597 winning percentage, a 1.198 career WHIP to go with a 8.2/2.2 strikeout to walk ratio. His 3.74 career ERA was somewhat inflated by pitching for the Blue Jays' organization. But the guy has certainly been good enough to have gotten a shot somewhere along the line. But he hasn't.
Until now. So, yes, Yohan Pino's debut could not be more different than Andrew Heaney's. The younger pitcher is making the next natural transition. The elder is finally getting a shot after paying long dues and riding way too many buses.
I will be rooting for them both because I am a sucker for both kinds of debuts. But I confess that I will really be pulling for Pino. After all, after all those years, the guy is finally getting a payoff for his efforts.

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: June 19, 2014

The West Coast was certainly an interesting place last night. Clayton Kershaw (the best pitcher on the planet) threw a no-hitter while striking out 15 (had the pick). The Padres won a rare game (Game of the Day pick wrong) but did so on a night when they honored Tony Gwynn (so I was glad I was wrong). From what I heard, the Padres really did a nice ceremony to honor their city's favorite son.
I cannot believe how often: 1) David Ortiz comes up in the bottom of the ninth in a close game and, 2) he does something spectacular. I really don't like the guy because of his demand that the focus be on him, but, gosh, you have to respect his ability to make the difference every time.
Thursday's picks:
  • The Angels over the Indians: This is the same pitching line as last night when the game was postponed. I am surprised the two teams are not playing two. After all, how many times with the Angels visit Cleveland? C.J. Wilson over Justin Masterson. Or maybe this is the make-up game after all on what was supposed to be an off day?
  • The Reds over the Pirates: I do not see Jeff Locke shutting down the Reds. So it all depends on which Homer Bailey shows up. Since he is 7-3, I would be fairly safe in saying that the good one has shown up more often than not.
  • The Tigers over the Royals: Streaks seem to end after ten games this season. So I am predicting the Royals' win streak gets snapped at ten. Besides, Anibal Sanchez is usually more reliable than Danny Duffy.
  • The Diamondbacks over the BrewersYovani Gallardo would be the pick if he was at home. But on the road and in Arizona, I can't feel that confident. Chase Anderson has been good for the Diamondbacks.
  • The Padres over the MarinersJesse Hahn was very good in his second MLB start and the Padres won with emotion last night. Erasmo Ramirez has not given up a run in his last two outings, but his peripherals during the two games were not pretty and he did not go deep into the games.
  • The Nationals over the BravesJordan Zimmermann has been outstanding in the last month even though his team never scores enough runs for him. The Braves are really floundering these days and Gavin Floyd is not a very good rotation answer.
  • The Blue Jays over the Yankees: Much has been made of the Blue Jays' losing streak at Yankee Stadium. Isn't it at ten games now? Maybe. If so, what did I say about ten game streaks? Either way, David Phelps is not good enough to hold down the Blue Jays' lineup and if Drew Hutchison is on, he's very good.
  • The Rays over the Astros: I hate picking against Collin McHugh because I like him a lot. Chris Archer needs to pretend that the other team is the Yankees because he always beats them. Archer just hasn't been good for a while and he is better than that.
  • The Marlins over the MetsAndrew Heaney is a very good prospect for the Marlins who is making his first MLB start tonight. He is a lefty with great control and has won often and efficiently in the minors. In other words, he is the opposite of Zack Wheeler.
  • The Twins over the White Sox: I have to admit to letting my emotions get in the way here. Yohan Pino is thirty-years-old and has been toiling in the minors for ten years. And after having a fabulous season in the International League, he is finally getting a shot in the Majors. You have to root for a guy like that if you are a human being. Jose Quintana will probably win it though.
  • The Cardinals over the Phillies: This is a tough one. The Phillies have been on a roll and face Shelby Miller, who was great his last time out. David Buchanan has made six big league starts but only one has been bad and has shown good control. I don't know. The Cardinals should be so much better than they play.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Athletics over the Red Sox: Yes, the Red Sox won in dramatic fashion last night. But then they flew all the way to Oakland to begin this series and face Scott Kazmir who has been terrific. Jake Peavy hardly ever wins these days. The A's are the better team, but the Red Sox do have this way...
Yesterday: 9-5, June: 137-111, Games of the Day: 38-37, Season: 590-492

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: June 18, 2014

Tuesday was a good day in my game picking world. With only four incorrect picks, a lot of the bad taste of the previous few days disappeared. Never satisfied, I was confounded a bit by the four incorrect picks. I mean, come on, Yu Darvish. Maybe you should go to a baseball shrink when it comes to pitching to the A's. Against everyone else, he is Godzilla. Against the A's, he is a gecko. What the hecko?
The Phillies beat the Braves again and that does two things. First, it points out the inherent problems the Braves have on offense. But secondly, each win delays the Phillies from doing what they need to do to rebuild and start over.
Here are Wednesday's picks:
  • The Braves over the Phillies: I am nothing if not stubborn. So I'll try this again. This is the first of eight glorious day games today and features kind of a crappy pitching match-up of Roberto Hernandez against Aaron Harang. I guess I'm going Harang.
  • The Marlins over the CubsJake Arrieta gentille Arrieta hasn't given up a run in his last two outings. So why am I picking Miami? I think Nathan Eovaldi matches him and then the Marlins win late against the bullpen.
  • The Royals over the Tigers: Okay, I am hopping on the Royals' bandwagon (watch them lose now). Jeremy Guthrie is not great, but he has held his own over the years against the Tigers and I'm not big on The Emoticon, Drew Smyly, as a starting pitcher.
  • The Orioles over the RaysKevin Gausman has made a strong statement in his last two starts and perhaps his "I've arrived" moment has come. Alex Cobb was much better his last time out, but his mates aren't scoring.
  • The Red Sox over the Twins: The Red Sox barely beat Phil Hughes yesterday who threw a complete game in his 2-1 loss. Kyle Gibson has been the Twins' second best pitcher and has had some really good games. But John Lackey has been outstanding.
  • The Cardinals over the MetsLance Lynn is getting tougher and tougher and hasn't had a lynning in quite a while. Bartolo Colon is game and will face a team that loves hitting fastballs.
  • The White Sox over the Giants: I just wrote about Tim Hudson last week and about how the guy just wins and wins, year after year. But Chris Sale is a different beast and should shut the Giants down.
  • The Athletics over the Rangers: The Rangers will never catch the A's. It's just not going to ever happen. The A's are in their heads I think. Sonny Gray was not good against the Yankees, but he will beat the A's. Nick Tepesch can be good at times.
  • The Reds over the Pirates: Can you realistically pick against Alfredo Simon at this point? The guy has been amazing. Put him up against Edinson Volquez and that seems like a sure thing.
  • The Nationals over the Astros: I normally don't like picking a guy coming off the disabled list like Gio Gonzalez. But I just don't trust Scott Feldman against the Nationals' offense. So that's the pick.
  • The Yankees over the Blue JaysMark Buehrle is tough to pick against with the year he is putting together. But there is too much body of work to think that he will be that good all season. Chase Whitley just seems to throw quality innings day after day. I'm not sure how he does it exactly.
  • The Angels over the IndiansJustin Masterson is so inconsistent. He's either brilliant or he's terrible. I can't stand picking games he pitches. But he is facing a team that has all its weapons now and is coming on strong. And C.J. Wilson is better than people think.
  • The Brewers over the Diamondbacks: The D-backs are so stupid. I mean, come on. Pound your chests and tell the world about how macho you are and how you are the baseball police. But it would fly better if the team was any good. Matt Garza over Wade Miley (who I thought was pitching yesterday).
  • The Dodgers over the RockiesClayton Kershaw at home? Yeah, I'll take some of that. Colorado away from Coors? No, I won't take some of that. Jorge De La Rosa isn't bad, but he's no Kershaw.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Mariners over the PadresFelix Hernandez goes to another big ballpark to pitch. That's killer for him and for the Padres. Andrew Cashner has a big arm, but has not shown any consistency to this point.
Yesterday: 11-4, June: 128-106, Games of the Day: 38-36, Season: 581-487