Saturday, August 30, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: August 30, 2014

There we go! Two good nights in a row have nearly washed from memory the four straight losing nights that came before. The picks came through for eleven correct out of fifteen and are now 17-7 for the last two days.
Of the four incorrect picks, the Nationals hitting four homers off of Felix Hernandez was the biggest surprise. King Felix has not been king-like the last three outings. I did not expect the Yankees to win, but it took a whole lot of sloppiness by the Blue Jays to do so. I should have picked the Indians and not have given the Royals so much credit. And picking Miami to beat the Braves was just dumb.
But that was only four and thus, my coffee tastes that much richer this morning. And I better drink it fast because with two double-headers today, there are seventeen games to march through!
Saturday's picks:
  • The Blue Jays over the Yankees: As always, it all depends on Drew Hutchison and which version of him will show up. He has been really good the last two outings. I have a feeling that the Blue Jays will hit a couple of bombs off of Michael Pineda.
  • The White Sox over the Tigers: The first of a pair between these two teams today is a really tough choice between Max Scherzer and Chris Sale. Even if they cancel each other out, the two teams have awful bullpens. I like Sale against the Tigers' lineup moer than the other way around and feel like Jose Abreu will hit one out.
  • The Cubs over the Cardinals: These two teams also play two games today. Justin Masterson was a huge mistake for the Cardinals in their stretch run. Bad trade. Felix Doubront gets the start for the Cubs and at least he has had some MLB success before.
  • The Reds over the Pirates: Will Alfredo Simon's comeback game his last time out be the new norm or a one game reprieve? Can Vance Worley stop his losing streak at two? Tune in today to find out!
  • The Orioles over the Twins: It sure seems like these Orioles have the division in the bag. They are just amazing, especially now that Chris Davis is back to being Chris Davis. I'll take Chris Tillman over Kyle Gibson.
  • The Bay Rays over the Red SoxAllen Webster had a big bump in his road his last time out. The Rays are frothing at the mouth for a win. Jake Odorizzi has a good day and the Red Sox stay in the cellar.
  • The Royals over the Indians: Let's try this again. Why? Because James Shields is better than Vargas and Trevor Bauer is not as good as Salazar. Hey, that works for me.
  • The Tigers over the White Sox: The second game of the double-header features two Major League debuts on the mound. Kyle Ryan and Chris Bassitt were both high round draft picks so have already beaten the odds. Ryan is a lefty with great control and a high contact rate. Bassitt is more of a power pitcher. I think I will go with the control/contact guy.
  • The Braves over the Marlins: I am not making this mistake again. Aaron Harang has had a bad August and isn't the ideal pick. And Jarred Cosart has a chance to be dominating. But this may be a knee-jerk reaction to yesterday.
  • The Phillies over the MetsJerome Williams just might be saving his career. He's had two big starts in a row for the Phillies since joining them. And, yeah, even Ryan Howard can hit a Bartolo Colon fastball.
  • The Astros over the RangersRobbie Ross Jr. scares me to death with his ERA over six and some of the beat downs he has received. And Scott Feldman is probably a better bet at home than on the road.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: The two starters here are a combined 5-17. What do you do with that? I feel like the D-backs are the better team so we'll go with that. The two pitchers are Tyler Matzek and Vidal Nuno.
  • The Cubs over the Cardinals: Wait, the Cards can't lose two games of a double-header, can they? They can if they start Marco Gonzales in the second game. He has walked all kinds of people and has no idea. Tsuyoshi Wada on the other hand has been pro for the Cubbies.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: The Dodgers are playing pretty shabby these days. And the Padres are getting some nice pitching. Did you know, for example, that Ian Kennedy has more strikeouts than innings pitched this season? Blew me away when I saw that. But he is going to lose today anyway to Zack Greinke.
  • The Athletics over the Angels: I'm not sure why the Angels would start reliever, Cory Rasmus, in this big game where they could get some distance from the A's. Drew Rucinski from the Arkansas Travelers might have been a better option. But there you go. The default is to go with Jeff Samardzija here.
  • The Nationals over the Mariners: Oh, man. I have to pick Stephen Strasburg again. I hate that. I should love it, but he frustrates me every time. The pick is this way because the Nats' hitters are on fire and Roenis Elias won't slow them down much.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Brewers over the Giants: My man, Mike Fiers is on the hill today. I have to ride him like a pony to beat Jake Peavy today.
Yesterday: 11-4, August: 218-173, Games of the Day: 83-58 (+4), Season: 1112-922

Friday, August 29, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Friday: August 29, 2014

Finally a positive day! The day games all went wrong but everything after was positive and the picks went six out of nine for the day. The one big surprise was the Twins exploding in the tenth inning to beat the Royals. You could say the Royals took it off the Bruce Chen.
I don't have much else to say as I am simply relieved to have a positive day, so let's just get to Friday's picks:
  • The Pirates over the Reds: I like Mike Leake but I see how his team is playing and I have to think that the Pirates (at home) will be all over the Cincinnati team all weekend. Edinson Volquez goes for the Pirates.
  • The Blue Jays over the Yankees: The Yankees have two positives going for them. First, Mark Buehrle has had a heck of a time beating them over the years. And secondly, the Yankees have had the upper hand in the season series against the Blue Jays the past several seasons. But my gut is telling me that the Blue Jays will hit Chris Capuano hard and will win a high scoring game.
  • The Red Sox over the RaysAnthony Ranaudo has not been over-the-top fantastic since he was called up, but he has won both of his starts. So let's call him a good luck charm. Chris Archer is very good but the Red Sox beat him the last time they faced him.
  • The Mets over the Phillies: The Phillies are fresh off of sweeping the Nationals so why pick them to lose here? Just because they had a good series, doesn't necessarily make them a good team. David Buchanan will try to prove me wrong. Jacob deGrom has been good for the Mets.
  • The Marlins over the BravesTom Koehler impressed me very much by having a great outing at Coors Field. So I am picking him to win a pitchers' duel against Ervin Santana.
  • The Royals over the Indians: I've looked at this one from every angle. Danny Salazar has been much better in his last two outings and the Indians are better than people think. But they do struggle against lefties and Jason Vargas is one of those. Royals.
  • The Tigers over the White Sox: It is hard to predict how good or bad Justin Verlander is going to be these days. So there is that. Scott Carroll has looked awful at times and good at others. I have to go with the Tigers here.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: The comeback by Scott Baker has been smile-inducing. It's just nice to see him back. He has pitched well too and beat the Royals his last time out. He doesn't walk people and is a contact pitcher. So the BABIP gods will determine his fate. Brett Oberholtzer keeps taking the ball every fifth day. That's about all you can say there.
  • The Cubs over the Cardinals: Kyle Hendricks has had a great start to his MLB career. And some of the young studs recently promoted to the Cubs will ambush Shelby Miller and put the Cubs over the top.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: Both of these teams have big problems. So which one is worse? I would say the Rockies. Josh Collmenter hasn't had a bad season while I have less faith in Christian Bergman.
  • The Angels over the Athletics: This is going to be a dramatic game and I like the fact for the Angels that they are at home. Jered Weaver scares me a bit and Jon Lester was brought in to win games like this. What it boils down to me is that the A's are sruggling offensively and that will key the win for the Angels.
  • The Padres over the DodgersDan Haren is too iffy to me to pick. Andrew Cashner was rusty in his first outing back from the DL, but I think he'll have a very good game against the Dodgers, especially at home.
  • The Mariners over the NationalsFelix Hernandez has not been as dynamic in his last couple of starts. He will have the benefit of being unfamiliar to the Nationals. Jordan Zimmermann can shut down the Mariners too and then I like the Mariners' bullpen better.
  • The Giants over the Brewers: I never like picking Ryan Vogelsong. Ever. And I have been extolling the virtues of Wily Peralta who wasn't very wily his last time out when the Pirates roughed him up. This pick comes down to see the way the Giants have played lately and how hot Buster Posey is at the plate.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Orioles over the Twins: The Twins could continue to play spoilers. They are not that bad of a bad team. That said, I have no confidence in Trevor May after what he has done thus far. Miguel Gonzalez is the O's weakest starter, but I still like his chances here.
Yesterday: 6-3, August: 207-169, Games of the Day: 81-58 (+3), Season: 1101-918

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Too quick to bandwagon Matt Adams

Matt Adams came to Spring Training in 2014 with a slimmer physique and then quickly jumped out of the gate swinging for the St. Louis Cardinals. His success led to a semi-controversy between who should get playing time between Adams, Allen Craig and Oscar Taveras. Between Adams' early jump on the season, Taveras' growing pains and Craig's horrendous start to the 2014 season, Adams became the guy who had to have the playing time. The fans and most writers were trumpeting Adams entry into stardom. Was it too early?
The issue was solved with the Cardinals shipping Craig to the Red Sox as part of the Lackey deal. Adams was the guy who won the job and got the playing time. I have to admit here that I am still a big-time believer in Allen Craig and feel that his struggles this year are due to lingering issues with his wheels. If he can get his legs under him again, 2014 will be the fluke and not the two previous seasons.
Making that admission, perhaps it is fair to say that I am looking for flaws in Matt Adams' game. I certainly am not "glad" that he has struggled in the second half (as we will see in a moment). But it is fair to state that my initial assessment of the situation appears to be the correct one.
A player's season and success or lack of it should represent the entire season. If you look at the entire pizza, Adams' numbers look pretty savory. He has a healthy 125 wRC+ to go along with his triple slash line of .303/.333/.481.
However, you expect offense from your first baseman and Adams ranks a solid 14th among 23 qualifying first basemen in offensive runs. He is tenth of the 23 in fWAR because his defense has been solid.
The bulk of Matt Adams' runs credited to him result from the early part of the season. In his last 35 games, his triple slash line is: .241/.307/.370. He has hit only two homers in those 35 games and partly as a result, the Cardinals continue not to have any kind of consistency with their offense.
Increased playing time has not improved Matt Adams' success against left-handed pitching. He has a .607 OPS against lefties this season which is just seven points over his career .600 mark against southpaws. If Adams is your stud in the middle of the lineup, he is vulnerable to lefty match-ups late in the game with the game on the line. That could be a major factor in why he has a .647 OPS in "late and close" situations.
Another thing that is puzzling is that Matt Adams is pretty terrible in road games. And this has gone on his whole career. It's not like he is playing in Coors Field. His road OPS for his career is .720 while at Busch Stadium he has compiled an .892 OPS. This year, that split is even more dramatic. In road games, Adams has a .695 OPS and at home, it is .933. Thus, in half of the Cardinals' games, he is often a non-factor.
The other thing that concerns me about Matt Adams is his lack of plate discipline. Throughout his minor league days and into the early part of his MLB playing time, his walk percentage was weak at around 7% or so. This year, that rate has sunk to 4%.
Adams' rate of swinging at pitches out of the strike zone (O-rate) is 42.7%. That is the highest among first basemen and fourth highest among all qualifying players no matter their position. It is easily the highest of his three year career and defeats gains made in that area last season.
Adams also has the highest line drive rate of his career and that is a good thing. But you wonder if that is a blip and if that is what you want from what is supposed to be your bopper where fly balls would better serve his power.
I admit my bias for Allen Craig. If he can get his wheels back healthy again, the Red Sox are going to have a steal. I believe he is a much better and more patient hitter than Matt Adams and could potentially have just as high or higher a slugging percentage. I do not believe that Craig's season in 2014 show a guy as he is. He did that in 2012 and 2013.
The Cardinals put their stock in Matt Adams. While that may have been the right call for 2014, we will have to see how it plays out over the next several seasons.

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: August 28, 2014

Holy cow am I on a losing streak! Wednesday was the fourth straight negative day and this one was really negative. At one point, I was 0-6 and then 1-8. How can you be that wrong that often? What the heck happened in Philadelphia to the Nationals? The Yankees....the Yankees got nine straight hits off of David Price. Whuh!? The Brewers' bullpen blows a lead and then loses in extras. Liam Hendriks only gives up four base runners in seven innings!? Adam Wainwright lost again!? Man. What a tough day.
This gig isn't fun when you have days (and a week) like this.
Thursday's picks:
  • The Cubs over the RedsDylan Axelrod had a good first outing after getting recalled by the Reds. That makes this pick more challenging. Jake Arrieta gentille arrieta is a better pick if he can get some offense behind him.
  • The Yankees over the Tigers: This pick all depends on how well Hiroki Kuroda pitches. The Yankees' bullpen should be in good shape for this one so if the team from the Bronx can do some damage on Kyle Lobstein, they should win.
  • The Giants over the RockiesYusmeiro Petit has not allowed a hit or a walk in his last 12.1 innings of work covering five relief outings. Can that translate to a start? Time will tell. Jordan Lyles has pitched decently for the struggling Rockies.
  • The Orioles over the Rays: The Rays are better now that they have Wil Myers back. That deepens their lineup. I think, though, that the Orioles will hit Jeremy Hellickson more than the Rays will hit Bud Norris.
  • The Indians over the White SoxAdam Eaton changes how the White Sox look. That said, Carlos Carrasco has filled in very nicely for the Indians in the rotation and should give them a chance to win over John Danks.
  • The Royals over the TwinsTommy Milone has gotten his shoes shined in his last three outings. I mean, he hasn't been able to get anyone out. I will take Jeremy Guthrie instead, though with reservations.
  • The Astros over the RangersNick Tepesch had been doing much better until he ran into the Royals. So now I'm not sure about him. Collin McHugh is a strikeout machine that doesn't go deep enough often enough in games. The Astros' bullpen is messy if that happens today.
  • The Angels over the AthleticsSonny Gray was as much of a lock as there was earlier in the season. Now he is a big question mark. Has he hit a wall? Is his arm tired? Have batters found something on him? In order for this pick to work, C.J. Wilson has to have a good day.
And the Game of the Day:
  • That Braves over the MetsMike Minor has been a different pitcher in his last two outings and should be a lot more challenging for the Mets than the last time they saw him on July 1. Jon Niese is a good pitcher, so this game will be close.
Yesterday: 5-10, August: 201-166, Games of the Day: 81-58 (+2), Season: 1095-915

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: August 27, 2014

My home network decided not to work this morning so I am late and flustered. Not to mention the fact that I cannot seem to get over the .500 hump lately. I suppose I should look at the bigger picture in that at one point I was 3-8 and finished at 7-8. But still. Come on now. The A's are really struggling. The Reds are awful. The Cubs and Padres keep making noise. And, of course, both extra-inning games went against me. What else is new.
I need to turn this around! Wednesday's picks:
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: I haven't been helped by picking Adam Wainwright lately. At the same time, it feels so dangerous to pick against him. Jeff Locke could give the Cards problems. But if Wainwright is Wainwright, the Cards win.
  • The Mariners over the Rangers: I figured this pick should be easy until I saw that Erasmo Ramirez was pitching for the Mariners. Oh. Okay. Hmm. Oh what the heck, Colby Lewis isn't that great shakes either.
  • The Orioles over the Rays: The Orioles have clearly showed their superiority over every other team in the AL East and that includes the Rays. If Kevin Gausman keeps pitching the way he has, he is going to be a star. The Emoticon, Drew Smyly, will always be (IMHO) a middle-to-bottom of the rotation guy.
  • The Nationals over the Phillies: I have been wrong with this pick for two straight days, but I am nothing if not stubborn. Doug Fister should always beat Kyle Kendrick. But baseball will always be baseball.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: The Red Sox can enjoy being spoilers now and with Allen Craig back, can do some damage. I like Joe Kelly better than the erratic youth of Marcus Stroman. The undeniable truth though is that Stroman can kill it when he is on his game.
  • The Tigers over the YankeesDavid Price with each start is getting himself closer and closer to a paycheck that will change his name to T. Rowe Price. He prevents the Yankees from getting to the Tigers' weak bullpen by throwing strikes. Shane Greene will try to keep it close.
  • The Mets over the Braves: Weak Mets' offense or not, Zack Wheeler has arrived and he has been phenomenal. Julio Teheran can force it to the bullpens and if so, the Braves have the advantage.
  • The Reds over the Cubs: On paper, Mat Latos is better than Jacob Turner. But Turner was a wise pickup by the Cubs along the same lines as Arrieta was and the Cubs can turn him into a good pitcher. But that takes a little time. The Reds shouldn't get a ringing endorsement, but they are the pick.
  • The Indians over the White Sox: I like that Adam Eaton is back for the White Sox. That said, I like Corey Kluber over Hector Noesi too much to fool around with this pick.
  • The Twins over the Royals: That was quite exciting for the Royals last night and I like that they have a chance for the division. That city deserves it. But I don't like Royals starting Liam Hendriks.Yeesh. Phil Hughes has become a stud.
  • The Athletics over the AstrosBrad Peacock has three problems. The first is his high ERA. The second is his 1.68 WHIP and the third is that he almost never goes more than five innings in his starts. He has pitched beyond the sixth inning only once in his last ten starts. That is too much exposure for those last twelve outs. Drew Pomeranz goes for the A's.
  • The Brewers over the Padres: This pick hasn't gone well this week, but I'm feeling pretty good about this one. Yovani Gallardo will start for the Brewers, so that is reason one. The second is that Odrisamer Despaigne hasn't exactly been stingy in giving up runs in recent starts.
  • The Angels over the Marlins: I hate to pick against Henderson Alvarez. He certainly has had a very good year. And the Marlins are no pushovers. But the Angels are home and Hector Santiago has been pitching well enough that I think they have the advantage.
  • The Giants over the Rockies: For years I have thought that Hector Santiago and Franklin Morales were the same exact guy. But while Santiago plays for a great team like the Angels, Morales plays for a challenged team like the Rockies. Tim Hudson isn't a solid pick, but he is the pick tonight.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Dodgers over the DiamondbacksWade Miley has been better than earlier in the season, but he runs up against Clayton Kershaw. Sorry about that, Wade.
Yesterday: 7-8, August: 196-156, Games of the Day: 80-58 (+1), Season: 1090-905

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: August 26, 2014

Here in the late stages of August, things are falling apart for my game picking like a Nicki Minaj outfit and I have had three malfunctions in the last four days. The Game of the Day feature is on a losing streak of three days and the schedule only gets tougher from here.
I need to get this ship turned around. Tuesday's picks:
  • The Cardinals over the PiratesLance Lynn has been a big-time pitcher for the Cardinals this year. Whenever they needed a win, he has come through. His performance tonight will go a long way on deciding which team wins this game. Gerrit Cole is no slouch either.
  • The Orioles over the RaysAlex Cobb has been A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Wei Yin Chen just keeps winning. Buck Showalter is one of the few managers not intimidated by Joe Maddon and often out-schools him. I have the Orioles here.
  • The Nationals over the PhilliesGio Gonzalez is hard to figure out this season. But if he is on, he will shut down the Phillies. Cole Hamels has been outstanding. But still never gets the support he needs.
  • The Blue Jays over the Red SoxRubby De La Rosa has not been reliable and I just get the feeling that the Jays will clean his clock tonight. That said, R.A. Dickey never gives me confidence from start to start.
  • The Tigers over the YankeesRick Porcello is a good match-up against the Yankees because they are easily induced into pounding the ball into the ground with their pull-hitting. Brandon McCarthy still makes me pinch myself because of the great run he is on. This should be another close game.
  • The Braves over the Mets: Two guys named Alex pitch tonight and two guys named Wood pitch too. So it is the Alex Alex Wood Wood Night. Dillon Gee has been a disappointment since coming off the DL.
  • The Reds over the CubsJohnny Cueto versus Travis Wood really sounds like a mismatch. That really bothers me.
  • The White Sox over the IndiansJose Quintana deserves a win. He really does. And with T.J. House as his opponent, he has a chance. If that bullpen can only hold on for once...
  • The Athletics over the Astros: There are still deep concerns about the A's without their closer and with a banged up offense. But if Jason Hammel has a reasonably good night, they should beat the Astros and Dallas Keuchel.
  • The Dodgers over the DiamondbacksTrevor Cahill has been significantly better in his last four starts. He's been a totally different guy. That said, the Dodgers should muster up enough offense and win behind Ramon Hernandez and the bullpen.
  • The Angels over the MarlinsNathan Eovaldi totally messes me up. He and Stults of the Padres are my least favorite picks because they always do the opposite of what I expect. The Angels should win this game and Matt Shoemaker has been their stud all season. With Mike Trout and Giancarlo Stanton on the same field, you have the best in baseball in one ballpark.
  • The Brewers over the Padres: The Brewers are not folding. That is the first thought. The second is that Jimmy Nelson should enjoy Petco and do much better than his last start in Toronto. Tyson Ross is a good pitcher though.
  • The Mariners over the Rangers: For years, the Rangers got fat on the Mariners in the division. The tide has turned and the Rangers are the team looking way up from the bottom of the standings. James Paxton should be dominant and Nick Martinez should yield at least a three-spot.
  • The Giants over the Rockies: The Giants are about as unpredictable as a team gets these days. Their offense is so hit or miss that you never know what to expect. The same goes for Madison Bumgarner who never seems to string his dominance over successive games. Jorge De La Rosa is the best of the Rockies' pitchers.
And the Game of the Day
  • The Royals over the Twins: The loss to the Yankees last night should just be a momentary blip for the Royals and they get back to their winning ways tonight against the Twins. They should enjoy batting against Ricky Nolasco and Danny Duffy has gotten better and better.
Yesterday: 4-6, August: 189-148, Games of the Day: 78-58 (-3), Season: 1083-897