Saturday, October 04, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: October 4, 2014

My post season picking is only going slightly better than Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton's post season hitting. I mean, holy cow already. Clayton Kershaw with a 6-1 lead looked pretty darned good for that pick to hold up, right? What!? And who would ever thought that Jake Peavy...the same Jake Peavy that was practically run out of Boston, would pitch in the playoffs and allow only two hits?
The one thing you cannot say is that this post season baseball has been boring. In a year dominated by pitching, the offensive fireworks have been spectacular. The only problem for many fans right now is a real tiredness with it looking like another Cardinals - Giants NLCS. To most fans, that would be a tired rehash of the two same teams that have dominated the last five years.
But how much different would an Orioles - Royals ALCS be? That would be something. We won't find out for another day how that is going to go because the ALDS has the day off today. It's all NLDS. But don't think we get any day baseball. Heck no. The East Coast will be up all night again if they want to watch the games. Thanks, MLB, your money-grubbing ways know no bounds.
Today's picks:
  • The Nationals over the Giants: Looking at the pitching match-ups, you would have to go with the Nationals here. Tim Hudson has looked over the hill for two months now. And Jordan Zimmermann has been filthy the past two months ending the season with a no-hitter. That last fact scares me a bit. Pitchers never seem to pitch well after a no-hitter. Have you noticed that? And this is the Giants after all, who never, ever seem to lose a post season game. Egads! I am freaking myself out.
  • The Cardinals over the Dodgers: You just have to go with the Cardinals now. If Kershaw is no obstacle, what is? Lance Lynn has had a terrific season and can bully hitters. And Zack Greinke is not as great as Kershaw. Don't get me wrong, Greinke is very good, but still.  The Dodgers sure seem to have a lot of loose cannons and bad chemo. It's just an odd team. The real wild card in this game (that isn't a wild card game) is that these two managers, Mike Matheny and Don Mattingly, might be the worst in-game strategists in baseball.
Yesterday: 1-3, Post season: 2-6, Season: 1367-1096

Friday, October 03, 2014

Flipping the Marlon Byrd revisited

Yesterday I wrote about Marlon Byrd and the fact that he did something no other player has ever done before by striking out 150 times more than he walked. I did mention that Byrd did have a good offensive season. But my over-arching point was that he could have done better sans the strikeouts. That post was syndicated by It's About the Money, the other site I write for. And one of my favorite commenters had this to say: "Mike Trout struck out 101 times more than he walked. Somehow I doubt the Angels are getting their underwear in a twist over that." Interesting point. Let's look at it for a second.
Certainly Mike Trout had an MVP season. I cannot imagine him not winning the award this season. The Angels also ended up with the best record in the Major Leagues, so, no, the Angels do not have much to complain about. Trout led the league in runs batted in and runs scored. According to all of that, the Angels should be ecstatic. But that doesn't mean the Angels aren't worried about the strikeouts.
My difficulty with the comment is that just because Mike Trout was the bomb again this year for the third straight year of brilliance on the field, it doesn't mean he could not have been better. The comment comes with certain assumptions.
The first assumption is that Trout's season was good enough just as it was. And I cannot argue that point. It was good enough to garner him an MVP and it was good enough for the Angels to be the best team in baseball during the regular season. But the assumption is also wrong because as scary as this sounds, Trout could have been much better with, say, a hundred less strikeouts.
The second assumption is that the sudden jump in strikeouts for Trout is not a concern. I totally disagree there. When his strikeout rate the previous two seasons were 21.8% and 19% respectively, then jumping to 26.1% is a big concern. The problem I am having is that his plate discipline and swinging strike rates did not change much from his previous two seasons. That said, it could be just a fluke and he will return to his normal rate of the previous two seasons. But what if it wasn't?
Let's say this new strikeout rate is the new norm for Trout moving forward. It will impact things for Trout and for the Angels in future years when the Angels have to fight more for the post season and Trout has other competition for post season awards. Trout winning the MVP with a .939 OPS will be the third lowest OPS to win the award since 2000. He will have challengers in the years ahead.
My contention is still that as good as Trout was in 2014, it could have been better with less strikeouts and more contact. Most people assume that power hitters would not hit more homers with less strikeouts and that strikeouts are the trade off for the power. I just don't buy that. If a power hitter makes contact and puts more balls in play, then the power numbers will not go down and would probably go up even higher.
Stating anything else would be to assume that being defensive with two strikes would lead to weaker contact and not more homers. Again, I am not biting. Mike Trout did hit 14 of his homers with two strikes. But surely (please don't call me Shirley) if Trout put the ball in play eighty to a hundred more times a few more would go over the fence.
And even if it didn't, with the BABIP being pretty well established at .291 for the Major Leagues with two strikes, Trout's OPS would be closer to one with 25 to 29 more hits that would result in putting the ball in play.
I realize that I am flying in the face of the "an out is an out" crowd made up of really smart people. I cannot let go of the idea that such outs are not equal. A strikeout leaves no possibility of getting on base. A batted ball will always lead to a 30% chance of getting on base. As good as Mike Trout was in 2014, it was not as good as his 2012 and 2013 seasons and the strikeouts were the number one reason.

MLB Game Picks - Friday: October 3, 2014

The two home teams in the ALDS had completely opposite days. The Orioles romped and the Angels lost to a gritty Royals team that knows how to play those close games. The results gave me a 1-1 day picking. At least I finally got my first correct pick of the post season.
Of course it was the extra-inning game that got me yesterday. And the home loss puts the Angels in a bind. Albert PujolsMike Trout and Josh Hamilton went a combined 0-13 in the game. There is no way the Angels win if that continues.
Today is playoff nirvana with four games. If you were so inclined, you could watch all four games from noon today (Eastern Time) through after midnight. It should be a fun day.
The picks:
  • The Orioles over the Tigers: Again, there is something about this Orioles team. They just seem to have it, if you know what I mean. Justin Verlander is no longer the top dog on the Tigers' rotation and the Orioles already beat the top dog. Wei-Yin Chen is the wild card here. How he pitches will depend on how the game goes. I'm going Orioles.
  • The Nationals over the GiantsStephen Strasburg worries me. How will he pitch today? But Jake Peavy scares me more. The odds of the Nationals' lineup getting to Peavy seem greater in this case. Peavy has been here before, however, and Strasburg has not.
  • The Dodgers over the Cardinals: What a great match-up this is (on paper). Clayton Kershaw versus Adam Wainwright. Wainwright has been through this a half dozen times and knows what he has to do. Kershaw has had one crack at it and did not do well. But head to head, you've got to believe that Kershaw completely shuts down the Cardinals while Wainwright begrudgingly gives up a two-spot.
  • The Angels over the Royals: Nothing like picking only home teams, there, William. How has that worked out for you so far? Not very good. I worry more about Yordano Ventura than I do Matt Shoemaker. But the worry for Shoemaker is his health. He didn't pitch the last couple of weeks and who knows how effective he will be. If this was the Matt Shoemaker that was on the roll for July and August, I would not hesitate. Now there is much hesitation.
Yesterday: 1-1, Post Season: 1-3, Season: 1366-1093

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Whiffing wonders - flipping a Marlon Byrd

Anyone who has read my stuff for a while understands that I am not fond of strikeouts. I have often jousted against the notion that an out is an out is an out. I respectfully disagree. Strikeouts give the batter no opportunity to have anything other than an out where a batted ball will give the batter a 30% chance to get on base. One of the few scenarios where a strikeout is better than a batted ball is a double play. Knowing my predilection to this part of baseball is my discovery that Marlon Byrd has done something in 2014 no player in the history of baseball has ever done before. Marlon Byrd struck out 150 times more than he walked in 2014.
Byrd had a pretty good offensive season by most standards. He had a 110 OPS+, hit 25 homers and drove in 85. In the world of the Phillies, that’s really productive. But when I saw that he had struck out 185 times and only walked 35 times, I was amazed and wondered if anyone had ever done that before.
Using’s handy play index feature, I first looked for players with over 150 strikeouts in a season with less than 50 walks. That did give me a list of 57 all-time players. But I wasn’t sure if that was all inclusive. For example, Mark Reynolds once struck out 223 times and walked way more than fifty times. So then I searched players with more than 150 strikeouts in a season no matter how many walks there were. After all, you need a whole bunch of strikeouts to have 150 more of them than walks. I then subtracted the walks from the strikeouts in each case.
It turns out that exactly 200 batters have struck out more than 150 times in a season. Of those 150, 67 have struck out at least a hundred more times than walking in their season.  That is 33.5%. Of those 67, 23 have struck out 120 or more times than they have walked. Mark Reynolds has done it four times. Chris Carter has done it twice. Pete Incaviglia did it twice. And Pedro Alvarez has done it twice.
Obviously, Pete Incaviglia was a man who played before his time. In fact, no player before 1963 ever struck out 150 or more times. Dave Nicholson was the first ever to reach that total in 1963. That season, Don Lock also broke the magic 150 mark).
The following chart shows how exponential the growth of the 150 strikeout season has become. In our current decade, now only five years in, we have seen 65 such seasons. For the chart’s purposes, I doubled that amount to give a projected total to show the growth of such seasons. In fact, in 2014 alone, ten players struck out at least 150 times, the same amount as the entire decade of the 1970s.
hr growth

And so it only makes sense that we have finally reached such a pinnacle of strikeouts that for the first time in the history of baseball, a player has struck out 150 more times than he has walked. We have flipped the Marlon Byrd.
The top ten seasons in more strikeouts than walks:
  1. Marlon Byrd – 150
  2. Mark Ryenolds – 147 (2009)
  3. Jose Hernandez – 146 (2001)
  4. Danny Espinoza – 143 (2012)
  5. Chris Carter (2013), Drew Stubbs (2011) – 142
  6. Mike Zunino (2014) – 141
  7. Jim Presley (1986), Juan Samuel (1984), Mark Reynolds (2008) – 140
  8. Pedro Alvarez (2013) – 138
  9. Ian Desmond (2014) – 137
  10. Jose Hernandez (2002), Chris Johnson (2014) – 136
I know that this issue drives me crazier than it should. But I can’t get over the fact that if Marlon Byrd had struck out 85 times instead of 185 times and put the ball in play those 100 times, he would have had 29 more hits (using a .291 BABIP for MLB with two strikes in 2014). If you gave him 29 more hits, even if they were all singles, his triple slash line would go from .264/.312/.445 to .313/.358/494. Strikeouts have risen to insane levels and we have finally flipped the Byrd.

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: October 2, 2014

I am zero for two so far in the post season. Nicely done, William! Heh. I was worried about Edinson Volquez and I let my emotions override my concern. You just can't trust pitchers who wear their hats least, not in the long run. Madison Bumgarner certainly helped cement his stature as one of the premier pitchers in baseball. Because he plays on the West Coast, I don't think he gets enough of his due, including from me. Because of him and because of crooked hats, the Giants move on into the playoffs.
Oh yes, and Pablo Sandoval went two for five with a walk. So, again, beware of those warm fuzzies.
Today it is all the American League. If you hate the DH, this isn't a good day for you. The picks:
  • The Orioles over the Tigers: If Chris Tillman can hang with Max Scherzer for seven innings, then it becomes a bullpen game and that is the Tigers' weakness and the Orioles' strength. Scherzer has been tremendous in the post season, but there is something about this Orioles team. And at home, they will have an advantage with that crowd. Everyone will say that the Tigers can hit. But, boy, so can those Orioles.
  • The Angels over the Royals: I am worried about the rotation of both these teams and how deep they can go. Jered Weaver had an ace-like season. But every time he pitches, you wonder how he can get anyone out with the speed of his stuff. But he wins, right? The Royals counter with Jason Vargas. Oy. I can see Ned Yost going bonkers in his managing tonight.
Post Season: 0-2, Season: 1365-1091

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Last Giants hurrah for Pablo Sandoval?

I have been sitting here anticipating tonight's contest between the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the wild card game in Pittsburgh. And during those random thoughts, Pablo Sandoval crossed my mind. And that led me to start wondering what the future holds for Sandoval and the Giants.
That future could be colored by what happens not only tonight but moving forward should the Giants go on to the NLDS. After all, Sandoval was the star of the 2012 post season as he had one of the most amazing power displays seen anywhere. Should the Giants go past the Pirates and deep into the post season with Sandoval a large part of the successful run, then sentiment could get in the way of reality. And the reality is a bit troubling.
As a person who has fought my own weight challenges, I am sensitive to calling out athletes for their physique. But it is a known fact that the Giants have long been concerned about Sandoval's tendency to put on weight and have made some conditions in the past. Look at these next two pictures, the first one from early in the season and the second from this past month and you'll see where I'm going here.
While the Giants might be alarmed at the trend showing in the pictures, perhaps I am not so much. But it isn't just the size of Sandoval that has me thinking hard about his future with the Giants--it is his performance.
When I look at Sandoval's offensive numbers for the last three seasons, I see a general decline. Looking at his wRC+, his numbers have gone down every year for three years now. They are respectively: 149, 118, 116, 111. As a result his offensive has gone from being worth 23.8 runs in 2011 to 3.4 runs this season. If you just look at the raw OPS numbers, respectively, they go: .909, .789, .758 and .739.
Those numbers show a definite decline over the past three seasons. But all offense in MLB has suffered these past three seasons. So we have to be careful to judge Sandoval's decline by the overall offensive decline in baseball. The wRC+ statistic already does a bit of that for us, but I wanted to look at it another way.
The total offensive production in baseball in 2014 was only 98.0% of what it was in 2013. And 2013 was only 98.6% of where it was in 2012. Those are definite declines. If we d othe same thing for Sandoval the past two seasons, we see that his offense in 2014 was only 97.5% of what it was in 2013 and 96.1% of what it was in 2012. So Sandoval's decline has been more marked than MLB's.
There is difficulty finding any offensive number for Pablo Sandoval that stands up to his career average. So what has caused the decline?
I cannot see the new defensive shifts having much affect on him. His BABIP over the last three years has been remarkably consistent: .301, .301, .300. His batted ball statistics haven't changed all that much with negligible changes in line drive, ground ball and fly ball percentages. His fly ball to homer ratio has gone down some from his earlier career, but have been somewhat consistent his last three seasons. So what is it then?
Sandoval can still do some damage against the fastball, but he is not as successful against sliders as he was in the past and he is even less successful than ever before in his career against the change-up. Sandoval used to score highly against change-ups, but that is no longer the case.
My current theory is that Sandoval's swing first and ask questions later approach is working against him. Sandoval has never been a patient hitter. For his career, Sandoval has swung at 45.7% of pitches out of the strike zone. That is one of the highest figures in baseball. But that figure jumped up to 48% this past season. So Sandoval is hacking indiscriminately at everything he sees. His overall swing percentage of 59.5% led all of baseball and was his highest since his rookie season.
Sandoval's contract ran through 2014.  I cannot find that there is an option involved. I don't think so. So either the Giants let him walk or they give him the $14 million offer to stay for a year. Sandoval supposedly had a good year fielding at third and because of that, came in with a value (depending on the two sites) of somewhere in the 3.2 WAR range. That makes the $14 million offer a fair one.
And that may be the way to go as signing Pablo Sandoval with his declining offensive production and expanding...umm...well, you know...would make a long-term deal a scary proposition. But then again, if Sandoval has another one of those crazy-awesome post seasons again, there might be too many warm fuzzies to see clearly.

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: October 1, 2014

Wow! What a game! If that game last night between the Kansas City Royals and Oakland A's sets the tone for the entire post season, then we are off to one heck of a fun ride in October. I can't imagine much more of an exciting game than that one was.
I was wrong with my first post season pick of the year. But what the heck do I care!? There were comebacks and stolen bases and big flies and guys thrown out at home and...and...I'm out of breath. A hearty congratulations to Royals' fans as they have to be pretty doggone excited right now, and they should be.
Tonight's wild card game features last year's Cinderella team against the every-other-year World Champion San Francisco Giants. This is that every other year. Will that streak continue or will the Pirates prevail at home?
The pick:
The Pirates over the Giants: Last night taught me how much a home crowd means in these post season games. The Royals fans were amazing yesterday and certainly spurred on the team. The Pirates fans are among the most boisterous on the planet and that will help the home team Pirates. Madison Bumgarner is one of the best pitchers in the National League, but the Pirates have beaten him his last two times facing them. I am somewhat uncomfortable picking Edinson Volquez as I can't quite forget that before this season, he was the worst starting pitcher in baseball. There is just something about this Pirates team that is too intangible to pick against.
Post season: 0-1, Season: 1365-1090

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Billy Hamilton's season was predictable

Billy Hamilton began the season with a lot of pressure to fill some pretty big shoes worn by his Reds' center field predecessor. Hamilton gave the Reds everything they could have asked for with his glove and his legs in the field. He ranked first among all center fielders in defense according to Unfortunately, his offense did not live up to the fielding. The sad thing was that the offensive season for Hamilton was predictable.
wrote a piece before the season began that for the experiment of letting Choo go via free agency so that Billy Hamilton could lead off was fraught with problems. I wrote at the time that Hamilton would need to bat at least .280 to give his team some sort of offensive boost. He did not. Hamilton did not even come close.
Let's put his offensive season in perspective. There were 75 batters in Major League Baseball in 2014 that came to the plate more than 600 times. Billy Hamilton was 73rd among those 75 in times on base (walks + hits + HBP). For further perspective, Jeter, in his swan song season was belittled all season for batting second while hitting so poorly. Jeter got on base fourteen more times than Billy Hamilton.
Choo, who had a vastly disappointing season with the Rangers, only played in 123 games compared to Hamilton's 152 games and Choo got on base four more times than Billy Hamilton did. Among all center fielders in baseball, only B.J. Upton put up a worse offensive runs rating.
Billy Hamilton got on base 176 times in 152 games. But that's not the worst of it. While Hamilton did steal 56 bases, he was thrown out an MLB leading 23 times. While that is a 71% success rate, those 23 times caught meant that Hamilton was only available to score not 176 times, but only 153 times.
When Hamilton was available on base, then he had a good rate of scoring as he scored 72 times or 47% of the times he was available on base. If say, he could have been available on base 200 times, he would have scored 94 times.
If the season would have ended at the All Star Break, then Hamilton would have exceeded my "goal" for him before the season started. At the All Star Break, Hamilton had a triple-slash line of: .285/.319/.423. His 109 OPS+ at the time would have made him (when combined with his fielding) just as valuable as Choo was the year before.
Unfortunately, Hamilton fell off the tracks after the break and went: .200/.254/.257 the rest of the way. Coincidentally (or not), his drop off coincided with the Reds' collapse as the team was 51-44 at the break and 25-42 after it.
You would expect that someone with Billy Hamilton's speed would have a better BABIP than the .304 he compiled in 2014. But it is easier to understand when 37% of his batted balls were fly balls and a third of those were popups to the infield. His ground ball rate is somewhat inflated since he had 52 bunt attempts (with a .326 success rate) and led to a 1.11 ground ball to fly ball rate. Hamilton's speed would seem to benefit from hitting more ground balls.
Of course, Hamilton's strikeout rate of over 19% means that almost twenty percent of his at bats cannot get him on base at all. His plate discipline improved to a 28.8% O-swing rate and you should expect him to get better with that rate as he continues on in his career. and vary greatly in the value assigned to Billy Hamilton's season. B-R gave Hamilton a 2.5 rWAR and came in a full win higher at 3.5. That one win means a great deal when a win is worth about $6 million on the open market. Baseball Prospectus splits the difference with a 3.1 WARP.
There is no doubt that Billy Hamilton helped the Cincinnati Reds greatly in the field and made him a valuable player despite his total lack of offensive contribution. The Reds left Hamilton in the lead off spot despite his putting up numbers that made him unsuitable for that position. The trouble is that the only good on-base guys for the Reds are their three best hitters, Votto, Frazier and Mesoraco. You want those guys in the middle of the lineup. The Reds were 14th of 15 NL teams in team on-base percentage.
Billy Hamilton's final offensive season was not dramatically different than his Triple-A numbers in 2013. Perhaps this is who he is. The Reds will need to think about that and make some decisions. Hamiton's fielding make him worth having out in center field every day. But with his offensive production, he should be batting eighth in the lineup. Those decisions and the outcomes make 2015 an interesting season in the career path of Billy Hamilton.

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

So it begins. The post season begins today with the wild card game. The big question is whether you can call it a playoff game or an extra day of the season to see who has a right to get to the playoffs. That is one of the points of weirdness created by the one game, do-or-die format. And since there is only one game today and one tomorrow, it begins the post season in sort of a slow, measured way when splash would be better.
We work with what we have, however, and today the Kansas City Royals host the Oakland Athletics. The Royals are this year's Pirates, the Cinderella team many would like to see move on and deeper into the playoffs. The A's are the smart organization that almost thought themselves out of the playoff picture completely this season. So who will win the game?
The pick:
The Athletics over the RoyalsJon Lester and James Shields will not shy away from this responsibility and both have been through this before. There won't be any butterflies they cannot handle. It comes down to which one will actually perform and hold down the other club. The offense for the A's took a deep hit in August and September with the loss of Cespedes and some key injuries. But in the last week of the season, seemed to regain a bit of its pop. Jon Lester has had great success in his career against the Royals with a 9-3 record and a sub-two ERA over the years. But he fares slightly worse in Kansas City itself. James Shields has been a much better pitcher on the road during his time with the Royals. He is pitching at home here. The Royals' offense is susceptible to being shut down because of their free-swinging ways. And Lester can use that. I hate to be there harbinger of bad news, but I think the A's win.
Season: 1365-1089

Monday, September 29, 2014

MLB Game Picks - End of regular season report

I took a little trip through the posts of time to see how my game picking skills compared this year to the prior years. With a 9-6 finish yesterday,  the regular season is over. I will continue picking the post season games starting tomorrow with the wild card games. But for now, I am reflecting on the regular season and what blows me away is that I don't seem to get better at this through the years.
Yesterday completed six years of making these picks every day. I'm not sure why I do it, to be honest with you. It takes a commitment to spend 800 to 1,000 words a day to make it happen when I could be writing about other things. Often times, the picks post is the only thing I have time for in the morning before I go to work.
But I have been doing it so long that I don't know how to stop. At least it gives me a means to write every day about baseball and keeps me strong on how well each season progresses, what players do well and who the new players are. In terms of baseball knowledge, it keeps me sharp.
Anyway, like I was saying, I don't seem to get any better as the years go by. Last year featured slightly better overall numbers than this year. But this year was slightly better than two years ago. But the numbers are remarkably consistent from year to year. They will never be as accurate as those computer spit-outs that give the odds every day.
If I wanted to be a computer, I could have a 70% success rate. But where is the fun in that? Here are my numbers:
  • September: 235-155 = .603
  • Games of the Day: 103-68 = .602
  • Season: 1365-1089 = .556
They are what they are. What I do appreciate is those of you who stop by every day to see me fumble through this. Your faithfulness in coming is much appreciated. I will miss the daily grind of it with only a couple of playoff games to think about for the next few weeks.
And I will miss rooting for my Game Picks favorites like Sonny GrayCorey KluberClayton KershawHenderson Alvarez and a few others. Maybe I'll get a little more sleep or a second cup of coffee in each morning. Or maybe yet, I can write some actual meaningful baseball stuff instead of this stuff every day. Either way, thanks for your patronage and stay tuned during each day of the post season as we wrap this baby up.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: September 28, 2014

The last day of the regular season. Or is it? There is a possibility of three ties today if the Cards, Tigers and Oakland lose and the Mariners, Royals and Pirates win. You cannot get much more exciting than that!
I went 9-6 yesterday which isn't bad considering how crazy this all is and how a lot of teams are just playing out the string. The one big takeaway from the season was the party Chicago threw for Paul Konerko. Well done, White Sox. He deserved such a grand exit.
It should be an interesting day!  The picks:
  • The Rays over the Indians: This will be a low scoring game I think. T.J. House has been pitching well and the Rays don't hit lefties particularly well. I have to go with Alex Cobb who has been terrific this season.
  • The Blue Jays over the OriolesR.A. Dickey is another pitcher that has baffled me when picking his games. I am never correct with him. I think the Orioles will hit him. But I think the Blue Jays will hit Miguel Gonzalez too. Two great offenses.
  • The Tigers over the TwinsDavid Price hasn't exactly been shut-down for the Tigers on most occasions. And Kyle Gibson can make you hit into a lot of outs. But I can't see the Twins winning this one and the Tigers always tease us and then take the division anyway.
  • The Astros over the Mets: There is a lot going on in this game. Nick Tropeano is from the New York area and will want to do well. He has looked good in his handful of starts. Bartolo Colon is always a mystery. His 14-13 record tells you that. He's ether decent or he's very generous. Who knows.
  • The Pirates over the RedsJohnny Cueto goes for his 20th win. That would be cool. It's not going to happen. Gerrit Cole will pitch even better and the Pirates will force the Cardinals to win and waste Wainwright...well, not waste him, but have to use him.
  • The Phillies over the Braves: Two teams going home after today. I got this pick wrong yesterday. Cole Hamels is not A.J. Burnett and James Russell is a loogy who has relieved 65 times this year...and he is the starter!?
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: Sure, Henderson Alvarez has had a terrific season. His team faces Jordan Zimmermann who will match him for zeroes, and then what happens? It won't be good for the Marlins.
  • The Yankees over the Red Sox: The last time Micheal Pineda pitched against the Red Sox, the infamous pine tar incident played out. Jeter's last game, Pineda's revenge and one more Clay Buchholz meltdown and the season will be over for both teams.
  • The Royals over the White SoxChris Bassitt messed up the Tigers in his last outing with a great performance. Can he do it again against the Royals? Maybe, but he will be more than matched with Yordano Ventura who will come through today where Duffy did not yesterday.
  • The Athletics over the Rangers: I have to admit that I am rooting for a tie between the A's and the Mariners. But I don't think it will happen. The A's will beat the Rangers behind Sonny Gray simply because Nick Martinez will not be able to hold back the A's.
  • The Giants over the PadresChris Heston had very good numbers in the Pacific Coast League, which is impressive since that league eats up pitchers for breakfast. I think he'll have a big day in his first MLB start. Robbie Erlin can be decent.
  • The Dodgers over the Rockies: I'm not sure why the Dodgers are starting Zack Greinke. Is that necessary for them to do so? But that's what the pitching line says. The Dodgers win then against Christian Bergman.
  • The Mariners over the Angels: The Mariners have only one chance to win the wild card, which means they have to win. That also means Felix Hernandez has to get it done. The M's season is on the line. Hernandez's CYA is on the line. It should be interesting because the Angels are not going to play dead. Cory Rasmus pitches for the Angels.
  • The Cardinals over the Diamondbacks: This game has two scenarios: First, getting the late game, the Cards will know whether the Pirates won or not. If the Pirates won, then Adam Wainwright will have to start to win the division. So that would be one pick. If the Pirates lose, the Cards win the division without even playing, put a scrub pitcher in there and Josh Collmenter wins. Tough call for a game picker.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Brewers over the CubsMike Fiers makes the ultimate impression and seals his spot in the rotation for next year. I still can't understand why it took the Brewers half the year to get him in there in the first place. Jacob Turner will keep improving with the Cubs. But he will get beat today.
Yesterday: 9-6, Sept.: 226-149, Games of the Day: 103-67 (-2), Season: 1356-1083