MLB Game Picks – Wednesday: August 20, 2014

Let’s recap the bad picks from last night: The Yankees are terrible and cannot do anything right. The Rays and Tigers went back and forth all night, went into extra innings with the Tigers coming out on top. The one time I actually pick Kyle Gibson, he cannot hold a five-run lead. And Kevin Correia was predictably bad like always, but Ian Kennedy and the Padres’ defense were even more bad and the Dodgers won. And…and…that’s it.

All eleven of the other games were correct. Not a bad night of picking.

Wednesday’s picks:

  • The Marlins over the Rangers: The Marlins hung tough last night and came from behind to win after blowing a lead. I think the win tonight will be easier. Nathan Eovaldi faces Nick Martinez.
  • The Phillies over the Mariners: The only reason I am picking this for the Phillies is Cole Hamels. The Phillies are going to struggle against James Paxton too, but Hamels at home is too tough for me to pick against.
  • The Brewers over the Blue Jays: The Blue Jays, like the Yankees, are sinking and R.A. Dickey will give up three or four runs at least. Jimmy Nelson will hold the Blue Jays to less than that and the Brewers win yet another game at home.
  • The Mets over the Athletics: This is a tough one. Zack Wheeler has been outstanding. He has given up two runs or less in eight of his last nine starts and in the other won, just gave up three. The only caveat is whether the Mets can score against Jeff Samardzija. Hmm…this could go wrong for me in a heartbeat.
  • The Nationals over the Diamondbacks: Imagine Kirk Gibson right now after Tony La Russa contradicted a report that said that Gibson was safe for next year. Gulp. This series isn’t helping as the Nats are red hot and the D-backs are flat. Tanner Roark over Trevor Cahill.
  • The Braves over the Pirates: It’s nice to see Gerrit Cole back, but it won’t help. He will pitch well but not last long enough in his first start back from the DL. Alex Wood has had a good season considering he wasn’t supposed to be in the rotation.
  • The Yankees over the Astros: Sigh. Yeah. I know. But Michael Pineda is pitching. That might be enough to make a difference. Scott Feldman pitches like Tom Seaver against the Yankees though. But then the Yankees’ offense makes every pitcher look like Tom Seaver.
  • The Angels over the Red Sox: I never know what to do when a pitcher pitches against a team for the second time in a row over a two week span. The batters know what to expect. With Garrett Richards, can the Red Sox hit what they expect? And what of Clay Buchholz, who has really had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde season?
  • The Rays over the Tigers: Let’s try this again. Rick Porcello is on a losing streak and hasn’t seemed as sharp. Jake Odorizzi has been buried a lot in my column, but gets his share of wins despite my facetiousness.  The Trop is so depressing.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: Normally, I would always pick Johnny Cueto. However, first off, Lance Lynn has been great for the Cardinals and secondly, the Reds are now 10-21 since the All Star Break.
  • The Giants over the Cubs: The Giants have to be pretty upset the way the field was handled during that rain delay yesterday. That is the second time that has happened in baseball this season where a ground crew could not get the field covered for a rain storm. Jake Peavy got off the schnide last time out and won a game. So we’ll go with that over Edwin Jackson.
  • The Indians over the Twins: Ricky Nolasco has a 5.99 ERA for the Twins this season and a 1.60 WHIP. Whoa, that’s bad! He has given up five or more runs in each of his last two starts. Those are enough reasons to pick the Indians even if T.J. House starts for the Indians.
  • The Rockies over the Royals: I am going to go against the grain here with this pick. Danny Duffy has been good, but Coors Field will flatten out his great off-speed stuff. Jorge De La Rosa is used to Coors and keeps the Rockies in the game enough to win this one.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: Okay, I picked the Padres yesterday and got burnt. I picked Eric Stults the last time he pitched and got burnt. Like a dog, I learn by pain sometimes. Roberto Hernandez goes for the Dodgers.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Orioles over the White Sox: Hector Noesi has been surprisingly serviceable for the White Sox this season. But he is facing the Orioles, who are going to win the AL East. And Wei-Yin Chen is a big reason why.

Yesterday: 11-4, August: 149-109, Games of the Day: 76-55 (+3), Season: 1043-858

Posted in MLB Game Picks | Leave a comment

MLB Game Picks – Tuesday: August 19, 2014

There are times when I wake up in the morning and I compare the actual results to my picks and figure I must have made a pick because the final score makes sense. Then, when I look at what I picked, it’s the total opposite and I can’t believe I made the pick I did. For example, the Cincinnati Reds are 10-20 since the All Star Break. These days, the odds are that they are going to lose. Yet, I have picked them three games in a row (all losses). I am indeed a slow learner.

How about Adam LaRoche giving the Nationals a third straight walk-off win? Pretty incredible. And it meant an extra-inning game went my way. Imagine that.

Tuesdays picks:

  • The Nationals over the Diamondbacks: This is nothing against Chase Anderson, who has pitched very well this season. But the Nationals are ridiculous right now. Of course, that means I have to count on Stephen Strasburg. Oy. At least he is home where he is better.
  • The Braves over the Pirates: Francisco Liriano has pitched fairly well in his last two starts and has two losses next to his name. The Pirates are a bit lost without Andrew McCutchen. Aaron Harang is my pick. Heaven help me with that.
  • The Yankees over the Astros: I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop (cliche alert!) on Chris Capuano. He is not as good as he is pitching for the Yankees. On the other hand, the Astros give the Yankees an advantage of sorts. Brett Oberholtzer goes for them.
  • The Mariners over the Phillies: This pick did not work out yesterday. However, Hisashi Iwakuma has been better than Elias. The on-again, off-again offense of the Mariners has to score against A.J. Burnett. The Mariners lose the DH.
  • The Angels over the Red Sox: Jered Weaver has no velocity and he seems to bend every game but doesn’t break. He is like the non-level-headed, right-handed Buehrle. But he has thirteen wins. So argue with that. Allen Webster has not pitched well at all for the Red Sox but keeps getting gobs of run support. So who knows.
  • The Rays over the Tigers: I have a feeling about this one that Chris Archer is going to have a big night, Max Scherzer will give up three runs and the Rays will win, 3-1. The other scenario is that the Rays’ bullpen outshines the Tigers and wins that way.
  • The Marlins over the Rangers: The Rangers will be highly familiar with Jarred Cosart, but the same goes for he of them. That’s a big ballpark in Miami which should help him. Miles Mikolas is hanging in there.
  • The Cubs over the Giants: I’m going a little Cubs crazy the last couple of weeks. I have been right more often than not. I like what Tsuyoshi Wada is doing for them and I think the Cubs can hit Ryan Vogelsong at Wrigley.
  • The Orioles over the White Sox: I have such empathy for Jose Quintana. He gets nothing to show for quality pitching outing after outing. And then his bullpen is just awful. Chris Tillman seems like he does it with mirrors, but it works.
  • The Twins over the Indians: I have picked against Kyle Gibson all season because he doesn’t strike anyone out. He has won more often than not though and I have to give him his due. Trevor Bauer still doesn’t do it for me.
  • The Brewers over the Blue Jays: Should I say it? Okay: Mike Fiers is on FIRE! Heh. I kill me. Fiers at home is a good pick as long as he stays away from Bautista and Encarnacion. J.A. Happ has had a nice season and is starting to hit a bit of a wall.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: Do not pick the Reds. Do not pick the Reds. Do not pick the Reds. Okay, I think I have it. Alfredo Simon has gone from All Star pitching over his head to Alfredo Simon of the rest of his career. John Lackey gets the ball for the Cards.
  • The Royals over the Rockies: I am a bit worried about this one and James Shields pitching at Coors Field. This could be a wild one. Tyler Matzek goes for the Rockies.
  • The Padres over the Dodgers: I can’t for the life of me understand why the Dodgers picked up Kevin Correia. They must see something I don’t. Ian Kennedy has had a nice season, all things considered.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Athletics over the Mets: The A’s need to get back on track and so does Scott Kazmir. Both the pitcher and the team have struggled of late. The Mets should help out there as they haven’t scored at all lately. Dillon Gee hasn’t been the same since going on the DL.

Yesterday: 5-3, August: 138-105, Games of the Day: 75-55 (+2), Season: 1032-854

Posted in MLB Game Picks, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Irrational discourse

I cannot decide if Twitter mirrors society or at times creates its own. Much of the discourse that occurs there does seem to mirror the political and social norms that have developed in this country. There is no room for perspective or thoughtful consideration. Rational discussions are rare and arguments are to be won at all costs. It is a world of irrational discourse.

A friend of mine, a man that appears to hold similar values to mine, asked a simple question yesterday. Yes, it concerned baseball and St. Louis Cardinals, of which he follows and writes about. Strong opinions concerning the current Cardinal manager, Mike Matheny, have been expressed for quite some time in light of the struggles the Cardinals have had this season putting together a run of any significance.

So my friend asked a simple question: Would people rather see the current manager or a different one in 2015? It was a request for rational discourse. It led to anything but. My friend was so browbeaten from asking the question, that he ended up deleting it from his feed. People were not interested in rational discourse. They mirrored a world that basically says that either you agree with my argument or your are not worthy to live.

Right near where the Cardinals play is another drama of far greater concern and significance. Horrors are occurring right on our computer screens and the situation is volatile and one of those life-changing events we will be talking about for a while.

I know enough to stay out of those conversations simply because I am not informed enough to know what I am talking about. It does seem that enough blame could go around to all sides of the equation. The anger and vitriol being spewed concerning the event does not rationally try to look at Ferguson in a rational way. Opinions have been decided and you either agree or you are an enemy.

Politics is another area where this lack of rational thought leaves the observer stunned and saddened. You are either left or right and no matter which position you take, you are a moron and have no value. There cannot be any working together because doing so would weaken our arguments and positions. We might have to admit that we could be slightly wrong about anything.

I fully realize that I am an idealist with a longing for a polite society where respect for each other is the starting point of all discussions. The main point of discussion is to either come to a consensus or to politely agree to disagree. But this is not the world where we currently live.

Instead it is a world of bully pulpits, bully arguments with a winner take all mentality. It is ugly to me and sours my world view. The object of the argument is not to respect and discuss, but to annihilate the opponent. It is an, “I win,” world. In my world view, it doesn’t matter if I win as long as we both respect each other after. I am apparently in the minority.

I approach life with the understanding that I do not know everything and am often wrong. I live a life of introspection. I think about what my Creator thinks of my thoughts and actions and how I can show some kind of light in a dark world. I have regrets about things I do and say that are not kind and uplifting. If you are perceptive, this is where you can hurt me.

The world seems ugly at present. And yet, there has always been ugliness in this world. History is full of unkindness in its worst forms. We have not evolved as a race. Quite the opposite seems to be the case. I wish it was different. I wish I could have a conversation that did not turn into a battle of wills. Discourse will continue to be irrational. I builds ratings and page views. I see it all with sadness and wish respect was more important. People say that respect is earned. I believe it is a gift given to a fellow traveler on this journey.

Posted in Commentary, Musings | Leave a comment

MLB Game Picks – Monday: August 18, 2014

Yesterday was a tough day. With what is going on in Ferguson overshadowing baseball, or at least bringing it to the insignificance that it is at times like these, I quickly lost stomach for following along yesterday. Perhaps part of it was how poorly the day was going with the picks as well. The one thing I know about yesterday is that I didn’t know anything yesterday.

The biggest mistakes made with the picks were picking the Reds to sweep a double-header from the Rockies when they themselves got swept. And except for the Orioles winning, I was zero for the AL East yesterday. Somehow I finished 8-8 but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fun.

I pray that things settle down in Ferguson and that people’s lives get back in order and cooler heads prevail.

Monday’s picks:

  • The Cubs over the Mets: With only eight games on the schedule today, I cannot afford to be wrong. Picking Bartolo Colon seems like a 50/50 proposition. Yeah, he might be great, but he might also be terrible. Kyle Hendricks, on the other hand, has been terrific. He beat the Brewers. He beat the Rockies going eight innings at Coors. He is a ground ball pitcher that is getting weak contact.
  • The Braves over the Pirates: Ervin Santana has won seven of his last eight decisions including wins against the Dodgers and Nationals in his last two starts. It’s hard to pick against him in this one. Vance Worley has been really good for the Pirates who are hanging in there without McCutchen.
  • The Mariners over the Phillies: Jerome Williams has been threw three teams this season and hasn’t pitched well on any stop. He was a nice story a couple of years ago and I’m glad he got a few years in at the Major League level. Roenis Elias has to have a good game though.
  • The Angels over the Red Sox: Brandon Workman has been learning on the job and has been given quite an education thus far. He is 1-6. I don’t feel all that confident about C.J. Wilson either. I don’t like either way this pick could go.
  • The White Sox over the Orioles: This pick assumes that Chris Sale will be Chris Sale and that if he does not finish the game, his bullpen will hold the Orioles and that his team will score enough off of Bud Norris for Sale to win. Those are a lot of dangerous assumptions. :::sigh:::
  • The Royals over the Twins: Things are not going well for Trevor May thus far. He has walked nine batters in four and a third innings. It was his control that I was originally worried about and that fear has come to fruition in spades. Jason Vargas is a better option here.
  • The Reds over the Cardinals: Another uncomfortable pick. Mike Leake in a small sample size has not pitched well against the Cardinals but has pitched well in two starts at Busch Stadium. So who knows. Justin Masterson seems to be a mistake addition for the Cardinals at this point. We’ll see.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Nationals over the Diamondbacks: The Nationals are rocking it right now and are a walk-off machine lately. Jordan Zimmermann only has a few bats to worry about in the D-backs’ lineup. Vidal Nuno might slow them down a little, but that seems unlikely.

Yesterday: 8-8, August: 133-102, Games of the Day: 74-55, Season: 1027-849

Posted in MLB Game Picks | Leave a comment

MLB Game Picks – Sunday: August 17, 2014

To finish a day of picking at 8-6 (the Rockies and Reds were postponed) when both Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez lose is pretty fortunate. You counts on those two pitchers every time they take the mound. They had only lost five games between them all season. Kershaw was the Game of the Day pick, which didn’t work out, but otherwise, I feel pretty fortunate.

Two other picks that surprised me were the Yankees beating the Rays and Phil Hughes winning his 13th game. The Bronx were still not bombers, but they got good pitching. And what can you say about Phil Hughes? He is simply not walking anyone and that limits the problems he can get into. I am happy for his success.

Sunday’s Picks:

  • The Orioles over the Indians: The Indians are tough at home and I keep going against that here with these picks. But that’s how good the Orioles seem to me. Maybe losing Manny Machado hurts more than I think it does.  I still think Kevin Gausman should be better than Danny Salazar. But I won’t be surprised if Salazar has a big day.
  • The Tigers over the Mariners: Joe Nathan and Jim Johnson in the same bullpen? That sounds frightening if I am a Tigers fan. Add those two to the volatile cocktail of Joba and Coke? Yikes. I still like the Tigers’ chances against Chris Young away from home and of Robbie Ray having a good outing.
  •  The Marlins over the Diamondbacks: The D-backs line in their game with the Marlins yesterday: 1-6-5. Now that is ugly. I like Tom Koehler at home and even though Josh Collmenter will benefit with a big park too, I still like the Marlins here.
  • The Cubs over the Mets: Rafael Montero has only had one good outing out of five and still couldn’t win that one. Jake Arrieta gentille Arrieta has been very good and won’t have to face David Wright, who will sit out the game today.
  • The Red Sox over the Astros: Collin McHugh strikes a lot of guys out, but he is not efficient. An not-efficient pitcher does not stand a chance against Boston. Joe Kelly, on the other hand, is a great pick up for the Red Sox.
  • The Rays over the Yankees: I have lost all faith in Hiroki Kuroda, which is sad. In my opinion, he pitched one season too many. The second half of last year should have been a clue. And I was wrong about how well Jeremy Hellickson would come back. He has pitched well since his return from the DL and has proven me way wrong.
  • The Royals over the Twins: Tommy Milone was squeezed out of Oakland because that team prefers strikeouts from their pitchers. He fits right in with the Twins for the same reason and is a pretty good pitcher. Jeremy Guthrie is another non-strikeout pitcher, so this game will be interesting and could go either way. I went with the Royals because they actually fare better against left-handed pitching.
  • The Blue Jays over the White Sox: Edwin Encarnacion is back and with Buehrle regaining his form a little bit yesterday, perhaps Drew Hutchison can do the same today. That’s a big if though. Scott Carroll goes for the White Sox and has had two straight bad outings.
  • The Cardinals over the Padres: There is a lot of grumbling going on by Cardinal fans about Mike Metheny. It’s getting ugly. Yesterday’s loss was particularly embarrassing for the team and every move the manager made was apocalyptic. But Adam Wainwright is on the mound and you have to go that way even if Odrisamer Despaigne is a pretty tough customer on the mound.
  • The Angels over the Rangers: I picked the Angels to win the AL West before the season started and it took until August to get to the point where the team has a share of the division lead. Ramon Santiago is a bit iffy, but he is less iffy than Nick Tepesch.
  • The Giants over the Phillies: Tim Lincecum has not pitched well in a month now and David Buchanan is pretty good. So why am I picking the Phillies to lose? Because they are the Phillies.
  • The Reds over the Rockies: The Rockies had a chance to win yesterday, but the postponement because of a water main break–which I still don’t get–helps the Reds get more favorable pitching match-ups. Mat Latos now gets to face Jordan Lyles, which is a better scenario for the Reds in this first game of the double-header.
  • The Brewers over the Dodgers: The Brewers impressed me with their win over Kershaw yesterday. Such a win can carry over confidence-wise and help them beat Dan Haren as well. Wiley Peralta just keeps winning.
  • The Athletics over the Braves: The A’s need Jon Lester to come up big in this one after a bad weekend. Mike Minor has not pitched well all season. The A’s should win this one. But this is baseball after all.
  • The Reds over the Rockies: Dylan Axelrod looks better in this match-up against Yohan Flange than he did yesterday against Lyles. Like I said, the postponement helped the Reds.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Nationals over the Pirates: Doug Fister has been unbelievable. How can you pick against him at this point? The Nats are on fire and the Pirates caught them at a really bad time. Edinson Volquez goes for the Pirates.

Yesterday: 8-6, August: 125-94, Games of the Day: 73-55 (-1), Season: 1019-841

Posted in MLB Game Picks | Leave a comment

MLB Game Picks – Saturday: August 16, 2014

Even though yesterday finished over .500 (barely), it was a disappointment after the previous three days. In those previous three days, the picks had gone 29-10 including 9-1 on Thursday. That kind of success made me happy. Yesterday did not.

And you know what? It was those danged extra-inning games that continue to drive me crazy. There were three of them yesterday and all three went against the pick. That’s stupid and yet so typical. I should have kept track of this and maybe next year (God willing) I will.

Saturday’s picks:

  • The Giants over the Phillies: This was one of the extra-inning games and the real problem with this pick is that the Phillies are back to facing a right-handed pitcher in Tim Hudson. They are much better in those situations. But the Giants at home with Kyle Kendrick going for the Phillies is too attractive not to take.
  • The Rays over the Yankees: One team is going, “Yay! We’re at .500!” While the other one is saying, “Oh no! We are almost back at .500!” Two teams going in opposite directions with the Yankees sinking fast should produce another Rays win. The Emoticon, Drew Smyly, will now become a great pitcher in Tampa while Shane Greene will be treated somewhat rudely at the Trop.
  • The Indians over the Orioles: There are so many competing forces going on here. The Orioles have been indestructible the last month while the Indians have one of the best home records in baseball. Carlos Carrasco was great his last time out but only pitched five innings. Ubaldo Jimenez has been awful all year but goes back to Cleveland where he had success. There is too much going on here!
  • The Nationals over the Pirates: This is a tale of two lefties. Gio Gonzalez has lost his last four starts and five of his last six (the other was a no-decision). He is due for a win, but I worry about his health. Jeff Locke seems to pitch and never get decisions. He is only 4-3 after thirteen starts. Locke has been prone to the long ball this year and the Nats might hit a couple.
  • The Mariners over the Tigers: This is a great pitching match-up and again, either ace can win depending on how their day goes. Felix Hernandez is 9-2 lifetime against the Tigers and 5-1 lifetime at Comerica. That’s hard to ignore. So I give him the edge over David Price.
  • The Marlins over the Diamondbacks: This pick was wrong yesterday but I am going back to it because Henderson Alvarez is pretty hard to beat at home. Plus, Wade Miley might run into Giancarlos Stanton’s bat once or twice.
  • The Mets over the Cubs: I am uncomfortable looking over the picks so far that I have so many home teams winning. I do take the location of the game into account, but mostly I go with match-ups and let the pick fall where it is. So, I’ll keep going. Jon Niese makes me much more confident than Dan Straily. Simple.
  • The Red Sox over the Astros: The Astros win yesterday (yes, in extra innings) surprised me. And it would surprise me if they win again today. While Rubby De La Rosa is inconsistent, at least he is capable of wow. I can’t say that with Brad Peacock.
  • The Royals over the Twins: Phil Hughes has won twelve games. He has walked only fifteen batters in 150+ innings and his home run rate is way down. So why am I picking against him? The Royals are too much on a roll and if Yordano Ventura has a good game, the Royals will find a way to win.
  • The Athletics over the Braves: I’m starting to think that the A’s should have left their team alone at the trade deadline. But I am still a fan of Sonny Gray. The only thing that can set this pick aside is if Julio Teheran can somehow regain his fine form of a year ago.
  • The White Sox over the Blue Jays: Mark Buehrle couldn’t get Mo’Ne Davis out at this point. He’s been getting pounded. John Danks is not much more of a solid pick, but that’s how I have it today.
  • The Padres over the Cardinals: Jesse Hahn Chaka Hahn is my guy. He has had a little come down to earth in his last two starts, but I like him better than this year’s version of Shelby Miller.
  • The Angels over the Rangers: All Matt Shoemaker does is win. I’m still not quite sure how he does it. But he does. Colby Lewis has been better of late, but he is still a hit machine.
  • The Rockies over the Reds: The Reds have had some success turning around pitchers with really bad track records. I wrote about one yesterday in Zach Duke. Dylan Axelrod had gotten worse and worse with more MLB exposure. But since he joined the Reds organization, his stats look better. But then he gets to make his first MLB start of 2014 at Coors Field. That’s cruel! Jordan Lyles with the win.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Dodgers over the Brewers: Clayton Kershaw. Do I need to say more? Okay, how about Clayton Kershaw at home? That’s enough. Yovani Gallardo has been good lately though.

Yesterday: 8-7, August: 117-88, Games of the Day: 73-54 (+4), Season: 1011-835

Posted in MLB Game Picks | Leave a comment

Zach Duke of Earl is a pearl

One of the amazing surprises of the year for me has been the success of Zach Duke. After all, for so many years as a starter in the early part of this millennium, Duke came to symbolize everything that was wrong with the (then) perennial losing Pittsburgh Pirates. After a successful rookie season, he quickly sank into a slot of one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball. And here he is reinvented as one of the most solid relief pitchers in baseball.

Let’s look at Duke’s amazing numbers this season. He has vultured four wins in relief against no losses. He has a 1.94 ERA with a 2.24 FIP and 2.10 xFIP. His ground ball rate is the highest of his career at 55.7% and he is striking out 11.65 batters per nine innings.

That last statistic is the most amazing of all. If you prefer strikeout percentage, he is sitting at 32.3%. His career average is 12.7%. His career K/9 rate is 4.97. His strikeout to walk rate is 4.29 compared to a career average of 2.02. Who is this guy and what have you done with the real Zach Duke!?

Here is a guy who has pitched for four different organizations in the past four seasons and during that time was released twice. This is the same guy who came into this season with a 50-76 career record with a 1.470 WHIP. His average game score as a starter was 46 when fifty was average. Of all his starts, only 50% were quality starts. What happened here?

The Reds have to be given credit in 2013 for turning Duke permanently into a relief pitcher. The Nationals had him earlier than that and used him as a starter in the minors and then gave him a few relief appearances in the Majors. But the Reds, once they acquired him, put him in the bullpen permanently. And it has made all the difference.

Also different is how Duke pitches. He has completely ditched the four-seam fastball that was a staple of his repertoire. He only throws fastballs 50% of the time and most of those are two-seamers. Almost 49% of his pitches are a combination of curves and sliders and he has a positive value on the two-seam, slider and curve this season. His fastball has picked up a mile per hour over his past seasons. Significant but still only an 89.4 MPH heater.

What has really helped Duke is that 61.3% of his first pitches are strikes. Getting ahead in the count has really helped and his swinging strike rate has gone up to the highest rate of his career.

Sure, he is sort of a LOOGY. He has pitched 45.1 innings in 55 outings. But he has actually pitched to more right-handed batters (103) than he has lefty swingers (83). And his success rate against either is terrific. Right-handed batters have only a .581 OPS against him and lefty swingers, .552.

Zach Duke has gone from a pitcher of derision to someone that manager, Ron Roenicke, has 100% confidence in. Duke’s resurgence as a relief pitcher after a bumpy career as a starter has been one of the really fun stories of 2014 and is one of those little reasons why we love this game so much.

Posted in Milwaukee Brewers | Tagged | Leave a comment

MLB Game Picks – Friday: August 15, 2014

The picks went off nearly flawlessly yesterday with a 9-1 record. The only incorrect pick was picking San Diego over the Cardinals. Trevor Rosenthal almost gave that game away too for the Cardinals as he allowed five base runners in the ninth but only one run. How is that possible? Heh. If the Padres had secured that comeback, it would have been a perfect day.

We have a new commissioner. I don’t know how I feel about that. Time will tell I guess. I won’t be sad to see the end of Bud Selig’s reign. Other than the labor peace for the last twenty years and the financial condition of the game, I have pretty much detested the guy.

Let’s see if I can keep this hot streak going. Friday’s picks:

  • The Orioles over the Indians: Can even Corey Kluber stop the Orioles? I doubt it. As good as Kluber is, the zeroes can be matched by Wei-Yin Chen and then the Orioles win the bullpen battle. Either way, I see an Oriole win. The two starters are 25-10 between them.
  • The Nationals over the Pirates: Bryce Harper is heating up and Tanner Roark has had a solid season. The Pirates miss McCutchen and are still a starter short with Charlie Morton continuing in the rotation.
  • The Tigers over the Mariners: This is a tough one. James Paxton is a special young arm. But the Tigers are bothered less by lefties than pretty much anyone. Plus, Rick Porcello has had a good season for the Tigers. This could go either way though.
  • The Marlins over the Diamondbacks: The Marlins are tough at their home park. My only reservation is Brad Hand getting the start. Then again, Trevor Cahill does not inspire me either. I am going with the home team since the pitchers seem to cancel each other out.
  • The Mets over the Cubs: Zack Wheeler has had a great month and a half and if he has found himself now, the Mets have to feel good about their future rotation. Good old Travis Wood goes for the Cubs. With him a lot depends where he spots his 88 MPH fastball.
  • The Red Sox over the Astros: Clay Buchholz is still a mystery and picking him gives me the shivers. But facing a team of free swingers, he should be fine. Dallas Keuchel hasn’t been as good in the last month and a half as he was earlier.
  • The Rays over the Yankees: Tropicana Field is kryptonite to the Yankees who are already struggling to the point of no return. The only interesting question between these two teams is which one will end up with the better record. It’s open for debate right now. Brandon McCarthy versus Alex Cobb.
  • The Braves over the Athletics: The Braves mirror what is going on with the Yankees. The team has lost seven of their last ten and are six games back of Washington and three games out of the wild card. But Alex Wood has been one of their few bright spots of late. I like him over Jason Hammel.
  • The Royals over the Twins: I bet Twins fans are happy to see Ricky Nolasco back off the DL. Not. Of course, Danny Duffy has to have a good day against Joe Mauer and company.
  • The Blue Jays over the White Sox: I’m still not sure what to make of Hector Noesi. Can he really be surviving this well judging from his past history? It’s a head scratcher. But I am sure about Marcus Stroman, who, other than a coupld of clunkers, has pitched really well for the Blue Jays.
  • The Cardinals over the Padres: Lance Lynn has been a real solid part of the Cardinals’ rotation all season. Tyson Ross has done well for the Padres, but I have to go with Lynn here.
  • The Reds over the Rockies: While I think that the Reds’ season is toast, watching Johnny Cueto is still a treat. I do worry about him pitching at Coors Field. But Franklin Morales has to face that as well and he isn’t nearly as good as Cueto.
  • The Dodgers over the Brewers: Zack Greinke has really struggled of late. But him starting at home has to be worth a shot here. The Dodgers are starting to run away from the division and that should continue. I like Jimmy Nelson, but not enough to pick him here.
  • The Giants over the Phillies: This game is a great match-up of two really great pitchers. Madison Bumgarner and Cole Hamels could be a draw. Either one of them could have a big outing. I’ll give Bumgarner the edge at home.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Angels over the Rangers: The Angels still have a real good shot at the division title and it is games and series like this one that they have to win. They have a good chance to start this off well with Garrett Richards on the mound facing Nick Martinez. That seems like a solid mismatch.

Yesterday: 9-1, August: 109-81, Games of the Day: 72-54 (+3), Season: 1003-828

Posted in MLB Game Picks | Leave a comment

MLB Game Picks – Thursday: August 14, 2014

I really thought I was headed for a bad day of picking and the picks stood at 4-6. But then the picks went on a run and the last six were correct to finish at 10-6. I’ll take it. The only extra-inning game went the wrong way of course. Any day you pick the Cubs and Padres and Twins to win and they all do, that is a pretty good day.

There are ten games on today’s schedule and here are the picks:

  • The Dodgers over the Braves: This pick did not work out so well yesterday and a year ago, I never would have picked Roberto Hernandez. But his last four of five starts have been very good and he has won his last two decisions. That means I have to pick against Aaron Harang, some thing I paid dearly for earlier in the year.
  • The Tigers over the Pirates: The Tigers finally broke through against the Pirates last night and I didn’t see it coming. I do tonight though with Max Scherzer on the mound. Of course, Francisco Liriano could match him zero for zero and then the bullpen sinkes the Tigers. But we’ll see.
  • The Royals over the Athletics: I said from the very beginning that I was worried about the A’s offense without Cespedes and I have been right on. Only once has the A’s’ offense resembled what they were doing earlier in the season. James Shields gets to earn his nickname and the Royals get to Jeff Samardzija.
  • The Brewers over the Cubs: As stated numerous times, I hate when Edwin Jackson pitches. I never know what he is going to do. But for me, the pick comes down to what I like about Mike Fiers. I think the guy is going to be a star. The Brewers just have to keep him in the rotation.
  • The Marlins over the Diamondbacks: Hahahaha! I’m picking the Marlins to win and Brad Penny is pitching. That’s a riot. I’ve completely gone insane. Weeee. Let’s ride this puppy! Chase Anderson goes for the Diamondbacks.
  • The Red Sox over the Astros: I sure would like to see the Red Sox try a couple more of their farm guys. But no matter, Allen Webster will win this game and the Red Sox will muster enough offense to beat Scott Feldman.
  • The Nationals over the Mets: Here I am again with the dilemma named Stephen Strasburg. He should never lose a game. But he hardly ever wins a game, especially on the road and especially when I pick him to win. I guess I’ll keep picking him and eventually it will come true. Dillon Gee goes for the Mets and he is a quality pitcher.
  • The Padres over the Cardinals: Don’t look now, but Eric Stults has won two in a row and both have been against contenders. Imagine that! Plus, the Padres are hitting better and have Liriano, a powerful rookie mashing baseballs. John Lackey, look out. You might get ambushed here.
  • The Rockies over the Reds: I’m going to continue picking Alfredo Simon to continue his slide since the All Star Break. He has shown nothing since the break…nothing at all. Jorge De La Rosa should win this home game.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Rays over the Rangers: I get really confused between Robbie Ross and Robbie Ray. One of them is good and the other isn’t. I’m pretty sure this one, Robbie Ross, is the one that will get cuffed around by the Rays. Jake Odorizzi pitches.

Yesterday: 10-6, August: 100-80, Games of the Day: 71-54 (+2), Season: 994-827

Posted in MLB Game Picks | Leave a comment

MLB Game Picks – Wednesday: August 13, 2014

Picking baseball games is like playing golf. You can have several bad holes and really mess it up for a while and then suddenly hit three gorgeous shots and get a birdie. It is the birdie that keeps you coming back for more. After several shanks the past three days, I hit a birdie last night and went 10-3. And there were some tough calls in there.

Of the three I got wrong, you could tell yesterday that I really wanted to pick the Cubs and I did not dare to. I should have. The Cardinals seem to have gone down the same rabbit hole as the Yankees and it is hard to understand. Miami completely beat them and Adam Wainwright. The Tampa – Texas game was correct for six and a half innings until Joel Peralta coughed up the lead and then of course, the pick became incorrect once it went into extra innings.

At least I got a birdie today and can’t wait for my next shot again. Wednesday’s picks:

  • The Reds over the Red Sox: I liked what I saw in Anthony Ranaudo when he pitched against the Yankees. The only thing about it was that he was facing the Yankees, who are terrible. So it is hard to gauge how good he is. That said, I’m going with Mike Leake, a more proven entity.
  • The Twins over the Astros: I’ve flip-flopped the picks on this series so far and got them both correct. Let’s see if I can go three for three. I like Kyle Gibson over Brett Oberholtzer.
  • The White Sox over the Giants: Jose Quintana remains the best pitcher with a losing record in baseball. Either he gets no run support or the bullpen blows up his victories. The Giants are reeling and Jake Peavy has been even more snake bit than Quintana. Which one will have more bad mojo?
  • The Indians over the Diamondbacks: The rain out yesterday allowed the Indians to bypass T.J. House. Instead they will go today with Trevor Bauer in the first game who goes against Andrew Chafin, making his MLB debut. Chafin was a #1 round draft pick in 2011 whose minor league numbers look ordinary.
  • The Indians over the Diamondbacks: Frankly, I don’t know why the D-backs bypassed Josh Collmenter with the rain out. He is infinitely more reliable than either Chafin or Vidal Nuno who is pitching the second game. I will go with Josh Tomlin.
  • The Padres over the Rockies: The Padres have been on a nice roll and the Rockies on the opposite. Ian Kennedy should win this one. Tyler Matzek keeps on pitching and never seems to have his record change. It’s weird.
  • The Orioles over the Yankees: This is the Orioles’ year. It just seems written down already somewhere. Chris Tillman gets the start and will look infinitely easy to hit but the Yankees will not hit, at least not when it counts. Big Michael Pineda is back for the Yankees, but how long will he last and what will he have? And can he pitch without pine tar?
  • The Pirates over the Tigers: The Tigers are starting Buck Farmer. He raises deer apparently. No, seriously, he is a fifth round draft pick in 2013 who has only logged 32 outings in the minors so far, none above Double-A. His numbers look good. But I’ll go with Vance Worley, which looks safer.
  • The Dodgers over the Braves: The Dodgers’ lead in the NL West has grown to six games and they are starting to run away and hide. Hyun-jin Ryu is as steady as it gets with only one bad outing in his last ten. Ervin Santana has had a pretty good year himself.
  • The Marlins over the Cardinals: Trading for Justin Masterson was a mistake for the Cardinals. Perhaps he will figure it out some time this year. Or perhaps not. Either way, the Cardinals do not have time to find out. Nathan Eovaldi is good at home.
  • The Cubs over the Brewers: Yeah, I’m going for it. I like Kyle Lohse, but not as much at Wrigley Field. The Brewers are the best team in their division, but are a little weaker against lefties. Tsuyoshi Wada has made five big league starts and four of them have been very good.
  • The Rays over the Rangers: The Rangers are playing a little bit better these days. But their pitching is still the problem. Miles Mikolas is not winning. Chris Archer, on the other hand, is very good. Keep Peralta out of the game and the Rays win.
  • The Royals over the Athletics: The A’s broke the Royals streak last night and could do so again with Scott Kazmir on the mound. The one problem is that Kazmir has been touched up in his last two starts. Has he hit a wall? Jason Vargas is a lefty. That’s about all the good I can muster. But that is good enough to win in MLB.
  • The Angels over the Phillies: With A.J. Burnett and Jered Weaver pitching tonight, this game feels like a high-scoring affair. If it is, the advantage goes to the Angels. Burnett should have retired.
  • The Mariners over the Blue Jays: I simply cannot pick against Hisashi Iwakuma at home. He is killer there (and pretty much everywhere else too). R.A. Dickey could have a nice outing, but you never know.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Nationals over the Mets: It’s hard to pick against Shrek Bartolo Colon. After all, the guy has won 200 big league games. But he has clunkers too and you never know what you will get with him. Jordan Zimmermann is a stud.

Yesterday: 10-3, August: 90-74, Games of the Day: 70-54 (+1), Season: 984-821

Posted in MLB Game Picks | Leave a comment