MLB Game Picks – Tuesday: September 2, 2014

Labor Day started out sort of weird when I had to take a “loss” from the continuation of a suspended game from way back to May 22. I had to go to the archives all the way to when that game was started to see what I picked and sure enough, the team I picked (Rockies) did not win the game finished yesterday.

To compound matters, the Giants and the Rockies played their regularly scheduled game and I had Tim Hudson with a 7-2 lead in the fifth inning. That fell apart quickly as things can in Coors Field and the Rockies roared back to win. So one pick and two incorrect tallies.

Fortunately, the rest of the day went 6-3 to give me a positive score. I was worried about picking against Cole Hamels, but I had no idea he would be part of a six-pitcher no-hitter. Who could predict that! And those Cubs are hotter than a pistol and beat the Brewers! Man. Jacob Turner was great for the Cubs.

Tuesday’s picks:

  • The Yankees over the Red Sox: Even without Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox have some weapons that can hurt young Shane Greene. But he has been pitching well and Joe Kelly would have to be really good for this to go wrong. But picking the Yankees this year has never been safe. Ever.
  • The Orioles over the Reds: Both Bud Norris and Mat Latos have similar “stuff.” The difference is that the Reds cannot match the Orioles’ lineup. The O’s have to keep Billy Hamilton off the bases, which hasn’t been all that difficult to do.
  • The Indians over the Tigers: The last time I picked against Kyle Lobstein, he made me look stupid (which isn’t hard to do). But it was completely a BABIP game as he struck out no one. Even with Miguel Cabrera coming back with a monster game yesterday, I am going with Carlos Carrasco at home.
  • The Marlins over the Mets: Brad Penny. Am I really picking the Marlins with Brad Penny starting? My thinking is that the Marlins’ lineup will not be bothered by the left-handed tosses of Jon Niese, but perhaps I have lost my marbles.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: Let’s try this again with a resurgent Mike Minor and the rotation filler of Kyle Kendrick. The Braves are in a bit of trouble as the division slides away and there are a lot of contenders for the wild card.
  • The Blue Jays over the Rays: Another battle of the ‘Ays. The Rays usually win the battle, but my thought here is that the Jays’ big boppers will get to Jeremy Hellickson and R.A. Dickey will pitch just fine in the Trop.
  • The Brewers over the Cubs: I’ve gone back and forth on this ten times. Jake Arrieta gentile arrieta has had a good season but was awful his last time out. Yovani Gallardo hasn’t been his old dominant self. The Cubs have been on fire, but the Brewers are fighting for the division title. Oy.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Hector Noesi has won six of his last nine decisions covering ten starts. He has been quite the remarkable story. The White Sox will miss Adam Dunn but even so, Tommy Milone has been awful for the Twins.
  • The Royals over the Rangers: The Rangers get a reprise of the long ago lost Derek Holland. I never know what to do with when a quality pitcher comes back off of a long, long absence. Picking the Royals means I have to pick Jeremy Guthrie. Ugh.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: This is a rematch of the same pitching line of Jeff Locke and Adam Wainwright. Locke won last time but that was in Pittsburgh. Wainwright has not been an ace for the last month but claims he is getting over a dead arm period. We’ll see.
  • The Giants over the Rockies: Who knows in Coors. I would think that I would have to pick Yusmeiro Petit after his last performance over Jordan Lyles even if Lyles is 6-2 on the season.
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: I love James Paxton and I hate to pick against him, but the Mariners’ offense can go to sleep faster than the A’s has lately and the Mariners face Sonny Gray. Gray has gotten a bit of his mojo back in his last two starts.
  • The Padres over the Diamondbacks: Odrisamer Despaigne has been a bit confusing with good starts and really bad starts inter-mixed. He should be fine tonight at home against a struggling D-backs team. Wade Miley is a concern for this pick though as he has put some nice starts together and forces guys like Seth Smith to sit.
  • The Dodgers over the Nationals: Oh man, this is quite the match-up! Doug Fister and Clayton Kershaw are a combined 28-8. One of them has to win. Kershaw at home is just too difficult for the Nationals to overcome.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Angels over the Astros: I am still quite shocked and upset about Bo Porter. Despite all the losing with little talent, the Astros always played hard, or so it seemed. And Porter made me root for his team. Now I am just angry and think they deserve to have the Angels kicked their team butts. C.J. Wilson over Brad Peacock.

Yesterday: 8-5, Sept.: 8-5, Games of the Day: 85-59 (+2), Season: 1138-939

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MLB Game Picks – Monday: September 1, 2014

The last day of August was not looking very good after five games. With losses by the Yankees, the Phillies and the Rays, the picks were sitting at 1-4. But then I ran the table and finished at 10-4. To be honest, if the game had been allowed to finish (suspended), I would have been wrong to finish at 10-5, but we won’t know the final outcome until September 22 when the game is completed. That’s what you get putting on a night game on a Sunday, a holiday weekend Sunday to boot.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a day when the picks went from 1-4 to 10-4. That’s strange. My final record for August was a little over 56% which is close to my usual. It’s funny that after all the years I’ve been doing this, I don’t really improve. I am not an odds maker and do not do computer analysis to make these picks. Why do I do this every day anyway? I really have no idea anymore. It’s like an obsession or something. Or it’s like riding a horse I am used to and it’s just easy to ride the same one every day.

Happy Labor Day! There are twelve games on the schedule and two of them are at night. Shame on them for having night games on a holiday or no games at all!  Today’s picks:

  • The Rays over the Red Sox: This series has gone back and forth, so who knows. I can’t remember the last time Rubby De La Rosa pitched a good game. And The Emoticon, Drew Smyly, has pitched very well for the Rays.
  • The Marlins over the Mets: This is a very tough call. Zack Wheeler has been great since the third month of the season. But Henderson Alvarez at home is pretty unbeatable. I’ll go with Miami.
  • The Braves over the Phillies: I hate to pick against Cole Hamels, but again, the home team is a better pick with Julio Teheran overpowering the older Phillies batters.
  • The Orioles over the Twins: Phil Hughes has had a great season. There is no disputing the fact. But I do not like his match-up against the Orioles and feel like he will give up two or three homers. He won’t walk anyone. Kevin Gausman has been terrific too and that makes the Twins’ task harder.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: Man, all the home team picks. Scary. Despite all the hyperventilating by Cardinal fans and sportswriters, here the Cards are tied for the division lead. Lance Lynn has been mostly really good and Gerrit Cole is to be feared as well.
  • The Brewers over the Cubs: Yay! A road team pick! Jacob Turner is a work in progress for the Cubs and I believe they will be ultimately successful on putting him back on the right road. But for now, he remains awful messy. Jimmy Nelson hasn’t won in his last four starts, so that makes the pick more difficult.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: This is a really tough call. David Price only won one of his five starts for the Tigers in August. But his peripherals are still outstanding with them. A little bad luck has been involved. Corey Kluber has been so good all season, but his control has been more of a problem his last three starts. This could go either way.
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: I don’t know if the A’s manager calling his team pathetic will help, but anyway, Jason Hammel over Chris Young.
  • The Padres over the Diamondbacks: I like Tyson Ross and his season has been a lot better than his .500 record. He should beat the D-backs who feature Trevor Cahill on the mound today.
  • The Giants over the Rockies: MLB.com does not have the pitching match-ups and just lists TBO. Yahoo.com is reporting that it will be Tim Hudson versus Franklin Morales. Morales has pitched well, but never more than five innings. Hudson has struggled a bit on the road and even more so in day games. But the Giants are very hot right now.
  • The Nationals over the Dodgers: I did take a quick peek at the odds on this one and the odds makers are favoring the Dodgers big time. But I don’t agree, which is why I guess I’m not famous. Gio Gonzalez presents problems for the Dodgers’ lineup and the Nats bats can get to Roberto Hernandez.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Royals over the Rangers: The Royals had a tough weekend against Cleveland but now face an easier team, at least on paper. I can’t make fun of Colby Lewis anymore because he has pitched well. The pick rests completely on what kind of game Yordano Ventura has.

Yesterday: 10-4, August final: 237-185, Games of the Day: 84-59 (+1), Season: 1130-934

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MLB Game Picks – Sunday: August 31, 2014

Seventeen games were played yesterday and I correctly picked nine of them. I finally picked Stephen Strasburg and he won! But I picked Mike Fiers for the game of the day and he lost. That’s the way the day went. For every Jerome Williams I picked correctly, I did not pick Vance Worley correctly. I got both ends of the Tigers – White Sox double-header perfectly but only split the Cubs – Cardinals one. I wondered why a relief pitcher started for the Angels in such a big series with the A’s. Then eight of those relief pitchers shut out the A’s. At least it all ended up on the positive side.

Sunday’s picks:

  • The Yankees over the Blue Jays: This is the Yankees best chance against J.A. Happ. Of course, they haven’t been hitting pitchers you would think they would hit. Also, Brandon McCarthy has been very good for the Yankees, his last outing not included.
  • The Phillies over the Mets: Dillon Gee has not been good since his return from the disabled list and his strikeout rate has disappeared completely. A.J. Burnett never has problems getting strikeouts. It’s what happens in between them that matters. He was brilliant against the Nationals.
  • The Reds over the Pirates: Francisco Liriano is so unpredictable this year. He could have a great day against the struggling Reds. I just have a really hard time picking against Johnny Cueto even if his starts have not been quite shut-down lately.
  • The Rays over the Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia was clocked yesterday and has concussion symptoms. That’s all the Red Sox need. Alex Cobb is terrific and Clay Buchholz can be too. This one is hard to predict.
  • The Tigers over the White Sox: Miguel Cabrera‘s ankle is a mess and that hurts the Tigers badly. Rick Porcello has been very good though. I have been watching Jose Quintana succeed all year while piling up loss after loss. His ERA has gone up half a run in his last three starts.
  • The Astros over the Rangers: Nick Martinez beat the Astros the last time he faced them. Dallas Keuchel lost to the Rangers the last time he faced them. So why pick the Astros? Because that was last time.
  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: On most given days, I would pick John Lackey over Travis Wood. This is a given day. That is unless the Cardinals used all their bullets in that thirteen-run outburst yesterday.
  • The Angels over the Athletics: Matt Shoemaker has not given up an earned run in four of his last seven appearances and his last two starts covering fourteen plus innings. The guy has been amazing. Scott Kazmir has had a great season too, but has hit a bit of a wall late in the season.
  • The Giants over the Brewers: The performance by Jake Peavy had to be inspiring yesterday and did you see that play by Brandon Crawford!? My my. Madison Bumgarner will beat Kyle Lohse as the Giants stay hot.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rockies: I have no idea who will win this game. I was wrong with this same pick yesterday. Chase Anderson has been…well…chased his last three starts, but, perhaps, will pull it together. Jorge De La Rosa actually pitches better at home lately than on the road.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: The Padres have had three straight walk-off wins and Eric Stults has confused me all season. I am also worried about Hyun-jin Ryu coming off the disabled list. The Dodgers are the better team here.
  • The Mariners over the Nationals: Hisashi Iwakuma was pounded in his last start. But that was probably a fluke. I cannot pick against him at home even if I like Tanner Roark a lot.
  • The Braves over the Marlins: I am tired of picking Nathan Eovaldi to win just to watch him lose. And I am tired about hearing about his “stuff” while he loses. Alex Wood has hung in there nicely for the Braves.
  • The Royals over the Indians: The Royals have gone a bit flat in this series but you have to give credit to the Indians too and Terry Francona. He really seems to be a great manager (as much as I can tell). All that said, I like Danny Duffy over T.J. House here in this game.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Orioles over the Twins: Wei-Yin Chen has been hard to beat and the Orioles just keep rolling along. Ricky Nolasco does not seem like a candidate to slow them down at all.

Yesterday: 9-8, August: 227-181, Games of the Day: 83-59 (-1), Season: 1120-930

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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 Sox: Allen 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 Mets: Jerome 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 Rangers: Robbie 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

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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 Rays: Anthony 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 Braves: Tom 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 Dodgers: Dan 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 Nationals: Felix 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

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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, Tavaras’ 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 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 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.

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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 Reds: Dylan 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 Rockies: Yusmeiro 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 Sox: Adam 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 Twins: Tommy 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 Rangers: Nick 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 Athletics: Sonny 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 Mets: Mike 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

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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 Yankees: David 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 Astros: Brad 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 Diamondbacks: Wade 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

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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 Pirates: Lance 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 Rays: Alex 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 Phillies: Gio 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 Sox: Rubby 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 Yankees: Rick 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 Cubs: Johnny Cueto versus Travis Wood really sounds like a mismatch. That really bothers me.
  • The White Sox over the Indians: Jose 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 Diamondbacks: Trevor 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 Marlins: Nathan 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

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Five tool players

I admit it. I brought you here under false pretenses. Here you thought you were going to read about players or prospects that had the proverbial five tools like running, throwing, power, high batting average and character. But that is not what this post is about. I’ll leave such tool worship to the scouts and prospect writers who are good at what they do. Instead this post is about players whose names come from tools. There are five of them.

The first is named after a garden instrument. You have all heard of the common garden hoe. They are great for taking care of weeds that always seem to grow better than your hoesvegetables or flowers do. If you have more than one hoe, you have hoes. That’s where L.J. Hoes comes in. He was drafted by the Orioles in the third round of the 2008 draft and was part of the deal that sent Bud Norris to the Orioles from Houston in 2013. Hoes has seen limited duty in parts of three seasons and is currently in the minors. His real first name is Jerome.

With the terrible fashion statement today of men having scruffy faces and beards, it’s doubtful that many are going to barbers these days to get a shave. But if they did, they would see the barber with a piece of leather hanging near his equipment. That leather thing is called a strop and helps him/her keep the blade sharp.

Pedro Strop currently pitches for the Chicago Cubs. Strop also has ties to the Baltimore Orioles as he pitched there for a few seasons. He was originally signed by the Colorado Rockies in 2002 out of the Dominican Republic and has also pitched for the Rangers. He has had two very fine seasons for the Cubs in 2013 and 2014.

A thatcher is also called a de-thatcher, which makes little sense. Both are correct, but that’s kind of like flammable and inflammable. Why do we need two words that mean the same thatcherthing? Anyway, the tool is designed to thin out your lawn so that the plants that make up your lawn have more room to breathe and grow freely. I want to buy one for my lawnmower, but you have to get cinder blocks to put on top of it to keep it thatching. Why wouldn’t they design a product that could stay down in the first place?

Joe Thatcher is a relief pitcher that you cannot keep down either. He has pitched parts of eight seasons with significant relief appearances since 2010. He was recently acquired by the Angels from the Diamondbacks so Joe must not be one of those rah-rah types. He hasn’t pitched well for the Angels so far, but he is a good relief pitcher with a proven track record. He currently makes $3.75 million which means that he could afford a lot of cinder blocks.

The fourth one is my least favorite examples because it is kind of a blah tool. But we all need them to run our cars, lawnmowers and engines of all sorts. They also keep our pants up. I am talking of the belt.

Brandon Belt was drafted by the Giants so he is a home grown guy. He had sort of a break out season a year ago as he took over first base. But things haven’t worked out this year and it’s been pretty much a lost year for him. He still seems to have a bright future and can keep the Giants’ offensive motor running for years to come.

The fifth is my favorite. It is the peavy. A peavy is a logging tool and has a broom like peavyhandle with a metal spike on the end and a metal hook. It was invented to help move logs that were stuck in log drives that jammed up in rivers. They are simply useful in maneuvering logs. The reason I like it so much is that it was invented right here in Maine by Joseph Peavy of Upper Stillwater, Maine and the Peavy Manufacturing Company is still making variations today.

Jake Peavy is in the business of trying to separate wood from batters. As a pitcher, he tries to out-maneuver them so they either strikeout or hit the ball weakly for an out. Peavy is a former star who lost favor in Boston and was traded to the Giants. He is doing better for that team and seems to have a big of his swagger back.

I apologize that you did not find any information about five-tool players. But I hope you enjoyed this little bit of nonsense in the midst of a overly-serious baseball world.

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