Closers. Everyone hates the statistic. Most believe that anyone can close. But they are the bane of my existence. It is fairly easy to predict which starting pitcher is going to be effective, or more effective than the other. But then the game gets into the eighth and ninth inning and all hell breaks loose. I should have been a game picker in the days of complete games. That would have been gravy.
There were only four games last night, and as such, a 2-2 record compared to a 3-1 record does not mean a whole lot. But 3-1 would have felt better. But Cliff Lee beating the Padres was also the Game of the Day. And he beat them just as predicted…for eight innings. And then he did not. His manager tried to get a complete game out of him. That did not work, so he panicked and brought in Jonathan Papelbon in the middle of the ninth instead of the beginning. That did not work either, thanks in part to a lazy play by his catcher. And the game blew up. And the pick blew up. Never go to bed on a three-run lead.
- The Nationals over the Diamondbacks: It is hard to believe that Gio Gonzalez has only won three games. His peripherals are impressive. The strikeouts are there. The WHIP is good. But three wins out of fifteen starts? This should turn around. Trevor Cahill, on the other hand, has earned most of his losses.
- The Orioles over the Indians: Who would have thought that Chris Tillman would become the Orioles’ most consistent winner as a starting pitcher? But he is 8-2. Justin Masterson is good too, but if Masterson has any flaw, it is the home run ball. The Orioles hit them prodigiously.
- The Rangers over the Yankees: Yu Darvish has only pitched against the Yankees once in his career. But boy was it a doozy. His stuff is crazy. Hiroki Kuroda will need to be nearly perfect to win this one. He won’t be.
- The Tigers over the Angels: This Angels’ team took a big hit with that blown save the other day. Yeah, closers. Speaking of closers, the Tigers do not have one. But they should still win this one behind Rick Porcello and a bunch of runs off of C.J. Wilson.
- The Red Sox over the Rockies: This will either be a close game not settled until late, or Ryan Dempster will finally have a good game and the Red Sox blow out Juan Nicasio. Either way, this feels like a Red Sox win.
- The Marlins over the Twins: The Marlins have not been the roll over and die team of late. They have won their fair share of games the last two weeks. If Jose Fernandez can pitch well tonight, something he is certainly capable of doing, then the Fish could score some runs against
- The Rays over the Blue Jays: Matt Moore was messed up for three games. Then the Yankees’ putrid lineup fixed him back up. The Blue Jays will pay for it. And the Rays will score against Mark Buehrle.
- The Braves over the Royals: Two of the most unpredictable teams right here. You never know from day to day what they will do. I like Kris Medlen better than I like Ervin Santana. Though Santana has had some good outings lately.
- The White Sox over the Mets: Great match-up of Chris Sale against Zack Wheeler. I will take experience here over Wheeler in just his second big league start. David Wright is on fire though.
- The Cardinals over the Astros: The Cards did not have a “happy flight” that its local media likes to promote. They just got swept by one Texas team and will try to take it out on the other. Jake Westbrook over Lucas Harrell, who seems to pitch every other night.
- The Reds over the Athletics: I tried this pick either way and did not like the looks of either. So I will go with my first impression. Bronson Arroyo is having a good season. Tommy Milone has a good outing and a bad one. If he has a good one, this pick is dead.
- The Padres over the Phillies: Jason Marquis is pitching like he has a beef against the world. He is a “battler” as they like to say. He is also 9-2. I will take those stats over Kyle Kendrick and the Phillies.
- The Pirates over the Mariners: Jeff Locke has given up four earned runs over his last seven starts. Yeah, give me some of that. Joe Saunders is always capable of giving up four runs in every start. Yeah, he will have his occasional gem at home.
- The Dodgers over the Giants: If the Giants’ starter in this one, Mike Kickham, pitches like he did in his debut, they will Kickham back to the minors quickly. Stephen Fife does not seem that great a pick either. But at least he has a better chance to do well.
And the Game of the Day
- The Brewers over the Cubs: Kyle Lohse is going to go on a roll. It started with his last start and it will continue. You heard it here first, okay? Meanwhile, Edwin Jackson will be rolling in the Cubs’ dough for three years. It will not be pretty.
Games of the Day: 47-36