Monday, September 01, 2014

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 TwinsPhil 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

Sunday, August 31, 2014

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 MetsDillon 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 PiratesFrancisco 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 SoxDustin 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 SoxMiguel 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 RangersNick 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 AthleticsMatt 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 TwinsWei-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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: August 30, 2014

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

Friday, August 29, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Friday: August 29, 2014

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Too quick to bandwagon Matt Adams

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