Baseball

FIRST FIVE MLB FREE TOTAL

Monday, 18 August, 2014

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Today’s free total comes in the Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals matchup. Arizona has actually had a successful road trip in Cleveland and Miami pitching wise. Which is a surprise considering the struggles the staff had for the month of July and early August.

Don’t let their recent success fool you. They faced two teams in the Indians and Marlins that had been struggling mightily at the plate, especially the Indians. That series also featured a double header due to a rain out. Miami finally got going against Josh Collmenter yesterday and carried that over into pummeling the Diamondbacks bullpen.

The juice of -233 doesn’t please me enough to take the Nationals but I do like the over in the first five innings of this matchup. It’s just 3.5 because of Nuno’s latest strong performance and Zimmerman’s command all year.

Arizona has been getting on base plenty of times but failing to score runs. Against the Marlins they did score three first inning runs against Brad Hand and had several base runners on against Alvarez, and bases loaded against Tommy Koehlher yesterday.

They’re bound to get some runs plated across. Take the first five over.

MLB FREE TOTALS PLAY PHILLIES VS GIANTS

Saturday, 16 August, 2014

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The total on the Phillies vs Giants is 7.5. Rather than rely on the bullpen we are going to take a look at the first five innings in this one. This outing is a bit of a redemption marker for Tim Hudson.

In a day game on July 24th, Hudson lost on 2 unearned runs that proved to be the difference. Tim pitched well in his last start before giving up a solo shot in the fifth followed by a couple more runs in the 7th.

This Giants team is just not hitting the ball well. There is no getting around that. Similar to the other bay team, Oakland, they are just not producing runs for their pitchers. Kyle Kendrick should have the type of stuff to get around the Giants lineup twice without allowing more than a couple of runs.

Last night bettors that had the under lost on an unfortunate couple of sequences. Two on and a three run shot from the Giants in the 3rd inning, and a two run shot from the Phillies in the eighth. That won’t be the result today. Take the under on 3.5 runs today.

MLB WILD CARD NL CHASE

Wednesday, 13 August, 2014

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While MLB pundits want to chase the AL wild card race because it has the media spotlight teams (Yanks, Red Sox, etc), I’ll focus on the NL wild card. There are several teams bunched together that are going opposite ways. San Francisco, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Miami, and even the up and coming San Diego Padres are all bunched together in a tight NL wild card race.

Up atop currently is the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates have been defeating teams in late July/August series to gain ground on the struggling Giants and Braves. They’ve done it with a spark provided by losing their star Andrew McCutchen in the series against Arizona. They’ve had following success against the Marlins and the Tigers.

San Francisco on the other hand has been in a well documented tail spin since starting the first month and a half of the season sharp. At their current rate it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them continue to drop. Pitching has deteriorated for them and the continual issues with getting runs has not waned.

The Reds are a team that likely would be much further ahead than they are if they were completely healthy. But they have just had enough success with their starting pitchers to keep rolling along especially with the Giants and Braves sliding.

Atlanta has a similar story as the Giants. They looked the part for a fair stretch of the season. Their accruement of veteran pitchers worked in spots but the lack of finesse hitting has hurt them dearly. They’re unable to get consecutive hits strung together and strikeout at too high of a rate.

St. Louis has tried to acquire the magic they perceive to be better options. Thus far Justin Masterson looks to be just as rusty as he finished in Cleveland. Their lineup seems to be too aged for success as they’re lacking home run ability which has stopped several threats with RISP.

That leaves the Marlins and Padres. I’ve mentioned the Marlins several times as my darkhorse candidate and now the door is fully open for them. They’ve managed to dodge several issues with their pitching staff and extra-inning losses. At the plate they’re one of the streakiest teams in baseball and right now they’ve come together collectively to hit the ball well. The only regular starter that may need to be taken out is Garrett Jones. He has had a few errors at first base and has brought next to nothing for the team at the plate.

Atlanta and San Francisco have the prestige of being renowned. Pittsburgh would be a great story but has felt short before. That would leave Cincinnati which if healthy probably should be the favorite. They have great all around pitching, lead the MLB in defense, and have just enough hitting to win games.

MONDAY’S FREE PLAY OAKLAND VS KANSAS CITY

Monday, 11 August, 2014

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For today’s free play we will head to Kansas City where the red-hot Royals look to keep things rolling against the Oakland A’s. The A’s are coming off a loss as a huge favorite against the Minnesota Twins. The same story we’ve seen with Hammel on the mound for the A’s happened again. Poor run support.

In his best start in Oakland, the A’s were only able to manufacture one run. The A’s got out of a jam in the 7th inning in which would be Hammel’s last. But in the 8th and 9th the bullpen gave up five runs, including a two run homer in the 8th.

Today’s starter for Oakland is Sonny Gray while for Kansas City it’s Yordano Ventura. Both have been great young aces for their respective teams.

In handicapping you have to look for value, and I believe there to be strong value for Oakland today. Oakland is only -108 thanks to Kansas City’s great win streak.

Though Gray is coming off a rough start, I’d look for him to bounce back in similar fashion as he did in July off a rough start against the Miami Marlins. He also just pitched against Kansas City on the 1st, and although it was a loss, he only allowed three hits in 7 innings.

Yordana Ventura has been equally impressive but has had issues with his command. He has walked nine batters in his last four starts and is escaping out of jams. Look for the A’s to open up this game with some runs early. That’ll be enough for Gray as he seeks to get back in the win column.

BRAD HAND WORTH +180 TODAY

Sunday, 10 August, 2014

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It’s not too often a line in baseball gets so skewed that it becomes an out of hand underdog. Today I believe that to be the case with the Marlins against the Reds. Johnny Cueto has been a dominant pitcher all season but also has had very little run support in games that he has started.

Just last week against the Marlins, Cueto had pitched 7 innings before the Marlins finally got things going in the top of the 8th with three runs.

Miami had some decent hits off of Cueto early in the game with a couple of doubles by Casey McGhee and Marcell Ozuna. They just couldn’t muster anything beyond the early innings.

Brad Hand for Miami has showcased to be a bright spot amidst the Marlins never ending issues with pitching. He should be able to pitch six solid innings against a Reds team that struggled to get hits and advance runners off of Brad Penny yesterday.

BRAD PENNY IS THE MLB STAR OF THE NIGHT

Sunday, 10 August, 2014

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It likely won’t get talked about in high regard, but Brad Penny’s performance tonight deserves to be the star of the night. A pitcher that seemingly only got another chance because the manager, Mike Redmond, was his catcher in the early 2000′s.

Penny hadn’t pitched since 2012 on the big league level and that was in a reliever role. It’s not often you see a pitcher get another chance after nearly two and a half years from a big league start.

His night wasn’t terrific, but he got the job done. In the first inning he gave up a solo home run that was right over the plate. He also got saved in a one out situation with runners on 2nd and 3rd. After a gap hit by Todd Frazier, Billy Hamilton scored with ease, but Jay Bruce was gunned out at the plate by outfielder Marcell Ozuna.

In the fourth Penny had a tough time drawing outs and was running the count too high for walk situations. The fifth he had a 1, 2, 3 inning in which would be his last of the night.

Credit this Marlins team for pulling together in a catastrophic situation with their pitchers. Everyone knows about Jose Fernandez being out for the year. The Marlins also have Henderson Alvarez on the 15-day DL, and their newly acquired pitcher in Jarred Cosart missed a start with a minor oblique strain.

Added to that was the scary situation of their relief pitcher in Dan Jennings getting drilled by the baseball. He seems to be okay but is not available for use currently.

This Marlins team has been resilient through many tough instances. In June and the early part of July they were in countless scenarios of extra inning games that they couldn’t pull off. If they had won only a handful of those they’d be near the top of the NL East.

We’ll see how far this team can go in the last stretch of the season. But tonight the star of MLB goes to Brad Penny.