August 10, 2015 (Posted at 2:00 PM ET)
There are two picks tonight.
#1: Take Arizona D-Backs on the Money Line (-144) against Philadelphia Phillies risking 4.32% of the bankroll to win 3%.
(De La Rosa and Harang must start for wager to have action)
The Phillies have been hot since the All-Star break and are coming off a sweep of the Padres in San Diego! Their recent streak, while impressive, has fooled some into suddenly believing they are a quality club. The fact is that they are not. They are one of the worst if not the worst team in the national league and it is only a matter of time before they revert back to old habits and losing ways. This recently skewed peception has opened up value on the Diamondbacks tonight as the odds have shifted considerably from the original number! Arizona opened up as -160 favorites, a number which was accurate, but has since gone all the way down to even -143 in some books. This shift means there is now value in backing the home side. People have forgotten that despite their recent uptick, Philadelphia is just 18-38 on the road!
Chip Hale's squad have numerous advantages in this contest. One should be the starting pitching matchup between hard throwing righty Ruby De La Rosa vs. wily but over-the-hill veteran, Aaron Harang. De La Rosa has faced the Phillies once before and that was a win in which he gave up only 1 run and baffled the lineup. He's won 3 of his last 4 starts and tossed a 2-run winning effort against the Nationals last time out. The Phillies are in a let down spot after such an impressive display in San Diego and are satisfied, win or lose. They have nothing to play for and therefore won't display the same urgency that Arizona players (still hopeful of post-season) will exhibit. It's also worth noting that the Diamondbacks are the better offensive and defensive team. They have scored 64 more runs than the Phillies this season while allowing 65 less! That 129 run differential proves just how unevenly matched, these two clubs are.
Aaron Harang (5-12) has got the winning decision in only 1 of his last 8 starts and has an inflated 7.46 ERA in that span! He's also had trouble with this lineup in the past. The Snakes have a 0.353 on-base percentage against him in 70 career at-bats and have challenged him in many different ways. They have 20 hits with half of them going for extra-bases as well as 8 walks! Paul Goldschmidt and teammates have shown both patience and aggressiveness in their plate appearances and punished him! Backup catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia should get the start tonight and he's among those who has hit Harang hard going 6 for 14! To make matters worse for Philadelphia, Harang has not lasted more than 5 innings in either of his 2 starts since coming back from DL (plantar fasciitis) and is unlikely to make it past the 6th tonight.
Unlike the Friars, Arizona doesn't have chemistry issues and did not have massive expectations coming into the season. That means hovering around the .500 mark has not been as big a blow to their psyche as it has been to their NL West rivals, Padres. The team from San Diego made the Phillies look good over the weekend by taking them lightly but we expect the Diamondbacks to be all business. That's because Philadelphia is not only riding a hot streak and is now being noticed by many but they are 3-0 against Arizona on the season! The Diamondbacks know that and will be determined to exact revenge while avoid being embarrassed by going down 0-4 to arguably the worst team in the league. We believe they will keep their slim Wild Card hopes alive by taking an important step toward a .500 mark and opening this series with a win.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Arizona has quietly won 10 of its last 15 games!
- Aaron Harang is 4-9 against the Diamondbacks in his career.
- Arizona is 30-17 against teams with losing records.
- De La Rosa is 10-3 when the total is set at 8 or 8.5 runs!
#2: Take Baltimore Orioles on the Money Line (-116) against Seattle Mariners risking 3.48% of the bankroll to win 3%.
(Chen and Nuno must start for wager to have action)
The Orioles are still in contention for the postseason as they currently sit just 3 games out of a AL Wild Card spot and 5 games behind current division leaders, Yankees. They are going to need to string together some wins as they have not only the Blue Jays and NY to catch up to but they also have the Rays breathing down their necks. This is a quality squad that is used to this type of pressure with a long serving manager in Buck Showalter who has seen it all and knows how to prepare his side for the stretch run. Baltimore has turned up the offense recently having scored 13 runs in their last three games and four or more runs in five of their last six games! When their offense has been clicking, the O's have been extremelly dangerous as they are a team that has a good bullpen and should get another quality start from the veteran from Taiwan.
Wei-Yin Chen will take the mound tonight. Chen has been the Orioles' most consistent starter this season. He may only have a 5-6 record on the year but that has been due to bad luck as he owns a very respectable 3.32 ERA with 106 strikeouts! He's not a guy that panics and has the ability to get himself out of jams. The experienced lefty will be looking for a little bit of revenge in this contest as the last time he faced off the M's, he took the loss. That was a one-off performance because he's historically limited the Mariners to a very low batting! Jesus Montero, Austin Jackson and catcher Mike Zunino are among the Seattle bats that have struggled against the crafty southpaw but certainly not the only ones. Kyle Seager who is often the catalyst for this offese has just 1 hit in 20 previous at-bats! Chen's numbers improve when he's been on the road this season and Safeco Field is a pitcher friendly park. His ERA drops to 3.14 ERA in away games and his 1.19 WHIP is very impressive.
The Seattle Mariners come into this contest having lost four of their last six home games and tonight they will have a pitcher on the mound who will be making only his second start of the season! Vidal Nuno has spent most of the season as a reliever. The lefty is making another spot start after the trade of JA Happ to Pittsburgh. He was on the mound against the Rockies for less than 4 innings giving up five hits, two homers and three runs. Nuno also walked two batters in that contest and has been a terrible bet at home wherever he's played. The main issue for him is that he's struggled mightily against this power Orioles lineup in the past as he's 0-2 with an 11.17 ERA in his career against them!
It's a well-known fact that there is a completely different mentality when it comes to being a reliever and a starting pitcher. As a relief pitcher, their primary goal is to throw strikes and get quick outs. As a starting pitcher, there is much more of a focus on longevity. A pitcher cannot simply continually pound the zone without expecting to get tagged, he needs to have a big pitch arsenal and change his strategy in the 2nd and 3rd order through the lineup. This is why it has always been tough for relievers to convert into a starting role, switch back and vice versa. It's clear that Nuno has had trouble in the past making such adjustments leading to inconsistencies on the mound. Having struggled against this team in the past, we believe that puts him at a severe disadvantage tonight and nerves will be a factor as well. If he struggles on the mound that will put a huge burden on the Mariner bullpen, which unlike past years has not been a strength this season.
Baltimore needs to accumulate wins to not only stay in the mix in the ultra-competitive AL East, but to make up ground If they fall too far behind, their hopes of making the postseason will be all but over. Meanwhile the Mariners are 8.5 games back in their division and 8 games out of the Wild Card, so for all intents and purpose, their season is likely over. This game means a lot more to the Orioles and at this discounted price, there is value backing the visitors. We expect Chen to outduel Nuno and for an offense that hits lefties like Nuno pretty well to give him good run support. If the relief core which has generally been solid for the O's does their job, Baltimore should get the win.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Orioles are 70-53 after a loss over the last two seasons.
- Orioles are 5-1 in Chen's last 6 starts as a favorite.
- Vidal Nuno is 3-13 in home games over the last 2 seasons.
- Orioles are 10-3 in their last 13 games with the total set at 7 to 8.5 runs.
- Orioles have won 4 of their last 5 road games vs. teams with losing home records.
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