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August 11, 2015 (Posted at 3:00 PM ET)

There are 3 picks tonight.
 

#1: Take LA Angels on the Money Line (-119) against Chicago White Sox risking 3.57% to win 3%.
(Santiago and Rodon must start for wager to have action)

The Halos were outplayed in the south side of Chicago last night and deserved to be beaten. Chris Sale bounced back with the type of quality start that MLB fans have become accustomed to from him. His stellar outing kept the Angels' offense at bay allowing teammates to flourish with their bats and open the series with a win. Unfortunatley for them, this is a new game on a new day with a new pitching matchup and it would surprise us if they had more success tonight. That's because in Tuesday's clash, it is the LA club that will have the more talented and experienced hurler on the mound and that's not the only advantage that they will have!

Hector Santiago is one of the most underrated starting pitchers in baseball and is very familiar with Cellular Field. That's because he used to play for the White Sox and has transformed from a Chicago reliever to a rotation guy and a quality Angel starter! His progress has been notable and he deserves the success that he has enjoyed thanks to consistent quality starts. Santiago has struggled a bit in his last few starts but that pales in comparison to what Carlos Rodon has experienced lately. The rookie has been handing out free passes on base all season long and walked 17 batters in July! His last start was another short outing and one in which he once again struggled with his command. His ERA is exactly 5.0 coming into this contest and that compared to Santiago's 2.78 mark is just one of the main metrics that showcases how much of a pitching mismatch this is.

The White Sox offense has been terrible against left-handed starters averaging just 2.9 runs per game this season! It is the worst mark in the Majors and does not bode well for them tonight. What will likely make matters even more difficult is the fact that they've never faced Santiago before! No player in the lineup has had previous at-bats against him and that'll give the talented southpaw the edge, at least in the first couple of orders through the lineup.

Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and company are more than capable of giving Rodon fits and they know they need to. That's because they find themselves one game behind the Astros for the AL West division lead and can not afford to drop another game, having lost the opener! This is a squad that is used to going on winning runs in August against lesser teams and that is what this game is. Chicago got things done behind its Ace last night but will find it tougher with Rodon on the hill and the Angels in bounce back mode. The Halos not only have the better pitcher toeing the rubber, but the better offense and manager as well. They simply have too many edges in this contest and should even up the series 1-1 by hitting another lefty hard, something they have done well (16-11) this year.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • White Sox are 5-9 as a small home underdog (+100 to +125).
  • Carlos Rodon has walked 50 batters and allowed 50 runs in just 84.7 innings!
  • White Sox have won only 7 out of 20 games against left-handed starters.
  • Angels are 42-17 against teams with losing records in the second half of the last two season!
     

#2: Take Oakland A's as big underdogs (+175) on the Money Line against Toronto risking 3% to win 5.25%.
(Graveman and Hutchison must start for wager to have action)

This is a matchup where we feel that perception plays a key role and because of that, it has severely skewed the odds in this contest. On one side you have the Oakland A's who are no doubt having a down year as they are currently last place in the AL West. They are not the same team as they have been in years past and certainly have no received the love from the betting public as they had in seasons past. On the other side you have arguably the hottest team in the league right now in the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays come into this contest having won 8 straight games and 11 of their last 12. They are the #1 offense in the league and currently occupy one of the two AL Wild Card spots. They are an extremely "sexy" team for the betting public to back simply because of their explosive offense! Everyone knows what this Jays offense is capable of and because of that their odds have been severely inflated, much more so than they should be. Given the current perception of these two teams, there is no doubt that the Blue Jays have been performing much better as a cohesive unit, however the A's are a more than capable team of pulling off the win in this spot and are severely undervalued as the underdogs. 

While Toronto certainly has the edge in offense over nearly every team in the league, we believe the A's will hold the edge tonight when it comes to pitching. It's a well-known fact that quality pitching will outmatch quality hitting and that is what we believe will happen tonight. Oakland will send right-hander Kendall Graveman to the mound for their series opener at the Rogers Centre tonight. Graveman has been much better since rejoining the rotation at the end of May, posting nine quality starts since then. Graveman opened the season with an 8.27 ERA in four starts during the month of April, but came back sharp upon his return, posting a 1.93 ERA in six June starts. Gravemen will be looking for revenge tonight from the last time he squared off against the Jays and we believe he'll get it. 

Toronto meanwhile will send right-hander Drew Hutchison to the mound. Despite his flashy 10-2 overall record this season, Hutchison has not been good on the mound. He has a 5.42 ERA on the season which shows that he is extremely hittable and gives up a considerable amount of runs in his starts. Fortunately for him he has routinely been bailed out by the Jays offense, but that is not something that we expect to continue each and every time he is on the mound. His good fortune is bound to run out. Given how inconsistent he has been on the mound this season, it's surprising that the odds makers have listed him as such a considerable favorite which shows a lot of value on the visiting underdogs.  

As we mentioned earlier, the Jays are certainly on a hot streak at the moment having won 8 straight games including a sweep over their division rivals, the New York Yankees. While their win streak is impressive, it also leaves them susceptible to a severe let down. Complacency is something that happens in sports and usually happens when teams are feeling comfortable with their results, much like the Blue Jays likely are at the moment. Oakland is an incredibly dangerous team with a roster of playmakers, Brett Lawrie and Danny Valencia who are both former Blue Jays will be looking for a manner of payback from their previous squad. 

We feel that with Hutchison on the mound, the Jays should be listed as no more than -125 favorites but due to the all the recent media hype, the odds are severely inflated! Oakland swept the Astros and has regained confidence. They aren't push-overs and if Hutchison continues to pitch as poorly as he has, the A's will have a fighting chance; at these odds the risk is certainly worth the reward. 
 

#3: Take LA Dodgers on the Money Line (-156) against Washington Nationals risking 4.68% to win 3%.
(Greinke and Ross must start for wager to have action)

The Dodgers have lost 4 in a row and are suddenly being written off by fickle fans and media. Every team including the one that will win the World Series has had this type of stretch over the course of a long season. And yet the amount of media attention on this current slide has shifted public's perception to a degree where you now have the statistcally best pitcher in baseball as an affordable -153 favorite! Greinke leads the Major with an outstanding 1.71 ERA and by some distance! He has been terrific all season and has had great success against these Nationals in the recent past. Washington bats have been limited to just 2 extra-base hits in 69 previous at-bats against Greinke! They are batting just .159 against him and have been kept guessing. Ian Desmond, who hit 2 dingers last night is hitless in 13 plate appearances against the All-Star righty! He's not the only one that has struggled against Greinke however as Danny Espinoza is also hitless while Jason Werth and Yunel Escobar have similarly abysmal numbers. 

Joe Ross, the younger brother of San Diego pitcher, Tyson Ross will get the ball for the Nats. He's put in some solid performances as a rookie and seems mature and composed for his age. However, he's also shown a propensity to be stubborn and challenge pitchers with a strike right down the middle even when ahead in the count 0-2! That is playing with fire and against a desperate LA squad that is hungry for a win, it could be disatrous. Going after hitters and being aggressive is generally a good thing but there are exceptions to every rule and he has not yet impressived us with his decision making. He looks like a talented hurler for the future and has tossed some quality starts but up against arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball, he will be out-dueled on the mound tonight. He's still green at this level and playing at Chavez Ravine can be an intimidating experience. Let's not forget that LA has been an entirely different team at home this season. At Dodger stadium, this team is 37-19 and tends to play much better. They also hit righties much better than lefties and so it was no real surprise that Gio Gonzalez got the better of them last night in their first game back home after a lengthy road trip. The Dodgers are 51-38 against righties like Ross and will be determined to bounce back and even up the series tonight.

The last time Don Mattingly's squad lost 4 in a row was all the way back in September 2013! It's not often that this ball club struggles the way that they have recently but some of that was due to complacency and fueled by some easy previous wins against lesser competition. Now after getting swept in Pittsburgh and losing in the series opener last night, they have their full focus back and will be extra motivated to bounce back and prove doubters wrnog! We believe they'll do just that, behind their Ace this season in Zach Greinke, who seems to relish such opportunities. That's evident in the fact that the Dodgers are 11-0 since September 17th of 2013 when Greinke takes the mound if they have lost their last 2 games! He enjoys being their saviour and could play that role again tonight. Look for them to silence the critics temporarily by tying up the series and snapping this losing skid.

Other notable facts to consider: 

  • LA Dodgers are 5-2 after 3 consecutive losses this season.
  • Nationals have won just 1 of 5 games as road underdogs in this range (+125 to +150).
  • LA Dodgers are 12-4 as home favorites of -150 to -175 this season! 
  • Nationals are 0-10 since August of last year as an underdog after a win in which they never trailed! 



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