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July 7, 2015 (Posted at 5:00 PM ET)

There are 2 picks tonight.

#1: Take Oakland A's (-118) on the Money Line against NY Yankees risking 3% of the bankroll.
(Gray and Eovaldi must start for wager to have action)

Sonny Gray will be back on the mound tonight after missing his last 2 starts with a case of Salmonella. Gray has proven to be one of the very best young pitchers in baseball and the fact remains that even at 90% he is still a better overall pitcher than his counterpart Eovaldi at 100%. 

Nathan Eovaldi is not as good a pitcher as his current 8-2 record dictates. In fact he has been extremely fortunate this season as his ERA is 4.50 and has a WHIP of 1.5. This shows that he has in fact made numerous mistakes on the mound and yet has often times been bailed out thanks to his offense which ranks second in the majors. Ike Davis, Josh Reddick and Sogard are among the A's who've had huge success against Eovaldi in the past. As a club, Oakland is batting over .400 against the fast-throwing righty and that's because while he has good velocity on this pitches, they don't have much movement which makes him easily hittable.

While Eovaldi has been lucky, the same can't be said for Oakland. As a team Oakland actually has a better run differential than their opponents this season yet they are currently sitting in the AL West basement, but we believe this is a team that is poised to make a run and that's in fact what we believe they will be looking to do starting tonight. Time is running out for them to make a run and they realize that. If they don’t put together a winning streak right now, they'll likely have to be 'sellers' at the upcoming trade deadline instead of ‘buyers’. Billy Bean, Bob Melvin nor any of the players want to see that happen. The A's have had success at Yankee stadium in recent years and that'll give them confidence with their Ace on the mound tonight. 

The fact that Sonny is a road favorite here shows the respect Vegas has for him despite coming off illness in first career start at Yankee stadium! We believe there is a reason why the odds makers have listed a team with far inferior record as road favorites over the team that is currently leading the AL East. Gray is 6-1 with a 1.88 ERA in nine starts on the road! While he may not be at his best for the first couple of innings tonight but he should find his rhythm and his teammates should their Ace's back and give him the run support needed to get the closely contested victory. 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • The Athletics have won 5 of their last 7 visits to Yankee stadium.
  • NY Yankees are 1-5 SU in their last 6 games when playing Oakland overall.
  • In 3 career starts against Oakland, Eovaldi has an ERA of 5.60 and a WHIP of 1.811!

#2: Take Pittsburgh Pirates (-141) on the Money Line against San Diego Padres risking 3% of the bankroll.
(Liriano and Ross must start for wager to have action)

The Bucs have really come into their recently and are finally hitting their stride after struggling in the early season. They come into this contest having won eight of their last 10 games while averaging 4.6 runs in their last nine. Pittsburgh has firmly entrenched itself in the #2 spot in the competitive NL Central division and has slowly started gaining ground on the seemingly perpetual leaders. Cardinals. We believe they will hold a number of decisive edges over their counter parts in this one and it all starts on the mound. 

Francisco Liriano will get the start for the Bucs and he has been as lights out as it gets recently. He is 4-2 with a 1.98 ERA over his last eight starts and has gone seven or more innings in five of the last six appearances. The Bucs left-hander's is holding opponents to just a .190 batting average which is the league's second-lowest behind Nationals All-Star Max Scherzer (.181). In his most recent appearance against the Friars, he struck out 11 over six scoreless innings at Petco Park on May 29 and has a sparkling 1.97 ERA in five career starts against San Diego. Lirano has pitched extremely well against this team and we expect his to do the same tonight. If he gets the needed run support that has eluded him for much of the season, he should pitch well enough to give his team the W. 

Tyson Ross will get the call to pitch opposite of Liriano tonight. Ross is a quality pitcher and one that we've often backed successfully, however, the one glaring issue that he has, has been his lack of control which has resulted in an above average amount of walks. In his last 3 contests alone he has walked a total of 11 batters in just 21 innings. His tendency to allow hitters a free pass on base is a liability. One reason why many may not have taken notice of this is that he has been able to survive these mistakes by his ability (thus far) to limit home runs and keep the ball in the park. His 0.27 homers allowed per nine innings is the second-lowest rate in the majors and he hasn't given up a home run in his last 12 outings which spans 74 innings. While that is certainly an impressive feat, eventually it is going to catch up with him. Pittsburgh has power in their lineup with guys like Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen just one swing away altering the course of a game. Even shortstop Jordy Mercer who is in the lineup tonight has had success against Ross. Mercer is in the midst of an 18 for 44 hitting streak and is 5 for 8 lifetime against Ross. As a team the Bucs have a .374 OBP and .926 OPS rating against Tyson Ross in 55 previous at-bats. 

The Pirates are one of the best teams in the Majors and Clint Hurdle has slowly but surely built a hungry and balanced squad that has few weaknesses. They have speed, they have power, they have excellent pitching and overall they play fundamentally sound baseball as a team. Only one team has allowed less runs in the Majors this season and that is the team they're chasing, the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite their healthy winning record which shows what a quality ball club they are, they're 6 games behind the Cards which means they have no room for mistakes. Cardinals are in Chicago for a tough series against the Cubs and the Pirates know this is a good chance for them to pull a couple games back. What they need to do is beat a Padres team that has lost some hope after dropping 3 consecutive games and what makes it more painful for them and more deflating is that they've all been close games, with the last two coming by 2-1 final scores! We don't believe this game will be as close. Liriano has had a lot of success against San Diego in the past while the opposite is true for Ross.

Pittsburgh has been excellent against right-handed starters not only this season but in recent years and the same goes for their record at PNC Park and in night games. They didn't need closer Melancon yesterday which means he should be fresh for tonight if required. He’s been one of the best in the league and is in fact trying to secure that #1 closer spot in the rankings; he and Perkins have the most saves in Majors. Pirates have won 6 of their last 7 and have managed to close the gap against the division leading Cardinals. San Diego meanwhile has lost 6 of its last 8 games at a very crucial stage of the season falling and now find themselves in 4th place in NL with little hope unless they go on a major winning streak. This is a battle of teams that are heading in opposite directions at the moment. 

Something that many don't know but will be a motivating factor for Pittsburgh not to overlook San Diego is that strangely enough Padres have had a lot of success at PNC Park. They've won 14 straight series in Pittsburgh since PNC Park opened in 2001! There is no doubt that the Bucs will be motivated to end that trend and are more than capable of doing so. It's been this recent success by the Padres that has actually opened up value on the home team and we feel that we are getting much better odds than what the line should actually be valued at. We expect Liriano to have another impressive outing and the bats to do enough damage against Tyson Ross to get the victory.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Pittsburgh is 31-16 following a win this season. 
  • Pittsburgh is 29-13 when playing against team with losing records this season.
  • San Diego is 9-14 on the road when the total has been 7 or less runs this season.
  • Pittsburgh is 64-36 in home games against right-handed starters over the last 2 seasons. 

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