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June 25, 2015 (Posted at 12:00 PM ET)

There are 2 picks today.

#1: Take Chicago Cubs (-136) on the Money Line against LA Dodgers risking 3% of the bankroll.
(Lester and Frias must start for wager to have action)

We believe that the Cubs are going to want to come out this afternoon and make a statement. They are going to want to show that they are no longer the team of season's past and that they have turned the corner into becoming a contender. What better way to do that than by beating both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke which they did and winning a series against the mighty Dodgers! They are one win away from that and can clinch the series this afternoon with their Ace, Job Lester on the mound who is used to these performing in these high pressure situations. 

Despite their solid season thus far, the Cubs are only 3rd in the competitive NL Central division, 7.5 games behind Cardinals and half a game back of Pirates. That means that they have no room for complacency at the moment. They need to continue to pile up wins. This was a team that was nearly the laughing stock of the league where much wasn't expected of them. They remember that and remember what it feels like to fail. This should give this team the desire and drive to not get complacent since now they have a taste of what it feels like to win. That can be a very powerful motivating factor!

Jon Lester was stellar in his previous lone start against LA and we believe he'll have another solid showing this afternoon. He's a much better pitcher than his current seasonal numbers suggest which is why we feel there is good value backing him as he should be commanding higher price tags. We'll take advantage of the fact that he is undervalued before the market catches up and the odds makers adjust.  Interestingly enough, the Cubs are 5-1 this season when Lester has been on the mound if they lost the day before.

These two pitchers may both currently sport 4-5 win loss records but there is a vast difference in the overall quality of their pitching. Opponents are hitting .302 against Carlos Frias this season and that can be problematic against a team with as much home-run power as the Cubs! Meanwhile Lester has been pitching well but is winless in his last 6 starts! That is why there's value backing him here because he hasn't been necessary run support and has often been pulled out of the game when the score has been tied. We believe that will change this afternoon with Lester having a strong chance to get the win.

The Dodgers come into this game a bit shorthanded as well as both Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig will miss this afternoons contest as well as Andre Either. That takes a few of very heavy bats out of the Dodger's lineup, which could prove to be disastrous against a veteran pitcher such as Lester with quite a few backups taking the a spot in the rotation for Don Mattingly's club. The dodgers have also been quite a bit less efficient against left handed starters as well as away from Dodger Stadium. LA is only 4-8 against lefty starters this season and just 13-20 on the road this season while the Cubs on the other hand have built winning habits at Wrigley Field going 20-14 on the season! The Dodgers have also seen their scoring production go down against southpaws as they have crossed home plate only an average of 2.8 times in games against lefties!

Dodgers haven't committed a fielding error in 10 straight games! That is remarkable but not something we expect to see continued, especially on a day like today when there has been numerous lineup changes and with some players getting playing time that don't necessarily have the experience in fielding. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Dodgers commit at least 1 fielding error this afternoon and that could well be the difference maker/momentum shifter in the game. We feel that this is a solid price on the Cubs with Lester on the mound and should come away with the closely contested win. 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Dodgers are just 5-12 after a road win this season.
  • Joe Maddon's club is 20-10 after a defeat this season!
  • The Dodgers are 0-14 since September 2013 as a road underdog after a game in which they used 5+ pitchers.

#2: Take Oakland Athletics (-140) on the Money Line against Texas Rangers risking 3% of the bankroll.
(Gray and Lewis must start for wager to have action)

This is the 3rd and final game of the series between these two AL West rivals! As predicted, Oakland have been making a late run in order to keep their squad together prior to the trade deadline and the All-Star break. This is a team that is much better than its current record suggests and that's primarily because they lost a lot of 1-run games early in the season. They have since turned things around however and are now playing with renewed confidence. Bob Melvin and his players know that every win is crucial at this stage and for them quite urgent! That's because unlike other clubs, they're not already in contention and in a safe position. They need to continue winning to close the gap not only in their division but in Wild Card standings which may provide them with a spot in the post-season. Therefore while their current position is not enviable, this is a group that hasn't given up on its playoff hopes. They look for an important 3-game sweep against the Rangers this afternoon in what would help them pull another full game back.

They are aided in their ambitions by having their Ace, Sonny Gray on the mound. Gray is among the best pitchers in the Majors and ranks in the top 5 in both ERA (Earned Run Average) as well as WHIP (Walks/Hits per inning)! He may be young but he pitches with great poise and command. He's almost always comfortable and in control on the mound and has the look and focus of a veteran! Gray has established himself as one of the best pitchers in the Majors but is not yet a household name which is why his price tag is often still affordable. He has absolutely baffled this Rangers lineup in the past. Texas has a miniscule batting average of .167 against Gray and has only 3 extra-base hits in 179 at-bats! His numbers are absolutely dominant against this ball club but his price tag is lower this afternoon simply because he's coming off a very rare bad outing. After allowing 2 or less earned runs in 9 of this 10 starts, he finally had a poor game last time out against the Halos and that is making some doubt him. We however are convinced of his quality and believe he will bounce back.

Colby Lewis on the mound for Rangers this afternoon and while he's having a good season, we believe he's pitching a bit over his head. Lewis is a solid veteran but doesn't have the best stuff and is fortunate to be sporting a 7-3 win record when his ERA is 4. He has managed to get out of plenty of jams with double-plays in the past but with the way that the Oakland bats are swinging right now, that may be tougher to do today. If they get on base against him which they've done in the past, we believe they'll punish him for it. Whether Sonny Gray get sa no-decision or not, we believe Lewis is likely to get a L and have a 7-4 record following the culmination of this contest. He's not as good a pitcher as his numbers currently suggest and we believe there will be some regression.

Oakland A's are on a mission and know that they must win now as opposed to later. They don't have the luxury of time like many of the other clubs and that urgency has been on full display in their last 10 games. They are riding a hot streak and brimming with confidence. After mounting a comeback in the series opener on Tuesday, they made easy work of the Rangers last night. This game shouldn't be easy and could be a high-scoring close contest but they should find a way to edge it much like they did in Game 1. The vast majority of the Rangers lineup has had very little success against Gray and could struggle again today. Playing in Arlington hasn't been much of a home field advantage this season either since Jeff Banister's club has a losing record (15-18) at home. The A's on the other hand have been solid on the road and tend to do much better against right-handed pitchies than against southpaws. They have scored 20 more runs than Texas this season while allowing 16 less! Currently 9 games back of division leaders, Houston Astros, they have no games to waste and will want to complete the sweep before a challenging series against the Kansas City Royals.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Texas has scored more than 2 runs just once in its last 6 games!
  • Sonny Gray is 4-0 and owns a miniscule 0.29 ERA in 4 starts at Globe Life Park!
  • Ben Zobrist, Josh Reddick and Ike Davis are among those who've had success against Lewis.

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