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April 26, 2016

There are 3 picks tonight.
 

1: Take Kansas City Royals (-120) on the ML against LA Angels risking 3.6% to win 3%.
(Volquez and Weaver must both start for wager to have action)

Defending world champions, Royals, have made a habit of bouncing back from losses. They are 5-1 after a defeat this season and 90-61 overall in this situation over the last 3 years! Therefore to say they don't take losses lightly would be an understatement. This is an ambitious squad that has a 'perfectionist' personality to it and is always trying to improve. They are a resillient and tenacious group and tend to come out focused and motivated after a defeat. Tonight should be no exception. Especially since they are going up against an aging hurler who is past his prime and is quite hittable these days. For a team that likes to hit-and-run and put a lot of balls in play, Jered Weaver isn't a bad pitcher to face.

Weaver's fast-ball tops out at around 86 miles per hour these days and his average heater is around the 83-84 mark! The veteran does not have the velocity he once did and yet doesn't always have great command of his off-speed pitches either. He's started the season off well but is playing a bit over his head and his numbers are likely to regress. Given the fact that he's going up against a lineup that loves making contact and the defense behind him is somewhat error-prone, we foresee some tough innings for him tonight. Despite being a veteran, Weaver often lacks composure. His fiery temperament is such that when things don't go his way, he gets very frustrated. He's sometimes unable to move on and put it behind him, and can be in his head. The temperamental pitcher has in particular had a tough time against Kansas City DH, Kendrys Morales who is hitting over .500 against him! Southpaw Golden-glovers Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon are right before and after Morales in the middle of the lineup and present their own unique challenges. All in all, this batting order is one that can trouble Weaver and we'd be surprised to see him win this game.

Edinson Volquez is off to a fantastic start (3-0, 1.46 ERA) and is coming off a strong 7-inning outing against the Tigers! Like Weaver, he's a crafty veteran who's been around the game for a long time but unlike his LA counterpart, he isn't noticeable past his best. He's still arguably in his prime and has in fact improved his game over the last couple of seasons, given his superior command now compared to a few years ago. One factor that will motivate him greatly in this contest is that he hasn't always had the easiest of times when facing the Halos. He'll be keen to turn that around and we believe he's capable of it given that the Volquez they've seen was not as sharp as the pitcher today.

In our opinion, Volquez owns the starting pitching edge over Weaver but even if he does not, the Kansas City bullpen gives them the advantage. Ned Yost's relievers have set the benchmark in the baseball world over the last two years and he has at his disposal a number of quality arms to come in the game and record outs. Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar have established themselves as two of the best and closer Davis in particular is at the very top of his profession. Unless Wade Davis has a rare blown save, something that has happened very infrequently over recent years, we don't think the Royals will lose this game as we expect them to have the lead going into the final inning or two. The Angels' relief core is not as impressive and leaves a lot to be desired. They have a couple of impressive arms in there but are not nearly as consistent and may throw away the lead even if Weaver is not out-dueled. Look for the Royals to do what they often do, which is bounce back from a loss and tie up the series, especially knowing that they have Cris Young on the mound tomorrow. Young is off to a poor start this year and if KC Royals lose this game, they may be facing the possibility of getting swept!
 

2: Take Houston Astros (-130) on the ML against Seattle Mariners risking 3.9% to win 3%.
(Keuchel and Karns must both start for wager to have action)

Last night Sports Profit System successfully backed the Mariners in the opener of this series as Taijuan Walker completely out-dueled Doug Fister, striking out 11 hitters while issuing just one walk, over 7 strong innings! We don't expect Nathan Karns to do the same. Karns is a good competitor and will give it his all but he simply doesn't have the same 'stuff' and might find this hungry Houston lineup, tough to navigate. The Astros may be just 6-14 on the season right now but it is only a matter of time before they get hot. This squad is not only talented but motivated. They've proven doubters wrong in the past and will be looking to do the same over the coming weeks as it's still very early in the season and where they currently are in the standings is not a true indicator of their abilities. This is a balanced lineup that has both power and speed in it and can do damage from both sides of the plate! For a pitcher like Karns who is trying to settle into a new clubhouse (acquisition from Tampa), and is off to a poor start, it could be challenging. Karns owns a 5.28 ERA so far this season and has been unable to prevent teams from 'going yard'! Six of the nine runs he's given up have come via the long ball and against a Houston team that was #2 in the Majors in homeruns, that does not bode well. We actually believe he can lower his ERA and have a solid outing but to expect him to out-duel Dallas Keuchel is a stretch.

The reignining American League Cy Young award winner is off to an uncharacteristic start this season but has a lot of upside. His pitching style is based on a dominant mound presence that intimidates the opposition and it was always going to take him a few starts before he fully gets in rhythm. We believe he can bounce back from the rough outing against the Rangers and deliver a quality start tonight. And with the Astros desperate to snap out of their slump, they know their best chance to do so is behind the arm of their ace. It also helps that the Mariners are notorious strugglers against left-handed pitching. They are just 2-5 against southpaws this season and also just 2-5 at Safeco Field. For whatever reason, they have often played better away from home in recent years and seem to choke with runners in scoring position, in front of their fans. Against a dominant lefty like Keuchel, bats like Robinson Cano are not as effective and that takes some clutch hitting and power out of this lineup. If Keuchel can work around Nelson Cruz, we believe he'll be successful.

Scott Servais has never coached at this level before and as a rookie manager, he's learning on the job. How he manages a bullpen that is without Charlie Furbush and 8th-inning man Joaquin Benoit will be under great scrutiny. Joel Peralta has been the set-up man in recent games but we believe it is only a matter of time before he or closer Steve Cishek falter. Peralta in particular is playing a bit over his head and now that the Houston bats have seen both of them the previous night, they'll have a better idea of how they can get on-base and do damage. The Astros are the best team in MLB at swiping bags having already stolen 18 bases this season! That puts a lot of pressure on a Seattle defense that has some new pieces and is still trying to gel together. The M's on the other hand rank among the cellar as far as the running games goes, having stolen just 6 bases in 11 attempts! The base-running game could be the difference in what could be a tighly contested game. We believe the Astros not only own the edge in the starting pitching matchup but elsewhere on the diamond as well tonight. Look for them to even up the series at 1-1 before they take on Japanese veteran Hisashi Iwakuma tomorrow night.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Mariners are just 33-51 after a win over the last 2 seasons.
  • Mariners have lost 14 of their last 21 games after winning at home by 2 runs or less!
  • Astros are 29-14 after a batting average of .240 or worst over a 15-game span in recent years!
     

3: Take Chicago White Sox (-120) on the ML against Toronto Blue Jays risking 3.6% to win 3%.
(Sale and Dickey must both start for wager to have action)

The White Sox may be one of the most surprising teams in the league thus far this season. At 14-6, they are currently in first place in the AL Central, 1.5 games ahead of the defending champion Kansas City Royals. Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays may be one of the more disappointing teams to start the year as they have severely underwhelmed thus far sitting with a losing record at just 10-11 on the season and just 3rd place in the AL East.

These two teams met in the series opening last night and it was the White Sox coming away with the 7-5 victory. It wasn't so much the fact that the White Sox won the game that makes it worth mentioning, but it’s the manner in which that came away with that victory that likely gives them the edge in this contest tonight. The Blue Jays were firmly in control of last night's contest and even led 5-1 heading into the 7th inning, that is, until the White Sox rattled off 5 runs against Marcus Stroman and Brett Cecil to take the lead! It was surely a confidence building win for the White Sox, while it had to be a crushing emotional defeat for the Jays.

While it may be tough for the Jays to bounce back from a loss like that on such a quick turn-around, they will likely find it even more difficult tonight as the Sox send their ace, Chris Sale, to the mound tonight. Sale is one of the best pitcher's in the league and very rarely makes mistakes on the mound. His control and poise is a big reason why he is currently 4-0 with a sparkling 1.80 ERA on the season.

Meanwhile the Blue Jays will counter with a struggling R.A. Dickey on the mound tonight. Dickey had somewhat of a career resurgence a few seasons ago, but it has been downhill for the veteran ever since. Dickey has also struggled against the Pale Hose recently as he is 0-3 with an unimpressive 7.43 ERA in his last 4 starts against the Pale Hose. In his last 97 at bats against him, White Sox hitters are batting .309 with 9 homeruns! To say guys like Frazier, Melky Cabrera, Jimmy Rollins and the speedy Austin Jackson have hit him hard would be an understatement and he has to face all of them and more tonight! Unless the White Sox batters hit into a bunch of double-plays or bad luck prevails; we simply don't see how he can out-duel Chris Sale tonight.

The White sox also currently sport the very best (statistical) bullpen in the league at this point in the season. With a 1.41 ERA, they haven’t had to work extra duty with Sale on the mound as he has produced quality starts in each of his outings with at least seven innings pitched. Even if he doesn't go the full 7 innings tonight, the White sox bullpen is more than capable of shouldering the load in this contest. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays' bullpen leads the AL with 7 losses and has allowed 17 of its 34 inherited runners to score! There is no question that confidence has to be real low among their relief staff and we wouldn't be surprised if that hurts the Blue Jays tonight.

This is by definition a true pitching mismatch. White Sox have the edge on the mound in both the starting rotation and the pen and their hitters have been seeing the ball well, plating runs with relative ease. Last night's win should give them confidence heading into tonight's contest as they ride the hot hand of their southpaw pitcher and come away with the victory.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • White Sox are 10-2 after a game where the bullpen gave up no runs!
  • White Sox are 11-4 against right-handed starters this season!
  • Toronto is 0-6 after 2 straight games where they committed no errors!



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