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August 7, 2016

There are 2 picks today.

#1: Take Seattle Mariners (-113) on the ML against LA Angels risking 3.39% to win 3%.
(Paxton and Shoemaker must start for wager to have action)

This is a series finale between two teams who are simply heading in opposite directions at the moment. The LA Angels season is all but over for them. They will not be making the playoffs this season and at this point are likely just playing the role of spoilers until the season ends. For a team with such talent on their roster, it has to be concerning for the franchise to know that they simply have not gelled and can't seem to figure things out. The Angels are made up of talented individuals, but the Mariners are the much better "team" and we believe we will see that in this contest.

With this being the third game of the series and the Mariners having already taken the first two, many would arguably make a case that the Angels would do what is necessary to avoid being swept in this series and would therefore have the advantage. While that is certainly a viable angle and most times we would agree, this is a much different situation as the Mariners need to continue to pile up wins in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. This is exactly the type of wins that Seattle needs to dig down and 'steal' if they want to continue to contend for a potential Wild Card spot. We believe the only reason the odds are as low as they are, is simply due to the fact that the Angels will be looking to avoid being swept, however we don't believe that is enough reason to think they will win this contest, especially when the Mariners will have numerous advantage.

James Paxton has been a consistent starter in the rotation for the Mariners this season. He was impressive in his last trip to the mound as he held the extremely potent Boston Red Sox lineup to just a single run on 4 hits in 8 innings of work. Paxton also has experience against this Angels lineup as he is 2-2 with a respectable 2.65 ERA and a 0.857 WHIP over 37.1 innings of action. This will also be his 21st career start as Safeco Field and he has been consistent at home going 8-6 with a 3.09 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP over 113.2 innings of action. He should be able to produce a quality here this afternoon.

The Angels pitching rotation has been ravaged by injuries this season and that has been a big reason for their struggles. They have very little options and have instead decided to simply make do with what they have and hope that they can simply outscore their opponents since their pitching will give up runs. Matt Shoemaker will toe the rubber for the Angels and even though he is coming off a solid start in his last trip to the mound, Shoemaker has struggled for the most part this season. He is just 6-11 with a 4.08 ERA on the year. He has an ERA of just under 4.00 against the Mariners in his career and his lifetime ERA here at Safeco Field is just over 5.00! Shoemaker will give up some runs in this contest, there is no question about that.

Seattle is playing the better baseball and the moment and has the better pitching staff. There is a reason why they have won the first two games of the series and we expect that they will finish the Angels off and complete the three game sweep this afternoon. Unless Paxton has an uncharacteristically poor performance this afternoon, he should be able to outduel Shoemaker while the bats provide just enough offense to pull off the win.

#2: Take Houston Astros (+106) on the ML against Texas Rangers risking 3% to win 3.18%.
(Musgrove and Darvish must start for wager to have action)

The Houston Astros lost a narrow one last night in Game 2 of their 3 games set with the division leading Texas Rangers. With the series now split at one game apiece, this is this Astros chance to once again close the gap on the team they are chasing for the division crown.

The Astros will look to get things done as they send one of their top prospects, Joe Musgrove to the mound for this contest. While many may look at Musgrove as a relative unknown, those who have seen this kid pitch surely know the potential that he possesses. He has a whole arsenal of pitches in his repertoire, most notably a rare one-seam fastball that he uses as a sinker. He is a pitcher that is consistently pounding the strike zone, forcing opposing hitters to swing the bat. The most dangerous aspect of the youngster’s delivery is the pinpoint accuracy of his pitches as he rarely allows free passes on base. In 4.1 innings of relief work this season, Musgrove has struck out an impressive 8 batters thus far! With the Texas lineup not having any experience against him and having seen very little tape, Musgrove could have an advantage on the mound in this contest, especially in the early going.

The Rangers will counter as they send Yu Darvish to the mound in this contest. While Darvish carries a strong name from his success in past seasons, he has yet to truly find his form this season since coming back from Tommy John surgery. While he has not necessarily pitched poorly, he has given up a consistent amount of runs in each start and his struggles on the road are starting to become well documented. Darvish is winless since his return to the rotation and the Rangers have dropped their last 6 road game when he has taken the hill. Even if Darvish outduels Musgrove on the mound this afternoon, the Rangers' bullpen has been less than reliable as of late, with a combined 4.69 ERA this season. If the 'Stros can keep this game close heading into the later innings, then they should have a great opportunity to pile some runs on late against this bullpen.

Houston desperately need this win to keep themselves alive in the playoff hunt. They have a lot of experience against Darvish and once their lineup settles in, they should be able to string some hits together and put runs on the scoreboard. Unless the Rangers are able to figure out Musgrove early on, his ability to make opposing hitters swing the bat should allow him to keep the Rangers offense in check. Houston is a strong home team and has gone 24-12 in their last 36 games in this venue and they have also been a team that knows how to close out series as they are 13-6 in their last 19 Game 3s. We'll look for Houston to produce just enough offense to give them the win and the series.

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