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August 23, 2016

There are 2 picks tonight.

#1: Take Houston Astros (-110) on the ML against Pittsburgh Pirates risking 3.3% to win 3%.
(Musgrove and Nova must start for wager to have action)

Over the last week, the Houston Astros have finally starting playing like the team that we all expected this season. They are coming off an impressive series of the Baltimore Orioles which saw them take 3 of 4 at Camden Yards and even managed to grab the first game of their series from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Over their 4 game win streak, their offensive is averaging nearly 9 runs per contest and we expect that trend to continue as they face a pitcher who has shown a propensity for giving up a lot of runs.

Ivan Nova is undefeated since donning a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, however he hasn't always come away unscathed. Nova has had issues with his control and has given up 20 homeruns on the season, which is near the tops in the league. Nova also hasn't had the best success against the Astros as he is just 1-1 with an 8.38 ERA and WHIP of 2.275 in 2 career starts. In his most recent start, last season, he gave up 7 earned runs on 8 hits while walking 4 in just 4 innings of work. The way the Astros have been seeing the ball recently, we wouldn't be surprised to see another similar performance from him tonight.

The Astros will counter with one of their top prospects in Joe Musgrove. Musgrove was knocked around in his most recent start against the Baltimore Orioles, however we have liked what we have seen from this kid. He has been asked to face an extremely tough slate since being called up to the Bigs having faced the Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, all division leaders and has held his own fairly well. He is a strikeout pitcher that has already amassed 15 strikeouts in just 19 innings of work! If he is able to rebound from his most recent start and nerves don't get the best of him, we expect that he will be able to keep the Pirates offense off balance with his wide array of pitches.

There is no question that Houston is the hotter team at the moment and the Pirates recent skid may have actually taken all of the fight out of them as they battle for a potential Wild Card spot. If the Pirates come into this contest dejected and unmotivated, it is going to be difficult for them to put many runs on the board against Musgrove. If Nova struggles early on in this contest and forces Pittsburgh is go to their less than reliable bullpen, that should give the Astros’ hitters a huge advantage in this one. At the end of the day, we believe Houston will put together the timely hits needed to walk away with the victory.

#2: Take Cincinnati Reds (+102) on the ML against Texas Rangers risking 3% to win 3.06%.
(Straily and Holland must start for wager to have action)

The Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers open up a quick two game series tonight from Great American Ballpark. Both of these teams come in having lost two straight, but we believe it will be the Rangers who will be in a much more difficult spot to pick up the win tonight.

The Rangers will be sending Derek Holland to the mound tonight after missing the last 2 months due to an injury. Not only will Holland be coming back to the rotation with a fair amount of rust on his arm, it's not like he was actually pitching well before his injury as he was just 5-5 with a 5.20 ERA. He also struggled on the road going just 2-4 with a less than impressive 6.31 through 8 contests.

The Cincinnati Reds have been playing some of their best baseball as of late and have been seeing the ball extremely well. They recently had their 5 game winning streak snapped by the LA Dodgers, however over their last 6 games they are averaging just over 6 runs per outing. If Holland comes into this contest a bit rusty, that could be just the opening that the Reds need to jump out to an early lead. We expect that Holland will likely be on a shortened pitch count tonight which will mean that Texas will need to rely on their bullpen early in this contest. The Rangers' pen this season has a combined 4.33 ERA and has shown their ability to give up runs in the later innings.

The Reds will counter as they send Dan Straily to the mound. Straily has been one of the league’s hottest pitchers in the second half is unbeaten in his last 7 starts, dating all the way back to the All-Star break. He has pitched well at Great American Ballpark going 4-1 with a respectable 3.31 ERA on the season. The Reds have also managed to win 9 of his 12 contests at home this season. We expect that Straily will continue to pitch well and outduel his counterpart tonight. Unless Holland pitches a near-perfect game, the Reds should be able to pile up some runs early in the contest and as long as their bullpen doesn't blow the game late, Cincinnati should come away with a nice underdog victory at home.

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