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July 7, 2016

There are two picks tonight.

1: Take San Diego Padres (+123) on the ML against LA Dodgers risking 3% to win 3.69%.
(Pomeranz and Ryu must both start for wager to have action)

Hyun-Jin Ryu will take the mound for Los Angeles tonight and is unlikely to deliver a quality start. That's because while the Korean hurler is a good pitcher, it's been 640 days since he put on a Dodger uniform! An injury in the 2014 playoffs and numerous setbacks afterwards have sidelined him for nearly two years and it'll surely take him a handful of starts before he finds his rhythm and builds up his stamina. Brian Roberts and the coaching staff will exercise caution with him and likely limit his pitch count to around the 90 mark.

Not only is Ryu likely to be rusty and therefore not have great command of his pitch arsenal, the fact that he's unlikely to go beyond 5 innings could be a real issue tonight. That's because the normally reliable LA bullpen has been severely taxed in recent games. The Dodgers played 14 innings yesterday against the Orioles in a matchup that starter Bud Norris only logged 5 frames! The relievers were asked to come in one by one and ended up throwing 9 innings, the equivalent of a full game! The likes of Louis Coleman, Howell and Avilan may not be available for action tonight and if they are called upon, their tired arms may do more harm than good.

Drew Pomeranz has established himself as San Diego's Ace this season, especially in the absence of Tyson Ross who's been injured for much of the campaign. The towering left-hander averages 10.3 punch-outs per 9 innings and has been a revelation thus far! He threw 7 innings of 1-run ball in his last start at Dodger Stadium and is coming off another quality outing. Pomeranz has given up only 1 run in his last 14 innings and could give some of the left-handed hitters in this LA lineup trouble, consider Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley and Corey Seager are all lefties while Joc Pederson is still not healthy.

Pomeranz is likely to out-duel and outlast Ryu in this contest. However even if he doesn't, the taxed 'pen of LA may have a tough time to hold onto a lead given their current state. Yesterday's 14-innings defeat was a tough one to take as it means the entire clubhouse is not only physically tired but mentally frustrated as well, since such losses are tougher to get over than regular ones. They battled and gave it everything they have, only to fall short and lose the series to the O's. Meanwhile Solarte, Will Myers and the Padres come into LA swinging a hot bat and took the rubber match last night in Phoenix to win another series! Andy Green's team is finally getting going and with the offense having found its groove and getting double-digit hits recently, we believe they can get to Dodger pitchers tonight. San Diego is 9-4 in road series openers and knows the importance of starting this 4-game set with a 'W' given that they have the likes of Perdomo, Friedrich and Cashner going up against the likes of Kazmir, McCarthy and Kenta Maeda in the following 3 days! This is the pitching matchup that favors them most and they realize that. There's great value with the Padres as underdogs in this NL West clash as we believe they are the more likely team to win.

2: Take Houston Astros (-122) on the ML against Oakland Athletics risking 3.66% to win 3%.
(Fister and Hill must both start for wager to have action)

Oakland is reeling and has little to play for between now and the rest of the season, barring a miraculous turnaround. Bob Melvin's squad is experiencing another 'down year' and you can see the frustration in their body language. Some of the players seem to have already thrown in the towel and look disinterested at times while others continue to give their all but with inconsistent results. The 'Stros on the other hand have been on a roll over the past month or so and are playing their best baseball of the season! They've regained their confidence and swagger and are a dangerous opponent to face right now. They swept the A's at home earlier this season and kickstart a 4-game series against them tonight.

Rich Hill has been a pleasant surprise for the Athletics this season but he recently missed over a month due to a groin strain and was on the disabled list until his start against the Pirates on Saturday! In what is only his 2nd start back from that stint on the D/L, we don't expect him to be at his sharpest and could see him struggle against a Houston offense that is tearing the cover off the ball right now! AJ Hinch's batters scored 9 runs on 12 hits last night and are seeing the ball very well at the moment. It also helps that they have faced a lot of left-handed pitchers in July, going up against Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Wade Miley and LeBlanc already, with Rich Hill set to become the 5th lefty they go up against this month! Southpaw pitchers can sometimes catch hitters off-guard if they're not used to them with the angle at which they throw but with Jose Altuve and company having seen plenty of lefties in recent days, we believe a somewhat rusty Rich Hill won't be as tough to go against as he normally would be.

Doug Fister will be on the hill for the home side and is coming off an uncharacteristic start in which he issued 5 walks! The veteran hurler knows the danger in doing so and issued a total of only 6 free passes in all of June! Therefore his lack of command on that particular day can be attributed to his poor previous outing. Prior to that, he'd been the epitome of consistency and it's worth noting that over the course of the season, 11 of his 16 starts have been tabbed as 'quality' ones. Fister also has the advantage of having navigated this particular Oakland lineup several times in the past, as he's well aware of each batter's tendencies and plate coverage.

The A's are not a good defensive ballclub and have the most error-prone shortstop in all of baseball in Marcus Semien and yet have avoided mistakes over the last few weeks. It hasn't helped them much as they are still on a losing streak and recently dropped a series to Minnesota Twins, the team with the worst record in the American League! Nonetheless, we believe the fact that they have not made a fielding error in 12 straight games is an anomaly and bound to come to an end. It wouldn't surprise us if they committed a couple of 'errors' tonight and if they do, look for this opportunistic offense to take full advantage. Houston is right in the thick of the Wild Card race, competing with several other AL clubs and needs to continue piling up the 'W's to head to the post-season! Look for them to edge this game with the better bullpen, offense and momentum that they have on their side even if Rich Hill does somehow outduel and outlast Doug Fister. It's worth remembering that two of Oakland's best relievers, Sean Doolittle and Fernando Rodriguez are out injured and so their miserable bullpen is even weaker than in its normal state.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • The Oakland bullpen has a bloated ERA of 5.03 on the road.
  • Astros are 30-15 when the total is set at 8 or 8.5 runs this season!
  • Athletics are just 15-36 as a road underdog of +100 to +150 over the last 3 seasons!

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