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June 10, 2016

There are two picks tonight.

1: Take Oakland A's (-110) on the ML against Cincinnati Reds risking 3.3% to win 3%.
(Gray and Desclafani must start for wager to have action)

Sonny Gray has been a shadow of his former self so far this season but it became evident early in May that he was dealing with an injury which required a stint on the disabled list. He returned from the D/L last Sunday in Houston where he put up a solid start against the Astros and showed signs of recapturing his old form. Let's not forget that he was an All-Star in 2015 and can be a very crafty hurler! He's a pitcher whose 'stuff' can baffle even the best of hitters and now is going up against a Cincinnati club that is not only struggling but has never faced him. Not a single player in the Reds lineup has ever stepped up to the plate against Sonny Gray! That gives an intelligent pitcher like Gray, a distinct advantage as it may take the Reds a couple of orders through the lineup to figure him out.

Anthony DeSclafani gets the ball for Cincy when he makes his season debut on Friday night. He's been sidelined since March due to a left oblique injury! It's worth remembering that while talented, he's not in the same class as Gray even when fully healthy and in game shape. Last year, he had a mediocre 9-13 record with a 4.05 ERA in 31 starts. He showed glimpses of quality but was also quite hittable in many of those outings. His command let him down at times as well as he was issuing more walks than Bryan Price would have liked to see. All in all, he's a mid-level pitcher who's hardly likely to set the world alight, in what is his first outing of the season! It's natural for him to be less than 100% and not all that sharp in what is his first apperance in the Majors this season after such a lengthy absence. 

Sometimes a day off is exactly what a struggling team needs. The A's started this road trip 0-5 but have been installed as a favorite in this matchup for all the right reasons. That's because they're likely to put their problems aside, at least for one night, and snap this current 5-game losing streak! They are no doubt motivated to do so given their recent troubles while the Reds might just be a bit disinterested in this contest. That's because they're coming off an important division series against old rivals St. Louis Cardinals. Cincinnati gave everything it had over the last 3 nights and yet still felt just short, losing last night's rubber match by 1-run. That has to be deflating and demoralizing for a scuffling ball club that put up a good effort but fell to old rivals. Now they face an American League team that they last played in 2013 and have little history and bad blood against. The Reds are already out of contention and will need a miracle to make the post-season, so while their focus and concentration against division opponents will be professional, it is less likely to be there in matchup such as this. The fact that the Reds have lost all 7 interleague games this season is proof of that!

Not only does Oakland have the better pitcher on the mound, they are well rested and extremely motivated coming into this contest. Their bullpen will be fresher of the two clubs given yesterday's off day while the Reds relievers were once again called into action, and once again disappointed last night. It is no secret that Cincinnati's bullpen is the worst in the Majors with a bloated 6.71 ERA! This is clearly a squad that can't be trusted with a lead and has thrown numerous games away. Therefore even if DeSclafani somehow does outduel and outlast Gray, which we believe is unlikely, the Reds may still end up on the losing side. Back the short favorites in this spot as we believe they are undervalued and should have been installed in the -130 range.

2: Take Cleveland Indians (-131) on the ML against LA Angels risking 3.93% to win 3%.
(Kluber and Santiago must start for wager to have action)

This is a cheap price to lay as we feel that Cleveland will have numerous advantages in this contest and in reality should have been closer to a -155 favorite in this particular spot. The Angels will find themselves at a severe disadvantage and in a rather inopportune scheduling spot as they had to travel across the country from NY to LA after a night game for this matchup. Crossing 3 times zones can cause a severe effect of jet lag and will no doubt hinder some of the players’ performance tonight.

Cleveland will also hold the edge on the mound tonight as Corey Kluber squares off against a struggling Hector Santiago. The Angels pitcher has struggled mightily in his last 4 starts, giving up 18 runs in his last 16 innings of work! Meanwhile, Corey Kluber had a rough start to the season but has bounced back in recent weeks and looks more like the pitcher we had become accustomed two last seasons. His 5-6 overall record is not truly indicative of how well he has actually pitched. He's also done much better recently and is coming off an impressive 2-hit shutout outing against the Kansas City Royals!

What puts Santiago at such an extreme disadvantage in this contest is the fact that he is a pitcher who allows his emotions to get the best of him on the mound. When he struggles, he allows those mistakes to fester and compile. He is no stranger to imploding on the mound and that is something we wouldn't be surprised to see happen again tonight. Let's not forget that he's given up 18 earned runs over the past 16 innings! These are simply two pitchers who are heading in opposite directions at the moment and if that wasn't enough, the Angels bullpen should be fairly fatigued as they were used extensively in their most recent series with the Yankees.

The Indians have the advantage in nearly all areas of the game tonight and should do enough offensively against Santiago and the beleaguered LA bullpen to come away with the victory. Given the fact that we believe Kluber and company should have been installed as heavy favorites, all the value is with the visitors tonight. Cleveland is playing well at the moment and needs to continue to do so to keep its lead at the top of what is a very competitive AL Central division this year.

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