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June 17, 2016

There are two picks tonight.

1: Take Tampa Bay Rays (-120) on the ML against San Francisco Giants risking 3.6% to win 3%.

Tampa owns a losing record on the season while the Giants easily top the NL West division and have proven to be one of the top teams in the Majors again, going into this contest with an impressive 41-26 record. And yet it's the 'inferior' team that has been installed as favorites in this matchup! That is even more curious at first glance when you consider the fact that Chris Archer is having a very poor season by his lofty standards and is just 4-8 while Jeff Samardzija has silenced critics with his 7-4 mark. Why is it then that Vegas has tabbed the Rays as 'chalk'? There are several good reasons for that and we'll explore some of them below.

Samardzija is a highly competitive individual and will always give it his all. However, after an impressive start to the season, his numbers were always due to regress as he's simply not much more than a mediocre pitcher. We've already seen that come into effect in recent outings where he sports an unfashionable 7.98 ERA over his last 3 starts! It wouldn't surprise us if his recent struggles continued tonight against an offense that has found its groove. Other than the incosistent at-bats against lefty James Paxton yesterday, Tampa bats have been hot and seeing the ball well. Against a hittable righty like Samarzija, we expect to see them put men on base and do some damage. Not many know that this Tampa offense ranks 4th in the Majors in home runs, having already slugged 93 of them! Timely hitting is what it's all about and the Giants do a great job of that themselves but it's worth noting that when it comes to 'going yard' and taking the ball deep, they are 28th out of 30 MLB teams with just 55 dingers! Jeff Samarzija has shown his propensity to implode and give up long balls and that could be an issue for the visitors tonight.

Giants closer, Santiago Casilla is on the paternity list and will not be available tonight. That means if San Francisco faces a 'save' situation, a less experienced individual will have to get the final 3 outs of the game. It's often said that the final 3 outs are often the toughest to get and we don't disagree. While we don't expect Bruce Bochy's to have the lead in the 9th inning, Casilla's absence does give Tampa backers a backdoor chance to steal the game, if his replacement isn't sharp. Alex Colome, on the other hand, should be available for the Rays and has been perfect in save opportunities this season!

The Rays have a chance to open this interleague series with a 'W' and we expect them to do so behind the arm of Chris Archer. The Tampa 'Ace' has not been consistent this season but has showed flashes of his usual brilliance and it might be only a matter of time before he turns it around. His ERA And WHIP are well above his career averages and we believe he's on the verge of breaking out. He had a strong start in his last appearance and has generally performed much better at Tropicana Field than on the road. Archer owns an impressive 2.33 ERA at home, where most of his starts have been quality ones and gone over 6 innings! Look for him to out-duel and outlast Jeff Samardzija tonight.

2: Take Toronto Blue Jays (-135) on the ML against Baltimore Orioles risking 4.05% to win 3%.

As the Red Sox and Orioles faced each other atop the AL East division in the series that just ended, the Blue Jays were busy making grounds on both. They now sit just 2 games behind Baltimore and a game behind Boston and are starting to fire on all cylinders! After a slow start to the season, this offense has come around and is hitting the ball as we've come to expect from them. Edwin Encarnacion and Kevin Pillar have been swinging a hot bat and are hardly the only two. This entire lineup, even without Jose Bautista has been getting men on base and sending them home and should have success against Mike Wright.

Baltimore starter, Mike Wright is a below average pitcher at this level. He's already been demoted once and is not far from losing his spot in the rotation. Wright throws hard but often lacks command and his pitches don't have the same movement and 'life' that many other hurlers possess. That makes his fast-ball and off-speed pitches quite hittable as the Jays have already demonstrated. Mike Wright owns an ugly 7.72 ERA with a WHIP of over 2.00 in four previous starts against Toronto! Needless to say, his team has lost all 4 of those starts. He was roughed up by this same lineup just a week ago in what was another short outing and we don't see him faring much better tonight.

Aaron Sanchez has been outstanding this season but had a hugely disappointing game last time out against Baltimore. It was an uncharacteristic start as he gave up 4 home runs to match his seasonal tally for long balls! That's right. He had previously given up 4 dingers in over 80 innings before proceeding to give up just as many in 5 innings! It was unusual to say the least and while Camden Yards won't make it any easier on him, we do believe he has the 'stuff' to baffle hitters, unlike Michael Wright. After all, let's not forget that 10 of his 13 outings have been 'quality starts' and while his fast-ball has even more velocity on it than Wright's, he commands it much better as evident by his 2.86K/BB ratio! There are cetain adjustments he can make to keep the punchout-prone Oriole hitters on their heels and we expect to see some of that.

Baltimore may have the edge in the late innings when the battle of the bullpens begin but Toronto has the advantage in the starting pitching matchup and should ride that into an important 'W'. A victory in the series opener would put all kinds of pressure on the hosts as it pulls the visitors within just one game of the division leaders. Catcher Matt Wieters' absence from the lineup gives Toronto another edge while Ezequiel Carrera has been doing a fine job in the outfield for the Blue Jays and is also seeing the ball well, hitting .330 with a nearly .400 on-base percentage! He's also a bigger threat to steal bases than Bautista is and that adds another wrinkle to this already dangerous and somewhat unpredictable offense.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Blue Jays are 8-3 as a road favorite of -125 to -150 this season!
  • Only 4 of Mike Wright's 11 starts have been 'quality starts' this season.
  • Blue Jays are 87-56 when the total is set at 9 runs over the last 3 years.

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