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June 25, 2016

There are two picks today.

1: Take Boston Red Sox (-131) on the ML against Texas Rangers risking 3.93% to win 3%.
(Wright and Griffin must both start for wager to have action)

Steven Wright leads the American League in ERA and has been a revelation this season! The 31-year old knuckleballer is 8-4 with a miniscule 2.01 ERA and continues to baffle opposing hitters. With his average pitch being delivered at just 73.7 mph, he's catching batters off-guard, as they are used to seeing much faster pitches and have rarely come across this type of hurler. 'Reliable' and 'Dependable' are two words that manager John Farrell has used to describe him and you can see why given that 12 of his 14 outings for the Red Sox have been quality starts! While big name pitches like David Price have at times disappointed, he's been the lone consistent starter in the rotation.

AJ Griffin takes the hill for Texas and although he got off to an excellent start this season, that is long in the rearview mirror. That's because this will be his first start since going on the D/L back on May 8th! It's been nearly two months since he's pitched at the Majors and although he made a few starts at Double-A in rehab, they can not properly make him ready for this stage. We believe he'll struggle to go beyond 5 innings and that will put a lot of pressure on a Rangers' bullpen that has had its fair share of recent problems. Texas relievers own a 5.66 ERA at home this season!

Not only does the starting pitching edge likely belong to Boston, the visiting club also has numerous other advantages in this matchup. Intangible factors like 'momentum' and 'confidence' can't be overlooked in the game of baseball given its everyday-nature and could play a pivotal role tonight. After all, Texas looked to be cruising to an easy win after building an early 6-0 lead against David Price in last night's contest, and even headed to the final inning with a comfortable 3-run cushion, only to somehow lose 8-7! The Red Sox offense once again proved clutch and put together a 4-run frame to shock the Rangers and win it right at the end! That kind of victory is the type that propels teams to winning streaks and uplifts the entire mood of the clubhouse. The Rangers, on the other hand were left deflated and dejected and could not believe what had just happened. The body language of the players and the coaching staff said it all and it may just take some of them a bit more time to 'get over' what they witnessed.

Texas has not had a lot of 1-run losses this season and may have forgotten how difficult they are, emotionally, to deal with. For a team that has been winning a lot of games, losing sucks and especially when it commes in the manner that it did last night. Given their unbelievable 17-5 record in games decided by 1-run, it wouldn't surprise us if the Rangers experienced a few more 'tough-luck' defeats between now and the end of the season and while we believe this particular game won't be as close, the mental edge certainly belongs to the visiting ball club. The Red Sox lead the Majors by some distance in batting average (.289) and we believe they'll punish Griffin and the Texas bullpen, on a night where Griffin is unlikely to be at his sharpest.

2: Take Cleveland Indians (-130) on the ML against Detroit Tigers risking 3.9% to win 3%.
(Carrasco and Sanchez must both start for wager to have action)

The Indians are playing 'fearless' baseball right now and that attitude has brought them 7 straight winners and a 4-game lead atop the AL Central division! The players are no longer thinking of 'what if I hit into a double-play?' or entertaining negative thoughts. They are stepping up to the plate envisioning timely hits and playing solid defense without overthinking. They're firing on all cylinders right now and have had Detroit's number this season, having won all 7 straight games against the Tigers! We expect them to make it 8 in a row in this contest given the various different advantages they hold.

The starting pitching matchup favors the visiting side. Carlos Carrasco is arguably at his peak at 29-years old while Anibal Sanchez' best days are behind him. The 32-year old owns an ERA of nearly 6 this season (5.97) and was moved to the bullpen a few weeks ago. He's now getting a spot start due to some injuries and auditioning for a rotation spot once again. However, while he's had 4 scoreless appearances in relief, they were short outings and not without their faire share of troubles. He stranded quite a few base runners in his recent appearances out of the bullpen and we don't believe he'll be as lucky today. His stamina and endurance will also not be where it used to be, given that he has not started a game in about a month! It wouldn't surprise us if he lasted 5 or less innings this afternoon. We don't believe he'll record a 'quality start'. Carlos Carrasco, on the other hand, is getting stronger with each start since returning from a stint on the D/L and is likely to outlast and outduel his Venezuelan counterpart!

Detroit found itself in an early 0-6 hole yesterday before rallying to cut the deficit to just a few runs. Then with the tying runner at home plate, in form of Miguel Cabrera, it looked like they are going to make it all square with one swing of the bat but former Tiger, Rajai Davis made an incredible play in the outfield and doubled up on Cam Maybin to finish the game with an unorthodox double-play! For Brad Ausmus' side to battle back and give so much, only to fall just short was no doubt disappointing and deflating. Now after such a short turnaround, with this being a late afternoon game, we believe the Tigers might just be a bit dejected while the Tribe have an extra bounce in their step.

Let's also not forget that the Cleveland bullpen is in much better shape than Detroit's. That's because the Tribe had Thursday off and before that had gotten complete games from Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer! They are therefore well rested and ready to be called into action. The Tigers, on the other hand, played an extra innings game against the Mariners on Thursday and got a real short outing from Jordan Zimmermann yesterday. Their entire relief core is taxed and in need of a day off. We won't believe Anibal Sanchez will ease the load on them. He's likely to give them 5 innings at best and if that's the case, this vulnerable bullpen will once again be asked to record outs. Look for Carrasco to outlast Sanchez but even if that doesn't happen, we believe the relievers of Indians will have an edge over Detroit's and can bring Cleveland a 'W' in the late innings.

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