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May 7, 2016

There are two picks tonight.

1: Take Houston Astros (-150) on the ML against Seattle Mariners risking 4.5% to win 3%.
(Keuchel and Karns must start for wager to have action)

To say Dallas Keuchel has been dominant at Minute Maid Park would be an understatement. Prior to Monday's loss to the Twins, he had won 17 straight decisions at home, going back to August of 2014! We believe he and the Astros are being underpriced right now due to their slow start to the season and there is great value in backing them in selective spots such as this, before the markets adjust as they did last year. Keuchel was regularly laying -200 and steeper odds in 2015 and could be headed there soon after a few more starts. One of the biggest keys to profiting from sports-betting is to be one step ahead of the market and hence proactive, as opposed to reactive. We believe -150 is a reasonable price to lay with a pitcher and a team that has several distinct advantages in this contest.

Keuchel and teammates will be in revenge mode against Nathan Karns. That's because this same pitching matchup is one that handed them an ugly loss, late in April when Karns shutout the Houston bats for 7 innings while the Cy Young award winner, gave up 5 runs in a shorter outing. Don't expect Dallas Keuchel and his competitive personality to have forgotten about that! He will be extremely motivated to outduel Karns in this contest and give his team the best chance to take the series lead. He didn't get a number of border-line calls in that previous outing and that led to some great frustration for him, which translated into a numerous runs. Prior to that, he was mentally focused and not doing badly. It's also worth noting that Keuchel's FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) which is in many ways a more accurate metric than ERA (Earned Run Average) is just 3.44! To this day however, many Vegas books create the odds based largely on a starting pitcher's ERA. In Keuchel's case, that is somewhat inaccurate since his ERA currently sits at a bloated 5.11 when in reality, he's pitched better than that. Look for that number to decrease as the season goes on.

Now that the Astros have faced off against Karns, we believe they'll have a much better idea of how to get on-base against him than they did last time around. Given that he's a former Rays pitcher, many of the Astros had never stepped up to the plate against him. Their recent experience can only aid them in this contest. We don't expect Karns to shutout the team that leads the American League in home-runs (40) nor to last as long as he did this time around. He may still have a quality start but the M's need him to go deep into this game given that Taijuan Walker lasted only 2 innings before exiting yesterday's game due to neck spasms! The Mariners bullpen is short on numbers and quality right now since Joaquin Benoit, Charlie Furbush, Evan Scribner and Tony Zych are all sidelined with injuries. They're lacking quality depth in that area therefore and given that their available relievers were called into action early in last night's game, some would not be available tonight. That puts up a lot of pressure on Karns to last 7 innings or so in this contest and we just don't think that is likely tonight.

2: Take Atlanta Braves (-120) on the ML against Arizona Diamondbacks risking 3.6% to win 3%.
(Teheran and Miller must start for wager to have action)

The Diamondbacks and the Atlanta Braves continue their series from Turner Field tonight. The Diamondbacks opened the series with a 7-2 victory last night, however in this particular matchup, we believe the Braves hold the advantage.

The former Atlanta Brave, Shelby Miller will get the call to the hill for the Diamondbacks tonight. Miller had a pretty poor 2015 season and thus far, 2016 has not been much better. The 25 year old is currently winless on the season and has a very inflated 8.49 ERA and 1.97 WHIP in just 23 innings of work! He has yet to put in a quality start or make it past the 6th inning this season! Miller has had issues with both his delivery and his control this season and that could haunt him in tonight's start against his former team as a few players have hit him hard in the past. Freddie Freeman is 4 for 10 with a homerun, while Kelly Johnson is 4 for 9 and Jeff Francoeur is 1 for 3 lifetime. 

The Atlanta Braves struggles this season have been well documented. This is no doubt a team that is going through a rebuilding phase; however that does not mean that there is not talent on this roster. In fact, the Braves will send out 25 year old Julio Teheran who is coming off his best start of the season. The last time Teheran took the mound he pitched 7 scoreless innings against the red-hot Chicago Cubs. Teheran is a composed and confident pitcher on the mound and even at the age of 25 he displays the poise of a seasoned veteran. We believe he will give the Braves the edge on the mound tonight. Teheran has made five career starts against Arizona and has put up some good numbers in the process. He has a record of 3-1 with a solid 2.17 ERA along with a 1.07 WHIP in 29 innings pitched. Most importantly is that he has found a way to contain Paul Goldschmidt who is just 1 for 12 lifetime against him!

The loss last night was a lot closer than the final score indicates. Atlanta logged 10 hits which is the same amount as their opponents. Their downfall however is that those timely hits were not converted into runs as their opponents were. Atlanta also made 2 fielding errors which contributed to the loss, something we expect them to clean up in this contest. If their bats continue to stay hot as they were last night, they should be able to plate run off of Miller who has struggled mightily. Arizona has also struggled at Turner field in the past as last night was only their 7th win in their last 26 trips to this venue. We don't expect them to take two in a row here. This is a cheap price to lay on a team that is desperate to give its fans a rare home victory. There is a reason that the Braves, who own the worst record in baseball, have been installed as favorites in this matchup!

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