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May 21, 2016

There are 2 picks today.

1: Take Miami Marlins (-146) on the ML against Washington Nationals risking 4.38% to win 3%.
(Fernandez and Ross must start for wager to have action)

The Nats are 10 games above a .500 record and yet find themselves installed as underdogs against the Marlins. It may look odd at first glance that Miami is a sizeable favorite in this spot, given their mediocre 21-20 record but we believe the price tag is justified. That's because Jose Fernandez will toe the rubber and he has been nothing short of dominant for the Fish in home outings ever since he burst on to the scene. He's also had more success against Washington than any other ball Major league team and that is evident by his outstanding 1.09 ERA and 5-0 mark in eight previous starts against the capital club! To say he's had their number would be an understatement. He's essentially handcuffed all but a couple of batters in this lineup and it won't help that Ryan Zimmerman will be on the bench tonight. That's because the powerful 1st-baseman was one of the very few to have hit Fernandez well.

Joe Ross will get the ball for Dusty Baker's side and while he's talented pitcher, he no longer can suprise teams as he did in his first few starts given that the Marlins have now had 5 games against him! By now, they know what he's about and what he brings to the table and they are much better equipped to deal with him than they were at first. That was on display last Sunday when they hit him for 5 runs in just over 5 innings, even if the defense was partly to blame given that only 3 of those runs were 'earned'. Ross is a promising young pitcher but he's not as dominant as Jose Fernandez right now and the pitching edge has to go to the home side in this one. Look for the offense to give the current National League Player of the Week enough run support to win this game.

This could be a mismatch on the mound but that's not the only edge that the Fish will have over the Nationals tonight. The Nats are in somewhat of a 'let-down spot' after winning a road series in NYC over what is thought to be their main NL East rivals, Mets. They followed that up with a victory in the opener of this 3-game set last night and may have a false sense of security surfacing. It's not uncommon for a team on a winning streak to look past the opposition and assume simply showing up on the field should take care of matters. Don Mattingly's Marlins will the hungrier and more motivated team in this matchup as they are coming off 3 straight losses and can't afford to slip up more against division rivals. Given that Washington is a team that they're chasing, they understand the importance of clinching a 'W' tonight and tying up the series at one game a piece. They also realize that failure to win this game would not only drop them to a .500 record but quite possibly result in an ugly 0-3 home sweep since they have to face Max Scherzer tomorrow afternoon!

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Nationals are 7-12 as a road underdog of +125 to +150 over the last 3 seasons.
  • Marcell Ozuna has reached base in 27 straight games, the current longest active streak in the Majors!
  • Marlins are a perfect 21-0 at home since 2013 after Jose Fernandez recorded more strike-outs than hits allowed in his previous start!

2: Take Tampa Bay Rays (-115) on the ML against Detroit Tigers risking 3.45% to win 3%.
(Smyly and Fulmer must both start for wager to have action)

This is a matchup that we feel favors the Tampa Bay Rays. The Tigers may have a potent offense; however they have struggled against left-handed pitching this season. They are averaging only 3 runs per game against southpaws and are an unimpressive 1-6 versus them this season and this afternoon face a top level southpaw in former teammate, Drew Smyly. Smyly has held batters to just a .195 batting average this season. Given the Tigers struggles against lefties (.236 batting average) despite their mostly right-handed lineup, Smyly could be in for a quality outing this afternoon. He has pitched much better than his numbers even suggest and carries an impressive 4.83 K/BB ratio!

The Tigers will counter with right-hander, Michael Fulmer in this contest. Fulmer has made 4 starts this season, but none have been at home in Comerica Park. This will be his home debut and there is no question that nerves could come into play for Fulmer in this start. In his last trip to the mound, he surrendered 4 earned runs in just over 4 innings of work, but was bailed out by his offense. We are not sure that will be the case this afternoon.

After a somewhat slow start, the Tampa Bay bats are seeing the ball extremely well at the moment and currently lead the American League in homeruns. Both Evan Longoria and Kevin Keirmaier come into this contest on 6 game hitting streaks and should be able to do damage against the rookie. They have a solid balance of both power and speed which makes them dangerous to opposing pitchers. Fulmer will need to bring his 'A' game into this contest because if he doesn't, it could be a short evening for him on the mound.

Smyly will no doubt be motivated in this contest, going against his former team. He will have a point to prove on the mound. Even if he happens to give up a couple of runs, the way the Tampa offense has been playing, they should be able to do enough damage against Fulmer to come away with the victory. We believe they have been underpriced in this particular spot and should have been listed as a -140 favorite given their advantages in this contest. Smyly should be able to outduel Fulmer on the mound this afternoon and given the struggles of the Tigers bullpen recently, which should leave the door open for the Rays to pick up the victory.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Tigers are 7-14 after a loss this season!
  • Tigers are just 1-6 against left-handed pitchers this season!
  • Tigers have won only one of 5 games as a home underdog of +100 to +125!

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