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May 22, 2016

There are two picks today.
 

1: Take St. Louis Cardinals (-125) on the ML against Arizona D-backs risking 3.75 to win 3%.
(Garcia and Greinke must both start for wager to have action)

This is a rematch of April 25th when Garcia and Greinke take the mound respectively for the Cards and Dbacks. On that day, St. Louis bats saw the ball very well coming out of Greinke's hands and had 11 hits! Unfortunately, they didn't capitalize as much as they needed to with runners in scoring position and that cost them as their bullpen threw away the lead when they came into the game in relief of Jaime Garcia. The relievers were terrible on that day but have improved since while the Diamondbacks have their own 'pen issues.

This is the rubber match with each team having taken one of the first 2 games of the series and we believe the edge lies with the home side. Busch stadium has provided the Cards with great home field advantage over the years and should do so again this afternoon. It's worth remembering that Mike Matheny's side is 122-70 at home over the last 3 seasons! And yet this season they are just 12-12 at this ball park right now, a number that we expect to see improve moving forward. The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, have curiously played far better on the road than at Chase Field and that isn't something we forsee continuing. There's no real reason behind this team's currently impressive road record compared to their miseries at home. We anticipate those two figures to move in the other direction over the course of the season and it could start today.

Jaime Garcia is a crafty left-handed pitcher that has always baffled the Arizona lineup. He's 5-0 with a 2.94 ERA in six previous meetings against the Snakes. The fact that the Diamondbacks haven't faced a lefty in nearly two weeks doesn't help them either! Chris Rusin was the last southpaw they faced, back on May 10th. Rusin isn't in the same category as Garcia when it comes to quality, experience or commanding his pitches. Garcia gives Chip Hale's hitters something they haven't seen for some time and that presents a unique challenge.

Greinke has been much better in recent starts but he did give up 2 home runs and a season-high 11 hits to these same Cardinals earlier this season and after so many apperances against them over the years, they seem to have a great game plan against him. We believe both pitchers will do reasonably well in this contest but not only is Garcia capable of out-dueling Greinke, the St. Louis offense is more dangerous than Arizona's. Matt Carpenter is 6 for 18 against Greinke with 2 walks giving him a .400 on-base percentage! He's not the only one that has had success against the veteran right-hander.

Cardinals are not as dominant as in recent years but they are still a better team than their current record indicates. Their run-differential paints a clear picture in regards to which team is better in this matchup, as they've scored 34 runs more than Arizona while allowing 30 less runs! They have the better offense and pitching and although they've made an incredible amount of fielding errors this season, we believe in time, they'll prove that they have the better defense as well as the absence of AJ Pollock and David Peralta leaves the Diamondbacks' outfield short on quality. Chip Hale has had to plug different infielders into the outfield for make-shift duty. Matheny's Cardinals are the better team and we see them edging what could be a close game and winning the series.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Arizona is just 4-7 against left-handed pitchers.
  • Cardinals are 8-4 against teams with losing records.
  • Cardinals are 72-52 in day games over the last 3 seasons.
     

2: Take Philadelphia Phillies (-143) on the ML against Atlanta Braves risking 4.29% to win 3%.
(Eickhoff and Kelly must start for wager to have action)

The Phillies find themselves in an interesting spot this afternoon as they are a game away from being swept by arguably the worst team in the league, the Atlanta Braves. Not much has gone right for Atlanta this season as they are just 12-30 on the season and just 3-9 in day games! They fired Fredi Gonzalez and have surprising won the first two games of this series. Philadelphia has been team, thus far, that are having a much better season than many had projected. They are currently right in the thick of the race for the top spot in the division. With that being said, we find it hard to fathom that they will allow themselves to get swept at home by the Braves. Expect an all-out effort by this team this afternoon to come away with the victory.

In an effort to avoid being swept in front of their home crowd, the Phillies will send Jerad Eickhoff to the mound this afternoon. Eickhoff may only be 1-6 on the season, but looking past his overall record, he has pitched much better than his numbers suggest. He has a 4.00 K/BB ratio and numerous pitches in his arsenal which should be on full display this afternoon. This is also a revenge game for Eickhoff, whom two starts ago, faced off against this same Braves lineup. While he didn't necessarily pitch poorly, he did manage to give up 4 earned runs. Having already navigated through this lineup, we expect him to pitch much better this time around and get his revenge.

As for Atlanta, they will send Casey Kelly to the mound. Kelly will be making his starting debut in this contest. It’s important to note that he has only thrown 3 innings this season and has a 3.00 ERA and WHIP of 1.00. Anyone who follows baseball knows that coming out of the bullpen is a completely different situation than making a Major League start. The pitch control is different, the mindset is different; everything about the situation is different. Kelly is not prepared to go a long distance and we expect that to hurt him in this matchup. We also expect Kelly to struggle with nerves in the early going. That could be just the opportunity that the Philadelphia bats need to put runs on the scoreboard in the early going.  

Even if by some chance Kelly somehow manages to outduel Eickhoff on the mound, the Braves will have to rely on their bullpen to close the game out and as we have seen many times this season, they are less than reliable when holding a lead. Atlanta has one of the worst bullpens in the league and with Philadelphia looking to avoid being swept; the relief pitchers could be in for a difficult outing this afternoon.

The Braves have played well in the first two games of this series, but we don't believe it is going to last. They have only managed 12 wins on the season with two of those coming in the last two days. They are bound to regress back to their losing ways and we believe that happens this afternoon. For Philadelphia, they cannot afford to drop a series such as this, especially since they are just two games back of the division leading Washington Nationals. The odds have shifted on this matchup which has opened up value on the home team. The Phillies have been great this season in closely contested matchups and have shown that they have the mental makeup as a team to pull off victories when needed. They need this victory and we expect them to halt their mini-losing streak and come away with the closely contested win.    




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