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May 27, 2016

There are two picks tonight.

1: Take Detroit Tigers (-120) on the ML against Oakland A's risking 3.6% to win 3%.
(Fulmer and Manaea must both start for wager to have action)

These two rookie pitchers will both be making their 6th start of the season. They were called up with high expectations but have underperformed so far. And yet at the same time, both have shown glimpses of their potential, albeit sparingly so. Michael Fulmer, however, is the one that seems more comfortable at the moment and is coming off a strong outing. The hard-throwing righty showed great confidence in his last start against a Tampa offense that had come into that matchup firing on all cylinders. The Rays were fanned 11 times in 7 innings of one-run ball by Fulmer whose fast-ball averages 94.6 miles per hour!

Fulmer has momentum on his side and will be looking for another 'quality start' against an Oakland team that is hardly at its best. Josh Reddick is the latest injury victim in a D/L list that is evergrowing for Bob Melvin and the Athletics. The talented lefty was hitting 3rd in the A's lineup and would have made this matchup more challenging for Fulmer. On the other side, there is Sean Manaea who has been a disappointment so far. The southpaw has the makings of a potentially good pitcher down the line but doesn't look quite ready to be facing the likes of Kinsler, Miggy and company at this point in time. He was hit for 5 runs in his last outing which also took place at the Coliseum and could short on confidence.

The dangerous Detroit lineup finally got going in the recent 9-game homestand that saw them win 7 games! Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, JD Martinez and Cameron Maybin were a handful for teams while Jose Iglesias added clutch-hits here and there as well. Justin Upton has continued to struggle but it is only a matter of time before he finds his stroke, given his pedigree as an All-Star level hitter. This is a righty-heavy lineup and that doesn't bode well for Sean Manaea given that right-handed hitters own an enormous .346 batting average against him! It is going to be tough for him to navigate through this lineup, especially after the first order through the hitters and we don't see him coming out unscathed unless his defense can turn in multiple double-plays.

The Tigers finally got their season back on track and have won 8 of their last 10 games. They are now not far off the top of the competitive AL Central division and have their swagger back. They know however that there is little margin for error since they own a mediocre 23-23 record going into this contest. Failure to win would not only drop them back below .500 but would make it difficult to win this 3-game set against the struggling A's since Jordan Zimmermann will miss his turn in the rotation. Detroit hasn't yet announced their starters for the upcoming two games but it is believed that they'll recall Boyd to make a spot start. The likes of Boyd and Pelfrey don't inspire confidence and that means tonight's game with Fulmer on the mound is suddenly that much more important to win.

Manaea and Oakland have dropped their last 4 home games and will have the pressure of fans to deal with. For a young pitcher that is short on confidence and a struggling team that has some error-prone players such as Marcus Semien and a lot of moving parts, that isn't a good situation. Jed Lowrie is back from the D/L list but he may not be sharp in his first game back. The outfield isn't the strongest defensively either as Coco Crips and Chris Coughlan lack the speed that most major-league outfielders possess. All in all, Detroit is the better team and playing better baseball at the moment. This could be a close game but we believe they'll edge it and walk out with a 'W' as they open the series with a victory.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Oakland is 1-7 as a home underdog in this range!
  • Oakland is just 6-13 after a double-digit loss over the last 3 seasons.
  • Tigers are 12-5 on the road after two or more games of not hitting a home run.

2: Take NY Mets (-111) on the ML against LA Dodgers risking 3.33% to win 3%.
(Urias must start for wager to have action)

Highly-rated prospect, Julio Urias will take the mound for the Dodgers tonight. The 19-year old Mexican has a great left arm and may have a very bright future ahead but the media has already hyped him up an excessive amount and put undue pressure on him. There are already comparisons with another Dodger lefty, Clayton Kershaw while others have put him in the same sentence as Fernando Valenzuela among others! Needless to say, all of that is way too premature and only increases pressure on the teenager. Whether he goes on to have an excellent career or not is irrelevant in regards to this pick, what matters is how he performs tonight.

Given that Urias is making his MLB debut tonight, nerves will likely be a factor. It is natural to feel some anxiety even for much older players that have played for years in the Minor leagues. To expect a 19-year old to get the ball in hostile territory (not even in front of supportive home fans), and immediately put on a show with the whole world watching is asking too much. Jose Berrios had similar pressure on him earlier this season as a top ranked pitching prospect and he caved under pressure. While clearly talented, he wasn't able to execute his pitches and was sent down to the minor leagues after being hit hard. We're not saying that same will happen to Julio Urias; what we are saying is that all the pressure of the world is on his shoulders and yet these odds don't reflect that. He may not have his best game, simply due to the magnitude of the occasion, and should get better with each passing start.

This is the final series of the regular season between the Mets and Dodgers. Having split a 4-game series in LA earlier this season, the hosts know the importance of opening this one with a 'W', given that they have to face Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda in the next two days! This matchup against the rookie is arguably their best chance to win and should help them get a leg up. Let's not forget that New York has last year's All-Star game starter, Jacob deGrom on the hill. The fact that he's coming off a few mediocre games has created a lot of value on him in this contest as many are writing him off and giving the nod to LA's top ranked prospect before they've even seen him in action. Look for deGrom to use that as motivation and right the ship as he's too good of a pitcher to continue struggling. It's worth noting that he's kept this Dodger lineup at bay when he's faced them in the past as they have a collective .212 batting average against him! 

There was no value on NY at the opening odds which were in the -145 to -150 range. However, with the dramatic movement that this game has seen due to all the incredible 'hype' surrounding a teenager that has yet to toe the rubber at this level, the odds are now much more favorable. SPS wouldn't have bet on the Mets at the original number but now we are getting a proven pitcher at home against an unproven pitcher on the road. That's not all there is to it however. Let's assume that Urias does somehow outlast and out-duel deGrom. Even if that's the case, the Mets aren't out of it. That's because this offense leads the Majors in hitting home runs and the LA bullpen has been unreliable on the road this year! The Dodgers were also quite lucky to win the series against the free-falling Cincinnati Reds as two of the games were a lot closer than they needed to be. LA had just 3 hits and 5 hits in two of those games but that was enough to win them! They haven't been playing that well recently, despite their 4-game winning streak and now have had to fly across the country to take on a pitcher that has given them plenty of problems in the past. The edge lies with the home side and the value is certainly there as very small favorites.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Mets are a perfect 5-0 after a day of rest this season!
  • The Dodgers' bullpen has a 4.44 ERA on the road and has lost 7 games in which they held the lead.
  • Mets are a perfect 10-0 since August 2014 as a home favorite in the opener of a series if the opponents have won 2+ games!

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