Handicapper Provides Major League Picks For Thursday's Short Baseball Slate

NY Yankees players celebrate run

Joe Catalano

Thursday, September 8, 2016 4:12 PM UTC

Thursday, Sep. 8, 2016 4:12 PM UTC

In a small slate of MLB games on this Thursday. Here are your MLB Picks of the Day in which there's a decisive edge. The race for the postseason is reaching a fever pitch!

Tampa Bay Rays vs New York Yankees

Why Play For Next Year?
If you're the New York Yankees and you've won 4 games in a row to extend your record to 73-65 and are just 2 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the final wild-card spot; the Yankees who looked liked they were playing for next year with all of their roster moves, are suddenly in contention. This is a team that's beaten up on the top teams in the division in Baltimore and Toronto and now they have a 'cupcake' if you will, in the bottom-feeding Tampa Bay Rays. Getting dominated at Tropicana Field was the Yankees reason for making roster moves and trades and now it's time for payback.

Sabathia Has Been Acceptable
C.C. Sabathia (8-12, 4.20 ERA) get's the start and he's somewhat revived his career despite his overall record. Sabathia has been competitive all season long and that's all that manager Joe Girardi can ask for from the veteran. Actually, C.C. has pitched great as of late and has come up on the losing end.

In his last 2 starts, he's allowed 4 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings and has lost both starts due to lack of run support. I'm sure the Yankees would gladly accept a 6 inning, 2 or 3 run outing from Sabathia as the game would be left up to the offense. I look for C.C. Sabathia to pitch well despite his 5.20 ERA at Yankee Stadium and 5.06 ERA against the Rays. He's been a clutch pitcher throughout his career and this is a big game for the Bombers.

The Yankees are in desperate need of some offense. They've been scoring a decent amount of runs, but nobody's performing consistently as of late.

Gary Sanchez has cooled off and so has Didi Gregorius. Rookie, Tyler Austin, has appeared to bounce back nicely since being called up to the big leagues. Austin homered in his first big league game and then got quiet, but has since caught fire again. Austin is on a modest 4 game hitting streak and is 5 for his last 13 at-bats with 1 HR and 4 RBI. New York is a team in which someone usually comes up with the answer, or hit in this case as they've been able to stay above the .500 mark and take this season as far as possible. I look for the Yankees to be fierce competitors in this game and at favorable MLB odds against a Tampa Bay team which is going nowhere.

Free MLB Pick: New York Yankees -131 
Best Line Offered: 
at 5Dimes 2 UNIT PLAY

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Cincinnati Reds vs Pittsburgh Pirates

Are the Pirates Wild Card Contenders?
At 68-69, one wouldn't think that the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have lost 8 out of their last 10 games, are wild card contenders, but Pittsburgh is just 4 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the final spot with 25 games remaining in the season.

Tonight, the Pirates start a hot pitcher in Ivan Nova (4-0, 2.89 ERA) and face a 'tomato can' in the Cincinnati Reds (57-81). The Reds possess good players such as Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, but it hasn't translated into victories as they're currently on a 4 game losing streak. The one thing that the Pirates have to worry about tonight is Reds starting pitcher, Dan Straily (11-7, 3.83 ERA) .Straily has been the one pitcher that the Reds can count on but he's been much better at home than on the road as he possesses a 4.96 ERA. This is a golden opportunity for the Bucs to make up ground.

It's a short sampling, but one player that's been hot for the Pirates is 3rd baseman, Jung-Ho Kang. Kang has come back strong since not playing for nearly a month. In his last 2 games, he's 6 for 10 with 3 HR and 5 RBI. The Pirates desperately need Kang to continue the hot hitting along with leadoff hitter, Josh Harrison. Harrison has had a September to remember as he's batting .360 in the month of September. The power isn't there, but Harrison's job is to get on base as the leadoff hitter and set up guys like Andrew McCutchen and David Freese.

Although Dan Straily is more than a formidable foe, this is a great spot for Pittsburgh to even up their record at .500 and remain in the playoff hunt. Pittsburgh in the Moneyline is my MLB Pick here.

Free MLB Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates -152 
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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