As always, readers should take these free picks for what they're worth; betting discretion is advised.
Mets at Nationals (7:05 pm ET), Zimmerman (15-7, 3.32) vs. Gee (9-9, 3.69)
A hot Washington team, still harboring hopes of reaching the postseason, hosts a Mets squad once again playing out the string. The Nationals just swept three games at home from Miami, and have won eight of their last nine games to sneak back to within six games of Cincinnati in the battle for the second National League wild-card spot. New York, meanwhile, just split four games with Philly, but has still lost six of its last eight games. Washington is 18-8 in Zimmerman's starts this year, and he won't have to deal with Mets slugger David Wright, who's on the DL. And while New York is a .500 team against left-handers this year, it's 12 games under .500 against righties. Also, the last time these two teams met in DC the Nats swept a three-game series. So, while we're not exactly going out on a limb, we like Washington at the -170 for our baseball picks, offered at MatchBook.
Twins at Rangers (8:05 pm ET), Darvish (12-5, 2.68) vs. Hendriks (0-2, 6.20)
Heading into the opener of this series Friday night Minnesota has scored a total of six runs over its last five games. Darvish leads the Majors in strikeouts with 225, while Minnesota hitters have struck out 1,135 times this season, third-most in the Majors. In his one career start against the Twins, in April of last season, Darvish allowed just one ER in 5 2/3 innings. On the otherhand, in his one career start against Texas, Hendriks allowed one run through six innings ... also in April of last season. On the personnel front Minnesota is without Joe Mauer, and Justin Morneau is slumping, while the Rangers are without both Nelson Cruz and Lance Berkman. Also, these two teams are a combined 104-149 on the totals this season, and 41 of the 65 games played at the Ballpark this year have played UNDER on the totals. And perhaps most importantly these two teams own two of the best bullpens in baseball; Texas relievers rank fourth with a 3.00 ERA and have closed out 41 of 49 save chances, while the Twins' pen ranks sixth with a 3.15 ERA and made good on 33 of 49 save opps. So, we like the MLB betting odds line for UNDER eight runs at the +103 offered at MatchBook.
Mariners at Astros (8:10 pm ET), Peacock (3-4, 5.67) vs. Walker (0-0, 0.00)
We missed on the OVER on the opener of this series Thursday night, but we still think our reasoning was sound. Houston is 67-61 on the totals this season, Seattle 68-58, and the OVER/UNDERS are 34-29 in games played at Minute Maid Park. These teams played a 3-2 game Thursday, but hit three homers; unfortunately, two of those homers were of the solo variety. The teams also combined for just 11 hits Thursday, but left five runners in scoring position; a timely bloop might have turned things in our favor. Neither of these teams is an offensive powerhouse, but they both also own two of the worst bullpens in baseball. Somehow, those bullpens combined to throw six innings of shut-out ball Thursday, as neither team scored after the fifth inning. And the last time these two teams met in Houston they combined to score 40 runs in three games. So, we still like the OVER nine runs at the +104 offered at MatchBook sportsbook for Game 2 of this series.
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