MLB Picks: Giants Easy Call vs. Phillies With Bumgarner On Mound

Saturday, June 25, 2016 1:00 PM GMT

San Francisco ace Bumgarner is off to the best start of his already stellar career but looks to bounce back from a rare loss on Saturday night against visiting Philadelphia.

What You Need To Know
The Chicago Cubs have been the World Series favorites since the season began and presumed to be the best team in baseball. And the Cubbies have been largely excellent. However, might the Giants be the best team in MLB right now?

They entered Friday's opener against the Phillies having won 11 of 12 games. San Francisco has series wins in that stretch at home against the Dodgers and Brewers (sweep) and at the Rays (sweep) and at the Pirates. Milwaukee and Tampa Bay aren't great, but L.A. and Pittsburgh were both playoff clubs last year and could be again this fall. The Giants are now +300 on MLB odds to win the NL pennant.

The Giants are winning without two regulars in the lineup. Outfielder Hunter Pence, probably the team's second-best offensive player behind catcher Buster Posey, hasn't played since June 1 due to a torn hamstring and is probably two months away from coming back. He was hitting .298 with seven homers and 36 RBIs. You hear rumors that the Giants aren't going to wait for Pence's possible return since it would be after the Aug. 1 trade deadline. Thus they are looking for a bat in the outfield. The Yankees' Carlos Beltran, who was briefly a Giant in 2011, has been one potential target. The Giants already have spoken with the Brewers about Ryan Braun, but he'd cost a lot more in both prospects and money than Beltran would.

Meanwhile, third baseman Matt Duffy was placed on the 15-day DL early this week with an Achilles injury. He will not be back until after the All-Star break. Duffy was an NL Rookie of the  Year candidate in 2015 in batting .295 with 12 homers, 77 RBIs and 12 steals. This year, he's hitting .253 with four homers, 21 RBIs and four steals. Conor Gillaspie and Ramiro Pena will split time while Duffy is out.

As for the Phillies? They were a surprising 22-15 at one point but have been the worst team in baseball since and have the worst run differential in the National League.


 

Probable Pitchers
Philadelphia certainly will be a seller ahead of the trade deadline and one guy who might bring a decent return back is Saturday's starter, right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (4-6, 4.41). The Phillies have lost his past six outings but it often hasn't been Hellickson's fault as he got three or fewer runs of support in five of those. Last time out, he allowed three runs and six hits over seven innings vs. Arizona but got one run of offense in the loss.

Last year while with Arizona, Hellickson made three starts vs. the Giants and was 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA. He allowed six runs and 20 hits (no homers) in 16 innings. San Francisco's Denard Span is 3-for-11 career off Hellickson with two strikeouts. Brandon Crawford is 4-for-7 with an RBI. Posey is 0-for-7. Gillaspie is 1-for-6 with a double.

In most other seasons, the Giants' Bumgarner (8-3, 1.85, 115 strikeouts) might be the Cy Young favorite at this point in the season as he's in the Top 5 in the NL in ERA, innings pitched (102.0) and strikeouts. But he's probably no better than fourth on that list behind the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, Cubs' Jake Arrieta and teammate Johnny Cueto, who will start Sunday's finale vs. the Phillies. The Giants had won 10 straight Bumgarner starts until Monday when he allowed just a run and five hits in eight innings in Pittsburgh but was on the wrong end of a 1-0 score. Bumgarner allowed two earned runs or fewer for a 12th straight start, tying the third-best streak in Giants history. San Francisco is 10-1 on MLB picks in Bumgarner's past 11 following a quality start in this most recent appearance.

Last season, Bumgarner was 2-0 with a 4.61 ERA in two starts against the Phillies. Carlos Ruiz is 6-for-17 career off him with two doubles, a homer and two RBIs. Freddy Galvis is 2-for-9 with three strikeouts. Maikel Franco is 1-for-5. Odubel Herrera  is 1-for-2.

By the way, the Giants now say they would be open-minded to letting Bumgarner compete in the Home Run Derby during the All-Star festivities in San Diego next month. Bumgarner has said he wanted to but not in a pitchers-only derby. MLB reportedly is considering one of those.

The Giants are such big favorites on the moneyline that it's better value to take them on the runline. Go 'under' the total. Bumgarner has a 1.79 ERA at home this season. The Giants are 6-0 in Bumgarner's past six at home. The 'under' is 4-0 in his past four. The 'under' is 6-2 in the Phillies' past eight on Saturday. 

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Free MLB Pick:  Giants -1½ -120 & Under 6½ +110
Best Line Offered:  at Heritage