To defeat the betting odds, astute MLB baseball handicappers will go the extra distance to secure any edge against the sportsbooks to make a profit, including doing homework on starting pitchers.
Some of these starting pitchers are grizzly veterans who might not throw as hard as they once did, but are still capable of pitching at the major league level. For tonight we will investigate three such hurlers and see if they are play on or play against for MLB picks.
Pirates vs. Phillies: Burnett Still has a Few Tricks up his Sleeve
A.J. Burnett (1-1, 1.66 ERA) might be 38 years old, yet in looking at his career numbers, he’s toiled better in a Pittsburgh uniform than any other of the four teams he played for. His best year record-wise was 18-10 at Toronto, but he benefitted from a talented offense as his 4.07 ERA proved and he landed an oversized contract in New York and this Arkansas native was never comfortable under the hot lights of the Big Apple. He went to Pittsburgh to save his career and was successful, but greed again got the better of him in taking 15 million at Philadelphia and posted a career-high 18 losses and a 4.59 ERA.
Burnett wanted to go out on his own terms and took less money to return to the Steel City and after six starts, his ERA is the third-lowest in team history to this point. Despite his superior efforts he and Pirates do not have much to show with a 2-4 record in his starts because run support has been sparse.
Pittsburgh is a -155 road favorite at outlets like Wagerweb.ag against the MLB odds and while the Burnett and the Bucs appear to be a fine combination, he is only 20-39 in road games versus NL teams scoring 4.3 or less runs a game in his career (Team's Record), mostly because his teammates have averaged 3.5 RPG.
Grade – C (For Pittsburgh)
Marlins vs. Dodgers: Haran Not Done Yet
Dan Haren (4-1, 2.68) signed with the Dodgers prior to last season and he went 13-11 with a 4.02 ERA and his 186 innings triggered an option for a second year. However, Los Angeles lacked faith in the 34-year old right-hander and traded him with Dee Gordon to Miami.
Though the Marlins are underachieving according to preseason reports, this is no fault of Haran’s, who leads Miami in victories, starting pitcher ERA and his WHIP is a ridiculous 0.92. Haran no longer throws in the 90’s (twitter handle @ithrow88) and the rest of repertoire is not that of an ace or strong No.2, but what has changed this season is his ability to spot his pitches, which is why opposing batters are at only .198 against him.
Tonight he gets to face the team which traded him in L.A. and he is a +140 underdog. It will be imperative Haran’s location is on target against the home run hitting potential of the Dodgers and unfortunately he is 3-11 versus a NL team with an on-base percentage of .340 or better for his big league career. (Team's Record)
Grade – D (For Miami)
Padres vs. Mariners: Kennedy Needs to Pitch Better
San Diego's Ian Kennedy (2-1, 5.03) is much younger than the other aforementioned pitchers at 30, but he has to starting performing if the Padres are going to be a division or wild card factor. Kennedy has made numerous trips to the DL over his career, which included the beginning of 2015. He’s gotten of a slow start and he is in one of the weirder situations you will hear about a San Diego pitcher.
Since July 7th, Kennedy has an ERA of 4.07 at spacious Petco Park compared to 2.65 in road starts. The possibility exists he just needed time this year to pitch and has a 2.08 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in his last two outings, both Padres wins.
Tonight he will start against Seattle for the first time and he and mates will be somewhere around +135 underdogs. San Diego should at least be worth consideration tonight with a 5-3 record vs. LH starters and Kennedy lifetime is 36-26 as a MLB odds underdog of +100 to +150. (Team's Record)
Grade – D (For San Diego)