MLB Picks: Handicapping Thursday's Starting Pitchers

Doug Upstone

Thursday, May 7, 2015 2:12 PM GMT

Thursday, May. 7, 2015 2:12 PM GMT

Today we will look into three hurlers against the MLB odds and what they are looking to accomplish for their respective teams today. Each situation is a little different adding to the interest.

We have a laboring starting pitcher, an aging one who will try and end his team’s slump and another who is turning into a top notch ace that all MLB baseball handicappers are very excited about. Here is a look at each scenario for today.

 

Cleveland’s Kluber Getting Clubbed
No question the confidence of Corey Kluber (0-4, 4.62 ERA) is rocked. Last year’s American League Cy Young winner has not only failed to win, but his team has not won any of his six starts which is the first time that has occurred since Frank Viola and the Twins began 0-7 in 1989, the year after he took home the pitching hardware.

The right-hander actually started well in his first three starts, surrendering six total runs in 22 2/3 innings. However, in his past trio of trips to the bump his ERA is 7.27 and opposing batters have attacked him early. On Kluber’s first pitch, hitter’s are batting .448, from there if he starts with a 0-1 count they are at an unbelievable .545 or if the count is 1-0 they have a .444 average. Clearly scouts have determined he’s going to want to pound the zone on early counts and because Kluber is missing his spots, he getting hit hard.

"I'm not doing that good a job of keeping guys honest," Kluber said. "For the most part guys are hanging out over the plate and when they do that, they eliminate one half of the plate. When you do make a mistake it's kind of magnified."

The Indians ace was went 2-1 with a 1.15 ERA in four starts against Kansas City, but off the Tribe’s 10-3 victory last evening they have not won two straight since games 2 and 3 of the season and I will call for them to fall against the MLB Odds as +105 underdogs.

Grade – C (For Kansas City)

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Burnett Called upon to Stop Pittsburgh’s Bleeding
A.J. Burnett (0-1, 1.45) could have hardly pitched any better in April but the often hapless Pittsburgh Pirates offense has left him without much to show for it. The right-hander is the first pitcher to go winless through five starts with a 1.45 ERA or lower since the Chicago Cubs' Ryan Dempster was 0-1 with a 1.02 ERA three years ago. With Pirates averaging 3.5 runs a game, they have only been victorious once in Burnett’s starts despite his brilliance and have lost five in a row and seven of eight.

All the 38-year old can do is give six to seven strong innings and that has not been enough. At sportsbooks like Wagerweb, the Bucs are -155 money line home favorites and let’s be honest that seems risky for sports picks with Pitt 0-5 against Cincinnati this season. If you like the Pirates, I would recommend a low grade play on them but at least it’s backed with the knowledge favorites with a money line of -125 to -175, after scoring one or less runs in a loss to a division rival, starting a pitcher who gave up two or fewer earned runs in his last two outings are 75-24 the last five seasons.

Grade – D (For Pittsburgh)

 

Rays turn to ace to open four-game series
A very good reason why Tampa Bay starting pitchers rank first in batting average, on-base percentage and OPS in the American League is Chris Archer (3-3, 1.64). The flame-throwing righty had gone four starts without conceding an earned run (26 2/3 innings) before his personal nemesis Baltimore tagged him four times in their 4-0 victory.

Archer will have a tough mound foe in Nick Martinez (2-0, 0.84), who has emerged as Texas best pitcher to this point. While Archer’s heat has led to 42 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings, Martinez has only 13 in 32 innings of work over five starts, all Rangers wins. Archer will go against a Texas offense which tallied 19 runs in the road sweep of Houston and with Tampa Bay scoring only 3.6 RPG, the Rays do not figure to score much. For MLB picks, we will agree with the betting public who lowered the total from 8.5 to 7.5 and will play the UNDER.

Grade – B (For UNDER total)

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