As I have mentioned, my favorite part of baseball is pitching and that remains a fundamental principle as to how sportsbooks create the betting odds on a daily basis for this sport.
On days like today it is particularly fun when some of the best hurlers in the game take to the mound and their mettle is further tested by pitching on the road and baseball handicappers like yours truly have to balance their skills along with his team's bullpen and how each club is swinging the bats.
For your MLB picks, time to analyze how these pitchers will perform and if I can keep building on the latest 9-3 win streak.
Giants vs. Pirates: Bumgarner Tries to Get Giants Back on Track
When San Francisco left the Bay Area on Sunday, they knew what was on the horizon, a seven-game road to the two toughest places to win in baseball this season against two of the finest teams in the majors. In the first four confrontations the Giants were an underdog each time and as one would expect they have only managed one victory.
Today however the script is flipped, with Madison Bumgarner (14-6, 2.98 ERA) San Fran's starter. The left-hander in his last three starts has been incredible, posting a 0.73 ERA with 35 strikeouts and just ONE walk and allowing a mere 14 hits in 25 1/3 innings. This evening Bumgarner could become the first pitcher in four years to toss three complete games since Cliff Lee with the Phillies.
Despite Pittsburgh's 42-19 record at PNC Park, the Giants MLB odds at Heritagesports.ue have them at -125 visiting favorites. Two concerns do arise about MadBum, first, he has a 4.16 ERA on the road, which is more than double his 2.05 home mark and the Pirates are scoring 5.7 runs a game in their last 14 contests (11 wins). Nevertheless, Bumgarner and his teammates are a remarkable 18-2 as a road favorite of -110 or higher the last two seasons, which makes them awfully tempting for sports picks.
Advantage - Bumgarner and San Francisco
Royals vs. Red Sox: Cueto Doing the Job for Kansas City
Johnny Cueto (9-7, 2.46) has been exactly what the Royals needed, a true ace at the top of the rotation. After a somewhat jittery first start with Kansas City, the right-hander has settled in and has 1.12 ERA in his last three outings.
Tonight will be the first time Cueto will have faced Boston and he's doing so at historic Fenway Park, against a smoldering Red Sox batting order. Boston won the series opener 4-1, making it three straight wins for the Red Sox for only the second since July 10th. The BoSox hitters have been savages at the dish, scoring eight runs game over there last dozen contests.
This will be Cueto's task, limit the BoSox offense, while the hitters on his team have whacks against Henry Owens (1-1, 6.19), who will be making his fourth start. Oddsmakers like they Royals chances in establishing them as -150 favorites and hard to argue since K.C. is 15-2 after four or more consecutive Under's since last year.
Advantage - Cueto and Kansas City
White Sox vs. Mariners: Sale Will Look to Duplicate Last Effort versus Tough Customer
Last Sunday ended up watching a good chunk of the Cubs vs. White Sox game and Chris Sale (11-7, 3.32) was essentially unhittable. The left-hander's fastball was moving in the upper 90's, the changeup was working and his slider was devastating in surrendering one hit, two walks and 15 punch-outs in seven innings.
Chicago escaped Anaheim with one win in four attempts and Sale will again have to be at his best since the king was crowned in last outing and will no doubt be extremely focused. Felix Hernandez (14-7, 3.65) conceded a career-high 10 earned runs and 12 hits, including a season-high three homers, in 2 1/3 innings of Saturday's 22-10 loss at Boston. "Embarrassing. That was embarrassing," Hernandez said afterwards.
A person as prideful as King Felix is not about to just discard an outing like that, which sets up a potentially fantastic pitcher duel. Seattle has sunk from a -120 favorite to a Pick (-105) at last look and I have to agree, with Sale the ChiSox 4-0 against the Mariners and having the better bullpen, which could decide the game late or in extra innings.
Slight Advantage - Sale and White Sox