The fourth Friday of July has a few quirky situations those making sports picks have to consider when trying to forecast winners against the sportsbooks betting odds on this day.
We have a pitcher who was traded yesterday on his scheduled start and was pulled and instead will take the ball for his new team. Another hurler was pulled because he's battling the flu (who gets sick in the summer time) and presumably will start this evening. Finally, a pair of former teammates with ERA's well past 5.70 and a combined 5-13 record, will attempt to be better than they have all season facing each other.
No promises these MLB picks will be perfect but having a very good 9-3 week to date, including six straight winners.
Astros vs. Royals: Kazmir Has a New Lid to Sport in K.C.
From 2004 to 2009, Scott Kazmir (5-5, 2.38 ERA) was the guy in Tampa Bay until shoulder and arm miseries sidetracked his career. To his credit, he worked hard, made changes and worked his way back to being an effective big league starter, but not one everyone wants to keep him evidently.
The left-hander was traded from Oakland to Houston yesterday in a somewhat odd division swap of players, making it the fourth different club Kazmir will pitch for since the Rays moved him six years ago. Still only 31, Kazmir is back home having been born in Houston and though he doesn't throw as hard as he used to, he likes to pitch inside to opposing hitters and will cut his fastball and keep right-handed hitters off balance with off-speed tosses.
Kazmir is 3-1 with a 1.35 ERA in his last seven starts and faces the best team in the AL in Kansas City. As baseball handicappers note, about the only things that have slowed the Royals the last year and half are Houston and Madison Bumgarner, with the Astros having won six straight over Kansas City and in convincing fashion, outscoring them 37-11. Houston is a -113 road favorite (Wagerweb had them at -108 earlier) and is 12-4 against winning teams, but Kansas City is 10-2 versus an AL team with an on-base percentage .330 or worse in the second half of the season and I'll give them the edge at home.
Slight Disadvantage - Kazmir and Houston
Blue Jays vs. Mariners: Hutchinson Has to Battle Flu and the King
R.A. Dickey has not had a very good season for Toronto but he was clutch yesterday, moving up his scheduled start a day to help fellow pitcher Drew Hutchinson (9-2, 5.19), who is battling the flu. Dickey led his team to the win over Oakland and Hutchinson will look to do his part at Seattle.
Despite a gaudy record, the Blue Jays righty has hardly been an ace with his high earned run average, but been backed with the best run support in the majors at 7.88 per outing. Hutchinson will oppose Felix Hernandez (11-5, 2.77), who has a 1.55 ERA in his last six starts, but Seattle is only scoring 3.21 runs when he starts which is the opposite of his mound foe.
The MLB odds have Toronto as +130 underdogs and Hernandez, the Jays either get to him or are shutdown, being 7-7 lifetime against him. Though the scheduling aspect favors the underdog, Hutchinson is very hittable on the road (8.81 ERA) and King Felix is in a good groove.
Slight Disadvantage - Hutchinson and Toronto
Tigers vs. Red Sox: Whose Got Game, Verlander or Porcello?
Justin Verlander (0-3, 6.62) might be dating Kate Upton and have all the money he needs, but after six starts in 2015 he doesn't have victory. (Detroit 0-6) Rick Porcello (5-10, 5.79) was signed to improve Boston's pitching and he's done the complete opposite. In his last 10 starts he's only tasted victory once and his 7.20 ERA in that span is larger than a presidential candidate's ego.
Detroit has dumped seven of 10 and the Red Sox have lost eight straight and with how these two former teammates are throwing, no easy choice for MLB picks. Boston is going to win eventually and being back in Fenway might awaken their slumbering offense, along with facing Verlander. Here is a slight lean with the BoSox, with Porcello wanting to beat his former team and backed with the better bullpen.
Slight Advantage - Porcello and Boston