It is Hump Day and baseball bettors are looking at the MLB odds today and wondering about particular pitchers who were traded at the deadline and how they might perform for their new clubs.
One ball chucker has already made two successful starts and beaten the MLB betting odds. Another was fair in his initial outing and no doubt expects more of himself while the other pitcher makes his actual debut.
Here is my take on them as a baseball handicapper and will seek to improve on recent 30-17 record.
Cubs vs. Pirates: Haran Goes for Cubs as Rent a Player
Dan Haran (7-7, 3.42 ERA) used to be a hard-thrower who also had a roll off the table splitter and a sharp cutter. But those days are gone and at 34 has to rely on ball placement and changing speeds to retire opposing batters. The Cubs front office was not willing to rid them themselves of a few of their prized players for a top line starting pitcher and instead went the economy route and got Haran, who will pitch for his fifth different team in four seasons.
Though he's pitched in plenty of pressure games, the Chicago right-hander will be watched closely as his new team is trying to move up in the wild card chase and faces the team they are trying to catch.
Though Haran has his lowest ERA in four years and ranks 10th in the NL in WHIP at 1.09, he also has the fourth-highest listing at homer runs per nine innings at 1.47.
For MLB picks, the Cubs are +111 road underdogs at Pittsburgh (Heritage is at +115 last I checked) and it is easy to understand why with Haran 0-3 with a 7.15 ERA in his last four starts against the Pirates and Chicago having lost 16 of last 25 at PNC Park.
However, is this no lock, literally, as the Bucs Jeff Locke (6-6, 4.21) has an ERA over 10 in three starts against the Cubs this campaign. We'll lean with Pitt because they are 11-2 after two straight games having five or less hits the last three seasons.
Slight Disadvantage - Haran and Chicago
Royals vs. Tigers: Cueto Goes for K.C. in the Motor City
Johnny Cueto (7-6, 2.70) was solid in his debut for the Royals, allowing three run over six innings, fanning seven and walking two. However, Cueto was not brought to Kansas City to pitch pretty good and eat barbecue, he's supposed to help the Royals finish the deal and win the World Series.
Cueto will face a Detroit team heading in a new direction having fired their GM yesterday and previously dismantling other parts earlier through trades. Though the Tigers still possess a quality offense, it lacks the pitching and that has shown in losing eight of 12. Detroit trots out rookie left-hander Matt Boyd (0-2, 14.85), who was acquired from Toronto in last week's David Price deal, which has led to Kansas City being large -165 road favorites.
With the total at 8 and Cueto 22-7 when the total is 7 to 8.5 the last two seasons (Team's Record), have to support the Royals.
Advantage - Cueto and Kansas City
Astros vs. Rangers: Houston is Rocking the Kazmir
Scott Kazmir (6-5, 2.10) has tossed 14 2/3 scoreless innings since he began wearing a Houston uniform two starts ago and is coming off a historic month in which his ERA was 0.26, the third-lowest ever in baseball history.
Yet in sports as it is in life, the next act you perform is what many will remember and the Astros need Kazmir to come through in the worst way.
Houston is slumping badly on the road, losers of 10 of 11 and four in row and are in danger of being swept by cross-state rival Texas, where they are 7-16 the past three years. However, Kazmir is 11-5 lifetime against the Rangers with a 2.98 ERA and in his past four starts against them, he and the A's won each time, conceding four earned runs over 28 innings.
Houston has gone from -150 to -160 away favorites, but for sports picks, just don't expect this to be a cakewalk for the Astros.
Slight Advantage - Kazmir and Houston