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The American League Division Series begins Thursday with the Boston Red Sox traveling to Houston to face the Astros. The Astros took the season series four games to three.
Justin Verlander will be making the start for the Astros. Verlander is 5-0 with a 1.06 earned run average since joining the Astros on August 31. Verlander made two starts this season against Boston, both while with the Tigers. In those starts Verlander allowed three earned runs over 12 innings, he did not get a decision in either start. Current Red Sox batters have a lifetime .211 batting average and zero career home runs against Verlander.
Verlander is no stranger to the postseason, he has a career 7-5 record with a 3.39 earned run average in the 16 post season starts he made with the Detroit Tigers.
Chris Sale has made 180 career stats but this will be the aces first playoff appearance. Sale did not face the Astros this season but is 5-1 with a 1.31 earned run average against Houston in his career. Current Astros hitters have a career .209 earned run average against Sale, but Astros start second baseman and possible American League MVP Jose Altuve is 8 for 21 (.381 BA) in his career against Sale.
Verlander and Sale have faced each other seven times in their careers, five times when Sale was with the Chicago White Sox and twice this season while Sale was with the Red Sox. Sale’s career earned run average in match-ups against Verlander is 2.95. Verlander has a 1.93 career earned run average while a member of the Detroit Tigers in his match-ups against Sale.
With two aces on the mound and very good bullpens, I expect a low scoring game here. The Red Sox bullpen ranked second in the American League behind Cleveland with a 3.15 earned run average on the season. Their bullpen is anchored by closer Craig Kimbrel who is 5-0 with 35 saves in 39 save opportunities.
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Here is a preview on two of my free picks in tonight’s games between contenders from the American League East and American League West.
The Rangers head into Baltimore tonight with momentum and an improved roster. Texas has won seven of its last nine games, while the Orioles have dropped five of their last six games.
The Orioles will send out rookie Dylan Bundy for only his fourth career start. Bundy has pitched a total four scoreless innings over two relief appearances against the Rangers this season, but the Rangers will have some extra muscle in the line-up this time around. The Rangers were winners at the trading deadline by adding Jonathan Lucroy (.299, 13 homers, 50 RBI) and Carlos Beltran (.309, 22 homers, 64 RBI), who are both expected to make their Texas debuts tonight.
Yu Darvish has been solid in his six starts this season, not allowing more than three earned runs in any of his appearances.
The Rangers are 13-11 against the AL East this season. The Orioles are only 8-15 against the AL West including 1-3 against Texas. I expect Texas to improve their record against Baltimore to 4-1 on the season with a win tonight. I am taking the Rangers -115 moneyline.
Astros starter Lance McCullers has allowed only one earned run in five of his last six starts. Over these last six starts McCullers has 50 strikeouts in 36 innings pitched.
Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey has struggled recently. Over his last three starts, Dickey has allowed 17 earned runs over 14 2/3 innings. Astros hitters also come in to tonight with a lifetime .337 batting average and .895 OPS against Dickey in 98 career at bats. I like the Astros -155 moneyline here to defeat the Blue Jays for the second night in a row.
✅ Cleveland Indians ML
✅ Chicago White Sox ML
✅ Milwaukee Brewers ML
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Today kicks off our third week of the season with public MLB picks for you. Let’s have another positive week.
Last week May 2-7 record 14-10
Get Sports Strong MLB Season Record 27-17
Athletics (Gray 3-3, 4.84) Red Sox (Buchholz 1-3, 5.71)
Both starting pitchers have struggled this season, but Sonny Gray has had more positive moments than Clay Bucholz has. Current Red Sox hitters have only a .128 BA average against Sonny Gray. A’s are 9-7 on the road, much better then their 5-11 home record. I like the Athletics as an underdog pick here.
Indians (Kluber 2-3, 3.35) Astros (Fiers 2-1, 5.35)
Corey Kluber is 4-1 with a 1.48 ERA in his career against the Astros. After getting off to a slow start Kluber is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his last three starts this season. The Astros have only won two consecutive games once this season. I like the Indians to win this game.
Diamondbacks (Bradley 0-0, 10.38) Rockies (Chatwood 4-2, 2.15)
This will be the seventh time these two teams have met already this season. The Rockies have won five of the first six match-ups. Tyler Chatwood is 2-0 against Arizona this season. In those two starts Chatwood has allowed one earned run over a total of 12 2/3 innings. I am looking for Chatwood to improve to 3-0 against the Diamondbacks this season and picking the Rockies to win at home.
Rangers: Griffin (3-0, 2.52) Blue Jays: Dickey (1-3, 6.75)
Plus +122 odds is a good reason to take the Rangers here. A $100 wager on Texas will win you $122, while you would need to lay down $141 on Toronto in order to win $100. I would not take the Blue Jays here. RA Dickey has struggled this season, while Rangers starting pitcher A.J Griffin has pitched very well. Great opportunity to go with the Rangers to win here as an underdog.
Twins: Berrios (0-1, 11.25) Astros: Keuchel (2-3, 4.41)
The Astros and Twins come into this game with the two worst records in the American League. This losing trend should come to an end for the Astros and their ace Dallas Keuchel soon. I expect Houston to get back on track, at least in this game. The play is Houston to win.
Nationals: Gonzalez (1-1, 1.42) Royals: Volquez (3-1, 3.34)
Gio Gonzalez had a great month for the Nationals and the Royals offense has been struggling. Very even match-up, but I like Washington in the underdog role here.
Rockies: Gray (0-0 11.42) Padres: Shields (0-4, 3.34)
Rockies starter Jon Gray is capable of giving up seven runs on his own, while I do not necessarily believe he will, Gray does come in with a 6.57 ERA in 11 career starts. The Rockies are scoring 5.5 runs a game, and some of their key hitters have had good success against James Shields. Nolan Arenado will lead the way, he comes into the game hitting .522 with 4 HRs in his career against Shields. Look for at least 8 runs to be scored in this game. Over 7.5
April 30 (1 win 2 losses)
Detroit Tigers @ Minnesota Twins (Tigers Moneyline-135) WON
Cincinnati Reds @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Over 8 Runs -110) LOST
Kansas City Royals @ Seattle Marines (Royals Moneyline -110) LOST
May 1- No MLB picks