I saw a stat that yesterday marked the third time this season that there have been a combined 50 home runs hit on a single day. The last time a season had three such days of 50 home runs on the same day was in 2000. I'm not sure exactly what that speaks to more - the lack of quality pitching or just the sheer power of today's hitters compared to the hitters of the past. In my opinion, it's the lack of quality pitchers. Teams roll the dice more often than not these days and trot out unproven pitchers in hopes that they can somewhat manage the game and get through at least five innings of work. For example, Ian Kennedy gave up four runs in four innings of work and Bud Norris gave up a hat-trick (three) in five innings. Oh, and there were seven home runs at Fenway Park. Hanley Ramirez had three of those. While the hitters might be more powerful, the pitching is like a game of Russian roulette.
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Tuesday's card was a bit of a mixed bag for me. The good part of Tuesday was watching the Jays' Aaron Sanchez go to work and pick up his ninth win in a row by holding the Diamondbacks to just one run on six hits in seven innings of work. Edwin Encarnacion, who has been on a tear in interleague play, took care of the offence by belting his 25th home run of the season - a three-run shot, I might add. Unfortunately, my night was reduced to split thanks to Vance "Nolan Ryan" Worley and Nathan "Pedro Martinez" Eovaldi. These two gas cans combined to allow just seven hits total and were able to keep the offenses in check for much of the game, thus killing my First 5 Inning "over" wager. On to the next.
Thursday's MLB card presents us with some juicy options for wagering. In usual mid-week fashion, the night card is slim, but there are two afternoon games taking place today in Washington and New York. Both games have major story lines surrounding them with Stephen Strasburg looking to go to 14-0 and the Yankees looking to trim their AL East deficit to five games. That AL East division is shaping up to be one of the most highly-competitive in the majors. I see a few good opportunities to fade some shaky starting pitchers in some hitter-friendly parks.
These props are based on the First 5 Inning lines, and I have the utmost confidence in what I expect to happen. As always, odds and lines are courtesy of 5Dimes .
Miami Marlins @ Philadelphia Phillies
If you go up and down the lineup, on paper the Miami Marlins are better. They have the better bats and have the better group of starting pitchers. We all know that what the paper says doesn't matter, but instead it's how you perform on a nightly basis that determines wins and losses.
Last night, Miami attempted to get one of their struggling pitchers back on track but were unable to do so in a 4-1 loss. Tonight, they look to do the same thing. Taking the bump for the Marlins is Tom Koehler. Koehler is 6-8 on the season with a 4.68 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP, with 52 walks and 79 strikeouts. In his last five starts, however, those numbers are even worse. He posted an 0-2 win-loss record sporting a ERA higher than 7.00. He has not worked more than five innings in any of his last four starts, and his last time out - against St. Louis - he gave up four runs on seven hits in just four innings. He will be up against a sort of resurgent Phillies lineup that woke up for 12 hits and four runs last night. Prior to that, they scored three runs and 10 hits while striking out 34 times in losing three in a row.
Taking the mound for the Phillies is Jerad Eickhoff. He is 6-10 on the season with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP with 30 BB and 97 Ks. He has gone at least six innings in two of his last three starts and surrendered only two runs a piece in those outings. His lone bad start came at Coors Field, which, let's be honest, is the death of pitchers. He should be able to provide another quality start for his team who is coming off a solid all-around performance. Wins like they had yesterday can be used as a momentum builder, and with a team full of youngsters I like their chances at getting back-to-back wins for the first time since July 5-6.
Pick: Philadelphia Phillies -0.5 - First 5 Innings (+115)
I've already mentioned Coors Field as a place where pitchers go to die. What I mean by that is that their records and low ERAs get shattered and inflated. For Atlanta Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz, that's exactly what's going to happen.
Foltynewicz is 3-3 on the season with a 3.70 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP with 13 walks and 50 strikeouts. His last two starts have been decent, to the tune of seven innings and only three earned runs. He will be starting for the second consecutive game against Colorado, which means it will be a battle of adjustments. That's something that always favors the hitters. I always look to play against pitchers who have amazing pitching performances because they can only go down from there. In this case, Foltynewicz threw 73 of 103 pitches for strikes, which to me is an amazing outing.
Opposing him for the second straight game is Chad Bettis, who has pitched well of late. He is 7-6 on the season with a 5.55 ERA (thanks to pitching at Coors Field). He gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Braves last time out but took the no-decision. The Rockies are 6-1 in Bettis' past seven starts, and he is 3-1 with a 5.49 ERA in that span.
The Braves' road record is brutal, and backing them in any spot is just playing with fire. They are 19-26 on the road and just lost a series to the Cincinnati Reds.
Pick: Colorado Rockies -0.5 - First 5 Innings (-130)
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