Free MLB Picks for Thursday June 20, 2019
It's not that I enjoy watching bench-clearing brawls in baseball, but it's nice to see some emotion. That's the problem with MLB and why it's generally only popular with fans over the age of 45: No emotion. Commissioner Rob Manfred is trying to change that, encouraging guys to show their personalities on the field. The problem is those stupid "unwritten rules" that tend to interfere. Which brings me to Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, a true red-a** if there ever was one in the sport. Maybe that attitude is what has made him one of the great postseason pitchers ever. However, he was totally in the wrong the last time he faced the Dodgers and Max Muncy went yard off him and briefly admired the shot. MadBum started barking at Muncy and nearly started a needless brawl. Funny, because ESPN that night showed MadBum admiring one of his homers against the Dodgers a few years back much worse than Muncy did. I guess what I'm saying is that things could get very interesting Thursday at Dodger Stadium with Bumgarner on the mound. Please, please let Muncy homer off him and moonwalk around the bases or something.
Indians at Rangers (+102, 9)
MLB Network game at 2:05 p.m. ET. Texas has placed outfielder Hunter Pence, having a great bounce-back season, on the injured list with a groin injury. The pitcher with the best wins above replacement number in the major leagues this season? I would give you 20 guesses and you still wouldn't even consider Rangers journeyman lefty Mike Minor (6-4, 2.63), but it's true as he has been worth a WAR of 4.6, easily No. 1 among pitchers. Minor hadn't personally won since April 20 but did last time out in Cincinnati, allowing three earned over six. He has made seven relief appearances against the Indians in his career, but this is his first start. Cleveland's Shane Bieber (6-2, 3.92) comes off one of his best starts of the year, allowing two runs with 12 strikeouts over 7.2 innings in Detroit. It was his fourth career double-digit strikeout game. It's his first career look at Texas.
Key trends: The Indians are 10-2 in Bieber's past 12 on the road. The "over/under" has gone under in five of Minor's past six at home.
Early lean: Indians and under.
Rockies at Diamondbacks (-152, 9.5)
A 3:40 p.m. ET first pitch. Colorado's Jeff Hoffman (1-3, 7.04) was once one of the franchise's top pitching prospects and is still just 26 but sure doesn't look like he's going to make it with a 6.09 ERA in 170.0 career big-league innings over four seasons. He was pretty good last Friday, allowing one run over five innings vs. the Padres - a game that still ended with a 16-12 final score. Hoffman allowed three runs over five on May 20 vs. Arizona. Adam Jones is 1-for-3 with a homer off him. Snakes lefty Robbie Ray (5-4, 3.83) lost in Washington on Friday, giving up a season-high five earned over six. One of his own errors led to three runs. He's 1-1 with a 4.35 ERA in two starts vs. the Rockies this year.
Key trends: The Diamondbacks are 3-8 in Ray's past 11 in the series. The over is 4-1-1 in his previous six against Colorado.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and over.
Phillies at Nationals (TBA)
Marquee pitching matchup of the night, at least in name value, and another chance for D.C. fans to boo Bryce Harper. Philadelphia's Aaron Nola (6-1, 4.89) has thus far taken a bit of a step back in 2019 after a breakout 2018 season. Nola will dominate one start and then struggle the next, like he did Saturday in Atlanta in allowing five runs and six hits over just 4.1 innings. He has a 7.71 ERA in his past three starts and is struggling to simply throw strikes. He doesn't have a decision in two starts this season vs. Washington despite a 9.64 ERA. Anthony Rendon is a .343 hitter off him in 35 at-bats. The Nats' Stephen Strasburg (7-4, 3.75) had a personal four-start winning streak snapped Saturday vs. Arizona, allowing a season-high six runs and four homers over five. He is riding a seven-game winning streak against the Phillies, though. JT Realmuto is a .393 hitter off him in 28 at-bats.
Key trends: The Nats are 18-4 in Strasburg's past 22 in the series. The under is 7-3 in Nola's previous 10 against Washington.
Early lean: These teams played a doubleheader on Wednesday so neither pitcher has been set in stone yet but it appears as it if will be these two. Take the Nats if so.
Rays at A's (-104, 8.5)
It's Rays Cy Young candidate Charlie Morton (8-1, 2.37), a guy I hope starts for the American League at the All-Star Game at age 35 because this may be his only chance for that honor. It's amazing how much better he has gotten since his middling Pirates days. Morton does come off that first loss, though, allowing a season-high four earned over six against the Angels. The start before that, he blanked Oakland on two hits over seven. Khris Davis is 3-for-19 with two homers and six strikeouts against him. Young A's ace Frankie Montas (9-2, 2.85) could be headed to Cleveland for the All-Star Game. He hasn't personally lost since April 29 in Boston and missed the Rays in the recent series.
Key trends: The Rays are 5-2 in their previous seven in Oakland. The under is 7-3 in the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: A's and under.
Giants at Dodgers (-188, 7)
The lefty Bumgarner (3-6, 3.87) gave up just that Muncy homer over seven innings against the Dodgers on June 9 and was on the losing end of a 1-0 decision. He wasn't as sharp Saturday against Milwaukee, allowing five runs (three earned) over six in a no-decision vs. the Brewers. Bumgarner hasn't won since April 18 in Arizona. He has made three starts vs. the Dodgers this year and is 0-2 despite a 0.95 ERA. Expect Enrique Hernandez in the lineup considering he's 24-for-48 career off MadBum with four homers. Chris Taylor (1-for-21) probably sits. L.A.'s Walker Buehler (7-1, 3.06) has pitched seven shutout innings in back-to-back starts and was opposite Bumgarner in that 1-0 win. Buehler is 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA this year vs. the Giants.
Key trends: The Giants are 2-7 in Bumgarner's past nine in L.A. The under is 4-1-1 in his previous six there.
Early lean: Giants on runline and under.
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