Free MLB Picks for Tuesday, June 25, 2019
In January 2018, the Pittsburgh Pirates shipped ace Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros for young starting pitcher Joe Musgrove, reliever Michael Feliz, third baseman Colin Moran and outfield prospect Jason Martin. The Bucs knew they weren't going to be able to afford Cole when he hit free agency following the 2019 season so they decided to sell on him with two years left of team control instead of waiting until the trade deadline or the 2019 version. No question the Astros have won that deal for now as Cole has been spectacular in his shift to the American League, but he's probably going to be too pricy even for Houston this offseason as arguably the top free agent on the market. The Pirates did fairly well overall, too. Moran has been pretty good offensively at third base, and Musgrove leads the team in innings pitched. Feliz has struggled out of the pen this year and Martin didn't hit much in 35 early-season at-bats. If Cole leaves Houston this winter, then one could say the Pirates win that deal from 2020 forward. Cole faces his former team for the first time on Tuesday.
Nationals at Marlins (+185, 7.5)
OK, let's tamp it down a bit on Max Scherzer (6-5, 2.62). Last Tuesday, he was somewhat playing around in the batting cage while practicing bunting and bunted one right off his nose, breaking it. Being the warrior he is, Scherzer still pitched the next night even though it looked like he had been in a fight with a black eye. He was great in shutting out the Phillies on four hits with 10 strikeouts over seven - Scherzer's sixth straight start allowing two earned or fewer. Very impressive he did that with a broken schnoz, but these talking heads saying it was a bigger feat than one of his no-hitters or 20-strikeout game are idiotic. Scherzer is 0-1 with a 5.56 ERA in two starts this year against the Marlins. Miami has lost the past three outings of Trevor Richards (3-7, 3.54), and he lost home to Washington on April 21 (6.1 IP, 3 ER). Anthony Rendon is 2-for-2 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Nats are 7-2 in Scherzer's past nine vs. the Marlins. The "over/under" is 7-1 in his previous eight against them.
Early lean: Nats on runline and under.
Padres at Orioles (TBA)
San Diego adds the designated hitter for this interleague matchup. Speaking of excellent players facing his former team, the Padres' Manny Machado returns to Baltimore for the first time since his trade last summer to the Dodgers. There was never any chance whatsoever that he was re-signing with the Birds in free agency last winter, but Baltimore really didn't do all that well prospect-wise in dealing him - Pittsburgh did much better with Cole, for example. The Orioles are the only team Machado has never played against. It's a pair of rookies on the mound. San Diego lefty Logan Allen (1-0, 0.00) made his big-league debut last Tuesday against the Brewers and threw seven shutout innings. He also earned a dollar from John Cena for doing so. You will have to Google that. Orioles southpaw Josh Rogers (0-1, 8.18) allowed three earned over three last time out in Oakland.
Key trends: The Padres are 14-6 in their past 20 following an off day. The over is 5-2 in the Orioles' previous seven against the NL.
Early lean: The Birds haven't made Rogers official yet but all signs point to him. They'll be home dogs, and we like San Diego.
Pirates at Astros (-260, 8.5)
Pittsburgh will add the designated hitter. How good has Cole (6-5, 3.54) been this year with his MLB-best 148 strikeouts in 96.2 innings? The MLB single-season record for strikeout percentage (qualified pitchers only - so starters with a minimum amount of innings) is 37.5 by Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez with the 1999 Red Sox. Cole is currently at 38.2. He is off a no-decision in Cincinnati despite allowing just one run over six. Obviously his first-ever start against the Pirates, who took him No. 1 overall in 2011. The Pirates' Trevor Williams (2-1, 4.12) returned from the injured list Wednesday and was shelled for seven runs and nine hits in five innings by the Tigers but avoided the loss. He hasn't faced Houston.
Key trends: The Astros are 16-4 in Cole's past 20 vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 20-7 in Williams' previous 27 away from home.
Early lean: Astros on runline and under.
Rays at Twins (+102, 9)
Rays ace lefty Blake Snell (4-6, 4.40) made unwanted history Wednesday at the Yankees, blown up for six runs and walking four in just a third of an inning. It was not just the shortest start of his career, but Snell became the first reigning Cy Young winner to allow at least six runs and get no more than one out in a start. Snell is 1-1 with a 5.12 ERA in four career starts vs. the Twins. Jorge Polanco is 3-for-6 with two doubles off him. Minnesota's Kyle Gibson (7-4, 4.18) has gotten a decision in 11 straight starts after none his first three. He was rocked for six runs over 4.1 innings Wednesday against Boston. Gibson was 1-1 with a 3.14 ERA in two starts last year vs. the Rays.
Key trends: The Rays are 2-5 in Snell's past seven on the road. The over is 6-1-1 in Gibson's past eight vs. Tampa Bay.
Early lean: Twins and over.
Rockies at Giants (TBA)
ESPN late game. You never want to trade a guy off a bad outing, but the Giants might want to deal lefty Madison Bumgarner (3-7, 4.28) before he takes the mound and hurts his value more. He was just OK two starts ago and then rocked Thursday at the Dodgers, allowing 10 runs and six hits over a season-low 3.2 innings. The six runs were the most the 29-year-old had ever allowed in his 35 career appearances against the Dodgers. MadBum's current ERA would be a career-worst. He's 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts this year vs. Colorado. Charlie Blackmon is 13-for-36 off him. This was to be the spot for Colorado's struggling Jeff Hoffman (1-3, 6.75), but he has been sent down. Manager Bud Black hasn't announced who will go here, but southpaw Kyle Freeland will not be activated from IL in time to do so, and it won't be long reliever and former starter Chad Bettis. Black said the Rockies would not forgo a starter and turn Tuesday into "bullpen day."
Key trends: The Giants are 10-3 in MadBum's past 13 at home in the series. The under is 3-0-1 in his past four against Colorado.
Early lean: Like the Giants regardless of whom the Rockies go with.
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