Today's Free Picks for
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Posted at 10:15 AM EST and are subject to change.
Milwaukee -1½ +125 over Washington
1:35 PM EST. First of all, any time an undrafted free agent makes it to the majors as a starting pitcher, you've got to show some love. Jason Alexander (RHP - MIL) started six games for Long Beach State in 2014 and then didn't pitch again for two years before popping up at Menlo College in the NAIA. He pitched well but didn't garner enough interest to get drafted in 2017. The Angels saw something of interest and gave him enough burn to rise to Triple-A by 2019, but a 9.36 ERA in 50 IP had him released. He would pop up next with the Marlins and again flop out of the organization though his surface stats improved markedly from 2019. Milwaukee took a chance on him this year and he's performed serviceably. Alexander has a four-pitch mix with a mid-90s sinker, change, curve, and slider, though he relies heavily on the sinker. Nothing here is remarkable, and the swing and miss rate is low at 6.1%, but he gets a lot of weak contact with a heavy groundball tilt (63.3% grounders this year with Triple-A Nashville & 68% in 12 innings at this level). Alexander has hand. He has a solid first-pitch strike rate and he’ll put the ball in play but again, what stands out is an off the charts groundball rate that produces a lot of quick innings.
Washington has not named a starter. That’s interesting because the books don’t give a rat’s ass and therefore neither will we. However, if we think about it, how weak must one be to not be able to crack the Nats rotation? Today’s starter, whoever it might be, was not good enough to crack this rotation and now that starter is a small underdog, That means we must attack. You see, we’re willing to bet that you’ve likely read a column in recent years bemoaning the vanishing 20-game winner. The feat has become increasingly rare in recent seasons. Despite 20 losses being far easier to achieve than 20 wins, we haven’t seen a 20-game loser in nearly 20 years (Mike Maroth of the Blue Jays in 2003).
Since that fateful Maroth campaign, and Maroth’s was the first since Brian Kingman lost exactly 20 for the Oakland A’s in 1980, there has not been even one pitcher that hung around long enough to lose 20 in a season. From the 1950s-1970s, there were 41 20-loss campaigns. Nobody has lost 25 games since Red Ruffing—that’s Hall of Famer Red Ruffing to you, junior—in 1928. Nobody will ever threaten the immortal John Coleman, who lost a mind-numbing 48 games while completing 59 of his 65 starts in 1880 for the Philadelphia Quakers, but for the first time since those gutter-scraping Tigers, there is a real chance of not just one, but multiple 20-game losers this year, and they both pitch for the same team. That team would be the Nationals with Joan Adon and Patrick Corbin. Today’s starter, whoever he may be, is lower than those aforementioned two on the Nationals proverbial totem pole (are we allowed to say totem pole). That’s why we must attack.
Milwaukee -1½ +120 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.50)