Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:30 PM EST. Odds subject to change.
Texas +115 over Toronto
7:07 PM EST. Lots of pressure on the Jays here to at least salvage one game of this crucial four-game series against one of the teams they are fighting against to get into the playoffs. With last night’s loss, Texas leapfrogs over the Jays into the second wild-card spot. The Jays now find themselves in the last one, with the Seattle Mariners breathing down their necks. Texas is winning with confidence while the Jays have looked awful in the first two games. In Monday’s series opener, the Jays lost 10-4. Tuesday, the Jays trailed 5-0 going into the home half of the seventh inning. The Jays continue to struggle against good teams and mentally speaking, they might be beat before they even take the field tonight.
Yusei Kikuchi (LHP - TOR) has been Toronto’s most consistent starter and his surface numbers are very good (career-bests in ERA and WHIP) but it's a bit of an illusion; he's getting better results with the same mediocre skills. Kikuchi’s ERA is benefitting from a fortunate 80 strand rate. His xERA of 4.14 is more indicative of his true skill. His WHIP has been helped by a 25% hit rate, compared to his career 30% rate. Kikuchi has always been HR-prone and this year is no exception. His HR/F of 20% is well above league average and is consistent with his career HR/F of 20%. More concerning is that he has increased his fly-ball tilt each of the last four years, and it is now at a career-high. This fly-ball tilt and high HR/F rate, coupled with pitching in a home park that inflates RH batters HR by 25%, highlights the risk bettors are taking when they get behind him as the chalk. Don’t get us wrong, as 29 other teams would love to have Kikuchi but we’re suggesting that he’s not as good as his surface numbers suggest so regression is in the cards and the Rangers cannot wait to get back to the park today.
Jordan Montgomery’s (LHP - TEX) stock is low after getting whacked in his last two starts by both Oakland and Minnesota (11 earned runs allowed in 9.1 innings combined) but we care not. Dude can pitch and this is more of a play on Texas to beat Toronto anyway. Since coming over from the Cardinals at the deadline, Montgomery has seen incremental improvements. His groundball rate rose due to his increased sinker usage. He added a half-tick of velocity and also continued to clamp down on walks; frustrated LHH. Ks have also returned so we'll call the last two starts some bad fortune and will dismiss them as such. While there are no obvious signs of a next big step, reliable mid-rotation and talented starters have their place. Oddsmakers think so too, as Toronto is a small fav here at home when it looks like they should be bigger. Toronto is a team in trouble.
Texas +115 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.30)