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Free MLB Pick May 8

#972 Detroit Tigers (Boyd) -115 over Los Angeles Angels (Skaggs) 6:10 PM CT

Matt Boyd has shown flashes of greatness in his MLB climb the past three years but this season he has put it all together to emerge as one of the AL’s top pitchers. Detroit lacks a great offense behind him but Boyd has posted a 3.05 ERA and actually a 2.10 FIP that is the strongest in the entire American League by a wide margin. His 11.6 K/9 is also among the best strikeout rates in the league and he had accomplished that rate with a very low walk rate. Boyd had had to pitch at Fenway and at Yankee Stadium this season as it has been a difficult path and he is riding six consecutive quality starts since a marginal first outing in late March.

The Angels have been competitive this season but the offensive numbers fall off a cliff vs. left-handers with a .631 team OPS vs. southpaws, the fifth worst mark in MLB compared to a very strong .774 team OPS vs. right-handers. Not surprisingly the Angels are 13-10 vs. right-handed starters but only 3-9 vs. left-handers. Detroit has been one of the lowest scoring teams in baseball but the Tigers are a winning team at Comerica Park where Boyd has posted even stronger numbers. The Tigers are also a much better hitting vs. left-handers with a jump of 28 points in team OPS.

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Tyler Skaggs looked like a breakout candidate in a shortened 2018 season but he hasn’t matched that pace this season even if his ERA is 3.12 in 26 innings this season. His strikeout rate has plummeted while his FIP of 4.22 is more indicative of his future path of mediocrity. In his five starts Skaggs has faced a bottom seven team in MLB in team OPS vs. left-handers four times as he has drawn a very favorable path and still has had marginal results. His road ERA is also nearly double his home ERA and the Angels are only 5-10 in road games on the season. Detroit’s bullpen has rough numbers of late but with decent starting efforts the past two games the unit should be in better shape for Wednesday night.

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Free MLB Pick Monday

#913/914 ‘UNDER 8’ Colorado Rockies (Gray) at Los Angeles Angels (Despaigne) 9:05 PM CT

Odrisamer Despaigne has a 6.35 ERA but a 3.47 FIP this season mainly as a reliever with the Marlins before joining the rotation for the Angels in August. He faced a pair of tough road venues in those outings and this could be his best opportunity for a lengthy outing all season. Despaigne has pitched in 100 games at the big league level with average results and he’ll face a Rockies team with just a .727 team OPS vs. right-handed pitching and a .723 team mark overall the past 25 games.

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Colorado might not need many runs Monday with Jon Gray on the mound. Gray still owns an elevated ERA at 4.67 but his xFIP is 3.12 this season for one of the better marks in the NL. Since a minor league stint Gray has returned from the All Star break with great numbers posting a 2.83 ERA in six starts and yet to take a loss in that span. He has relied less on the strikeout and has found much better results while going deeper into games.

The Angels have been ice cold at the plate with a .578 team OPS in the past five games, scoring a combined 12 runs in those five games and over the past two weeks the team OPS is only up to .694. The ‘under’ has had a 34-29-3 mark in Anaheim this season and both bullpens are capable. Just as Mike Trout has returned Justin Upton is out of the lineup for the Angels with any long shot hopes up in flames this week with six consecutive defeats for Los Angeles. Expect tired teams that both endured disappointing results Sunday and a pair of capable right-handed options to succeed on the mound.

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Free MLB Pick Friday

#928 Seattle Mariners (Leake) +115 over Los Angeles Angels (Richards) 9:10 PM CT

Mike Leake has a 6.48 ERA but he has three wins and one terrible outing is skewing the numbers. His FIP is more than a run lower than his ERA and he has had some bad luck with a high BABIP and a low strand rate. His strikeout rate won’t impress anyone but he also rarely walks batters and he has been a far better pitcher at home. Leake had a 3.38 ERA at home last season and his career numbers at Safeco Field are very solid.

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Garrett Richards has been all over the place this season with a few dominant showings to help produce a 12.0 K/9 but his ERA is up to 4.88. Richards has completed six innings just once in six starts and he has allowed 19 walks in nearly 28 innings of work. Richards has generated a lot of ground balls which has been the norm in his career as things could get worse for Richards in his first sustained MLB action since 2015.

The Angels lead the AL West and have generated plenty of early season headlines but Seattle is just a half game behind at 18-12 despite far less fanfare. The offensive production for these teams has been similar and the 11-2 road mark for the Angels isn’t sustainable. Richards has just two career wins in Seattle and the Angels are just 6-9 the past 15 games after the great first few weeks of the season. Seattle has quietly won seven of the last nine including four straight series wins and the marginal home record is due to only facing Cleveland, Houston, and Oakland so far this season.

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Free MLB Pick Wednesday

#925 Baltimore Orioles (Bundy) +140 over Los Angeles Angels (Heaney) 9:05 PM CT

The Orioles have been a disaster this season at 8-21 but the offense has posted four or more runs in five of the past six games and the lineup has hit about 20 points higher vs. left-handed pitching this season. After a hot start the Angeles have cooled off losing four of the past five and the offense has failed to top three runs in seven of the last eight games as this looks like an overvalued team.

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Dylan Bundy may be 1-3 but the other numbers make it clear he is one of the AL’s top pitchers. His ERA of 2.97 coincides with an even low 2.81 FIP and his K/9 of 10.9 is an elite figure. Bundy allowed seven earned runs in his last start after allowing a total of just five earned runs in his first five starts and a bounce-back outing should be in store in Anaheim with Bundy featuring a 1.54 ERA on the road this season.

Andrew Heaney has struggled in three starts for the Angels despite facing the struggling offenses of the Royals and Giants in two of his outings. His ERA is 6.91 and while his .429 BABIP is sure to go down he has received few groundballs and isn’t likely to keep up his current strikeout pace. Heaney hasn’t had sustained MLB success since a brief window in the 2015 season and he looks like a high risk favorite at this price with a lineup batting just .193 in the past 10 games behind him.

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Free MLB Pick – Monday, July 18

‘OVER 8’ Texas Rangers (Griffin) at Los Angeles Angels (Tropeano) 9:05 PM CT

After posting no MLB innings in 2014 or 2015 A.J. Griffin has turned in meaningful innings for a 1st place Rangers team in 10 starts but his 4.33 FIP is more than a half run higher than his 3.81 ERA. Griffin has been fortunate to only take one loss as he has allowed runs in every outing and he had a very high walk rate at over 3.6 BB/9. Griffin allowed three runs in Anaheim in his first start of the season and the 40-52 Angels are riding one of the team’s best offensive stretches of the season with five or more runs in six of the last nine games including scoring 16 runs in sweeping the White Sox over three games to start the 2nd half. When these teams last met in May there were 24 runs scored in a 15-9 win for the Rangers and the Angels can’t have great confidence in Nick Tropeano tonight. His 3.12 ERA looks solid but the advanced numbers paint a different picture. Tropeano has a FIP of 4.73 in 12 starts this season and his walk rate of nearly 4.1 BB/9 would rank as the 4th highest in MLB among qualified starters of which Tropeano is currently a few innings shy of qualifying. These teams rate 18th and 29th in MLB in bullpen ERA and neither starter has a track record of going deep into games. In a venue that has averaged nearly 9.0 runs per game these starters don’t look worthy of a total of just 8.0 at many outlets, the lowest in this series in the last seven meetings since an early April matchup of Garrett Richards and Cole Hamels.

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Free MLB Pick – Monday, June 27

‘UNDER 7.5’ Houston Astros (McHugh) at Los Angeles Angels (Shoemaker) 9:05 PM CT

After scoring 26 runs Friday and Saturday the Astros were shut down with just one run Sunday in Kansas City, ending a seven-game winning streak for a Houston squad that has climbed back into playoff contention. Houston’s scoring has been erratic as they have been held to four or fewer runs in five of the last 10 games and on the year the road production features a big decline from the numbers in Houston. Matt Shoemaker has a lousy record for the Angels but he has been on a dominant run since mid-May posting 62 strikeouts in his last seven starts with a quality start in six of those games. Two of those quality starts came against this Houston lineup, posting big strikeouts counts in a 7-2 win and a 3-2 loss. While the Angels scored seven runs Sunday to break a six-game slide this is a team that has topped four runs just three times in the last 10 games. The Angels are one of the worst scoring teams in baseball this year and Collin McHugh presents a tough matchup for the team. After a slow start McHugh has been heading in the right direction in recent weeks and his FIP is nearly a full run below his ERA. McHugh is generating strikeouts at a strong rate while rarely walking batters and he pitched well against the Angels last week in a 3-2 win at home. Both bullpens have capable recent numbers and the ‘under’ is riding a 9-2 run in Houston road games. Over nine runs per game have been scored in Anaheim this season but in 17 of 39 games there has been seven or fewer runs scored and this is a pitching matchup that is much stronger than the season numbers suggest with both starters on strong recent runs.

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