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Pittsburgh (-155) vs. Miami (+125)
Pirates projected starters: Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton, Gerrit Cole
Marlins projected starters: Henderson Alvarez, Tom Koehler, Jose Fernandez

This is the first time these two teams have met this season and Pittsburgh can’t afford to slip up this weekend. They are in the heart of a pennant race and need to beat up on bad teams like the Marlins. The Pirates don’t have any of their big name starters going this weekend which has brought the price down a bit, and given the state of these two franchises, -155 is a price I can’t pass up here.

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Pittsburgh has won four of their past five contests after nearly taking all four from the Nationals earlier this week. Yesterday’s 9-7 loss was a tough one to swallow but with three games in Miami this weekend the Pirates have an opportunity to get it back.

It starts with Jeff Locke (9-2 SU record) who was an All-Star for Pittsburgh and pitched very well in his lone start since the mid-summer classic. Locke pitched six strong innings in a 3-2 win vs. Cincinnati last Sunday and his nasty off-speed stuff should have the Marlins hitters swinging at quite a bit of air tonight.

Gerrit Cole is a young rookie who has come out strong for the Pirates and Sunday’s game should be a great pitcher’s duel with him and Fernandez. I believe you’ve got to side with the better offense in a game like that and although Miami has started to final score a few runs after their 30+ inning scoreless drought, I just don’t think they’ll consistently put up enough offense to beat the Pirates in this series.

Pittsburgh has the playoffs in their site and a series loss here in Miami could put a big damper on those thoughts; especially with a tough series vs. St Louis on deck. There are too many bad memories of second half collapses by the Pirates over the years and to lose two of three here in Miami would only rekindle that fire. Pittsburgh won’t let it happen this season.

Take Pittsburgh -155

Kansas City (+115) vs. Chicago White Sox (-145)
Royals projected starters: James Shields, Wade Davis, Bruce Chen
White Sox projected starters: Jose Quintana, Chris Sale, Hector Santiago

This is another one of those cases where you’ve got to side with the better team and I find it odd that they are underdogs.

Kansas City is 8 games ahead of the White Sox in the standings but has struggled with Chicago all year. If the Royals are going to take that next step and be a serious contender like the Pirates have done this year, they need to take care of business against a lesser opponent. KC is 4-5 SU vs. Chicago this year and six of those contests were at home. Those losses haven’t been forgotten by KC and this weekend they should atone for those defeats.

James Shields is 1-2 SU vs. the Sox this year but both losses (1-0 and 2-1) came in great pitcher’s duels with Chris Sale. Shields isn’t lined up with Sale this time around and that gives him a decided advantage tonight. In fact, KC is listed as small favorites (-118) tonight and should come away with the W.

Wade Davis is 1-1 SU vs. Chicago this season but has pitched into the 6th inning in both his starts and has some good career numbers against a few of Chicago’s hitters. He draws the toughest matchup vs. Sale and will be heavily dogged, but maybe this is exactly the type of matchup he needs to break out of his losing funk (lost last five starts). When little is expected of him, Davis can go out to the hill and pitch free and loose. He does own a 4-2 SU career record vs. Chicago and anything can happen on a given day.

That leaves Sunday’s game as the likely decider and I expect Chen and the Royals to be favored again here. Chen was great in his second start of the season vs. Baltimore earlier this week as a small favorite (-111) and should be around that same price or even higher vs. a much worse team from Chicago.

That’s why it’s a bit surprising to see KC as underdogs this weekend, and at +115 there is more than enough value to take a shot with the Royals here.
Take KC +115

  
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