Stephen Nover Free Thursday Play

On July 28, 2016, in Free Picks, MLB, by Stephen

Brewers minus $1.30 hosting Diamondbacks

Unlike other sports, motivation rarely counts in handicapping baseball. But once in a while it can factor. Couple that with a strong pitching/bullpen edge, a key under-the-radar injury and fair price and the Brewers become an investment today.

Did you say lay a price with the rebuilding Brewers, owners of a 43-56 record?

Yes. Much sets up well for Milwaukee here. The Brewers are home to Arizona, who are even worse at 42-59. The pitching matchup is lefty Robbie Ray against Zach Davies. Ray is the bigger strikeout pitcher and has more name recognition. Davies is the better pitcher. More on that shortly.

Milwaukee owns a winning home mark and is 18-14 versus southpaws. Arizona is 2-9 in its last 11 road games. One of those victories, though, came Wednesday night when the Diamondbacks embarrassed the Brewers, 8-1.

Actually the Brewers embarrassed themselves by playing their worst game of the season. I know that’s saying a lot when talking Brewers baseball. Certainly it was their sloppiest game of the season with base running mistakes and five errors, the most they’ve made in a game since 2007.

I have to think the Brewers come out with more incentive than normally attached to a regular-season game especially in front of their loyal and patient fan base.

None of this would matter, though, if the pitching matchup wasn’t in Milwaukee’s favor, too.

Davies started the season in awful fashion giving up 13 runs in 13 1/3 innings during his first three starts. Since then, the right-hander has gone 7-1 with a 2.84 ERA holding opponents to a .217 batting average. He’s 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his last three starts.

Ray is flashier and more highly-touted. Like the rest of the Arizona pitching staff, Ray has disappointed. He hasn’t been at the absolute brutal level of Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin, but his 5-9 record and 4.53 ERA isn’t winning any awards. Ray is 1-4 with a 4.72 ERA in his last six starts.

The Diamondbacks may now own the worst bullpen in the National League after dealing closer Brad Ziegler. By contrast, the Brewers could have the most underrated late-inning relief in the majors with Will Smith, Tyler Thornburg and closer Jeremy Jeffress.

Arizona has lost 17 of the past 21 times it has gone against a righty starter. The Diamondbacks are likely to be missing left-handed slugging third baseman Jake Lamb, who leads the team in homers with 21 and is tied for first in RBIs with Paul Goldschmidt. He’s been sidelined with a hand injury and isn’t expected to return until Friday.


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