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Father’s Day Free Sports Pick from Oskeim Sports – June 16, 2013

Baltimore Orioles (-103) over Boston Red Sox

Investment Advice: Please list both Jon Lester and Miguel Gonzalez

Analysis: This start has disaster written all over it for Boston southpaw Jon Lester, who has been meeting with both manager John Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves in a desperate attempt to resolve significant mechanical issues.  Lester is 0-3 with a 6.90 ERA over his last five starts (30 innings) over which time he has allowed 38 hits and 18 walks.  Farrell has cited Lester’s lack of command of his four-pitch mix, particularly his four-seam fastball.  And, while Farrell was hoping to give Lester more time to resolve these mechanical flaws, that luxury has been lost now that Clay Buchholz’s start has been pushed back due to lingering neck discomfort.  Lester’s lack of command was on display in his last start at Tampa Bay where he matched a career-worst in walks (7), while also yielding eight hits and seven earned runs in 4.7 innings of work.

Lazy and/or incompetent handicappers will cite the fact that Lester is 14-1 with a career 2.63 ERA and 1.29 WHIP versus the Orioles, but those numbers are rendered irrelevant by the fact that Lester is 0-1 with a 4.74 ERA in his last three starts against Baltimore (19 IP; 21 H; 11 R; 9 ER; 7 BB; 10 K).  Moreover, Lester has a 4.50 ERA in his last three starts at Camden Yards, including issuing 9 walks in 20 innings pitched.  Lester also finds little support in a Boston bullpen that owns a 3.95 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 2013, including a 4.62 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in day games.  Meanwhile, Baltimore starter Miguel Gonzalez is 4-2 with a 3.71 ERA and 1.22 WHIP this season, including going 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over his last three starts, 2-1 with a 3.44 ERA and 1.28 WHIP versus division opponents and 2-0 with a 3.09 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in day games.  Gonzalez’s skills soared in May wherein his fastball velocity increased by nearly 1.0 mph and his swinging strike rate reached 10.3%.

Overall, Gonzalez has a solid 3.03 ERA over his previous six trips to the mound over which time he has compiled an impressive 35/8 K/BB ratio together with a 45% groundball rate.  Let’s also note that Gonzalez is a perfect 2-0 with a career 2.92 ERA and 1.21 WHIP versus the Red Sox.  Baltimore’s bullpen also excels at Camden Yards where it boasts a 3.57 ERA and 1.14 WHIP this season.  From a technical standpoint, Boston is a money-burning 30-45 (-19.0 units) versus teams with a win percentage between .540 and .620 and 31-57 (-33.0 units) versus opposing pitchers with an ERA of less than 4.00, while Lester is 9-17 (-12.2 units) versus teams with a winning record.  In contrast, Baltimore is a profitable 21-12 (+9.9 units) versus teams with a winning record, including 47-34 (+23.7 units) against foes with a win percentage between .540 and .620.  Finally, Baltimore is 20-9 (+11.2 units) following a loss, while Gonzalez is 8-1 (+8.3 units) off a loss and 12-5 (+10.1 units) versus division opponents.  Take the Orioles and invest with confidence.

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