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Monday’s Free Sports Pick from Oskeim Sports – June 17, 2013

Houston Astros (+107) over Chicago White Sox

Investment Advice: Please list both Jose Quintana and Bud Norris

Analysis: Don’t look now but the Astros have won four consecutive games following yesterday’s 5-4 win over the hapless White Sox.  While I am certainly not buying Houston’s stock on a long-term basis, tonight’s game presents an excellent investment opportunity with rotation ace Bud Norris on the mound.  Indeed, Norris has garnered a solid 3.47 ERA this season, including a 2.28 ERA at home, a 2.60 ERA at night and a 2.70 ERA over his last three starts.  The only red flag surrounding Norris is the decrease in dominance that he had displayed in previous seasons, but he seems to have rediscovered his strikeout pitch over his last two outings.  Specifically, Norris owns an impressive 13/2 K/BB ratio over his last fourteen innings of work, including seven strikeouts against Baltimore’s high-octane offense (7 IP; 3 ER; 7 K; 1 BB).

Norris should continue to have success against an anemic Chicago lineup that is batting .239 with a .292 on base percentage in 2013 (3.6 runs per game), including averaging 3.5 runs per game on the road and 3.5 runs per game at night (.291 on base percentage).  Meanwhile, Chicago southpaw Jose Quintana takes the mound in poor form with a 4.19 ERA and 1.39 WHIP over his last three starts, including yielding 23 hits (4 home runs) in 19.3 innings.  Quintana’s struggles go beyond that time frame as he has allowed a combined 15 runs on 27 hits and 7 walks in his last four trips to the hill (25.3 IP).  Quintana is also hindered by an uninspiring Chicago bullpen that owns a pedestrian 4.26 ERA on the road this season.  In contrast, Houston’s bullpen enters tonight’s game with growing confidence based upon its 3.21 ERA over the last seven contests.

Let’s also note that Norris is 7-3 with a 1.94 ERA in nineteen Minute Maid Park starts since the commencement of the 2012 season.  Those compelling numbers from Norris are bad news for a Chicago squad that has lost 12 of 13 on the road, scoring three runs or less in nine of those games.  “For once, I am speechless.  I don’t know why our offense is sputtering,” Adam Dunn said.  To state that the White Sox are scuffling at the plate is an understatement in light of the fact that they are batting just .224 in this series – totaling eight runs with 25 strikeouts.  From a technical standpoint, Chicago is a money-burning 13-24 (-12.6 units) off a loss, 12-24 (-11.4 units) on the road and 14-22 (-9.4 units) versus teams with a losing record, whereas the Astros are 15-13 (+9.9 units) versus teams with a losing record.  I also like the fact that Norris is a reliable 14-5 (+11.4 units) as a home underdog of +125 or less and 21-9 (+14.1 units) at home in competitively-priced games (+125 to -125). With Houston having won 8 of the last ten in this series, take the Astros and invest with confidence.

Bud Norris Kansas City Royals v Houston Astros

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