This column has produced a 23-8 record over the past seven weeks, proving that a little homework can go a long way when it comes to building baseball bankrolls.
It’s the start of another busy week on the diamond and here are four starters that could earn you some extra loot over the next four days.
Rich Harden, Chicago Cubs, Tuesday at Atlanta
This is an excellent time to back Rich Harden as he is coming off a rare poor start against the Astros last week. Rocky outings are few and far between for the young right-hander, and I expect him to bounce back strong. Thanks to some outstanding offensive support, Harden avoided the loss in that most recent start, a game the Cubs actually won 11-7. He has made two road starts since joining the Cubs, giving up only seven hits and two earned runs in 14 innings. He struck out 19 and walked only two in those two outings. So you can understand why I’m confident that he can help the Cubs earn a victory against the Braves on Tuesday night.
Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox, Wednesday vs. Texas
The think I like most about Jon Lester is his consistency. The guy has given the Red Sox at least seven innings in six straight, and nine of his last 10 starts. It seems rare nowadays that you see a pitcher that has given up fewer hits than innings pitched, but that’s the case with Lester. He is 6-1 with a 2.87 ERA at Fenway Park and while the Rangers certainly offer a significant challenge, I believe the left-hander is up to it. Since the beginning of June, Lester is 7-1, and since the All-Star break he is 3-1 with a 2.54 ERA in four starts. In one start against Texas this season, he pitched eight innings of one-hit, shutout ball. Needless to say, he gets my support on Wednesday.
Ricky Nolasco, Florida Marlins, Wednesday vs. St. Louis
I’ve given Nolasco a look on several occasions this season, with mixed results. I do like the way he’s pitched in recent starts, giving up three earned runs or less in each of his last three trips to the mound. He continues to show excellent command. Over his last three starts he has struck out 25 while walking just one. We should get some solid value with the Marlins in this spot due to Nolasco’s poor career numbers against the Cardinals. I’ll point out that he hasn’t faced them this season, and also that the Cards are in a letdown spot after their weekend series against the rival Cubs.
Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays, Thursday at Detroit
Roy Halladay was extremely disappointed in himself after his last start, a 4-2 loss Saturday against Cleveland. That should be ample motivation for him to right the ship Thursday afternoon in Detroit. The Tigers have been one of his favorite teams to face. He is 11-2 with a 1.93 ERA in 15 career games against them. Halladay continues to pitch well on the road, winning three of his last four starts. As poorly as the Jays have performed this season, they’ve still managed to record wins in five of Halladay’s last eight starts overall. I’m hoping that we can get them at an underdog price on Thursday.
Gavin Floyd, Chicago White Sox, Friday at Oakland
Floyd will be happy to hit the road after turning in a pair of brutal efforts in his last two starts, both at home. While he is just 4-4 away from U.S. Cellular Field this season, he has shown some positive signs lately, going undefeated in his last two road starts in Detroit and Minnesota. One of his best starts of the season came against Oakland, as he held them scoreless and gave up just three hits over 7 1/3 innings. This will be only his second career start against the A’s, so I question whether they have much of a scouting report leading into this game. Helping matters is the fact that Oakland owns just one win in August at the time of writing.