Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto should keep his name in the Cy Young Award discussion with a strong performance against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday. While the New York Mets’ RRA Dickey is the favourite for the National League’s top pitcher award Cueto has put up compelling numbers, going 14-6 with a 2.58 ERA. Even when he hasn’t won he’s been solid. For example, in his last start when he saw his five-game winning streak broken he struck out seven and allowed just six hits and a reasonable three runs in seven innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. He lost in that one because Milwaukee’s Mike Friers was masterful, twirling a perfect game into the seventh.
Such a fate should not befall Cueto and the Reds in this clash. The reason: Cubs starter Brooks Raley has a long way to go before becoming a competent Major League starter. While Raley put up good numbers in the minors, he was crushed for seven runs over four innings against the San Diego Padres in his Major League debut. Until he proves he can throw at baseball’s highest level, he’s a player worth betting against. Reds at 1.50 are the way to go; the Cubs at 2.60 are not.
Top-notch pitching will lead to a low-scoring affair when the Seattle Mariners travel to Anaheim to play the Los Angeles Angels. Southern California local Jered Weaver has been simply fantastic in 2012: he’s 15-1 with a 2.13 ERA. Get him at home and the pitcher is simply unstoppable, going 8-0 with a 0.92 ERA at Angels Stadium.
Although not quite so amazing, fellow California native Jason Vargas has been in a groove as of late: since the All-Star break he’s 4-1 with a 2.31 ERA over five starts. In fact, his work earned him the title of American League Pitcher of the Month in July. Considering that the Angels’ home park is twenty-seventh out of thirty MLB ballparks in run scoring, these pitchers are poised to keep the total low. Back under 7.0 runs at 2.05.