MLB – Tampa Bay Rays @ Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers returned home after getting embarrassed by the Red Sox on Sunday with a 12-3 loss. They then lost to Tampa Bay last night, 8-4. Zach Greinke looks to turn things around for the Brew Crew. He’s 6-2 on the year, but has a high 5.23 ERA (his career average is 3.88). His ERA rose after his last outing, where he only was able to pitch through 5.1 innings and allowed six earned runs (plus two unearned due to errors) in the loss against the Cubs.

Prior to that, however, he had won his previous four starts and in those four games, hadn’t allowed more than three earned runs. He does have 70 strikeouts on the year and has been consistently posting good numbers in that category. He has faced B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria before, and kept them to a .188 and .154 batting average, respectively (in 16 and 13 at-bats).

Tampa Bay is on a four-game winning streak (sweeping the struggling Marlins and winning the first game in Milwaukee). Rookie Jeremy Hellickson is 7-5 on the year with a 3.09 ERA. He is coming off two losses, at Baltimore and vs. Boston. Against Baltimore, he allowed a season-high five earned runs on seven hits, including two home runs. He also only struck out two in both of those losses.

Matt Joyce sat out the first game of this three game series, but he should be back tonight. In June, he is only batting .143 with one home run. As the Rays’ leader in batting average, homeruns and OPS, he needs to turn the offense around if the team wants to keep winning, especially against good pitchers such as Greinke. Maybe the day off will help, but the Brew Crew hasn’t lost more than two in a row since their seven-game losing streak April 30-May 6. Go with the Brewers tonight.

Pick: Milwaukee Brewers

MLB – Toronto Blue Jays @ Atlanta Braves

This is game two of a three-game series where the Braves won 2-0, however, since neither team managed to generate any offense, it makes this a tough call for tonight. Atlanta’s only offense came in the form of a two-run home run in the seventh inning from pitcher Tim Hudson.

So we have two young pitchers with little major league experience. Neither has recorded a win this season and neither has started more than five games (Minor has five starts, Stewart has one). What makes this pick difficult is that either pitcher could lose his stride at any point and the opposing team could put a lot of runs on the board.

Mike Minor has only pitched through six innings twice in his five starts and has not allowed fewer than four hits. He did only allow one earned run against Pittsburgh, but his ERA is 5.47. Minor does have two losses, but in his three no-decisions, the Braves have gone on to win. Opposing batters are hitting .308 against Minor, and once the injured Brandon Beachy returns from the DL, Minor will no longer be starting for the Braves.

The positive for Minor is that the Blue Jays haven’t been able to provide any offense in recent games. In the past six games, the Blue Jays are 3-3, but have not scored more than four runs even in the games they won. They only had two hits last night, thanks to Yunel Escobar and J.P. Arencibia. The offense from Jose Bautista was non-existent as he went 0-4 with two strikeouts.

And now the Blue Jays put rookie Zach Stewart on the mound for his second big-league start. He pitched against Baltimore last week and earned a no-decision (although Toronto ended up losing, 4-3), allowing seven hits, two earned runs, one walk and four strikeouts. Stewart did make it through seven innings, however, and he didn’t allow any runs in the first five innings. However, if Toronto can’t get hits and runs, no matter how well Stewart pitches, they can’t win. If the Blue Jays can get their offense together, they can easily take apart Minor, but given their offensive struggles lately, go with the Braves.

Pick: Atlanta Braves