TheSpread.com MLB Picks and Predictions For Thursday 8/21

TheSpread.com MLB Picks and Predictions For Thursday 8/21

Some teams are fighting for their playoff lives, while others are just getting a look at their prospects. Our team of writers and handicappers gathered three of their top picks for Thursday’s MLB action.

Cincinnati Reds (56-71) at Chicago Cubs (77-49)

Facing the Cincinnati Reds might be just what Carlos Zambrano needs to break out of his recent funk.

The Chicago ace looks to help the first-place Cubs bounce back from a rare home loss when they conclude their three-game set with the Reds on Thursday afternoon.

Zambrano (12-5, 3.38 ERA) failed to earn a decision in a 6-5 win at Florida on Friday after giving up five runs and five hits while walking five in six innings. It came one game after the All-Star allowed a season-high nine runs over 4 1-3 innings of a 12-3 loss to St. Louis on Aug. 9.

Josh Fogg is 7-8 with a 6.33 ERA in 21 starts versus Chicago and yielded nine runs in two innings of a 12-3 loss at Wrigley Field on April 16.

Pick: Chicago - Best line -320 SBG Global

Minnesota Twins (72-54) at Los Angeles Angels (77-48)

The Minnesota Twins have built a surprise playoff contender this season around consistent pitching, timely hitting and a strong record at the Metrodome.

If they're going to stay in the race over the next two weeks, one of those factors isn't going to help them.

The Twins begin their longest road trip in nearly 40 years on Thursday with the first of four against the Los Angeles Angels, who regained the best record in the AL in time to start their 11-game homestand.

The Angels (77-48) will likely be a stiff test for Minnesota, especially with ace John Lackey on the hill to start the series.

Lackey (10-2, 3.22 ERA) has allowed nine home runs in six starts since the All-Star break, resulting in an uncharacteristically high 4.73 ERA, but he's still 4-0 over that span.

The right-hander hasn't faced Minnesota this year, but he's just 2-4 with a 4.86 ERA in his last seven outings against the Twins.

Pick: Minnesota - Best line +145 SBG Global

Florida Marlins (65-62) at San Francisco Giants (54-72)

A surprising first half had the Florida Marlins thinking they could compete for the first division title in franchise history.

The team's struggles since the All-Star break, however, have put first place in the NL East as far out of reach as it's been all season.

After losing their last game in dramatic fashion to fall a season-high five games behind the division lead, the Marlins look to avoid their fourth straight losing series as they close a three-game set against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday at AT&T Park.

San Francisco will match up against Florida right-hander Josh Johnson (3-0, 3.38 ERA). The Marlins had won each of the first six games Johnson started before the bullpen blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning of a 6-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday night. Johnson limited the Cubs to three runs and five hits while striking out eight in six innings.

Johnson has lost both of his previous starts against the Giants, despite posting a 1.93 ERA in those games.

The Giants will counter with Matt Palmer (0-1, 23.14), who's hoping to rebound from an inauspicious major league debut. The right-hander walked four and hit a batter while getting tagged for six runs in 2 1-3 innings of an 11-5 loss to Atlanta on Saturday.

Pick: Florida - Best line -175 SBG Global

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