TheSpread.com Saturday MLB Picks 8/23

TheSpread.com Saturday MLB Picks 8/23

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 Saturday’s MLB action.

Tampa Bay Rays (78-49) at Chicago White Sox (73-54)

Injuries have kept Rocco Baldelli from participating in the Tampa Bay Rays' climb to the top of the AL standings, but the outfielder hopes he can start contributing now that he's healthy.

Baldelli and the Rays look to continue their recent dominance of the Chicago White Sox on Saturday when the postseason contenders continue their three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field.

Tampa Bay (78-49), which owns the best record in the majors, beat Chicago (73-54) for the fourth straight time Friday, winning the series opener 9-4. The loss dropped the White Sox, who had won six straight at home, one-half game behind both Minnesota for first place in the AL Central and Boston for the wild card.

Scott Kazmir (9-6, 3.21 ERA) is another key young Rays player who has struggled with injuries, with three DL stints in the past three seasons. He's been excellent when healthy, though, posting an ERA of 3.48 or lower each year.

The left-hander earned his first win since July 21 against Texas on Sunday, when he allowed two runs and four hits with seven strikeouts in six innings of a 7-4 victory.

Kazmir is 3-1 with a 3.08 ERA lifetime against the White Sox, including a 2-0 win May 31, when he had six strikeouts over seven three-hit innings. With a similar performance Saturday, he can help the Rays win their first season series from the White Sox since 1998.

Pick: Tampa Bay - Best line +125 SBG Global

Florida Marlins (66-63) at Arizona Diamondbacks (67-61)

The Florida Marlins' inconsistent play in August has been costing them valuable ground in the NL East, as they've gone from a surprise contender to a team that can't string together wins.

When they've faced the Arizona Diamondbacks this season, winning hasn't been a problem.

Coming off a late-inning, come-from-behind victory in the opener, the Marlins will look to beat the Diamondbacks for the seventh time in eight tries when they continue their three-game series Saturday at Chase Field.

Florida (66-63) was just 1 1/2 games out of first place in the East at the beginning of the month, but August has been a major struggle for the Marlins. They're 8-12 so far this month, and they've yet to win consecutive games.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers losing on Friday, Arizona maintained a two-game cushion atop the NL West. The Diamondbacks will try to bounce back from their loss in the opener by handing the ball to former Marlin Yusmeiro Petit (2-3, 3.02).

The 23-year-old was traded to the Diamondbacks for reliever Jorge Julio before last season, and started 10 games, including some key contests on Arizona's way to the division title. He went 2-4 with a 4.94 ERA in 2007, but he's looked better this year.

Pick: Florida - Best line +150 SBG Global

Pittsburgh Pirates (57-71) at Milwaukee Brewers (74-55)

The Pittsburgh Pirates figure to have a major say in whether the Milwaukee Brewers will break their 26-year postseason drought, as they have eight games left against the NL's wild card leader down the stretch.

If those go like their first seven meetings have, the Brewers may need to plan on playing into October.

Milwaukee goes for its seventh win in eight contests against Pittsburgh when the teams continue their three-game set Saturday at Miller Park, where the Pirates have lost 10 straight.

The Brewers (74-55) have compiled a 33-24 record against the NL Central, and though they're still 4 1/2 games behind the division-leading Chicago Cubs, they are 2 1/2 up on St. Louis for the wild card.

The Pirates were set to throw Jeff Karstens in the middle game of the series, but will instead push the right-hander back to Monday.

Taking Karstens' spot will be Tom Gorzelanny (6-7, 6.57), who will be returning to the site of his last start in the majors. That was on July 4, when the left-hander was lit up by Milwaukee, surrendering eight runs - seven earned - and 11 hits over 4 2-3 innings in a 9-1 loss. Gorzelanny, who led Pittsburgh with 14 wins in 2007, has been a major disappointment in his second full season in the rotation, walking 61 in 87 2-3 innings.

Pick: Milwaukee - Best line -260 SBG Global

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