One thing is certain, these two know each others game. Kei Nishikori leads head to heads (8-6), but it’s Marin Cilic who won three from the last four meetings. Furthermore, the pair have played each other three times at the US open, and it was the Croatian who won all of those matches. In fact, one of them was in the 2014 final, when Cilic won in three straight sets. Marin has only given us one cause for doubt this week, and that was needing three sets to get past Alex De Minaur. With that said, we might be doing some injustice to his then 19 year old opponent has he’s a player who is beginning to make a name for himself. Kei Nishkori has had a relatively easy week, but history and this rise in class could count against the 29 year old.
We don't have a lot of time for writing previews today, but we wanted to give a pick on this match. Chicago might just be a challenger, but the quality is similar to a low level WTA tournament. Evgeniya Rodina is a very consistent player, albeit she's very limited and falls short of the required standard. If, Sara Sorribes Tormo has one of her better days. this should be a relatively easy. Afterall, on a good day the 21 year old Spaniard can bash away most players on tour. We should also add that Sara made three finals at this level during the current year, so she should be capable of bouncing back from her double bagel defeat to Gavrilova at the US open!
As a 16 year old Naomi Osaka won her only meeting with Lesia Tsurenko, so maybe she has a small mental advantage. The two girls won there first three matches with the minimum of fuss, but both needed three sets for the last round. Lesia Tsurenko had to come from a set behind to get the better of Marketa Vondrousova. Nevertheless, it was a blustery day and the first set was only lost on a tie breaker. By the end the 29 year old was well on top, and she certainly played the percentage game well. Naomi Osaka lost the second set to Aryna Sabalenka, and she appeared in limbo when her opponent was the first to break in the third set. However, Sabalenka then started to lose focus, and she cocked-up with six double faults. Naomi on the other hand hit three aces, and their you have the difference. We can certainly imagine Tsurenko making this extra tough for her opponent, and if she believes in herself she could win. nevertheless, we take the plus 4, it’s a nice start!
FREE PICK - Top of the table clash between second placed Internacional and third Flamengo RJ. Two points separate these sides in the table, plus they are 3 and 5 behind leaders Sao Paulo. Internacional remain unbeaten at home (7-3-0), and in the last round Odair Hellmann’s players took an excellent point in Cruzeiro (0-0). Team news is also a positive, with centre back/key player Rodrigo Moledo returning from his one match suspension. Flamengo RJ come into this match on the back of a ‘’shocking’’ home defeat to Ceara (0-1). The Mengão controlled most of that game and had a whopping 25 shots 89 on target). However, Mauricio Barbieri’s strikers where incompetent, and it was the visitors who scored an injury time winner. To put that loss into some sort of perspective, the Rio club started at odds of 1.30! It’s hard to believe how effective Internacional have been this season. Bare in mind they are newly promoted, and they only won one of their first five matches. The Colorado look a really well balanced team, and much of that as to be put down to how rookie coach Hellmann as installed so much confidence. We fancy the hosts to put home advantage to good effect!
Starting pitchers are Mike Leake for the hosts and Andrew Cashner for the visitors. It's been a disappointing season for Andrew Cashner in his first year in an Orioles uniform as he enters this game with a 4.86 ERA and a 5.06 xFIP that ranks 3rd worst in the league among qualified pitchers. Most noticeably different from Cashner's magical 2017 season has been his groundball rate which is considerably lower at 41.5% compared to 48.6% from a year ago and 47.9% in his career. Despite having slightly better numbers at home, we believe Cashner should benefit pitching at Safeco Field, one of the more pitcher friendly venues in the AL, precisely due to his increased fly ball rate. The Mariners are hanging on to playoff hopes but they have largely outperformed their win expectations and have actually scored fewer runs (572) than allowed (620). On the other side, Mike Leake is having a similar year to Cashner's 2017 campaign as Leake strikes out fewer than 6 batters per 9 innings and has a high groundball rate (48.3%). Nevertheless, Leake has shown some issues with his declining velocity and has been hit hard his last 2 starts with 11 runs allowed over 10.1 innings. The Mariners have the far superior bullpen but we believe they have overperformed as a team and believe these odds are a bit inflated!
Starting pitchers are Hyun-Jin Ryu for the hosts and Zack Wheeler for the visitors. Zack Wheeler took his first loss in 9 starts last time out against the Giants but he has quietly been one of the better pitchers in baseball with a 3.74 xFIP. Even against the Giants, Wheeler could hardly be blamed as he threw 7 strong innings, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits with 9 strikeouts to 0 walks and gets a Dodgers team that's been averaging fewer than 3 runs a game in their last 7. On the other side, Hyun-Jin Ryu has been magnificent since returning from a groin injury with a 2.38 ERA over 4 starts. The Mets have struggled against left handed pitching all season long and their OPS against southpaws is dead last in the league at .644. Both bullpens can be shaky but we believe quality starts from both sides should be enough to keep this under!
Starting pitchers are Tanner Roark for the hosts and Miles Mikolas for the visitors. Both Roark and Mikolas have had terrific seasons for their respective clubs but we believe both are punching above their weight a bit and are very hittable tonight. Mikolas hasn't been in the best of form with 2 consecutive non-quality starts and his xFIP is a pedestrian 3.71 compared to his 2.96 ERA. Tanner Roark also looked shaky in his last start and we believe he could be prone to the long ball tonight in these weather conditions. Starters aside, however, we're more interested in the state of the bullpen for both sides as the Nationals have suffered a rash of injuries and are left without their top 2 closers and a third traded away. The Cardinals have consistently had one of the worst group of relievers this season and despite injecting some new blood in to the bullpen, including starters Carlos Martinez and Tyson Ross, we still believe they are largely unproven and have let them down the past few games. We see another high scoring affair!
Starting pitchers are Jameson Taillon for the hosts and Homer Bailey for the visitors. Since returning from the DL, Homer Bailey had 2 good starts but then followed it up with 19 ER allowed over his next 5 over 24.2 IP. However, it bears mentioning that Bailey's xFIP of 4.73 is nearly 1.5 runs lower than his bloated 6.13 ERA and this has primarily been due to a HR rate of 2.04 HR/9. Bailey has done well to limit the walks and we believe he matches up reasonably well against a Pirates team that doesn't hit for much power and in a ballpark that favours pitchers. On the other side, Jameson Taillon enters this game with a 3.45 ERA and in terrific form with an astounding 17 consecutive starts having allowed 3 runs or less. However, Taillon's weakness has been facing left handed hitters as his xFIP against them is 4.43 compared to 2.89 against right handers and he faces a Reds team with plenty of left handed power in the lineup. The Pirates have the advantage in the bullpen but the Reds have enough quality in the backend of theirs to keep this competitive late in our opinion. We believe the visitors are worth backing at nearly 2/1!
Starting pitchers are Corey Kluber for the hosts and Brad Keller for the visitors. Brad Keller has been the Royals' best starter for quite some time now and enters this game with 2 runs or fewer allowed in his last 4 starts. Keller's groundball heavy pitching plays well with one of the best defenses behind him and should suit him well against a power hitting Indians team. On the other side, Corey Kluber struggled a week ago in this matchup but nothing indicates to that there is something amiss and we believe he simply ran into some bad batted ball luck. The Royals had to go to their bullpen early last night but they preserved their better relievers Tim Hill and Kevin McCarthy who should bridge the gap to their closer Wily Peralta though it's likely the Indians win the game. Nevertheless, we believe Keller can put up another strong outing and limit the damage while Kluber can be counted on for much of the same.
Serena Wiliams is unlikely to reach her highest level again, so that’s certainly one worry. Reading into the 34 year olds form this week isn’t easy, because the win over her sister was some type of joke. Furthermore, beating Witthoeft and Linette was never going to be a real challenge, and she did need three sets to get past big hitting Kaia Kanepi. Karolina Pliskova is also a former number one, albeit she never reached the same level has Serena. In fact, she’s never won a slam, although she did make it to the 2016 final here. We should also add that she defeated Serena in the semi final that year, and she’s 1-1 on life time meetings. Overall Pliskova doesn’t have the best record against top rank players, but she’s looked in really good form this week. We believe there could be a surprise, but for the sake of betting we take the +4!
JM Del Potro leads head to heads 7-4, and it’s 4-2 on hard court and the same in North America (US/Canada). However, while Del Potro won there last meeting in Paris (clay), it was actually John Isner who won both fixtures immediately before that. With regards to the week to date, the 29 year old Argentinian beat Donald Young, Denis Kudla, Fernando Vasco and Borna Coric in straight sets. While, Isner needed five to get past Milos Roanic and Nicolas Jarry, plus a close 4 with Dusan Lajovic. He did at least manage to get the better of Klahn Bradley in three, but he’s actually spent a total of 12:18 on these baking courts. For the record, Del Potro has just 8:47 on the clock! Take Del Potro -4 games at positive odds
It’s a bit shorter than what we would want to give out, but it does appear to be a two horse race and a value bet————ACCORD won his two races following a long break, so we can’t imagine him needing this run on his reappearance. On official rating’s he’s got 5 pounds in hand of penalised runner HENRY SMITH, so that’s one positive factor. We also believe the latter hasn’t earned his mark of 119, because the race he won last time out was not a good one. It’s really simple, if ACCORD retains ability, this should be a great chance to win in what boils down to a two horse race.