|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|04-22-19||White Sox -125 v. Orioles||Top||12-2||Win||100||12 h 45 m||Show|
10* Chi White Sox (7:05 ET): Something will have to give when two pretty lousy teams meet Monday at Camden Yards. I see the White Sox having a pretty decided edge here as they get to go up against the struggling David Hess, who was tagged for six runs in his last outing, which lasted all of two innings. Plus, the Orioles are just 1-9 at home after getting swept by the Twins over the weekend. Chicago dropped 2 of 3 in Detroit, including a one-run decision on Sunday. But they benefit from the fact Saturday's game got rained out while Baltimore has had to play three games in the last two days.
Hess has has lost his three starts, posting a 9.23 ERA and 1.657 WHIP. It was Tampa Bay that shelled him his last time out and a really troubling sign for the right-hander is that he's given up a total of 7 HR's his L3 starts. His teammates didn't do much better over the weekend, getting swept in a doubleheader on Saturday and then losing again on Sunday. They were outscored 26-15 in the three games. Since the start of last season, Baltimore is down almost 50 net units. They project to lose another 100 games this season. Betting against them at this price seems like a good idea.
Chicago will turn to Manny Banuelos in this spot. He hasn't started at the big league level since 2015. He has worked four times in relief this season, the longest of those stints going 3 1/3 innings. His last 9+ innings of work, Banuelos has allowed just two runs on five hits. It was a tough loss yday for the White Sox as they couldn't score until the 8th inning, wasting a strong start from Reynaldo Lopez. But scoring shouldn't be an issue against Hess. The Orioles have lost 18 of Hess' last 22 starts and are 0-6 their L6 times facing a southpaw starter (Banuelos is a lefty). They also have lost 41 of their last 51 series openers. 10* Chi White Sox
|04-21-19||Reds v. Padres -138||Top||3-4||Win||100||16 h 10 m||Show|
8* San Diego (4:10 ET): The Reds came into this series having not won a single road game all season. (Well, except for one in Mexico). Now, they've won three in row. That dramatic turnaround lends itself to a play on host San Diego today as the four-game sweep remains pretty rare these days when you're the home team. The Padres know this all too well as last Sunday they lost in Arizona after taking the first three games of that series. That begat a six-game losing streak for the team, the last five of which have all come here at home. The streak ends Sunday.
San Diego hasn't had much offense during the losing streak, scoring just 13 runs. They've been held to two or fewer in five straight. The good news though is they many not need much offense today w/ Joey Lucchesi on the mound. Lucchesi has pitched very well in his three starts at Petco Park, posting a 2.60 ERA and 1.096 WHIP. Those numbers were even better before he ran into Colorado here on Monday. His first two starts saw him toss 10+ scoreless innings w/ 13 strikeouts. This is Lucchesi's second season in the bigs and he also pitched well here at home in his rookie campaign. All told, he has 105 strikeouts in 96 1/3 IP at Petco.
Cincinnati's Tyler Mahle comes in on a similar trajectory as Lucchesi: two strong starts followed by a rough one. Last Tuesday, Mahle allowed 4 runs and 11 hits against the Dodgers. The Reds also haven't done much scoring for Mahle this year, totaling just three runs in his three starts! Remember that the Reds had been swept in three of their first six series. Their offense remains as bad as any in all of MLB w/ a .195 team batting average for the year. That's dead last and it drops to .179 on the road. The Padres should avoid the sweep here. 8* San Diego
|04-21-19||Mets -125 v. Cardinals||Top||4-6||Loss||-125||6 h 59 m||Show|
10* NY Mets (2:15 ET): The Mets were forced to call up Chris Flexen for yesterday's game in St. Louis to replace the injured Jacob deGrom. That went about as well as expected w/ Flexen allowing six runs in his first big league start since last July. The Mets lost 10-2 and just to rub salt into the wounds, Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas not only dominated them from the mound (allowed just four hits in 8 IP), but also at the plate w/ a pair of hits of his own. But the Mets are in luck today as they'll have Noah Syndergaard starting. I look for them to bounce back.
The Mets are now 11-9, but have been outscored by 17 runs. That's not a great sign for the future, but Syndergaard makes the present appear strong. Now it's hardly been a dominant start to the year for Syndergaard. In fact, he has a 5.62 ERA after four starts. He's allowed four runs or more three times. But the Mets are 3-1 when Syndergaard takes the mound. He also has a 3.08 ERA in four career starts vs. St. Louis. With the deGrom injury, the club is now counting on Syndergaard to lead the rotation for the time being. I'm betting on him stepping up big in this spot.
St. Louis will go w/ Dakota Hudson, a converted reliever that was shelled his last time out. Hudson allowed six runs and eight hits in just 3 2/3 innings vs. Milwaukee, a 10-7 loss for the team. Hudson has yet to go a full five innings in any start this season and now has a 6.39 ERA and 2.368 WHIP. Chances of him outdueling Syndergaard here seem small. Making matters tougher is that the Cards are 0-4 the last 4 times they've been coming off a game where they scored 5+ runs. The Mets are 21-8 the L29 times Syndergaard has started and they scored two runs or fewer the previous day. 10* NY Mets
|04-18-19||Dodgers -118 v. Brewers||Top||3-1||Win||100||12 h 25 m||Show|
10* LA Dodgers (8:10 ET): These teams have similar records, but delving into the box scores reveals that the Dodgers have played significantly better than have the Brew Crew. While the 12-8 Dodgers happen to have a NL-best +29 run differential, Milwaukee (12-7) has actually been outscored on the year (by two runs). These clubs met not long ago, in LA, and going into the series finale the Dodgers were on a six-game losing skid. They haven't lost since, having beaten Milwaukee 7-1 on Sunday, then sweeping the Reds. It's time to show "who's boss" in the Senior Circuit.
Thursday's starter for the Dodgers is Julio Urias. He also started the opener of the last series vs. Milwaukee. He lost the game, giving up five runs in five innings, to stay winless on the season. That made it B2B suspect starts for Urias after he didn't last long in Colorado either. He did open the year w/ a strong effort though; five shutout innings of three-hit ball against the Giants (7-0 KW rate), so he's certainly capable of pitching well. Something else to consider here is the Dodgers' offense. They lead the National League in runs scored, batting average and OPS.
That's all trouble for Brewers' starter Zach Davies, though he admittedly tamed the Dodgers bats when he faced them five days ago. He allowed just one run in seven innings, scattering eight hits. The Brewers are now 3-0 in Davies' starts this season. That was one of only two games so far that LA was held to 1 or 0 runs. So while it's a "feather in the cap" of Davies, I seriously doubt he can turn the same trick twice. Also, the Brewers' top hitter Christian Yelich was just 2 for 12 in the last series vs. LA. The Dodgers are the better team here and I expect them to show that tonight (and the rest of the weekend for that matter). 10* LA Dodgers
|04-17-19||Diamondbacks v. Braves -155||Top||3-2||Loss||-155||11 h 44 m||Show|
10* Atlanta (7:20 ET): Arizona took the series opener 9-6, but look for the Braves to bounce back at home. As "advertised," they look to have a significant edge in the starting pitching department tonight. Kevin Gausman has a 2.84 ERA and 0.868 WHIP after two starts while Arizona's Zack Godley has been battered around in three starts, leaving him w/ a 7.41 ERA and 1.471. Godley's lone road start to date was a complete disaster w/ him allowing eight runs at Chavez Ravine. He's also allowed multiple HR's in two of his three outings. I like Atlanta in this spot quite a bit.
The Braves had a 5-2 lead last night going into the 7th inning. But the bullpen gave it away. First, it was allowing four runs in the 7th. The offense was able to tie it back up in the bottom half of the inning, but then the D'backs got a HR from Christian Walker to lead off the ninth and that was all she wrote. They even tacked on a couple more runs for good measure. The Braves' bullpen performance highlights the need for Gausman to "step up" and fortunately he should be able to do just that. He has a 6-1 TSR his last seven starts at home dating back to last season.
As bad as Atlanta's bullpen has been this season, Arizona's has actually been worse w/ a 6.03 ERA and 1.64 WHIP. So, even with what unfolded yday, I'm not concerned w/ the late innings. Especially considering that I expect the Braves again to have the lead early here. Godley has pitched a lot on the road the L2 seasons and has won plenty of games, but his career ERA on the road (4.54) leaves a lot to be desired. As I already mentioned, he was knocked around in LA earlier this year. Since the start of last season, he has an ERA approaching 6.00 away from home. In three career starts vs. the Braves, his ERA is 7.40. 10* Atlanta
|04-16-19||Astros -153 v. A's||Top||9-1||Win||100||14 h 49 m||Show|
8* Houston (10:07 ET): The Astros are the hottest team in baseball right now as they've won nine straight games. I took them in all three wins they had over the weekend in Seattle, citing numerous factors, mainly on the Seattle side as that was a team due to regress (following an extraordinary start). Another team I have earmarked for regression in the AL West this season is Oakland. They stunned everyone by making the playoffs last year (as a Wild Card), but they did so by going a MLB-best 31-14 in one-run games. They weren't as fraudulent as Seattle was LY, but the A's won't be winning 90+ games again, that's for sure. Keep riding Houston.
It was a strong statement made by the Astros over the weekend as they took all three games up in Seattle. None of the wins came easy, but the bottom line is this team hasn't lost a game since April 3rd in Texas. The win streak began w/ a three-game sweep of these A's, at home. (In between sweeping the division rivals, they also swept the Yankees). Collin McHugh will look to keep things going Tuesday and he figures to pitch well in this spot, considering he held the A's to one run on three hits (6 IP) when he faced them earlier in the month. He followed that up by holding the Yankees to two runs on four hits, also over six innings. McHugh has a 2.65 ERA and 0.882 WHIP in his three starts this season. He is 9-1 w/ a 2.78 ERA lifetime vs. Oakland. Another key is McHugh will be backed by what has been the AL's best bullpen so far (2.70 ERA).
Oakland's bullpen (4.39 ERA) is clearly inferior to that of the Astros and starter Marco Estrada doesn't match up well w/ McHugh either. Estrada hasn't pitched poorly per se, but his team start record (TSR) is 0-4 this year. He did not face Houston in the previous series, but he did just allow six runs (in 4 IP) in an ugly loss to Baltimore last Monday. He's already given up five HR's this season and has only 10 K's in just over 20 IP. Not sure having seven days off will matter for Estrada as McHugh is also pitching on five days rest and he's got a 14-3 TSR in that situation. The Astros have taken 40 of the last 58 games vs. Oakland. 8* Houston
|04-14-19||Astros -162 v. Mariners||Top||3-2||Win||100||7 h 56 m||Show|
|04-14-19||Phillies -167 v. Marlins||Top||3-1||Win||100||4 h 19 m||Show|
6* Philadelphia (1:10 ET): The Phillies were embarrassed Saturday as they fell behind Miami 10-0 and didn't score until the 9th inning. I expect them to bounce back though on Sunday as the Marlins figure to be the proverbial "punching bag" in the NL East this season. The other four teams in the division, Philadelphia included, all have their eyes on the postseason. Miami projects to be a 100-loss team. The win yday was just the 4th of the year for the Fish, who have won B2B games only one time and are 2-9 here in April. Their starter for Sunday doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
The Phils go w/ Vince Velasquez today. He's started only one game so far, but aside from allowing a HR, he looked very good. He allowed just four hits in five innings of work and didn't walk anybody. The team desperately needs a strong effort out of Velasquez here as pitching staff has given up 10+ runs in three of its last four games. But two of those were against Washington. I look for this to be along the lines of Friday's 9-1 victory as Velasquez has a 3.18 ERA in 10 career starts vs. Miami. Before yday, the Marlins had scored a grand total of just two runs in its last four games. Yesterday was a season-high in runs and hits (18), but they still average only 3.0 rpg for the year.
There simply isn't much good to report with Jose Urena, who will be getting the baseball for a 4th time here in 2019. Miami's starter has produced some ugly numbers thus far (8.56 ERA, 2.121 WHIP) and even worse is the fact he has NEVER won a decision in March or April. Talk about a slow starter; Urena is 0-7 in 18 appearances (9 starts) in March or April w/ a 5.97 ERA. He also has a 4.92 ERA in 14 appearances (10 starts) against Philadelphia. The Phillies are still averaging 5.8 rpg this year and they're 3-1 off a loss. It seems like a smart bet to expect them to bounce back. 6* Philadelphia
|04-13-19||Astros -185 v. Mariners||Top||3-1||Win||100||13 h 21 m||Show|
6* Houston (9:10 ET): I loved the Astros last night and while it was "dicey" early on, they ended up pulling out a 10-6 victory thanks to TWO grand slams. I'll come right back with them again for many of the same reasons I stipulated in yday's analysis. Seattle's 13-2 start was downright shocking to me, considering I had them earmarked for some serious regression in 2019. Last year's 89-73 WL record was a total fraud as the team was outscored by 34 runs, giving them an "expected" win total of 77. No team in all of MLB had a bigger gap between actual and expected wins LY, positive or negative.
Houston is no stranger to winning as they've now come out ahead in seven straight games. They'll send Justin Verlander to the bump Saturday. Verlander has had two quality starts out of three, beating the Rays and Yankees. I really like what manager A.J. Hinch did yesterday, using two starters. Right now, Hinch is going with just a four-man rotation due to a favorable upcoming schedule that has more off days than normal. This will allow for the Astros to have their best pitchers on the mound more often. They are 19-4 in Verlander's last 23 road starts.
Seattle was able to get to 89 wins LY by going 14-1 in extra inning games and 36-21 in games decided by one run. They've already won five one-run games this season and are 2-0 in extra innings. But again, I feel their luck is about to run out. There's just no way they can maintain the offensive pace they set to start the season. Starters are still 9-0 this season, but Felix Hernandez isn't the same old "King Felix" anymore. He left his last start after just one inning due to flu-like symptoms and had already given up two runs on three hits. Hernandez has a 1.58 WHIP so far. Houston is the far better team here and the pricing speaks volumes. 6* Houston
|04-12-19||Astros -140 v. Mariners||Top||10-6||Win||100||15 h 55 m||Show|
9* Houston (10:10 ET): I've been waiting for a matchup like this where I could begin to fade Seattle, who is off to a shocking 13-2 start. I say "shocking" because they are one of the teams I had earmarked for regression in 2019. Last year's 89-73 WL record was a total fraud as the team was outscored by 34 runs, giving them an "expected" win total of 77. No team in all of MLB had a bigger gap between actual and expected wins LY, positive or negative. The Mariners were able to get to that record by going an unfathomable 14-1 in extra inning games, not to mention 36-21 in games decided by one run. Starting today though, their "luck" is about to run out.
Like Seattle, Houston has won six straight coming into this series. The Astros haven't been quite as dominant as the Mariners so far, who have scored the most runs in all of baseball and thus have a +42 run differential through 15 games. But again, Seattle has still been fortunate to win five one-run games (tied for most) and they are one of three teams to be 2-0 in extra inning games. So that's now a 41-22 mark in one-run games since the start of last season & 16-1 mark in extra innings! Ridiculous! Now, their rally yday (won 7-6 in 10 innings) brought me good fortune as I had the Over against KC. But now it's time to fade.
Houston just completed a perfect 6-0 homestand, sweeping the A's and Yankees, two playoff teams from a year ago. Unlike Seattle, they had Thursday off, which is a nice advantage coming into this weekend series. The Astros will send out Wade Miley, a former Mariner, who has a 2.89 ERA against his former team. Miley faces an offense that's on a record-setting pace, but at the same time it has to eventually slow down. The Mariners starting rotation is a perfect 9-0 so far, including Wade LeBlanc's 2-0. But LeBlanc hasn't exactly pitched "well" w/ a 4.77 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in those starts. He has a 5.65 ERA in 10 career appearances vs. the Astros. 9* Houston
|04-11-19||Blue Jays v. Red Sox -183||Top||6-7||Win||100||11 h 2 m||Show|
6* Boston (7:10 ET): The Red Sox are off to a shockingly poor 3-9 start, not even resembling the club that completely dominated MLB is 2018. On their way to a fourth World Series crown this century, the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and finished up a stunning 42.5 units overall. Now, they're in the hole a league worst -11.1 units after losing to Toronto (7-5) on Tuesday. But I expect them to bounce back tonight at Fenway Park as this team is too talented to keep losing this many games.
Aside from the seven runs they scored on Tuesday, the Blue Jays have not exactly been hitting the cover off the ball to start the season. Tuesday's game did mark a new season-high in runs scored for any game. In 8 of 12 games, they've been held to three runs or fewer. Collectively, they are batting a putrid .193. While 3-0 in starts made by Matt Shoemaker, they're 1-8 w/ any other starter on the mound. Tonight, it'll be Aaron Sanchez getting the baseball. While he has a 1.64 ERA and 1.182 WHIP after two starts, Sanchez has a 4.06 ERA in 19 career games vs. Boston.
The Red Sox offense is performing nowhere near LY's level, having been held to 1 run or less in three games and shutout twice. But lack of scoring is a secondary concern to the number of runs they're giving up right now. Only Baltimore has allowed more runs so far this season. Nathan Eovaldi will try to put a halt to that tonight as he looks to improve his team start record to 3-0 this year. Eovaldi has faced Toronto four times in his career and no Blue Jays hitter has more than five hits against him. Dustin Pedroia is now back in the Boston lineup, which should help the offense. Furthermore, Boston is 27-10 its last 37 games vs. Toronto, including 10-2 the L12 at Fenway. 6* Boston
|04-10-19||Brewers -128 v. Angels||Top||2-4||Loss||-128||14 h 28 m||Show|
|04-09-19||Marlins v. Reds -180||Top||0-14||Win||100||10 h 8 m||Show|
7* Cincinnati (6:40 ET): Really like the Reds today. Yes, what was supposed to be a breakout season for them has started poorly. They have lost eight in a row since winning on Opening Day. There are multiple reasons for this, but a key one seems to be "bad luck." Only one time have the Reds lost a game by more than two runs this year. Half of their losses have come by exactly 1 run. I believe this series is where they get back on track as they'll host the lowly Marlins for three games. Miami was projected to be the worst team in the NL this year and I've seen nothing so far to dissuade me from that projection ringing true.
The Reds have already been shut out four times this year, three of those by Pittsburgh. But getting to face the struggling Jose Urena may be the cure for what ails this line. In two starts, Urena has a 9.34 ERA and 2.076 WHIP. Both starts were at home and saw him allow a total of 11 runs (2 unearned) in just 8 2/3 IP. He's been knocked around for 16 hits. Not surprisingly, the Marlins lost both games. Despite the home team's offensive struggles here, Great American Ballpark is known to favor the hitters, so I wouldn't expect a strong showing for Urena here.
Pitching has not been a problem for Cincinnati, especially when Luis Castillo is on the bump. While he's yet to record a victory, he owns a 1.42 ERA and 0.789 WHIP in his two starts. He was the starter on Opening Day, the lone game the Reds have won this year. Castillo was then a hard luck loser here at home against Milwaukee last Wednesday as he allowed just one run in 7 IP (1-0 final). He's due to get a win and a Marlins team that is just 3-7 is the right opponent for that to happen. Miami is only hitting .197 on the road. 7* Cincinnati
|04-07-19||A's v. Astros -170||Top||8-9||Win||100||6 h 56 m||Show|
10* Houston (2:10 ET): The Astros came into this series at just 2-5 on the year while Oakland had won five of six, including an impressive series vs. the Red Sox (took 3 of 4 games). But it's been Houston flexing its muscles this weekend, taking the first two games by scores of 3-2 and 6-0. It's important to note that the 'Stros hadn't played a home game before this weekend while the A's had gotten hot at home and hadn't played on the road since opening the year with two games in Japan. I see Houston finishing off the three-game sweep here as starter Brad Peacock was dominant his first time out.
Peacock threw 6 2/3 innings last Monday and allowed just one run on two hits. Houston won the game 2-1 in Arlington. Despite getting off to the fast start, Oakland's lineup has not been scoring a ton. After being shutout yday, that's four of the last five games they've failed to score more than three runs. There have only been three games so far where they've score more than four runs and one was the season opener. So Peacock should be in good shape here. Note Houston pitching has allowed more than four runs only one time this year.
The A's will go w/ Michael Fiers, who is off B2B dominant starts at home. He's thrown 12 scoreless innings while allowing just six hits. But to say Fiers has been "overpowering" during this time would be a misnomer. In fact, he has only five strikeouts against three walks. It should also be pointed out that Fiers struggled when he pitched over in Japan against Seattle, allowing five runs in three innings. The homefield edge has definitely proven to be significant for Houston in this series and I look for them to improve to 40-18 the L58 head to head matchups vs. Oakland. 10* Houston
|04-06-19||Blue Jays v. Indians -174||Top||2-7||Win||100||16 h 32 m||Show|
7* Cleveland (4:10 ET): We're looking to make it 3 for 3 in this series w/ the Indians. Thursday, it was Trevor Bauer taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning in what ended up being a 4-1. Friday was a 3-2 win, in walk-off fashion, with Carlos Santana delivering the game-winning HR. While Cleveland's offense has been fairly anemic to this point, they did hit two HR's yday, doubling their previous total from the first six games. As I've detailed each of the last two days, Toronto is - in many ways - the perfect opponent for Cleveland right now as they have been every bit as anemic at the plate to start the year.
Carlos Carrasco was abysmal in his first start, giving up six runs and 10 hits in just 4 1/3 innings. The Indians lost that game 9-3 to Minnesota, but starting pitching has been outstanding so far in this series w/ Bauer and Shane Bieber limiting the Jays to three hits total in the two games w/ 17 strikeouts in 13 innings of work. Carrasco should bounce back here against a Blue Jays lineup that is hitting a collective .190 so far this season, including 3 for 30 in the 1st innings w/ 12 strikeouts. Yesterday marked the sixth time they've been held to three runs or fewer in eight games. There have been four games where they entered the sixth w/ no hits! So, like I said earlier, Carrasco should bounce back here.
Toronto has not been a good road team the last several seasons, going 67-97 overall, including 2-6 here at Progressive Field. Saturday starter Thomas Pannone doesn't seem likely to reverse that trend as he's only in the rotation due to a demotion (Sean Reid-Foley). Pannone had been working out of the bullpen and had one shaky and one effective appearance. He may not go long and that's a problem considering his departure weakens an already suspect Blue Jays bullpen that had not been carrying its weight compared to the starting rotation. The Indians have cleaned up in day games the L3 seasons, going 77-46. 7* Cleveland
|04-06-19||Rangers v. Angels -138||Top||1-5||Win||100||15 h 27 m||Show|
10* LA Angels (4:05 ET): The Halos snapped a five-game losing skid last night, beating Texas 3-1. Mike Trout hit a pair of homers to lead his team to victory and now for the first time all year they'll try and win two straight. I like their chances. While the offense simply hasn't been "there" for the Angels so far, they should break out today against Rangers starter Drew Smyly, who allowed six baserunners and a homer in just three innings Monday. That was his first start since the end of the 2016 season and it required 58 pitches to get through the first two innings. It's a little surprising that Texas "only" lost that game, 2-1.
Both Saturday starters would seem to be question marks heading into the game. The Angels' Tyler Skaggs only lasted 4 2/3 innings in his first start of '19. There are concerns of "forearm fatigue" w/ Skaggs, though he looked good early against Oakland on Sunday, retiring the first eight batters he saw in order. But after that, things got a little more dicey as he needed 33 pitches to get through the third inning and was pulled after just 86 pitches total. Like Smyly, Skaggs allowed a HR and his team lost the game 2-1. But I thought Skaggs looked the better of the two and he has the advantage of having dominated Texas twice last season.
In two starts vs. the Rangers last year, Skaggs went 2-0 w/ a 0.82 ERA. He had 13 strikeouts in 11 IP and tossed six shutout innings when he faced them here at home. Obviously, he's going to need some run support, but against Smyly, Trout and the Angels lineup should deliver. The Rangers were not projected to do well this season, so a 5-2 start should be taken w/ the proverbial "grain of salt." The Angels have taken 14 of the last 21 head to head meetings and 6-1 the last seven times they've played host. Texas did come in and win the first game on Thursday, but it's difficult for me to see them winning the series. 10* LA Angels
|04-05-19||Blue Jays v. Indians -145||Top||2-3||Win||100||12 h 5 m||Show|
8* Cleveland (7:10 ET): This package has a National League matchup, an Interleague matchup and we conclude w/ an American League matchup. I took the Indians yday in what looked like a real "buy low" scenario w/ a bonafide Cy Young contender on the mound. Boy, did Trevor Bauer come through as he tossed seven no-hit innings against Toronto, leading the Tribe to a 4-1 victory. The home team should win again Friday as their offense has to eventually come around. Even if it doesn't, the Blue Jays are only hitting .190 themselves, so a few runs is all Cleveland starter Shane (don't call me Justin) Bieber should need here.
This will be Bieber's first start of the season, but he did make a brief relief appearance on Sunday vs. Minnesota. A case could be made that Bieber would have been the Opening Day starter for any other team in the AL Central. Last year was his rookie season and he went 11-5 overall, including a win at Toronto. As touched on already, the Blue Jays are not hitting much so far in 2019. They're averaging just 3.0 rpg and yday was the third time they were held to 1 or less. Incredibly, last night was the fourth time this season they entered the sixth inning w/o any hits!
Toronto, like Cleveland, seems to have some strong starting pitching on hand. Only once in eight games has the starter given up more than 2 ER. That includes a nice big league debut from tonight's starter Trent Thornton, who threw five shutout innings of two-hit ball vs. Detroit on Sunday. Thornton has an unusual delivery and was held to just 75 pitches in that first start. Working on a pitch count is beneficial for his future, but the team may suffer in the interim if the bullpen can't produce. Honestly, the Blue Jays' bullpen may not even matter given how bad the offense has been. The L3 seasons have seen Toronto go just 67-96 in the U.S, including 2-5 at Progressive Field. 8* Cleveland
|04-05-19||Twins v. Phillies -147||Top||4-10||Win||100||12 h 60 m||Show|
8* Philadelphia (7:05 ET): I had my doubts that the Phillies could live up to lofty expectations that were set after bringing in Bryce Harper late in the Spring. But so far, so good as they have started the season 4-1 and outscored opponents by 17 runs. The only loss suffered came two days ago, to Harper's former team (the Nationals), by a single run (9-8). A wild, back & forth game saw the Phils take an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the eighth, only for some sloppy play to cost them the game. But, at home, I like them to bounce back against a Minnesota club that will obviously be at a disadvantage playing in a NL park (no DH).
The Twins are also 4-1 w/ their only loss coming by one run. They have won three in a row, though the last two games were played against the lowly Royals. In a weak AL Central, Minnesota is right to believe they have a chance to challenge Cleveland for division supremacy, but (as always) pitching remains a question mark. Jake Odorizzi gets the baseball here and he did look good in his first start, giving up only a solo HR in six strong innings vs. the Indians last Saturday. He also finished w/ 11 strikeouts, tying a career-high. But I don't expect him to be as effective here. Even w/ the pitcher coming up to bat, the Phillies are a stronger offensive team than the Indians as they are averaging 7.8 runs per game. Odorizzi, like most American League pitchers, is also a massive liability at the plate.
Philly will counter w/ Nick Pivetta, who was admittedly not that effective against Atlanta on Saturday. But his team still got the win, 8-4. The Phillies' bullpen seems to be a question mark right now, but I imagine that and the fielding woes will work themselves out. The Phillies have won all three home games this season and the Twins were not good on the road last year, posting a 29-52 record. 8* Philadelphia
|04-05-19||Padres v. Cardinals -162||Top||5-3||Loss||-162||9 h 10 m||Show|
8* St. Louis (4:15 ET): Today is a make up game for yday's rainout. It's the Cardinals' home opener and I believe itll be worth the wait for Redbirds' fans as I expect their team to get the job done Friday afternoon. No game was originally scheduled for today (in anticipation of Thursday possibly raining out), so it's the same pitching matchup that was set for yday. St. Louis had delivered B2B come from behind wins (both against Pittsburgh) prior to this series while San Diego is off to a better than usual 4-3 start, though all seven games were played at Petco Park.
Starting here for the Cardinals will be Jack Flaherty, who finished fifth in NL Rookie of the Year balloting last year. His first start of '19 did not go particularly well as he gave up four runs on seven hits in just 4 1/3 IP. But two prior starts against San Diego have gone well w/ him allowing just two runs on six hits across 11 1/3 IP. The Padres hit just .154 off him and lost both games. I expect Flaherty to bounce back from the subpar 1st outing of the season as he posted a 2.93 ERA and 1.035 WHIP at home last season. Helping him will be the bat of Paul Goldschmidt, who has already homered four times in his first six games wearing a St. Louis uniform.
At the plate, Goldschmidt and the rest of the Cards will be getting their 1st look at Padres' rookie Nick Margevicius, who had an impressive big league debut last week w/ five shutout innings before giving up a run in the sixth. He had 5 K's and zero walks. Unfortunately for Margevicius, the Padres would go on to lose that game, 3-2 to the Giants. Despite now fielding an allegedly better lineup than years' past, San Diego has yet to score more than five runs in a game this season and has been held to three or fewer four times. I'm not yet sold enough on Margevicius to believe he can overcome a lack of run support. 8* St. Louis
|04-04-19||Blue Jays v. Indians -173||Top||1-4||Win||100||9 h 49 m||Show|
6* Cleveland (6:10 ET): Despite a less than inspiring off-season, the Indians came into the year once again favored to win the (weak) AL Central. They seemingly own a very significant edge in starting pitching over the rest of their division rivals, but so far that's been of little consequence due to an anemic offense that's w/o both Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. The Tribe have scored of a total of 13 runs in five games so far and are just 2-3 overall after dropping a game to the White Sox yday by a score of 8-3. Outside of Monday's 5-3 win in the home opener, this team has not scored more than three runs in any other game.
But fortunately for today, they do have (perhaps) their best pitcher on the mound. That would be Trevor Bauer, who many feel is set to supplant Corey Kluber as the ace of this rotation. Bauer was as good as advertised in his first start of '19 where he held Minnesota to just one run on one hit over seven strong innings. The Indians actually won that game, 2-1. You have to remember that Bauer was dominant before getting hurt last season as he posted a 2.31 ERA (third lowest) and 1.103 WHIP. His career numbers against today's opponent are not great, but he's a much better pitcher today compared to the past.
Toronto was able to avoid what would have been an embarrassing sweep (at home, no less) by beating Baltimore yday 5-3. Their own starting pitching has been pretty great this year, at one point posting 24 straight scoreless innings. Five of those came from Thursday's starter Marco Estrada, who held Detroit to just three hits in the third game of the season. But Bauer is the better pitcher here and Estrada's ERA in three career starts vs. Cleveland is 5.06. The Jays are only batting .202 in the early going themselves. This is a good matchup for the Indians. 6* Cleveland
|04-03-19||Red Sox -137 v. A's||Top||6-3||Win||100||14 h 48 m||Show|
10* Boston (10:07 ET): It's difficult to feel bad for a team like the Red Sox, who had virtually everything go their way last year en route to a fourth World Series title in the L15 years. They won 108 games, making an astounding 42.5 units for the season. So the rest of the league certainly isn't "crying" over the fact they've started 1-5 in 2019. But after giving up 41 runs in the first five games, they allowed just one yesterday and still lost (shutout for the 2nd straight day here in Oakland). I think it's time for the World Series Champs to win one tonight.
Since dropping two games to the Mariners over in Japan to start the year, Oakland's pitching has been lights out. Starters have allowed just one run in the last 36 innings of work and Boston has yet to be able to score a single run in this series. Marco Estrada will start for a third time tonight and while he's yet to win a decision, he has a 2.45 ERA and 0.818 WHIP. He threw six shutout innings of two-hit ball against the Angels last Friday. But don't expect Estrada to find that kind of success here. He has a 4.68 ERA in 17 career outings against the Red Sox and is 4-8. He'll face a motivated Boston lineup that didn't lose four in a row at any point in 2018. Now they've done it in the first six games of 2019.
For the Red Sox to get the win here, they'll need a better effort from starter Nathan Eovaldi than the one they got Friday. Granted, that was also the only game Boston has won all year. But Eovaldi allowed three HR's and six runs total. This is a pitcher that was very effective last year though, so expect a bounce back performance. Over his L7 starts of '18, Eovaldi posted a 2.01 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. Boston is too good and too talented to continue losing. Oakland is a team I had regressing this year and I think we'll see a major reversal of fortunes tonight. 10* Boston
|04-03-19||Rockies v. Rays -130||Top||1-0||Loss||-130||5 h 56 m||Show|
8* Tampa Bay (1:10 ET): The Rays won yday, 4-0, and now are 5-1 on the young season. They've won five straight since an Opening Day loss to the Astros, where I played against them. Now we circle back and things are obviously looking "up." Not only are the Rays off to a hot start, but their main competition in the AL East - the Red Sox & Yankees - are both struggling. Since it's very likely both of those teams will eventually turn things around, it would be a good idea for Tampa Bay to keep racking up the early season wins. I think they stay hot Wednesday afternoon and win again.
Colorado is trending in a different direction right now w/ four straight losses. They come into 2019 still looking for the franchise's first ever NL West pennant. Even the Rays, who came into existence five years after the Rockies, have won the division at least once. But a history lesson isn't what the Rockies need right now. Rather, it's some offense. During the four game slide, they've been shutout twice and scored only four runs total. Tropicana Field doesn't seem like a likely place for them to turn things around, however. No team allowed fewer runs per game at home last year than the Rays and in six games this year, they've allowed a total of just TEN runs! Even w/ the DH, I expect the Rockies' struggles at the plate to continue here.
Starting here for the Rays will be Charlie Morton. An All-Star LY w/ Houston, Morton went 15-3 in 2018. He helped his new team pick up its 1st win of this season, ironically against the Astros, with a strong effort where he allowed just two runs and three hits (w/ 8 K's) in five innings. Coming off a shutout win, the Rays have gone 16-6 the L3 seasons. Colorado has scored just one run here the L2 days. German Marquez gets the start for them today, but even though he pitched well vs. Miami last week, it won't be enough here. 8* Tampa Bay
|04-01-19||Orioles v. Blue Jays -162||Top||6-5||Loss||-162||11 h 56 m||Show|
7* Toronto (7:07 ET): All things considered, it was an incredible impressive weekend for the Orioles as they took two of three from the Yankees. Both wins came as ML dogs of +270 or higher, so your bankroll would be in nice shape had you bet Baltimore. The O's can't possibly be as bad as they were last season when they won only 47 games and lost a mind-numbing 53.5 units at the betting window. But they're still likely a 100-loss team, so tonight would be a good opportunity to fade them considering the relatively low price and the fact Sunday's game in NY ended later than scheduled due to a long rain delay.
Toronto split its opening series with Detroit. They won the middle two games, both in shutout fashion. I had the Under in one of those and even though they split the four games, Blue Jays skipper Charlie Montoyo has to be ecstatic about his starting pitching, which did not yield a single run in 24 IP vs. the Tigers. The Blue Jays gave up just six runs overall in the four games and that number would have been only three were it not for extra innings. Sean Reid-Foley will look to continue the trend tonight. He's starting in place of Clayton Richard, so Baltimore is being somewhat caught off-guard here. The Orioles have never faced him before.
Obviously, given how well the pitching performed, Toronto would have hoped to do better than a split w/ Detroit. The "blame" thus goes to the offense, which could only put up 12 runs in the four games. Still, that's twice as many as they allowed, so they should have won that series. Both losses came in extra innings. I expect the Jays lineup to get on track tonight against O's starter David Hess, who they are now familiar with after facing him three times in 2018. Baltimore's bullpen also remains a major question mark w/ no established closer. Toronto deserved better over the weekend and will "make up" for it here at the expense of what's still the worst team in MLB. 7* Toronto
|03-31-19||Mets v. Nationals -136||Top||5-6||Win||100||5 h 9 m||Show|
10* Washington (1:35 ET): The Nationals have started 0-2 against the Mets, but I think they easily avoid the sweep Sunday. Washington was my pick for most improved team this year (for all of MLB!) as I think the loss of Bryce Harper is overstated (Juan Soto is better anyways). Granted, it doesn't look that way now, but so far they've also had to face Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. Most teams would go 0-2 against that pairing. The pitching matchup is more in their favor today and I really like the Nats to get that 1st win of 2019.
Despite poor pitching, fielding and baserunning yday, the Nats still had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth when Matt Adams stepped to the plate w/ the bases loaded. This came after a shaky start from Stephen Strasburg, who allowed 3 ER in the first inning. The bullpen was even shakier (allowed 7 runs in final two frames) and you can add a key mistakes in the field (error, balk, passed ball, runner picked off 1st) to the laundry list of things Washington did wrong Saturday. Yet, they were still in position to tie the game up late. I imagine most of those mistakes will disappate and with that being the case, the results will obviously improve.
Patrick Corbin, signed in the offseason, will get the nod today for the Nats. He's coming off a 2018 where he posted career bests in both ERA (3.15) and WHIP (1.05) for Arizona. Considering those marks, you would have expected him to have a better won-loss record than 11-7 (17-16 TSR). Look for Corbin to a solid addition to what is already a strong starting rotation. The Mets will go w/ Zach Wheeler here and he's only 4-8 lifetime vs. Washington w/ a 4.37 ERA. I have respect for this Mets team, but I just can't see them sweeping the Nats here in the Nation's Capital. 10* Washington
|03-30-19||Cardinals v. Brewers -125||Top||2-4||Win||100||12 h 42 m||Show|
10* Milwaukee (7:10 ET): These teams have split the first two games of the season, each winning as a favorite. The Brew Crew won on Opening Day, 5-4, thanks to Lorenzo Cain robbing Jose Martinez of the potential game-tying home run for the final out. But give the Cards credit for bouncing back yday. They did so largely on the bat of Paul Goldschmidt, who hit three home runs. Milwaukee is the favorite for tonight's rubber match and I'll call for a continuation of the pattern we've seen thus far - that being the team favored to win, doing so.
St. Louis will be going with a rookie starter here, that being Dakota Hudson, whose only previous big league experience has come as a reliever. In addition to making 26 relief appearances w/ the big league club last year, he was also their best pitcher in the minors. There's a lot of promise here, but this is a tough spot starting at Miller Park where the Brewers were very good last season. They ranked top 10 in both runs scored and allowed at home in 2018. Going from reliever to starter is quite the challenge, even if Hudson has done plenty of the latter in the minors and Spring Training. Milwaukee is 12-2 their last 14 during game 3 of a series.
The Brew Crew counter Hudson w/ Brandon Woodruff, himself a former ace reliever now looking to find similar success as a starter. The difference is Woodruff has started previously at the big league level - 12 times. In the playoffs last year, as a reliever, Woodruff had 20 strikeouts in 12 1/3 IP while holding opponents to a .175 batting average. When priced between -125 and -175 on the ML at home, the Brewers are 41-14 the L3 seasons. 10* Milwaukee
|03-29-19||Rockies -155 v. Marlins||Top||6-1||Win||100||9 h 27 m||Show|
8* Colorado (7:10 ET): A lot of smart baseball people that I know really like this Rockies team this year. Colorado has made B2B playoff appearances and has its sights set on capturing the NL West pennant this year, which would be a first in franchise history. Two things have drastically altered the Rockies trajectory, both for the better. One is they now have better than average pitching. This is true for both the starters and the bullpen. Two is they are now able to win on the road. The last two seasons have seen them deliver winning records away from Coors Field. Winning again tonight in Miami shouldn't be much trouble. The Rockies beat the Marlins yday 6-3 and that's just the first of what should be many losses for Miami this season.
Because of how strong the rest of the NL East is, the Marlins project to have one of the worst records in all of baseball this season, certainly in the National League. Even though they may never get over the tragic death of Jose Fernandez, it's not the pitching that's a problem on South Beach. Rather, it's a lack of offense. No team scored fewer runs last year and the projections for this year seem even worse. They managed just four hits yday.
Kyle Freeland had no problem shutting Miami down Thursday and I expect the same from tonight's Rockies starter, German Marquez. Marquez was exceptional on the road last season, posting a 2.95 ERA and 0.984 WHIP. He also set the team record for strikeouts w/ 230. Miami starter Trevor Richards is improving and had a much better second half than first half LY. Plus, he looked sharp in Spring Training. But ultimately he'll be doomed by the lack of offense. Miami also didn't help itself in the field yday, committing two errors. It's not as if Colorado's lineup needs the help as we saw when they put six runs on the board yday, all in two innings. 8* Colorado
|03-28-19||Astros -120 v. Rays||Top||5-1||Win||100||6 h 24 m||Show|
8* Houston (4:05 ET): I have to say that I'm a little shocked the Astros didn't open higher on the money line for Opening Day. While last season was viewed as "disappointing" by many, this team is still two years removed from winning the World Series and has won 204 regular season games the L2 seasons. The line especially seems low considering Justin Verlander will be on the mound Thursday. I know Tampa Bay was a 90-win team LY and expects to again be in the playoff race for 2019. But I'm not convinced they can match LY's production, particularly in the pitching department.
By any objective measure, Verlander had a really strong 2018 campaign. But given his 2.65 ERA and 0.916 WHIP, one would have figured he would have finished w/ better than a 18-10 WL record. The Astros actually had a losing record at home w/ Verlander on the mound (9-12), which is really shocking, but they were 14-2 in his road starts. Verlander led MLB in WHIP last season and was 5th in ERA. He is 8-4 w/ a 3.42 ERA and one complete game in 18 career starts vs. TB. As a team, Houston again projects to be very strong in '19. A year ago, they outscored opponents by 263 runs, the best differential in all of baseball.
With a limited payroll, the Rays need to be smarter than the competition and they were last year by employing the concept of the "opener." By design, they would exclusively use relievers in games, each going about an inning per so. The result was one of the fewest number of runs allowed per game in the league. No team allowed fewer in home games. For today, it's a "traditional starter" in Blake Snell on the mound. Snell, like Verlander, had himself a very good 2018. But I'm suspect of him being able to duplicate a 1.89 ERA and 0.974 WHIP as well as a 21-5 TSR. The Rays won Snell's final 10 starts last season, but they're not sneaking up on anybody in 2019. 8* Houston
|10-26-18||Red Sox v. Dodgers -151||Top||2-3||Win||100||22 h 1 m||Show|
10* LA Dodgers (8:05 ET): The Dodgers are down 0-2 and in some real trouble in this series. But at least they're out of Fenway Park and back home where they have a much better chance at containing the Boston lineup. As I previously stated numerous times during the regular season and playoffs, no team in the National League did a better job at preventing runs at home than the Dodgers. For the year, they are giving up just 3.5 rpg at Chavez Ravine. In five playoff home games, they have allowed just seven runs TOTAL, giving up two or fewer in four. Remember that the Red Sox lose the DH from the lineup here and the pitcher will have to come up to bat. In a must win spot, I'll make my biggest bet of the year on Dodger Blue.
Walker Buehler is the Game 3 starter for LA and the right man for the job as far as I'm concerned. I've consistently touted him throughout his rookie season. He's always available at a much cheaper price than staff counterpart Clayton Kershaw, which probably shouldn't surprise you, but consider Buehler has the better ERA and WHIP. I took him in the winner take all Game 7 vs. Milwaukee in the NLCS and he delivered w/ 4 2/3 strong innings. He allowed just one run and had seven strikeouts. Here at home, Buehler has been at his best. A 4-3 record in 13 starts (8-5 TSR) at Dodger Stadium is totally misleading when you consider he has a 1.67 ERA and 0.769 WHIP here.
Rick Porcello gets the nod for the Red Sox and that's another thing I like as he represents a huge downgrade from Chris Sale and David Price, who started Games 1 and 2. Furthermore, Porcello is a righty, providing a solid platoon edge for the Dodgers' left-handed power lineup. (Both Sale and Price are lefties). This is just the 4th time since the start of September that the Dodgers have dropped B2B games. They haven't lost three in a row since mid-August and I don't see them doing so here w/ their World Series aspirations hanging in the balance. 10* LA Dodgers
|10-24-18||Dodgers v. Red Sox -139||Top||2-4||Win||100||10 h 19 m||Show|
8* Boston (8:09 ET): With another win tonight, the reality of a 4th Red Sox World Series title win since '04 would be even more likely. I think they'll get it. Not even an additional run and a half was enough last night for Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, who failed to cash for me on the run line. It was a 5-4 game heading into the home half of the seventh, but Boston piled on three more runs to make it a pretty easy Game 1 victory. This despite a somewhat shaky effort from starter Chris Sale. Boston's homefield advantage is very real as they're now 60-26 at Fenway Park this season. They also have a 17-4 interleague record in 2018, which is nothing new as they're 47-14 vs. the NL since the start of the 2016 season. In five of the last eight games, the offense has scored 7+ runs.
Much attention will be paid to Red Sox Game 2 starter David Price. He FINALLY picked up a postseason victory, the first of his career, last week in the close out game vs. Houston. It was a dominant performance as Price went six innings w/o allowing a run and gave up only three hits. He had nine strikeouts and zero walks. He'd previously gone 0-9 in 11 career playoff starts (1-10 TSR), but I believe winning that close out game in the LCS was a turning poing for him. Remember that Price had a very good year. He has a 24-9 TSR w/ a 3.68 ERA and 1.157 WHIP.
Hyun-Jin Ryu goes here for the Dodgers and he's facing a tall task. With the Game 1 victory over Kershaw, Boston is now 15-5 vs. left-handed starters at Fenway Park this year. Like Kershaw, Ryu has never pitched here in Boston before. In fact, Ryu has never faced the Red Sox before in his career. It will be the best lineup he's seen all season, one that averages 5.7 runs per game at home. Ryu struggled his last time out too; allowing five runs in three innings at Milwaukee. That was his worst start in a month, but remember this Red Sox offense was able to score 29 runs in five games against the Astros pitching staff. They're just too much here at home. 8* Boston
|10-20-18||Dodgers -107 v. Brewers||Top||5-1||Win||100||12 h 52 m||Show|
10* LA Dodgers (8:09 ET): It's all come down to this in the NLCS; a winner-take-all Game 7 Saturday night in Milwaukee. The Dodgers failed in their first attempt to close out the Brewers, losing 7-2 last night as they were jumped on early and never recovered. The Brew Crew scored four runs in the first and that was all they needed. But even though this game takes place in Miller Park; I don't see the Dodgers failing twice. All season long, my read has been that they are clearly the top team in the National League. I'm not going to waver now. Over the past two months, there have been only two times that LA has dropped B2B games. I'll call for them to win Game 7 and move on to face Boston in the World Series.
The Dodgers will start a rookie in the most important game of their season. But something else I've been saying all year is that rookie, Walker Buehler, is the best #2 in any rotation in baseball. You could even make the argument that Buehler even gave Clayton Kershaw a "run for his money" for who was the best pitcher in the Dodgers' rotation. Buehler had a slightly better ERA (2.67) and WHIP (0.92) than Kershaw. While his numbers did dip on the road, I'm not overly concerned w/ that nor his two shaky performances in this postseason. Buehler will be taken out at the first sign of trouble (if there is one) and speaking of Kershaw, he is available tonight out of the bullpen, which is certainly a nice luxury to have.
Milwaukee goes w/ Jhoulys Chacin, who has certainly been their best starter in 2018. They also were able to give ace reliever Josh Hader the night off yesterday due to building such an early lead. Chacin beat Buehler in Game 3 out in LA and has not allowed a single run in two postseason starts (10 1/3 IP). But he was actually better on the road than at Miller Park this season. Home teams are actually below .500 all-time in Game 7's (55-56) and I would worry about this Brewers team lack of experience in the situation. 10* LA Dodgers
|10-17-18||Red Sox v. Astros -139||Top||8-6||Loss||-139||14 h 55 m||Show|
10* Houston (8:39 ET): After "stealing" Game 1 at Fenway Park, the Astros now find themselves trailing in the ALCS, two games to one. They went down at home last night, 8-2, as the Red Sox poured it on late including a Jackie Bradley Jr grand slam. This is now the first time since the start of September that the Astros find themselves off B2B losses. They have not lost three in a row since a swoon in mid-August and there have only been six losing streaks of three or more games all season. I still believe the Astros are the better team here and will ride them in Game 4.
Tonight is an interesting starting pitching matchup. Charlie Morton makes his first postseason start for Houston. This will be his first time pitching in two weeks and he's thrown all of four innings in the last month. Morton did go 15-3 in 30 starts in the regular season and finished strong w/ a 0.60 WHIP his L3 starts. He faced Boston twice in the regular season, going 1-1. Ironically, the bad start was here at home, but that doesn't concern me. Even if it ends up being a short night, remember the Astros bullpen lead the league in ERA. I don't think Morton is going to allow much damage here.
Boston goes w/ Rick Porcello, who was originally going to start Game 3, but had to be pushed back due to working Game 2 in a relief role. Like Morton, Porcello hasn't exactly thrown a lot of innings over the last month. The Boston bullpen has been very good in this series, but I see Porcello giving up some runs before they are able to "go there." Houston was 1 for 8 w/ RISP last night and I can't see that happening again. I think Porcello bouncing back and forth between being a reliever and starter may have an adverse effect on him and look for the Astros, who are "too good" to drop B2B games at home, to take advantage. 10* Houston
|10-16-18||Brewers v. Dodgers -148||Top||1-2||Win||100||11 h 38 m||Show|
10* LA Dodgers (9:09 ET): Well, the Dodgers are down 2-1 in the NLCS after being shut out at home last night, 4-0. Save for the ninth inning, they never really threatened as Jhoulys Chacin and four Milwaukee relievers combined to hold them to just five hits. It's the definition of a "must-win" scenario here in Game 4 for Dodger Blue and while the Brew Crew have won 13 of their last 14 games, I think the home team can do it. I can't see their offense getting shutdown in B2B games at home and the starting pitching matchup is more heavily tilted in their favor for Game 4 than it was in Game 3.
Rich Hill starts tonight for the Dodgers. While the top of Milwaukee's lineup has given him some trouble through the years, Hill still posted a 1.50 ERA in two starts against them in the regular season. Both starts saw him last six innings and give up just one run. I'm banking on something similar tonight. Hill started the close out game in the LDS vs. Atlanta and while he was kind of shaky there (five walks), he did allow only two runs on four hits. The team has won each of the last six times Hill has started, often in lopsided fashion (outscored the opposition 65-18!) and he has a 1.47 ERA and 0.818 WHIP in the last three. He should be comfortable pitching at home.
For the second time in four games, Gio Gonzalez gets the start for the Brewers. This illustrates just how thin their rotation really is. Gonzalez didn't last long in Game 1, going just two innings. The bullpen bailed him out in an eventual 6-5 win, but I don't see history repeating itself. Manny Machado crushed a home run off Gonzalez in Game 1, so that matchup is something to keep an eye on here. Gonzalez figures not to last long again tonight, but this time it could be more performance based than by design. His TSR on the road this year is just 5-11 w/ a 4.82 ERA and 1.414 WHIP. I look for the Dodgers to even this series up at two games apiece. 10* LA Dodgers
|10-16-18||Red Sox v. Astros -130||Top||8-2||Loss||-130||23 h 19 m||Show|
8* Houston (5:09 ET): It appeared as if the Astros were destined to go up 2-0 in this best of seven ALCS when they took a 4-2 lead in the top of the third inning Sunday night. But it was not to be as the Red Sox quickly answered w/ three of their own and their bullpen was able to render Houston's starting pitching edge null and void. But my read on this series still hasn't changed as I view the Astros as the superior team here. They did their job in earning a split in the two games in Boston and now I believe they'll really start to assert their superiority here at Minute Maid Park. Remember that Sunday was the Astros first loss this postseason.
Dallas Keuchel will get the start for the Astros in Game 3. It says something about their rotation (hint: it's really good!) when he's your #3 starter. Keuchel started the clincher in the ALDS at Cleveland and allowed just two runs in five innings. He has always pitched better at home than on the road. This year, the split was not quite as pronounced, but I still certainly trust him in this spot more than I do Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi. Keuchel's one regular season start against Boston did not go so well, but it was in Boston. Since the start of July, the Astros are 12-6 in Keuchel starts. Not only is he working on extended rest here (4-0 TSR on 7+ days rest, btw), but the team is 10-1 off a loss since mid-August.
The Red Sox rotation appears to be in a state of flux right now. Eovaldi only gets the call for Game 3 because Rick Porcello was used in relief Sunday. Ace Chris Sale has reportedly fallen ill and there couldn't be a worse time for that. David Price is a broken man in the playoffs. So a lot is resting on the arm of Eovaldi here. He was 6-7 w/ a 3.81 ERA in the regular season. He did pitch Game 3 of the LDS vs. the Yankees and was supported in an incredible way (Red Sox won 16-1!). Don't expect that to happen here though. What you can look for, however, is more lefties in AJ Hinch's lineup against the righty Eovaldi, who did not face Houston in the regular season. The Red Sox are just 2-5 in Eovaldi's last seven starts against teams w/ winning records. 8* Houston
|10-15-18||Brewers v. Dodgers -165||Top||4-0||Loss||-165||22 h 1 m||Show|
8* LA Dodgers (7:35 ET): Dodger Blue has been my choice in this series and I'll stay consistent as things shift to Chavez Ravine for Game 3. Milwaukee chose to wait until now to unveil their top starter Jhoulys Chacin, which ideally gives them a better shot on the road. However, the reality of the matter is that Chacin is not better than any of the Dodgers' top three starters. After Clayton Kershaw shockingly imploded in Game 1, Hyun-Jin Ryu was "good enough" in Game 2 by holding the Brewers to just two runs in 4 1/3 IP. Back at home, I expect LA's significant edge in starting pitching to be on full display w/ Walker Buehler tonight and I'll go w/ them here.
I've said it before & will reiterate it again here: Buehler may be the best #2 starter in any rotation in all of baseball. The rookie turned in a ridiculous year as he has a 2.55 ERA and 0.927 WHIP in 24 starts. Pay no mind to the fact he gave up five runs in his LDS start vs. Atlanta as that was on the road and he was victimized by a grand slam. Here at home, Buehler has a 1.34 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. Remember the Dodgers didn't allow ANY runs in their two home games in the LDS. That's pretty par for the course as they were #1 in the NL in run suppression at home during the regular season. They give up just 3.5 runs per game here. Buehler held the Brewers to one run on five hits (7 IP) the lone time he faced them this year.
Chacin has pretty good numbers, but he typically doesn't go very deep into starts and he isn't overpowering as evident by a low strikeout total. Chacin hasn't gone a full six innings since the end of August nor has he had more than five strikeouts in a start since then. I don't see him getting much run support here. I know Milwaukee had won 12 in a row before the Game 2 loss, but there's like some "give back" now that the streak is over. Also, this is technically a "day game," a situation the Dodgers are 29-18 in this year while the Brew Crew is just 31-32. 8* LA Dodgers
|10-14-18||Astros -116 v. Red Sox||Top||5-7||Loss||-116||10 h 59 m||Show|
10* Houston (7:09 ET): Remember what I said about the Astros being the superior team in this series? Well, cashing them as my *10* Game of the Week in the ALCS opener only emboldened that stance and I'm coming back w/ them again here in Game 2 as the starting pitching matchup is really lopsided in their favor. Boston is in some serious trouble having lost Chris Sale's start. I know the Red Sox deserve respect in Fenway, but I am shocked by the money line for this matchup.
If you recall, I went against David Price in his ALDS start vs. the Yankees. I did so for good reason. His postseason resume is beyond atrocious at this point as he has zero wins in nine career tries w/ a 6.03 ERA. This is after getting only four outs against the Yankees and allowing three runs. Now the Yanks really seemed to have Price's number this year, but it's not like the Astros should be any kind of favorable matchup. This is the best team in baseball and the defending World Series Champs who average a healthy 5.4 runs per game on the road. Price faced the Astros twice in the regular season and had a 1-1 TSR. He pitched pretty good in both starts, but I look for this spot to be "too big" for him yet again.
Hopefully not lost in the 7-2 Game 1 loss is the fact Boston had only three hits. This is supposedly the best offensive team in baseball, particularly when playing in their home park. The Red Sox had just three total bases in the game as they had no answer for Justin Verlander outside of the fifth inning. The Astros have the luxury of having multiple "aces" in their rotation and Gerrit Cole will start Game 2. Cole completely shut down Cleveland in the LDS, giving up only one run on three hits in 7 IP and exiting w/ 12 K's. He has a 25-8 TSR and the team is a perfect 7-0 his L7 starts. Don't forget that the Astros were a better team on the ROAD during the regular season. They've scored 18 runs in two playoff road games so far and I see them taking a commanding 2-0 lead in this series. 10* Houston
|10-13-18||Astros +110 v. Red Sox||Top||7-2||Win||110||51 h 5 m||Show|
10* Houston (8:05 ET): Like in the National League, I've been pretty adamant all year about one team being the best in the American League. The gap may not be as wide here as it is in the final Senior Circuit pairing, but nevertheless I prefer the Astros solidly over the Red Sox in the ALCS. That doesn't mean I won't play on Boston if the spot dictates such a move, or if something significant happens between now and the end of the series. But the fact is that the defending World Series Champs w/ their best pitcher on the hill are a great value here in Game 1. This will only be the 11th time all season that Houston checks in as an underdog on the money line.
The difference between the Astros and Indians was greatly underestimated by some (me included). The 'Stros greatly outclassed Cleveland in every department, starting with the starting pitching. Justin Verlander easily outdueled Corey Kluber in Game 1 of that series and didn't even have his best stuff. I made the mistake of taking Kluber +1.5 in that game w/ part of the reason being that Verlander's TSR at Minute Maid Park was only 8-11. Well, on the road it's 13-2. No matter where Verlander has pitched this season, he has been downright filthy w/ a 2.54 ERA and 0.898 WHIP. The team has gone 6-1 in his last seven starts w/ Verlander posting a 1.86 ERA and 0.710 WHIP. He faced the Red Sox once in the regular season, back in June, not factoring into a 5-4 loss. But it was a quality start w/ him allowing only two runs and three hits in six innings.
Chris Sale is a more worthy adversary for Verlander than was Kluber and is backed by a better team to boot. However, whatever worries there are about Boston averaging 5.7 rpg here at Fenway should be mitigated by the fact Houston averages 5.3 rpg on the road. Sale, like Verlander, opened the LDS for his team. He had a similar line w/ two runs allowed in 5 2/3 IP, but gave up five hits to Verlander's two. Remember that the last time Sale went six innings in a start was late July as he was absent almost all of August and used sparingly in September. Sale allowed four runs in his only regular season start vs. Houston, which was a 7-3 loss opposite Gerrit Cole. Houston has the better bullpen in this series. I know the difference between the two teams' regular season run differentials (Houston +263, Boston +229) isn't enough to offset the homefield advantage, but I still like the Astros. 10* Houston
|10-12-18||Dodgers -148 v. Brewers||Top||5-6||Loss||-148||27 h 16 m||Show|
8* LA Dodgers (8:05 ET): I've been pretty adamant that the Dodgers are the best team in the National League as run differential is a far more important metric to me than won-loss record. The Dodgers were way in front in that metric, outscoring their opponents by 194 runs during the regular season. That was double all but two other Senior Circuit teams, the Cubs and Braves. Nothing I saw in the LDS dissuaded me from thinking Dodger Blue is the favorite as they rocked the Braves in all three wins, holding them to two runs while scoring 15. Really, if not for one swing of the bat (an Atlanta grand slam) that series would have been a sweep. Milwaukee did sweep Colorado in their LDS and has won 11 in a row overall. But they are less talented roster in this series and up against Clayton Kershaw in Game 1.
I don't think there's any disputing that LA has the superior starting rotation in this series. It is of course led by Kershaw, who was filthy in his lone LDS start as he tossed eight shutout innings of two-hit ball. Surprisingly, he had only three strikeouts, but that hardly mattered as he was never threatened. It was the best playoff start of Kershaw's career. The Dodgers have now won Kershaw's last nine starts going back to mid-August w/ him posting a 0.895 WHIP in his last three. There have been only four starts all year where Kershaw allowed more than three earned runs. One of those four did come against the Brewers, but three of the four runs charged to him were unearned. He faced them again two weeks later and got more than enough run support in a 21-5 win. Kershaw allowed just two runs and five hits in that one.
While Kershaw was an easy call for Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts, the Brew Crew took their sweet time announcing a Game 1 starter. You'll recall they actually went w/ a "bullpen game" to open the LDS. I actually think that doing the same here would have been a wise option here. However, I definitely think going w/ Gio Gonzalez instead of Jhoulys Chacin is a mistake. Chacin is the Brewers' best starter, but will be held off until Game 3. Gonzalez was a mid-season acquisition who did not appear at all in the LDS. He did go 3-0 in five September starts, but is highly unlikely to outduel Kershaw here. The Brewers do have the better bullpen, but it's not enough to overcome the starter discrepancy and they'll find the Dodgers to be a far greater challenge than the Rockies were. 8* LA Dodgers
|10-09-18||Red Sox v. Yankees -118||Top||4-3||Loss||-118||10 h 2 m||Show|
8* NY Yankees (8:05 ET): The Yankees were beaten and humiliated last night, losing Game 3 by a score of 16-1. That moves them to the brink of elimination and the question becomes "is 24 hours enough to recover from such a loss?" I'll answer that question in the affirmative as they should stay alive and force a deciding Game 5 in Boston Thursday night. New York is 8-3 this season after allowing 10 or more runs the previous game.
It'll be up to playoff veteran CC Sabathia to keep the Yanks alive. Note the team was in this same position (down 2-1 in the series) twice in last year's postseason and won both times, each victory coming at home. This will be Sabathia's 24th career playoff start and while the hefty lefty is just 10-6 w/ a 4.20 ERA in those games, for whatever reason he's always been brilliant in the LDS where he's 6-0 all-time. As a Yankee, Sabathia has done his best postseason work, going 8-3 w/ a 3.26 ERA. Obviously, he's faced Boston many times. The last time he faced them here in the Bronx was June and he held them to one run over seven innings. Despite the disaster that was last night, I also still have great faith in the Yankees' bullpen.
Alex Cora badly outmanaged Aaron Boone last night, but things can't possibly go as well for the Red Sox in Game 4 as they did in Game 3. Brock Holt isn't hitting for the cycle again nor is Rick Porcello likely to be as effective as Nathan Eovaldi was. Porcello's postseason resume isn't good as he's winless in 12 appearances w/ a 5.33 ERA. Four of those appearances have come w/ a Red Sox uniform on and his ERA is 7.00. His 22-11 TSR from the regular season is more a byproduct of run support than pitching well. He did throw two shutout innings against the Yankees on Friday, but hasn't gone longer than five innings in six of his last seven starts. I have to think that the Yankees are going to bounce back from what happened last night. 8* NY Yankees
|10-08-18||Dodgers -141 v. Braves||Top||6-2||Win||100||7 h 35 m||Show|
8* LA Dodgers (4:30 ET): The Dodgers failed in their first attempt to eliminate the Braves, but the beauty of going up 2-0 in a series is that you'll have multiple chances to close things out. And let's be honest here, save for one swing of the bat, the Braves have done very little in this series are are completely overmatched. Were it not for Ronald Acuna Jr's grand slam in the second inning last night, this series would be already over. The Dodgers shut the Braves out both games in LA and have held them to one run in the 25 innings that didn't feature Acuna's grand slam. The Braves have just 13 hits for the series and if you take out that grand slam, then they would have been held to 0 or 1 run seven times in the last eight games! This series ends today.
Not to keep harping on it (but I will!); that grand slam was such a gift for the Braves. It came after two walks and a throwing error. Assuming such folly doesn't take place again today, expect the Braves to manage very little offensively against Rich Hill. Hill finished the regular season strong with a 6-1 record his last seven starts to go along w/ a 0.805 WHIP. He threw seven shutout innings in his last start, giving up only two hits. He has 14 strikeouts and no walks his last two starts and has allowed just one run on six hits. In this park, back on July 26th, Hill tossed seven more shutout innings and held the Braves to just three hits. Let's not forget LA has an excellent bullpen as well.
For the second time in four games, the Braves turn to Mike Foltynewicz. In Game 1, he lasted only two innings and gave up four runs. It was a miserable outing as he allowed 2 HR's and walked three batters. I understand he was the team's best starter in the regular season, but I'm not sure what the rush is to get back out on the mound. Of course, this also speaks to the overall lack of depth in Atlanta's starting rotation. The Dodgers are one of baseball's highest scoring road teams (5.4 rpg), so I expect them to put plenty of runs on the board today. Again, barring anything like the 2nd inning of last night's game, I simply don't see the Braves doing much at the plate here. It's been a wonderful season for this young team, but it ends Monday. 8* LA Dodgers
|10-07-18||Brewers v. Rockies -143||Top||6-0||Loss||-143||29 h 3 m||Show|
10* Colorado (4:35 ET): After dropping the first two games in Milwaukee, the Rockies should bounce back in a major way at home in Game 3. I probably shouldn't have to tell you about the effect Coors Field can have on an offense, specifically that of the home team. At Miller Park, the Rockies were held to just two runs in 19 innings. Were it not for a two-run rally in the ninth inning in Game 1, they would have been shutout both games. They had just 10 hits total in the two games. But at home, things will change. As per usual, the Rockies ranked near the top of the league in runs per game at home w/ 5.5. I wonder if all the travel over the last week caught up with them as they played four games in three different cities over a five-day span. Being off Saturday was about as welcome as the return home itself.
A big difference between Rockies' teams of the past and this year is the starting pitching. Finally, this franchise has itself a quality rotation. Pitching certainly was not an issue in Games 1 & 2 nor will it be here in Game 3 w/ German Marquez on the bump. Marquez has been shockingly good down the stretch w/ a 2.33 ERA and 0.95 WHIP his L7 starts. In six of those seven starts, he's struck out nine or more batters. Yes, Milwaukee's offense should also be able to get a "boost" by hitting here, but Marquez should be able to limit them adequately. The last time Marquez pitched here at home, he threw seven shutout innings of three-hit ball w/ 11 K's. He has a 1.93 ERA and 0.911 WHIP his L3 starts overall.
Colorado was going to improve offensively no matter what, but facing Wade Miley will help even more. The Rockies have a predominantly right-handed lineup, so facing the southpaw Miley will be right in their wheelhouse. Miley had a somewhat shocking 12-4 TSR in the regular season w/ a 2.57 ERA. But I remain skeptical. There have been just two times in the last eight starts where he's gone longer than five innings and just one where he's gone longer than six. The Brewers' bullpen isn't a terrible option, but this venue obviously presents its challenges. I know Milwaukee has won 10 in a row, but I just see too much Colorado offense in this one in a game they have to have. 10* Colorado
|10-06-18||Yankees +105 v. Red Sox||Top||6-2||Win||105||13 h 13 m||Show|
10* NY Yankees (8:15 ET): The Yankees have now dropped five straight playoff games to the hated Red Sox dating back to the infamous 2004 ALCS when Boston would go on to "break the curse." Last night saw the Sox jump on Yankees starter J.A. Happ early for five runs in the first three innings. That was more than enough for Chris Sale, who had eight strikeouts on his way to his first career playoff victory. But Sale only lasted 5 1/3 innings and the Red Sox bullpen was pretty shaky. The Yankees did make a game of it, eventually falling 5-4, and that should give them confidence heading into tonight's Game 2. Unlike last night, I believe the Yanks will have the starting pitching edge and that should carry them to a victory as they look to even up this best of five series.
Masahiro Tanaka is the Yankees Game 2 starter. He has a 1.44 career ERA in the postseason (four starts). Last year's postseason saw him allow just two runs in 20 IP. He's coming off a pretty good regular season as well w/ a 12-6 record in 27 starts. While a 3.81 ERA and 1.135 WHIP may sound somewhat pedestrian, note both numbers were lower out on the road, including a WHIP of 0.981. While three of his four starts against Boston weren't very good this year, one of them here at Fenway was. He allowed just one run in 4 2/3 innings. As I'm about to get into, any struggles Tanaka may have w/ the Red Sox pale in comparison to his counterpart's against the Yankees. In nine career starts at Fenway, Tanaka has a 3.90 ERA.
Needless to say, the pressure will be on Red Sox starter David Price tonight. He is 0 for 8 all-time in the postseason w/ a 5.84 ERA as a starter. In three starts vs. the Yankees this year, he is 0-3 w/ a 10.34 ERA. So you can see why I like this matchup from New York's perspective. Their predominantly right-handed lineup should continue to have plenty of success against the southpaw Price. Note that the current five-game streak the Red Sox have over the Yankees in the postseason is the longest by either team in the history of the rivalry. While some may be surprised to see the odds reflecting Game 2 as a toss-up in Boston, I actually believe that the Yankees should be favored. Look for them to steal one in Boston. 10* NY Yankees
|10-05-18||Braves v. Dodgers -213||Top||0-3||Win||100||13 h 54 m||Show|
6* LA Dodgers (9:37 ET): Yes, the price is expensive and were this a regular season game and I'd probably stay away. But this is the postseason and in my eyes, the oddsmakers can't set a line high enough to steer me away from the Dodgers tonight. They won Game 1 easily, 6-0, and this figures to be a short series with the Braves. As discussed in yday's analysis, LA has the clear advantage in this LDS and is the superior team in virtually every way. At home w/ Clayton Kershaw on the bump, this could be the biggest single-game mismatch we'll see all postseason.
Kershaw was initially going to start Game 1, but was then bumped back a day so he could start on extended rest. I lauded the decision to go w/ Hyun-Jin Ryu yday as his numbers here at Dodger Stadium were pretty spectacular in their own right. He threw seven shutout innings as Game 1 was never in doubt. Now comes Kershaw, who need no introduction. Kershaw has a 2.56 ERA and 1.016 WHIP at home this season and the team has won his last eight starts overall. When working on five or more days rest this season, Kershaw has been better than normal, particularly when it comes to strikeout rate. He goes from averaging 7.6 K's per nine innings (3.21 ERA) on four days rest to 9.2 K's per nine innings (2.48 ERA) when working on five. This is a really tall order for a young Braves team playing in its first postseason together.
Starting for Atlanta will be Anibal Sanchez, who has allowed 2 ER or fewer in six of his last seven starts. But to expect him to go toe to toe w/ Kershaw in this spot seems foolish. Sanchez almost didn't make the Braves' rotation back in the Spring as he was battling with Scott Kazmir for the final spot! So he's come a long way. But now he has to face the National League's top lineup and not only is he clearly the inferior starter in Game 2, but he has the inferior bullpen behind him. The Dodgers have faced Sanchez twice before in 2018. The last time saw him give up four runs in an 8-2 loss. Kershaw faced the Braves once this year and held them to one run over 7 2/3 innings. That was on the road. Here at home, he should be even more dominant as the Dodgers allow a league-low 3.6 rpg at home. 6* LA Dodgers
|10-04-18||Braves v. Dodgers -170||Top||0-6||Win||100||24 h 13 m||Show|
8* LA Dodgers (8:37 ET): Of the four LDS matchups, this one looks to be the biggest mismatch on paper. The Dodgers did have to play a 163rd regular season contest Monday (beat Colorado) to win the NL West. But make no mistake about it; this team is the class of the Senior Circuit. That's why I took them against the Rockies and will back them again here in Game 1 vs. the Braves. They finished w/ the top run differential in the NL at +194, which was nearly double that of every other team. They are the most talented team of the four in the field. Atlanta was a nice story coming from nowhere to win the East, but they feel like a "happy to be here" situation and are severely outgunned in this series.
Clayton Kershaw was initially named Game 1 starter for LA, but that was then changed to Hyun-Jin Ryu. Eyebrows were raised over the change, but it makes sense considering the move allows both Kershaw and Ryu to work on normal rest. The reality is that the Dodgers would have a significant edge in starting pitching here, no matter who started. We know that they allow just 3.6 rpg here at Chavez Ravine, the lowest average allowed at home by any NL team. Ryu has a 1.65 ERA and 0.915 WHIP in nine home starts this year w/ the team going 7-2 in those games. He enters the postseason red hot having posted a 0.47 ERA and 0.737 WHIP his L3 starts overall. He's given up just one run in 19 IP during that span.
The upstart Braves turn to Mike Foltynewicz for Game 1. He turned in a pretty fine season in his own right w/ a 2.85 ERA and 1.082 WHIP in 31 starts. His 15-16 TSR was pretty misleading. His numbers did not go up on the road (2.48 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) during the regular season and the team actually had a better record on the road than at home. Foltynewicz's ERA (4.76) over his L3 starts was also a little misleading when you consider his WHIP was 0.882. But despite all that, he's outgunned here. The Dodgers have the better bullpen and offense, plus they took five of seven regular season meetings from the Braves. Foltynewicz started once against the Dodgers in the regular season and gave up four runs in five innings. 8* LA Dodgers
|10-02-18||Rockies v. Cubs -130||Top||2-1||Loss||-130||20 h 44 m||Show|
10* Chi Cubs (8:05 ET): While both teams had to play Monday (and obviously lost), this is an absolutely horrendous spot for Colorado. They're playing in a third city in three days (all in different time zones!) and second in a row away from home. Being away from the friendly confines of their own park means a predictable offensive decline will set in, like we saw yday in LA. The Cubs sure seemed like the less motivated side yday vs. Milwaukee, but that certainly shouldn't be the case tonight. I've been down on the Rockies most of the year as a serious playoff threat due to an uninspiring run differential that hovered around zero much of the way. Only a late sweep of the Phillies (at home) got that diff to a more respectable number. I'm not deviating from my yearlong take on the Rockies here.
Jon Lester starts for this winner take all game for the Cubs and is a fine choice, given the situation. Lester has plenty of big-game experience and the team has won seven of his last eight starts. He actually pitched slightly better on the road in the regular season, but did close w/ a 1.87 ERA his L7 starts overall. Four of those seven starts took place here at Wrigley. These teams have not met since early May and Lester's lone start vs. the Rockies came on April 30th. It was here at home and he threw 5 2/3 innings while giving up only two unearned runs. As a reminder, Colorado's scoring average dips more than a full run per game outside of Coors down to 4.1. They managed just two runs on four hits yday in LA, both runs coming in the top of the ninth. They had just two hits through eight innings.
The pitcher who faced Lester back on 4.30 will do so again here in the NL Wild Card Game. It's Kyle Freeland, who was one of several surprising arms in the Rockies rotation this year. Shockingly though, Freeland actually pitched better this year at Coors where his TSR was 13-2. It was 3-2 Cubs in the first Lester vs. Freeland battle and I see this one ending up far more lopsided. Yes, the Rockies have won 10 of Freeland's last 12 starts as well as 15 of the last 17. But none were against the Cubs and most of the wins came against the NL West. Can't see Chicago dropping B2B one-game situations at Wrigley. 10* Chi Cubs
|10-01-18||Rockies v. Dodgers -163||Top||2-5||Win||100||18 h 16 m||Show|
8* LA Dodgers (4:05 ET): This play should not come as any surprise to those who have been following my baseball selections this year. When it comes to the NL West race, the Dodgers and Rockies may have tied for first place, but one is clearly superior to the other. The Dodgers outscored their opponents by a NL-best 191 runs over the 162-game schedule. Only two teams in all of baseball - Houston and Boston - had better YTD run differentials. Meanwhile, Colorado had a run diff of +38, which ranked only SEVENTH overall in the NL. For awhile, the Rockies' run differential was hovering around 0, that was until they destroyed the Phillies in a four-game set at Coors Field last week. But this one-game scenario takes place at Dodger Stadium.
Walker Buehler gets the call here for Dodger Blue. Next to Clayton Kershaw (who pitched Saturday), he's the team's best one-game option on the mound. Since July 31st, Buehler has posted a sterling 1.70 ERA in 11 starts. He's faced Colorado five times this year and has 2.61 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. Two of those starts came in September, the last one here at home and Buehler responded w/ a career-best 12 K's in a 5-2 win. That performance was part of a three-game sweep for the Dodgers. Buehler has been outstanding at home all season w/ a 1.48 ERA and 0.776 WHIP in 11 outings. Remember Colorado doesn't hit nearly as well on the road and their scoring average drops from 5.4 runs per game to 4.1. No NL team allowed fewer rpg at home than the Dodgers. So, the home field edge is big here.
German Marquez will oppose Buehler here. In a head to head battle earlier this season, Marquez did get the upper hand. But that 2-1 final (in Colorado's favor) saw near identical stat lines from the two starters. Buehler allowed only one run on two hits in seven innings of work. Marquez allowed the same number of runs and hits in the same number of innings; the Rockies were just fortunate to get a late infield single. Something else to consider here is this is a day game. The Dodgers are 27-14 in day games this year, the best such win percentage in the Senior Circuit. I look for them to take care of business Monday afternoon and win the NL West. 8* LA Dodgers
|09-30-18||Cardinals v. Cubs -130||Top||5-10||Win||100||5 h 57 m||Show|
8* Chi Cubs (3:20 ET): The Cubs may have already clinched a playoff spot, but they still need a win Sunday. They enter the final day of the regular season tied w/ Milwaukee for 1st place in the NL Central. At stake today is not only the division pennant, but also homefield advantage in the National League. If the Cubs and Brewers end up tied after today, then there will be a one-game playoff tomorrow (could be the same situation in the NL West). The Cubs have been in first place since mid-July, so it would be a psychological blow to have to enter the playoffs as a Wild Card. Speaking of psychological blows, St. Louis was eliminated from playoff contention yesterday. The Cubs should take advantage of that and come through Sunday.
Mike Montgomery will pitch here for the Cubs. Considering that Yu Darvish's injury is the only reason he is even in the starting rotation, Montgomery has been a pleasant surprise for Chicago. He also might be the right man for the job today. In 11 career starts vs. St. Louis, he has a 2.70 ERA. He's off a bit of a rough outing where he allowed five runs in just four innings. But he'd also allowed 2 ER or fewer in five of six starts before that. St. Louis comes into today batting a collective .219 over the last week. Yesterday was actually their first win in a game where they had three or fewer hits all season.
Whomever pitches today for the Cards will not be as effective as Miles Mikolas was yesterday. It's still scheduled to be Jack Flaherty, who is winless over his last five outings. He has a 5.06 ERA his L3 starts. With the Cards eliminated from contention, there's a chance Flaherty could be scratched. That would likely make the Cubs an even bigger favorite and increase their odds of winning. I'll stick with this play regardless as this is a great price on the Cubbies at Wrigley, given the situation. 8* Chi Cubs
|09-28-18||Blue Jays v. Rays -162||Top||7-6||Loss||-162||10 h 13 m||Show|
8* Tampa Bay (7:10 ET): The Rays could finish as the best team NOT to make the playoffs, in either league, whether you're looking at wins (currently 88) or run differential (+65). That's not a distinction any teams really aspires to have mind you, but the Rays have been a good team over the second half of the season. They've been at their best here at Tropicana Field where they've gone 49-29 for the year. Not only that, but no team allows fewer runs per game at home than this one (just 3.5). Now, none of this "rung true" in an ugly 12-1 loss yday afternoon to the Yankees. But the opponent tonight is much easier and it's a case of one starting pitcher having "immediate revenge" against the other. I'm on the Rays, who are clearly the better team, in this spot.
These AL East rivals just met last weekend and split four games up in Toronto. The rubber match of the series, won by the Blue Jays, saw the exact same starting pitching matchup as we have tonight. Thomas Pannone outdueled Tyler Glasnow in a 4-2 Jays' victory, despite giving up multiple home runs. Both were solo shots though and that's basically all Pannone allowed over six innings (just six hits total). Glasnow allowed a home run himself and six hits total in his six innings. But he gave up one more run than Pannone. With the rematch taking place at Tropicana Field, I see some significant value in taking the revenge-minded Glasnow. He was -145 on the money line last Saturday, on the road. The price isn't much higher here at home where the Rays have been excellent. Toronto isn't a good road team either (32-46 record). Glasnow has turned in a quality start four of his last five times on the mound and has a 0.947 WHIP his L3 starts.
This weekend will mark the swan song for skipper John Gibbons' on the Blue Jays' bench. The team announced Wednesday that Gibbons will NOT be returning as manager for 2019 and his players responded w/ what I'm sure had to be an emotional victory, beating Houston 3-1. But the fact is that Toronto isn't a good team and that's why Gibbons won't be back. They've been outscored by 118 runs over the course of the year, thus playing to the level of a 90+ loss team. Pannone might have pitched well at home vs. TB, but he has a 7.84 ERA and 1.549 WHIP in two road starts this season. 8* Tampa Bay
|09-28-18||Pirates v. Reds -106||Top||8-4||Loss||-106||10 h 11 m||Show|
10* Cincinnati (6:40 ET): For anyone my age or younger, the Pirates have not been that successful of a franchise, save for a recent run of Wild Card appearances. They won the old NL East three straight years (1989-91), but haven't captured a division pennant since. But there's actually a bit of history on the line this weekend as they seek to finish w/ a winning record in a non-playoff season for the 1st time since 1988. To do so, they'll need to win only 2 of 3 games here in Cincinnati. On the surface, that doesn't seem all too daunting. After all, they've beaten the Reds six straight. But I don't like Friday's pitching matchup from the Bucs' perspective plus the revenge angle is one I happen to believe in. While the Reds have their issues, I can't see them getting swept for a third straight time by their division rival.
The Reds enter this series having dropped five in a row. Incredibly, the Under has cashed in each of their last 12 games. The late season swoon is kind of sad in the sense that the Reds had actually become fairly competitive for awhile under interim manager Jim Riggleman. You wouldn't know it by just looking at the WL record, but after starting the season 3-15, the Reds were actually playing .500 level ball for much of 2018. The recent woes began a long (10-game) road trip, but they did also just lose two at home to the Royals, which is embarrassing. But one edge Cincy has for Friday is they had Thursday off while the Pirates did not (shut out in Chicago). Riggleman is also trying to earn this job on a permanent basis, so he's not about to throw in the towel this weekend.
It's a pretty ugly looking starting pitching matchup for Friday's opener, which I think actually works to the Reds' advantage. They'll face Nick Kingham, who did beat them here at Great American Ballpark back in July. But Kingham has gone 0-3 in his last four starts overall w/ a 12.19 ERA. Last time out, he lasted only an inning and a third while giving up six runs. He'll be opposed by Anthony DeSclafani, who is having his own issues of late. DeSclafani did lose to Kingham two months ago, but there have also been positive signs from him at times, like him striking out 10 batters in his most recent start. Here's hoping he's able to summon his form from early August (three straight starts of 7+ innings & allowing 1 > run or less) in his final start of 2018. 10* Cincinnati
|09-26-18||Padres v. Giants -120||Top||3-2||Loss||-120||12 h 48 m||Show|
8* San Francisco (10:15 ET): I had the Giants last night as they were able to avenge Monday's loss to the Padres. The final score was 5-4 and, of all people, it was Madison Bumgarner that provided the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th. Now that scenario comes w/ a cost as Bumgarner will no longer start Wednesday, instead getting pushed back two days to face the Dodgers on Friday. But that's actually not a bad thing considering the pitching change will drive down the price and thus it's a lot more "affordable" to go against a bad Padres team in this spot. Casey Kelly will now start for San Francisco, making his third attempt at picking up his first win of the season.
I really loved last night's spot for the Giants as the two starting pitchers had just faced off last week. The Padres Robbie Erlin had actually beaten the Giants' Chris Stratton, but that was in San Diego and I loved Stratton's chances at revenge here by the Bay. The Giants are now 3-2 vs. the Padres over the last week w/ the other loss coming Monday. As noted in yday's analysis, San Diego is a good fade when off a win. They're not in that situation tonight, but they aren't very good off a loss either (just 42-53). This is one of the worst offensive teams in the entire league, ranking 27th in runs scored, 30th in team batting average and 28th in OPS. The Giants aren't much better, but at least score more here at home where they are now 42-35 on the season. The Padres are 34-46 on the road.
So while the Giants are just 5-17 in September, this is actually quite the ideal matchup. San Diego is starting Luis Perdomo, who is not good at all. Perdomo's nine starts in 2018 have produced a 7.94 ERA and 2.042 WHIP. This will be his 1st start since being recalled from Triple A earlier this month. His last several starts at the big league level weren't any good as he allowed six runs in 2 1/3 innings his last one. I think it's quite unrealistic to expect Perdomo to pitch well in this spot. Meanwhile, Kelly pitched okay in two starts back in August. He allowed just 3 ER in 10 1/3 innings, but received little run support. Both starts came on the road and one was opposite Noah Syndergaard. Tonight is a much better matchup. 8* San Francisco
|09-26-18||Braves v. Mets -160||Top||0-3||Win||100||12 h 32 m||Show|
8* NY Mets (7:10 ET): The 73-84 Mets are obviously not a very good team and have been relegated to simply "playing out the string" at this point. But when Jacob deGrom pitches, they are certainly due more than just a cursory look. deGrom gets the start Wednesday, looking to lock down what would be one of the oddest Cy Young campaigns in recent memory. deGrom's record in 31 starts this year is only 9-9 (13-18), but to call that "misleading" would be putting it mildly. He leads all of MLB in ERA (1.77) and is second in both WHIP (0.938) and strikeouts (259). Considering his Cy Young competition comes from pitchers on other non-playoff teams, deGrom should get the award, IMO. He has set a MLB records w/ 28 starts of three runs or less and 23 consecutive quality starts coming into tonight.
In 16 career starts vs. Atlanta, deGrom's ERA is 1.83. Sure enough, his record is just 5-5 though. In a 2018 season filled w/ once in a lifetime hard luck, deGrom's pain has certainly been the Braves' gain. Despite five starts w/ a 1.09 ERA against Atlanta this year, deGrom is not only winless (0-2), but the Braves have won all five games. That's ridiculous. While it might seem like "banging your head against the wall" taking deGrom at this point, there is no doubt in my mind that he has been the best pitcher in baseball this year and worth the try. There have been an incredible 16 times this season where he has allowed three runs or fewer and NOT gotten the win. That has to change and how apropos if it did in his final start of the season.
Atlanta has already clinched the NL East. What they have left to play for is possible homefield advantage in the LDS against whomever wins the Central or West (both divisions still up for grabs). Ironically, the Braves actually have a better record on the road than at home this year. Last night saw them come back from a 3-0 deficit to score seven times in the 7th & 8th innings. That isn't going to happen again as long as deGrom is in the game. Sean Newcomb toes the rubber for the Braves and he has a 7.44 ERA and 1.868 WHIP his L7 starts. Simply put, he can't match up w/ deGrom. The Mets do have a winning record (13-9) as a home favorite in the -125 to -175 range this season. 8* NY Mets
|09-25-18||Padres v. Giants -110||Top||4-5||Win||100||13 h 13 m||Show|
10* San Francisco (10:15 ET): These teams played a series last week w/ the Giants taking two of three in San Diego. Tonight's pitching matchup is the lone rematch from that series and ironically it's from the one game the Padres won. The Padres also won last night, starting this series out w/ a 5-0 win. But I like Chris Stratton and the Giants to turn the tables Tuesday as Stratton goes for revenge against Robbie Erlin, who got the win last Wednesday despite a less that great outing. Erlin allowed three runs in five innings, but it was more than enough as Stratton allowed five in three. But Stratton seems to be more comfortable pitching at home than he does on the road and that'll be the difference in this one. Take the Giants.
It's not been a solid month at all for San Fran. In fact, their record in September is 4-17, which is too bad seeing as they came into this month still a .500 team. Two of those four wins came against the Padres last week and this is a much better team at home. They have a winning record at AT&T Park (41-35) while the anemic Padres are just 38-45 on the road. A real key to handicapping this battle is noting San Diego is 0-4 this season when off a shutout win. They're just 21-40 off a win of any kind. So fading them in this spot seems smart as I don't think their pitching staff will be able to do tonight, what they did yday. We know we shouldn't expect much from an offense that ranks near the bottom of the league in all key categories.
Stratton has a 3.95 ERA at home where his TSR is 8-4. Despite the poor start last week vs. SD, he still has a 1.059 WHIP his L3 starts. Two of his last three home starts have been outstanding as he's gone at least eight innings w/o allowing a run. One was a complete game effort vs. Colorado where he allowed just two hits. That was his last time pitching here at hme. Erlin's last road start saw him allow seven runs in three innings. He has a 7.76 ERA and 1.50 WHIP on the road this year and it's a real wonder how the Padres have managed to go 3-3 in those six starts. Look for the Giants to rebound tonight at home. 10* San Francisco
|09-22-18||Rays -148 v. Blue Jays||Top||2-5||Loss||-148||7 h 23 m||Show|
8* Tampa Bay (4:05 ET): It's a crying shame that the Rays won't make the playoffs this year. The ingenuity shown by manager Kevin Cash - when it comes to his pitching staff - has been quite refreshing and would have been a joy to watch in the postseason. But alas, the Rays are facing a 6.5 game deficit in the Wild Card chase and time is rapidly running out. Ultimately, it may not have mattered, but Thursday's 9-8 loss here in Toronto was a killer. The Rays blew an 8-2 lead in that contest, giving up seven runs in the bottom of the ninth. But at least they bounced back w/ a convincing 11-3 win last night. That improved them to 15-4 in September and 6-1 the L7 games. I like them to continue this strong finish to 2018 w/ another win in Toronto this afternoon.
Outside of Cy Young candidate Blake Snell, Cash doesn't really have too many other reliable "starters" (in the traditional sense) in his rotation. So what he's done is turn to his bullpen and the concept of "openers," which has spread throughout baseball this season. A pitcher (usually from the 'pen) is asked to go an inning or two to open the game and then the rest of the bullpen takes over. It has undoubtedly worked w/ the TB staff ranking top three in ERA, WHIP and opponents batting average. Today it will be more "traditional" start w/ Tyler Glasnow. The irony here is that Glasnow was used primarily as a reliever when he was w/ Pittsburgh earlier in the year! Like the rest of the Rays' staff, Glasnow has pitched well recently. He's off B2B quality starts and threw six scoreless innings his last time out. He didn't allow a hit until two outs in the fifth inning.
Meanwhile, it's a been a bit of a "lost season" in Toronto, who started strong, but quickly fell off. They are 70-84 overall and have been outscored by 115 runs. Only six teams in all of baseball have a worse run differential and they are all the dregs you'd expect. They are very fortunate not to be down 0-2 in this series and while they've won five of their last seven, they've actually been outscored during that stretch. Thomas Pannone gets the starting nod for the Jays today and he has a 5.94 ERA his L3 starts. He's only made four starts all season and truthfully three of them have been good. But the one bad one (against Baltimore) skews everything. Still, I expect Pannone to struggle on Saturday as the Rays have had no problem scoring so far in this series (19 runs in 2 games). They are also 34-24 in day games this season. 8* Tampa Bay
|09-21-18||Brewers -133 v. Pirates||Top||8-3||Win||100||11 h 9 m||Show|
8* Milwaukee (7:05 ET): The Brew Crew are inching closer to a probable Wild Card berth, but would certainly like to host that game, if not win the NL Central outright. To do so, they'll need to perform better against the Pirates. Milwaukee's record against this division rival is just 5-11 this season and they dropped two of three at home to them last week. You might therefore deem it risky to take them here, on the road, with a pitcher who is 0-3 against the Bucs in 2018. Furthermore, Pittsburgh is fresh off a sweep of Kansas City and has won five in a row. However, that sweep of the Royals was not all that impressive considering all three games were decided by one run. I believe the Brewers are set to turn the tables on the Bucs Friday night.
That 5-11 record for Milwaukee against Pittsburgh includes a 1-4 mark when Jhoulys Chacin is on the mound. But the kicker is that Chacin has actually pitched well in those starts, posting a more than respectable 2.51 ERA. This will be his second straight time facing them as Sunday saw him allow only two runs over five innings. While there's been some concern over the Brewers' offense of late, the Pirates have scored four runs or fewer in six of the last seven games. As I said earlier, that sweep of KC wasn't all that impressive when you consider every game was decided by a run, two of them by scores of 2-1. Remember the Royals are a terrible team too; they are one of the lowest scoring teams in the American League and had to play the series w/o a DH.
Evaluating Chacin's recent record (0-3 TSR L3 starts) comes w/ the same caveat as his YTD record vs. the Pirates. He's actually pitched well. He's posted a 1.091 WHIP and has given up only four hits total in his last two starts (10 IP). Against Pittsburgh, he's yet to allow more than 3 ER in any of his starts. Milwaukee is off a shutout win here (beat Cincinnati 7-0 Wednesday) and is 8-4 this season after blanking their previous opponent. I look for Chacin to outduel Ivan Nova tonight as Nova might be off B2B wins, but he's never won three straight starts all season. Chacin is 9-3 on the road this year and w/ the Brewers being the better team here, this price is justified. 8* Milwaukee
|09-19-18||Giants v. Padres -138||Top||4-8||Win||100||13 h 56 m||Show|
10* San Diego (9:10 ET): This level of endorsement from me is certainly rare when it comes to the Padres. But they've lost six in a row to the Giants and it's "high time" that streak comes to an end. The Padres were actually the bettors choice last night (money line bet way up), but they lost 5-4 after giving up a two-run single to Chris Shaw in the top of the eighth. Remember that it wasn't that long ago the Giants had lost 11 in a row. They turned things around by taking two of three from Colorado over the weekend, and I had them in both wins, but that series was at home. With wins in the first two games of this series, they've now won four of five, but this is still very much a bad road team by any objective measure. Their record away from home this year is 31-46.
Starting here for the Padres will be Robbie Erlin. While I certainly wouldn't say he's pitched well this year, last time out Erlin made in through 5 1/3 innings while giving up only two runs and one was unearned. He also finished w/ 6 K's and 0 walks. San Diego still lost mind you, 4-0 to Texas. But at least it was a step in the right direction for Erlin. “I thought he was as good as he’s been all year as a starter," said skipper Andy Green about Erlin's last performance. Tonight will be the first time the Giants have faced Erlin in a starter's role this season. While Erlin has never beaten the Giants, the Bay Area native is poised to do so here. San Fran has swept just two road series all season and won three straight on the road only three times. The Padres have gone 6-1 the L7 times after allowing 5+ runs the previous game.
The last time we saw Chris Stratton pitch for the Giants, he threw his 1st ever complete game shutout. It was at home vs. the Rockies and I was on him. As good as he looked there, Stratton still has a 4.06 ERA his L7 starts and, generally speaking, has been fairly inconsistent this year. He still has a 5.03 ERA on the road w/ the team going just 5-7 in 12 starts. His L3 road starts have not gone well as he's allowed 18 runs in just 13 2/3 innings. He's allowed 25 hits as well, three of them home runs and has just nine strikeouts. While those three games were against teams better than the Padres, Stratton just hasn't been consistent enough for my liking. The Padres did beat him in San Francisco back in June. 10* San Diego
|09-18-18||Nationals -167 v. Marlins||Top||4-2||Win||100||10 h 22 m||Show|
6* Washington (7:10 ET): The Nationals are certainly better than their record as they've outscored their opponents by a healthy 76 runs this season (4th best differential in the entire NL!). But losses like last night are indicative of why this club is currently 76-75 w/ basically no shot of making the playoffs. They blew a 4-0 lead - to Miami, mind you - and lost 8-5. The Marlins did all of their scoring in the fifth through eighth innings, taking the lead in the sixth (5-4) and then again (for good) in the seventh. Fortunately for the Nats, the Marlins are still a very bad team w/ the distinction of worst record (59-91) and worst run differential (-217) in the entire Senior Circuit. Washington also has Stephen Strasburg going Tuesday night. Like his team, he has owned Miami in his career.
Strasburg hasn't necessarily been "himself" this season, especially when pitching at home. Fortunately for him, this game takes place on the road where he is 6-2 this season w/ a 2.26 ERA. Quite frankly, it hasn't mattered where Strasburg has pitched when facing the Marlins as he's gone 4-0 against them (0.67 ERA) going back to April of last year. His career numbers indicate even more dominance as the Nats are 19-7 the L26 times he's gone up against Miami. Here in September, Strasburg has pitched well, posting a 2.41 ERA and he's allowed 2 ER or less in four consecutive starts. He should do his job effectively tonight.
Sandy Alcantara will toe the rubber here for Miami and he has pitched well in his three starts this year, all of which have come against either the Phillies or Mets. He stays within the division for a fourth time here, sporting a 1.42 ERA and 0.947 WHIP thus far. However, I just can't look past the Marlins' general ineptitude as they are just 22-36 off a win this season. They've also given up an average of 7.1 runs the last seven games and as bad as their record is, it should be even worse given the difference between their number of runs scored and runs allowed. Look for the Nationals to bounce back Tuesday and earn a split of this short two-game set. 6* Washington
|09-18-18||Red Sox v. Yankees -129||Top||2-3||Win||100||4 h 18 m||Show|
8* NY Yankees (1:05 ET): The most famous rivalry in the sport is renewed Tuesday afternoon with this special matinee. Both the Red Sox and Yankees have known they're playoff bound for some time now, and in the case of the former, they've already clinched. The Yankees will soon too, but right now are trying to hold off the A's for home field advantage for what is all but assured to be the AL Wild Card matchup. Given the Yankees' home record (49-26), it would certainly behoove them to earn the right to host that one-game scenario. Entering the day, they are 1.5 games up on Oakland, who will be hosting the Angels tonight. The drive for homefield in the Wild Card Game should have NY highly motivated this afternoon as should the fact they have revenge against Boston for a prior sweep. I'm on the Yanks here.
Last month, the Red Sox swept the Yankees at Fenway Park. It was a four-game series. But before that NY actually held the 5-4 edge in the season series. Though the Yanks are currently 11.5 games back of Boston, I feel the teams are a lot closer in talent than that. I like this opportunity to play against Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi, who comes in sporting a 7.72 ERA and 1.822 WHIP his L3 starts. He's also just 2-6 on the road. A former Yankees, Eovaldi did throw eight scoreless innings last month in Fenway. But given his 3.49 FIP, I don't see that happening again. The Yankees are averaging 5.6 run per game here in the Bronx, making them one of the highest scoring teams at home in all of MLB (right behind the Red Sox).
On the mound, the Yankees will turn to J.A. Happ. He's actually been very effective since coming over at the trade deadline. He's posted a 2.70 ERA as a Yankee and was brought over in large part due to his past success pitching against the Red Sox. Over the last 4 seasons, Happ has posted a 1.78 ERA vs. Boston. He did allow five runs (all unearned!) against them back in July, but that was as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. Last time out, Happ tossed six scoreless innings w/ 67 percent of his pitches going for strikes (including 15 of 23 on first pitch). He's 6-0 as a Yankee (7-1 TSR) and has allowed 2 ER or less in five of his last six outings. Normally, I might be worried about Boston's 34-9 record in day games this year, but the Yankees are 29-19. They're also 15-5 following an off-day. 8* NY Yankees
|09-17-18||Rockies v. Dodgers -146||Top||2-8||Win||100||13 h 24 m||Show|
10* LA Dodgers (10:10 ET): This is a huge series at Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers lost Sunday night in St. Louis, costing them both a sweep and first place in the NL West. Meanwhile, Colorado was able to AVOID a sweep Sunday afternoon, beating the Giants 3-2. They now lead LA by one-half game in the NL West. Between these two and St. Louis, two of the three will probably make the playoffs. Obviously, one of these two will win the division. The other will likely be left to fend for the 2nd Wild Card, which the Dodgers and Cardinals are in a tie for, currently. I've been pretty steadfast that the Dodgers are going to be the ones taking the division, as run differential clearly indicates they are the better team here. That leads me to taking them tonight (and probably future games in the series as well).
The Dodgers are tops in the NL in run differential, having outscored their opponents by 146 runs. Last night's loss aside, they have played much better of late. They've gone 15-7 since Aug 24. That includes them taking two of three from the Rockies, in Colorado, earlier this month. Hyun-Jin Ryu did not pitch in that series, but he will get the starting nod for tonight's opener. Since rejoining the rotation last month, Ryu has allowed 3 ER or fewer in all six starts (2.67 ERA). Most of them have come here at home where the Dodgers figure to have a clear edge. Not only do they allow just 3.8 rpg here at Chavez Ravine, the Rockies' offense predictably declines when taken out of the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field. Over the weekend, Colorado managed just three runs (all of them being scored yday) in three games in San Francisco. That was a Giants team that came in having lost 11 in a row.
For the Rockies, starter Jon Gray has been quite the pleasant surprise w/ an 11-2 TSR dating back to June 22nd. But one of those losses came to the Dodgers (earlier this month). Gray has lasted just four innings each of his L2 starts and allowed three home runs. He's actually allowed a HR in nine consecutive outings, including multiple in three of his last four. The Dodgers came into yday having homered in 23 consecutive games, which was the longest active streak in MLB. While LA has the best run differential in the entire National League, Colorado has outscored its opponents by just a single run this year! That means they should feel extremely fortunate to be 15 games over .500. I say that works itself out over the season's final two weeks and the Dodgers end up taking the division. It starts w/ this game. 10* LA Dodgers
|09-16-18||Mariners v. Angels +107||Top||3-4||Win||107||7 h 45 m||Show|
10* LA Angels (4:05 ET): Any notion the Angels had of catching the Mariners for third place in the AL West has gone out the window this weekend. They've dropped the first three games of this series and are now 8.5 back w/ 13 to play. The reality is third place in the division would have been a pyrrhic victory anyway. But, in my eyes, the Halos are the better team here. They've outscored their opponents by 35 runs this year, playing to the level of a 79-win team (actual record is 73-76). Meanwhile, Seattle has totally overachieved this year (thanks to 36 one-run victories & a 13-1 record in extra innings). Having been outscored by 42 runs on the year, the M's expected win total is 69. Yet somehow they've managed to go 82-66. No team in all of MLB has overachieved more this season, at least according to that particular metric.
Trying to finish at or above .500 at least gives the Angels something to play for down the stretch. Today, they'll face nemesis Marco Gonzales, who has a 5-0 team start record against them this season. Gonzales is 3-0 w/ a 3.00 ERA in those five starts, but is just 9-9 against everyone else. The team has lost each of his last five starts, a span that goes back to the beginning of August, w/ Gonzales posting a 9.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP in the last three. He did pitch okay his last time out, surrendering only one run in five innings, but that was against the lowly Padres. Gonzales' strikeout totals also remain low. Something else to keep in mind is that he has already thrown a career high 150 2/3 innings this year. His previous high was 40 last season. He worked on a pitch count against the Padres and that could again be the case here.
Jaime Barria will start today for LA, hoping to bounce back from a disappointing outing where he allowed four runs in just three innings. He'd come in having allowed 1 or 0 ER in five of his previous six starts, going 4-1 w/ 1.86 ERA, but was facing the same team (Texas) for a second straight outing. Barria has faced the Mariners four times this season and has a 1-3 TSR. But he hasn't allowed more than 3 ER in any of the four outings. (Admittedly, has gone six innings only one time). Still though, a home team getting swept in a four-game series is pretty rare and I see the Angels being motivated to avoid that embarrassment on Sunday. I don't care what the respective records say, they have been a better team than Seattle this season. 10* LA Angels
|09-14-18||Rangers +131 v. Padres||Top||4-0||Win||131||6 h 14 m||Show|
8* Texas (10:10 ET): I'm playing against San Diego here as they've won three straight, which is a streak we don't see very often from them. Sure, there's always been the mentality to "ride the hot team," but that's not the case with this one. This will be the seventh time this year that the Padres come into a game having won three in a row. They've won only one of the previous six times. That lone four-game win streak actually came at the end of August as they beat Colorado and Seattle two times each. Texas is a fellow last place team that also had yday off. Their West Coast trip has not gone well so far and they've lost six of the last seven overall. But I feel they snag the win tonight as I love the idea of playing against the Padres in this situation.
The Rangers have pulled an overnight pitching change as Conner Sadzeck is set to "open" tonight. Sadzeck isn't expected to go long, however, as Yohander Mendez is scheduled to come in after. We've seen more and more of this throughout baseball this year and it's been effective. It throws the opponent off as basically you to prepare for two starting pitchers. San Diego is hardly the most fearsome offense in baseball. In fact, they are last in batting average, last in OBP, 28th in slugging and 26th in runs. If there's one opponent the Rangers' pitching staff should handle, it's this one. By the way, each of the Padres' wins during this three-game streak came by exactly one run.
While Texas goes a non-traditional rout w/ its pitching situation tonight, San Diego will sadly allow Robbie Erlin to start again. Erlin just allowed seven runs in his most recent start and has a 10.38 ERA/1.923 WHIP his last three starts. It's been a bad season overall for him as he as a 7.24 ERA/1.561 WHIP in nine starts. He's been much better as a reliever than a starter this year. I think the Rangers' better understanding of their pitching staff gives them a "leg up" tonight and it's also a good idea to fade the Padres when they're on a win streak like this. With Sadzeck "opening" and then Mendez following - along with a "cast of thousands" - (Rangers will likely use a LOT of pitchers here), I give Texas the edge. 8* Texas
|09-14-18||Twins -130 v. Royals||Top||4-8||Loss||-130||11 h 55 m||Show|
10* Minnesota (8:15 ET): The Twins lost last night here in Kansas City, 6-4. They blew an early 2-0 lead w/ the deciding factor being a four-run 6th by the Royals that featured B2B home runs. So the Twins now find themselves in a revenge spot Friday, but not just because of what transpired last night. Starter Jose Berrios also has revenge here as he lost to KC last Saturday. Berrios will again go up against Jorge Lopez and when these two last met, it was a good old fashioned pitcher's duel. When two pitchers are squaring off for a second straight start like this season, I often go w/ the one who lost the first battle. Sure enough, we actually saw that play out last night w/ KC's Heath Fillmyer avenging a defeat from last Friday against the Twins. Same thing tonight, only this time in the Twins' favor.
Berrios pitched well last Saturday, giving up just one run and three hits in six innings. But it wasn't enough as Lopez was better. Lopez went eight innings and allowed just one run on one hit. In fact, he took a perfect game into the ninth! However, I would not expect anything close to a repeat of that here tonight. Lopez's first three starts this season were all losses and he posted a 7.90 ERA. He's been able to bounce back w/ two strong efforts (also allowed just one run on 9.2 vs. Baltimore). But, keep something in mind. Despite Lopez taking that perfect game into the ninth inning last Saturday, it was only a 1-0 game entering the seventh, which is when KC busted loose. It was the Royals' lone win in that series. They come into tonight having won 3 of 4, but still own the major's second worst record at 50-96 overall.
The Royals' overall futility allows me to look past the Twins' road woes here. Minnesota is just 24-48 on the road this season and has dropped 29 of their last 39 games as the visitor. But they did beat the Yankees twice earlier this week, albeit at home. Despite an 0-3 record his L3 starts, Berrios hasn't pitched that poorly and he was actually a massive favorite on the money line last Saturday (closed -210). The Royals' win percentage off a win this year is just .333, so couple that w/ the revenge angle and you have a play on the other side. 10* Minnesota
|09-13-18||Dodgers -185 v. Cardinals||Top||9-7||Win||100||11 h 43 m||Show|
10* LA Dodgers (7:15 ET): Hey. The Dodgers finally beat the Reds yesterday! They were 8-1 winners yday in Cincinnati, thus avoiding what would have been an embarrassing a sweep. They're still 1.5 games back of Colorado in the NL West and two back of St. Louis for the second Wild Card spot. So this is a very important weekend series vs. the Cardinals, rife w/ playoff implications. They'll send ace Clayton Kershaw to the bump for Thursday's opener. I used Kershaw as a big play in his last start, my 10* Game of the Month, as he helped avenge another previous sweep against Colorado. It's the same setup here as the Dodgers were swept the last time they faced the Cards. Behind Kershaw, they exact some revenge yet again in what will be a big win.
Kershaw is having another strong season. He comes in w/ a 2.42 ER and 0.983 WHIP in 22 starts. The team is surprisingly only 12-10 in those 22 starts, but a perfect 4-0 the last four. He's allowed three runs or more only twice all season. One of those, three of the runs were unearned. The other was back in April. It's eight straight quality starts and counting after allowing just two runs in six innings last time out at Colorado. He's not faced St. Louis this season, but has a 2.99 ERA against them in 16 career starts. We know what we're going to get here and I'm confident the Dodgers' bats will give Kershaw the requisite support. The Dodgers average 5.2 runs per game on the road.
The Cardinals lost yesterday, here at home, 4-3 to Pittsburgh. That cost them a series sweep and ended a three-game win streak. But keep in mind they'd dropped five of seven prior to that three-game win streak. Austin Gomber gets the start here, just like he did the opener of the previous series between the teams. That first start vs. the Dodgers saw him enter on 15-inning scoreless streak, but he gave up two runs and walked four. The Cards still won 5-3. But they didn't win Gomber's last start, which was at a bad Detroit team. Gomber didn't factor into the decision as the bullpen lost the game in the bottom of the ninth. Previously, St. Louis had won all seven of Gomber's starts. But he's never had to go up against a pitcher the caliber of Kershaw and the Dodgers are still the better overall team in my eyes and the eyes of YTD run differential (+133 vs. +82). 10* LA Dodgers
|09-12-18||Rangers v. Angels -170||Top||1-8||Win||100||13 h 57 m||Show|
8* LA Angels (10:05 ET): It's a lost season in the City of Angels (at least for the actual Angels), but this team is better than its record. Despite being a game below .500 (72-73), they've actually outscored the opposition by 40 runs over the course of this season. That's a far better run differential than the team just ahead of them in the standings, Seattle, who has actually been outscored by 53 runs (even though they're 14 games above .500). It's probably too late, but it would be poetic if the Angels were able to catch the Mariners. Regardless, you can look for the Halos to beat the floundering Rangers again this evening. They won 1-0 last night and tonight figures to be far more lopsided. While Texas did take Monday's series opener, they've dropped five of six overall. LA has won five of its last six games.
Following what's starting to be a league wide trend ("invented" by the Rays), the Angels made last night a "bullpen game" w/ their "starter" being a reliever (Jim Johnson) that was expected to go no more than two innings. Tampa Bay has found tremendous success employing this strategy (the Red Sox did it last night w/ Chris Sale as well) and it worked for the Angels as well. Johnson and seven other Angels' pitchers combined to give up only two hits and had a no-no going through seven. Tonight should see a more "traditional" outing from Felix Pena, who has a 2.81 ERA his L5 starts. Pena should have little difficulty w/ a Rangers lineup that is hitting a collective .202 the L7 games. He has gone seven innings in B2B starts while giving up only two runs both times.
While Texas' hitting has been lousy of late, their pitching has been even worse over the balance of the season. Only Baltimore has given up more runs. Things have gotten so dire that they're actually giving Yovani Gallardo another try. Gallardo is making his 15th start since joining the team and while he initially benefited from some tremendous run support, that has gone away recently. He has a 6.23 ERA and 1.649 WHIP on the road this year and his numbers from his L3 starts overall are pretty identical. There was very little offense in last night's game, but - at least for the Angels - that should change tonight. 8* LA Angels
|09-12-18||Dodgers -187 v. Reds||Top||8-1||Win||100||3 h 26 m||Show|
6* LA Dodgers (12:35 ET): C'MON! The Dodgers, who are the vastly superior team in this matchup, are somehow now 0-6 against the Reds in 2018. Needless to say, this could end up costing them dearly in the playoff race, whether you're talking the NL West or the Wild Card. In each of the last two days here in Cincinnati, Dodger Blue has fallen behind early and been unable to recover. Last night was a 3-1 setback where they managed only five hits for the game. That came on the heels of dropping Monday's opener to Cody Reed, a starter who came in w/ an 0-14 career TSR. I say "enough is enough" and the Dodgers (NL best +126 run differential) HAVE to come through today. The Reds' record this year against everyone other than the Dodgers is 57-83.
For the sixth consecutive time, Ross Stripling will start on the road for LA. It's also his first time starting in a month. Stripling spent about a month on the DL w/ a back issue. His official return was Friday, in a relief role, where he pitched just one-third of an inning against Colorado (the Dodgers won that game, 4-2). The last time he started also happened to be in Colorado and he allowed just one run in six innings. Stripling did face the Reds earlier in the year and did not factor into the decision. He allowed only two runs over 5 1/3 IP w/ seven strikeouts and zero walks. The Dodgers have won five of Stripling's last six starts overall.
Cincy will go w/ Anthony DeSclafani for today's series finale. While the Reds have gone 3-0 in his last three starts, it's been no real thanks to DeSclafani. He has a 6.28 ERA and 1.604 WHIP during that time and his L2 starts have spanned just 7 2/3 innings total while giving up six runs. He's been fortunate to get plenty of run support recently and he also faced San Diego his last time out. I fully anticipate the Dodgers' lineup "coming alive" today as not only do they average 5.2 rpg on the road this season, they also average 4.8 rpg in day games. They're 82-49 in all day games the L3 seasons and are outscoring opponents by a full run per game in afternoon affairs in 2018. The Reds are just 25-33 in day games this year. 6* LA Dodgers
|09-11-18||Padres v. Mariners -219||Top||2-1||Loss||-219||13 h 49 m||Show|
6* Seattle (10:10 ET): The Mariners are 35-18 in one-run games and 13-1 in extra innings this season. Their overall record is 79-64. Yet, it's becoming increasingly unlikely that they'll make the playoffs. A -52 YTD run differential further confirms that this club has been more lucky than good this season, but I'll take 'em here in what's basically a "do or die" series w/ the lowly Padres. I've continuously cited the M's run differential as a clear sign that they've been overperforming and feel that I was at the "forefront" of calling for them NOT to get to the postseason. But I'll still gladly take them over a San Diego team that has the most losses in the National League while getting outscored by 139 runs this season.
The Padres split a four-game series in Cincinnati over the weekend. They are actually 7-5 their L12 games, which dates back to taking two from these Mariners in San Diego. The team has gone just 18-37 off a win this year, so fading them in this spot (they won Sunday) seems prudent. I certainly don't have much regard for Tuesday's starter Bryan Mitchell, who has a 6.00 ERA and 1.833 WHIP his L3 starts. Somehow the team has won two of those three starts even w/ Mitchell posting more walks than strikeouts. San Diego has been one of the poorest performers in Interleague Play over the years and that includes a 4-11 mark in 2018.
Seattle's Marco Gonzalez has been admittedly awful himself of late. But, unlike Mitchell, he can at least claim a satisfactory body of work over the course of a season. The team has a 15-10 record in his 25 starts. It'll be good for Gonzalez to not have to face an opponent from within the division here. He's gone against three straight AL West foes, which may explain the struggles as those opponents are now familiar with him at this juncture of the season. San Diego is not. The Padres are an absolutely atrocious 4-24 their L28 Interleague road games when facing a left-handed starter. 6* Seattle
|09-11-18||Dodgers -166 v. Reds||Top||1-3||Loss||-166||9 h 20 m||Show|
8* LA Dodgers (6:40 ET): The Dodgers can be pretty frustrating. Last night was a perfect illustration. After taking two of three in Colorado over the weekend (pulling within one-half game of the NL West lead), they went out and lost in Cincinnati. The Dodgers are now 0-5 vs. the 62-83 Reds this season. That can't happen. Revenge for the prior sweep and the fact the Dodgers still have the best run differential in the National League (+128) have me on them again Tuesday, hopefully this time w/ a better outcome. A four-run 1st inning (by the Reds) is what doomed them last night and ended up being the difference in the game.
I was really disappointed by the first inning and overall effort from Alex Wood last night. He allowed seven runs total, which matched a season-high. Hyun-Jin Ryu starts tonight for LA and obviously I'll expect him to pitch better than Wood did. Ryu did give up five runs in his last start, but four were unearned. He still sports a 2.62 ERA and 1.046 WHIP in his 11 starts this year. Interesting is that this will be the 1st time Ryu is starting a road game since returning from the DL. His last road start was May 2nd at Arizona. He has an offense that should support him, however. The Dodgers average 5.2 rpg on the road.
The Dodgers "can't" keep on losing to the last place Reds. The most embarrassing part of last night's 10-6 setback was that it came against Cody Reed, whose career team start record had previously been 0-14. Reds' pitching is not good. They have allowed - by far - the most runs in the entire National League. Luis Castillo gets the nod Tuesday, coming off a start where he surrendered three home runs, to San Diego. That was here at home. He now has a 4.79 ERA for the year. While they only have two games left vs. the Reds in 2018 (tonight & tomorrow), I am confident that the Dodgers will be able to show that they are the vastly superior club here. I'll continue riding them. 8* LA Dodgers
|09-10-18||Dodgers -173 v. Reds||Top||6-10||Loss||-173||18 h 16 m||Show|
8* LA Dodgers (6:40 ET): I'm sticking w/ the Dodgers here (taking them a fourth straight day) as they continue their charge to the top of the NL West. By taking two of three in Colorado over the weekend, LA pulled within one-half game of the division lead. Speaking to this club's likely ascendance is the fact they continue to have the NL's best run differential (now +132). The team they are chasing (Colorado) has a -11 run differential for the year. Now the Dodgers are in Cincinnati to exact some revenge against a Reds team that actually swept them in a four-game set (at Chavez Ravine!) back in May. You know what they say about payback.
The Reds could only manage a split of a four-game series w/ San Diego here at home over the weekend. Overall, they've now dropped 13 of their last 18 games. Needless to say, this will be a big step up in class after facing lowly San Diego. Cody Reed will get the start Monday and the Reds have yet to win w/ him on the mound. He has an 0-3 team start record, having posted a 7.10 ERA and 1.736 WHIP. Reed's most recent start saw him give up six runs. But what's truly remarkable about Reed is his long-term team start record. Going back to his initial call-up in 2016, the Reds have NEVER won w/ Reed on the hill, going 0-14 all-time!
Now we'll see if Dave Roberts' decision to shake up his rotation pays off. Sunday saw Rich Hill get the nod. It was initially supposed to be Alex Wood, but the Dodgers skipper pulled the old "switcheroo" citing Wood's track record here at Great American Ballpark. Hill took care of business Sunday afternoon. Now it's Wood's turn to make his manager look good. Wood has looked good himself of late, posting a 1.86 ERA his L7 starts. He's allowed just one run in his L12 innings of work. As I said before, the idea behind Roberts flip-flopping Hill & Wood in the rotation is that Wood has always pitched well in this park. He has a 1.32 career ERA here in Cincy. The Dodgers are the superior team here. 8* LA Dodgers
|09-09-18||Dodgers -125 v. Rockies||Top||9-6||Win||100||5 h 29 m||Show|
10* LA Dodgers (3:10 ET): After pulling within a half-game of the Rockies on Friday, the Dodgers lost last night here in Colorado, 4-2. A ninth inning rally fell short when Yasmani Grandal struck out to end the ninth. As I've written each of the last two days, the Dodgers are - pretty clearly - the better of these two teams. Just to refresh, the Dodgers have outscored their opponents by a NL-best 129 runs this season. Meanwhile, Colorado has been outscored in 2018. The Dodgers came into this series w/ revenge after being swept here at Coors Field last month. An offense that we know can score (5.2 rpg on the road) should perform better than three runs or less in seven of the last nine games, given the ballpark they are playing in today. I'm sticking w/ the road team Sunday.
Rich Hill starts today for the Dodgers. His last three starts have all come at home and he got a lot of run support in two of them. Last time out, he allowed four runs in five innings, but it hardly mattered w/ the Dodgers putting 11 runs of their own on the board. Hill has never beaten the Rockies, but neither has Alex Wood, who was originally going to start Sunday. What Hill has done, however, is post a 23-2 KW rate his L3 starts. He did pitch relatively well here at Coors last month, giving up just three runs (on four hits) over six innings. One of the runs was unearned. Unfortunately, the Dodgers went down 4-3 that day. But they are still 6-3 in Wood's L9 starts overall. The team is also a perfect 4-0 off its previous four losses.
Someone else who has not experienced a lot of success here at Coors Field is Rockies' starter Tyler Anderson. Quite frankly, Anderson hasn't experienced much success anywhere over past few months. The team actually did win his last outing, 9-8 over the Giants, but had been 0-7 his previous seven w/ Anderson posting an ugly 8.31 ERA. The last time Anderson actually won a decision was the 4th of July. It's been 10 starts w/o one. The Dodgers have won 22 of their last 29 games facing a southpaw starters and I've again got to point out that Colorado has been outscored at home this season. I am steadfast that the Dodgers are going to win the NL West and to do so, they probably need to win this game. 10* LA Dodgers
|09-08-18||Dodgers -132 v. Rockies||Top||2-4||Loss||-132||11 h 25 m||Show|
10* LA Dodgers (8:10 ET): The Dodgers came out and made a statement win last night, beating the Rockies 4-2 behind six strong innings from Clayton Kershaw. That result pulls them within one-half game of the Rockies for the NL West lead. But, make no mistake about it, the Dodgers are clearly the better team. I made that point abundantly clear in yday's analysis when I made LA my 10* Game of the Month. Just to refresh, the Dodgers have outscored their opponents by a NL-best 131 runs this season. Meanwhile, Colorado has been outscored by 10 runs in 2018. The Dodgers came into this series w/ revenge after being swept here at Coors Field last month. An offense that we know can score (5.2 rpg on the road) should have no problems doing so this weekend.
The Dodgers were able to lean on Kershaw last night. Tonight, it's Walker Buehler getting the start. While far less heralded, Buehler has pitched very well this season. In fact, his ERA (2.52) and WHIP (0.974) are comparable to Kershaw! Bueheler threw seven shutout innings here at Coors last month, only for the Dodgers to still lose 3-2. Here's his chance at revenge as he'll be up against the same pitcher he faced on August 11th, that being Kyle Freeland. Note Buehler was in position to win that game as he exited w/ a 2-0 lead. (Bullpen blew the game). Freeland allowed two runs and six hits in that game. He now has a 3.90 ERA in six career starts vs. the Dodgers.
While the bullpen might still be an issue for LA this weekend (closer Kenley Jansen is out), Kenta Maeda showed he's able to step into the closer's role as he got the the final two outs last night. The Dodgers did use six pitchers on Friday, but Colorado used seven as starter Jon Gray was ineffective. Freeland has actually pitched remarkably well here at Coors this season and has a 19-9 TSR overall. However, I keep coming back to the fact that the Dodgers are simply the much better team here. Run differential is a far better predictor of future outcomes than a team's actual won-loss record, in my opinion. That firm belief leaves no doubt in my mind as to who is going to win this division. 10* LA Dodgers
|09-07-18||Dodgers -140 v. Rockies||Top||4-2||Win||100||13 h 42 m||Show|
10* LA Dodgers (8:40 ET): It's a huge weekend series in the NL West with the Rockies hosting the Dodgers. Colorado might have a 1.5 game edge in the standings, but there is zero doubt here (in my mind) that LA is the vastly superior team. Something that my regular clients know is that I am a huge proponent of run differential being a better predictor of future outcomes than a team's actual won-loss record. Here, that metric speaks volumes. The Dodgers have a NL-best +129 run differential. The Rockies, despite being 15 games over .500, have actually been OUTSCORED by eight runs over the course of this season. Oddsmakers aren't fooled by the respective records here, nor am I. With their ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound for Friday's opener, bet big on Los Angeles.
Colorado does come into the weekend on a five-game win streak. They just swept the Giants here at Coors Field and this is their third straight series taking on a division opponent (played in San Diego before hosting SF). Despite the perception of a massive homefield advantage, the Rockies have actually not performed all that well in Coors Field this season. They've been outscored and their record is just 37-30. (Keep in mind that includes three straight wins). They turn to Jon Gray tonight and while he has an 8-1 TSR since returning from Triple-A Albuquerque, I don't believe he'll be able to match Kershaw tonight. Consider that in his last two starts, Gray has a total of just two strikeouts. Against the Dodgers on August 10th, he allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings, one of his weaker outings since rejoining the rotation. Something else to note is that Gray has allowed a HR in seven straight starts, including multiple in his last two.
Kershaw is a pitcher who hopefully needs no introduction. He actually also allowed two HR's in his last start, but both were solo shots and the Dodgers still were able to win the game. Something else Kershaw has in common w/ Gray is that he too is unbeaten over his L7 starts. Only Kershaw's numbers, including 1.99 ERA and 0.785 WHIP, are much better. I realize the Dodgers will be w/o closer Kenley Jansen this weekend, but having Kershaw on the mound mitigates the need for the bullpen. He's gone at least seven innings his L4 trips to the mound. The Dodgers also come into this series w/ revenge as they were swept here last month. At Coors Field, offense shouldn't be a problem for a team already averaging 5.2 rpg on the road. That's more than the Rockies average here. 10* LA Dodgers
|09-07-18||Padres v. Reds -150||Top||6-12||Win||100||11 h 42 m||Show|
8* Cincinnati (6:40 ET): Perhaps taking an advantage of an off-day, San Diego came in and was able to defeat Cincinnati on Thursday, 6-2. To clarify, the Padres had Wednesday off while the Reds were wrapping up their series w/ Pittsburgh. Maybe that was the reason the visitors were able to get out to a quick start last night as it was 5-0 by the fourth inning in a battle of starters named Castillo. Whatever the reason, the Reds have now dropped four in a row at home (were swept by the Pirates). In those four games, they have scored just eight runs. I'll call for them to snap out of the slump tonight though as they face Brett Kennedy, whose two road starts thus far have gone badly. The Reds are a better team than the Padres and should bounce back tonight.
The truth is that the Reds were doomed early on this season when they started out by losing 18 of their first 21 games. That got manager Bryan Price fired, but ever since the club has been a lot more respectable. They're 56-64 overall and that's including the current losing streak. Take out starts made by Homer Bailey (1-19 TSR!) and the team is even closer to .500. Starting tonight will be Anthony DeSclafani. He hasn't exactly been dominant of late, but he's also had to face the top three teams from the NL Central (Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals) his L3 starts. The Reds have won two of those games. DeSclafani has arguably been the Reds' best pitcher in 2018 and has posted a 2.75 ERA his L36 innings of work. He's made two career starts vs. the Padres and his ERA is 0.64.
You'd expect Cincinnati to score more given some of the hitters in the lineup. Eight regulars are hitting .275 or better. Leadoff man Scooter Gennett is #1 in the NL in batting average (.320) and its notable he was given Thursday off. He'll be back in the lineup tonight and has gone 12 for 26 at the plate his L6 games. Eugenio Suarez is top five in the NL in both home runs and RBI's. Then you have Joey Votto, a perennial MVP candidate. With Padres starter Kennedy having posted a 9.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP in two road starts thus far, I expect the Reds to break out of this mini-slump tonight. Meanwhile, San Diego averages only 3.7 rpg themselves on the road. They're also just 18-36 off a win. Thus, the idea of fading them in the situation is really attractive. 8* Cincinnati
|09-05-18||Yankees -149 v. A's||Top||2-8||Loss||-149||12 h 28 m||Show|
8* NY Yankees (10:05 ET): This is certainly an outstanding pitching matchup we're getting tonight and it could very well be repeated if these two teams meet up in the AL Wild Card Game (which seems likely). Luis Severino comes in w/ a 22-6 TSR for the Yankees and has won each of his last three starts. He enters today looking to take over the MLB lead in wins as he's currently tied w/ Cleveland's Corey Kluber and Tampa Bay's Blake Snell. For Oakland, they'll send out Michael Fiers, who (thus far) has proven to be a tremendous acquisition at the trade deadline. Fiers has yet to lose since coming over from Detroit and has a 6-0 TSR his L6 starts overall. However, he did look shaky his last time out and that could be problematic when facing a superior side like the Yanks.
Severino made short work of the A's lineup earlier this year, allowing just one run on five hits in six innings. He finished w/ seven strikeouts and just to illustrate how the perception of the A's has changed in four months, they were HUGE underdogs in that game. Severino and the Yanks actually closed north of -300 on the money line! Now, that game was in the Bronx. With most teams, you'd expect them to perform better offensively at home. But not Oakland. Their runs per game average drops way down from 5.5 on the road (tied for 1st) to 4.1 at home. Severino has never lost to the A's in three career starts and is coming off a 10-strikeout effort in his last start. It's rare you can get him at this price.
As for Fiers, he's off his roughest outing in an Oakland uniform to date. He gave up three home runs - and five runs total - in just 3 2/3 innings vs. Seattle last week. Now the A's still were able to win that game, 7-5. But Fiers won't be able to get away w/ that statline against the Yankees, who already come in averaging 5.2 rpg. Fiers has not really pitched well in the past vs. NY w/ a 5.54 ERA in five starts. As a member of the Tigers, he faced them once earlier in the year (back in April) and it did not go well w/ Fiers allowing six runs. The Yankees are a solid road team (39-28 record) and should take this all-important "rubber match" Wednesday night. 8* NY Yankees
|09-05-18||Mets v. Dodgers -177||Top||7-3||Loss||-177||10 h 18 m||Show|
6* LA Dodgers (7:35 ET): The Dodgers still trail the Rockies (by one-half game) in the NL West entering Wednesday. They kept pace last night w/ a convincing 11-4 win over New York as Colorado also won (6-2 over the Giants), which was a game that I had. Arizona is lurking not far behind, just 1.5 games out. Moving forward, I fully anticipate LA taking control of this division as they have had the best run differential in the National League for most of this season (currently +133). We don't think of the Mets (-55 run diff) as a good team (nor should we!), yet the Rockies' YTD run differential (-10) is actually closer to the Mets than it is the Dodgers. This early Wednesday night start time at Chavez Ravine only speeds up the inevitable for the Mets tonight, the "inevitable" being a Dodgers win.
This early start time could have an effect on the hitters as there will be shadows in the ballpark as the sun is setting. Runs already figured to be at a premium due to the pitching matchup, but I believe LA is likely to score more. They broke out for 11 runs last night, nearly equaling the number of times they had scored from the previous five games combined. Note that the Dodgers did have to rally back from an early 4-0 deficit and scored six times in the bottom of the seventh. Facing Zack Wheeler here will be a lot tougher than Jason Vargas was last night, but note Wheeler is 0-2 lifetime vs. the Dodgers w/ an ugly 11.00 ERA. One of those starts came earlier this year as Wheeler gave up four runs. Overall, Wheeler has struggled against the entire NL West as his TSR is 4-11 the L15 tries.
The Dodgers are very good at run suppression here at home as they give up only 3.7 rpg. That's the third lowest total for any home team and tops in the NL. Hyun-Jin Ryu should continue the trend as he comes in sporting a 1.77 ERA and 0.869 WHIP at Dodger Stadium. Since coming off the DL last month, Ryu has posted a 2.42 ERA over 22 2/3 innings of work. He outdueled Zack Greinke here in his last start, allowing just two runs in seven innings. Ryu has also never lost to the Mets in five career starts, going 3-0 w/ a 1.69 ERA. This particular Mets team is 24th in runs scored and just 3-6 after allowing 10+ runs the previous game. 6* LA Dodgers
|09-04-18||Giants v. Rockies -187||Top||2-6||Win||100||11 h 8 m||Show|
8* Colorado (8:40 ET): The Rockies are now in first place in the National League West thanks to the events of yday. They won while the Dodgers lost. Arizona also lost and they're now 1.5 games back (Dodgers one-half game out). Colorado being in first place is somewhat improbable when you consider they have been outscored this season (-14 run differential) while the run differentials of the Dodgers and D'backs are +126 and +79 respectively. Eventually, I do believe Colorado will fade. Just not tonight when they have German Marquez on the mound. Marquez has been simply phenomenal of late, posting a 1.64 ERA and 0.591 WHIP his L3 starts. Go back and look at his last seven starts and Marquez has been just as dominant w/ a 2.17 ERA and 0.825 WHIP.
Over that seven start stretch, Marquez has 61 K's in 49 2/3 IP and only 10 walks. He's allowed just 31 runs, three homers and opponents are batting .177 against him w/ a .514 OPS. Last time out, he struck out 13 in a dominant performance against San Diego. Sadly though, the Rockies still lost the game, 3-2 Despite having one of the better Augusts of any starter in MLB, Marquez's team start record for the month was just 3-3, which is surprising. It's odd to see Marquez not really sharing in his club's overall good fortunate, but that still has time to change. By the way, the Giants come in having scored three runs or fewer in six of the last eight games. Their team batting average is below .200 during this stretch. Thus, it had to be really frustrating to put eight runs on the board yday and still come out on the losing end. I seriously doubt they'll get that many again here against Marquez.
Coors Field can obviously aid a struggling offense, but that works both ways. The Rockies average 5.1 rpg here at home and are batting .280. The Giants, not a good offensive team to begin with, average just 3.5 rpg on the road. Their road record is lousy (29-41) and they've now dropped their L4 games in Denver dating back to a sweep that took place back in early July. Starting tonight for San Francisco will be Dereck Rodriguez, who has generally been solid this year. But he's never had to pitch in this environment before and that could mean trouble. The Rockies are 55-37 in night games this year and should roll to another victory Tuesday. 8* Colorado
|09-04-18||Tigers v. White Sox -162||Top||8-3||Loss||-162||10 h 12 m||Show|
8* Chi White Sox (8:40 ET): This is another matchup on the Tuesday card where we're seeing the line get bet up due to the starting pitcher. (Note: I'm playing two of them, this one and another, myself). In this instance, we have Lucas Giolito, who has started to come into his own of late. He hasn't been as dominant as rotation mate Carlos Rodon mind you, but he's at least starting to follow suit. The White Sox took yday's series opener from Detroit, 4-2, a game that featured only 10 total hits from the two teams. Giolito should do his part in ensuring this is potentially another low-scoring game as he checks in w/ a 2.33 ERA and 0.76 WHIP his L3 starts. Neither of these teams are good, but the Tigers are just brutal on the road (21-49), so give me Giolito & the Sox at home.
Chicago is now ahead of Detroit in the AL Central standings, which may not be saying much, but at least it's something. This division is just BRUTAL w/ three teams (also the Royals) that seem destined for 95+ losses. The White Sox are now a game up after yday's win and perhaps finishing in third place is something that will motivate them moving forward. They had been 0-6 at home vs. the Tigers this season before Monday's win. They've now beaten the Tigers four straight times after dropping 10 of the first 13 matchups. Overall, the White Sox have not been bad of late, winning 8 of their last 11. That includes splitting a series w/ the mighty Red Sox over the weekend. Detroit is heading in an entirely different direction right now as they've dropped 8 of 10.
Giolito has held opponents to a .181 batting average his L3 starts. He matched a season-high w/ 8 K's his last time out, however, the team still lost 9-4 to the Red Sox. But, don't blame Giolito, who held the top scoring team in baseball to just one run on two hits over 6 1/3 innings. It was his fourth straight quality start and fifth in the last six overall. He's beaten the Tigers twice during that span. Opposing Giolito tonight will be Francisco Liriano, who has been just the opposite of late. Liriano has a 9.53 ERA and 2.295 WHIP his L3 starts having surrendered a total of 17 runs in 11 1/3 IP. Five of those runs allowed were unearned, but still he's been pretty bad almost all season. The Tigers are just 7-14 in Liriano starts, including 4-10 on the road. He has an ERA above 5.00 and a WHIP above 1.50 for the year. The White Sox are actually 19-12 their L31 games and this seems like a pretty safe bet Tuesday. 8* Chi White Sox
|09-03-18||Mets +122 v. Dodgers||Top||4-2||Win||122||12 h 41 m||Show|
10* NY Mets (8:10 ET): The Dodgers are now back atop the NL West after taking three of four from Arizona over the weekend. All three wins came by the same final score (3-2) and required rallies in the team's final at-bat. LA has the best run differential in the National League (+128) and I thought it was only a matter of time before they reclaimed 1st place in this division. However, getting Mets' starter Jacob deGrom at this price is simply too good to pass up. I've been through this before, but evaluating deGrom simply by his record would be foolish. While only 8-8 in his 27 starts this year (11-16 TSR), deGrom gets my vote for best pitcher in the entire National League. His current ERA (1.68) would be the third lowest that the Senior Circuit has seen since 1968!
DeGrom also has delivered 24 consecutive starts of allowing 3 ER or less. That ties Dwight Gooden for the franchise record. DeGrom has also made 19 straight quality starts, meaning he's gone at least six innings while allowing 3 ER or less. In August, deGrom was just plain ridiculous as he allowed just nine runs total in six starts, which spanned 43 2/3 innings. He had 60 strikeouts. His last two starts have come against Madison Bumgarner (Giants) and Cole Hamels (Cubs) and have seen him get virtually no support. The Mets scored just one time in both games and lost each time. But, they do enter this series off B2B wins over the Giants, having allowed only one run in both games.
DeGrom will face Alex Wood tonight. Wood has battled through injuries here in 2018 and has posted some solid numbers. He has a 3.42 ERA in 14 starts, but that's simply not as good as deGrom. Wood did throw seven shutout innings in his last start, at Texas, but that was also the longest he'd gone in any start since the end of June. The Dodgers, shockingly, are only 38-34 at home this season. That includes a 5-10 record when the O/U line is 7 or less. That record is a reflection of an inability to beat the top pitchers here at Chavez Ravine. It doesn't get any better than deGrom this year and I think the Mets pull the "upset." 10* NY Mets
|09-03-18||Royals v. Indians -188||Top||5-1||Loss||-188||8 h 41 m||Show|
6* Cleveland (4:10 ET): Kansas City did something over the weekend that they'd only previously done one other time this season. That's sweep a series of three games or more. Now, the victim was Baltimore, who happens to be the only team in all of baseball w/ a worse record than the Royals. The series was also in KC. Overall, the Royals have won five straight and seven of eight dating back to a series w/ the Indians last month. But the entirety of that win streak came at home. On the road, the Royals are a disgraceful 20-46, including 5-20 when priced at +175 or higher. The last time they swept a series, they'd go onto drop 14 of the next 19 games. Despite losing two of three to Tampa Bay here at home over the weekend, this spot sets up well for Cleveland.
The Tribe are in a bit of a unique position as they'll almost certainly be the first team to clinch a playoff spot. This is owed to the fact that the division they play in (AL Central) is easily the worst in all of baseball. They've got a 14-game lead entering Monday and have certainly feasted on the rest of the Central, going 40-20 for the season. They're 8-4 vs. the Royals. Adam Plutko will get the starting nod this afternoon and while he's 0-3 w/ a 5.27 ERA his L6 appearances (four starts), I look for a strong performance. The Kansas City offense has scored the second fewest runs in all of baseball while also ranking 25th and 26th respectively in OBP and slugging. The Royals have not faced Plutko this year and he has a 0.978 WHIP in five home starts.
Kansas City has basically been terrible in all situations this year, including a 17-33 mark in day games. Cleveland is 32-19 in day games. The Indians are the second highest scoring home team in all of baseball this year (trail only Boston), averaging 5.5 rpg here at Progressive Field. So they should take advantage of Royals starter Jake Junis, whose two starts this year vs. Cleveland have both been bad. The last one was a complete disaster as, back on July 2nd, Junis allowed nine runs in just 5 1/3 innings. Earlier in the year, he gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings. I simply don't see the Royals continuing to win. Their five-game win streak came against Detroit and Baltimore, two of the very worst teams in all of baseball. 6* Cleveland
|09-02-18||Angels v. Astros -182||Top||2-4||Win||100||10 h 41 m||Show|
6* Houston (8:05 ET): The Angels came into this series w/ revenge on their minds and even exacted some as they took the first two games, including a win over Justin Verlander. But the Astros were able to bounce back last night w/ a 7-3 win and can now earn themselves a series split with another victory Sunday night. They'll have Gerritt Cole on the mound and that gives them a great chance. While Houston hasn't been nearly as dominant as they ought to be this season, they've still outscored the opposition by 219 runs, which is neck and neck w/ Boston for tops in all of MLB. They should have more wins and they'll get one here.
Cole has pitched well this year, especially at home where he has a 2.90 ERA and 0.932 WHIP. The Angels have failed to top three runs in seven of their past nine games, so this should be a relatively easy assignment. Cole did serve up two home runs his last time out, but still won easily, 11-4. He was much stronger in his previous home start as he went six innings and finished w/ 12 strikeouts. Cole hasn't beaten the Angels this year in two tries, but the third will be the charm.
Oh, by the way, Shohei Ohtani is returning to the mound tonight for the Halos. That should be a bigger deal, but the reality is the team is out of contention. This is a tough first start back after not being in the role for three months. Ohtani has been used as a DH (two-way player!) and has gotten bullpen sessions in. But keep in mind that the Astros were able to rough him up back in April when he was a regular part of the rotation. The Angels have struggled against the top teams all season (22-42 vs. opponents w/ a winning record) and they are just 6-14 when priced above +125 on the road. 6* Houston
|09-02-18||Cubs v. Phillies -140||Top||8-1||Loss||-140||4 h 47 m||Show|
8* Philadelphia (1:35 ET): The Phillies and Cubs have split the first two games of the series w/ the rubber match taking place early this afternoon at Citizens' Bank Park. If you recall, I had the Phillies as my *10* Game of the Week back in Friday's opener. They won 2-1. A lack of offense caught up w/ them yday, however, as they went down 7-1. Looking at the pitching matchup for Sunday (Lester vs. Nola), runs figure to be at a premium yet again. But I'm back to the Phils as they have Aaron Nola, who has yet to taste defeat at home all season! This is an absolutely critical game for them as they've fallen behind in the races for both the NL East and Wild Card.
Technically, Nola has tasted defeat once here at home. It was his last start as the Phillies fell 5-4 to the Nationals in excruciating fashion. But Nola didn't factor into the decision as the loss was clearly the bullpen's fault. Nola threw seven strong innings, giving up just two runs on four hits. The end result dropped his team start record to 12-1 at Citizens' Bank Park this season. Personally, he's 9-0 w/ a 1.94 ERA and 0.977 WHIP. Overall, it has been a great season for Nola (2.10 ERA, 0.966 WHIP) and he's been even sharper of late (0.82, 0.727). He was moved up a day in the rotation here because of the importance of this game. The Phillies have not won a series in four weeks and clearly the move to turn to Nola reflects they are treating today of the utmost importance.
The Cubs counter with Jon Lester. He's had the Phillies' number throughout his career, but keep in mind that those were also some bad Phillies teams he'd been facing. He has not faced them in 2018. Like Nola, Lester has been very good of late as the Cubs have won each of his last three starts. But this just might be his toughest assignment of the season. Nola doesn't lose at home and it seems as if the Phillies are all in at home. Remember that Philly is a strong home team overall (43-25) and that includes a 21-7 run vs. lefties. 8* Philadelphia
|09-01-18||Red Sox -162 v. White Sox||Top||6-1||Win||100||10 h 24 m||Show|
8* Boston (7:10 ET): This is probably as cheap a price as we could ever hope to get on the Red Sox when playing the White Sox. Some of that is they lost last night here at Guaranteed Rate Field, 6-1. Another component is they'll have to face Carlos Rodon, a starter that is having a strong year on a bad team. The White Sox have a 5-0 TSR in Rodon's last five starts, including a win as +215 ML underdogs against the Yankees his last time out. Going back even further, Rodon is unbeaten over his L9 starts (5-0) w/ a 1.84 ERA. But Boston has its own starter with a solid resume, that being Eduardo Rodriguez, heading to the mound. Prior to going on the DL, Rodriguez hadn't allowed a single run in three starts! My call is that Boston bounces back tonight.
Rodriguez will have to "shake off the rust" as he hasn't pitched since before the All-Star Break. Those last three starts, which came against Toronto, Texas and Washington, saw him pitch 17 scoreless innings and give up just 10 hits. He reportedly looked sharp in a rehab start down in the minors. Helping ease his return back into the rotation will be a Boston offense that continues to pace the league in scoring (5.5 rpg). The Red Sox have surprisingly struggled to hit White Sox pitching the first two games of this series. All nine of their runs Thursday came in two innings (five in the ninth). Other than that, they've scored just one time in the other 16 innings. I look for that to change here, however.
Beating the Yankees and Red Sox in consecutive starts would be an impressive feat for Rodon, but I don't see it happening. The team is still only 19-41 this season taking on an opponent w/ a winning record. Note that there was a long rain delay in yday's game. Rodon has never beaten Boston in three career tries, posting a 3.38 ERA. Earlier this year, he took a loss after allowing four runs in five innings to them. Bottom line is Boston is still 50 games above .500 and tied for the best run differential in all of MLB (+215). Chicago is 27 games under .500 w/ a -135 run differential. Only four teams have worse records and only three have been outscored by a larger margin this season. All things considered, this is a great price on the favorite. 8* Boston
|08-31-18||Twins v. Rangers -126||Top||10-7||Loss||-126||11 h 38 m||Show|
8* Texas (8:05 ET): At first glance, it doesn't seem like there's any reason to play this matchup of also-rans. But the Rangers have the advantage of being off yday while the Twins were in Cleveland. Furthermore, Minnesota has been a very bad road team all season and this is a great price to fade them. Last night's 5-3 loss dropped them to 23-42 away from home this year. There are only three teams in the American League w/ a worse win percentage on the road. Texas' home record isn't that great due to all the runs they give up, but I believe they can take advantage of Stephen Gonsalves, whose two starts for the Twins thus far have not gone "according to plan." In what could be a high-scoring game, look for the Rangers to outscore the Twins tonight.
The Rangers enter this game on a four-game losing streak, all against the NL West. They just got swept in a short-two game series by the Dodgers, but let's face it, they were outclassed there. They're hitting just .196 over the last week, but the matchup w/ the struggling Gonsalves should set them straight. For the year, Texas averages 5.4 runs per game at home. That's the fourth highest average in baseball. Their record is a reflection of how poor the pitching has been and I concede that tonight's starter - Drew Hutchinson - hardly inspires a ton of confidence. Hutchinson allowed six runs his last time out, the second time he's done that in his four starts. But he was okay in the other two. Minnesota's lineup is not to be feared either as they've totaled just 13 runs in the last six games.
I've alluded to it multiple times already, but Gonsalves' two starts so far have been BRUTAL. He has an 11.37 ERA and 3.002 WHIP. I'm not sure I've ever seen a WHIP that high. In 6 1/3 IP, he's allowed eight runs and 19 baserunners. The day off is a nice edge for the home team here and before you question the price, note the Rangers are 9-4 this season when priced between -125 and -175 at home. (They're 42-24 in that range the L3 seasons). In the only other prior series between these teams in 2018, the Rangers took two of three, totaling 17 runs in the two wins. 8* Texas
|08-31-18||Pirates +115 v. Braves||Top||3-2||Win||115||10 h 9 m||Show|
8* Pittsburgh (7:35 ET): Both teams lost yesterday. The Pirates, whose offense is really scuffling of late, were shutout by the Cardinals. The Braves fell 5-4 to the Cubs in a make-up game. While I was tempted to use the run line here (Bucs need all the help they can get offensively), the price had me reconsider. This is a revenge spot for them after being swept at home earlier this month. While they had no answer for Atlanta's pitching in that series (scored only two runs in three games!), I think they'll perform much better at the plate this time around. Plus they have Jameson Taillon on the mound and he's someone the Braves did not have to deal with in the previous series. Look for the Pirates to "steal one" at SunTrust Park Friday night.
Bookending the All-Star Break, the Pirates went on an 11-game win streak. Other than that, they've been decidedly subpar this season (15 games below .500). But they have won four of the past five times Taillon has starterd, including 9-1 over Milwaukee in his last outing. There, Taillon allowed just one run on five hits over six innings. It was his second straight start doing that. But the difference between Milwaukee and when he faced the Cubs on 8.19 is that he had no walks. Going back to July, Taillon has allowed 3 ER or less in nine consecutive starts. In his last 16 starts overall, his ERA is 2.95. He's also been strong on the road, going 6-2 w/ a 2.44 ERA his L9 times starting outside of PNC Park.
In the last series between these teams, it's not like Atlanta's offense performed all that well either. They scored just nine runs in three games and two of the wins were of the one-run variety. After yday's loss, they've now dropped six of seven here at home. Anibal Sanchez will get the start here and while he's pitched well at times, I wouldn't exactly call him reliable. The team has lost the last two times he has started, including as a big ML favorite at Miami his last time out. Like Taillon, he did not pitch in the last series between the teams. I thought last night was a pretty crushing loss for the Braves (I was on 'em) as they rallied back from an early 3-0 deficit to take the lead 4-3, only to give it back on a pinch-hit HR. The Pirates have the edge in starting pitching tonight, plus there's the revenge factor. That has me on them. 8* Pittsburgh
|08-31-18||Cubs v. Phillies -110||Top||1-2||Win||100||10 h 40 m||Show|
10* Philadelphia (7:05 ET): This is a great spot to play the Phillies. They're at home and had Thursday off. The Cubs are in their third town in three days as last night saw them have to play a make-up game in Atlanta. They won (5-4), mind you, but might all the travel be about to catch up w/ them? I think so? The Cubs have won eight of their last nine games, but they've been beating up on bad teams, save for last night. Meanwhile, Philly desperately needs this game and series. They just dropped two of three here at home to Washington to start the week and now trail the Braves by three games in the NL East. They're also three back in the Wild Card chase. This is a good home team (42-24 record) and I see them taking advantage of the tough spot the Cubs find themselves in tonight.
It's been a tough stretch for the Phillies, who are 8-14 their L22 games and have not won any of their previous seven series. This downward trajectory couldn't come at a worse time and the fact of the matter is that they've only outscored the opposition by three runs over the course of the season. So they don't really profile as a playoff team, at least when measured against some of the other contenders. But, again, they are in a good situation going into Friday. They did win Wednesday and probably should have Tuesday (gave up 4 runs in the top of the ninth). They are 10-7 this season following an off-day. Perhaps more important is the fact they are 20-7 their L27 games vs. left-handed starters and tonight find themselves up against the struggling Jose Quintana.
Quintana has only managed to last five innings each of his last three starts. His struggles go back even further though as he's posted a 5.30 ERA and 1.42 WHIP since the All-Star Break. He also has a 5.94 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in three career starts vs. the Phillies. The Cubs have dropped five of Quintana's last seven road starts and the team is also 2-7 the L9 times it has faced an opponent w/ a home win percentage of .600 or higher. Nick Pivetta is the starter for Philadelphia and while he too has struggled of late (allowed 11 runs in L2 starts), he's pitched better than his record, at least at home where his WHIP is 1.184. The Cubs have played a lot of baseball the L2 days (also had to make up a suspended game Weds) and it catches up w/ them here. 10* Philadelphia
|08-30-18||Cubs v. Braves -124||Top||5-4||Loss||-124||11 h 13 m||Show|
10* Atlanta (7:35 ET): The Braves will once again be welcoming in a red hot team here, albeit for just a game. Earlier in the week it was the Rays, who arrived at SunTrust Park on an eight-game win streak. Atlanta ended that streak w/ a 9-5 win Tuesday. Now the Cubs come to town for a makeup game. They too had a chance to enter Thursday on their own eight-game win streak, but lost yday to the Mets 10-3. Yesterday was a bit of a unique circumstance for Chicago as they first had to finish a game that was postponed Tuesday night. They won that one, 2-1 in 11 innings (game "started" in the 10th), before getting clobbered in the full game. So that nullifies any disadvantage the Braves may have been at from a long rain delay they had to sit through last night (lost 8-5 to the Rays). I took Atlanta back on Tuesday when they snapped the Rays' 8-game win streak and will do the same here as I like the pitching matchup - a lot - from their perspective.
The Braves will be sending out Mike Foltynewicz tonight. Even though the team has dropped two of his last three starts, Foltynewicz has a 0.86 ERA and 0.762 WHIP during that time. He's allowed just two runs in 21 innings and has 22 strikeouts. Admittedly, he was fortunate to face Miami in two of those three starts. But all season long, Foltynewicz has delivered. He has a 2.62 ERA and 1.083 WHIP here at home where the Braves have gone 35-28 overall. Earlier in the year, he held the Cubs to just one (unearned) run in five innings and had 10 strikeouts. Atlanta lost that game, 3-2, but I believe the final result will be a lot different this time around.
The Cubs counter w/ Mike Montogomery, who is making his return to the rotation after being sidelined w/ shoulder inflammation. This will be his first time starting in over two weeks. While Montgomery has some pretty decent numbers and has gone at least five innings in all of his previous 13 starts, a 1.715 WHIP over his L3 outings sticks out "like a sore thumb" to me. He's actually been quite fortune not to have given up more runs in those starts as he actually allowed 19 hits in 10 1/3 IP against San Diego and St. Louis. He bounced back w/ six shutout innings in his last start, but note that was against an awful Royals team. The Braves have taken five of their last six series openers and Foltynewicz has a 5-1 TSR the L6 times he's worked on at least five days rest. 10* Atlanta
|08-28-18||A's v. Astros -186||Top||4-3||Loss||-186||12 h 26 m||Show|
6* Houston (8:10 ET): The Astros delivered a "statement win" on Monday, beating the A's 11-4 in the opener of a critical three-game set. This will be the last series of the year between the two top teams in the AL West and I do believe the home team has been priced correctly. While they are only up 2.5 games in the standings, Houston is vastly superior when it comes to run differential (+222 vs. +85). The Astros' run differential is the best in all of baseball right now and while their 81-50 record is impressive in its own right, they've actually played to the level of a 91-win team! Oakland certainly looks like a team that's going to at least get the Wild Card, but they've slightly overachieved thanks to the best win percentage in one-run games (26-10) in all of MLB.
Last night marked the Astros' sixth win in a row. They swept the Angels over the weekend as well. Not coincidentally, this six-game win streak began when Jose Altuve, Jr returned to the lineup. Right now, this club is as healthy as its been in a long time. Last night was the first time in nearly two months that they had George Springer, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Altuve all at the top of the batting order in the same game. I expect a strong finish to the regular season from this group. Led by Bregman, who homered and had 4 RBI's, the 'Stros scored 11 runs last night in a very impressive effort. As far as pitching goes, there's no real concern either as the Houston staff has allowed the fewest number of runs in all of baseball.
Charlie Morton will start for the Astros Tuesday, looking to bounce back from a season-worst performance LW at Seattle. Although the team still won (10-7), Morton allowed six runs, which was just the fourth time all year he allowed more than four in a start. He owns a 13-3 record, including 8-2 at home. He has a 2.89 ERA in two starts vs. Oakland this year as well. Morton will be opposed here by Edwin Jackson, who has been a surprise in the A's rotation, posting solid numbers in 11 starts (8-3 TSR). Earlier this month, he did face Houston and was okay, though he did allow two home runs (did not factor into the decision). He went against Morton, who also didn't factor into the decision, despite also allowing just two runs in five innings. Houston is healthier this time around and primed to pull away in the AL West. 6* Houston
|08-28-18||Rays v. Braves -125||Top||5-9||Win||100||12 h 51 m||Show|
10* Atlanta (7:35 ET): Tampa Bay has won eight in a row. Four of those wins came against lowly Kansas City. But the other four were against Boston, including a three-game sweep over the weekend, which should probably be recognized as the Rays' most impressive performance of the season. But the commonality of the eight straight wins is that all but one of them occurred at home. At Tropicana Field, this team is an outstanding 41-24. But they're just 29-37 on the road. They hit the road, starting Tuesday, for what will be a quick two-game set in Atlanta. The Braves are returning home after a successful 5-2 road trip that has them firmly in first place in the NL East. I believe that behind Julio Teheran, they're the team to put an end to this Rays' win streak.
Tonight's game sets up as a good old fashioned pitcher's duel. Neither team has been giving up many runs lately. Over it's eight-game win streak, Tampa Bay has allowed just 12 runs total, an average of 1.5 rpg. They just held Boston, the highest scoring team in the entire league, to five runs in three games. But, again, you have to consider the home vs. road splits here. TB is #1 in MLB, allowing just 3.2 rpg at home for the season. But on the road, they're allowing 4.6 rpg. Offensively, they figure to struggle in this series w/ the loss of the DH and tonight they have to face Teheran, who has posted a 1.80 ERA and 0.60 WHIP his L3 starts. Teheran has allowed just four runs and seven hits during the time, in 20 innings of work. Atlanta has been even stingier than TB of late as they allowed LESS than one run per game on their road trip, holding opponents to a .150 average!
The Rays will turn to Ryne Stanek tonight. This will be his 45th appearance and 22nd "start." I have start in quotation marks because he's actually referred to as an "opener." When he does start the game, he's never asked to go more than two innings. When using him in this role, the Rays have gone just 9-12. In looking at this matchup, I have to come back to the Rays' road woes, plus the fact they're just 6-12 in Interleague Play this season. I believe the Braves will be able to get to Stanek and whomever else pitches here for the Rays. The Braves already took two down in Tampa Bay (back in May) w/ Teheran starting one of the games and throwing six shutout innnings. More of the same tonight. 10* Atlanta
|08-26-18||Rangers v. Giants -156||Top||1-3||Win||100||8 h 20 m||Show|
8* San Francisco (4:05 ET): The Giants have pretty much fallen out of contention in the NL playoff chase, even for a Wild Card, but that didn't stop them from beating the Rangers yday by a score of 5-3. Technically, they are only eight games back of the WC, but at three games below .500 and needing to jump a ton of teams, it's simply not a realistic goal at this point. To further drive home the point, catcher Buster Posey opted for surgery and is done for 2018. I'm not sure it mattered, but the Giants will likely "rue" Friday's loss to the Rangers where they blew a six-run lead and lost in extra innings. To me, San Francisco is definitely the better team here and I think they'll win the series Sunday.
Texas has never been in contention here in '18 and has been in last place in the AL West basically the entire way. It's been a struggle offensively recently, including B2B shutouts by Oakland in the last series. Theoretically, the Rangers lineup is even weaker here w/ the loss of the DH from the lineup. Giants starter Derek Holland should be able to take advantage as the veteran has allowed just one run total in his last two starts and has a 2.81 ERA his last three. Giants' starting pitching has not been an issue at all in this series w/ Andrew Suarez tossing seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball yday and Dereck Rodriguez allowed just two runs on three hits (over six innings) on Friday. I anticipate Holland performing just as well this afternoon.
Texas will send Yovani Gallardo to the mound Sunday. His 9-2 team start record is a total mirage as he's been fortunate to benefit from MLB's highest run support average. But after scoring 11 or more runs five times in his first nine starts, the Rangers offense has scored just four times each of the last two. Gallardo's ERA in those 11 starts is 5.10 and goes even higher on the road. This will be his first time starting on the road in August and just his second road start since the All-Star Break. The Giants have performed quite well in day games this season, going 26-18 and should take full advantage of a team that has allowed the third most runs in all of MLB this season. 8* San Francisco
|08-25-18||Astros -173 v. Angels||Top||8-3||Win||100||13 h 55 m||Show|
8* Houston (9:05 ET): Following the All-Star Break, the Astros put forth their worst stretch of baseball of the season. At one point, they'd dropped 14 of 22 games, even getting swept twice (both at home). Heading into Tuesday, they'd dropped 8 of 10, which has allowed the AL West race to be a lot tighter than it ought to be. Health was starting to be a concern, but several of the team's stars are now back in the everyday lineup and things are starting to turn around. Last night was their third consecutive victory as they came to LA and beatdown the overmatched Angels, 9-3. Truthfully, there was nothing to ever really worry about w/ the Astros. Remember that this is a team that has outscored its opponents by more than 200 runs this season. They are MLB's best road team (45-21) and although they're 28 games above .500 (78-50), they actually have the win expectancy of an 88-win team!
Looking at Saturday's matchup, there's REALLY little to worry about. That's because the 'Stros will be sending Justin Verlander out to the mound. Verlander is having an incredible season by an objective measure w/ the exception of wins (only 12), which is an overrated measure of pitcher performance anyway. Verlander hasn't had the best August, and actually gave up four runs in his last start (though the team still managed to win comfortably). However, he still ranks in the top five in innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP among all American League starters. This is a great spot for him as he has absolutely dominated the Angels going back to last season when he came to Houston. In his last five starts vs. Los Angeles, Verlander is a perfect 5-0, having allowed just 2 ER in 36 IP. He comes into tonight on a 23-inning scoreless streak here in Anaheim.
The pitcher who will look to match up for the Angels here is Jaime Barria, who has actually had a better August than Verlander, but he's also been far more inconsistent. Before going 3-0 w/ a 2.36 ERA his L5 starts, Barria had gone 0-6 over a seven-start stretch. The team did lose his most recent outing, at Texas on Sunday. He's faced Houston once this season, back in May, and the Angels lost that one too. Remember that Houston is a very potent offensive team on the road, averaging an impressive 5.5 runs per game. Their run differential away from home is easily baseball's best. They're 16-3 this season as a road favorite of -175 or higher on the money line. The Angels have not been good against teams w/ winning records this season, going just 19-38 in such contests. 8* Houston
|08-25-18||Pirates v. Brewers -115||Top||9-1||Loss||-115||11 h 59 m||Show|
10* Milwaukee (7:10 ET): It took 15 innings, but finally the Brewers were able to exact some revenge last night on the Pirates for a five-game sweep that took place last month. The way the game started out, it appeared as if the Brew Crew would be coasting to a series-opening victory. They scored four times in the bottom of the first before the Bucs slowly chipped away, eventually tying things up in the top of the ninth. Incredibly, Milwaukee went 13 consecutive frames w/o scoring a run after that four-run 1st. Things looked dire when Pittsburgh put two on the board in the top of the 15th. But Milwaukee answered w/ three of its own to get the win in walkoff fashion. The way that game went down, Pittsburgh has to be demoralized. Meanwhile, the Brewers are still in the playoff hunt and looking to exact some revenge on their division rival. Look for them to jump all over the Pirates tonight.
"He did a good job standing there." That's a quote from Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell regarding his decision to allow reliever Jordan Lyles to come up to bat in the bottom of the 15th last night. Lyles was able to draw a two-out walk, thus loading the bases and setting the stage for the dramatic rally. Both bullpens are obviously exhausted coming into Saturday, so the two starters will be leaned on heavily. I'm more than comfortable "hitching my wagon" to Brew Crew starter Jhoulys Chacin, who will be making his team-leading 28th start here. Chacin has been on fire of late, winning each of his last three starts while posting a 1.42 ERA and 0.842 WHIP. Opponents are batting just .191 against him during that time. This will be the fourth time Chacin has started against Pittsburgh this season. Curiously, he's winless despite a 1.53 ERA.
The Pirates will counter Chacin w/ Jameson Taillon, who has pitched well himself of late. Just not as well as Chacin has. Though he comes in riding a streak of five straight quality starts, Taillon was quite fortunate in one of them as he gave up two runs on 10 hits, a complete game effort in Colorado. Chacin is working on a 13-inning scoreless streak. Save for that rather random 11-game win streak they went on surrounding the All-Star Break, Pittsburgh has been very sub-par this season, going just 52-66 otherwise. They've now dropped four in a row after being swept at home by Atlanta to start the week. Milwaukee is a strong team here at Miller Park, sporting a 16-4 record when priced between -125 and -175 on the money line. Offensively, the Bucs have been beyond anemic recently. The six runs they scored last night (again, in 15 innings) nearly equaled the number they'd scored (7) in their previous seven games combined. So that's just 13 total runs scored in their last 80 innings! 10* Milwaukee
|08-24-18||Pirates v. Brewers -127||Top||6-7||Win||100||12 h 47 m||Show|
10* Milwaukee (8:10 ET): These two teams played a rare five-game series last month. Even rarer though was the Pirates taking all five games! That sweep came in the midst of the Bucs' best stretch of the season, an 11-game win streak that bookended the All-Star Break. Since that streak ended, however, the team's record is just 10-16 and they are essentially eliminated from playoff contention. Getting swept at home (by Atlanta) to start the week certainly didn't help. Meanwhile, Milwaukee still has a more realistic path to the postseason. They are right in the thick of the races for the Wild Card and NL Central, but must take advantage of these slumping Pirates, who can't seem to score any runs of late. Both teams were off yday, but the Brew Crew are at home where they're far more dangerous. They also have revenge and I'll take 'em.
The Pirates arrive at Miller Park having scored a total of just seven runs their last seven games. They've been shutout three times during that stretch and scored just one run two other times. The collective batting average of the team over the last week is a paltry .204. That should make things easy on Milwaukee starter Wade Miley, who has allowed 3 ER or less in seven consecutive starts while going at least five innings every time out. Miley now has a 2.12 ERA for the season (nine starts total). The Brewers enter this series having won three of their last four games and they shut out Cincinnati the last time out. This season has seen them go 7-3 when off a shutout victory plus they're also an impressive 15-4 at home when priced between -125 and -175 on the ML.
The Pirates can't seem to score any runs, so they'll heavily lean on starter Joe Musgrove here. Musgrove has pitched well for them, including a win over the Cubs his last start, but overall the team is just 6-8 w/ him on the hill this season. He started one of the games in the five-game sweep of Milwaukee last month, but didn't pitch well as he gave up five runs. He's been better since, but has been victimized by poor run support with the team being shutout in two of his last four outings. Those two shutouts aren't even factored into the Pirates' recent dismal stretch at the plate that I mentioned earlier! I'll call for their offensive woes to continue tonight and for the Brewers to gain a measure of revenge. 10* Milwaukee
|08-23-18||Indians v. Red Sox -178||Top||0-7||Win||100||6 h 36 m||Show|
6* Boston (1:05 ET): After dropping the first two games of the series, the Red Sox gained a measure of revenge last night by beating the Indians 10-4. Early on, it appeared as if Boston might be in some trouble as they were down 2-0 after the top of the first. But the offense finally woke up w/ 10 runs and 25 total bases in what ended up being a pretty easy victory. These are the two highest scoring teams in all of baseball at home, but w/ the game at Fenway Park, that's a clear advantage for Boston. The Sox average 5.6 rpg here at home. They are also an astounding 28-6 in day games this season, which is easily the best such mark in all of baseball. With David Price on the hill this afternoon, they have a clear edge in starting pitching as well.
Price has a 7-0 TSR his L7 starts to go along w/ a 2.42 ERA and 1.030 WHIP. He's gone at least six innings while allowing three runs or fewer in each of the last six starts. Since the All-Star Break, his ERA has dipped down to 1.35. This will be the third straight game he's closed as a significant favorite, so the market definitely respects him. Last time out, Price went seven innings and allowed just two runs in a relatively easy 5-2 win over Tampa Bay. Furthermore, Price has pitched quite well in his career against Cleveland, going 10-2 lifetime w/ a 2.24 ERA. Let's also not forget Boston's overall record. This is a team that's won almost 70% of its games (89-39 overall).
Cleveland is coasting to another AL Central title, but they simply had no competition from the rest of the division. It's very interesting to note that while the Tribe is 37-17 against the rest of the Central, they're only .500 against everyone else. It was very impressive how they were able to come in here and take the first two games of the series. But they had Corey Kluber on the mound Monday and then rookie Shane Bieber took a shutout into the seventh inning Tuesday. It will be another rookie, Adam Plutko, on the hill this afternoon. Plutko comes in w/ a 4.62 ERA in 10 games, seven of those starts. This will be just his second start since the end of June. Last week, he pitched just fine, but the team still lost ... to Baltimore. Might this stage be a little "big" for Plutko? I think so. 6* Boston
|08-22-18||Angels v. Diamondbacks -186||Top||1-5||Win||100||13 h 9 m||Show|
6* Arizona (9:40 ET): I had the D'backs yday as they prevailed 5-4. While a popular pick on the board, the win did not come easy for Arizona. In fact, they won on a throwing error in the bottom of the ninth. This after they twice blew a two-run lead. Once again, we find Arizona as a pretty "popular" bet for Wednesday. Again, I'm on them. I think it's going to be very difficult for a short-handed Angels club (no Mike Trout) to "get over" the way last night's game ended. It also doesn't help that they have to face Clay Buchholz here. Look for the home team to sweep this short series.
Buchholz has pitched shockingly well for an Arizona rotation that has largely carried the team this year. No National League team has allowed a fewer number of runs this season than the D'backs. Buchholz has been instrumental in that. He has a 2.10 ERA and 1.068 WHIP after 12 starts and has yet to allow more than 3 ER in any outing all year. His last start was his best yet. He went the distance in San Diego, allowing just one run on five hits. He had 6 K's and 0 walks. It was his seventh time allowing one run or fewer this season! Not only does Buchholz not have to face Trout tonight, but as pointed out in yday's analysis, the Angels are also w/o the DH in this series. That significantly weakens a pretty middle of the road American League lineup.
The pitching edge here - clearly - is in Arizona's favor. Buchholz is having a great year and all the Angels have to counter is Omar Despaigne. Last week, Despaigne made just his second start of 2018 (1st since 3.31) and gave up five runs in a 7-4 loss to the Rangers. That was his Angels' debut after having his contracted purchased from Miami not long before. Despaigne previously pitched for San Diego, so he's familiar w/ Chase Field, but it's a history he's probably rather forget. In three starts here, he's 0-3 w/ an 8.04 ERA. Despaigne spent a lot of time in the minors this year and didn't pitch particularly well down there either (4.47 ERA). The Angels are simply playing out the string at this point as they're out of playoff contention. Meanwhile, Arizona is in a fierce race in the NL West, meaning they need every win they can get. 6* Arizona
|08-22-18||Astros -140 v. Mariners||Top||10-7||Win||100||8 h 39 m||Show|
8* Houston (4:10 ET): Despite a late Seattle pitching change, the Astros were finally able to overcome the Mariners last night, winning 3-2. That victory snapped a five-game losing streak to the M's while at the same time also allowing Houston to stay tied (w/ Oakland) for first place in a very competitive AL West. But let's talk about the AL West, shall we? It's a clear three horse race at this point w/ these two and the A's. But the reality is that the race SHOULD be a whole lot less competitive than it is. Look at the respective run differentials. Houston has outscored its opponents by 198 runs this season. Oakland is +82, which is good, but nowhere near the level of the Astros. Then you have Seattle, who has been OUTSCORED by 40 runs in 2018.
I've been saying it all summer, but the Mariners' 72-55 record is quite fraudulent. It has been built on the back of an extremely fortunate 31-17 mark in one-run games (also 12-1 in extra innings!). Oakland actually has a higher win percentage in one-run games (26-10) than Seattle, but their run differential clearly suggests that they're playoff worthy. The Mariners are not. Perhaps it was apropos then for the Astros to prevail by one run Tuesday night. However, there's still more work to be done from the Astros' perspective (at least in my opinion) and that means beating Seattle again this afternoon. Note Houston is 26-15 in day games this season. They're also arguably the top road team in all of baseball (outscoring opp by 2.4 rpg). Seattle, while 38-27 at Safeco Field, averages only 3.6 rpg here and has been outscored significantly.
The Astros send Charlie Morton to the hill on Wednesday. He's gone 12-3 in 24 starts while posting solid numbers. His last two starts, which have come against Oakland and Seattle, both resulted in the dreaded one-run loss for Houston. It's time for a little payback. Morton pitched well in each game (allowed just five runs total in 11 IP) and has been solid overall since the All-Star Break (allowed 3 ER or less in all five starts). He's already won twice here at Safeco Field this season, allowing just two runs in 13 IP. Seattle will turn to Marco Gonzales, who has struggled of late w/ a 7.94 ERA and 1.765 WHIP his L3 starts. He's lost all three. Oh, by the way. Jose Altuve is now back for the Astros as well. It's time for them to assert their superiority against their division mates. 8* Houston
|08-21-18||Angels v. Diamondbacks -195||Top||4-5||Win||100||14 h 14 m||Show|
6* Arizona (9:40 ET): The D'backs are big favorites here and for good reason. They're at home and have Patrick Corbin on the mound. Meanwhile, the Angels continue to soldier on w/o the services of Mike Trout, who is taking time off due to the passing of his brother in law. The Halos have managed to win 8 of 13 w/o Trout so far, but were also fortunate enough to face San Diego last week and swept them. Over the weekend, they dropped three of four to the last place Rangers. Arizona enters this short two-game Interleague set w/ a one-half game lead in the NL West. They too took advantage of the Padres, taking three of four in San Diego over the weekend. When playing after an off-day, the D'backs have gone 11-4 this season. They're the right call Tuesday.
Corbin has been one of the top pitchers in the National League this season as he is among the league leaders in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP. He ranks in the top 10 in all of the categories just mentioned. Not surprisingly, that's translated into a lot of success recently w/ him winning four straight decision and taking only one loss in his L10 starts. Over his L5 starts, all of which Arizona has won, Corbin has posted a ridiculous 41-3 KW ratio. Another key to his success has been immunity to the home run ball. He hasn't allowed a single HR over his L10 starts. He's allowed just 11 all season in 155 1/3 innings of work. Last time out, Corbin allowed just one baserunner through the first three innings as he turned in a third consecutive quality outing.
Corbin will be opposed here by Felix Pena. Save for one hideous showing vs. Seattle on 7.29, Pena has generally pitched pretty well this season. He allowed just one run (unearned) on two hits his last time out (vs. San Diego), but did have four walks. Something to consider here is that this series is being contested under NL rules. That means no DH for LA, further hampering an already Trout-less lineup. They are only 2-6 this season when priced between +125 and +175 on the road. Facing .500 or better opponents has given the Angels trouble all season. Their record vs. such teams is just 19-35, which helps explain why they're nothing more than a .500 team w/ little hope of making the postseason. 6* Arizona
|08-20-18||Astros -171 v. Mariners||Top||4-7||Loss||-171||25 h 59 m||Show|
10* Houston (10:10 ET): The Astros came through for me in a MAJOR way Sunday, beating the A's 9-4. That win allowed the World Champs to stay in first place in the AL West as they now have a one-game lead over Oakland. Without question, this has been the roughest stretch of the season for the 'Stros as they've dropped seven of nine, not to mention 13 of their last 21. Monday finds them facing a familiar foe as this will be the third series in less than a month w/ Seattle. Houston should be highly motivated as they head to the Pacific Northwest given they were swept by the Mariners (at home) last weekend. In terms of overachieving and underacheiving when it comes to wins and losses vs. run differential, here are your two biggest "offenders." The 75-49 Astros have a run differential of +200, meaning they've actually played to the level of an 85-win team. Meanwhile, the 71-54 Mariners have been OUTSCORED by 42 runs this season, meaning they have the win expectancy of a 58-win team. I expect those gaps to rectify themselves. Love Houston here.
The Astros send Gerrit Cole out to the mound for Monday's opener. He was outstanding in his last start, striking out 12 (no walks), while allowing just one run on five hits in six innings. Cole did take a loss in the last Seattle series, allowing four runs in 7 1/3. That actually tied for a season-high in runs allowed (done three other times), but his two previous starts against the Mariners saw him allow a total of just three runs in 13 1/3 IP. Cole comes in w/ a 2.71 ERA and 0.983 WHIP (18-7 TSR) and has 17 quality starts to his name. As a reminder, Houston is one of the highest scoring road teams in all of baseball (5.4 rpg) and no other team comes close to their run diff on the road (+2.4 rpg). They are 60-32 their L92 games priced as road favorites of -125 to -175 on the money line.
In typical Seattle fashion, their one win over the Dodgers over the weekend was by one run while they were outscored 23-2 in the two losses. Those kind of results are how you get to 17 games over .500 despite being outscored on the season. No team has more one-run victories (31), but they've been outscored by 73 runs in the other 94 games. Felix Hernandez rejoins the rotation here and while there was a time it would have been unfathomable to find him in this price range at Safeco Field, that time has clearly passed. King Felix's best days are clearly behind him as evidenced by a 10.53 ERA and 1.975 WHIP his L3 starts. Last time out, he allowed 11 runs in 6 IP. Though only 4.5 games separate these teams in the AL West standings, the real gap in talent is far greater than that. 10* Houston
|08-19-18||Astros -144 v. A's||Top||9-4||Win||100||16 h 34 m||Show|
10* Houston (4:05 ET): Enough is enough! The sputtering Astros are now tied w/ the A's for first place in the American League West after losing here in Oakland each of the last two days. This despite a run differential that's near the top in all of MLB (+195), only surpassed by Boston. They've outscored their opponents by a far greater margin this season than Oakland (+72) has, though the Athletics are certainly viable playoff contenders nonetheless. Overall, Houston has now dropped seven of its last eight games, easily it's worst stretch of baseball this season. Meanwhile, Oakland has now won 40 out of its last 53 games. But help for the Astros comes in the form of Justin Verlander on Sunday. Individually, Verlander is just as overdue for some success as his team is. I'm pushing all my chips to the center of the table on the Astros today.
Verlander has most definitely been one of the game's best pitchers in 2018. He has a 2.52 ERA and 0.913 WHIP, which rank 4th and 2nd in the American League respectively. He's also third in both strikeouts (217) and innings pitched (164 1/3). Yet somehow, even w/ this team as talented as it is, the Astros have gone just 14-12 in Verlander's 26 starts. Last time out was emblematic of what I'm talking about as he shut Colorado out for five innings before giving up a 2-run HR. Still, that's all he allowed and he exited in the sixth having struck out 11 batters. But Houston lost the game, 5-1. It was the eighth time this season that Verlander recorded 10+ K's. Last time he faced the A's, he threw six shutout innings, yet did not factor into the decision (due to the bullpen). Simply put, it's time for Verlander to earn a 'W.'
Remember that there's almost a homefield DISadvantage when these teams meet, given what the stats say. Houston entered this series tied w/ Oakland as the two highest scoring road teams in all of MLB. The A's scoring average dips all the way down to 3.8 rpg at home. Yet, despite having scored and allowed roughly the same number of runs at home this season, their record here is now 37-24. They hand the baseball to Sean Manaea on Sunday and while he's had a good season, he's not as good as Verlander on his best day. Yes, I'm all too aware that the Astros are still w/o Jose Altuve. But it is time. Time, that is, for them to finally breakthrough and play like the team we saw for the first four months of the season. 10* Houston
|08-19-18||Rockies v. Braves -126||Top||4-2||Loss||-126||4 h 41 m||Show|
8* Atlanta (1:35 ET): Colorado won ANOTHER lucky won last night, this time scoring five runs over the final two frames to stun the Braves, 5-3. The game required an addition inning after the Rockies were able to tie things up w/ a three-run rally in the ninth. All three runs came w/ them down to their final out. It was Colorado's third straight win here in Atlanta, the second where they scored three runs in the ninth to either win or tie. This is an addition to their three one-run victories over the Dodgers in the last series, two of those coming in walk-off fashion. Though in prime contention for both the Wild Card and the NL West, the Rockies should feel pretty fortunate to have a 67-56 record considering they've been outscored on the season. They're one of baseball's biggest overachievers, at least in my eyes.
Home teams don't get swept very often in four game series. That's the prospect they are facing Sunday and will give the baseball to Anibal Sanchez, who has a 3.17 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 16 starts this season. His last start was not his strongest as he gave up five runs in five innings, but such outings are rare from Sanchez. The Braves have been a good home team all year, so the results of this series have been surprising to me. They came in riding a six-game win streak. Granted, five of those were at the expense of the lowly Marlins. But now there's a real sense of urgency w/ Philadelphia only one-half game back in the National League East. The team is 5-2 this season when on a losing streak of three or more games.
Colorado goes w/ German Marquez here. He has a 4.58 ERA and 1.341 WHIP in 24 starts w/ the Rockies going 13-11. His last time out, Marquez won as a big underdog against Justin Verlander and the Astros. But bottom line is that the worm has to be ready to turn sooner rather than later against these Rockies after all the recent close victories. They are 21-12 in one-run games this year, a sign of good fortune. Atlanta is 16-8 themselves in one-run games, but has a far better YTD run differential. I just do not see the Braves being swept at home. 8* Atlanta
|08-18-18||Rockies v. Braves -152||Top||5-3||Loss||-152||11 h 58 m||Show|
8* Atlanta (7:10 ET): The Braves came into this series w/ the Rockies pretty hot as in they'd won six straight games. Granted, five of those came at the expense of the hapless Marlins, but they still could lay claim to having the best run differential in the National League. (That means something). Unfortunately though, this series has not gone according to script for those rooting for the home team. Atlanta has lost both games, including 11-5 yday. I took a tough loss on them in the opener when they allowed three unearned runs in the top of the ninth. The Braves still lead the NL East mind you, but by just one-half game over the Phillies. So there should be a real "sense of urgency" heading into Saturday's contest at SunTrust Park. I'm still a believer, which is more than I can say for my view on Colorado.
I look at the NL West standings and am absolutely mystified at how the Rockies can be ahead of the Dodgers. It is LA that now lays claim to the NL's best run differential (+103) while the Rockies have actually been outscored over the course of the 2018 season (-16 run differential)! So consider this team's 66-56 WL record to be pretty fraudulent. They've played to the level of a 59-win team. I'm simply not buying them as legit playoff contenders. I certainly don't expect their offense to duplicate what they did last night. Meanwhile, the Braves are 33-19 off a loss this year.
For years, Colorado's offensive production has "fallen off a cliff" when leaving the freindly conditions of Coors Field. The drop-off isn't quite as striking in 2018, but still the team only averages 4.4 rpg on the road w/ a .232 team batting average. As for the pitching, starter Antonio Senzatela is winless in three away starts this year, posting a 5.71 ERA. Senzatela again replaces Chad Bettis (disabled list) in the rotation after spending some time himself on the DL. Tonight will be his first time starting an actual game in 16 days. Atlanta counters w/ Mike Foltynewicz, who has been quite sharp of late. He's posted a 1.83 ERA his L3 starts, winning all of them. Truthfully, it's been a strong season overall. He has a 2.86 ERA and 1.182 WHIP in 23 starts. Last time out, he went eight innings and allowed just one run against Miami. There was a stretch in July where Foltynewicz allowed 4+ ER in four consecutive outings, but other than that he's allowed two or fewer in all but one of the other 19! 8* Atlanta
|08-17-18||Astros -143 v. A's||Top||3-4||Loss||-143||14 h 27 m||Show|
10* Houston (10:05 ET): The Astros snapped an UGLY nine-game home losing skid on Wednesday, routing the Rockies 12-1. That's the kind of performance we've been accustomed to seeing from the reigning World Series Champs this season as they've now outscored the opposition by 202 runs. Tonight, they begin a very important series w/ the second place team in the AL West, that being Oakland. The gap is just two games in the standings, but Houston's run differential is vastly superior. Also, homefield may actually be a DISadvantage when these teams meet as they are 1-2 in all of MLB in runs scored on the ROAD. Houston is just 33-29 at home, but an incredible 41-18 on the road where they are an amazing +2.6 rpg over their opponents. Meanwhile, Oakland's offense declines from 5.5 rpg on the road all the way down to 3.8 rpg at home! Take the road team!
True to form, the Astros a perfect 6-0 in Oakland this season, outscoring them 50-16! Now all six wins came before the A's caught fire. Over the last two months, Oakland is 32-11 overall and they took three of four games in Houston right before the All-Star Break. However, what has greatly aided the A's is the fact they've generally been a far luckier team than the Astros. Specifically, they have gone 25-10 in one-run games. They are far less fraudulent than, say Seattle, but not on the level of the "Big Four" in the American League (those four teams being the Astros, Red Sox, Yankees and Indians). Note that before losing in extra innings to Seattle (2-0) on Wednesday, the A's previous three wins all came by exactly one run.
We have a matchup of two veteran pitchers for Friday's opener, both of whom are having "turn back the clock" type seasons. Houston's Charlie Morton is 12-3 in his 23 starts this year w/ a 2.88 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Of the 22 parks he has wins at in his 10-year career, this one is not yet among them. So this should be a "special" game for Morton. Last time out saw him toss another quality effort, his 17th of 2018. He's allowed more than 3 ER just three times all year. As for Oakland, they go w/ Edwin Jackson, who shockingly has not allowed a single earned run in any of his last three starts. But how long can that streak last? My guess is "not much longer" as here he faces a team that can certainly score in bunches (George Springer expected back as well). Another thing to consider is that Jackson has faced a fairly weak slate of opponents since coming into the rotation. This will be his toughest test to date and one I do not expect him to pass. 10* Houston
|08-17-18||Mets v. Phillies -163||Top||2-4||Win||100||10 h 28 m||Show|
8* Philadelphia (6:05 ET): The Phillies were able to exact a little bit of revenge on the Mets last night by taking Game 2 of the doubleheader, 9-6. But that doesn't even begin to atone for what happened to them in the first game of the twinbill where they lost in absolutely humiliating fashion, 24-4. The Mets are not a good team (obviously!), so look for them to still be highly motivated entering Friday evening's contest in the City of Brotherly Love. Yesterday's events leave the Phils 1.5 games back of the Braves (who lost yday) in the National League East w/ a quarter of the season still to play. The Wild Card is also obviously still in play. Do I think the Phillies are as good as some of the other contenders? No. But are they SIGNIFICANTLY better than the Mets? Absolutely.
As you might expect to find, it was a real "comedy of errors" in Game 1 of the doubleheader yday. Four errors from the defense and three position players were used to pitch. The Mets had a 10-run inning. Look for none of that to be repeated moving forward. Instead, tonight we should get a strong start from Aaron Nola, who checks in w/ a 2.28 ERA and 1.00 WHIP on the season. He's 13-3 in 24 starts (17-7 TSR) and has allowed 1 ER or less 13 times. In addition to ranking third in the National League in both ERA and WHIP, Nola is 5th in innings pitched (154) and 7th in strikeouts (149). Last time out, he tossed six shutout innings against the hapless Padres, a team on that's pretty much "on par" w/ the Mets offensively. That was on the road. At home, Nola is unbeaten (8-0) in 11 starts and the team has gone a perfect 11-0.
This game does set up to be a bit of a "pitchers duel" w/ Noah Syndergaard toeing the rubber for the Mets. But Nola has beaten Syndergaard before, doing so last season. It's Syndergaard's only career loss to the Phillies, but Nola is 4-1 all-time against the Mets. Furthermore, while the Mets have generally been successful since Syndergaard returned to the rotation (won 4 of his 5 starts), but he has a 4.43 ERA in his L3 outings. These "pitcher duel" type matchups seem to suit Philly well as they're a perfect 4-0 this season at home when the total is 7 or less. Led by Nola's 11-0 TSR, they are 40-20 overall at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets have shockingly scored 46 runs the L3 games and are obviously due to cool WAY off. 8* Philadelphia
|08-16-18||Rockies v. Braves -101||Top||5-3||Loss||-101||12 h 47 m||Show|
10* Atlanta (7:35 ET): Pardon the pun, but Colorado was "rocked" yesterday, losing 12-1 to the Astros. I'm happy to report that I was on the right side of that one. For the Rockies, the loss snapped a four-game win streak. Three of those wins (all against the Dodgers) were by exactly one run, two of them coming in the final at-bat. This is a team that has largely overachieved in 2018 as they have a 64-56 record despite being outscored this season by 24 runs. That run differential has them at the level of a 57-win team, not a 64-win one. Tonight, they begin a new series in Atlanta against a red-hot Braves team that has won five straight (just swept the Marlins). There's nothing phony about this Braves team either as they have the NL's best run differential at +97.
The Rockies starter for Thursday night is Jon Gray. Each of his last seven starts have resulted in a win for the team, but despite this, his overall numbers remain quite mediocre. Three of his last four starts have seen the Rockies prevail by just a single run. Last time out, he gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings. For the year, he has a 4.74 ERA and 1.312 WHIP in 22 starts. His TSR is 13-9, so before this win streak began, he was a losing proposition at the betting window. I can't see it continuing. Keep in mind that Gray had to be sent down to Triple-A Albuquerque at one point to work on his mechanics. Obviously, the move has since paid off, but I still don't view him as any kind of dominant starter. Let's also not forget how Colorado's offense generally declines away from home.
The big story here for Atlanta is the status of Ronald Acuna, Jr, who is perhaps the hottest hitter in all of baseball right now. Acuna had homered in five consecutive games before getting hit by a pitch yday. He exited w/ a sore forearm. But whether or not he plays, I still have faith in the Braves here. Having Julio Teheran start definitely helps as he's off a masterful start here at home last Saturday vs. Milwaukee. He allowed just one run on two hits. Teheran has pitched well against Colorado in his career, going 5-1 w/ a 2.31 ERA in nine starts. He did not face them earlier this year when the Braves took two of three at Coors Field. Atlanta is a much better team at home than on the road (34-23 at home), so considering what they were able to do in Denver back in April, I absolutely love them here (especially at this price!). 10* Atlanta