Today will be a rough day to bet on baseball with several doubleheaders and a lot of games that don’t have lines at time of writing. It’s unfortunate, because this will be the last picks and analysis article of the season. With a bunch of day games on Sunday, there’s not a whole lot of lead time on most of the games. Hopefully this article has been a great resource to you. If you’re interested in my thoughts on the playoff games, hit me up on Twitter @SkatingTripods. We’ll have series previews and The Bettor’s Box will still be going on and we’ll also have our game previews, so there will be no shortage of content. Thank you for all of the support with our MLB content this season.
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Here is a repost of the thoughts from last night’s Mets/Nationals game. Odds have been adjusted.
Don’t expect Noah Syndergaard to be on a pitch count in this start because the Mets right-hander won’t work again until late next week. There’s no reason to restrict him because he’ll need to keep as sharp as possible. The Nationals counter with Gio Gonzalez, who has had another fine season. This series was supposed to mean a lot for both teams, but the Mets already secured the division as the Nationals fell apart.
The Mets do have something to play for here because they are now tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for home field in the NLDS. They definitely want to be able to use Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey as home as opposed to in a tough road environment. The Nationals have dropped seven of their last 10 as lame duck manager Matt Williams is mostly staying out of the way in his final week.
These two teams have played 16 times so far this season and have scored 108 runs in those meetings. That’s an average of just 6.75 runs per game. This total is listed at 6.5, but the under might be a good look here.
The Toronto Blue Jays went with their “A” lineup on Friday night and took care of business against the Tampa Bay Rays. With home field advantage still hanging in the balance, they should send out the best they have to offer against Chris Archer. The Jays will send Marco Estrada to the hill.
It’s important to point out the differences between Archer’s first half and his second half. He had a 2.74 ERA in the first half with a .209/.264/.313 slash against and a 147/30 K/BB ratio over 121.2 innings. In the second half, he has a 4.01 ERA with a .230/.304/.359 and a 102/35 K/BB ratio in 85.1 innings. The walk rate is up by a pretty significant margin, with a 3.4 percent increase. His strikeout rate is about the same. His BABIP against has gone from .284 to .309 and his strand rate has dropped by seven percent. His peripherals suggest some bad luck with a 3.20 FIP and a 3.43 xFIP. It’s entirely possible that Archer, who threw 194.2 innings last season, is just running out of gas here in the second half. Perhaps his command is wavering. It may simply be variance. Maybe the slider isn’t as sharp. After getting bombed by Toronto last start, you know he wants to hit the offseason on a positive note.
I’ve talked about this before, but Marco Estrada’s been able to outpitch his advanced metrics because he’s got one of the game’s most effective changeups. That should work well against Tampa Bay’s platoon-heavy offense because changeups are the best pitches for neutralizing opposite-handed hitters. I’m a big Archer fan, but this line shows some respect for Estrada, especially after the market faded him last time out against Baltimore.
I think I’d look at the road chalk here.
Detroit (-115) at Chicago (AL); Total: 7.5
Justin Verlander seems like a suspiciously small favorite for Saturday night’s matchup against Erik Johnson. Johnson has a 3-1 record and a 3.45 ERA in his five starts, but a FIP of 6.07 and an xFIP of 5.16. His control and command have both been subpar and he’s living on the strength of a 93.2 percent LOB rate. If the Tigers are interested in the game at all, they should put up some numbers and force that ERA regression to hit.
Verlander hasn’t given up more than four runs since August 4. He’s not the same dominant pitcher that he once was, but he’s learning how to pitch again without his velocity and the returns, all things considered, have been pretty good. He’s a very fiery guy and a competitor and that should push him to pitch well in this last outing. It’s been a tough year for him on the field and entering the offseason on a positive note is probably something he’s more worried about than other guys would be.
St. Louis (-150) at Atlanta; Total: 7
We’ve gotten to a point where John Lackey is now a critical part of the Cardinals starting rotation. At this stage, he might be their most reliable starter. He’s been really good over 214 innings this season with a 2.69 ERA, a 3.55 FIP, and a 3.80 xFIP. He’s got quality rate stats and an 83 percent LOB%. He’s certainly been one of the biggest benefactors of the St. Louis defense and he does induce quite a bit of weak contact. It will be interesting to see how a veteran like him goes into this last start of the regular season. If he feels he needs to work on FB command, he may predominantly throw fastballs. If he feels like his SL isn’t there, you may see a lot of those. I don’t think he’s all that worried about pitching well, just about working out any kinks. It’s a luxury you can have when you clinch home field as early as St. Louis did.
Shelby Miller has a 3.15 ERA and a 3.47 FIP. He has a 5-17 record. He was excellent against his former team on July 25, but took a tough luck loss. You know he wants this game. The Cardinals will swing early and often, just like they did against Julio Teheran, so it will be about making good pitches ahead in the count. Miller’s really refined some of his secondary pitches and the development of his cutter has been so big for him this season.
I’d look to the Braves in this one. St. Louis isn’t particularly interested in this series and a guy like Lackey won’t pitch to win. He’ll pitch with an eye on the postseason. That’s dramatically different than Shelby Miller’s philosophy for this start.
Miami at Philadelphia Game 2
New York (AL) at Baltimore Game 2
Washington at New York (NL) Game 2
Boston at Cleveland