Weather definitely took a toll on the MLB slate on Tuesday night. The Pirates, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Orioles, Indians, and Twins will all play doubleheaders today. Four of those teams have something to play for. Two of them do not, so pay close attention to the lineups and the betting lines for those games. Other than that, it’s not a very exciting MLB card with quite a bit of heavy chalk around the league. Regardless, we’ll see what we can find to play as the MLB regular season inches closer to the end.
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This is a repost for the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles. The line has been adjusted:
Lay the price with the Blue Jays today. Marcus Stroman does not look like a guy that missed the first five months of the season. He’s got a live arm and the fact that he’s so fresh at this time of the season should make AL teams very worried entering the playoffs. His strikeout stuff hasn’t returned yet, but the two-seamer has been very effective and he’s inducing a lot of weak contact.
Miguel Gonzalez is making his first start off of the disabled list for a shoulder injury. He’ll be on a pitch count and probably won’t be very effective against the Blue Jays lineup. Expect his command to be a bit rusty and expect the Blue Jays to take full advantage.
Washington (-155) at Atlanta; Total: 8
The Nationals don’t have anything to play for, but I expect them to step up to the plate for Jordan Zimmermann tonight. As I mentioned on Monday’s edition of The Bettor’s Box, Matt Williams did Zimmermann a huge disservice by not allowing the fans to salute him on his way off the mound because he pinch hit for him in his final home start. That probably didn’t sit well with the clubhouse. Zimmermann will make his second-to-last start as a Washington National in this game. He’ll likely pitch again on Sunday.
With Williams Perez on the mound for the Braves, the Nationals have every reason to give him some run support. Perez has actually thrown the ball pretty well over his last few starts, so maybe he’s getting confidence late in the year. Or maybe it’s simple variance. That’s my bet, because Williams has 18 strikeouts over his last four starts, but has seven in one and six in another. Guys that don’t miss bats will have these periods of good fortune interspersed with bad luck. I expect the Nationals to go to bat for Zimmermann and I’d lay the price here. The environment is toxic in that clubhouse, but Zimmermann has been a constant and a leader and the players will respect that.
Jarred Cosart and Drew Smyly are the probables for this one in the Sunshine State. It was a rather unexciting 4-2 finale yesterday in a game with two lefties and two lineups that hit lefties well. The big story from that game is how Matt Moore has turned it around late this season and the Rays will now be ready to roll with him next season.
In this one, I want to like Tampa Bay, but how about the Marlins? They are 16-9 this month with a lame duck manager and a unified hatred for the owner. That’s a pretty impressive last month of the season for a team that has no reason to show up at the ballpark every day. I’ll admit that I was wrong about this Miami team before the season, but now that they are somewhat healthy, minus Giancarlo Stanton, and seem to have found something in Justin Bour, they’re an interesting team for next season.
Smyly has a 3.26 ERA, 4.11 FIP, and a 3.53 xFIP over 11 starts. If there were more starts this season, some of his peripherals would decline, mostly his LOB%. But, he’s always had some strikeout upside and his command profile would normalize as well. He’s a guy I have high hopes for next season and I think he’s the guy that the Tigers will really miss in the future.
Both of these pitchers are pretty fresh, so I’d look at the under here. Injuries have limited Cosart to just 19 starts across four levels this season and Smyly has only made 11 starts. Hitters are getting slower with their bat speed as the season progresses. That’s as much of a factor in lower-scoring games in September as anything.
This line isn’t high enough. I advised a play on the Cubs yesterday with Dan Haren on the mound and the Reds scored one run in that game. Jon Lester might throw a no-hitter today if he’s willing to walk Joey Votto four times. This number still isn’t high enough. I don’t go over -140 often, but the Reds have completely given up any desire to play baseball this season.
Don’t overthink it. It walks like a duck.
Is it time to panic if you’re a Kansas City Royals fan? The Royals are just 10-17 in September now and they’ve had something to play for. Home field advantage is long gone now and that’s a big problem for a time that has a terrible starting rotation. Johnny Cueto and his command problems will have to start the playoffs at hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. This is a big collapse by the Royals.
The big worry is whether or not they can just flip the switch and suddenly start to care again once the playoffs begin. This is a team with a +5 run differential on the road, which is good, but it’s nowhere near the +63 that they have at home.
Edinson Volquez is on the bump here against Jose Quintana. This might be a reach, but I’m going to make it anyway. The Royals are tired. As a team, they are exhausted. They played at a high level for effectively 11 months if you include the postseason and they’ve played a lot of baseball in that time. The bulk of their value, compared to other teams, comes from their fielding prowess. I don’t know the numbers, but I’d venture to say that their fielding has dropped off significantly this month. The effort isn’t there and fatigue may be a factor.
Volquez may be a good test case. He’s striking out more batters this month, but he has a .291 BA against with a .329 BABIP against. That’s the second-highest BABIP against of the season. As a result, a defense-dependent pitcher has a 6.00 ERA in September. It helps that his command has really dropped off, as the five HR he has allowed are the most in a single month. I’m not sure if I’m grasping at straws or not, but the Royals have gotten by with awful pitchers for two seasons. Why has it suddenly changed now? It might just be variance, but there might be more to it.
I’d roll with the White Sox here. I really like Jose Quintana. Amazingly, as good as Jose Quintana has been in his career, he can set a new career-high in wins tonight…with 10. That’s it. Quintana has a career MLB pitcher slash of 3.47/3.43/3.72 and has been worth at least 3.5 wins above replacement player in each of the last three seasons. That’s remarkable to me. I don’t know if that “milestone” matters to him or not, but I bet he’d like to get another win since they’re so rare.
No line yet for this game, but I’d definitely look to the Giants. I’m curious to see what line the books open after they got burned badly on the Indians/Royals game last week. The Dodgers appear locked into being the #3 seed as a division winner for the playoffs and will make a trip to Citi Field. With the NL West locked up on Tuesday night, I’d expect them to sit a lot of guys in this game.
St. Louis at Pittsburgh Game 2
Toronto at Baltimore Game 2
Minnesota at Cleveland Game 2