After tonight, we will be halfway through the final full month of the MLB season. It seems like it has really flown by. There’s no football the next two nights, so baseball is back in the spotlight from a betting standpoint. Sixteen games are on tap for Tuesday with a day/night doubleheader in Pittsburgh. Some minor issues with our content provider of the previews have unfortunately left us without previews today, but never fear, as this article is here to help you with today’s MLB card and I wrote up three previews this morning on two of the biggest games of the day and a late game on the west coast.
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Chicago (NL) at Pittsburgh (-110) Game 2; Total: 7.5
This is one of the games I previewed this morning, so please check out the write-up for more analysis and a free pick.
Kansas City at Cleveland (-120); Total: 8
This pitching matchup won’t really be on anybody’s radar, but it’s great to see both Kris Medlen and Josh Tomlin pitching meaningful games in September. Medlen and Tomlin are both past Tommy John surgery recipients and Tomlin also had a shoulder problem that kept him out over the first half of this season.
Anyway, as for the pitching matchup itself, Medlen has had more success as a reliever in short bursts than he has as a starter this season. It’s a small sample size of four starts, but Medlen has allowed 15 runs over 23 innings for a 5.87 ERA. Of course, in small sample sizes, the seven runs Medlen allowed to Chicago stand out a lot more than his three other starts, two of which were quality outings. Medlen has only struck out five batters over his last 11.2 innings of work and that will put a lot of emphasis on the Royals defense in this start.
This is a tricky matchup for Josh Tomlin. One of his best attributes of late has been changing speeds, which will be the gameplan against an aggressive Royals lineup that swings early and often. Tomlin’s game is all about trying to induce weak contact. The Royals don’t hit for a lot of power and Tomlin’s biggest issue is the long ball, because he has average command and throws a lot of strikes. It’s hard to say whether or not this matchup favors Tomlin or the Royals. The Royals have a lot of contact guys, but Tomlin’s used to pitching to contact. On the other hand, Tomlin’s not overpowering, so bat-to-ball hitters can barrel him up.
Overall, I think the best play in this game is to look for runs. There will be a lot of balls in play here. Even though the Indians have become one of the better defensive teams in baseball, and the Royals are one of the best, a lot of plays will need to be made behind these two pitchers. The Indians and Royals are also having some bullpen issues over the last couple of weeks that need to be acknowledged. As for a side, the lean would be to the Indians, since the Royals are mired in a bit of a slump here.
New York (AL) at Tampa Bay (-120); Total: 7.5
Adam Warren is picking up a spot start for the Yankees in this one. Warren has been effective in both starting and relieving roles this season. In 14 starts covering 82.2 innings of work, Warren has a 3.59 ERA with a .238/.307/.359 slash against. He doesn’t miss a lot of bats as a starter, but he is able to induce a lot of weak contact. The interesting thing about comparing his starting and relieving numbers is the big difference in pop up rate and ground ball rate. That’s a sign that Warren is mixing his pitches more effectively when stretched out as a starter. That’s a really valuable trait.
Tampa Bay has Jake Odorizzi on the mound here. Odorizzi’s season was delayed for most of June and into July, but he’s had a fine year for the Rays. He has a 3.21/3.31/3.84 pitcher slash in his 145.2 innings and I give him credit for battling through Kevin Cash’s philosophy on starting pitchers. Cash doesn’t like to let his starters go through the lineup a third or fourth time and that has cut some of Odorizzi’s starts a little bit short. But, the swing-and-miss changeup has been there and the command and pitchability seem improved from his 2014 season.
I like both of these pitchers, but I’m definitely going to side with Odorizzi here. The strikeout upside is what I like about him. Warren hasn’t started in a while, so there may be some difficulty in getting stretched back out. He threw 2.2 innings last time out, but the transition and change in mindset from starting to relieving and back to starting is difficult.
Houston at Texas (-110); Total: 8.5
This is one of the games that I previewed this morning, so check out my write-up for more analysis and a free pick.
Oakland at Chicago (AL) (-155); Total: 8
This is an interesting line because Jeff Samardzija has been pretty bad throughout the season, yet the White Sox are laying a big price against the Oakland A’s. Command has been a major problem area for Aaron Brooks this season. The A’s acquired him in the Ben Zobrist deal from the Royals and he has made six starts and three relief appearances. His K rate is a little bit below average, but he throws strikes, so that’s a good thing. The problem is that they have not been quality strikes, with a .367 BABIP and then a low strand rate. Home runs aren’t included in the BABIP calculation and Brooks has allowed four of those as well.
Brooks has a good changeup and there’s no way that he’s a 7.44 ERA type of guy. The 4.03 FIP is probably a lot closer to what people should expect. He had a couple good starts right out of the gate, but that hasn’t been the case since. The White Sox aren’t much of an offense, though. The Athletics aren’t doing anything offensively themselves, but Brooks isn’t this bad, so this line is a bit high.
Samardzija’s biggest asset this season has simply been the ability to stay healthy and give the White Sox over 200 innings. His strikeout rate is down significantly and leaving the friendly confines of Oakland elevated his home run rate. Samardzija has also had problems stranding runners, a byproduct of more balls in play and a bad defense, which is why his ERA sits at 4.89 and his peripherals are more than half a run lower.
I’m not in a hurry to back Oakland here, but this price is entirely too high on the White Sox. Listeners of The Bettor’s Box know my thoughts on simply betting numbers and not teams. I think there’s value in going against the White Sox at this price because I don’t like the matchup for Samardzija. This is about a little bit more than line value, so I’d be okay with taking Oakland here.
San Diego at Arizona (-105); Total: 8.5
Today’s most interesting line goes to the Padres and Diamondbacks. Tyson Ross is in the midst of a really strong season in spite of one of the league’s worst defenses behind him. Ross has a 3.24 ERA with a 3.07 FIP and a 3.24 xFIP with a strikeout rate higher than one per inning. His walk rate is up because he’s trying the best he can to take the defense out of the equation. His 61.5 percent ground ball rate is one of the best in baseball. There’s a lot to like about Tyson Ross and there’s a lot less to like about Arizona’s starter Jhoulys Chacin.
Chacin has been adequate in two starts at the big league level and was decent in 20 minor league starts, but there’s a lot to worry about. Aside from all of the injury problems, command is a worry, as is his lack of swing-and-miss stuff. Fortunately, the Diamondbacks are one of the top defensive teams in baseball. The Padres really haven’t done much lately to inspire confidence, as they fought for a while, but they have dropped 10 of 14 in the month of September.
Looking at this game on the surface, the Padres would be the play because Ross is so much better than Chacin. But, with how the Padres are playing and the way this line is set, it’s hard to argue that the oddsmakers believe that the Diamondbacks are the right side.
Los Angeles (AL) at Seattle (-175); Total: 7
This is the other game that I previewed this morning. For more insight and analysis on this game, as well as a free pick, check out the write-up here.