Weather had a major impact on Thursday night’s already small slate of games. The Mets and Braves managed to find water wings for all 16 fielders so that the game could be played at Lake Turner Field. The Cubs and Phillies were banged, as well as the Blue Jays and Yankees. The Cubs and Phillies will honor the late Ernie Banks and “play two” today. The Blue Jays and Yanks will play a traditional double dip on Saturday. Fortunately no Mets or Braves drowned during yesterday’s game. With that, 16 games are now on tap for Friday.
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For posterity’s sake, here’s my write-up of yesterday’s scheduled Blue Jays/Yankees matchup that will instead be played tonight (the line has adjusted slightly based on yesterday’s betting movement):
Unfortunately, I missed the fact that the Blue Jays/Yankees series begins tonight when I was wrapping up The Bettor’s Box. It’s a shame, too, because this is a great pitching matchup between David Price and Luis Severino. Price is comfortable road chalk here and the overnight money has been trickling in on the road team.
The Blue Jays got David Price for starts like this. When they set up their rotation, they set it up to ensure that Price faced the Yankees the maximum number of times, despite his career struggles against them. I’m not much for pitcher vs. team stats because teams are always changing and pitchers are always evolving, so I’m not worried about that. What I care about is how both of these teams and pitchers are doing entering the game.
Price has been his usual dominant self with Toronto, posting a 2.15/2.33/3.07 pitcher slash over seven starts with a 29.3 percent strikeout rate. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start with Toronto and has only allowed more than three runs once in his last 12 starts. It was his final start with the Tigers when he knew he was going to be traded. The strikeout bump should come as no surprise. The Blue Jays have a quality pitch framer in Russell Martin and Alex Avila and James McCann are well below average for the Tigers. This will already be Price’s third start against New York since joining the Blue Jays.
Luis Severino is fearless and he’ll have to be against a tough Blue Jays offense. Severino is the reason that the Yankees didn’t acquire a pitcher at the trade deadline and they’ve been rewarded for their trust thus far. Severino has only made six starts, but the swing and miss is there and the pitchability seems to be as well. The 21-year-old has stranded almost 91 percent of his runners thus far with some timely strikeouts. Severino’s “worst” start as a Major Leaguer came against Toronto on August 16, when he allowed three runs on five hits. But, he also struck out nine over six innings.
This should be a great pitcher’s duel and both bullpens are looking pretty sharp. I think I’d actually lean towards the Yankees in this one. Their offense will have some struggles against righties with good power stuff and I do think that their bullpen is a bit stronger than Toronto’s. If this game is close or tied late, you’re holding +120 with New York’s bullpen against Toronto’s. I’d take that bet every time.
Danny Duffy and Mike Wright are not the members of some garbage emo band. No, they are actually Major League Baseball pitchers and they face off in the series opener between the Royals and the Orioles. Duffman has a 4.17/4.60/4.87 pitcher slash on the season with a poor K rate and a poor BB rate. Like most Royals pitchers, his high strand rate can be attributed to his defense and that’s why his ERA isn’t in the 4.50 range. He’s not a very good pitcher, to be honest.
Neither is Mike Wright. Wright has been thrust into the Orioles rotation because their young arms can’t stay healthy and their development paths have been altered. Wright has a 5.19/5.16/5.19, which is convenient because it means that he’s pitching to his current capabilities at the big league level over a small 34.2-inning sample size. Like Duffy, below average K and BB rates are hanging over his head. The difference, thus far, has been command. Duffy’s is a little bit better.
Neither guy is a good bet, though this line does speak to me. The Royals and Duffy should be favored by a little bit more. The Orioles aren’t playing well and lefties bury Wright. In a sample size of 75 batters, lefties are hitting .338/.400/.552 against Wright. The concern here is that the Royals don’t seem all that engaged in their games right now. Maybe Thursday’s day off came at a good time for the team. The line says to take Baltimore. I say to lay off the game.
The Indians and Tigers played a strange game on Thursday night. Detroit had two runners ruled out at home plate after video review and 10 of the game’s 12 runs were scored in the final three-and-a-half innings. The Tigers showed some fight, which was a little bit surprising to me given their position in the standings. Will they come with that same mindset on Friday?
We know that Justin Verlander will. Mr. Kate Upton is still trying to get back to the level that he was once at. Four really awful starts skew Verlander’s numbers a little bit in his 15-start sample size. Since he was blasted in his first start out of the All-Star Break, Verlander has a 1.78 ERA and a .202/.235/.288 slash over his last nine starts. He gave up three runs over seven innings last weekend in a loss against the Indians. He has become more extreme of a fly ball pitcher as his velocity drops and he tries to reinvent himself as a pitcher. He’s also throwing more strikes and hitters are missing more in the zone than they did last season. There’s still a lot of pitchability here, even if the stuff has dropped off.
Cody Anderson is a frustrating guy to back because a lot of the results he has had this season are out of his control. What do I mean? Anderson only has 29 strikeouts in 65.1 innings of work. Either balls get hit at fielders or they don’t. He throws a lot of strikes and hasn’t walked more than two guys in a start since he was called up on June 21. This will be his fourth start since he missed time with an oblique injury in August. He’s really tough to back because you just don’t know what his batted ball luck will be that day.
You have to look Verlander or nothing in this game. Anderson shut out the Tigers over seven last start and also held the Blue Jays to two runs over six in the start prior, but he’s so BABIP-dependent that it’s worrisome to back him in his second straight start against a potent offense.
Can Washington bounce back? The Mets won again on Thursday to push their lead out to 7.5 games. Will the Nationals show up ready to play on Friday night? I really don’t think so and I don’t understand this line move. The Marlins hit lefties pretty well and Gio Gonzalez will be on the bump for the Nats. I like Gio a lot, but his infield defense has really let him down this season. That’s why he has a 3.96 ERA even though his 3.14 FIP and 3.65 xFIP are noticeably better. The Marlins, for all of their problems and the Giancarlo Stanton injury, are third in batting average and eighth in wOBA against southpaws.
Jarred Cosart made his return to the bigs last start and pitched well against the Mets by scattering five hits over 4.2 innings of work. Cosart has not worked deep into games and it’s always a concern to have a game where the worst relievers are going to come in for the middle innings, but I truly don’t think it matters here. The Nationals are done and they know it. Matt Williams mismanaged the series against the Mets so bad that the team is not interested in going down with the ship captain. Take the Marlins here.
A very strange line move in this game as the Rangers opened -160 and have dropped down by as much as 30 cents at some shops. The A’s don’t have a whole lot to play for with Jesse Chavez on the mound against Colby Lewis, but there aren’t a whole lot of Colby Lewis supporters out there apparently. Chavez is actually a pretty underrated dude. He’s been a very valuable piece of the A’s roster over the last three seasons. He has average numbers with a 4.17/3.94/3.93, which is good enough for two fWAR. He’s been pretty reliable with his fastball/changeup/cutter arsenal.
It would seem that the anti-Colby Lewis sentiment has to do with how he appears to be wearing down. After being serviceable for most of the season, Lewis has allowed 18 runs over his last 15.2 innings against Toronto, San Diego, and the Angels. It’s certainly worth examining further. Lewis is up to 175 innings on the season now. He threw 175.1 innings last season after missing all of 2013. He actually had a horrible first half last year and then turned it around in the second half.
One trap that bettors may be falling into is that Lewis has a 5.11 home ERA and a 4.33 road ERA. His SLG at home is 41 points lower than on the road and his batting average against is 17 points lower. So the home/road discrepancy is nothing more than bad sequencing luck.
I’m not going to be playing this game. As an Indians fan, I’ll be rooting for Oakland, but the sharp overnight line move has effectively taken the line value out of the equation.
How awful is Ervin Santana? The Twins, in a playoff race, are an underdog against the White Sox with a Triple-A call-up on the mound. If this line and the subsequent movement don’t jump off the page to you, pick a new hobby. Santana’s actually coming off of his best start of the season, but he owns a 4.93/4.68/4.54 pitcher slash in his 12 starts. He missed the first half of the season with a suspension.
This line and its movement fascinates me. Normally, teams playing for the postseason in September face inflated lines. The Twins have a lot to play for. The White Sox do not. Erik Johnson had a fine season in Triple-A to bounce back from a horrendous 2014 and could be back on the radar as a back-end starter, but he hasn’t shown much at the big league level in his 11 starts spread over three seasons.
This line tells a story. Either you choose to believe it or you turn the page.
The Dallas Keuchel steam isn’t surprising. The opening line was more surprising to me. It’s a trap! Well, maybe not, but it certainly could be. The Astros are patient in the sense that they walk, but they’re very aggressive in the zone and Weaver’s Crisco, Bardahl, and Vagisil-induced movement can have them popping up pitches and making weak contact. It should come as no surprise that Weaver has allowed just two runs on 12 hits over 15 innings against the Astros this season. That’s not necessarily predictive of future performance, but it does make sense.
Dallas Keuchel is great and he may very well win the AL Cy Young Award. He’s completely reinvented himself as a pitcher with strikeout rates that he never experienced in the minors, a high strand rate despite being a ground ball pitcher, and impressive peripherals. His control has improved in each of the last two seasons and he’s become a 200-inning workhorse. He got rid of a poor curve, added a slider, and everything fell into place.
Betting against Keuchel is hard to do in this start, but the steam on the Astros may be a little bit misguided. Oddsmakers are very fully aware of the perception of both of these starters. I have to think that the Angels are the value side. The Astros need to show a killer instinct and an ability to put this division away. They’re young. I don’t know if they have that quality yet. Weaver, despite the declining stuff, still knows how to get outs. I think you can catch a nice underdog winner with the Angels here if you’ve got the heart to do it.
Chicago (NL) at Philadelphia Game 2