The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals play the only getaway day game on Wednesday as the Cubs look for a sweep over their longtime NL Central Division rivals. Otherwise, the other 28 teams are all in action under the lights as the weather starts to cool off in many parts of the country. Cooler weather will have an impact on how the ball travels and will also have an impact on whether or not teams with nothing to play for will actually want to be at the ballpark. Here’s a look at the September 9 MLB betting card.
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Atlanta (-120) at Philadelphia; Total: 8.5
How bad is David Buchanan? The Braves, who have lost 20 of their last 22 games, are road favorites in this game. Julio Teheran is on the mound for the Braves. If there’s any Braves pitcher that has a chance at being favored like this, it’s Teheran. He hasn’t pitched all that well this season, though. The Braves have dropped off in a big way defensively and he has taken the brunt of that loss. Also, his command has taken a nosedive. He does have 57 strikeouts in 59 innings in the second half, so I was right about the positive regression in his K rate, but it hasn’t helped his command at all.
In 10 starts this season, Buchanan has a 9.00 ERA with a 5.35 FIP and a 5.19 xFIP. If the Braves are going to beat anybody, Buchanan seems like the guy. Like I’ve said before, regression is present, but that assumes a reasonable level of command. Buchana’s command has been terrible this season, as evidenced by a .376 BABIP against. His strand rate should normalize a little bit, but no pitcher is unlucky enough to post a 55.6 percent strand rate, but Buchanan’s also throwing more hittable pitches than most pitchers.
Overnight money has come in on the Phillies, which is a definite “hold your nose” bet. Frankly, so are the Braves. The Braves bullpen has been horrible all season long, so you really have to ask yourself how long Teheran can work into this game and if the bullpen can magically hold on to a lead. If the answer is not long enough and no, then avoid the game. Otherwise, the oddsmakers are telling you something about the Braves here.
CC Sabathia was expected to miss the rest of the season, but he’s back in the fold on Wednesday against Ubaldo Jimenez and the Orioles. The hefty lefty opened in the -120/-125 range and has shot up to the -140 range. The Orioles are really in shambles right now and the Yankees are playing well again. I have to say, I’m really surprised with how sustainable this has been for the Yankees given how old some of their position players are.
The clock struck midnight for Jimenez right around the All-Star Break. After posting a 2.81 ERA in the first half with a respectable 98/32 K/BB ratio, Jimenez owns a 6.88 ERA in the second half with a 40/24 K/BB ratio. He has been maddeningly frustrating as an American League pitcher and this is just another example. There’s no consistency, from start to start or inning to inning. You can’t put your money on a guy like that and the market has responded as you would expect.
Of course, CC Sabathia has burned through some betting money lately as well. He only threw 60 pitches in his simulated game last week, so I wouldn’t expect more than maybe 75-80 pitches. I don’t know if the Yankees envision him as an asset in the playoffs, but his splits indicate that he could have a little bit of success as a matchup lefty. His command is poor and his home run rates leave a lot to be desired.
There’s no line value left in this game, but it is interesting to see how the market came in. It’s hard to gauge if this is a play against Ubaldo, against the Orioles, or a play on the Yankees, but we know it’s not a play on Sabathia.
The wrong team is favored in this game. You can make an argument that the Nationals have held leads and theoretically should have won some of their games recently, but the wrong team is favored here. The Nationals are going to have a very hard time getting off the deck for this series finale. I don’t know if the market is playing the “avoid the sweep card” or what, but the Nationals are going to get swept.
Jacob deGrom is elite. I don’t even need to run through the numbers. You already know that. Stephen Strasburg is pretty elite in his own right, but there’s a ton of pressure on him and the Nationals in this one. The Mets can go for the jugular in this game and that’s exactly what they will do.
Related, I’d look to fade the Nationals going forward if they lose this game. They may step up a little bit and fight if they can salvage this game, but I’d expect them to really bottom out if they fall seven back.
I like to go through games like this because I can give you some idea about the prospects and minor league call-ups that may show up again next season. Ariel Pena is on the mound in this one for the Brewers. Pena was expected to move to the bullpen full-time, but a lost season has allowed the Brewers to take an extended look at him as a starter once again. Also, some Triple-A callups, like Taylor Jungmann, have forced the organization’s hand to get some more pitching depth.
Per Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs, Pena is a guy that can run it up in the upper 90s with a slider that flashes 55, which is a plus pitch. The thing about Pena, and like most guys that end up in the bullpen, they lack a third pitch. That’s definitely the case with Pena. He’s already 26 now as well, so there’s not a whole lot of hope for him as a starter. The Marlins are the worst team in baseball against right-handed pitching, but this appears to be one that they can handle. Control is also lacking for Pena.
Tom Koehler isn’t going to win a Cy Young one day, but he’s a serviceable arm at home and that’s where he is for this start. You can set your watch to Koehler’s home/road splits. He has a 3.06 ERA at home and a 4.92 ERA on the road. He’s given up 14 of his 20 home runs on the road. We’re talking about a pitcher with a home ERA in the 3.03 range over his last 166.2 innings at home. Opposing hitters have a slash in the .224/.292/.345 range. That’s going to play for sure. He’s not a sexy name or an overpowering pitcher, but he’s a decent bet at home.
Koehler and the Fish are a great bet in this game. Pena has a very limited arsenal and a lot of jobs are on the line in Miami next season.
This is a strange line. The overnight money came in on Toronto as folks buy in to Drew Hutchison’s ERA-xFIP discrepancy. Hutch’s ERA is over a run higher than his xFIP, due to a high BABIP and a low strand rate. Then there’s Joe Kelly, who was awful at the start of the year and got punted from the rotation. Since August 7, Kelly has not allowed more than two runs in a start. Scouts and writers have wondered why Kelly, who has a mid-90s sinker, has never found success as a ground ball guy.
One reason is that his command isn’t great, which is why he has reverse platoon splits. Righties are batting .293/.369/.465 this season, compared to .247/.307/.394 from lefties. The Blue Jays, as we know, have a lot of right-handed bats. They should be able to take advantage here, which is part of the reason why the total is so high for this game.
SaberSim projects Hutchison to have one of the worst starts of the day for DFS players, which is a little bit surprising. I’ve sworn off Hutchison this season because I know the regression is supposed to come, but he’s gotten blown up when I’ve backed him and pitched well when I’ve ignored him. He allowed four runs over three starts against Oakland, New York, and Detroit, and then lost his command last time out against Baltimore and allowed three home runs and six runs over five innings.
This is a total stay away game for me because I don’t know which version of Drew Hutchison shows up. The over could be enticing, but a total of 10 is tough to get in today’s specialized game.
This is not how Jeff Samardzija envisioned his walk year going. Samardzija has seen a big drop in strikeouts and a drop in command, leading to a 4.87/4.14/4.22 pitcher slash. There was a chance that the White Sox would have kept the local kid in free agency, but now they can’t even extend a qualifying offer because he might take it to recoup lost value. He’s elevating the ball way too much this season and it has led to more fly balls leaving the yard and more extra base hits. Perhaps back-to-back years of at least 213 innings caught up with him since he began his career as a reliever. Whatever the case may be, he’s gotten worse lately and it’s hard to find reasons to back him.
Then there’s Josh Tomlin. Tomlin, who has battled shoulder and elbow problems for the bulk of his pro career, has really mixed his pitches well over his five starts. He has a home run problem, but that’s not necessarily a command issue. He just throws a lot of strikes and doesn’t have overpowering stuff. He doesn’t walk anybody, which is his claim to fame. As an Indians fan, I’ve studied Tomlin in the past and I’m not sure he was ever completely healthy prior to now. When he returned to the Major Leagues in 2013 with a relief appearance in US Cellular Field, one of the TV analysts said that Tomlin admitted that his elbow had bothered him for more than a year.
I love Tomlin. I’m not sure how he pitches with the set of grapefruits he’s got, but he will throw any pitch in any count. He’s fearless on the mound. It gets him into trouble sometimes, but it’s admirable. In this one, the fact that the market is coming in on Tomlin is actually a little bit worrisome, since he’s more of an under-the-radar guy. This is a must-win for the Indians if they want to have any chance at climbing back into the Wild Card race. There almost seems like there’s a little bit of a line inflation because of that. I think the White Sox are the value side, but Samardzija hasn’t been worthy of your money lately.