The National League Central will have the spotlight on Tuesday night as three of the division’s five teams will be part of regional coverage on MLB Network. The Milwaukee Brewers host the Toronto Blue Jays, while the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals are on MLB Network for the second straight night.
Matchup: Toronto Blue Jays at Milwaukee Brewers
Date/Time: August 19, 8:10 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network
MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook
Probable Starters: TOR: JA Happ (8-7, 4.20) v. MIL: Mike Fiers (2-1, 1.29)
Moneyline: Milwaukee -158
Total: 8.5 100/-120
The Toronto Blue Jays have lost seven of their last 10 games as their playoff chances are starting to look more and more unlikely by the day. The Milwaukee Brewers became the second NL team to reach 70 wins by pushing their winning streak to four on Sunday by completing a sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tuesday night’s matchup will kick off a brief two-game interleague set between the Blue Jays and Brewers.
Following a day to try and regroup, the Blue Jays will send JA Happ to the hill at Miller Park. Happ struggled in his last start against the Seattle Mariners as he allowed five runs in six innings to a team in direct competition with the Blue Jays for the AL Wild Card. Prior to that, Happ had started August on a real strong note by striking out 18 over 15 innings against Houston and Baltimore. Even though Happ only allowed three runs in those two starts, the Blue Jays lost both games. Since joining the rotation for good, sans one relief appearance, during the first week of May, Happ is 8-7 with a 4.20 ERA.
Mike Fiers is coming off of the best start of his young career. Against the Cubs, Fiers struck out 14 batters over six scoreless innings. It was his second start for the Brewers this season. He made four relief appearances in June, but returned as a starter because he had posted an 8-5 record with a 2.55 ERA in 17 starts at Triple-A Nashville with 129 strikeouts and just 17 walks. Fiers has allowed three runs in 21.2 innings this season at the Major League level. In 27 career starts at the Major League level, Fiers is 11-13 with a 4.10 ERA.
Happ will be facing the Brewers for the 11th time overall and for the 10th time as a starter. He gave up four runs on six hits in seven innings earlier this season in his first start against the Brewers since 2012 as a member of the Houston Astros. The Blue Jays are 10-8 for a profit of 1.76 units in Happ’s 18 starts this season.
Fiers will be making his first career start and second career appearance against the Blue Jays. He threw a scoreless innings with a couple of strikeouts against the Blue Jays in 2012. In 18.1 career interleague innings, Fiers has allowed just one run on nine hits. The Brewers are 2-0 in Fiers’s two starts for a profit of 2.21 units.
Free MLB Pick: Milwaukee Brewers
Fiers operates with good deception as a guy that tops out around 91-92 as a starter. That makes him very difficult to hit for teams that haven’t really seen him and the Blue Jays have very little exposure. The Brewers are 19-12 against left-handed starters on the season and these two teams are trending in opposite directions.
Matchup: Cincinnat Reds at St. Louis Cardinals
Date/Time: August 19, 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network
MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook
Probable Starters: CIN: Alfredo Simon (12-8, 3.28) v. STL: John Lackey (1-1, 6.16)
Moneyline: St. Louis -170
Total: 7.5 102/-112
The Reds and Cardinals played extra innings on Monday night as the Cardinals prevailed with a 6-5 victory. The win for the Cardinals moved them a half-game closer to the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers and 1.5 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants and 2.5 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the NL Wild Card standings. The Reds are now just 10-20 since the All-Star Break, while the Cardinals are bobbing and weaving at 15-13. The extra innings added additional strain to a Reds bullpen that just got done with a series in Colorado and a doubleheader on Sunday.
That puts a lot of pressure on Tuesday night’s starter Alfredo Simon. Simon started the year on some kind of tear, holding onto an ERA below 3.00 for most of the first four months of the season. Since the All-Star Break, however, Simon is 0-5 with a 5.46 ERA and the Reds are 0-6 in his six outings. Simon was 12-3 and the Reds were 15-3 in his 18 starts before the Midsummer Classic. He had a 2.70 ERA in those outings, but regression was clearly on the horizon with a .219 batting average against and only 75 strikeouts in 118.2 innings of work.
John Lackey has had two quality starts and one tremendously awful start since being acquired by the Cardinals at the Trade Deadline. Lackey has two starts of seven innings and just two runs around with a start of five innings with nine runs allowed sandwiched in between. Lackey had a 1.38 ERA after two starts, but his season-low came on June 18 when he threw nine shutout innings against the Minnesota Twins. Since that start, Lackey has a 5.77 ERA over nine starts. There were some concerns after Lackey wearing down because he threw so many innings in 2013 after missing the entire 2012 season. That’s something to watch going forward.
Simon has 14 career relief appearances against the Cardinals, but this will be his first career start. Simon has a 3.18 ERA over 22.2 innings in relief with a win and no losses. This will be his first appearance against the Cardinals in 2014. The Reds are 15-9 in his 24 starts for a profit of 6.83 units, but have lost each of his last six starts.
Lackey has one career start against the Reds and it came back in 2007. Including his start against Baltimore as a member of the Cardinals, Lackey had a 3.33 ERA in 38 career starts and one relief appearance in interleague play as a member of the Angels and Red Sox. The Cardinals are 2-1 in Lackey’s three starts for a modest profit of 0.97 units.
Free MLB Pick: St. Louis Cardinals
Extra innings didn’t do any favors for either team, as the Cardinals used their bullpen extensively against the Padres over the weekend and the Reds used theirs a lot against Colorado. With that in mind, Lackey has more of a reputation for working deep into games and the Cardinals absolutely need some length in this start.