It is a loaded slate on Wednesday with 16 games coming your way thanks to Tuesday night’s postponement in Denver. It sort of cancels out the fact that there are only four games tomorrow, as 22 of the league’s 30 teams enjoy a day off. Six of today’s games are during the daytime hours, so those looking for a work distraction certainly have it. The other 10 games will conclude under the lights, with no late west coast games to stay up for. It’s a pretty decent slate of baseball today and we have some manageable lines to consider for August 31.
Looking back to yesterday, it was a decent day for us. The Mets scored a nice winner over the Marlins as a reasonable favorite. The Indians won, but that price was, indeed, too high and dropped by about 30 cents by first pitch. The Yankees won. It was terrifying, but they beat those sorcerers from Kansas City. Unfortunately, our top total was rained out.
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Per usual, the games with big lines will be overlooked, unless there is something particularly noteworthy about them or a play on the underdog is a possibility. Also, day games are usually skipped due to the lead time of the article. That will not be the case on Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Sundays when there are a lot of day games.
Chicago (AL) at Detroit (-130); Total: 7.5
Chris Sale goes for the White Sox today and he may start cutting up relievers instead of uniforms. The White Sox bullpen has dookied the bed a lot this season, but they’ve really done it in glorious fashion here in this series. If they blow Chris Sale’s lead, if he has one, he might go all Chris Scissorhands on them.
Lately, it seems like Chris Sale has run out of patience with the whole pitch-to-contact thing. I think he wants the Cy Young Award because it would salvage what has been an awful season. Between Uniformgate, Robin Ventura treating his arm like a piece of chuck steak, and his friction with the front office, Sale’s at the end of his rope. Over his last five starts, he’s struck out 46 batters in 38.2 innings of work to push his season K/9 above one per inning. At this point, it’s about individual stats for Sale. He’s given up 13 runs on 29 hits in that span. My guess is that Sale is doing his own thing the rest of the way and who can blame him?
I’m sort of terrified of off-the-reservation Chris Sale. There’s a chance we see him flirt with a no-hitter the rest of the way. I doubt it’ll be today against Detroit, but he’s got significant upside the rest of the year.
Justin Verlander’s been excellent this season. The reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated. Verlander has a 3.33 ERA with a 3.59 FIP and a 3.99 xFIP on the season. He’s gotten a little bit lucky with his BABIP fortunes, but he’s a fly ball guy and that’s sustainable with his arsenal. With over a K per inning and that fly ball rate, it’s not a big surprise that he’s had a lot of success.
This has to be an under look. The White Sox don’t care much and Chris Sale’s a man possessed. At least the first five under before the Chicago bullpen self-immolates for the 444th time this season.
Seattle (-110) at Texas; Total: 9
Can we talking about how MF’ing lucky the Rangers are this season? Take some of the injury bad luck out of it. This team is 30-9 in one-run games. That’s the best win percentage EVER. I’ve talked about this before, but this is a team with a 30-9 record in one-run games, one of the shallowest rotations in baseball, and the bullpen is 27th in ERA and 28th in FIP. The team still has a negative run differential. And they’re leading the division and will probably find a way into the World Series.
I’m guessing that you’ve been able to hear the frustration in my voice lately. It’s been a really difficult baseball season. Some things have worked out and some haven’t. It really affects me to the core when massive anomalies like this happen. I know regression should be coming. It came briefly. It hasn’t come back. When you have a handicapping philosophy that works for you, and it has worked quite well in the past, it’s incredibly frustrating to see these outliers. It wears on you. I know it’s only one of the 30 teams, but it’s still hard to take.
So, when I see Felix Hernandez and the Mariners laying a small price on a getaway day, my heart influences my head. I know the Mariners should be the right side. I know Martin Perez is among the worst starters in baseball in several categories. I also know it’s less than 18 hours after a devastating walk-off loss in which untouchable Edwin Diaz was touched. I’ll wave the white flag on this game.
Miami at New York (NL) (-115); Total: 7.5
Phelps-Colon sounds more like a digestive medicine than a pitching matchup, but here we are. David Phelps is one of those guys that won’t carry a ton of statistical value, at least from a WAR standpoint, but his practical value is off the charts. Swing guys that can pitch in leverage spots in relief and not kill the team as spot starters are really valuable commodities. So far, Phelps has been just that for the Fish.
Sure, Phelps’s last start was a clunker against San Diego, but he did have six strikeouts in 3.2 innings of work, so the stuff wasn’t terrible. He’ll get another crack here and hopefully he’ll at least replicate what Seth Lugo did for the Mets yesterday in a similar role. I don’t know about the sustainability of this, but Phelps does have 28 K in his last four starts covering 20 innings of work. The effectiveness has been there. He simply didn’t work out of jams well enough last time out. I think there’s some value on him in a general sense, but is there value here?
The problem for me isn’t Phelps. The problem is the Miami offense. Marcell Ozuna has fallen off the face of the earth and that has exacerbated the loss of Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins are 28th in wOBA in the month of August at just .299. Only the Padres and the Athletics are worse. Miami and Pittsburgh are tied for the worst SLG this month.
That makes this a tough handicap because I’ve pegged Colon as a guy that I’m expecting second-half regression from. We’ve seen a little bit, with three starts since the break of five or more runs allowed, but it hasn’t been all that consistent. Between Colon’s decent performance and Miami’s bad offense, I have to look at the Mets here. They’ve got a little bit of offensive momentum going now thanks to Jose Reyes’s hot bat and that might be all that they need. This is probably one of those 4-2 or 5-2 affairs, so I’d also consider the under along with the home team.
St. Louis (-155) at Milwaukee; Total: 9
I hate missing the boat. The opening -135 price on the Cardinals and Luke Weaver was too low. At this price, I can’t play this number. There’s no analysis going into this one, other than Matt Garza sucks, but it’s a good reminder to take a look at those overnight numbers. Some sportsbooks have them out by around 5 p.m. ET the day before. It’s okay to sit and wait if you’re not comfortable committing before the games are played or before the morning, but give yourself a chance to snag some line value.
New York at Kansas City (-125); Total: 8
Miraculously, Kansas City’s rally fell short yesterday. That obviously means that they will win 27-1 today. We’re actually seeing Yankees money in the marketplace to drive this number down about a dime since the number opened. I give those brave souls credit for volunteering as tribute.
Dan Farnsworth’s report on Luis Cessa prior to the season was not a glowing review. Farnsworth wrote in the Fangraphs write-up that Cessa was “more strike-thrower than command artist and he doesn’t have a ton of upside”. After a decent year in Triple-A, he’s come up to the big where life is harder and has posted a 4.11 ERA with a 5.72 FIP and a 4.56 xFIP. I’m really surprised that he’s fared better as a starter than as a reliever because you can get by in the bullpen with a shallower arsenal. IN two starts, he’s given up three runs on eight hits. He’s got a 10/2 K/BB. I’m not really sold.
This is probably an ERA-xFIP play on Ian Kennedy. Kennedy has a 3.57 ERA with a 4.51 xFIP and his 4.67 FIP doesn’t generate a lot of confidence. With similar peripherals and a similar HR/9 last season, Kennedy had a 4.28 ERA in San Diego. A large part of that is that the Padres were horrible defensively and the Royals are not. His 85.1 percent LOB% is definitely too high, but he’s carried it most of the season, so we might as well just write it off at this point.
The Royals will win.