All day baseball is on tap today, beginning around 12:30 p.m. ET and carrying right on into Thursday morning. These are fun days for a lot of people because they can get some baseball action to make the work day go by quicker and sneak peeks at that MLB.tv account when the boss isn’t looking. All 30 teams will take the field here today, with 10 of the games in the evening hours. There aren’t a whole lot of great lines out there, but we’ll see what’s in store for September 14.
Yesterday was a strange day. The under hit in the Mets/Nationals game if you got it after the market bet it up to 7.5 and then 8. It was only 7 for a short time, basically while I was writing the article, so most of you did win that one. A seven-run explosion in the sixth killed the under between Cleveland and Chicago, but the White Sox did win, so you either split those two or likely stayed away. Neither starter looked all that good between the Cubs and Cardinals, but the bullpens kept it under. Taijuan Walker was dominant. It was another throwaway day after a terrible Monday. Time to do better.
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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 (NL) (-135) at St. Louis; Total: 7.5
These are games I worry about at this time of the season. The Cubs have to play this day game after a night game and they have the division well in hand. I feel like there’s a good chance that Joe Maddon takes this opportunity to sit some of his key players. He doesn’t care who the Cubs play in the NLDS and I firmly believe that we’ll see a really watered-down Cubs lineup. I don’t think St. Louis is favored at any point, but I’d take a position on St. Louis before lineups come out. I don’t think you can scalp a middle, but I’d be pretty stunned if the Cubs send out their “A” team today.
Jon Lester is great and he might win the game anyway, but I think the Cardinals in the +125 or +130 range will give you some closing line value (CLV) today.
Pittsburgh (-120) at Philadelphia; Total: 8.5
Sometimes I know what I’m talking about. A couple weeks ago on BangTheBook Radio, I told listeners that I felt the Pirates would be a good team to fade after that St. Louis series. Well, they won the opener against St. Louis, but they then dropped four in a row as favorites before winning last night. To me, today is another fade spot.
Gerrit Cole has been shut down for the season, which is a sign that the season is over. The Pirates are three games under .500 and their playoff chances have dramatically decreased with that four-game losing streak. That’s a trickle-down effect to the rest of the team. It’s bad enough with Jameson Taillon on the shelf again that they’re trotting out a collection of never-will-be’s and has-beens. Ivan Nova is the only worthwhile arm in the rotation right now and he’s pitching out of his mind.
They’ll step up and win a game here and there like they did on Tuesday, but they’re playing three consecutive four-game series against bad teams. That’s not going to get a team that has made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons excited. Fade until further notice with the Pirates. They’re still road chalk here again today, but I think we see the books adjust and make them a dog tomorrow. Take the value while you can.
Milwaukee (-115) at Cincinnati; Total: 9
Junior Guerra and Tim Adleman get together in the Queen City for baseball on the banks of the Ohio River on Wednesday night. I like backing the Brewers the rest of the season. This is a team with a lot of talented pieces and a lot of depth to its 40-man roster. They’re going to keep playing hard and guys are looking to make an impact for next season. One of them is Junior Guerra.
Guerra has to be loving this. He got his first legitimate shot at the big league level this season and he’s been terrific with a 2.96 ERA, a 3.74 FIP, and a 4.29 xFIP in 115.2 innings. His high xFIP doesn’t really concern me because he doesn’t give up a lot of home runs and never really has. He’s just been really solid. Like I’ve said in these write-ups before, I feel like the splitter would be the next craze, a la the cutter, if it wasn’t so damaging on arm health. Guerra’s got a good one and he has three above average pitches per PITCHf/x pitch values.
Tim Adleman, on the other hand, is a guy that I’m very worried about and he’s not a sustainable big leaguer in my mind. He has a 3.88 ERA with a 5.88 FIP and a 5.37 xFIP. He’s a less talented Dan Straily with a high FB rate and a very high LOB%. Those types of pitchers have very thin margins for error. Adleman has allowed 10 dingers in 46.1 innings of work, but he’s benefited from that high strand rate. I’d be surprised if he keeps that up the rest of the way. He misses very few bats and hitters will start to adjust as they see him for a second time. That’s the case here, as the Brewers are getting their second look.
I’m looking for the Brewers to pick up a nice and easy win in this spot.
Cleveland at Chicago (AL) (-115); Total: 8.5
There’s something very sneaky about this line. The White Sox are a short-priced favorite, but the line implies the Indians are favored on a neutral and are in the -120 range themselves at home. Josh Tomlin has been awful since the month of June. I felt like he was probably dealing with an injury, as fastball velocities dipped a little bit and his command was non-existent. If that was the case, he’s had basically two weeks to get back on track. With Danny Salazar on the shelf, he’ll make his first start since August 30.
Maybe he’s fixed some things. I do know that Tomlin has been dealing with a family medical issue that hits very close to home, so that’s probably impacted his performance throughout the season. We often forget that these guys are humans and only look at them as a set of statistics. I’m guilty of it. They have problems just like you and I do. The difference is that they have to do their jobs in front of tens of thousands in person and lots more on TV.
I can’t trust Tomlin until I see him flip the script. I also talked about this yesterday and I’ll continue harping on it. Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, and Mike Napoli are all in line for career highs in games played. Terry Francona has done a good job working in outfielders, but he hasn’t done the same with infielders. This is a tired team. They’re making defensive miscues on the infield and bats are dragging through the zone. That’s why they’re slumping offensively. Fortunately, the Tigers can’t gain any ground and the Indians have rallied for these mini streaks to keep Detroit at bay, but this is a team that doesn’t have a whole lot left in the tank and it’s showing.
The Indians have had two off days since July 28. They’re gassed. This isn’t a great price, but I’d probably fade them today and tomorrow. I think you get at least one of those games as they look ahead to a big weekend against Detroit.
Seattle at Los Angeles (AL) (-115); Total: 8.5
The wrong team is clearly favored here, which means the Mariners will probably lose 14-2. But, I can’t see any logical reason why Hisashi Iwakuma and the M’s are a dog to Jhoulys Chacin and the Angels. I won’t say that the oddsmakers are asleep at the wheel, because they know what they’re doing, but I really don’t get this.
Iwakuma had a home run problem earlier in the season, but he’s corrected it. He’s also started to induce more ground balls here recently, which is a good thing. He has a 3.96 ERA with a 4.31 FIP and a 4.49 xFIP, but he has a 3.40 ERA and a 3.79 FIP over his last 14 starts. He’s not missing bats like he did earlier in his career, but he’s not issuing walks, with 16 in his last 84.2 innings, and he’s kept the ball in the park. Angel Stadium is a great place for him to pitch and I really don’t get this line.
Chacin has made 13 starts and 12 relief appearances for the Angels and he has a 5.69 ERA with a 4.22 FIP and a 4.64 xFIP. Chacin hasn’t made a start since August 16. He’s been stretched out as a long reliever, though, so he should be able to work a handful of innings here, assuming he’s effective. I wouldn’t take that for granted. He’s given up at least a run in three of his last four relief appearances.
Like I said, the Mariners will probably find some way to get blown out, but this line is terrible.