There are only three more Thursdays in the MLB season, so these tricky getaway day handicaps will soon be a thing of the past. Well, until next season anyway. We’ve got 10 games on the docket for today, with two afternoon matchups and then a bunch of nighttime action. It will be very interesting to see what happens with these lines over the final two weeks of the season with so many teams in the wild card hunt and several teams with awful records in each league. While we start to consider the future, we dig deep in the present to find some good values for September 15.
Checking back with yesterday’s action, the Cubs surprised me by putting out a full lineup and now they can clinch against the Brewers at home tonight. The Phillies were a winner and they’re now a short favorite today, so we were right on the money with that analysis yesterday. Milwaukee did get a nice and easy win, as they scored a touchdown and kicked the extra point in a 7-0 blanking of the Reds. The Indians rallied and won big with five good innings from Josh Tomlin to set the tone and a Coco Crisp (!!) no-doubter for insurance. I apologize for yesterday’s Seattle vs. Anaheim line. With the Angels pitching change, I was looking at an odds screen with the line pre-Chacin. The Mariners won as a huge favorite. My mistake on the bad line. Honest mistake, not posting some unavailable line like some people in the industry do.
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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.
Cleveland (-160) at Chicago (AL); Total: 10
I know I said to fade the Indians last night and today and you should make a profit, but I didn’t realize it was James Shields today. Scratch that idea. That being said, I will be intrigued to see the Indians lineup for today. They open a huge weekend set with Detroit at home starting tomorrow night. It’s a good day to get some guys a blow. I think that might be the case.
Tampa Bay at Baltimore (-135); Total: 9
I understand why people are flocking to fade Yovani Gallardo, who has been positively awful for the Orioles. He has a 5.44 ERA with a 5.25 FIP and a 5.37 xFIP. As much as I love Blake Snell and his potential, it’s hard to overlook how he has pitched around all of those walks and the fact that he hasn’t worked at least six innings in five of his last six starts. He throws a ton of pitches. He misses a ton of bats, too, so there’s that, but he’s not efficient at all. In three of his last four starts, he hasn’t made it out of the third inning. All it takes for Baltimore to seize control of this game is a couple walks and a three-run bomb.
This is Baltimore’s first look at Blake Snell, so he may be able to have some success as a result. There seems to be a segment of people out there fading the Orioles right now as well. In that four-horse race in the AL East, a lot of people seem to be backing Boston and Toronto. We’ll see what happens here. I think the value side has shifted to the Orioles, since the Rays haven’t really hit righties most of the season and haven’t been as impressive as I had hoped in a spoiler capacity. Gallardo has held his own in three starts against Tampa, which isn’t a big enough sample size to be predictive, but I think it speaks more to how the Rays have such a hard time with righties.
I’d have to look Orioles here, but it’s a strong look.
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia (-110); Total: 8.5
A much stronger look is this matchup between the Pirates and the Phillies. It’s pretty clear to me that the Pirates are done. They’ve lost five of their last seven games to the Reds and the Phillies. This is a team with nothing left to play for and three straight years of a lot of meaningful baseball has now come to an end.
Chad Kuhl has been a mediocre pitcher at the big league level and owns a 4.09 ERA with a 4.46 FIP and a 4.82 xFIP. This is about what we should have expected if we extrapolated his minor league numbers to the big leagues. You can only get so far on great control, which Kuhl has. His low K rates in the minors weren’t going to translate well to the big leagues and they have not. He’s actually been a little banged up, so this is his first start in 10 days.
Jerad Eickhoff is a guy that I really like and a guy that I’ve looked to back in a lot of spots. Today, he’s a favorite, but he deserves it. He’s quietly a three-win pitcher per fWAR this season with a 3.73 ERA, a 3.97 FIP, and a 4.27 xFIP. As I mentioned last week, he worked almost 185 innings last season, so this year’s workload isn’t a big worry for me. He’s actually been better in the second half, so he’s getting stronger as the season goes along. Pete Mackanin’s team is still playing hard. We can’t say the same for Clint Hurdle’s.
The Phillies are the play here.
New York (AL) at Boston (-115); Total: 8.5
Isn’t this a fascinating line? Eduardo Rodriguez is a short favorite at Fenway Park against Masahiro Tanaka. This series will dictate a lot for both teams and it’s a four-gamer that culminates in Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. The first thing I need to mention here is that the Yankees are 25th in wOBA against left-handed pitching at .299, so they haven’t hit lefties all season long. The second thing I need to mention is that Eduardo Rodriguez’s full-season numbers are misleading.
Rodriguez’s season started with a delay because of a knee injury and it showed when his MLB season started. Since his recall on July 16, Rodriguez has a 2.76 ERA and a 3.84 FIP over his 58.2 innings of work. He does have some signs of regression with a .226 BABIP and an 80.6 LOB%, but he’s missed a lot of barrels in this span. Of these 10 starts, he’s only allowed more than three runs on one occasion. In that game, he lost his release point and walked four of the 20 batters he’s put on in this span. I just wanted to point out that because he got knocked around early in the year, it doesn’t mean that he’s had a bad season.
Masahiro Tanaka has had an excellent season. This is exactly the type of game that the Yankees were willing to pay up for. The right-hander has been remarkably consistent with batted ball data in his career, even though his strikeout rate hasn’t been able to match his rookie season. That’s why he has a 3.04 ERA with a 3.22 FIP and a 3.49 xFIP. He induces a lot of ground balls and weak aerial contact. His pop up rate is the best of his career, so that makes up for the drop in punchouts. He’s also gotten stronger in the second half, with a 67/9 K/BB ratio in his last 69.2 innings of work.
Rather than look at a side here, I’m going to do something rare and take a Yankees/Red Sox under at Fenway Park. I won’t take the under on the length of time this game takes to play, but I do think both starters can have success in what should be a playoff-like atmosphere in Beantown.
If somebody other than Jimmy Nelson was pitching for the Brewers, I’d take them as tonight’s underdog play to spoil the party for the Cubs. If the Cubs do win tonight, though, look for a massive letdown spot on Friday. It’s an early day game after the party runs deep into the night. I’d take the Brewers on the early overnight lines before this game is even played to get some big line value. It’ll move probably 25 to 30 cents, if not more, if the Cubs win. BetOnline usually opens next-day baseball around 4 or 5. That’ll be a bad number to pick off if you have an account there.
The Royals are 24-7 against the White Sox and Twins this season, so that makes them 50-64 against everybody else. They’re laying a pretty big price against Oakland tonight. That’s probably the underdog play of the night.