There are only 15 days left in the MLB regular season, which is probably a good thing given how the year is wrapping up. With so much going on, it’s getting tougher to focus on baseball and the betting lines are tough to bet into at this stage of the game. With pitching changes and strange lineups, it’s becoming harder and harder to get a good feel for games, as evidenced by recent results. We’ll keep looking at the MLB card, but there’s no shame in shutting it down at this point of the season.

God knows I should. Friday was another really disappointing day. The Marlins lost in extra innings. The under pushed in Baltimore, though it looked like a loser early on. The White Sox won, but the Astros lost and the Giants offense woke up. It’s getting extremely frustrating to keep getting these results and my September struggles have continued. If you want to just take the opposite side from this point forward, I understand.

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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.

Detroit at Cleveland (-140); Total: 8

There’s a ton of rain in the forecast throughout the day in Cleveland, so we’ll see what happens with this game and whether or not the starters get yanked early because of the conditions. In any event, if this game goes anything like last night’s, Cleveland is the side. The Tigers defense made two enormous miscues that directly led to three runs and they looked like an exasperated team on the verge of mailing it in. Aside from Justin Upton lining up two Corey Kluber pitches, the offense did nothing.

This is the type of game where you want Justin Verlander on the mound. He’s been excellent this season with a 3.36 ERA, a 3.64 FIP, and a 3.91 xFIP. He’s struck out 216 in 200 innings. It’s been a very impressive year for him and I have to think that he’ll be fired up for this start, which is effectively Detroit’s last stand. The Tigers could very well be four out in the wild card and they would be eight out in the division if the Indians win today.

Carlos Carrasco has had command issues at times this season. He’s given up at least four runs in four of his last six starts and hasn’t really been all that sharp. Money came in on the Indians from the opener of -125, which I’m not entirely sure I agree with. I guess the thought process here is that the Indians are going to have a killer instinct to finish this thing off. I fully expect Verlander to pitch well. I can’t say the same about Carrasco.

I’d tentatively go against the money here and take Detroit, but it’s not a strong play.

Miami at Philadelphia (-110); Total: 8

I expected more from the Marlins on Friday night. That loss effectively ended their playoff chances in my mind. They can’t afford to lose games like that. They fell five back and have to leapfrog St. Louis to get closer. Jose Urena is one of baseball’s worst starting pitchers, so this really isn’t a great spot for the Fish. They’ll get their swings against Jeremy Hellickson.

Urena has pitched quite well lately, with two runs or less allowed in four of his last five starts, including a near complete game against the Dodgers last time out. I’m not buying it at all. He’s faced Pittsburgh, San Diego, the Mets, the Phillies, and the Dodgers, who were in the midst of a brutal road trip. The Phillies had the best showing against him in that span and they get another crack at him again today.

Jeremy Hellickson is pitching for a multi-year deal and he should get one after a 2.7-fWAR season. He’s got a 3.76 ERA with a 4.08 FIP and a 4.01 xFIP. Hellickson has been Philadelphia’s most consistent starter most of the season and there’s something to be said about that. He’s cut back on the home runs in the second half and has actually gotten stronger as the season has gone on.

I’ll take the Phillies today. The Marlins just don’t seem to have much left in the tank after being a surprising contender for a while.

Chicago (AL) at Kansas City (-115); Total: 9

Give me the White Sox today. Miguel Gonzalez really impressed me last time out. As I’ve mentioned, he’s given up 20 of his 49 earned runs in three of his 20 starts. He’s got a 3.82 ERA and a 3.79 FIP even with those two really awful starts and one pretty terrible start on his resume. It’s been a really strong season for Gonzalez and the Royals are done. They have given up on the season and they’re a team to fade over the next couple of weeks. They’ve played a lot of baseball over the last two seasons and the tank is empty.

Jason Vargas is back in the big leagues to make his first start since he had to undergo Tommy John surgery. He was terrible in his minor league starts, so why expect anything different here?

St. Louis at San Francisco (-125); Total: 7.5

The Cardinals and the Giants continue their weekend set with a matchup of underwhelming righties. It’ll be Mike Leake against Jeff Samardzija. Leake has not had any sequencing luck this season, which is why he has a 4.60 ERA. Leake has regularly posted good LOB% rates, but this season, he’s at 66.1 percent. You would think there would have been some variance there, but there really hasn’t been, and that may be a mechanical problem from the stretch. It’s not like the Cardinals are a horrible defensive team. So, as we look at Leake, he’s very unpredictable. If he gets outs in leverage situations, he’s fine. If he doesn’t, like most pitchers, he gets shelled. I don’t like playing on or against starters with razor-thin margins because of that fact alone.

The same thing can be said about Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija started the season really well, but has an ERA north of 5.00 since the end of May. He’s pitched a little bit better here of late, but he’s still a wild card and I don’t know what to expect. If I had to do anything with this game, it would be the over, since I think it’s more likely that both pitchers struggle than anything else. It’s not a strong lean, however.

Houston at Seattle (-125); Total: 8

Collin McHugh stepped up in a big way for Houston and they scored a huge win over Seattle to stop the Mariners’ eight-game winning streak and deliver a big blow in the wild card hunt. It’ll be Mike Fiers against James Paxton today for another big one. I’ve talked a lot about Fiers this season, a pitcher that I don’t really respect a whole lot. He’s just a guy that doesn’t impress me. He has a 4.64 ERA with a 4.65 FIP in his first full AL season and that’s not surprising at all. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get a handle on when he’ll be bad and when he’ll be decent.

Home runs have been the biggest issue and Safeco Field is a decent park for pitchers, even though it’s not the fly ball graveyard that it used to be. Surprisingly, Fiers has been horrendous on the road and much better at home. I really can’t trust him in this spot. The Mariners have been playing exceptionally well and I don’t think one setback will faze them all that much. Seattle should be able to have success here, since hitters from both sides are swinging it well against Fiers.

The question is whether or not James Paxton can step up. Paxton has had very little batted ball and sequencing luck this season. He has a 3.97 ERA with a 3.02 FIP and a 3.55 xFIP. He has a 65.8 percent LOB% and a .354 BABIP against. He’s struggled a little bit here recently, with some really ugly LOB% rates. The one thing I like about Paxton here is that he keeps the ball in the park. The Astros have some good power up and down the lineup, but Paxton should neutralize some of it.

If I had to go one way in this one, it would be the Mariners. It’s not a strong play, but it’s a bit stronger of a lean than the last game.