There’s Major League Baseball today. I assume you remembered that in the back of your mind, but with everybody’s focus on the NFL, it’s hard to remember that the MLB season is still going somewhat strong. There are 15 more games here today, including the classic four-hour Sunday Night Baseball game between the Yankees and the Red Sox. We’ll take a deep dive into today’s card and see if we can uncover some winners to help build that bankroll.
There were a lot of one-run decisions yesterday and we were on the wrong side of them with leans on the Tigers, White Sox, and Mariners. The only concrete play was Philadelphia and the Phillies were a solid 8-0 winner as a short home favorite. It’s pretty clear to be that the randomness and volatility has been cranked up even more here in the month of September. It’s another September where I’m just terrible at this. It’s getting harder to write this article every day, and hopefully you’re still reading, but take the advice with a grain of salt. It’s a learning experience for all of us and I humbly apologize for the bad results. I’ll never shy away from it or make excuses. There aren’t any to make. Hopefully things turn around soon.
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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 Kansas City (-115); Total: 8
In the interest of time, we’ll bounce ahead an hour to the 2:15 p.m. ET first pitch between the White Sox and Royals. The Royals scored a win yesterday in Jason Vargas’s return, which surprised me because I really figured that they’d be a good fade the rest of the way. They probably will be, although there may be some sort of sad rallying cry to finish .500 or better.
Whatever the case, we’ve got a good pitching matchup here between Jose Quintana and Danny Duffy. I didn’t realize it, but the White Sox are actually tied for ninth in wOBA against lefties, so they’ve really climbed up the rankings in that category. The Royals are 17th in wOBA against lefties. Neither offense impresses me, but I was surprised to see those splits.
In any event, there aren’t your run-of-the-mill lefties. It’s a Sunday day game late in the year after a night game and I’d be surprised to see either one of these teams engaged. With nothing to play for, this could be one of those games where the lineups look a little bit different. I would hope that both managers want to see how some younger hitters fare against upper-echelon starting pitching.
With that, I have to look at the under here. Quintana never takes a start off and Duffy is having an incredible run. That should keep this game low-scoring.
St. Louis at San Francisco (-110); Total: 8
This is a pretty tricky handicap. Alex Reyes gets the start for the Cardinals against Albert Suarez for the Giants. Reyes has mostly been working out of the bullpen and he hasn’t made a start since September 2. With a prized, very important arm going in this one, I’d expect to see a little bit of a pitch count. He has worked 3.2 innings and 4.1 innings in his last two appearances, so he won’t be severely limited, but he will be under close observation.
Reyes has flashed that big strikeout potential with 34 K in 28 innings of work. He’s had some control problems at times, including six walks in 4.1 relief innings against the Cubs last time out, but the upside is there in the 22-year-old’s arm. He’s walked a lot of guys throughout the minors, but there also comes a point where young hitters are just so out of sorts that they don’t swing. The problem with a guy like Reyes, though, is that you simply don’t know. He’s a lot like Blake Snell in that regard. He can go out and dominate or he can leave after 3.2 innings with two runs allowed on three hits with five walks and six strikeouts.
I’ll say this about Reyes and other pitchers like him. They probably won’t give up a lot of runs. It’s hard to center on the ball and they’re able to pitch around those walk rates because of contact quality. Other teams just don’t make good contact. So, that’s what makes it such a hard handicap.
On the other side, you’ve got Albert Suarez, who is a five-and-fly type of guy for different reasons. His arsenal depth just isn’t there. Hitters start to pick up on things by the third time through the lineup and he needs to be replaced. But, he’s largely kept his team in the game with two or three earned runs allowed over those five innings. He gave up five in a relief appearance in Boston, but hasn’t given up more than three runs in any of his 10 starts.
I don’t know which way to go with this game. On one hand, the Cardinals hit righties very well. On the other hand, who knows how many runs they’ll need against a guy that has been fairly stingy. The under doesn’t look like a viable option either. I’ll have to pass here, but keep an eye on Reyes for the future.
Houston at Seattle (-110); Total: 8.5
I’ve been wrong a lot on Houston lately, which is frustrating. They’re a hard team to peg. They picked up another win yesterday to make it two in a row since Seattle had its eight-game winning streak snapped. The Astros are now tied for the Mariners for the wild card. It’s a big game and it’s Ariel Miranda for the M’s against Doug Fister for Houston. Fister, of course, is very familiar with pitching at Safeco Field since he was a member of the Mariners for a few seasons. He had tremendous success there. It’s probably not predictive, but it is something to keep in mind.
For a while, I felt like I had a good grasp on Doug Fister. There are some matchups that work out better for him than others. I’ve largely stayed away from him lately because he hasn’t been pitching well and he’s been facing some difficult lineups with a lot of platoon advantages. Seattle is one of those here again. They have a lot of solid left-handed bats. The thing is, you know what you’re getting from Fister more often than not. Somewhere between five and six innings and three or four earned runs allowed. Is Ariel Miranda markedly better than that?
He seemed to be getting a little bit more comfortable on the mound. He’s given up three unearned runs over his last 12 innings. Unfortunately, he doesn’t miss many bats at all. This should come as no surprise, but the Astros are batting .200/.297/.339 against “power” pitchers, which means guys in the top third of the league in strikeouts plus walks. They are batting .267/.335/.449 against “finesse” pitchers, which means guys in the bottom third in strikeouts plus walks. Miranda would fall into that category.
When the Astros aren’t overpowered, they can hit. This seems like a place where they can hit Miranda. From a side standpoint, I’m leaning Astros, but I certainly understand those that want to roll with the over. Miranda does issue some walks and there’s been a lot of contact. There’s been some weak aerial contact, which has kept his hit count and BABIP low, but I think Houston can have some success here.
Los Angeles (NL) (-135) at Arizona; Total: 9.5
A couple of lefties get together here with Jose De Leon against Robbie Ray. There are two ways to play this game. The under or the Diamondbacks. That’s it. The Dodgers cannot hit lefties. They are dead last in wOBA at .275, which is eight points worse than the Phillies and 14 points worse than the Braves. Their 71 wRC+ is also the worst in the league. Robbie Ray is a pretty good one as well.
The question you have to ask here is whether or not the Diamondbacks will hit Jose De Leon. De Leon has shown plus-plus stuff in his two starts, which is exactly what he did throughout his minor league career as well. He’s had some command problems with some home runs, but almost all young pitchers do when they step up a level. The raw stuff is really special.
As far as I’m concerned, I think one of the Diamondbacks or the under is a winner, so you’re freerolling on the +125 price. There’s also a decent chance that both win, since the Dodgers are awful against lefties.
New York (AL) at Boston (-185); Total: 9.5
Purely from a price standpoint, there’s probably value on New York, but it does seem like their playoff hopes are gradually slipping away.
Boston plays at night in Baltimore tomorrow. The Yankees are off. There are no good situational spots here for Monday.