There are 11 games here on Monday to kick off the second-to-last week of the Major League Baseball regular season. With only 13 days left in the season, we know what to expect. Favorites will be priced heavily and underdogs will carry value, just like they have. It’s still tough to back a team with nothing to play for in hopes that they decide to be invested in the game. It’s become like betting the end of the NBA regular season. We do have some very interesting lines out there in the market today, as oddsmakers brace for a big handle on Monday Night Football and some more baseball interest.
Looking back at Sunday’s results, it was more of the same. Not many things went right and the focus now shifts to Monday. We’ll put it in the past and move on.
If you don’t already have an account at BetDSI, head on over there and take advantage of the BANG10 promo code. New signups will get a $10 free bet and also a 50 to 100 percent deposit bonus based on the amount of initial deposit. Consider making an account for our forums and chat with like-minded sports betting enthusiasts. Compare picks, compare notes, lament losses, and celebrate wins with other handicappers all in one fun and friendly environment.
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.
Boston (-125) at Baltimore; Total: 9
The Red Sox are coming down from a sweep of the New York Yankees that effectively ended their playoff hopes. The Orioles scored a huge win as Wade Miley finally looked like a competent pitcher against the Tampa Bay Rays. In this spot, Baltimore looks like a really juicy home dog.
Rick Porcello is definitely a Cy Young candidate with that magic 20-win mark that voters over the age of 55 are worried about and a 3.12 ERA. He’s been terrific all year long and has been especially good in the second half with a 2.44 ERA and a .193/.219/.308 slash. He’s got a 70/8 K/BB ratio since the All-Star Break. But, the Orioles don’t walk a whole lot anyway. That’s where Porcello’s 21 HR allowed start to creep in. He’s been better about the homers of late, but Baltimore’s claim to fame is the long ball. If they can scratch out a couple here against Porcello, I think they’ll be in good shape.
Dylan Bundy may be starting to show signs of fatigue. Over his last six starts, Bundy has a 28/19 K/BB ratio, with five of those starts coming against AL East foes. Only one of those last six starts has met the requirements for a quality start. Bundy has allowed 20 runs on 34 hits in his last 29 innings. With his 99.2 innings this season, that’s more than Bundy has thrown in the last three seasons combined.
I really wanted to fire on Baltimore here because there wound up being a decent situational spot here. Boston got to Baltimore very late after that sweep. They’re up three in the division now, so there’s a bit of margin for error. Unfortunately, I just can’t do it with the way that Bundy is pitching. This is a pass game.
Washington (-125) at Miami; Total: 8.5
In between listening to CJ Nitkowski spew bullshit about the Indians stealing signs during Saturday’s game, the former MLB pitcher was talking about the difficulties of bullpen games on the opposing offense because they’re seeing a different arm slot and angle just about every inning. That’s a storyline here in this one between the Nationals and the Marlins. Wei-Yin Chen makes his first start since July for the Marlins against AJ Cole for the Nationals.
Because the minor league seasons are done, Chen hasn’t had anywhere to make any rehab starts. He’ll be kept to a low pitch count and efficiency wasn’t exactly a strong suit for him earlier this season. That means that the Marlins will have to dig deep into the bullpen early and often for this one. It’s hard to determine how teams will react to that situation. Despite what Nitkowski said, and what the results were in that game, I don’t think there’s anything definitive on how it affects opposing offenses. You can also make a case that it’s very hard for a lot of pitchers to all do their jobs effectively.
AJ Cole hasn’t had much fly ball luck in his five starts. His peripherals are terrific and he’s struck out over a batter per inning, but the long ball has been his downfall. He just had his first start without allowing a home run, so maybe that’s a step in the right direction. Miami isn’t a great offensive park, even with the fences in a little bit, so this isn’t a bad fit for Cole. He’s given up some home runs at the Triple-A level, too, so the Nationals may just have to deal with it.
Washington is in a tough spot in my mind. They’re up four on the Dodgers for home field in the NLDS. They won’t catch the Cubs. They’re up eight in the division. I really feel like there are chances for them to take days off here as we keep moving along. I’d lean Washington, given that I don’t expect much from Chen and this is the best park factor Cole has pitched in, but it’s not particularly strong.
St. Louis (-110) at Colorado; Total: 11.5
All of the sudden, the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves on the outside looking in for the postseason and the Mets have the best schedule of the bunch. The Cardinals hit up Coors Field for a three-game set with Carlos Martinez against Tyler Anderson. This is a pretty good pitching matchup here, as Martinez is one of the game’s most underrated hurlers and Anderson is a ground ball specialist from the left-hand side, which is an awful fit for the Cardinals.
Martinez has pitched to contact a little bit more this season, but he’s been very effective doing it. He’s got a 3.15 ERA with a 3.68 FIP and a 3.88 xFIP. There are a couple of weird things about his home/road splits, including a 17.1 percent HR/FB% at home and a 3.3 percent HR/FB% on the road. I don’t really get that, since Busch Stadium is a fairly neutral park. Martinez has been a little bit inconsistent lately. Two starts ago, he walked a season-high five in six innings against the Reds. The following start, he only struck out one against the Brewers. The next start, he struck out nine and didn’t walk anybody against the Cubs. Strikeouts are very important at Coors Field, as we all know. His strikeout totals have bounced around a lot. I don’t know if it’s part of the gameplan or some inconsistent mechanics, but it’s weird.
He does have a 55.8 percent ground ball rate, which is perfect because his counterpart, Tyler Anderson, has a 51.6 percent ground ball rate. That being said, Anderson’s ground ball rate has gone from 60.3 percent in June to 52.6 percent in July, to 48.9 percent in August, to 38.9 percent in September. I’m worried about that because elevating the ball more is a really bad thing at Coors. It leads me to believe that Anderson is fatigued. His velocity looks okay, but I don’t think he’s finishing his delivery and the ball is hanging high. It should come as no surprise that hitters have batted .319/.388/.489 in his two September starts.
Maybe hitters are simply adjusting as they see him for a second time. The Cardinals haven’t seen him yet, so there’s no adjustment to make. If my assessment of Anderson is right, I like the Cardinals here. You can make a case for the under with two ground ball guys on the mound as well. If I had more confidence in myself right now, I could give a more definitive answer, but those are the options here.
Houston (-120) at Oakland; Total: 8.5
Brad Peacock and Jharel Cotton are the listed starters for this one. Houston did what it needed to do by winning the series in Seattle, but time is running out. We’ve seen some really good teams, including Texas, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Toronto all lose series in Oakland already this season. It’s just not a good place to play. Boston scored a ton of runs out there, but they’ve been the exception among AL teams. Houston has also lost a series in Oakland.
The Astros need these games. We’ve seen Oakland suddenly hit the cover off of the ball with all of their expectations gone. All of those games came on the road. The A’s scored 65 runs on the seven-game road trip that they just completed. Will the offense carry over to home? Probably not. Oakland has scored 3.5 runs per game at home and 4.6 runs per game on the road. A big reason why is because they have some good power, but a lot of low-average hitters. That’s not conducive to run scoring at home.
Brad Peacock hasn’t really shown the ability to get MLB hitters out in his 248.2 career innings of work. He is coming off of a solid start against the Rangers, but it is hard to trust him here. The market has been, however, as the only move on this game has been on the road chalk. That may be a fade of Jharel Cotton, who only has five strikeouts out of 48 batters so far. The Astros offense is dangerous when it can put the ball in play. Cotton had 119 K in 97.1 Triple-A innings with the Dodgers affiliate and another 36 in 38.1 innings with Oakland’s Triple-A team, but he hasn’t been able to translate that swing and miss success to the big leagues.
That makes this a tough handicap. If he flashes the swing and miss stuff, the Astros could struggle. He’s faced two good contact lineups in the Royals and Angels thus far. Houston is a much different type of team. Also, Cotton may need some run support and the A’s haven’t given any arm run support at home.
I’d lean against the grain with Oakland, just because we’ve seen teams struggle at O.co, especially coming off of bigger series, like Houston just had with Seattle.
Arizona at San Diego (-115); Total: 8.5
Despite Arizona’s ability to smash left-handed pitching and San Diego’s inability to hit right-handed pitching, the Diamondbacks are a dog here. This is a really tough spot for the Padres. Teammate Yangervis Solarte’s wife’s battle with cancer just ended and baseball has fully taken a back seat. Now that the team is back at home, Solarte and his three daughters are the chief focus.
Obviously, this isn’t the way I want to talk about this game and it’s an awful situation all around. All I’m going to say is that baseball isn’t very important for the Padres right now. You can do whatever you want with that.
Toronto at Seattle (-110); Total: 8.5
Marco Estrada and Taijuan Walker have both had their issues here lately. As we expected, Estrada is still hurt. According to reports from last week, Estrada is pitching with a herniated disc in his back. There’s a reason he has a .274/.345/.460 slash against in September and a 5.47 ERA in the second half. This is more than just regression on his BABIP. There’s no way to back a pitcher with a bad back. We often think of arm injuries and things like that, but, mechanically, everything needs to be fluid. It won’t be. Remember all the issues RA Dickey had with the neck and back pain? Now think about it throwing pitches that actually put strain on the body.
Taijuan Walker threw a shutout with 11 strikeouts last time out against the Angels. I talked prior to that start about the mechanics changes that Walker was making. It seems clear that he embraced those adjustments and they worked very well for him. It’ll be interesting to see if Walker will be able to sustain those changes.
Based solely on the Estrada injury situation, I’m willing to roll the dice on Walker here. It sucks for the Blue Jays to make a west coast trip this late in the season when they’re already tired. It’s Seattle or nothing.