Eleven games are on tap for today because Mother Nature decided that it wasn’t right that there was not an afternoon game today. That’s why the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins will play two at Target Field in a day/night double dip. As far as the rest of the schedule, there are 10 games under the light and we’ll take a look at the ones that should hold some value as the season starts to wind down. There are only 11 days of games left for the 2016 regular season.
The way things are going, I’m not sure I’ll miss it, but the playoffs will be a chance to wipe the slate clean and pretend like it’s not all completely random. The Mariners won in extras over Toronto to send the Blue Jays into the off day with a loss. It became a Home Run Derby at the Trop, so the under had no chance. Let’s just move forward to Thursday and hope that we get on the right side of variance one of these days.
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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.
New York (AL) at Tampa Bay (-130); Total: 8
This is quite an interesting handicap. Luis Cessa goes for the Yankees against Blake Snell for the Rays. I have a hard time making the Rays a favorite over anybody right now. They are 8-11 in September in a spot where I really thought that they would be able to have success playing spoiler. To be fair, they are 30-33 in the second half with a +44 run differential, so things have not gone as they should.
Cessa is making his seventh start for the Yankees and he’s been okay in those starts, but he’s fallen victim to the long ball. He’s given up nine home runs over his last five starts, including three in 5.2 innings against Tampa Bay early last week. Cessa doesn’t miss bats, but he also doesn’t issue walks. I’d be worried that this is Tampa’s third look at him in about 41 days and they’ve had success both times. That’s not necessarily predictive by any means, but young pitchers can have a hard time adjusting because they don’t know how to pitch. They don’t know how to use pitches in different counts and change things up. Maybe the game will be called from the dugout. I don’t know. But that’s my worry here.
On the other side, the Yankees have had issues with lefties all season long and Blake Snell just happens to use his left hand. Snell has a 3.87 ERA with a 3.50 FIP and a 4.44 xFIP on the season. The xFIP is pretty misleading since he’s never given up home runs and it assumes a league average HR/FB%, which Snell will never have. So don’t let that worry you. That’s also a lesson for other pitchers with low ERA, high xFIP stat lines.
The problem for Snell is that he’s not efficient. This is his 18th start and he’s only worked 81.1 innings because he walks too many guys and runs up high pitch counts with strikeouts. Snell’s stuff is too good. He’s throwing a lot of pitches in the strike zone, but hitters don’t change the ones outside the zone. His chase rate is only 27.4 percent, which is extremely low for a guy with stuff like this.
I’d have to lean Yankees here, just because I don’t think the Rays deserve to be favored by this much against anybody right now, especially not a team still in the postseason hunt, but it’s not a strong look.
Detroit (-140) at Minnesota; Total: 8
I have to expect Detroit to put their “A” lineup into the game for the nightcap. They should be able to beat Pat Dean with some guys having a rest for the first game. This is the one that they need to have all hands on deck for, even though staff ace Justin Verlander is pitching. He’ll have to duel with Ervin Santana.
Verlander owns a 3.22 ERA with a 3.61 FIP and a 3.93 xFIP during what has been his best season since 2013. He’s got over a strikeout per inning and his only problem has been the long ball, but he’s mostly managed it well. Santana has also had a fine season for the Twins with his 3.38 ERA and 3.80 FIP. He had a tough first half, but he’s held opposing batters to a .225/.289/.343 slash in the second half and has a 2.56 ERA.
With a long day on tap at the ballpark, I have to think we get the under in this nightcap. I realize that the Tigers should put their best lineup in there, but Santana has been extremely good of late and both managers will push the starters a little bit deeper with the doubleheader.
Pittsburgh (-110) at Milwaukee; Total: 9
Ryan Vogelsong makes another start for the Pirates as they take on Chase Anderson and the Brewers. Vogelsong is what he is. He’s an innings eater and they aren’t particularly great innings, but he’s keeping any additional strain away from Pittsburgh’s young arms. The innings have gotten progressively worse from Vogelsong, though. He’s given up 22 runs over his last 17.2 innings of work and the location of his pitches has been awful. He’s not giving them up in bunches with home runs, although he has given up four of those, but he’s giving up a lot of hits and free baserunners.
On the other side, Chase Anderson is getting better. Anderson hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since June 28. In that span, Anderson has a 3.27 ERA with some ugly peripherals and an unsustainably high strand rate, but he’s pitching out of jams and keeping his team in the ballgame. Those are obviously two good things. His 86.7 percent strand rate is pretty crazy, but he’s become a pretty extreme fly ball guy and you can carry a high LOB% when you give up runs via dingers (10 in 63.1) and induce inning-ending fly balls.
So, given Vogelsong’s struggles, I’d look at the Brewers here. There’s really not much to like on the card tonight, so this is the closest thing to a play.