We’ll fire up another day on the diamond bright and early today with a couple of 1:05 p.m. ET first pitches. It’s a college football Saturday, so MLB is sure to be overlooked in the betting markets, but it’s hard to tell if that has provided any value. There are certainly some games to look with reasonable lines and there are also some games with some really big favorites. There are only two more Saturdays in the regular season, so here’s what we have in mind for September 24.
Looking back to yesterday’s outcomes, the Tampa Bay Rays lost a tough one-run decision as Drew Pomeranz suddenly remembered how to be effective. The Tigers kept rolling, so that was another loser. Seattle won big and you got some line value if you played the -140 and also if you played the series price before that number shot up. The Reds/Brewers total inched over by a run as Anthony DeSclafani’s regression hit in the middle innings.
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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.
Seattle (-125) at Minnesota; Total: 9.5
We’ll go all the way down to the 7:10 p.m. first pitches for this one, as we start at Target Field. The Mariners are the side here and, as mentioned yesterday, the Mariners should sweep this series. As far as I can tell, the Twins are pretty much done. The only thing to look to avoid is 100 losses, which should happen today. The Mariners are sending Ariel Miranda to the mound and he’s gotten progressively more comfortable at the MLB level this season. He’s given up two earned runs, five total, over his last three starts covering 19 innings.
Tyler Duffey is a guy that I was dead wrong about. He has a ghastly 6.39 ERA with a 4.73 FIP in his 124 innings this season. I really liked Duffey’s makeup and liked the 10-start sample size from 2015, but I overestimated his skills. Either that or I overestimated Minnesota’s ability to develop pitching talent. Whatever the case, he’s been awful.
I see no reason for Seattle to lose this game and this price should climb throughout the day, so grab it early.
Chicago (AL) at Cleveland (-125); Total: 8.5
You could see it happening last night. Whatever spirit was left in the Chicago White Sox was breaking. When Adam Eaton ran into the center field wall with a resounding thud, it was over. The Indians cruised to a huge win and gave a much-needed night off to Bryan Shaw, Dan Otero, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen. I don’t think they’ll have that same luxury tonight with a glorified bullpen game today, but they’re a juicy favorite here.
Odds are, the White Sox just went to the casino last night and tried to enjoy their time together out on the road. This is a team with nothing to play for and they looked like it last night with some defensive lapses and half of their offense on the luckiest home run I’ve ever seen.
Even though it’s Jose Quintana on the hill today, he’s even struggled lately. He’s given up 18 runs over his last four starts. His lone good start in that stretch came against the Indians, so I’d be surprised if the Tribe hangs a big number on him, but I’d also be very surprised if the White Sox do anything offensively here. They’ll start against Cody Anderson and then face a myriad of relievers as the Tribe cobbles together another game with their starting rotation injuries.
I’d roll with the Tribe today. The urgency gets a little bit higher for the Indians if the Royals can somehow beat the Tigers this afternoon. It would give the Indians a chance to clinch the Central Division title at home tomorrow with a sweep.
Los Angeles (AL) at Houston (-135); Total: 9
Jhoulys Chacin and Brad Peacock get together in the Juice Box tonight and we’ve seen a pretty significant line movement on the Angels in this one. The Astros just can’t get it all together and they seem to be having a hard time gaining ground in the AL Wild Card hunt. Peacock is a subpar MLB pitcher, so it should come as no surprise that the market is not impressed from his last start. Peacock has a 2.86 ERA this season in 22 innings with a 5.72 FIP and a 5.05 xFIP. His career MLB numbers in 254 innings are 4.54/4.97/4.66. He had a 4.23 ERA in his 117 Triple-A innings this year.
Chacin has had back-to-back outings with one earned run allowed for his first two starts since August 21. I’m not really buying in, but there’s not a ton to like about Peacock, so the line move here makes a little bit of sense. The Angels seem to be playing out the string pretty well overall, so there’s a little bit of confidence in them.
With a line move like this, it’s hard to see value on either side. The sharp players spoke already. Do you want to go against sharp money?
Cincinnati at Milwaukee (-105); Total: 9
Taylor Jungmann isn’t going to work particularly deep into the ballgame for the Brewers, but he’s getting the start on Saturday. Jungmann has made two single-inning relief appearances in September for the Brewers and hasn’t started at the MLB level since April 28. He was shelled in that start and four of the five. This is a strange line.
Dan Straily has a 3.83 ERA with a 4.81 FIP and a 5.04 xFIP, so everybody’s going to point to the signs of regression, but we know that extreme fly ball pitchers don’t operate under the same statistical conditions that other pitchers do. Straily has issued a few too many walks and a few too many home runs, but he induces a lot of aerial contact and those tend to go for outs. It’s been a good year for Straily, who reinvented himself a little bit as a pitcher to get back to the big leagues.
Miller Park isn’t an ideal venue for an extreme fly ball guy and his walk rate isn’t particularly good against the Brewers. The Reds are just 8-13 in September and it’s tough to see them invested on a nightly basis. Initially, I wanted to fire right away on the Reds with this line, but I’m a little bit scared now. I’d lean Reds, but it’s not a strong lean and the first two plays in the write-up are much stronger.