We’ve got a handful of games to consider on Saturday October 1, but there are a lot of games that aren’t lined here at time of writing. We’ll still dig deep into the matchups that we can, but these next two days are going to be extremely difficult to handicap. You have to basically guess whether or not teams playing for nothing this weekend are going to show up and compete. You’ll also have to be quick to capitalize on line moves when lineups come up. Fortunately, there’s a lot of football to wager on, so you don’t have to force anything on the baseball side.
Looking back to yesterday, it was a rare good day in September. The Indians, Giants, Orioles, and Red Sox all won as either leans or stronger opinions. The only game that didn’t work out was Miami and Washington. So, we flip over to October now and consider the second-to-last day of the regular season.
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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.
Cleveland (-120) at Kansas City; Total: 9
The Indians bullpen has to be excited to see Trevor Bauer out there on the mound. This group has worked a lot of innings while the Indians have cobbled together a patchwork rotation without Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. Ryan Merritt was good on Friday and the key contributors in the bullpen got to shake off the rust.
As far as today goes, the Indians should be in good shape against a Royals team with an effort level that isn’t particularly impressive. The Indians are still playing for home field advantage, so there’s some incentive for them to play well. That same spirit isn’t there for Kansas City and reality is probably setting in that the team will miss the playoffs after going to the World Series in each of the previous two seasons.
Situationally, the Indians look like a strong play here. Edinson Volquez is also limping to the finish line. Regression hit him like a ton of bricks and he has a 5.37 ERA with a 4.58 FIP and a 4.52 xFIP on the year. It’d be a surprise if he rallied here in his last start. As mentioned yesterday, the Indians got some days off for their key hitters and Francisco Lindor had a huge game on Friday. Look for something similar from the offense today.
Minnesota at Chicago (AL) (-115); Total: 9
More faux outrage from Paul Molitor and his bunch of crybabies is the big story here today. Tim Anderson watched a home run for a bit too long and the Twins, who have a history of whining and complaining during Molitor’s tenure, took the White Sox rookie to task over it. It’s sad. The Twins have lost 103 games and they have much bigger problems than a dude staring down a Yahtzee against them.
Whatever. In any event, the Twins send Hector Santiago to the mound against James Shields for this one. The Santiago experiment has been an epic failure for the Twins, as he has a 6.22 ERA, with a 6.18 FIP and a 6.27 xFIP in his 10 starts. The Twins are a terrible defensive team and Santiago is a bad pitcher, so that’s a match made in heaven, right? The White Sox have actually hit lefties really well this season and rate in the top 10 in wOBA.
James Shields has to be excited to close the book on the worst season of his professional career. Shields has a 5.82 ERA with a 6.00 FIP and a 5.25 xFIP. It’s been a really challenging year for him in a lot of ways, but he has a chance to go into the offseason on a high note against the worst team in baseball.
You have to like the White Sox here. I don’t understand the line move coming in against Chicago, even if it’s just a slight one. They hit lefties well and the Twins’ whining and bitching will keep the White Sox invested in the game.
Houston (-105) at Los Angeles (AL); Total: 8.5
This is a difficult spot for the Astros. These next two games are and we kind of saw that play out on Friday night when they got blown out 7-1 by the Angels. There’s just nothing left to play for and the team spent a lot of energy trying to get back into the Wild Card race. They just couldn’t fully get there.
Collin McHugh will put the finishing touches on his lackluster season. McHugh posted a 4.53 ERA with a 4.00 FIP and a 4.09 xFIP over his first 32 starts. He threw 32 starts last season, but worked 36.2 more innings than he has so far this year. That’s a sign of how much he has struggled and how he has failed to work deep into games. He still has some swing-and-miss upside, though, and actually struck out more batters in fewer innings this season. I would expect a good effort from him today.
Tyler Skaggs makes his last start of the 2016 season. He hasn’t pitched since September 9, so there will definitely be some rust on that left arm. The Angels southpaw missed a good chunk of the season as he completed his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Skaggs will be on a limited pitch count, so who knows what we’ll get out of him.
If I had any faith at all in the Astros hitters playing out the string, this would be an easy play. I really don’t, so this is a game to pass on for now. If the line swings one way or another, things might be a bit different.