Rain robbed us of one game on Saturday and it’s threatening to do the same on Sunday. So far, the MLB playoffs have gotten off to a rocky start with weather and none of them were even played in areas affected by Hurricane Matthew. In any event, we’ve got all day playoff baseball scheduled for today to combat Week 5 of the NFL slate. Let’s see what the games may have in store for bettors here on October 9.
Looking back to yesterday, the Cubs won 5-2 over the Giants, but lost Kyle Hendricks to a bruised forearm in the process after he got hit by a comebacker. The Giants offense faltered once again and the Cubs head west with a 2-0 series lead to face Madison Bumgarner with a chance to end the series. The Dodgers and Nationals were rained out.
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Here is a repost from yesterday’s Dodgers/Nationals analysis, with an extra update added at the end:
Los Angeles (NL) (-115) at Washington; Total: 7.5
The Dodgers send Rich Hill to the hill here for this Game 2 matchup against the Washington Nationals. The Nationals will counter with Tanner Roark, who has been really solid this season. It’s another lefty for the Nationals, who are still a wounded offense. Daniel Murphy looked okay on Friday, but Bryce Harper still isn’t hitting much and the Nationals went from a positive to a negative at the catching position on offense.
This line actually looks a little bit short to me with Hill. Hill has been phenomenal over his 110.1 innings this season, posting a 2.12 ERA with a 2.39 FIP and a 3.36 xFIP. He’s struck out 129 in those innings against just 33 walks and he’s only walked five in 34.1 innings since moving over to the National League. The health concerns are still there with his blister issue, but it hasn’t been talked about very much lately. Until I see otherwise, I’ll have to assume that he’s throwing without restriction.
My guess is that we’ll see the public players backing the Dodgers here, but Tanner Roark is no slouch. Roark had a really strong season with a 2.83 ERA, a 3.79 FIP, and a 4.17 xFIP. I wouldn’t worry about the FIP or the xFIP that much in this case because Roark’s not a high-strikeout guy, which is a big component of those two stats and he also wasn’t going to post a league average HR/FB like xFIP assumes.
Roark is the biggest benefactor of new pitching coach Mike Maddux, who has a reputation of helping pitchers with their changeups. Roark went from 6.9 percent usage of the CH to 9.8 percent and it’s a great complement to his sinker, which has a similar tunnel, but falls out of the zone. Roark’s changeup went from being one run above average last season to 8.9 runs above average this season. It also helped his entire arsenal. Of the five pitches classified by PITCHf/x, all five rated above average. Lefties hit .293/.359/.507 in 225 plate appearances last season off of Roark. They batted just .213/.315/.302 this season, as he actually allowed a higher wOBA against righties (.283 to .281).
This guy is a legit arm. I really like the under in this game. There have to be some worries about Roark in his first playoff start, but his arsenal matches up very well with the Dodgers and he can neutralize some of the lefties that have had big success against RHP this season. We all know what Rich Hill is capable of. Obviously my concern is how deep these guys work into the game and how the bullpens are deployed, but I really like a position on the under with a chance to do some things with live betting if you’re following along.
Update: The rainout really makes things interesting for this series. The off day for travel is no more and these two teams play at Dodger Stadium on Monday at 4:05 p.m. ET. That will be less than a 24-hour turnaround with a cross-country flight and absolutely no time for the Nationals to get accustomed to the time change. It’s a very difficult spot for both teams, but the advantage has to go to the Dodgers in this situation. It’ll be interesting to see how the game is priced, especially because the Dodgers haven’t been able to hit lefties all year and they face one in Gio Gonzalez.
Cleveland at Boston (-135); Total: 9.5
Rain is threatening today’s game at Fenway Park, which would hurt the Indians because it would take away the potential off day for the bullpen if they are used extensively in these two potential games in Boston. Josh Tomlin is on the hill for the Indians against Clay Buchholz. You can make a case that the Indians would be road chalk if Danny Salazar or Trevor Bauer were pitching this game. Bauer would probably be about a pick ‘em or a very small dog, if you assume that 25-cent home field edge. That’s a pretty telling indicator of what oddsmakers think about Clay Buchholz.
Buchholz posted a 4.78 ERA with a 5.06 FIP and a 5.32 xFIP in his 21 starts and 16 relief appearances this season covering 139.1 innings. He returned to the rotation on September 6 and threw four solid starts and one awful start, but there are some big regression signs present. Buchholz had a 3.14 ERA with a 4.19 FIP and a 5.39 xFIP in that small sample size. He struck out 21 in 28.2 innings, but he also walked 10. He held batters to a .241 BABIP and posted an 80.5 percent strand rate. On the season, he had a 68.5 percent strand rate and a .263 BABIP against, so maybe there was some positive regression in the strand rate coming and that was it.
The Indians will be able to throw eight lefties at Buchholz here. Lefties hit .274/.363/.425 in 294 plate appearances. Righties only hit .219/.286/.410 in the same number of trips to the plate, but they hit 15 of the 21 home runs. Unlike the first two games of the series, where aggressiveness was the gameplan, the plan today is patience. We’ll see if the Indians can achieve that in a pressure-packed and hostile environment.
Josh Tomlin is obviously a pretty big worry for the Indians. He posted a 4.40 ERA with a 4.88 FIP and a 4.13 xFIP in his 174 innings this year. He gave up 36 home runs and 187 hits, so his pitch-to-contact style made it tough for him to have a ton of success. Not many parks are favorable for a guy like Tomlin, but Fenway Park is certainly a place where he could struggle in a big way. Tomlin helped himself by only walking 20 batters on the season, but hitters take a very aggressive approach.
The silver lining is that the consecutive off days for Andrew Miller and Cody Allen are really significant. The Indians can shorten this game if Tomlin can manage a few innings and a lead. Andrew Miller would be good for multiple inning and so would Allen. Dan Otero and Bryan Shaw had yesterday’s travel day off. The Red Sox have a pretty healthy bullpen as well, so that’s probably what this game will become. Live betting this game will be the way to go because you can take advantage of questionable managerial decisions and/or bad leveraging of pitchers. John Farrell has made some mistakes in this series with his bullpen and his lineup construction. Terry Francona has been great with the bullpen, but has missed some pinch hitting opportunities. Neither manager has been flawless, but Francona should leverage the pen a bit better, so that could be a factor in live betting as the game goes along.
At the current number, it’s pretty clear that Clay Buchholz doesn’t have much respect from the oddsmakers. The public will probably come in and fade Tomlin with his HR rate at Fenway, so waiting if best if you like the Tribe. We’ll see if Boston gets added to some cross-sport ML parlays or something throughout the day.
Texas at Toronto (-200); Total: 9
This series should end tonight. Contrary to JA Happ’s win-loss record, Aaron Sanchez is the best starter on this staff. Roberto Osuna looked fine in his multi-inning appearance on Friday, so the Blue Jays bullpen is in good shape. The travel day for rest certainly doesn’t hurt. Colby Lewis is the guy that will try to keep Texas’s season alive.
Lewis is an extreme fly ball guy that allowed 19 home runs in his 19 starts. He posted a 3.71 ERA with a 4.81 FIP and a 5.14 xFIP in his 116.1 innings of work. He doesn’t miss a whole lot of bats and really needs his outfield defense to be on point.
I really don’t have a whole lot to add to this game. There’s not really a side to play or any type of angle because I think Toronto wins and I don’t know if they do it 4-3 or 10-2. They could do it either way and it wouldn’t surprise me. Look for better opportunities in the NFL or in the other leagues in action today.