MLB schedule today has 2 games
For about six innings, the Phillies at plus money looked like a great bet in Game 2, but the Braves battled back to even the series 1-1 and feel better about themselves for the travel day on Tuesday. The Dodgers do not feel better about themselves and face the prospects of elimination in tomorrow’s Game 3 at Chase Field.
But, today is all about the AL series, as the Rangers can close out the Orioles and the Twins and Astros play a huge Game 3 that will swing the balance of the series one way or the other. We might have all four games to write about tomorrow for the final time in the series, but today’s focus is much smaller.
VSiN Daily Baseball Bets will be out shortly.
Here are some thoughts on the October 10 card (odds from DraftKings):
(odds as of 8:45 a.m. PT)
I talked yesterday on VSiN Daily Baseball Bets about how I found it interesting that the Astros were still favored for the series. After manager Dusty Baker came out and said that the Astros likely wouldn’t use Justin Verlander on short rest in Game 4, it got me thinking even more about Minnesota. The Twins are +100 at DraftKings and the Astros are -120 as we head into Game 3.
Cristian Javier and Sonny Gray are the listed starters here. Houston’s starting pitching depth is very much a concern, as the Twins are sending out a top-five Cy Young candidate and the Astros are sending out a guy who spent all year trying to find the success that he had in previous seasons.
Javier might have a better chance of finding it here because of how much the Twins strike out, but his issues ran a lot deeper than his depressed K%. His K% was a big story, though, as it fell from 33.2% last season to 23.1% this season. That precipitous drop in K% sent his LOB% from 83.6% down to 71.8%. He saw a 4.6% increase in Hard Hit%, yet he was still well below the league average at 37.9%. His Barrel% also jumped 2.2% to 9.4%, which is where my concerns would lie in this game.
Javier is a fly ball guy and we know that the playoff environment is homer-heavy and that is a huge part of Minnesota’s arsenal. Through it all, Javier had a 4.56 ERA with a 4.48 xERA and a 4.58 FIP. He also had a 1.1 mph drop in average fastball velo. This is one of those situations where it is possible he could reach back for more and that might make him more effective.
He also had big home/road splits, pitching to a 3.71 ERA and a .307 wOBA in 68 innings at home, but a 5.17 ERA with a .323 wOBA in 94 innings on the road. He allowed 18 of his 25 homers on the road. But, he may catch a break tonight, because it is cold in Minneapolis with afternoon temps only reaching the mid-50s. The ball carries better in heat and humidity, two things not present in the Twin Cities today. The wind is blowing out a bit to right center, though.
Gray worked five shutout frames in his Wild Card start with six strikeouts, a couple walks, and a wild pitch. He only allowed five hits. He posted a 2.79 ERA with a 3.69 xERA and a 2.83 FIP during the regular season over 184 innings of work. The right-hander held righties to a .220/.277/.303 slash with a .258 wOBA in 395 plate appearances, which certainly factors in against a right-handed-heavy Astros lineup, much like it did against a right-handed-heavy Jays one.
Gray only allowed eight homers over the course of the season, so those were few and far between and lefties only posted a .284 wOBA, so he fared well in that split also. He was also better at home, pitching to a .264 wOBA over 97.2 innings of work with a 2.67 ERA and a 2.60 FIP. This really doesn’t look like a good pitching matchup for the Astros.
Both bullpens are rested following the off day, so all hands are on deck here. I’m just not sure that I want to get invested at -135 or so. I do like Gray and I do question Javier, but the Twins did strike out at the highest rate in baseball this season by a large margin and the weather may not be conducive for getting those fly balls to carry. It’s a stay-away for me as of now, but let’s see where the line goes.
The Orioles send Dean Kremer to the hill with their season on the line and Texas counters with Nathan Eovaldi. The Rangers have some margin for error here, as they’ve gone 4-0 so far in the postseason and have outscored the opposition 25-11. The Orioles did score eight runs in Game 2, including five off of Jordan Montgomery, but the huge hole dug by rookie Grayson Rodriguez and relievers Bryan Baker and Jacob Webb was too much to overcome.
Kremer is in a tough spot here, not only with where the series is, but also as an Israeli-American who has family in Israel. With everything going on in the country, there is no doubt that it will be on his mind, but manager Brandon Hyde had a chat with him and was ready to give him the ball in this elimination game.
More than that situation, which is obviously much greater than baseball, Kremer is just a pretty average pitcher on the whole. He finished this season with a 4.12 ERA, 4.96 xERA, and a 4.51 FIP in 172.2 innings of work. However, the basic numbers don’t really tell the whole story, as he badly struggled to a 4.78 ERA and a .348 wOBA against in the first half over 98 innings with 20 homers allowed. In the second half, Kremer only allowed a .277 wOBA and just seven homers while posting a 3.25 ERA over 74.2 innings.
He had a terrible April and a similarly bad June, but was good in the second half and that’s the Kremer that the Orioles are hoping to see in this one. This is a tough assignment against a Texas bunch that seems to be playing very loose at this point in time. Manager Bruce Bochy just seems to know how to whip up the magic sauce come playoff time.
I was extremely surprised with Eovaldi’s Wild Card start, as he went 6.2 outstanding innings with one run on six hits and eight strikeouts against zero walks. Eovaldi came back on September 5 from injury and posted a 9.30 ERA with a 7.88 FIP over six starts with 21 runs allowed on 26 hits in 20.1 innings of work. He allowed seven runs in his final start against Seattle and 12 runs in 8.1 innings against Seattle leading into the playoffs before shutting down the dangerous Rays.
The 6.2 innings were also a shocker, as Eovaldi had maxed out at five innings and 86 pitches in his six September starts, but he mostly cruised through his 98 pitches in that Rays outing. He allowed a little bit of hard contact, but also generated 16 whiffs in 53 swings.
The narrative in this series seems to be that the young Orioles just aren’t ready for this kind of spotlight. I disagree. They lost a close Game 1 and a rookie starter in Rodriguez just didn’t locate in Game 2. What does hurt Baltimore is the loss of Felix Bautista, who set up every bullpen role by being one of the game’s most dominant closers. What also hurts is that the Rangers have gone on runs like this during the season and happen to be on one now. If they had caught the Rangers of late August, this would be a different story.
I don’t have a bet in this game either on side or total, as I just don’t see anything that I really like. The Orioles will manage this game very aggressively, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Kremer get bounced at the first sign of trouble. There is no tomorrow, so all hands have to be on deck. Meanwhile, I think Eovaldi will have a longer leash.
I lean towards Orioles Over 1.5 Runs in the 1st 5, but the juice is pretty cost-prohibitive there at -160. I’m not ready to say Eovaldi is fixed because of that Rays start. He was pretty bad coming into the postseason while trying to get back on track.
If you have DraftKings or something like it, Both Teams to Score 1+ Runs in the 1st 3 Innings is +115. I don’t think that’s a bad bet. This is a huge spot for Kremer, who is untested in this environment and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him or Eovaldi struggle in the early going. Kremer hasn’t pitched since September 28, so that’s a very long layoff. Eovaldi actually allowed eight homers the first time through the order and a .329 wOBA, both the highest of any split.
I won’t officially track that bet because I’m not sure it’s available to everybody, but that would be about the only thing that interests me here.