Well, I guess if you are going to get a game wrong, you might as well get it way wrong, as you don’t get partial credit for losing close! Yesterday we came up short when we backed the Atlanta Braves as road underdogs against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Braves were swinging a hot bat coming into the series, and Tampa Bay was hitting just .181 as a team.
Although I felt we were getting the worse end of the starting pitching matchup between Mike Foltynewicz and Tyler Glasnow, I figured that the dog money price was enough to give our bet long term value. Things started out well enough, as the Braves took an early 1-0 lead, but the Rays quickly tied the game up in the bottom of the third inning, and it was all downhill from there for Atlanta.
8 runs in the 4th inning last night…
…our most in an inning since 2015 pic.twitter.com/3FTqO6hKzT
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 28, 2020
The Rays, who were averaging just over four runs a game entering play yesterday, exploded for eight runs in the fourth inning alone. This blew the game open and sent Foltynewicz to the bench. It was such a bad beating that the Braves have actually severed ties with the former All-Star pitcher, designating him for assignment after the game.
Tampa Bay played add-on from there, scoring runs in every inning from the third on, and finished with fourteen runs in the game, as many runs as they had scored in their entire first series. What can you do, sometimes you miss on a game. For today’s pick, we will look to shake off that run bad when we head to Texas for a game between the Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Arizona Diamondbacks (1-3) at Texas Rangers (1-2)
The Texas Rangers host the Arizona Diamondbacks in game one of a quick two-game set tonight, from Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Rangers lost their first series of the year, two games to one, to the Colorado Rockies, and enjoyed a rare home day off yesterday. While the pitching staff had a great series against Colorado, the bats were cold, as Texas managed just five runs in the three games.
For Arizona, they lost three out of their first four games and find themselves in last place, tied with several teams for the worst record in the Major Leagues. The DBacks have had similarly cold bats, as they managed just one home run in their first four games and are hitting just .195 as a team. Arizona needs to find a way to win a game or two in this series against Texas as their next three series are against the Dodgers, Astros, and Padres.
Starting for the Rangers tonight is Kyle Gibson (0-0 0.00 ERA), and for the DBacks, it is Merrill Kelly (0-0 0.00 ERA). The game total over/under is set at nine runs. The Rangers are small home field favorites, laying -113. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM PST.
The Arizona Diamondbacks came into this season hoping to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the upstart San Diego Padres in the National League West Division. Arizona has managed to stay healthy thus far, which in and of itself seems to be a major accomplishment at this point, but the bats aren’t swinging just yet. The most runs in any one game that they produced in their series with the Padres was four, and they scored two runs or fewer three times.
That just isn’t going to get it done out west as the DBacks have to play heavy-hitting teams like the Astros, Athletics, Angels, and Dodgers this year. If Arizona is going to snap out of this early-season funk, they need to find a way to put the bat to the ball tonight against Texas.
Merrill Kelly (0-0 0.00 ERA)
After a long tenure playing in the Minor Leagues, he was originally drafted all the way back in 2007, Merrill Kelley finally got his shot at the majors last year, making his Big League debut at the tender age of thirty. I know they say good things come to those who wait, but that wasn’t the case for Kelley, as he led the National League in losses last year with fourteen.
He finished his rookie season with a 13-14 record and a 4.42 ERA, while getting blasted for 29 home runs in 195 innings pitched. It wasn’t all bad for Kelly, though, as he finished out the season with a 4-1 record and 2.17 ERA in September, which was good enough to earn him a spot on the DBacks Opening Day roster this year. After allowing at least one home run in 20 out of his 27 starts, he finished the season by not getting taken deep in three of his final five starts, which was a major key to his late-season success.
The Rangers haven’t been as lucky as the Diamondbacks this year in terms of avoiding injuries as they lost starting catcher, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, to a hamstring injury and ace starting pitcher Cory Kluber to a sore shoulder. The loss of Kluber really limits the upside for Texas as he is expected to be out much of the regular season, and we may not see him again this year.
Despite their really slow start at the plate, this Rangers team should be a solid hitting team this year. Joey Gallo is back healthy after missing significant time last year to injury, and guys like Todd Frazier, Elvis Andrus, Shin-soo Choo, and Robinson Chirinos are all established, veteran hitters. Super prospect Nick Solak is also expected to be a problem for opposing teams at the dish, and he is one of the few guys that is hitting right now as he is slashing at a .375 clip.
Kyle Gibson (0-0 0.00 ERA)
During his time with the Minnesota Twins, Kyle Gibson served as the de facto ace on a bunch of bad, rebuilding Twins teams. He was always good for double-digit wins and a respectable ERA each season. Now that the Twins are ready to compete for a World Series championship, they moved on from Gibson, and he found a new home with the Rangers in the offseason.
The Rangers have a very underrated starting rotation, and if Gibson can produce the respectable results that he did with Minnesota, this Rangers staff would likely have the strongest number five starter in the American League. Last year, Gibson won a career-high thirteen games with a 4.84 ERA. Gibson also found a way to strike out a lot more hitters in 2019, more than he had had previously in his career, as his strikeout rate has gone up three consecutive years, and last year finished with a solid K/9 ratio of 9.0.
Who Do I Like?
Losing Cory Kluber takes this Rangers team from a sleeper World Series threat to a sleeper American League wild-card threat. But I still think this team is going to win more than their fair share of games in 2020, as they have quality players all over the field. The rotation is strong, the lineup is strong, and they just have too many veteran players to not win games this year.
It is only a matter of time until this Rangers lineup breaks out and puts a lot of runs up on the board. And I think that is what happens tonight against Merrill Kelley. Kelley struggles the most with giving up home runs, and this Rangers lineup has power up and down it. I think they tag Kelley early and often and put some crooked numbers up on the scoreboard for the first time this season.
I am very surprised that this number is such a tight one. I see the Rangers as fairly significant favorites tonight. Kyle Gibson got roughed up some last year, but that was mostly because the Twins were scoring a million runs a game, and he was content with giving up runs to get outs and coasted to a career-high in wins.
In 2018, when the Twins weren’t hitting more home runs than any team in Major League history, and Gibson had to be more aggressive, he posted a very respectable 3.62 ERA in nearly 200-innings pitched. That is much better than we ever saw out of the 30-year old rookie, Merrill Kelly, last year. I think the Rangers win tonight, and it might not even be close. Give me the Texas Rangers as small home favorites tonight in game one against the DBacks, laying -113!