The Tampa Bay Rays are going to the World Series, and they cashed us a winning ticket along the way! Yesterday we backed the Tampa Bay Rays in game seven of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, at basically even money. The Rays were trying to avoid becoming just the second team ever to blow a 3-0 series lead, and I felt that they were going to stay out of the history books and get the job done.
Charlie Morton had a long history of killing it in the playoffs, and this year, he had an ERA of just 1.80 in the postseason. I felt that the Rays were going to take the handcuffs off of him and let him get deep into the game as long as he was pitching well, and saw Morton as the far superior side of the starting pitching matchup with the Astros Lance McCullers Jr. McCullers Jr had an ERA north of seven runs this season when pitching away from home, and I expected the Rays to score runs on him early, and for the Tampa Bay bullpen to hang on to the lead late.
— MLB (@MLB) October 18, 2020
And that is exactly what happened. McCullers got blasted for three runs in the first inning of game two in this series, and last night in game seven, he again got hammered out of the gate. Tampa Bay scored three runs in the first two innings off of McCullers, with Randy Arozarena and Mike Zunino both going yard, and the Rays took an early 3-0 lead.
Charlie Morton was as good as advertised, as he pitched into the sixth inning and did not allow a single run, on just two hits, in five and two-thirds of an inning worked. The Rays made us sweat it out a little bit in the late innings, but that is just what the Rays do. When the smoke cleared, Tampa Bay won the game, and we cashed our ticket. The Rays are now awaiting the winner of game seven of the NLDS, between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves, and that is the game we will focus on for our free daily betting pick!
Atlanta Braves (3-3) at Los Angeles Dodgers (3-3)
The 2020 Major League Baseball playoffs continue to deliver drama and excitement, and after seeing the Rays and Astros battle it out last night in game seven of the ALCS, it is the National League’s turn to crown a league champion, as the Dodgers and Braves match up in a game seven of their own tonight. After seeing Atlanta jump out to a 3-1 series lead, the Dodgers have battled back to tie the series up at three games apiece, and we play for everything tonight in game seven.
Run it back. Game 7. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/prfSFiRt6B
— MLB (@MLB) October 18, 2020
Starting tonight for the Braves is Ian Anderson (1-0 0.00 ERA). The Dodgers have yet to name a starter. The game total over/under is set at eight runs. The Dodgers are -150 betting favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 5:15 PM PST from Globe Life Field in Arlington.
The Atlanta Braves had plenty of opportunities to score runs and win game six last night. The Braves had nine hits in the game and squandered several scoring opportunities. In the second inning, Atlanta loaded the bases on three consecutive base hits to lead off the inning, but failed to capitalize with the bases loaded and no outs. In the fourth, Atlanta had two on with just one out and couldn’t manufacture a run. Atlanta had hits in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings and managed just one total run from all of those base runners.
That one run came on an RBI double from Ronald Acuna Jr in the seventh inning and it was just the fourth hit in the series for Acuna. Acuna was an MVP candidate last year and is one of the brightest young stars in the game. But he didn’t have a great regular season, as he hit just .250, and was just 3-21 in this series before that double last night. The Braves badly need a spark, and with Acuna hitting in the leadoff spot, he is the guy that can make it happen.
Ian Anderson (1-0 0.00 ERA)
When the Atlanta Braves selected Ian Anderson with the number three overall draft pick in the 2016 MLB draft, they did it thinking that eventually, he could be the ace of their staff. The Braves already had Mike Soroka and Max Fried tearing up the big leagues in their early twenties, and adding Anderson to the staff this season gives them a Baby Braves version of that famed Braves starting rotation from the 1990s where Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz won division titles every year for a decade. While it is way too early to compare this group to that one, these kids are really, really talented.
Soroka is hurt right now, but last year he went 13-4 with an ERA of just 2.68 and was an All-Star that finished in the top ten of the NL Cy Young Award voting. Fried won 17 games last year and just might take home the NL Cy Young Award this year, as he went 7-0 with a 2.25 ERA. And Anderson? The third guy in this group of three amigos? All he did in his first-ever big league season was finish the year with a 1.95 ERA in six starts.
Who is this kid with the 0.00 #Postseason ERA?
— Infield Chatter (@InfieldChatter) October 18, 2020
In the playoffs, Anderson has taken his production to a whole new level, as this kid has been nearly unhittable. In three postseason starts this year, Anderson has yet to allow a single run in 15.2 innings pitched. He has allowed only six total base hits during that stretch, and more importantly for Atlanta, the Braves have won all three games. Against the Dodgers in game two of this series, Anderson worked just four innings, as his pitch count swelled early with too many walks, but he only gave up one hit in four innings, with five Ks, and left the game with his team up 6-0.
Los Angeles Dodgers
It has been a topsy turvy ride for the Los Angeles Dodgers in this series, but if they can take care of business and win this game and advance to the World Series, nobody is going to remember how ugly it looked when they were down three games to one. The Dodgers will be heavily favored against the Rays in the Fall Classic if they can win tonight, and after looking like major underdogs just a couple of days ago, will again be looked at as the favorites to win their first world title since 1988.
I talked about how great Corey Seager has been in this series in my breakdown of game six and mentioned him as a player to keep your eye on. Seager helped get the Dodgers an early lead last night when he blasted a first-inning home run off of Braves starter Max Fried. Seager has now homered in back to back games for the Dodgers and has a whopping five home runs and eleven RBI in this series. If Seager comes up in a big spot with runners on base, watch out.
TBD (0-0 0.00 ERA)
The Dodgers have yet to officially name a starter for tonight’s game seven, but it is expected that they will go with opener Brusdar Graterol for the first inning and then hand things off to game two starter, Tony Gonsolin after that. Gonsolin famously got rocked in game two, and it appears that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is hoping that Graterol can get through the first inning to avoid Gonsolin matching up with Acuna Jr, Freddie Freeman, and Marcel Ozuna, who torched him in game two.
I can certainly see why Roberts wants Gonsolin to avoid the Braves hard-hitting top of the lineup, but Graterol isn’t exactly what I would call a sure thing either. In game four, Graterol got obliterated for three runs while recording just a single out. Who did all that damage? Ronald Acuna Jr, Freddie Freeman, and Marcel Ozuna. That trio all picked up hits and scored against Graterol in the inning, and it opened the flood gates in a game that the Dodgers got blown out in.
Who Do I Like?
The Dodgers pitching staff is very concerning right now. I don’t think Graterol is the right guy to go with to open the game up, and Tony Gonsolin scares me. If those guys struggle, there just isn’t a lot of options left for LA. Julio Urias could end up in the game, as he is on four days rest after throwing 101-pitches in game three.
Clayton Kershaw’s name is being thrown around as a guy that will be available if needed, but pitching playoff Kershaw, on two days rest, after he got tagged with the loss in his last outing, in yet another playoff implosion, seems like a decision that just can’t be made.
Kenley Jansen is shaky. Blake Treinen has pitched the last two days and is going to be tired. Pedro Baez has been used in nearly every game of this series and won’t have a lot left in the gas tank either. It’s going to be a hodgepodge mess on the mound for LA, and unless Gonsolin can figure out how to get the Dodgers four or five strong innings of work, I don’t know what they are going to do.
There are a million question marks surrounding the Dodgers pitching staff. There are none surrounding the Brave’s arms right now. Ian Anderson has been elite and has shown that he is a guy that can be counted on to come up big in a must-win spot. Closer Mark Melancon hasn’t pitched in a couple of days and will be fresh and could be called upon for multiple innings if needed. Lefty specialist Tyler Matzek didn’t pitch yesterday and should be ready for more work in game seven.
Both of these lineups are very good, and I don’t think I can draw a line to which one will have any significant advantage tonight in this game. We will call the bats a wash. But two areas that I see the Braves having a major advantage in this game, are on the mound, with all of what we just talked about above, and in the dugout.
Dave Roberts is a terrible in-game manager. He has had the most talented team in baseball every year since taking over as manager of the Dodgers in 2016. Despite an elite regular-season winning percentage that has seen him win division titles every year and rack up an impressive 436-274 record, he has made several huge postseason blunders, and the Dodgers have not won a world title, despite being favored to do so multiple times.
The Dodgers have won games in spite of Dave Roberts, not because of him. In a game that is going to require some very tough decisions from the Dodgers, in particular with how the pitching staff is managed, I think Roberts will do what he nearly always does, and that is, get it wrong.
Maybe he leaves a guy on the mound a little too long, or maybe he pulls a pitcher that is actually effective too early. Maybe he makes the career suicide decision of bringing Kershaw in the game to give it away. Whatever the case may be, I have zero confidence that Roberts will make the right decision. And because of that, I am backing Atlanta.
I see Ian Anderson stepping up huge and giving the Braves five or six quality innings of work, and I see Dave Roberts bungling an admittedly tough to manage pitching staff tonight in game seven. At the end of the day, the Braves are going to find a way to win this game. Give me the Atlanta Braves tonight in game seven, as they win and advance to their first World Series since 1999!