Yesterday we had an action-packed day of playoff baseball, and today we have four teams on the brink of elimination in what should be another entertaining day. The Tampa Bay Rays took control of their ALDS series with the New York Yankees as they won for the second straight day, to take a two games to one series lead. Coming into this series, many wondered who the Yankees were going to turn to on the mound when Gerrit Cole isn’t available and if those guys would be able to hang with the Rays elite pitching staff.
So far, the answer to that question has been no, as the Rays have scored fifteen runs in the last two games and look poised to finish off New York today in game four. On the other side of the American League bracket, the Oakland Athletics managed to avoid getting swept at the hands of the Houston Astros and handed the Astros their first loss of their postseason in a dramatic late-inning come from behind victory, 9-7.
— MLB (@MLB) October 8, 2020
Over in the National League, both the Braves and the Dodgers were able to take 2-0 series leads, and both teams are looking for the sweep today in game three. The Braves snuck past the Marlins 2-0, powered by homers from Dansby Swanson and Travis d’Arnaud and a strong outing from rookie hurler Ian Anderson.
For LA, the Dodgers built a big lead early and held on late, to go up two games on the San Diego Padres with a 6-5 victory. The Boys in Blue had to sweat this one out though, as the Padres scored two runs in the top of the ninth off of closer Kenley Jansen, and LA had to bring in Joe Kelly to get the final out of the evening. The game ended with a bases-loaded ground out from Eric Hosmer in the ninth, and Padres fans have to be heartbroken after seeing their comeback attempt come up just short. For our free daily betting pick, we will break down the action between the Marlins and the Braves in game three of the NLDS.
Atlanta Braves (2-0) at Miami Marlins (0-2)
The Atlanta Braves are looking to close out the Miami Marlins today in game three of the National League Division Series. Atlanta has taken the first two games of this series, shutting them out yesterday in game two, and would love to be able to wrap this series up and be able to rest and set their rotation for the seemingly inevitable matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Championship Series.
For Miami, they play for all of the marbles today, as it is win or go home for the Marlins. The Fish had ample opportunity to score runs last night and just couldn’t break through against the Braves pitching staff, and now they find themselves with their backs against the wall, having wasted what was a solid performance from their guys on the mound as well in game two.
Game plan: Win and don't lose. We'll keep you updated. LET'S GO. pic.twitter.com/Z2rIbqAejs
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) October 8, 2020
Starting today for the Marlins is Sixto Sanchez (0-0 0.00 ERA), and for the Braves, it is Kyle Wright (0-0 0.00 ERA). The game total over/under is set at nine runs. The Braves are -130 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 11:08 AM PST from Minute Maid Park in Houston.
The Atlanta Braves have had their fair share of adversity on the mound this season. They lost their ace, Mike Soroka, after just three starts this year. Mike Foltynewicz, a guy that was just a year removed from being an All-Star and finishing in the top ten of the NL Cy Young Award voting, was designated for assignment and cut from the team after an awful start to his season. Sean Newcomb, a stalwart of this Braves pitching staff for the last couple of seasons, was sent down to the Braves alternate training site after getting hammered in just four starts.
Even the veterans the Braves brought in during the offseason to help bolster this young staff, didn’t work out. Cole Hamels made just one start before going down with a season-ending shoulder injury. And Felix Hernandez opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns before throwing even a single pitch. Despite having a staff that doesn’t look much like the one they had in spring training, the Braves have still managed to find a way to pitch well and win games.
Kyle Wright (0-0 0.00 ERA)
Kyle Wright was the number five overall draft pick in the 2017 draft and was fast-tracked to the show, making his debut in 2018. The Braves worked him along very slowly in 2018 and 2019, as he pitched just 25.2 innings combined. But he didn’t have much success, as he really struggled walking guys, and it led to him giving up a lot of runs. We already talked about all of the turbulence we have seen with the Braves rotation this year, and with all of that uncertainty, Wright got the opportunity to be a regular in the Atlanta rotation this year, even if his results may have shown that he wasn’t quite ready for primetime.
But again, this year, Wright has really struggled with his walks, as his W/9 rate in nearly six. All of those free passes have forced him to work with a lot of runners on base, and the results haven’t been great, as his ERA was over five runs in the regular season. He has pitched well in his last two starts, though, as he worked a combined 13 innings and allowed just two earned runs. Prior to those final two starts of the season for Wright, he was 1-4 with a 7.20 ERA.
Well, here we go for the Miami Marlins. I backed Miami yesterday as I felt that the game was fairly even and that while the Braves likely should have been favored, seeing them at -220 was a bad number. I took a shot on the high risk, high reward play, and the Marlins came up just short, as they just couldn’t break through with any runs on the board and lost a close one.
But after watching the game, it was tightly contested, just as game one was, and I still think the Marlins have a path to getting back into this series. The Marlins have matched up with Kyle Wright twice this year, and they smashed him both times. In two starts against Miami, Wright has pitched just seven innings and has allowed eight earned runs on nine hits, three of which were home runs, and eight walks. The Marlins need to find a way to score runs early in this game and seeing Wright on the mound has to give Marlin’s fans at least some hope of clawing their way back into this series.
Sixto Sanchez (0-0 0.00 ERA)
Similar to Kyle Wright, Sixto Sanchez was about as hyped up of a prospect as you are ever going to find. Sixto made his long-awaited MLB debut earlier this season, at just 21-years old, and impressed right off the bat. Through his first five big league starts, Sanchez was 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA.
He hit a bit of a rough patch late in September, as he had back to back rough outings against the Braves and and the Nationals, but that didn’t stop Miami from starting him in an elimination game against the Chicago Cubs, in the wild-card round of the NL playoffs.
Against Chicago, Sanchez got right back on track and worked five strong shutout innings, scattering just four hits and striking out six. The Marlins won that game, and in a must-win spot again today, the Marlins have again chosen to go with their young stud to get the job done on the mound.
Who Do I Like?
Kyle Wright has looked good in his last two starts, but I try to never overreact to a small sample size of games. Which Kyle Wright in the real Kyle Wright? The guy that had an ERA of nearly eight runs through his first six starts of his career, or the guy that looked solid in his last two outings? As is usually the case, the answer likely lies somewhere in the middle.
But the one thing that concerns me a lot about Wright in this game is his walks. Even in his last start, where he pitched well, he still walked three batters. If you play with fire long enough, you are going to get burned. And that is what I think happens today against Miami. I would expect that the Braves are going to keep Wright on a super tight leash, and yank him at the first sign of trouble, so it is imperative that Miami can find a way to plate runs against Wright before Atlanta sits him down.
I really like Sixto Sanchez. He is a gamer that pitches with a lot of intensity, and I think that we are going to see him step up and carry his team today. While the Braves did rough him up a bit in his last start against them, he also has a six-inning shutout against Atlanta earlier this year, where he allowed just three hits. This kid was made to pitch on the big stage, and I think he will have a similar performance tonight as he did against Chicago in the wild-card round, when his team really needs him.
I see Sanchez getting six or maybe even seven innings of quality work in today in game three. Kyle Wright is going to get himself in a jam early, and it wouldn’t shock me at all if he gets pulled very early in this game. If he starts handing out free passes, like he is known to do, Braves manager Brian Snitker isn’t going to hesitate to get him out of the game. The Braves can afford to lose this game, the Marlins can’t, so I am backing the Marlins as underdogs and expecting the upset!