We picked up a nice money line underdog winner yesterday when we backed the Arizona Diamondbacks against the San Diego Padres getting +115. I mentioned in my pick yesterday, that baseball results are constantly regressing back towards the mean and that I felt that the DBacks were a much better team than they looked when they got blown out in the first two games of this series.
And on the flip side, I felt that the Padres, while they are a talented team with a bunch of upside, just weren’t quite as great as they looked to start out the season. Throw in the fact that I absolutely love Arizona’s Zac Gallen, a guy who is one of the more underrated pitchers in the National League right now, and I saw significant value on the underdog.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) July 26, 2020
The game was a tight one throughout, but Gallen impressed as expected, as he tossed four innings and allowed one run on just two hits while striking out six. I was worried about his ability to throw strikes, as the Padres have been drawing a ton of walks so far this year, and he did walk five guys, but managed to battle out of jams and gave his team a chance to win the game late, and that is just what they did.
Arizona scored two in the eighth and two in the ninth and walked away with the 4-3 win. After whiffing on Opening Day, it was nice to get a solid underdog winner under our belt to start out the season. For today’s daily betting pick, I will look for another straight-up underdog winner when I break down the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Atlanta Braves.
Atlanta Braves (2-1) at Tampa Bay Rays (2-1)
The Tampa Bay Rays will look to continue their hot start to the season tonight as they host the Atlanta Braves in game one of a two-game set. These teams will then head to Atlanta for two games, making this a four-game stretch between the two clubs, with both teams sharing home-field advantage.
Starting for the Rays is Tyler Glasnow (0-0 0.00 ERA), and for the Braves, it is Mike Foltynewicz (0-0 0.00 ERA). The Rays are -150 home field favorites. The game total over/under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 3:40 PM PST from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
The Atlanta Braves looked sluggish on Opening Day as they couldn’t even manage a single run in a 1-0 loss to the New York Mets. In game two of the season, things weren’t much better early on, as they had just one run heading into the ninth inning.
But Atlanta rallied for four runs in the ninth and tenth innings combined, to steal the game late and then rode that momentum to a fourteen-run explosion yesterday. When all the smoke cleared, the Braves left New York with a 2-1 record and start out the season in first place in the National League East Division.
Dansby Swanson has enjoyed a hot start to the season as he hit .417 against the Mets while accounting for nine runs (3 runs scored and 6 RBI). But the real star of the show for Atlanta through the season’s first series has been the pitching staff. The starters have been solid, and the bullpen has allowed just one earned run in 12.2 innings pitched. Atlanta will turn to Mike Foltynewicz tonight to try and stay hot on the mound.
Mike Foltynewicz (0-0 0.00 ERA)
Which version of Mike Foltynewicz are we going to see in 2020? Are we going to see the guy he was in 2018 when he was an All-Star and took home National League Cy Young Award votes when posted a 2.85 ERA while striking out over 200 hitters? Or are we going to see the version of Foltynewicz that struggled to stay healthy last season and posted 4.54 ERA and saw one of the lowest K/9 ratios of his career?
When you look at his career stats, 2019 looked like a more typical year than 2018 did, as his lifetime ERA is 4.27. But he is still in his mid-twenties, and that’s when a lot of guys are still getting better. He is finally healthy this year, so I would tend to think that he finds a way to get closer to his 2018 form than his injury-plagued 2019 self.
Despite a historically bad postseason start against the St. Louis Cardinals last year, Foltynewicz was actually really great down the stretch for Atlanta after he missed all of July with injury. He went on a run of nine straight starts where he pitched 53.2 innings and allowed just ten earned runs. The Braves went 8-1 during that stretch.
Tampa Bay Rays
We knew coming into this season that pitching was going to be the key to success for Tampa Bay in 2020, and after seeing their first series, that certainly still seems to be the case. Tampa Bay used solid pitching and timely hitting, to win two out of three games from the Toronto Blue Jays, and have made it clear that they are going to keep their starters on strict pitch counts, at least early on, as Tampa Bay starters pitched just 11.1 innings over the weekend.
As expected, the bats have been weak for the Rays, as they are hitting a dismal .188 as a team right now. They managed to find ways to get some runs on the board, despite hitting just two home runs in their first three games. We knew the hitting was going to be light for Tampa Bay in 2020, but they are going to need to find ways to get more consistent hitting if they want to hang with the New York Yankees in the American League East Division.
Tyler Glasnow (0-0 0.00 ERA)
In 2019, Tyler Glasnow looked like another rags to riches story for the Tampa Bay Rays. Glasnow was a throw-in in the deal that sent Chris Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and in the first month of 2019, he was the best pitcher in the American League. Glasnow won the AL Pitcher of the Month Award in April last year when he posted a 5-0 record with a 1.75 ERA.
But then disaster struck as Glasnow had arm trouble and was shut down for nearly the entire season. Glasnow returned late in the season and again was lights out in September, posting a 4-0 record with a 1.46 ERA. But in the playoffs, Glasnow got rocked by the Houston Astros in two starts, as he allowed six earned runs in seven innings of work, and the Rays lost both games.
Who Do I Like?
Can I like both of these teams? Because, really, I do. I see both of these teams making the playoffs in 2020, and both could win it all. But in this game, I am going to have to lean towards the Braves. They are swinging the bats hard right now, and I just can’t back Glasnow as a favorite with so much uncertainty. When you look at how Glasnow pitched in every season of his career before last year, he was mediocre at best, as he had a lifetime record of 4-16 with an ERA well over four runs.
Yeah, he was young, but I am not sure that a guy with three full seasons of work under his belt just magically turned into Sandy Koufax. We talked earlier about regression to the mean in baseball, and I see 2020 as a regression towards the mean for Tyler Glasnow.
I see this game as a toss-up. The Braves bullpen has been great, and the bats are hot right now. I will give a slight advantage to Glasnow on the mound, but I really think that Foltynewicz overachieves again in 2020, whereas I see Glasnow moving the opposite direction, so it’s not as big of an advantage as I think some people might think.
At the end of the day, I think the Braves are the better overall team, and if I can get a bunch of dog money on a coin flip, I am going to take it every time. Give me the Atlanta Braves as road underdogs tonight in Tampa Bay against the Rays, getting +128!