For the second day in a row, we made a play on the Philadelphia Phillies as road underdogs, and for the second day in a row, the game was rained out in Washington. To quote the greatest baseball movie ever made, Bull Durham, “sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.” Thus, is life in the baseball world, and you can’t control the weather. The one thing we can control is our action, and for today’s pick, we will stay away from this cursed this series in the nation’s capital.
As an almost perfect metaphor for this failed season in Washington, the Nationals didn’t get to play, but they still managed to lose. Ace starting pitcher Max Scherzer was taking batting practice and inadvertently bunted a ball off of his own face, shattering his nose in the process. A broken nose isn’t the worst possible injury for a starting pitcher, but he will likely miss at least one start because of the freak accident.
You know your season isn’t going well when you manage to lose your best player without even playing a game! For today’s pick, we will head to Minnesota where hopefully the weather is a bit better, and the Twins host the Red Sox.
The Boston Red Sox are in Minnesota Wednesday for game three of a three-game series with the Twins. The Red Sox took game one of this series behind a seven-inning outing from Rick Porcello. Porcello didn’t allow a run, and the Red Sox hung on for a 2-0 lead to take the series lead. In game two, it was the Twins turn to strike back as they stole game two in come from behind fashion in the seventeenth inning. Winning the game on a Max Kepler walk-off single.
The Red Sox are hoping to win tonight and take this series against the Twins, who have the best record in baseball. Boston has had an up and down season all year long, but they had won six straight games before losing in extra innings last night. Despite this recent surge, the Red Sox remain in third place, six and a half games back of the New York Yankees in the crowded American League East Division.
For Minnesota, the Twins just keep on winning. Many are skeptical of this team’s ability to continuing winning at this pace, but they have won eight out of their last twelve games, and they have built up a ten-game lead over the Cleveland Indians for the lead in the AL Central.
Starting for the Red Sox is Eduardo Rodriguez (7-4 4.67 ERA), and for the Twins, it is Kyle Gibson (7-3 3.70 ERA). The game total over-under is set at nine runs. The Twins are -115 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 PM PST from Target Field in Minneapolis.
After playing essential two full games last night, these teams are likely to be a bit tired today. Especially the bullpens. These teams combined for twenty-three innings pitched from their bullpens yesterday. That means they are going to be running thin tonight for reliever help. That makes this starting pitching matchup even more important as the options for relief are going to be more limited than normal.
Kyle Gibson seems to be up to the task as he has pitched into the sixth inning or later in eight out of his last ten starts. In his last start, he tossed eight innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits. While his 3.70 ERA looks a little bit high, that really is just a reflection of a slow start that saw Gibson get pounded for thirteen runs in his first three starts.
Since then he has pitched much better, with an ERA in the low three-run range. One thing that the Twins have come accustomed to doing with Gibson on the mound, is winning ball games. The Twins are 9-4 when Gibson starts this season. At home, this season, Gibson has been very good as he is 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA in five starts. That ERA is a full two runs lower than his road ERA of 4.68. Opposing batters are hitting a scant .177 against him at Target Field this year.
Eduardo Rodriguez had a similarly slow start to his season as he got roughed up in his first two starts but has been much better since. But he hasn’t shown the ability to get as deep into games as Gibson has this year as he has pitched fewer than six innings in seven out of his fourteen starts. His mediocre results have been plenty for Boston though, as the Red Sox are 10-4 when he takes the mound.
The issue recently for Rodriguez has been the long ball as he has allowed seven home runs in his last five starts. On the road this year, he has really struggled as he is 4-3 with a 5.23 ERA in eight starts. Opposing batter are hitting a sizzling .295 against him on the road.
I don’t put a huge amount of credence behind home and away splits. This is baseball, and lots of weird stuff can happen over the course of the season. And my statistics training has taught me that correlation does not always prove causation. But when the numbers are as stark as they are in this one, I have to take notice.
Gibson is unhittable at home; Rodriguez can’t stop getting hammered on the road. And the Twins are a whopping twelve games over .500 at home this season. Not a lot separates these two teams in this matchup, but I really like our side of the starting pitching matchup, and I am very thankful this game is being played in Minnesota, not Boston. So, I will take the favorites and back the Minnesota Twins laying just a tiny bit of wood. Give me the Minnesota Twins laying -115 in game three tonight!