Sometimes when you take a shot on a money line underdog, you miss. That is what happened last night when we backed the Cincinnati Reds against the San Francisco Giants. I mentioned in my pick that Giants starter Chris Stratton was really struggling in his last several starts. And last night was no different, as Stratton pitched just five innings and allowed four runs, all earned. But that was plenty as Reds starter, Sal Romero, struggled through the worst start of his short MLB career.
Romero pitched just two and a third innings and got smashed for six earned runs. The Reds made a valiant effort to recover from the bad start, but in the end, came up short and lost 10-7. You win some, and you lose some, but if you are consistently finding yourself on the value side and picking up dog money you don’t need to win nearly as many games as you lose to show a long-term profit. Betting baseball isn’t about winning more bets than you lose, it is about making money. And finding spots to get dog money in coin flip games like this one was last night, is a great spot to get the money. For today’s bet I will look at the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves.
The Chicago Cubs are in Atlanta Tuesday for game two of a four-game series with the Cubs. Atlanta took game one last night 6-5 behind homers from Ozzie Albies, Tyler Flowers, and Jose Bautista. The Braves have won six out of their last seven games and have the best record in the National League. The Cubs are struggling a bit on the year and are just 5-7 in the month of May, and they find themselves buried in fourth place in what is a very tough National League Central Division.
Starting tonight for the Cubs is Yu Darvish (0-3 6.00 ERA), and for the Braves it is Mike Foltynewicz (3-2 3.21 ERA). The Cubs are -123 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at nine runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:35 PM PST from Sun Trust Park in Atlanta.
Usually, when a pitcher goes from the American League to the National League, they almost always put up better stats. And that makes sense. In the AL you have to pitch against a designated hitter instead of the pitcher and many times that is replacing the worst hitter on the team with a guy that very well could be the best hitter on the team. But for the Cubs Yu Darvish, that just has not been the case.
Darvish has an ERA of 4.41 in the National League. That is more than a full run higher than what he posted in the American League. He just seemingly has never gotten comfortable pitching in the NL. He was very famously the goat in game seven for the Dodgers last year as he got rocked and picked up the loss to cost the Dodgers a World Championship. This year he was brought in to head the Cubs rotation, and he has struggled badly.
Darvish has yet to win a game in a Cubs uniform and has an ERA of 6.00 on the season. He has failed to make it even five innings in four of his six starts this season. And this is a guy that was known for his ability to get deep into games in Texas when he played for the Rangers. He has given up four earned runs or more in four of his last six starts. It wouldn’t be overstating things to call his start in Chicago a disaster.
Starting tonight for the Braves is Mike Foltynewicz. Foltynewicz is enjoying a career year for the Braves and is just twenty-six years old. As is the case for most of this Braves team, he is very young and very talented. Foltynewicz has likely been even better than his 3.21 ERA shows as in seven of his eight starts he has given up two earned runs or fewer. He got rocked against the Brewers for six earned runs in five innings, but besides that one start, he has been lights out.
This is a game, and a number, that is clearly skewed by the public’s perception of both teams. Coming into the season, many expected the Cubs to have a very real shot at winning the National League Pennant. And while they are certainly not out of it by any means, they are a fourth-place team right now. Darvish is being valued as the guy that he was in Texas, not necessarily the guy he is right now in Chicago.
The Braves? They seemed like a team that had a lot of young talent but were perceived as a squad that was a year or two away from succeeding. Yet, here they are, with the best record in the National League, a quarter of the way through the season. So, what you end up with here is a bad number. The Braves should be favored at home in this game, period. They are the better team right now, with the better starter on the mound. I know at some point Darvish will turn things around, but right now he is a bad starter with an ERA of 6.00 that is a favorite against the best team in the National League that is third in the majors in runs scored.
When you put it that way, it feels like we are clearly on the right side, backing the Braves. So, that is what I will do. I will take the Atlanta Braves as home dogs at +103 tonight and feel like I am the favorite!