In my pick yesterday, I took a shot on what I called a high variance, high-value play, when I chose to fade the Los Angeles Angels as -205 favorites in their game with the Seattle Mariners. It just didn’t make any sense to me that the Angels, who had the worst record in the American League entering play yesterday, were huge favorites against anybody, let alone a Mariners team that had won six out of their previous eight games, and were playing, by far, their best baseball of the season.
So, I backed the Mariners and didn’t really know what to expect. But I felt that the math was on my side and that the Angels were always going to be a team that I want to fade at that price, no matter who they were playing and hoped that the variance broke my way.
The game was a tight one throughout, and the Mariners led 1-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. LA was able to take a 2-1 in the bottom of the frame, on a Justin Upton RBI single, and added an insurance run in the eighth, on a Mike Trout solo shot home run.
Solid start to the homestand 🙌 pic.twitter.com/cdNzMLjG1q
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) August 29, 2020
I talked about how awful the Angels bullpen has been this year, and they nearly gave this one away as well, as the M’s scored a run in the ninth inning to tighten the game up at 2-3. The Angels caught a huge break, though, when rookie Jo Adell made a perfect throw to catch Jose Marmolejos advancing to third base. Had he made it in safely, Seattle would have had first and third with just one out, down only the one run.
We got plenty of sweat for our underdog bet, and nearly cashed a jumbo priced payout. When we talk about variance breaking one way or the other, this game was a perfect example, as this was anybody’s game, and we came up just short. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to Cincinnati, where the Reds host the Cubs.
Chicago Cubs (18-13) at Cincinnati Reds (14-17)
The suddenly streaking Cincinnati Reds host the Chicago Cubs today for a scheduled doubleheader. The Reds have won a season-high three straight games and took game one of this series last night 6-5. As unlikely as it may have seemed two weeks ago, if the Reds are able to pick up the series sweep this weekend, they would trail the Cubs by just one game in the National League Central Division.
For Chicago, the Cubs remain in first place in the central, but after looking like they were going to run away with the division just a couple of weeks ago, they now have the Brewers, Reds, and Cardinals all well within striking distance of first place. The Cubs have lost three straight games and five out of their last seven.
Starting today for the Cubs in game one is Yu Darvish (5-1 1.70 ERA), and for the Reds, it is Trevor Bauer (3-1 1.65 ERA). The game total over/under is set at six runs. The game is currently an even pick ’em with both teams laying -105. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 PM PST from Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.
When you look at this recent skid for the Chicago Cubs, it was hard to see coming. The Cubs jumped out to the best record in the Major Leagues early in the season when they were 13-3. But since then, the Cubs are just 5-10 in their last fifteen games.
And it hasn’t been overly tough scheduling that has caused the recent dip in production, as the Cubs have recent losses to the Cardinals, Brewers, Tigers, and Reds, all teams that currently have losing records on the year.
The only team that the Cubs have even played in their last fifteen games that has a winning record on the year, came against the Chicago White Sox, and they lost two out of three to the South Siders. What was once a huge lead in the central has now shrunk to just three games over St. Louis and four games over both the Reds and the Brewers. We all expected the NL Central race to be a tight one, and it looks like that is just what we are going to get.
Yu Darvish (5-1 1.70 ERA)
Is Yu Darvish finally back? After being one of the best pitchers in the American League in his five years with the Texas Rangers, Darvish has really struggled in the National League. Ever since Darvish got lit up and charged with the loss in game seven of the World Series, a couple of years back when he was pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers, things just haven’t been the same for Darvish.
But this year, he is looking sharp again as he is 5-1 with a 1.70 ERA in six starts. Darvish has allowed one run or fewer in five consecutive starts, and the strikeout numbers have been strong as well, as he has punched out double-digits in two out of his last three starts. The Cubs haven’t given him a ton of run support this year, but that hasn’t stopped them from winning five out of his six starts.
I backed the Cincinnati Reds earlier this week when Sonny Gray was starting and mentioned in my pick that there were two teams playing in Cincinnati this year. The team they are when Trevor Bauer and Sonny Gray pitch, and the team they are when they don’t. The Reds are 8-4 in the combined twelve starts for Bauer and Gray, and despite being mostly awful when those two guys aren’t on the mound, they do a great job of winning games when their aces pitch.
Trevor Bauer (3-1 1.65 ERA)
Trevor Bauer loves to stir up controversy. Whether it is by calling out MLB commissioner Rob Manfred for suspending Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly, or for supporting Fernando Tatis Jr. when he broke baseball’s unwritten rules, when he smashed a grand slam late in a blowout game, Bauer loves to be the center of attention. But while his mouth tends to do a lot of his talking, his pitching has quietly been very, very good.
Through his first four starts of the year, Bauer was 3-0 with a 0.68 ERA and had 41 Ks in 26.1 innings pitched. In his last start, he got roughed up a bit against the Milwaukee Brewers, allowing four earned runs, but still pitched into the seventh inning and now has 49 Ks in just 32.2 innings worked. His K/9 rate of 13.5 trails only Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians and is higher than guys like Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom in the National League.
Who Do I Like?
This is a really fun matchup. Both of these pitchers have been amazing this year, and runs are going to be very hard to come by. My instinct tells me to jump on the under, but at just six runs, it’s just too low to want to bet. If either team has a good inning early in the game, the under is blown, so I will stay away from the total.
But I do see value in backing the Reds in this game. As much as I hate to fade Darvish, the Reds are playing their best baseball of the year right now, and the Cubs are finding ways to blow games night in and night out. The Cubs opened up as a small road favorites in this game, but haven’t been great on the road as favorites, as their four road losses when favored is amongst the most in the NL. The sharps quickly recognized that and moved the number to where it stands now at even money.
Trevor Bauer is going to pitch this entire game. He has pitched into the seventh inning in all but one of his starts this season, and in that one, he pitched six frames. The Reds know he is the best pitcher they have right now, and in a scheduled doubleheader, with this game only lasting seven innings, they will want to save their bullpen for game two, when they have the much less established Tejay Antone starting.
I just can’t pass up on getting Trevor Bauer at even money at home. In his lone home start this year, he pitched 6.1 innings, allowed one run on only two hits, and struck out thirteen. I could see a repeat of that performance today, in game one. It will be a close game throughout, but when the smoke clears, I see Bauer and the Reds taking care of business. Let’s call it 3-2 Reds. Give me the Cincinnati Reds today at even money in game one of a double-dip!