The underdog winners just keep coming, in what has been a red-hot summer of betting! We picked up another underdog winner last night when we backed the Tampa Bay Rays against the Cleveland Indians. Seeing Tampa Bay starter Blake Snell as a fairly big underdog just didn’t make any sense at all to me. Throw in the fact that Tampa Bay had won nine out of its previous eleven games coming into this one, and I really liked backing them as underdogs.
Snell pitched well yet again as he threw six and two-thirds of an inning and allowed just one earned run and struck out nine. I said it in yesterday’s pick, and I will say it again today, he is my pick for the American League Cy Young Award. He has beaten the Red Sox, Yankees, and Indians all in the last month and has been absolutely sensational this season. The guy doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves.
With the win, the Rays stay hot but are still eight games out of even the second wild card in the American League. They have made heroic late-season comebacks before, but this would require a lot of things to go right for Tampa if they want to get back into the playoff conversation. Playoff chances notwithstanding, this Rays team is playing inspired baseball right now, and they have been a reliable and profitable team to back. For today’s pick, I will take a look at the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Chicago Cubs are in Philly Sunday for game three of a three-game series with the Phillies. The series is tied at one game apiece as the Phillies took game one of the series Friday and the Cubs tied the series up last night in game two. Both of these teams badly want to win today as they are both in tight division races.
Starting for the Cubs is Jon Lester (14-5 3.67 ERA), and for the Phillies, it is Aaron Nola (15-3 2.10 ERA). The Phillies are -142 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight runs. First pitch is scheduled for 10:35 AM PST from Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia.
Jon Lester looked poised to win the Cy Young Award at the season’s halfway point this year. At the All-Star break, he was 12-2 with a 2.58 ERA. That put him amongst the best pitchers in the National League, and he was selected for another All-Star game appearance. Since then though things have been a little shaky.
In his last eight starts, Lester is 2-3 with an ERA above six runs. He hasn’t been all bad though as he has had a couple of really bad blowup starts that are inflating his numbers. He has allowed eight runs in a start twice in that stretch, that isn’t good for the ole ERA. He seems to be dialing it back in over his last three starts though as he is 2-0 and has pitched a combined seventeen and two-thirds of an inning and has given up just four earned runs. Lester has a long history of being a reliable pitcher late in the season, and I expect that he will only continue to get better as the season wears on.
One guy that can’t really get much better is Aaron Nola. Aaron Nola came into the season with quite a bit of hype surrounding him by those in the know. He had a breakout season last year, and many expected him only to get better this year. But I am not sure anybody predicted what he is doing right now. He is arguably the best pitcher in baseball right now. Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom both will have something to say about that come awards season, but Nola has been the elite of the elite and is leading his team into the playoffs, while Mad Max and deGrom will be watching the playoffs on tv come October.
Nola has one losing decision since May! In August he went 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA in five starts. He hasn’t allowed more than four runs in any start this season and has given up two runs or fewer in twenty-two of his twenty-seven starts. The guy is just nearly unhittable. At home this year, Nola is a perfect 9-0 with a 1.94 ERA, it just doesn’t get much better than that.
I feel that the Phillies are the side to bet in this game. But I am not overly comfortable laying that much wood against what is likely the best team in the National League. The Phillies are good at home, and I love Aaron Nola, but the price just isn’t right to back Philly. The one number I do like though is the game total.
This total actually opened last night at eight and a half runs, and I jumped all over the under. Usually, when we have this type of star power on the mound, we are going to see numbers like seven and a half, and I have even six and a half this year. I guess the fact that Lester has been a little inconstant recently has kept the number manageable.
The number did drop half of a run to eight this morning. However I still like the under. I don’t see Nola giving up much of anything and even with Lester being a little all over the place, he seems like he is turning the corner and history tells us he is too good to struggle for too long. I see this game being a 3-1 or 3-2 type of contest and us hitting the under with ease. Give me the under eight runs today in game three at -112!