Yesterday I got the opportunity to fade the worst team in the American League, with their worst starter on the mound, and I only got charged a dollar twenty in juice to do it. Oh, and did I mention that by doing so, I got to back a team that was on their longest winning streak of the season and were coming off of a sweep in their previous series? When you leave the team names out of the equation, you can see why I loved the spot so much last night.
The play was a straight fade of the Boston Red Sox, and their starter Zack Godley, AKA, the team with the worst record in the American League. And the team I got to back, was the suddenly hot, Philadelphia Phillies. I expected Philly, who has been one of the hardest hitting teams in all of baseball, in limited action, to hammer Godley and this god-awful Boston bullpen.
It just didn’t make any sense that this was a tight line, and the only thing I could think of is that the public was being swayed by the Red Sox reputation and that many casual fans hadn’t actually watched them play this year. If you have been following Boston even remotely closely this season, you would know that they are bad, really bad, and they don’t have any semblance of a pitching staff. So, I backed the Phillies and expected a bloodbath.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) August 19, 2020
And while they did make us sweat it a bit early on, when all the smoke cleared, the Phillies broke out the bats and blasted the Red Sox, hanging a bunch of crooked numbers on the scoreboard, enroot to thirteen runs and a blowout victory. It was as easy of money as you are going to find this year, and we took home a nice win at close to even money.
If you see the Red Sox as favorites or small dogs against a quality team again in the future, you want to be on the other side. This team just can’t pitch, and their team ERA swelled to 6.36 after last night’s beating, the highest in the Major Leagues. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to Chicago for a Cubs road game, as they host the St. Louis Cardinals.
Chicago Cubs (15-7) at St. Louis Cardinals (5-6)
We are going to see something we have never seen in this long and storied rivalry between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals tonight. Despite the game being played at Wrigley Field in Chicago, the Cubs are going to be the visiting team, as the Cardinals get to bat last. The Cardinals are playing catchup as they missed a ton of action due to a Corona Virus outbreak, and they are going to make up a couple of “home” games tonight, on the road.
For Chicago, the Cubs are pacing the National League Central Division, and have won back to back games, to snap a season-high four-game losing streak earlier in the week. The Cubs have the second-best record in the National League, trailing only the Los Angeles Dodgers, and their four and a half-game lead in the central, is the largest division lead in baseball.
Starting tonight for the Cardinals is their ace, Jack Flaherty (1-0 2.57 ERA), and for the Cubs, it is Alec Mills (2-1 2.84 ERA). The game total over/under is set at six and a half runs. The Cardinals are -120 favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 11:20 AM PST from Wrigley Field in Chicago.
St. Louis Cardinals
It is too early to tell if the St. Louis Cardinals are going to remain in the hunt in the NL Central this season, as they have played just eleven games. But with the entire division, with the exception of the Cubs, having a losing record entering play today, St. Louis won’t have to be all that good, to sneak into the postseason.
The Cards came back from their long delay and won three out of their first four games, but have lost back to back games to the Cubs in this series, to drop them back below .500 on the year, at 5-6. St. Louis is going to be forced to play a very compacted schedule the rest of the way out as they look to get a full 60-games in this season, and you have to wonder how all of these double-headers are going to affect them.
Jack Flaherty (1-0 2.57 ERA)
Jack Flaherty has quickly established himself as one of the best pitchers in the National League in his two season of work for the Cardinals. Two years ago, he nearly took home the Rookie of the Year honors in the NL, when he posted a 3.34 ERA and struck out 182 batters. And last year, he built on that success, and nearly took home the NL Cy Young Award, finishing in fourth place, when he posted a 2.75 ERA with 235 K’s.
This year he has only made one start, but he was again stellar, as he pitched seven strong innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing just two earned runs and picking up the win for his efforts. Last year against the Cubs, Flaherty made six starts and had a 2.48 ERA and struck out forty Cubs in just 36.1 innings. The Cardinals went 4-2 in those six starts, and his 40 K’s against the Cubs were the most he had against any team last season.
The Cubs have been really good in 2020, and all of their recent losses came in games where they had early multi-run leads, only to see the pitching staff fail to hold on. While their 15-7 record is elite, they could easily have nineteen or twenty wins, they have played that well.
The one glaring issue for the Cubs is their late-game bullpen. Several of their trusted late-game arms are struggling, most notably Crain Kimbrel, who has a sky-high ERA of 13.50 in six appearances. Kimbrel joins other Cubs relievers like Duane Underwood Jr, Kyle Ryan, James Norwood, and Brad Wieck as Chicago relievers who are really struggling to start out the year.
Alec Mills (2-1 2.84 ERA)
The bullpen has been weak in Chicago, but the starting rotation has been solid. Jon Lester was having a career start to the year before getting roughed up in his last outing, and Yu Darvish is looking like the guy he was in Texas and is an early-season Cy Young Award candidate. One guy that has really overachieved in the starting rotation for the Cubs is tonight’s starter, Alec Mills.
Mills is getting his first shot at being a regular in the Chicago rotation, and he is taking advantage of the opportunity. In three starts, Mills has posted a 2-1 record with a 2.84 ERA. In his last start against the Milwaukee Brewers, Mills was cruising, as he hadn’t allowed a hit through four innings, until the bottom fell out in the fifth and sixth innings, and he gave up four earned runs and was charged with the loss.
Who Do I Like?
This game is only scheduled for seven innings. That means we aren’t going to see a lot of either team’s bullpen, unless things go sideways for either starter early in the game. So, this game is going to boil down to Alec Mills vs. Jack Flaherty. And while Mills has impressed in his short stint in the Chicago rotation, Flaherty is very clearly the better side of this matchup, and I see him finding a way to pitch a complete game tonight at “home.”
What better way to personify this wacky season of Major League Baseball than to see the Cubs lose a “road” game at home to their archrivals. Flaherty has been a Cub killer in his two years with the Cardinals, and I expect more of the same tonight. Mills has been great early in starts, and weak late, and I think that this will be a low scoring game until the late innings, where either Mills slips up, or the Cubs have to turn thigs over to their shaky bullpen, and they give the game away late.
They are going to make us sweat this one out most of the afternoon, but when all is said and done, I see the Cardinals picking up the “home” win tonight at Wrigley. Give me the St. Louis Cardinals laying -120 tonight in game four against Chicago!