Yesterday when I saw that the I could back the San Diego Padres at home, at basically even money, against the Arizona Diamondbacks, I didn’t quite understand the line. The public was all over Arizona, pushing the line towards the DBacks and opening up a bunch of value on San Diego, and when I looked at the matchup, I just couldn’t understand why.
Arizona was coming in off of a ninth inning rally the previous night, and this was a classic letdown spot. On top of that, their starting pitcher, Luke Weaver, had been awful in two starts this year, including one against this very same Padres team in San Diego, two weeks ago, where he got blasted for six earned runs in only 3.1 innings worked.
I just couldn’t comprehend why the public was so sure that Weaver was going to turn things around against a Padres team that is one of the highest-scoring teams in the majors. So, I shrugged my shoulders, nodded my head a bit, and fired on the Padres, wondering what it was that I could be missing.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) August 8, 2020
As it turns out, I wasn’t missing anything, this was just another case of the betting public being the worst. Weaver got pounded early and was out of the game by the fourth inning. The Padres built up an early lead and coasted to the no-sweat victory. Fernando Tatis Jr, who I highlighted in my pick yesterday as a player to watch, homered again, for the third time in his last four games.
You gotta love fading the public and picking up an easy win. We are back on the hunt for value again today as we head to Pittsburgh, where the Pirates host the Detroit Tigers in game two of a three-game set.
Detroit Tigers (6-5) at Pittsburgh Pirates (3-11)
After playing what was easily the most entertaining game of the season so far last night, the Pirates and the Tigers are at it again tonight from PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Last night, the Tigers won a back and forth game that saw a whopping thirty runs hit the scoreboard, including eleven runs in the seventh inning or later, in a game that took eleven innings to settle. It was Detroit’s first win of the month, as they were 0-2 against the Reds, and then saw their four-game series against St. Louis canceled due to a Corona Virus outbreak.
For Pittsburgh, the Pirates loss last night was their eighth in their last nine games, and their eleven losses on the year are the most in the majors. Most didn’t expect Pittsburgh to be all that competitive this season, but their .214 winning percentage has them on track to have the worst record in modern baseball history.
Starting tonight for the Pirates is Derek Holland (0-0 4.76 ERA), and for the Tigers, it is Ivan Nova (0-0 4.22 ERA). The game total over/under is set at nine and a half runs. The Pirates are -120 home field favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM PST from PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
We all knew coming into the season that the Detroit Tigers weren’t going to be a team that was going to have World Series aspirations. They are clearly rebuilding, and probably haven’t even fully bottomed out yet, despite losing 310 games in the last three seasons combined. But they did add quite a bit of veteran talent in the offseason, somewhat inexplicably, and the on the field product so far in 2020, hasn’t been all that bad.
The Tigers actually have a winning record right now, and a higher winning percentage than teams like the Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Washington Nationals, and St. Louis Cardinals, all teams that are considered legit playoff contenders. The schedule has been a soft one, as the Tigers haven’t even played a single team with a winning record, but wins are wins in Major League Baseball, and right now, Detroit is finding ways to get it done.
Ivan Nova (0-0 4.22 ERA)
Starting pitcher, Ivan Nova is one of those veteran players that the Tigers added in the offseason, and he is doing exactly what he has done his entire career. And that is eat up innings, be respectable on the mound, and give his team a chance to win games without being overpowering an forcing a ton of ground balls.
Nova’s 4.22 ERA in 2020 is right in line with his career average, and people tend to discount Nova, as he had some highly publicized struggles when he was with the New York Yankees, but this guy has a career record of 89-76, and has averaged over ten wins a season with a low four-run ERA the past three seasons. In his last start, he pitched 5.2 innings and allowed just two earned runs against the Kansas City Royals.
It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to call the Pittsburgh Pirates the worst team in baseball right now. They have the most losses, and the only team that has fewer wins than Pittsburgh, is the St. Louis Cardinals, and those poor guys have only played five games, so they get a pass. The Pirates are 29th in batting average and slugging and are dead last in the Major Leagues in on-base percentage. And that is even after last night’s game, that saw Pittsburgh explode for thirteen runs on sixteen hits.
To put into perspective just how fluky the Pirates game was yesterday, Pittsburgh scored as many runs last night, as they had in their previous five games combined. The one good offensive player the Pirates have, Josh Bell, is hitting a dismal .208 with nineteen strikeouts and two walks. The nineteen strikeouts are top five in the National League, not exactly a list you want your best hitter headlining.
Derek Holland (0-0 4.76 ERA)
Derek Holland has mostly been a starter in his decade long MLB career. Last season, he was used out of the bullpen in stints with the Giants and the Cubs, and he struggled badly, posting an ERA above six runs. This year, the Pirates brought him in to start games, and he has been decent, at least for Derek Holland standards.
In two starts, Holland has allowed six earned runs, but it could have easily been worse as he has given up six hits and five walks in those two games and has been forced to constantly be working out of jams. He has pitched into the sixth inning in both starts, but that says more about the Pirates not caring about winning, than it does about him pitching well.
Who Do I Like?
This could have been a really short article. I can bet against the worst team in baseball and get dog money? UMMM, yeah, give me some of that. Oh, and I can do it by backing a team with a winning record right now, that dropped seventeen runs on this same team last night? I’m not sure what the books see in the Pirates tonight, but I certainly don’t see any compelling reasons as to why they are laying wood against anybody right now, let alone against a team that shellacked them last night.
I’m taking the Tigers. We have seen a very strange trend develop so far, in this stranger than fiction, MLB season. The Miami Marlins have the best record in baseball. The Orioles and the Tigers would both make the playoffs right now if the season were to end today, and the Colorado Rockies lead the National League in wins. Bad teams are winning games at a high rate.
I am not sure how long this is going to last, but right now, if all you do is back these “bad” teams that are winning a bunch of games, you are getting rich. And in this game, you can make the case that not only are the Tigers the better team, you can make the case that they are the significantly better team. I’ll back the Detroit Tigers tonight on the road as underdogs, getting +110, and hope that the Pittsburgh Pirates continue doing Pittsburgh Pirates things!