We have seen a lot of strange things happen over the years in the rivalry between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. There is never any love lost when these two match up, and its been one of the best rivalries in baseball for decades. But one thing we had never seen before, was a Cardinals “home” game at Wrigley Field.
We saw that yesterday when the Cardinals hosted the Cubs in their own ballpark. The Cardinals missed significant action earlier this year due to a COVID-19 outbreak, and the way they are playing catch up, is by playing lots of double-headers, and limiting their travel, so we are going to see more strange scheduling for St. Louis in the next couple of weeks as they attempt to get a full sixty games played during the regular season.
I felt that the Cardinals were the play for two main reasons. One, Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals starting pitcher, has been elite in his two full seasons with the St. Louis, and while he hadn’t had a lot of action so far this year, when he has gotten to pitch, he was very good. And two, I couldn’t think of a more fitting personification of this 2020 baseball season, that has felt like opposite day all season long, than for the Cardinals to win a home game in the ballpark of their most hated rival.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 19, 2020
Flaherty ended up getting yanked in the second inning as the Cards have decided to work him back very slowly after a 25-day layoff. And while I understand the strategy, I hated it for our bet, as I wanted him in the game. But luckily for us, it didn’t really matter who was pitching for St. Louis, as the Cubs weren’t hitting, and the Cardinals bats were hammering.
The Cardinals scored early and often and ran up a 9-1 lead before allowing two meaningless runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and took home a big 9-3 win, and we cashed our ticket. It was a nice win at a great price. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to Colorado, where the Rockies host the Astros.
Houston Astros (14-10) at Colorado Rockies (13-11)
The Colorado Rockies are looking to avoid getting swept at home tonight, in game four of a four-game series with the Houston Astros. The Rockies started the season out playing good baseball and jumped out to the best record in the National League at 11-3, but they have fallen on hard times recently as they have lost eight out of their last ten games. The Rockies are hoping to salvage one game of this series tonight in the finale.
For Houston, the Astros are on fire as they have won seven straight games, and after a slow start, are right back in the playoff conversation in the American League. Houston is winning games by shutting down teams on the mound, as they had allowed just two runs or less in each of their previous six wins before allowing six runs last night.
Starting for the Astros is Cristian Javier (2-1 2.91 ERA), and for the Rockies, it is German Marquez (2-3 2.35 ERA). The game total over/under is set at eleven and a half runs. The Rockies are -152 home field favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 12:10 PM PST from Coors Field in Colorado.
Starting pitching depth has been a major issue for Houston this year as they are forced to play without several of their best arms. And while that hurt them quite a bit early on this season, they seem to be figuring things out here lately.
Yesterday, Framber Valdez got the Astros seven innings of quality work, allowing just one earned run. Two days ago, Zack Greinke threw eight shutout innings, and in game one, Bandon Bielak worked six innings and gave up just one run on only one hit. Tonight, they will turn to another guy that has had a lot of success recently, in youngster Cristian Javier.
Cristian Javier (2-1 2.91 ERA)
Most people didn’t know the name Cristian Javier before this season, but they do now. Javier was a strikeout legend in the Minor Leagues, and last year was one of the best young pitching prospects in the game, that wasn’t pitching in the big leagues yet. In 2019, split between various levels of the minors, Javier struck out 13.4 batters per nine innings, an absurdly high number for a starter, and finished his season with a 1.74 ERA in 26 appearances.
Javier hit the ground running in the majors as he has been quite good in five appearances, four of them coming as starts. He had one bad outing against the Oakland A’s, but in his other four appearances, he has allowed just two earned runs in a combined 18.2 innings with 19 Ks. In his last start, he threw a six-inning one-hit shutout against the Seattle Mariners.
I never believed in the Rockies hot start this year. I just didn’t see enough talent on the roster to justify them having the best record in the National League. Now, that’s not to say I think this is a bad team, I don’t. But they were never the best team in the NL, and this recent regression was expected.
Despite being one of the top hitting teams in the game for much of the season, their bats have gone cold in this series as they managed just one run a game in the first two games of this series, and while the six runs they scored last night look decent, they scored five of those six runs in the eighth and ninth innings of a game they were being blown out in. Do runs really count if the other team let you score them?
German Marquez (2-3 2.35 ERA)
If the Rockies are going to find a way to stop the bleeding and get things turned back around this season, German Marquez is going to need to be a major factor. Marquez burst onto the national scene in 2018 as a 23-year old, when he won 14 games, has a sub-four run ERA, and struck out 230 batters. He regressed quite a bit last year as his ERA jumped up a full run, and his strikeout rate dropped considerably.
But Marquez has it going again this year as he is pitching well. In five starts, he has pitched into the six-inning or later in every start and has allowed eight earned runs in 32 innings pitched with 30 Ks. He has struggled some with allowing base runners, as he has given up 27 hits and 8 walks and has gotten into more than his fair share of jams, but for the most part, he has been able to get out of them.
Who Do I Like?
This line opened up with the Astros as small -115 road favorites. That line felt fairly sharp. The starting pitching matchup is a wash, in my opinion, and with the Astros red-hot, and the Rockies struggling at the moment, I understood seeing Houston as small favorites.
But I guess the public didn’t see it that way, as they have been hammering the Rockies, and this line has moved 45 points! That is an enormous line move for a regular-season MLB game, and it opens up a ton of value in backing the Astros as underdogs.
I love to fade the betting public. In this game, I get to do that is a big way, as nearly everyone but me is on Colorado. And while I do see this as a fairly evenly matched game, momentum is real in Major League Baseball, and I love getting to back the hot hand.
I will back the Astros and expect Javier to again be strong, and while Marquez might be really good as well, I think the Astros find a way to sneak out of Colorado with the sweep tonight. Marquez has been playing with fire a lot recently, and this Houston team is not one that you want to mess around with. Give me the Houston Astros as road underdogs tonight in Denver, getting +130!