We have a full slate of Major League Baseball playoff action on tap for you today as we have four games scheduled. The early game is the series opener between the Atlanta Braves and the Miami Marlins. Later in the National League, the Dodgers look to continue their tear through the postseason, as they host the San Diego Padres in game one of their NLDS series.
Over in the American League, the Athletics and Astros play game two of a best of five series, with the A’s looking to tie the series up after seeing Houston pick up an upset win in game one last night. The final game on today’s schedule pits two American League East teams against each other, as the New York Yankees square off against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Four DS games today?
— MLB (@MLB) October 6, 2020
The Yankees took the series lead in game one yesterday, as they exploded for nine runs and are now in the driver’s seat of the series. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will head to Dodger Stadium for game two of the ALDS between the Athletics and the Astros.
Houston Astros (1-0) at Oakland Athletics (0-1)
After picking up a huge upset win in game one last night, the Houston Astros are looking to make it two straight wins over the Oakland Athletics today in game two. Houston finished the regular season playing very poorly, but the Astros have figured things out here in the postseason, as they have yet to lose a game in three tries. A win tonight would put Houston well on their way to getting back to the World Series for the third time in the last four years.
ALDS Game 2
— Houston Astros (@astros) October 6, 2020
For Oakland, the Athletics need to regroup and find a way to win this game today if they want a realistic shot at winning and advancing. The A’s were favored in game one, and things were on track early as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead and still led 5-3 heading into the second half of the game, before seeing their bullpen implode and give the game away.
Starting today for the Athletics is Sean Manaea (0-0 0.00 ERA), and for the Astros, it is Framber Valdez (1-0 0.00 ERA). The game total over/under is set at nine runs. The game is currently an even pick’em, with both teams laying -105. First pitch is scheduled for 1:37 PM PST from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
What has gotten into these Houston Astros lately? Houston looked dead on arrival last week when they backed into the playoffs, having lost sixteen of their last twenty-four regular-season games, barely even qualifying for the postseason. But the Astros easily dispatched the Minnesota Twins in the wild card round as betting underdogs, sweeping the Twinkies out of the playoffs in two games, where they won each game by multiple runs.
Last night in game one of this division series against the Athletics, they were again underdogs, and while they did fall behind early, they managed to break out the bats late and stole the series lead. The hot start to the playoffs was hard to see coming for Houston, and despite still being forced to play without several of their best players from last year’s team that went to the World Series, most notably, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, and Yordan Alverez, this team looks good, and in the playoffs, anything can happen. If Houston can win again tonight, they are going to be prohibitive favorites to advance to the AL Championship Series.
Framber Valdez (1-0 0.00 ERA)
Framber Valdez has had a breakout season for the Houston Astros this year. Valdez bounced around last year between the Houston bullpen and the starting rotation and didn’t have much success in either role. He had an ERA of nearly six runs in 70.2 innings pitched and really struggled with his command as he had 44 walks, and his WHIP of 1.67 was sky-high. But this season, with the loss of Cole and Verlander, and Josh James struggles on the mound, Valdez has fallen into the role of an every fifth-day starter and he has had a lot of success.
Interestingly enough, Valdez is sitting at exactly 70.2 innings pitched for the year right now, the same number he pitched last year. Valdez has seen his walk rate plummet, dropping from 5.6 W/9 to 2.0 this year. His K rate is up from 8.7 last year to 9.7 this year. And his WHIP has dropped all the way from 1.67 to 1.11. The increase in productivity has resulted in wins for Houston, as the Astros have won the last four times that Valdez has pitched.
Everything was going to plan yesterday in game one for Oakland, until it wasn’t. Oakland starter Chris Bassitt cruised through the first three innings without giving up a run, and the A’s built up an early 3-0 lead on two home runs, one from Kris Davis and the other from Sean Murphy. But Bassitt ran into trouble in the fourth inning, as he got blasted for two home runs, and the Astros tied the game up at 3-3. Oakland decided to turn things over to the bullpen in the fifth, and it was all downhill from there.
The A’s handed things over to JB Wendelken, a guy who finished the regular season with a 1.80 ERA in 25 innings pitched and didn’t allowed a run in 3.2 innings worked against the White Sox in the wild card round. The inning started out innocently enough for JB, as he retired the first two batters of the inning. But the A’s committed a mortal sin for the playoffs, as they allowed Josh Reddick to reach on a fielding error, and the flood gates opened up after giving the Astros a fourth out in the frame. Buy the time all of the smoke cleared, the Astros scored four runs, and took the lead in the game, and never looked back.
Sean Manaea (0-0 0.00 ERA)
Last year, Sean Manaea got the nod in the AL wild-card game, displacing Mike Fiers on the mound in a must-win game. Manaea didn’t pitch well, and the A’s season ended early. This season, when put in the exact same situation, Oakland manager Bob Melvin decided to go with Fiers over Manaea, and while Fiers did not pitch well and was run from the game in the second inning, the A’s did find a way to win the game.
Manaea now gets his first shot at pitching in the playoffs this year and wants to prove to Melvin that he made the wrong call against Chicago. Manaea struggled early in the year, but really turned things around once he got fully stretched out. In his final seven starts of the season, Manaea pitched a combined 39 innings and allowed only 12 earned runs. That is good for a 2.77 ERA, and the A’s won six out of those seven games.
Who Do I Like?
Game one felt very fluky for Houston. They took advantage of a fielding error to have a big inning and win the game, but I am still not convinced that Houston is just all of the sudden a good team after playing awful in September, and finishing the regular season with the worst record amongst all playoff teams.
Framber Valdez has been much improved in 2020, and he looked great against the Minnesota Twins in the wild card round, pitching five shutout innings against the Twins. But now the Astros are going to call on him to pitch on longer than normal rest after pitching out of the bullpen in his last game. I am always very leery of when a starter gets used out of the bullpen and then gets throw right back into the rotation. Pitchers tend to be creatures of habit and messing with their routine can throw them off. I don’t expect Valdez to be bad, but I also don’t think he will be razor-sharp either.
And when you look at Manaea, this guy was pitching great after a rocky start to the season. I know that Melvin didn’t have much of a choice in going with Fiers against Chicago, after benching Fiers back to back years and losing both times, but I still think Manaea was the guy to go with in that game. In his one start against the Astros this season, Manaea was light’s out, as he pitched seven innings and allowed just one run on only two hits.
I don’t think we will see the same fireworks today as we did in game one. I expect Valdez to be decent, and Manaea to be very good. The Astros know they have to get a lot out of Valdez in this game, as they are very weak in the starting rotation, and I just don’t think he is up to the task. I don’t see him getting blown out, but he will leave the game on the hook for a loss, and unless the Astros find a way to pull another rabbit out of a hat late, against what has been a very good Oakland pitching staff, Houston is going to lose the game and Valdez is going to get charged with the loss.
I am going to call game one what it was, a fluke. The Astros need way too many things to break their way to win this game and this series, and they are going to see their luck run out tonight against Oakland. Give me the Oakland Athletics today, as they right the ship and retake control of the series in game two, at even money from Dodger Stadium!