Yesterday, we took a shot on a home underdog when we backed the Toronto Blue Jays against the New York Yankees. I felt that getting to back the Blue Jays as home dogs was a high-value spot as Toronto had beaten the Yankees in the first two games of the series, and had been on fire for the last two weeks, and New York had slipped from first place, all the way to third, by losing fifteen of their previous twenty games.
And when I looked at the starting pitching matchup, I was surprised to see rookie Deivi Garcia heavily favored as he only had ten innings of Major League experience under his belt. I certainly didn’t have a ton of confidence in Blue Jays starter Tanner Roark, but there was enough data to suggest that Toronto was the play at home, where they have won ten of their fifteen games this season.
Early on, it looked like I had nailed this pick as Deivi Garcia allowed two runs on three hits in the first two innings, and my prediction that he would struggle against this hard-hitting Blue Jays lineup was proving to be spot on. But after that rocky start, Garcia managed to settle down and actually pitched really well the rest of the afternoon.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 10, 2020
The same cannot be said about Tanner Roark though, as he lasted just two innings, throwing 68 pitches, giving up two runs, on two hits and three walks. Roark gave way to the newly acquired Ross Stripling, and Stripling promptly got blasted for three earned runs, and the Yankees took a 5-2 lead. Toronto wasn’t able to rally late, and we lost our bet.
What can you do, the variance is always going to be tough to beat, and when you are consistently making plays on underdogs, like we do, you are going to take your fair share of losses. But if you stay true to the course and always search for value, you will show a long-term profit, even if you have a losing record. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to Oakland for the series finale between the Astros and the A’s.
Houston Astros (22-22) at Oakland Athletics (26-15)
The Oakland Athletics are trying to send the Houston Astros out of town with another loss today in game five of a five-game series. The A’s have taken three of the first four games of the series, and a win today would all but lock up the American League West Division title for Oakland, as the A’s would be up six and a half games with just a handful of games left to play.
For Houston, the Astros are desperately trying to stay in the playoff hunt in the American League, and a loss today would see them dip below .500 on the year. The Astros are banged up, with several of their key players on the IL, and have lost seven out of their last eight games.
Starting today for the Astros is Jose Urquidy (0-0 4.91 ERA), and for the Athletics, it is Sean Manaea (3-2 5.09 ERA). The game total over/under is set at ten runs. The Athletics are -140 home field favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 12:40 PM PST from Ring Central in Oakland.
Could the Houston Astros miss the playoffs this year? While it seems highly unlikely that Houston won’t be playing in the postseason, they are in free fall right now, and with both the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels playing decent baseball right now in the AL West, the Astros could find themselves on the outside looking in at the end of the regular season.
Entering play today, Houston has a two and a half-game lead over Seattle and a four and a half-game lead over LA. While it would take a furious rally for LA to catch them, the Mariners actually have a real shot. Houston has to play the Dodgers in their next series, where they will be heavy underdogs in both games of the series. They also play in Seattle for three games late in the month, and if they don’t have a multi-game lead at that point, that series could be a playoff eliminator.
Jose Urquidy (0-0 4.91 ERA)
Jose Urquidy missed the first two months of the season with an undisclosed injury and made his season debut last week against the Los Angeles Angels. In that start, he coasted through the first three innings, but hit a wall in the fourth inning and was pulled from the game after just 63 pitches. Urquidy picked up a no-decision in that one, as he worked 3.2 innings, giving up two earned runs, on four hits and three walks.
Getting Urquidy back on the roster is a major addition for Houston, as they have been painfully short-handed on the mound. That being said, he didn’t have any command of his pitches in his last start, and he will need to be much sharper today if he wants to give his team a chance to win against this red-hot Oakland A’s team that can absolutely hit the baseball.
A rough patch at the end of the month, where Oakland lost four out of five games, gave us a little bit of drama in the AL West. But the A’s now look fully recovered from that skid, as they have taken three out of the four games here against Houston, and will look to finish off the series in a big way today. At this point, the A’s are fighting more for the top seed in the American League than they are for the division title, that is all but a forgone conclusion.
The A’s bullpen has been light’s out in this series against Houston, as they have yet to allow even a single earned run in the first four games. In the three Oakland victories in this series, the Athletics pitching staff held the Astros to just four total runs. If Oakland can keep pitching like they have this week, they are going to be very hard to beat in the AL playoffs.
Sean Manaea (3-2 5.09 ERA)
Sean Manaea should be the ace of this Oakland pitching staff, but he wasn’t pitching like one early in the season. Manaea started out his season by going 0-2 with an ERA of nine runs in his first four starts. Not shockingly, the A’s lost three out of those four games. But lately, Manaea has things turned around as in his last four starts, he has been solid.
Over the course of his last four outings, Manaea has pitched a combined 20.1 innings and has allowed just five earned runs. That is a 2.21 ERA and is the type of production that we thought we were going to get out of Manaea coming into this season. The A’s have ridden Manaea’s strong results to a 4-0 record in his last four starts.
Who Do I Like?
I have bet the Athletics multiple times in this series already and have won each bet. Earlier this week, I wrote up game one of this series and highlighted a very strong betting trend for both teams. The A’s are one of the best teams in the Major Leagues when it comes to winning as favorites this season. The A’s are 23-10 as favorites this year. At home, they are 14-6 when favored.
And when you look at Houston, the Astros are horrifically bad on the road when underdogs, as they are 2-9 as road dogs. That is a winning percentage of just .182. They can’t win at home when underdogs either, as they are just 4-7 in Houston when they aren’t favored.
The Houston Astros have taken advantage of a very soft schedule to inflate their record and make them look like a better team than they actually are right now. Against good teams, teams with winning records, they are awful. That has made the Astros a very easy team to bet on this year. When they are playing good teams as underdogs, fade them and pick up the free money. When they are playing a bad team as favorites, back them, and pick up the free money.
I will follow that strong betting trend in this one and fade the Astros and expect them to continue their struggles as underdogs. The Athletics are the far superior team at this point, and Oakland knows that if they win today, they might as well pop the champagne bottles now, as they are going to win the AL West Division title.
I would expect Urquidy to be shaky again today, and I would be very surprised to see him still in the game past the fifth inning. Even if he is respectable, they are likely going to have him on a pitch count as he has pitched just 3.2 inings in the last year.
Manaea hasn’t been getting overly deep into games lately, but he has been great when he has been on the mound, and the A’s know they have a stellar bullpen to back him up, so they don’t see any need to push him too deep into games. The A’s win this one, and it likely won’t be close. I will lay a little wood on the Athletics, pick up the low hanging fruit, and snatch up some free money.