Major League Baseball celebrates Labor Day today by scheduling a bunch of day baseball! We have eleven games on the slate this afternoon, with many of those games being played in the sunshine, on what should be a beautiful day for baseball. With just over three weeks left of the regular season, we have several marquee matchups today that will have major playoff implications.
Three weeks left. 👀 pic.twitter.com/pBhKCjTnq0
— MLB (@MLB) September 7, 2020
The Toronto Blue Jays host the New York Yankees, with the Blue Jays leaping past the Yanks in the standings in the American League East Division this week. The Rockies and the Padres square off in San Diego, with both teams looking playoff bound out west. And Cubs and Cardinals continue their five-game series, with St. Louis looking to make it four straight wins over the Cubbies. For our free daily betting pick, we will head to Oakland, where the Athletics host the Astros with first place in the American League West Division on the line.
Houston Astros (21-19) at Oakland Athletics (23-14)
The Houston Astros are hoping to cut into the Oakland Athletics lead in the race for the American League West Division title tonight in game one of huge five-game series. The Astros trail the A’s by three and a half games in the division, and if they manage to sweep Oakland this week, the Astros could leave town in first place. The Astros are hoping they can get back on track after getting swept in their last series in four games by the Los Angeles Angels.
For Oakland, the A’s are sputtering as they have lost four out of their last five games. And while they are still safely in first place in the AL West, the Mariners and the Angels are both red-hot, and all of the sudden, the AL West is finally starting to look like the division we all thought it would be coming into the season, one of the best in baseball.
Starting tonight for the A’s is Frankie Montas (2-3 6.06 ERA), and for the Astros, it is Cristian Javier (4-1 3.35 ERA). The game total over/under is set at nine runs. The Athletics are -130 home field favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 PM PST from Ring Central in Oakland.
We knew that in what was going to be the shortest Major League Baseball season ever, that staying healthy was going to be a must for teams if they wanted to truly compete for a World Series title. In a year where you just don’t have the time to get guys back from injuries and fully recovered, staying out of harm’s way was going to be huge. And the Houston Astros just haven’t been able to do that this year.
Houston has played without Yordan Alverez all season long, and Alex Bregman hasn’t played in over two weeks. Both George Springer and Michael Brantley have been on the IL as well, and this week, the Astros just sent former American League MVP Jose Altuve to the injured list. In their recent series loss to the Angels, instead of having sluggers like Alverez, Bregman, and Altuve in the lineup, the Astros started a lineup with guys Kyle Tucker, Aledmys Diaz, and Jack Mayfield.
Cristian Javier (4-1 3.35 ERA)
Another one of those guys that Houston has had to lean on this year who’s name you probably didn’t know coming into the season, is tonight’s starting pitcher, Cristian Javier. Javier was a strikeout artist in the Minor Leagues and finally got his crack at the Astros rotation this season as Houston had to try and replace the departed Gerrit Cole.
Javier hasn’t been able to duplicate his epic K rates from the minors yet in the Major Leagues, but he has been pretty good. In eight starts this year for Houston, Javier has a 4-1 record and a more than respectable 3.35 ERA. While those numbers aren’t going to fill Gerrit Cole’s shoes, this kid is talented and has a bright future in the big leagues.
The Oakland Athletics were tearing through their schedule in August until they saw a rash of game cancellations and postponements. In a season where getting any day off is a big deal, the A’s took over a week off, and it killed their momentum, as they returned to action and promptly lost two out of three to the San Diego Padres.
The A’s will host the Astros this week with five games in four days, and they are hoping that their home field success will continue as they are 14-6 in Oakland this season. If the A’s can manage to win this series, even just three games to two, it will all but lock up the division title for them, as Houston would leave town down four and a half games with just eighteen games left on the regular-season schedule.
Frankie Montas (2-3 6.06 ERA)
The Athletics badly need to get Frankie Montas back to looking like the guy he was last season. Montas was one of the best pitchers in the AL last year but has really struggled recently, as he has gotten smashed four eighteen earned runs in his last three starts combined.
Montas is happy to be home tonight, though, as his home and road split shows a stark contrast in production. On the road this season, Montas is an abysmal 1-2 with an 11.25 ERA. At home, he is a much better 1-1 with a 3.05 ERA. Those numbers are skewed a lot by his two starts against these Astros, as at home, he held the Astros scoreless in seven innings, allowing just two hits. But in Houston, he got smashed for five earned runs in just three and a third innings worked.
Who Do I Like?
We just talked about how much better Frankie Montas is at home than he is on the road, and when you look at Cristian Javier, he has a very similar trend. In five appearances in Houston, Javier has been lights out with a 3-0 record and a 1.80 ERA. On the road? Yeah, not so much, as he is just 1-1 with a 6.39 ERA. He has one start in Oakland this year, and it currently stands as the worst outing of his short career, as he was blasted for five runs in just three innings of work and allowed three homers.
The strong home and away trends don’t just stop with the pitchers in this game, as both teams have very telling home/away splits. The A’s are 12-5 at home when favored in a game, which is a winning percentage of .706, which is higher than any team in the majors with the exception of the Astros, Padres, and Twins.
And when you look at the Astros road record as underdogs, they are an almost unbelievably bad 1-7 when getting juice away from home. Houston hasn’t been much better as road favorites either, as they are just 4-6 when laying wood in another team’s ballpark. The bottom line is that this Astros team just doesn’t play well outside of Texas, and the Athletics play great in Oakland.
I am going to let these stark home/away splits guide me to the clear play in this game, and back the A’s. Montas is much better at home, Javier struggles on the road, and with just one win on the road all year long as betting underdogs, I have no choice but to fade the Astros at this reasonable price.
For those of you that read my free picks daily, you know that there is nothing that I love more than fading the public, and right now, the public is all over Houston. The Athletics opened up as -150 home field favorites in this one, and the number has been steadily moving towards Houston all morning long.
I will do what I almost always do, and that is jump on the other side of the public action driven line move, and high five Joe public for giving me a nice break on the juice, while backing the A’s. I think Montas will be solid, Javier will be shaky, and the Athletics will get back on track tonight at home. Give me the Oakland Athletics laying -130 in game one of five from Ring Central in Oakland!