We have been nailing a bunch of heavy underdog picks in the last couple of weeks, and yesterday we took a shot on another one when we backed the Chicago White Sox against the Cleveland Indians. I felt that the starting pitching matchup was a wash, as Reynaldo Lopez hasn’t been overly consistent, but did have a history of shutting down the Indians. And Cleveland starter, Cal Quantrill, had made just one start on the year, and I didn’t expect him to get deep into the game.
So, I fired hard on the White Sox at +130 and expected Chicago to take care of business in a game that they needed to win. The game was tightly contested throughout, and my read on the starting pitching matchup was spot on. Lopez was strong, allowing just one run on only three hits in five innings, and Quantrill was solid as well, but didn’t last long, as he worked just four shutout innings.
— FOX Sports Cleveland (@FOXSportsCLE) September 23, 2020
The game hit extra innings all tied up at one run apiece, and in a game that could go either way, I was happy to be on the side getting the juice. Our bet looked to be in great shape when the White Sox scored two runs in the top of the tenth inning to take the lead. But alas, it was not meant to be, as the Indians exploded for four runs in the bottom half of the tenth to steal the game away. The big hit was a walk-off three-run bomb from Jose Ramirez.
It has certainly been a frustrating end to what was a very profitable regular season of Major League baseball, as we can’t seem to fade blowing big leads late in games in the last two weeks. We either win our bet or have a big lead and give it away late. We will look to shake off that late inning run bad tonight, as we take a look at the game between the Atlanta Braves and the Miami Marlins.
Miami Marlins (28-27) at Atlanta Braves (33-22)
The Atlanta Braves host the Miami Marlins in game three of a four-game series tonight. The Braves have taken the first two games of this series and have locked up the National League East Division title along the way. Atlanta is now jockeying for postseason positioning in the NL playoffs, as they are a game ahead of the Chicago Cubs for the two seed in the NL.
For Miami, the Marlins hold a just a game and a half lead over the Philadelphia Phillies for second place in the division. There is a log jam of teams fighting for the NL Wild card, and if the Marlins can’t find to win a game or two in this series with Atlanta, they could end up missing the playoffs altogether.
Starting tonight for the Marlins is Sixto Sanchez (3-2 2.75 ERA), and for the Braves, it is Max Fried (7-0 1.96 ERA). The game total over/under is set at eight runs. The Braves are -182 home field favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM PST from Truist Park in Atlanta.
Coming into this series with the Atlanta Braves, the Miami Marlins had a shot at catching Atlanta for first place in the National League East Division. They would have needed an unlikely four-game sweep to get the job done, but stranger things have happened, and Miami had a real path to winning the East Division. But after losing game one, and then getting blown out last night in game two, the Marlins division title dreams are dashed, and now Miami is just trying to find a way to sneak into the postseason.
There are six teams all fighting for four National League playoff spots right now. The St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, and Philadelphia Phillies are competing for second place in their respective divisions, as well as the two NL wild-card spots.
Only two games sperate those four teams, and only a half of a game separates the Marlins from the Reds, Brewers, and Giants who are all tied up, sitting right at .500. Two of those teams are going to get left out of the postseason, and Miami is fighting hard to make sure they aren’t one of them.
Sixto Sanchez (3-2 2.75 ERA)
We have been waiting for the arrival of Sixto Sanchez since he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2014 as a teenager. He was the centerpiece of the Marlins trade with Philly for JT Realmuto, and the hype was enormous coming into this season, as we were expected to finally see him pitch in the big leagues.
He made his long-awaited debut for Miami on August 22nd, against the Washington Nationals, and has far exceeded even his lofty expectations, as he has been brilliant. In six starts, Sanchez has an ERA of just 2.76. His ERA was just 1.69 through his first five starts but jumped up a full run after getting roughed up a bit in his last start. At still just 22-years old, the future is indeed bright for the young Marlins hurler.
The Braves were happy to lock up the division title last night and may end up resting a couple of their players in this game, and the rest of the week, to prepare for the postseason. But you can expect them to still try and win tonight, for one main reason, and that is Max Fried’s Cy Young Award candidacy. With nothing else to play for, except maybe seeding in the NL playoffs, getting Fried to 8-0 is the main goal in the game tonight for Atlanta.
Max Fried (7-0 1.96 ERA)
If Max fried has a good game tonight and picks up the win, he could potentially finish the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record and have the most wins and the lowest ERA in the National League. If that doesn’t get you a CY Young Award, I am not sure what would. Fried has been nearly perfect all season long, as the Braves are 9-1 in his ten starts, and the most runs he has given up in any start this year has been three.
In seven of those ten starts, he has allowed one run or fewer. It has been a breakout season for Fried, and after winning seventeen games last season, he took another big step forward this season, and at only 26 years old, will lead this Braves rotation for the next several years. Fried is the prohibitive favorite to take home the Cy Young Award honors in the NL and don’t be shocked if it is the first of many.
Who Do I Like?
I think that the Braves are going to win this game. But it won’t be easy, as Sixto Sanchez is very hard to square up. Sanchez has only made one career start on the road, and it just so happened to be in Atlanta, against these Braves, two weeks ago. In that game, he worked six shutout innings and allowed just three hits.
Max Fried also has one start against Miami this season, and he was even better than Sanchez, as he pitched 6.1 shutout innings, allowing just four hits. The Braves are rightly the favorites, and to be honest, I think this number is a sharp one. Atlanta will probably win, but with several of their players likely getting the day off, and Sixto Sanchez being so tough on the mound, I don’t love a bet on them at the current price.
One bet that I do like, though, is a bet on the under eight runs game total. Sanchez and Fried have both been amazing on the mound this year, and I would expect both guys to again be very good tonight. This game has a 3-2 final score written all over it if you ask me. In the last two weeks, the Marlins have scored two runs or less in a game seven times. That includes getting shutout five times.
I can’t imagine they are going to be able to break out of that slump against Max Fried, who is the best pitcher in the league right now. And with the Braves exploding for eleven runs last night and likely partying the night away to celebrate the division title, they are likely to have a letdown game at the plate today.
All signs point to a lower scoring and competitive game, and I see the under eight runs as the clear play to make. Give me the under eight runs tonight in game three from Atlanta!