Lance Lynn has been outstanding in his short stint with the Texas Rangers. After finishing in the top five of the American League Cy Young Award voting last year in his debut season with Texas, he followed it up this year, with even better results, as entering play yesterday, he was 2-0 with a 1.16 ERA in four starts. When I saw him priced as a small favorite last night, I couldn’t resist backing him.
Throw in the fact that the Rangers were finally playing good baseball for the first time this year, they had won five of their previous six games, and that the Rockies had finally cooled off, having lost three of their previous four contests, and it just felt like one of those spots where the tide was turning for both teams. I had a chance to get ahead of that trend last night, and backed the Rangers as small favorites, and felt like I had a high-value play on my hands.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) August 15, 2020
As good as Lance Lynn has been this season, he was even better last night in Denver. Coors Field is notoriously tough on pitchers, and all Lynn did was go out and throw a complete game, allowing just two runs, only one of which was earned, on only two hits. It was a masterclass performance from Lynn, and he carried his team to a 3-2 victory.
The Rangers are now officially on fire as they have won six out of seven, and if the season were to end today, Texas would be playing in the postseason. For Colorado, they have to start feeling a bit concerned, as they have lost four out of five games, after starting out the season a blistering hot 11-3. Most people, myself included, expect this Rockies team to regress in the second half of the season, and it looks like that might have already started now. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to the Windy City, where the Chicago Cubs host the Milwaukee Brewers.
Milwaukee Brewers (8-10) at Chicago Cubs (13-4)
The Chicago Cubs host the Milwaukee Brewers tonight in game three of a four-game series between National League Central Division foes. The series is all tied up at one game apiece after seeing the Cubs take game one 4-2, and the Brewers take game two last night in a nail-bitter, 4-3. The Cubs loss snapped their three-game winning streak, and Chicago has won nine out of their last eleven games.
For Milwaukee, the Brewers were happy to hang onto the victory last night, as they had lost five out of their last seven games and were quickly sinking down the standings in the NL Central. The Brewer’s struggles at the plate have been evident in this series as they have managed just six total runs on only nine hits in two games.
Starting today for the Cubs is Colin Rea (0-0 0.00 ERA), and for the Brewers, it is Adrian Houser (1-1 2.65 ERA). The game total over/under is set at nine and a half runs. The Brewers are small -120 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 12:20 PM PST from Wrigley Field in Chicago.
The Milwaukee Brewers are having a strange start to the season. They can’t hit a lick, they are currently hitting .213 as a team, that is 28th in the Major Leagues. And they are massively overworking their bullpen, as they are pulling their starters early in nearly every game, whether they are pitching well or not. But despite these two disturbing trends, Milwaukee is still hanging around in the National League, as they are just a game out of the playoffs entering play today.
Milwaukee is mostly treading water here in August with a 5-7 record, and the only series win they have so far this year is over the dreadfully bad Pittsburgh Pirates. When you look ahead on the schedule, the Brewers have some winnable games coming up to finish out the month, most notably seven games against the Pirates, and they have to find a way to finish out the month with a winning record if they want any realistic shot at the postseason.
Adrian Houser (1-1 2.65 ERA)
We talked earlier about how the Brewers have kept all of their starters on a tight leash this season, regardless of how they are performing, and we have seen that play out a couple of times already with today’s starter, Adrian Houser. In Houser’s first two starts of the year, he was very good, as he worked a combined 12 innings and allowed just one earned run.
But even though he was cruising in both games, he was pulled after throwing just 68 and 87 pitches, respectively. In his last start, he ran into some trouble against the Minnesota Twins, as he gave up four runs, all earned, in five innings of work and only threw 77 pitches in the game. Houser is averaging less than 80- pitches a game, and you have to wonder how long he will last today against a Cubs team that likes to work the count and has one of the highest on-base percentages of any team in the game, at .341.
The Chicago Cubs have the largest division lead in the majors right now, with a five-game lead over the second-place St. Louis Cardinals, and a five and a half game lead over both the Cincinnati Reds and the Brewers. They are currently the only team in the division with a winning record, and their +20 run differential is the only positive number in the central, with the Brewers way back of Chicago at -15.
The Cubs are getting the job done on both sides of the plate, as they are hitting decent, and their pitching staff has proven to be one of the most consistent in the National League. One guy that is having a lot of success that was quite unexpected, is the newly acquired, Jason Kipnis. Kipnis was a former All-Star in his nearly decade of time with the Cleveland Indians but saw his production fall off of a cliff in his last couple of years playing for the tribe.
But this season, Kipnis has been platooning, and has really played well as he is hitting .360 in 25 at-bats, with a .448 on-base percentage, and is slugging .800. And while that is a very small sample size, Kipnis has quickly become a bat the Cubs can rely on and is working himself back into any everyday player role.
Colin Rea (0-0 0.00 ERA)
Before this year, Colin Rea last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2016. After making 20 starts for the Padres and Marlins in 2016, Rea was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2017. In 2018 and 2019, Rea toiled in the minors as he tried to work his way back to the show. Last year at triple-A Iowa, Rea posted a 14-4 record with a sub-four run ERA, and that led Chicago to singing him to a Minor League deal in the offseason.
Rea has made two relief appearances so far in 2020 and has pitched well in limited action, throwing three-innings, allowing no runs on just one hit, and striking out three, without walking a batter. Rea gets the chance to start tonight with Tyler Chatwood going down with an injury and getting scratched from his start yesterday. If you want to see a feel-good story play out today, just keep an eye on Colin Rea, as it has taken him four years to climb back to the mountain top.
Who Do I Like?
Adrian Houser is clearly the better side of this starting pitching matchup, and that is why the Brewers are the current betting favorites. But while Houser has looked decent this year, he only had 18 career starts before this season and had a lifetime record of just 6-7, so it’s not like this is a major mismatch on the mound. Houser is the better arm, but not by as much as most people think.
And we have no idea if the Brewers are even going to let him pitch today! When you look back at the Brewer’s last several games, they have yet to see a pitcher get even remotely deep into a game. Brandon Woodruff pitched 4.1 innings last night, Bret Anderson pitched 4.1 the game before, Eric Lauer lasted only 3.2 innings on Wednesday, and Josh Lindblom was pulled after just 4 innings of work in his last start on Tuesday.
In the Brewer’s last ten games, they haven’t seen their starting pitcher in the game past the fifth inning a single time. Not once. That tells me that even though I feel that Houser is the better starter in this game, I won’t have to fade him all that long. That means Milwaukee will again have to turn to their over-worked bullpen to carry a lot of the weight today on the road.
The Cubs are the far superior overall team in this game. And at home this year they are 8-2, which is good for one of the best home-field winning percentages in the game. I think that they will find a way to win this game at home, and they show a lot of value as home dogs. Houser will be solid, Rea is a complete wild card, but when all of the smoke clears, I see Chicago taking care of business at Wrigley. Give me the Chicago Cubs as home underdogs today, getting +110!