Yesterday we picked up yet another underdog winner when we backed the Philadelphia Phillies on the road against the Atlanta Braves. I was shocked to see the Phillies as dogs as they had their ace on the mound in Aaron Nola. While Nola started off his season slow and isn’t producing the same stats this year as he did last year, the guy is still very good, and I was surprised that I got to back him getting dog money against anybody.
And when I looked at who he was matched up with on the mound, in Dallas Keuchel, I really like a play on Philly. Keuchel was on the couch until three weeks ago and was making just his third start of the year, and the first two didn’t go very well. So, as usual, I took advantage of the bad number and hammered the Phillies.
All Nola did was go out and throw eight shutout innings while scattering four hits along the way. The young ace threw 117 pitches and was absolutely dominant the entire evening. Don’t look now but Nola is starting to round into mid-season form as he has allowed a total of just one earned run in his last three starts, spanning twenty-three innings. I said yesterday that if the Phillies want any chance of catching Atlanta in the second half, they are going to need Nola at his best, and he certainly seems to be there right now.
And to give Keuchel some credit he unexpectedly pitched really well also. Keuchel had the best outing of his short season as he pitched seven innings of two-run ball. But those two runs were plenty for Philly, as they shutout the Braves, and picked up the 2-0 win. With the win, Philly pulls within four and a half games of Atlanta for first place. For today’s pick, I will head to New York for a Subway Series game between the Yankees and the Mets.
The New York Yankees take the short trip across town tonight as they play in Flushing against their crosstown rivals, the Mets, in game two of a quick two-game set. The Yankees, despite being decimated by injuries all season long, have the best record in the American League. They did drop game one of this series last night 4-2, blowing an early 2-0 lead.
For the Mets, they have had lots of struggles this season, and seem to be a candidate to sell off pieces at the trade deadline, but the Mets are the Mets, so you never really can tell what they are going to do. New York has the third worst record in the National League and they are eleven games back of the Atlanta Braves in the National League East Division.
Starting for the Yankees is Domingo German (9-2 3.86 ERA), and for the Mets, it is Jason Vargas (3-3 3.66 ERA). The game total over-under is set at nine and a half runs. The Yankees are -146 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM PST from Citi Field in New York City.
Domingo German is expected to be activated from the injured list to start tonight, which will be the first time he has started a big-league game in nearly a month. And as a testament to just how good he was early in the season, his nine wins are still top five in the league, despite not having won a decision since May 21st. But when you look at how German was pitching before getting shut down for a month, it leaves a lot to be desired.
He was doing a great job of racking up the wins, but it was more about the Yankees scoring him a bunch of runs than it was about him actually pitching all that well. In his last three starts, he pitched just a combined fourteen and two-thirds of an inning and got hammered for fourteen runs. He gave up seven home runs in those three starts.
Now, maybe he was pitching injured, and that was what was causing the poor results. But even when he was completely healthy, he wasn’t doing a great job of getting deep into games. German pitched six innings or fewer in ten of his thirteen starts. It is hard to hate on a guy too much that is 9-2, but that seems to be much more of a reflection of how good this Yankees team is, not how great German has been.
Jason Vargas was awful last season. He had an ERA of nearly six runs and was a punching bag all season long. Maybe that is why people are having a hard time realizing that he has actually been pretty good this year. The veteran left-hander has yet to give up more than four runs in a game this season and has allowed two runs or less in seven of his fourteen starts.
He isn’t a guy that is going to blow you away with elite stuff, but he has done a very respectable job of getting guys out and giving his team a chance to win games. And when you look at his home and away splits, he is much better at home. His ERA at Citi Field is two full runs lower than his road number, and opposing batters are hitting just .202 against him at home.
For today’s bet, I will do something that I very rarely do. And that is back a bad team. But this Mets team is a different kind of bad. Hear me out here. This isn’t the Mariners are the Marlins that are rebuilding and trying to lose, this is a Mets team that desperately is trying to win, and just keeps coming up short. The reason I draw the distinction is that in my estimation, the Mets are still trying. Once a team has given up on the year, I won’t back them. This team, despite being pretty awful at times, hasn’t given up.
So, I will use them as a tool to fade Domingo German. German is nowhere near as good as his stats show, and I have a feeling he is going to get lit up tonight. You gotta remember, this guy was terrible last season, and I am not going to let the Yankees scoring a bunch of runs for him early this year distract me from the fact that the data tells me this guy isn’t very good. He is certainly much worse than the public’s perception of him, and that creates value. So, I will make a play on the Mets, that is much more of a play against German.
I’ll need Vargas to at least be decent as if this turns into a slugfest I am in a lot of trouble. But Vargas has been decent all season long, and I expect something similar out of him tonight. He won’t shut them down completely, but with German out there, I am hoping he won’t have to. Give me the New York Mets as home underdogs tonight in game two from Citi Field!