We picked up a very nice money line underdog win yesterday when we backed the Oakland Athletics against the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox were big -157 home favorites and they had their undefeated starter, Rick Porcello, on the mound. I felt that A’s starter Sean Manaea was being a bit undervalued in this game. He had no-hit this very same Boston team just a couple of starts before, and I was surprised to see him getting so much dog money.
The game itself was a fantastic back and forth battle. Every time Oakland pulled out to a lead, the Red Sox would reel them back in, and in the end, we snuck out with the 6-5 victory and cashed a big underdog ticket. Manaea was decent, and Porcello was just slightly worse. Sometimes it can be hard to have the courage to take a shot on big dogs, especially when it involves betting against really good teams like the Boston Red Sox, that had the best record in the majors coming into this game. But even the absolute best teams are going to lose 60-70 games, so you must find times where you can look to fade them if you want to be long-term profitable betting baseball. For today’s game, we will look at an inter-league matchup between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals.
The New York Yankees are in the nation’s capital Tuesday for game one of a quick two-game series with the Washington Nationals. This matchup features what is likely the hottest team in the American League, the Yankees have won nineteen out of their last twenty-two games, and the hottest team in the Nationals League, the Nationals have won thirteen of their last fifteen games. Something is going to have to give in this series!
Starting tonight for New York is Masahiro Tanaka (4-2 4.66 ERA), and for the Nationals, it is Gio Gonzalez (4-2 2.22 ERA). The Yankees are -131 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM PST from Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
The Washington Nationals started the season out struggling. They finished April with a losing record and with the Braves and Phillies both winning at high rates, it looked like the Nats could be the odd man out come playoff time in the National League East Division. Well, they are struggling no more, as they have been on fire the last three weeks, and their twenty-four wins on the year are just one win behind the Brewers and the Braves for the most of any team in the National League. The main reason for their recent turnaround and been the dominance of their starting pitching staff.
The Nationals have what is likely the best rotation in all of the National League. If it weren’t for the murder’s row of a rotation they are rolling out in Houston right now, it would be the major league’s best. This rotation is led by Max Scherzer and Steven Strasburg, but the often unheralded Gio Gonzalez, is more than holding his own as their number three guy.
Gio has an ERA of just 2.22 on the season and doesn’t have a single bad start on the year. In his eight starts this season, Gonzalez has given up two earned runs or fewer in seven of them, and in the one that he did get touched up a bit, it was for just three earned runs. Gonzalez has been doing a great job staying away from the long ball, he has given up just one home run in forty-four, and two-thirds of an inning worked. He also has fifty punch outs on the year. Gio has been great this year and has been consistently undervalued in the betting market.
Starting for the Yankees is Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka can be absolutely filthy at times, and other times he seems to be off his game and can get rocked. He has ace-level stuff, he just doesn’t seem to bring it every game. The big knock on Tanaka this year has been his inability to get deep into games. Tanaka has pitched into the seventh inning just one time in his eight starts this year.
While the Yankees have won a lot with Tanaka on the mound, they are 6-2 in his eight starts, that is more in spite of Tanaka, than because of him. He has given up at least three earned runs in five of those eight starts. He is rarely really bad, but he is also rarely very good. He just goes out there and pitches decent, and stands behind this mighty Yankees offense to power him to victory, and right now that is a formula that is working in New York.
What a great game this is. Two really good teams that are both playing really well at the moment. That being said, I am quite surprised to see the Nationals as fairly big home underdogs in this game. I know the Yankees are hot right now, but this Nationals team has won thirteen of their last fifteen as well, and with Gio Gonzalez on the mound at home, I figured this would be a tighter number. At home this season, Gonzalez has an ERA of just 1.61 in four starts, he has been lights out at Nationals Park.
If you are a daily reader of my picks, you know that I feel that Gio Gonzalez, for whatever reason, seems to be consistently undervalued in the betting market. Maybe it is because he is overshadowed by Mad Max and Strasburg on his own team, maybe it is because he rarely goes past the seventh inning in games. Whatever the case may be, you can usually back Gio at a very favorable price. And that is what I am going to do tonight.
It takes a lot of courage to bet against a team like the New York Yankees, that entering play today now have the best record in all of baseball. But when you get an opportunity to back a home dog as good as the Washington Nationals with a starter on the mound as good as Gio Gonzalez, you just have to take it. Give me the Washington Nationals at +111 tonight at home in game one!