After a blazing hot July that saw us win more than 70% of our games, we have hit a little bit of a rough patch here to start August. We have lost three straight games for the first time since early May! Now, I suppose I could act like a lot of the handicappers out there that act like they never ever lose a bet, but to me, when a guy says he is 50-0 I just shake my head and laugh, and they lose all credibility with me. The nature of baseball betting is that there is always going to be a lot of variance, but as long as you are consistently seeking out value, and taking advantage of it, you are never going to run that bad for very long.
Last night’s loss was especially painful as we had the Braves as road underdogs against the Minnesota Twins in what was a very tightly contested game. The game hit the ninth inning all tied up at three runs apiece, and we had a very good shot at picking up another underdog winner. But unfortunately for us, the Braves couldn’t get the 27th out as Miguel Sano blasted a two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth with two outs.
Losing a bet always sucks but losing to a walk-off with two outs in the ninth is extra painful. What can you do, that is baseball, and after seeing the game, we seemed to have certainly have been on the value side in what was an evenly matched game, getting juice, rather than laying it.
For the Braves, they are now mired in a mini-slump themselves as they have now lost three out of their last four games. With the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals both winning yesterday, the Braves lead in the NL East Division, shrunk to just six games. The Braves need to make sure this little skid doesn’t turn into a bad month, as the division race is tightening up by the day, and they can ill afford a losing streak.
For the Twins, they have managed to right the ship in a big way after struggling in early July. Minnesota has now won nine out of their last eleven games, and they are doing a good job holding off the surging Cleveland Indians in the AL Central Division race. After last night’s win, the Twins are four games up on the Indians for first place. For today’s pick, we will head to Arizona, where the DBacks host the Phillies.
The Philadelphia Phillies are in Phoenix Tuesday for game two of a three-game series with the DBacks, looking for the series win. The Phillies took game one last night 7-3, behind a strong start from Vince Velazquez. Velasquez tossed seven innings of two-run ball, and the Phillies lineup provided plenty of support as they scored runs in six different innings.
For Arizona, the DBacks are adjusting to life without their ace starter, Zack Greinke, as he was traded to the Houston Astros last week at the trade deadline. The DBacks were shopping several of their best players, but in the end, Greinke was the only major name moved. While the move to trade Greinke may have signaled that the DBacks were done competing for the year, they are still just three and a half games back of the second wild card in the NL.
Starting for the DBacks tonight is the newly acquired Mike Leake (9-8 4.27 ERA), and for the Phillies, it is Jake Arrieta (8-8 4.44 ERA). The game total over-under is set at nine and a half runs. The DBacks are -135 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 PM PST from Chase Field in Arizona.
Mike Leake wasn’t too high on any team’s radar heading into July, as he had been very inconsistent. Even in a pitching starved market, you weren’t hearing his veteran name tossed around all that often. Entering July, Leake was 7-7 with a 4.63 ERA. But Leake managed to get his act together just enough in July, to get his ticket out of last place Seattle.
Leake toyed with a perfect game on July 19th, as he hit the ninth inning with the perfecto intact before allowing a leadoff single to break it up. He did manage to finish out the game though, tossing a complete game shutout, one-hitter. That performance was enough to get some attention in the trade market. But when you look at the full body of work for Leake this season, it leaves a lot to be desired.
Leake has allowed four earned runs or more nine times this season in twenty-two starts. That’s nearly half of his starts where he has gotten hammered. The game before his near-perfect game? He got blasted for seven runs in just two-thirds of an inning worked. In his last start for the Mariners? He gave up five runs on ten hits in just five and two-thirds worked against the Texas Rangers. Which Leake are we going to see tonight in his DBacks debut?
Jake Arrieta has had a somewhat similar season as Leake, as at times he has been really good, and others, he has been downright awful. In ten different starts this season, Arrieta has allowed two runs or fewer. That includes three out of his last four starts. He hasn’t been getting deep into games as of late as he is dealing with an elbow injury, but that hasn’t stopped him from being fairly effective.
I am quite shocked to see the Diamondbacks as favorites in this one. They are a below .500 team that made it very clear that winning this season wasn’t a priority when they shipped off Greinke and nearly traded away Robbie Ray as well before that deal fell through at the last minute. And if you think that Mike Leake is going to be a good replacement for Greinke, you are crazy.
Leake is a decent inning eater and will add some much-needed depth to the DBacks rotation, but don’t expect big things out of him. The Phillies aren’t hitting the ball as well as most expected them to coming into this season, but this lineup still has lots of pop up and down it, and they can score runs if a pitcher has an off day.
As for Arrieta? The elbow injury does worry me some, but it is bone spurs, and basically, it only hurts, not really restricting his ability to pitch. And since Philly started to monitor his pitch count and limit his innings, he has actually been pretty good. In three of his last four starts, he has allowed one earned run, and the Phillies won each of those games. I expect something similar out of him tonight. Give me the Philadelphia Phillies as decent-sized road underdogs tonight in game two from Phoenix at +125!