We won yet again last night when we took the over eight and a half runs in the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics game. This number seemed like a bad one from the second I laid eyes on it. You had two starting pitchers in Kendall Graveman and Marco Gonzalez that had ERA’s approaching double-digits. You also had two teams ranked in the top ten in basically every offensive category. And yet you had a very reasonable total of just eight and a half runs.
The fact that the Mariners had their best power hitter, Nelson Cruz, back in the lineup after missing several games with an injury, was just a little cherry on top. They didn’t even really make us sweat this one at all as both teams came out swinging and there were eight runs scored in the first three innings alone. We actually had two different runs taken off the board after replay review and still managed to soar right past this number. In the end, the Mariners took the game 10-8, more than doubling the run production we needed to cash our ticket.
Today I will take a look at a couple other American League West teams, when the Houston Astros host the Texas Rangers.
The Texas Rangers are in Houston for your Sunday Night Baseball Game of the Week looking for the series win in game three of a three-game series against the Astros. The Rangers lost game one, 2-3, and came back to win last night’s game 6-5, in extra innings. Coming into this series, many expected a Houston sweep, but that has not been the case, and these games have been quite competitive.
The Astros will start one of their many ace level pitchers, Justin Verlander (2-0 1.45 ERA) tonight. The Rangers will counter with Big Sexy Bartolo Colon (0-0 1.64 ERA). The Astros are enormous -340 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight runs. First pitch is scheduled for 5:08 PM PST from Minute Maid Park in Houston.
The Texas Rangers aren’t going to be a great team this year. If they stay healthy and things break their way, they might have an outside shot at the wild card in the American League. But this isn’t a championship caliber team by any means. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to win 75-85 games, they almost certainly will.
In this series, they have been very competitive as both games were decided late. The Rangers will turn to Bartolo Colon tonight looking to get a rare series road win against their interstate and divisional rivals.
Bartolo Colon is a multiple time All-Star and former Cy Young Award winner. This guy has been pitching in the big leagues since 1997! He was absolutely awful last season as he split time between three teams and two leagues. But the previous season, Colon won fifteen games for the New York Mets with an ERA of just 3.53 while being a huge, literally, fan favorite.
Big Sexy, as he has become known, still knows how to get guys out at a major league level. He has spent time this season jumping back and forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation and has been great in both roles. Colon has an ERA of just 1.64 in eleven innings of work this season and has a strikeout to walk ratio of 10-1. Is this guy a top line pitcher anymore? Of course not. But can he go out and give his team a shot to win ball games? Absolutely.
The Houston Astros are the best team in baseball. They don’t have the best record and haven’t gotten out to the hottest start of all teams, but for my money, they are the class of the major leagues this season.
Tonight’s starter, Justin Verlander, is a big reason why they won the World Series last season, as he was transcendent last year after coming over from the Detroit Tigers in a trade deadline move. There isn’t really anything bad that I can say about Houston or Verlander, they are really good. That being said, I don’t think any team should ever be -340 in a regular season baseball game.
This number is shockingly high. In order for a team to show a long-term profit at a -340 valuation they would need to win over 80% of their time. The Astros are good, and I think they are going to win 100 games this year, but even if they do, that means they are going to lose 62 of them as well. I just can’t ever see a reason to back a team at that steep of a price. So, when I look at a number like this, I say to myself, could the underdog win this game?
And the answer to that question tonight is yes. The Rangers showed us that last night when they showed a ton of heart as they battled back from being down 5-0 and won the game in extra innings, that they are here to win games. In that game? The Astros were -250. Had you bet Texas last night you would have had enough money left over to freeroll on this game tonight.
Whenever you are looking at a game with a huge number like this one you have several options available to you. You can lay a bunch of wood on the favorite, that is almost never the right thing to do. You can take the favorite on the run line and lay a run and a half, for no other reason than you don’t want to pay so much juice, that is also rarely the right bet. Or you can take a look at the higher variance, but much more long-term profitable play of backing the underdog.
When we look at the underdog options, we can either take the Rangers outright at -270, a long shot for sure, but it would pay off very nicely if it were to come in. Or you can get a little creative like I am going to tonight and look at the reverse run line. The reverse run line is when you take the underdog and actually get a run and a half. That means they can either win or lose by one run and you win your bet.
Usually, if you decide to take the reverse run line, you will have to pay a big price as 24% of all MLB games end up in one run differences. But tonight, I can get the Rangers plus a run and a half, and still get dog money! That is too much value to pass up on for a series that has seen both of the first two games end up in one run differences.
Give me the Texas Rangers on the reverse run line, getting a run and a half at +140 tonight on the road!