Our playoff picture is almost complete, at least in terms of who the entrants will be in the tournament, but there is still a long ways to go to determine the exact seeding. The American League is all but settled at the top, though the A’s are mathematically within reach of the Red Sox for the top seed. In the National League, things are even tighter with the Cardinals and the Braves tied in the loss column (St. Louis has one more win) for the top seed, while the Reds and Pirates have a three-game weekend series that will determine who hosts the all-important “Game Four” of that series; the one-game do-or-die wildcard playoff game.
I didn’t have an official play yesterday, but if you had a dollar on “Brian McCann is a badass” you would have collected a big payout. If you haven’t seen the fireworks from yesterday’s Braves v. Brewers game, it’s worth a YouTube search. It’s always an exciting play when the catcher blocks the plate. It’s WAY more entertaining when the catcher is blocking the plate six feet up the line on a homerun… good stuff.
Let’s get to today’s free pick…
Tampa Bay Rays -127 at New York Yankees +117 (Total: 7.5)
Alex Cobb (10-3, 2.90 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (9-5, 3.13 ERA)
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the biggest storyline in this game, and that is the final appearance for Mo Rivera in Yankee Stadium. Expect and emotional night tonight in the Bronx, and if there is a wager on “will Mariano pitch tonight” bet the house. Regardless of the score, Rivera will enter to “Enter Sandman” one last time; hopefully in a save situation, but regardless, he’s getting the ball. Even if Ivan Nova has a no-hitter through eight, Mo is getting the ball.
And while a no-hitter might be a far flung (though wildly entertaining) scenario, it is pretty reasonable to expect some good pitching tonight. Nova is coming off his second shutout of the season, and has lost just once in his last nine starts and lasted through the sixth inning in all of them. I like him to pitch well and to battle hard to give his teammate a chance for a save.
Meanwhile, Alex Cobb has been fantastic all season. An ERA under 3 in the American League, especially the American League East, is nothing to ignore. He has been sharp lately as well, going 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his last three outings. He has logged a solid 22.2 innings in those three starts as well, so expect him to also go deep into tonight’s ballgame.
Sentimentality has every baseball fan hoping for a Yankees win. But emotion and wagering are often a poisonous combo. Instead, stick with the numbers. The numbers make this game a good play on the UNDER 7.5. That’s where I’m headed tonight.
But, as a baseball fan… go MO!