It was unlikely last night’s NL Wildcard game would be able to live up to the night before’s magic. However, I didn’t think it would come crashing down with such a thud. It was a snoozer after Brandon Crawford’s grandslam in the fourth took all the wind out of the crown (and Pirates) and the game never had a tense moment from there on out.
The result is two fantastic series set up in the National League. The best team in the National League, Washington will host the Giants who have now won seven straight games when facing elimination and feature a veteran team looking for its third championship in five years. The other series is the glamour series, with the venerable Cardinals taking on the glamorous Dodgers. It’s gonna be fantastic.
The American League Division Series both commence tonight, and we will focus on the nightcap for tonight’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Kansas City Royals +166 at Los Angeles Angels -173 (Total: 8) — NLDS Game One
Jason Vargas vs Jared Weaver
The Royals probably flew to L.A. without a plane after Tuesday’s thrilling come from behind (times three!) classic. But now the reality sets in. They are visiting the best team in all of baseball and their ace pitcher is likely unable to go until Game Three and their bullpen is severely taxed after an all-hands-on –deck 12-inning game.
The Angels are the heavy favorite in this series, and the main reason is their offense. While the Royals manufacture runs as well as anyone in baseball with their stolen bases and bunting and NL-style “small ball” the Angels will rarely bunt to give up an out – instead, they’ll wind up and take three cracks to yank one out of the yard. Sabremetricians – debate. I’ll lean on the side of quick, easy, and explosive scoring as the more reliable method over a five-game series, especially given that the starting pitching is fairly even.
I’ll give the pitching edge to Anaheim tonight. Weaver hasn’t had the best season of his career, but with Garrett Richards out, he is back to being the ace of the staff, and he seems to have flourished once again in that role. In his last ten starts he is 6-3 with an ERA in the low threes.
However, Weaver has been far from unhittable. He has allowed three or more runs in five of his last ten starts, though never allowing MORE than four. He is going to give you a quality start, but I’m not sure he is going to dominate. That’s a recipe for a potentially fun game tonight with lots of offense, because Justin Vargas has been STRUGGLING entering the postseason.
The former Angel has allowed a 9.95 ERA in his last three starts, going 0-2 in just 12.2 innings. Now he faces one of the best lineups in all of baseball, a team that hits .270 and averages 5.18 runs per game against left handed pitching. It could be a tough (and short) night for Vargas. Given the six-plus innings the bullpen threw Tuesday night, and I like the Angels to get off tonight.
I’m going with two picks for tonight’s game. I like the OVER 8, as both teams should score some runs. I also like the value of the Angels on the -1.5 runline. The matchup favors them overwhelmingly, and I expect a slight emotional ‘comedown’ from the Royals tonight. It feels like one of those postseason games where it just gets away early and piles up runs.