I mentioned in my pick yesterday that there are two different teams playing in Cincinnati this year. There is the team that plays when Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer start games, and there is the team that plays, when they don’t.
When Gray and Bauer are on the mound, the Reds are a competitive team with a 7-4 overall record. When they don’t, the Reds were just 4-13 entering play yesterday. So, when I saw that I could back the Reds at a very attractive price, with Gray on the mound, yesterday in his start against the Milwaukee Brewers, it seemed like a great spot for a high value play.
For some reason, the Reds love to score runs in support of Gray, despite leaving the rest of their starting rotation out to dry, and that trend continued last night, as Cincinnati scored three early runs and jumped out to a 3-0 lead. That was plenty of support for Gray, as he was as good as expected, pitching five shutout innings, allowing just four hits. The Reds played add-on late and finished the game off with a 6-1 victory.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 28, 2020
Brewers starter, Adrian Houser, who I mentioned in my pick, was being a bit overrated in the betting market lately, again struggled, as he pitched just four innings and got hammered for four runs, all earned, on nine hits and a walk.
After a strong start to the year, Houser has now allowed fifteen total runs in his last four starts, spanning just twenty-one innings of work. Today we are going to take a look at another pitcher who I feel might be getting a little overvalued right now when the San Diego Padres head to Colorado to play the Rockies.
San Diego Padres (19-14) at Colorado Rockies (16-15)
The Colorado Rockies head home after a three-game sweep over the Arizona Diamondbacks and will look to stay hot tonight as they host the San Diego Padres in game one of a four-game set between National League West division foes. The Rockies used this three-game winning streak to get back on the right side of .500 and are currently occupying the final wild-card spot in the NL.
For San Diego, the Padres nearly got swept at the hands of the Seattle Mariners in their last series, but managed to salvage one game of the series when they came back from a 7-3 deficit in the final inning of play in game one of their doubleheader yesterday. The Padres had won seven straight before dropping two out of three to Seattle.
Starting tonight for the Padres is Zach Davies (4-2 3.03 ERA), and for the Rockies, it is Kyle Freeland (2-1 2.87 ERA). The game total over/under is set at twelve runs. The Padres are small -115 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 PM PST from Coors Field in Colorado.
San Diego Padres
There were few teams hotter than the San Diego Padres heading into this week. So, to see them get thrashed by the Seattle Mariners for 23 runs in the three-game set was shocking. Game two of that series was postponed, and yesterday in a scheduled doubleheader, to make up the missed game, the Padres gave up 15 runs combined in the two seven-inning games.
This puts San Diego in a very tough spot today, as they had to travel from San Diego all the way to Colorado, and they are going to likely be worn out with all of the extra work. To make matters worse, their starters didn’t get deep into any of these three games, and yesterday, game two starter Garret Richards recorded just two outs before getting yanked from the game. That means the San Diego bullpen had to cover the rest of the load. All told, the Padres bullpen pitched 8.1 innings yesterday and got punished for six runs.
Zach Davies (4-2 3.03 ERA)
Zack Davies has had a nice debut season for the Padres this year as he is 4-2 with a more than respectable 3.02 ERA in six starts. At home this year, he has been nearly unhittable as he is 2-0 in two starts with a 1.32 ERA. But on the road, it has been a different story as he is just 2-2 with a 4.09 ERA in four starts away from PETCO Park in San Diego.
That includes a road start at Coors Field, against these Rockies. In that game, Davies had his shortest outing of the year, just five innings, and also gave up the most runs in any single start, with three. Davies pitches to contact mostly, as his lifetime K/9 ratio is just 6.4. And as a guy that tends to force a lot of fly balls, Coors Field can be a tough place for him to pitch.
The recent series against the Arizona Diamondbacks is just what the doctor ordered for the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies had lost seven straight games before that series, and their offense was really struggling at the plate. But against the DBacks, they were able to score 15 runs, including 8 runs in the series finale, and it looks like they might be getting back on track after that rough patch.
One guy that the Rockies desperately need to get back on track is Nolan Arenado. Arenado has been the face of the Rockies franchise for the better part of a decade and has had at least 30 homers and 100 RBI in five consecutive seasons. He has had a slow start to the year, but in the series with Arizona, he hit safely in all three games, and racked up five hits, three of them for extra bases, and drove in four runs. Getting Arenado’s bat going would be a major boost to the Rockies playoff chances.
Kyle Freeland (2-1 2.87 ERA)
Kyle Freeland is enjoying a resurgence this year after a bad season last year for the Rockies. Last year, Freeland was just 3-11 with a 6.73 ERA. Which was quite surprising considered the fact that in 2018, he was one of the best pitchers in the National League, when he finished 4th in the NL CY Young Award voting with a 17-7 record and a 2.85 ERA.
This year, Freeland is 2-1 with a 2.87 ERA in six starts. Similar to Davies, Freeland likes his home cooking, as he is much better at home than he is on the road. In three home starts this year, Freeland is 1-0 with a 2.29 ERA, and the Rockies have won all three games. One of those home starts came against the Padres, and he had the best outing of his season when he pitched six shutout innings, allowing just two hits, and picked up a winning decision for his efforts.
Who Do I Like?
I like the home team in this one. Unlike just about every other pitcher in the world, Kyle Freeland pitches better at Coors Field than he does anywhere else. The reason for that is that unlike Davies, who forces a lot of fly balls, that tend to float way further in the Denver altitude than at any other ballpark, Freeland forced a lot of ground balls.
Keeping the ball on the ground has been a major key to success for Freeland, specifically at home, and his ability to stay down in the zone and force grounders is going to be a major factor for success tonight. In his first start of the year against the Padres, he forced eight ground balls, and struck out four, and only allowed seven fly balls. If he can do that again tonight, runs are going to be hard to come by for San Diego.
I love me some home dogs, and that is going to be my play tonight. Freeland is great at home, Davies is bad on the road, and the Padres are going to be worn out after playing a double-dip yesterday and then having to fly clear across the country for this game tonight.
In a vacuum, the Padres are the far superior team in this matchup. But we don’t play baseball in a vacuum, and things like travel, and wear and tear are real, and they can affect how well a team plays on a given night. The Rockies got an unplanned day off yesterday with the postponement of their game against Arizona, and they are going to be rested and ready to go tonight at home. Give me the Colorado Rockies tonight as home underdogs, getting +110!