Our recent rash of late inning run bad bit us again last night when we backed the Philadelphia Phillies against the Miami Marlins. I felt that Phillies starter Jake Arrieta was going to step up in a spot where his team really needed him and that while Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara is a stud, he looked rusty in his first start of the season, that came just last week, when he walked six batters, and I didn’t trust him.
The Phillies hit Alcantara early and often and put six runs on the board in the first five innings. Arietta was a little shaky early as he gave up three runs in the first four innings, but settled down, and when he left the game in the sixth inning, the Phillies had a comfortable 6-3 lead, and he was in line for the victory. Philly still held that three-run lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, when disaster struck.
MR. MARTE KNOWS MIAMI LOVES A GOOD PARTE.
— Marlins (@Marlins) September 11, 2020
The Phillies brought in veteran reliever Tommy Hunter to pitch the eighth, and he immediately got in trouble when he walked the leadoff man, Garrett Cooper. Hunter loaded the bases with two outs and was yanked from the game. Philly turned things over to the newly acquired Brandon Workman. Workman then promptly got blasted for a bases-clearing three-run double to tie the game up.
I guess Joe Girardi hadn’t seen enough of Workman, as he sent him back out for the bottom of the ninth and saw him give up a walk-off RBI single to Jorge Alfaro, after putting runners on second and third with just one out. Blowing big leads late in games is the most frustrating way to lose a bet, but it is part of the game, so I won’t dwell on it for too long. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will look to shake off the run bad, when we head to Arizona for the game between the DBacks and the Mariners.
Seattle Mariners (19-24) at Arizona Diamondbacks (16-29)
The Seattle Mariners are hoping to stay in the American League playoff conversation right now, as they head to Arizona for game one of a three-game series with the Diamondbacks, that they must win. The Mariners got swept by the San Francisco Giants in a two-game set earlier this week, but still trail the New York Yankees by only three games for the final wild-card spot in the AL.
For Arizona, the DBacks aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in the National League, but they might as well be, as they are seven games back, and their sixteen wins on the year are fewer than any team in the league, with the exception of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Arizona won last night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, for just their second win this month, in ten games.
Starting tonight for the Mariners is Yusei Kikuchi (2-2 5.23 ERA), and for the DBacks, it is Caleb Smith (0-0 3.00 ERA). The game total over/under is set at nine runs. This game is currently an even pick ‘em, with both teams laying -105. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 PM PST from Chase Field in Phoenix.
It is highly unlikely that the Seattle Mariners are going to make the postseason this year. But if you told Mariners fans that the M’s would have even an ounce of playoff sweat in mid-September; before the season started this year, they would have been ecstatic. The Mariners have the longest active playoff drought in the Major Leagues, as they haven’t made the playoffs since 2001.
The Mariners trail the New York Yankees by three games for the final wild-card spot in the American League and the Yankees are in free fall. New York is 6-15 in their last 21 games. The Yankees host the Orioles this week, and while Baltimore isn’t great, they did just beat the Bronx Bombers in three out of four games last week. If New York continues to lose every game, the Mariners wouldn’t need that great of a finish to close the gap and sneak into the postseason.
Yusei Kikuchi (2-2 5.23 ERA)
Yusei Kikuchi debuted in the Major Leagues last year after a successful career pitching in Japan. He got a lot of experience under his belt and had some flashes of being very good, but the thorn in his side was always the long ball. Kikuchi got blasted for 36 homers last year, and on a team Mariners team that didn’t win very many games, he picked up eleven losses.
This year, Kikuchi has done a much better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark as he has only allowed two home runs in six starts. He has also dramatically reduced how many baserunners he is letting on base, as his H/9 rate is down from 10.9 last year to 7.8 this year. His K/9 rate has also skyrocketed from 6.5 to 9.9. He seems to be finding his groove in the big leagues and is getting better every start.
The Arizona Diamondbacks gutted themselves at the trade deadline. So, it’s no surprise that they have lost eight of their ten games since seeing their roster get dismantled. Robbie Ray is gone, so is Starling Marte, and Archie Bradley. Merrill Kelley was shut down for the year with a shoulder injury, as was fellow pitcher, Jeremy Beasley. This week, the DBacks sent Ketel Marte to the IL, a move that will likely end his season as well.
There just aren’t a lot of quality players left of the field right now for Arizona, and to be completely honest, this team wasn’t very good even when they did have all of their best guys playing. The DBacks finished the month of August by losing ten out of their last eleven games. Going back to August 19th, Arizona is 3-18, the worst record in the majors during that timeframe.
Caleb Smith (0-0 3.00 ERA)
It wasn’t all players leaving at the trade deadline, as Arizona did manage to pick up starter Caleb Smith from the Miami Marlins in the deal for Marte. Smith was a high-level prospect early in his career, but he never turned into the guy the Marlins had hoped he would be when they picked him up from the New York Yankees. In two seasons starting for Miami, Smith was 15-17 with a 4.52 ERA in 45 starts.
This year, Smith has missed basically the entire season, as he came down with COVID-19. In his lone start of the year, coming in just the Marlins second game of the year on July 25th, Smith was very shaky against the Philadelphia Phillies.
In that game, he needed 70 pitches to get through three innings, and walked a whopping six hitters! He managed to somehow only allow one earned run in that game, despite putting seven runners on base in just three innings. The DBacks have thrown him into the fire in this one, as he will make his first start since being activated from the COVID-19 list.
Who Do I Like?
This is a bad number. When you look at the season as a whole, these teams both seem like bad teams, playing out the stick of a disappointing season. But when you dig a little deeper, these are two teams heading in opposite directions right now.
The Mariners had won twelve of their previous sixteen games before getting swept in two games by the Giants in their last series. Seattle made the decision to move on from several of their veteran players to make room to let the young guys play, and it paid off in a big way, as they started winning baseball games.
For Arizona, they dumped what little talent they had at the trade deadline and shut down the rest. This team has packed it in for the year, and they aren’t going to win many games the rest of the way out. To see a team that has won just three games in the last three weeks at even money against a team playing well right now, is shocking.
We talked earlier about Yusei Kikuchi improving a lot this season. But when you look at his ERA, it hasn’t dropped much, which makes you wonder why. But when you look at his fielding independent pitching (FIP), which is a true reflection of how well a guy is pitching, he really has just been getting unlucky a lot. Kikuchi’s FIP is a stellar 2.79. Down over half from last season.
This guy is pitching well and running bad. I think his bad luck runs out tonight against a really poor hitting DBacks team. Baseball is always about regressing towards the mean, and you can only run so unlucky for so long. In his last start, Kikuchi worked six innings and allowed just one run on only two hits. I expect a similar performance out of him tonight against Arizona.
I see Kikuchi getting in six or seven innings of quality work, and I think Caleb Smith will be an absolute mess. Between not being able to throw a strike in his first start, and then getting COVID-19 to lose most of his season, to finally being traded, it has been a roller coaster of a year for Caleb Smith, and I just don’t see any way that he is good tonight.
The Mariners will hit him hard, and I can’t imagine he will be in this game for very long. The books missed on this one, and I am backing the Mariners at even money feeling like I am a prohibitive favorite!