Sometimes betting on baseball can be very frustrating. Take last night’s bet, for instance. We took the under nine runs in the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies game. Patrick Corbin has been very quietly putting together a career year for the Nationals, and I expected a low scoring game playoff atmosphere type of game as both teams had a lot to play for.
And when the game hit the eighth inning at just six combined runs, with the Nationals holding a very comfortable 5-1 lead, it felt like we had nailed this pick. Corbin was great as he pitched six innings, allowing just one run on only three hits while striking out six. And even when the Nats played add-on in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring two runs, both coming on bases-loaded walks, we were still just a half an inning away from cashing our ticket.
But then came the completely pointless garbage time run from the Phillies in the top half of the ninth inning to spoil our winning bet, giving us a push for the day, with the game finishing with a 7-2 final score. While I will always take a refund over a loser, this one hurt as we were in prime position to cash the ticket.
The late inning runs remind us that while the Nationals have some elite starting pitching with the likes of Corbin, Strasburg, and Scherzer, their bullpen has been awful most of the season, and it is going to come back to bite them come playoff time. We are going to shake off that late inning run bad today as we head to Arizona for game two between the DBacks and the Cardinals.
The red-hot St. Louis Cardinals are in Arizona Tuesday for game two of a three-game series with the Diamondbacks. The Cardinals have been one of the hottest teams in the National League for the last several weeks, having won six straight games, and going 15- 8 in the month of September. They have used that strong run to all but lock down the NL Central Division title with just a handful of games left on the schedule.
That being said, the Brewers have been just as hot, and the Cardinals are just three and a half games ahead of Milwaukee for the division title. St. Louis needs to take care of business this week against an out of contention Arizona team if they want to secure the division title.
For Arizona, they remained in contention much of the year before fading here late in the season. Arizona has lost ten out of their last fifteen games, taking them from just a couple of games back of the wild card to out of the race completely. The DBacks finish up their disappointing season next week with three games against the San Diego Padres.
Starting for the Cardinals is Jack Flaherty (10-8 2.96 ERA), and for the DBacks it is Mike Leake (12-11 4.38 ERA). The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. The Cardinals are -197 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 PM PST from Chase Field in Phoenix.
Jack Flaherty has been on fire since the All-Star break. The twenty-three-year-old had an ERA of 4.64 in the first half, but since then he is 6-2 with an ERA of just 1.07! Those are legit Cy Young level results out of this young man, and he has helped take this Cardinals team from a wild card hopeful to likely division champions. Since the All-Star break, he has made eight starts where he has pitched at least seven innings and has allowed one run or less.
In September, in three out of his four starts, he has pitched eight innings. Giving up just one earned run in those three combined outings. It is hard to underestimate just how good this kid has been down the stretch, and if you don’t think the Cardinals are legit World Series contenders with Flaherty leading the way, you need to take another look.
Mike Leake is an innings eater that the DBacks brought in when they threw up the white flag of surrender at the trade deadline, trading away ace Zack Greinke. The downgrade from Greinke to Leake is hard to overstate. And it’s not that Leake has been all that bad, he just isn’t a top of the rotation type of guy at this point in his career. His ERA with the DBacks has been in the five-run range, but it should be even higher as he has allowed a bunch of unearned runs.
Since joining Arizona, Leake has allowed thirty-five total runs in just nine starts, spanning fifty-four innings. The DBacks are 4-5 in his nine starts. But what is more concerning than his wildly mediocre results is that he has struggled against some really bad teams. In those nine starts he has pitched against the Padres, the Reds twice, the Giants twice, the Marlins, and the Rockies. None of those teams are good hitting teams, and all of them are well out of contention. It will be interesting to see what Leake can do tonight against a team that can actually hit, in the St. Louis Cardinals.
The St. Louis Cardinals are second to only the Chicago Cubs in runs scored this month. They have scored nine runs in two out of their last three games, including last night in game one against the DBacks. In that one, they pounded out nine runs on eleven hits, including four home runs. I expect a similar performance tonight in game two.
Clearly, the side to back is the Cardinals, but I am never laying -200 in a regular-season game. But in a game where I expect the Cardinals to dominate, we can look at other options. The run line gives us a nice break on the juice as we can back the Cardinals on the run line at just -124, that is a seventy-four-cent premium!
While I am very leery of the run line, games like this one is why the bet exists. We have one team playing for everything with a potential Cy Young candidate on the mound. Playing against another team whose season is over and is starting a guy that has been very average at best in his short time with the team. This feel like a blowout. So, I will take a shot on the much better payout and lay the run and a half tonight in game two from Arizona!