Another day, another money line underdog winner! We picked up the win last night when we backed the Milwaukee Brewers as road underdogs against the Washington Nationals. Tanner Roark had been pitching very well for the Nationals recently, so I knew it would be a lower scoring game, but with this Nats lineup getting gutted by trades in the last two weeks, I still felt strongly that the Brewers were the side to back.
The game went a lot like I thought it would as it was low scoring and tightly contested. The Brewers managed to get to Roark early as they touched him up for four runs in the game’s first three innings, and in the end, that was enough for Milwaukee to pick up the 4-1 win. Jhoulys Chacin gave up a first-inning run and then settled right down for Milwaukee, and his final stat line was a strong one as he pitched six and a third innings, allowing just that one first-inning run.
I have convinced myself that this Washington Nationals team is on the cusp of really falling apart. They have traded just about everything that wasn’t nailed down, including moving Gio Gonzalez last night to the Brewers just before the September 1st roster deadline. This team has a brutal stretch of schedule coming up, and I expect them to lose a lot of games the rest of the way out.
Don’t be surprised if you see me positioning myself on the other side of the Nats a lot, especially like in a situation last night where they were favored against a playoff caliber team. For today’s pick, I will look in on the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Tampa Bay Rays are in Cleveland Saturday for game two of a three-game series with the Indians. The Indians took game one last night 3-0. Corey Kluber pitched seven spectacular innings for Cleveland, allowing no runs on just two hits and striking out eight. It was a vintage outing for the former Cy Young Award winner. Edwin Encarnacion supplied the power for Cleveland with his twenty-ninth home run of the season.
The Rays are clinging onto quickly fading playoff hopes as they now find themselves nine games back of the second wild-card and last playoff spot in the American League. The Indians have been on cruise control seemingly all season long as the rest of the American League Central Division has been in rebuild mode since May and Cleveland holds the largest division lead in all of baseball.
Starting tonight for the Indians is Shane Bieber (8-2 4.52 ERA), and for the Rays, it is Blake Snell (16-5 2.05 ERA). The Indians are -126 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM PST from Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Blake Snell isn’t getting nearly the love I feel he deserves in the AL Cy Young Award conversation. Yeah, he is stuck on a Tampa Bay team that is out of contention, but make no mistake this guy is pitching as well as anybody in the American League this year. The award will likely end up going to a fan favorite like Chris Sale or Corey Kluber, but if I had a vote, I would take Blake Snell, he has been that good.
Snell’s 2.05 ERA is second in the league to only Chris Sale, and his sixteen wins are just one behind Corey Kluber and Luis Severino. He strikes out more than ten guys per nine innings, and he has kept this undermanned Tampa team in the playoff conversation almost single-handedly all season long. The Rays are 16-6 in his last twenty-four starts, and they have won his last four.
And he is just getting better as the season drags along. In August, Snell was 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA in five starts, and that included games against the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, two of the best offenses in all of baseball. Snell will face another elite offense tonight in the Cleveland Indians. The Indians are top five in basically every offensive category, and they can certainly put runs on the board any time that they want.
Rookie right-hander Shane Bieber got added to this Cleveland rotation in late May and has been a solid addition to the staff. When you are pitching behind guys like Kluber, Carrasco, and Bauer, it can be tough to get noticed, but Bieber has done a good job of holding his own. His ERA is a bit high at 4.52, but the Indians offense has more than made up for his mediocre ERA by scoring him a lot of runs in support. The Indians are 10-4 in games where Bieber starts this season.
This is a major mismatch on the mound. Blake Snell is just on another level right now, and he has shown to be able to shut down the best teams in baseball. While the Rays chances of making the playoff are not great, they have the pedal to the metal and are the hottest team in the American League right now. The Rays have won nine out of their last eleven games.
The Indians have been one of the best home teams this season, and the Rays have struggled on the road, so we will have that to overcome. But I just can’t pass up getting Blake Snell and a bunch of dog money against a rookie pitcher. He has just been too good to bet against. Give me the Tampa Bay Rays as road underdogs tonight in game two at +116!