Yesterday the Colorado Rockies decided to start a guy named Rico Garcia, at home, against the Boston Red Sox. Garcia started his season out in double-A ball, and after being promoted to triple-A, he really struggled. His ERA in triple-A ball was over seven runs, and he was prone to giving up lots of home runs and walking lots of guys. So, when I saw that the Red Sox were small favorites (-129) against this kid, I jumped all over it.
And guess what? The guy that couldn’t get people out in the minors and gave up lots of home runs and walked a bunch of guys? Yeah, he did the same thing against the defending World Champs last night in his MLB debut. Garcia got rocked for six runs in five innings, including giving up home runs to Xander Bogarts, Christian Vasquez, and Jackie Bradley Jr. He also walked five guys along the way.
The Red Sox jumped out to a 10-2 lead and coasted to the easy victory. The only thing keeping this number tight was Boston starter Rick Porcello, who has posted, let’s call them less than stellar results, this year. But even Porcello was decent last night as he tossed five innings and allowed just two runs.
I mentioned in my pick yesterday that Porcello has one of the highest run support numbers in the game, and that trend held true again last night as well, as the Red Sox posted several crooked numbers on the board. Boston has now scored nine runs or more in support of Porcello in seven out of his last ten starts. It sure is hard to lose when your teams score runs like that! For today’s pick, we will head to Houston where the Astros host the Rays in what could very well be a playoff preview in the American League.
The Tampa Bay Rays are in Houston Wednesday for game two of a three-game series with the Astros. The Rays got pounded in game one, to the tune of fifteen runs. The loss was the fifth in the last eight games for Tampa Bay, and with the recent skid they have now fallen out of the playoff picture as they trail the Oakland A’s by one game for the second wild card spot in the American League. The Rays may very well have to play in Houston in the playoffs, and if last night is any indication as to how that series will go, it could get ugly.
For Houston, the Astros are in cruise control right now. They have won eight out of their last nine games, and in the month of August, they are 17-7. The Astros are just a half a game back of the New York Yankees for the best record in the American League and the home-field advantage in the playoffs that comes with it.
Starting tonight for Houston is Gerrit Cole (15-5 2.75 ERA), and for the Rays it is Ryan Yarbrough (11-3 3.29 ERA). The game total over-under is set at eight runs. The Astros are -225 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 PM PST from Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Ryan Yarbrough is likely the best pitcher in the league you have never heard of. Much like Blake Snell did last year, Yarbrough has essentially come out of nowhere to be a dominant force on the mound for the Rays. Over his last eleven appearances, Yarbrough is 6-0, with a 1.43 ERA. His strikeout to walk ratio is a borderline absurd 54-4, and opposing batters are hitting .178 off of him. He hasn’t had a losing decision since early June.
He has allowed more than one run just one time in his last twelve starts. And the Rays seem to win just about every time that he pitches lately. Tampa Bay is 10-1 in his last eleven starts. He will have his hands full tonight though against this Astros team that has one of the best lineups in the game.
Gerrit Cole would be the ace of just about every team in the league, besides the team he plays on. Justin Verlander gets the nod as the Astros best arm, but Cole isn’t far behind. His fifteen wins are third in the league, behind Verlander, and the Yankees Domingo German. His 2.75 ERA is second in the AL, behind, you guessed it, Justin Verlander. And his 238 punch outs are second-most in the majors, behind, yeah, once again, Justin Verlander.
Since June 1st, his ERA has been below two runs. He has allowed more than two runs in a start just once since mid-May! He has double-digit strikeouts in fourteen of his twenty-six starts this year. He has faced the Rays just once this season, coming all the way back in March. And in that game, he tossed six innings, allowed just one earned run, and struck out ten.
What a great matchup this is tonight! I can’t believe that a guy that has been as good as Ryan Yarbrough has been in the last two months is getting over +200! What is even more shocking is the fact that I am going to pass on backing him. Normally I would jump all over a situation like this one, good team, with an elite pitcher on the mound, getting huge dog money. But something is different about these Astros right now. And Gerrit Cole is on another level, and I don’t think this Rays team will score against him tonight.
And while I think the Astros are going to win the game, I am surely not going to lay that steep of a price against what is a good team in the Rays. So, where do I see the value tonight? The game total of eight runs. I am a bit hesitant to take the under against this Houston team as they have been hitting so well, but I think Yarbrough finds a way to keep them in check.
And if the Rays score more than one run against Cole, I would be shocked. I see Cole being brilliant, and Yarbrough being nearly as good, and this game staying under the total. It feels like something in the range of 4-2 Houston. So, I will jump on the under, and expected an old school pitcher’s duel tonight in Houston. Give me the under eight runs tonight in game two at -110!