I didn’t bet on the New York Mets yesterday, and I am not going to betting on the Mets today, but I wanted to take a couple of minutes to recognize what this team is doing right now. When the Mets made the blockbuster move to acquire starting pitcher Marcus Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays just before the July 31st trade deadline, the initial backlash was fierce. The pundits and fans were scratching their heads, and on paper, the move just didn’t make a lot of sense.
The Mets were seemingly out of playoff contention and were rumored to be shopping some of their best guys including Eddie Diaz and Noah Syndergaard. Instead, they kept all of their best guys and brought in Stroman in from Toronto, in a desperate bid to get back into the playoff picture. I personally saw it as one of the more confusing moves of the last decade and laughed and thought to myself, typical Mets move, fully assuming it would blow up in their face like so many trades have in the past.
And then something changed for the Mets. They caught fire. And all of the sudden this team needs to be feared in the National League. The Mets have reeled off fifteen wins in their last sixteen games and are back on the right side of .500 and are just a half of a game back of the second NL wild card. And it’s not just that they are winning, it is how they are winning. It is a different hero every night for these miracle Mets. It seems that every night they get into a position where they are going to lose and find a way to stage a triumphant comeback.
The number on New York today is too high to profitably back them as they are laying -200 with ace Jacob deGrom on the mound. But make sure you keep your eye on this team. Baseball is a funny sport, and so much of it is centered around momentum. When you have it, things just seem to break your way. When you don’t, sometimes you can’t buy a win. Right now, the Mets certainly have it. For today’s pick, we will head to Milwaukee where the Brewers are looking to sweep the Texas Rangers.
The Texas Rangers are in Milwaukee Sunday, hoping to avoid getting swept. The Rangers have lost four straight games, two of those to the Brewers in this series, and their season is quickly winding to a close. While Texas didn’t hold the fire sale that many expected at the trade deadline, they also didn’t go out and acquire much talent, and the Rangers are now nine games back of even the second wild card in the American League.
For the Brewers, they did a great job of adding several capable arms to their staff as they added guys like Drew Pomeranz, Jake Faria, Ray Black, and tonight’s starter Jordan Lyles. And the moves are starting to really give this squad a boost as they have won five straight games and are now just a game and a half back of the Chicago Cubs for first place in the NL Central Division race.
Starting today for the Brewers is Jordan Lyles (7-7 4.97 ERA), and for the Rangers, it is Mike Minor (10-6 3.06 ERA). The game total over-under is set at nine runs. The Brewers are -126 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 11:10 AM PST from Miller Park in Milwaukee.
Sometimes a trade just doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense when it is first made. That was the case with the Mets and Marcus Stroman, and that was also the case when the Brewers brought in starting pitcher Jordan Lyles. Lyles was struggling through an awful season before being moved. In his previous four starts before getting traded, Lyles had gotten blasted for twenty-four runs in just seventeen innings worked. I don’t know off hand what ERA that adds up to, but it’s really high. And you have to remember, this guy was pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates, in the same division as the Brewers.
So, it was hard to expect the guy to be much better in Milwaukee as he was in Pittsburgh. But he sure has figured things out so far in Milwaukee! In his two starts with his new team, he has pitched a combined ten innings and has allowed just two earned runs, and the Brewers won both games. Sometimes a change of scenery from a last-place team out of contention to a team right in the mix of a pennant race is all it takes to get a guy to turn things around.
Mike Minor is suffering through the exact opposite of what Jordan Lyles is going through in that most people expected him to get traded to a contender, and he ended up staying in Texas. Minor was a popular trade target for several contending teams, but a deal could not be made, and here he is now finishing out his season with a Rangers team going nowhere.
And it looked like the stress of possibly getting traded was wearing on Minor as he was bad in July. Heading into July, Minor was 8-4 with a 2.40 ERA and was selected to the Al All-Star team. But during the month leading up to the trade deadline, he was just 1-2 with a 6.59 ERA in five starts, and the Rangers went 1-4 in those five games. Those struggles may have been what kept Minor in Texas as his value plummeted at the wrong time. Minor’s first post-trade deadline start was a good one as he pitched seven shutout innings against the Cleveland Indians.
This is an interesting game. A month ago, I would have loved backing Minor getting dog money. But he has really struggled since then, and I am no longer confident that he can go in and shut down a good hitting team like the Brewers. And when you look at this Texas lineup, they just aren’t the same without Joey Gallo on the field.
With Gallo sidelined with injury, this team is 28th in the majors in runs scored in the month of August. They are scoring just over three runs a game, and they are hitting an abysmal .206 as a team. While I am not all that confident that Lyles can continue his good results, I also know that the Brewers won’t be leaving him in the game all that long anyway as they love to turn things over to their bullpen at any sign of distress.
I think Minor gets roughed up some, and the Brewers with a committee of Lyles and their bullpen, find a way to take advantage of the slumping Rangers lineup and complete the sweep. I talked above about momentum, and right now, the Brewers have it, and the Rangers don’t. And I am going to take advantage of those trends and fire on the Brewers today. Give me the Milwaukee Brewers today as home favorites in game three from Miller Park at -126!