What is going on in Chicago right now? Before hitting the weekend for a series with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cubs were 13-3, which was the best record in the National League, and were steaming hot, winners of nine out of their last ten games. But to say the weekend did not go the Cubs way would be a massive understatement, as they lost all three games against Milwaukee, and have now swung open the door for the rest of the National League Central Division to get back into contention.
To make matters worse, the Cubs lost each game by just one run and blew multi-run leads in all three contests. Yesterday, I backed them with their ace, Jon Lester, on the mound, and when they jumped out to a 3-0 lead for the second day in a row, I felt like I was certainly on the right side. But alas, it was not meant to be, as the Brewers touched up Lester for five runs, and handed the Cubs their third consecutive loss.
That's three in a row! @Kestdaddy and Orlando Arcia hit timely HRs and the pitching staff struck out 16 as the Brewers beat the Cubs to take the series.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) August 16, 2020
Being able to hold onto leads and win close games is always very important in Major League Baseball and is even more so in 2020, with the reduced schedule. The Cubbies got burned in three straight games, and while it isn’t quite time to ring the alarm bells in Chicago, the Cubs need to put a stop to this disturbing trend before they give away what was once the biggest division lead in baseball. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to Baltimore, where the Orioles host the Blue Jays.
Toronto Blue Jays (7-11) at Baltimore Orioles (12-9)
The Baltimore Orioles are looking to stay hot tonight as they host the Toronto Blue Jays in game one of a three-game series. The O’s have won seven out of their last nine games, and if the season were to end today, they would be making the playoffs. Baltimore is in the midst of a ten-game homestand where they must finish with a winning record if they want any real shot at the postseason.
For Toronto, the Blue Jays lost both ends of a doubleheader yesterday to the Tampa Bay Rays and have lost seven out of their eleven games here in August. Many people expected Toronto to be in contention this season after loading up on veteran talent in the offseason, but after getting booted out of Toronto, the Blue Jays were forced to play the first several weeks of the season on the road, and it has been a struggle so far in 2020 for the blue birds.
Starting for the Blue Jays tonight is Hyun-jin Ryu (1-1 4.05 ERA), and for the Orioles, it is Alex Cobb (1-1 2.75 ERA). The game total over/under is set at nine runs. The Blue Jays are -150 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 4:35 PM PST from Camden Yards in Baltimore.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays have been homeless all season long, and after their first “homestand” of the season, five games against the Miami Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays, where they went 2-3, they are back out on the road again tonight, this time heading to Baltimore, to play the Orioles. Things were looking up for Toronto, as they busted out the bats for 28 runs in their first three home games of the season, but tragedy struck yesterday when Bo Bichette heard a pop in his knee and was sent to the IL.
Without Bichette in the lineup, the Jays lost both games of the doubleheader yesterday and managed just seven runs. The young slugger was quickly emerging as a superstar this season as he led the Blue Jays in basically every statistical category and was riding a nine-game hitting streak before getting hurt.
It was always going to be an uphill battle for Toronto this season, but to see them lose their hottest hitter is a gut punch that I’m not sure they can handle. You never want to predict that a team is going to quit on the year, but after everything they have been through this season, nobody is playing Toronto if they do.
Hyun-jin Ryu (1-1 4.05 ERA)
When he was pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League, Hyn-jin Ryu was one of the best pitchers in the league. He came over in the offseason on a big free-agent contract to lead the Blue Jays rotation. But as is usually the case when pitchers move from the NL to the AL, the results haven’t exactly converted to the harder-hitting league.
Ryu had a career 55-34 record with the Dodgers and a sub-three run ERA. In his last two seasons, he had the lowest ERA of any pitcher in the NL. But in his first two starts with the Blue Jays, he got rocked for eight runs in just nine innings pitched. He has settled down in his last two starts, as he pitched a combined eleven innings and has allowed just one earned run on only three hits, but he did walk five guys in those two games, so the results weren’t as great as they might appear on the surface, as he was in and out of jams in both games.
The Baltimore Orioles are a major candidate for regression in the second half of the season. They have overachieved by quite a large margin, but with the nature of this shortened season, and the greatly expanded playoffs, they are very much in the playoff mix. The Orioles have more wins than the White Sox, Astros, Angels, Brewers, Phillies, and Nationals, all teams that were expected to be playing postseason baseball this year.
Right now, the cut line in the American League for the playoffs is the Chicago White Sox at 11-11. In the National League, the San Diego Padres are currently the last team getting in at 11-12. We could very likely see teams with losing records make the playoffs in both leagues this year.
So while seeing the Orioles in the playoffs is a long shot, even with their hot start, they could go 18-21 the rest of the way out and finish at .500, which could very well be good enough to get them into the playoffs.
Alex Cobb (1-1 2.75 ERA)
Alex Cobb has always been a serviceable arm in the American League. In his time with the Tampa Bay Rays, Cobb was a reliable middle of the rotation starter with a 48-35 record and a 3.50 ERA. His first season in Baltimore didn’t go well as he went 5-15 for a dreadfully bad Orioles team, and last year, he made just three starts before missing the rest of the season injured.
But Cobb has looked like his old self so far this season, as he has made four starts for Baltimore and has a stellar 2.75 ERA to show for it. Cobb has been forcing a lot of ground balls and striking out more than his fair share of hitters, as well. While I am not ready to throw Cobb into the ace conversation at this point of his career, he is looking good and is the best pitcher the Orioles have this year.
Who Do I Like?
I always love home underdogs when betting baseball. I particularly love taking home dogs when I get to fade a team that is struggling like the Toronto Blue Jays are right now. I tend to rarely overreact to one player that is going to be missing from a lineup, as one player just isn’t as important as they might seem.
But to see Bo Bichette go down with a knee injury, has to be an absolute morale killer for the Blue Jays. He was carrying this team, and without him, I am not sure the Blue Jays are going to be able to score enough runs to win games.
Hyun-jin Ryu has looked really sharp in his last two starts, but I think he gets roughed up tonight against this hard-hitting Orioles squad. Despite coming into the season looking like a team that was going to struggle at the plate, the Orioles are second in the majors in slugging, third in batting average, sixth in runs scored, and eighth in both home runs and on-base percentage.
And when you look at the teams that Ryu has had his success against this season, they have all been National League teams. I know, the NL is using a DH this year, so the discrepancy between leagues is much less than in most years, but he got to pitch against teams he was familiar with and had great results.
Tonight, he will face a team that he knows nothing about and is swinging a hot bat. Ryu will be shaky, Cobb will be decent, and I see the Orioles winning tonight against a Blue Jays team that is just 5-8 in road game this season. Give me the Baltimore Orioles as home dogs tonight in game one, getting +135!