Yesterday, I made a play on the Red Sox, that was primarily a fade of New York Yankees starting pitcher James Paxton. Paxton had been absolutely awful in his several previous starts, and I had a feeling that he would struggle against the hard-hitting Boston Red Sox lineup. The fact that I was able to get significant dog money on Boston just made me like my bet that much more.
And when the Red Sox jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, I found myself pumping my fists and patting myself on the back for nailing another pick. Paxton’s previous start was against these very same Red Sox, and in that one, he got hammered for seven earned runs in just four innings of work, and it looked like he was well on his way to another poor performance. And then something must have clicked for Paxton, as he found a way to settle down.
And unfortunately for us, the Yankees answered right back in the bottom of the first and took the lead on a Gleyber Torres grand slam home run. It looked like it was going to be a slugfest with six runs scored in the first inning. And then it just stopped. After the first inning, neither team could do anything on offense, and the game ended with a 4-2 Yankees victory. It was a very strange sequence of events that was hard to predict.
What can you do, you are always going to lose a game here and there, so I won’t let it bother me all that much. For today’s pick, we will get right back to the grind and head to Arizona where the Diamondbacks host the Washington Nationals.
The Washington Nationals will take their retooled squad to the desert Saturday for game two of a three-game series with the Diamondbacks. The Nats did a great job of adding help where they needed it, the bullpen, and they now seem to be in a position to make a run at the playoffs in the second half. The Nats finished up a solid July by going 15-10 and now find themselves in the first wild card spot in the National League, tied with the Chicago Cubs and a game ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies.
For Arizona, they essentially threw up the white flag of surrender this week as they really struggled to close out the month and ended up trading away their ace starting pitcher, Zack Greinke. They also traded away guys like Jazz Chisholm and John Ryan Murphy for prospects.
They did pick up journeyman Mike Leake from the Seattle Mariners, but replacing Greinke with Leake is a major downgrade, to say the least. As this team has clearly shifted its focus from winning this season to building for the future, it will be interesting to see just how many games they win the rest of the way out.
Starting for the DBacks is their newly appointed ace, Robbie Ray (9-7 3.91 ERA) and for the Nationals, it is Stephen Strasburg (14-4 3.26 ERA). The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. The Nationals are -129 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 PM PST.
Many have wondered just how good Stephen Strasburg could be if he managed to stay healthy for an entire season. The guy has always been a solid pitcher, but he hasn’t made thirty starts in a season since 2014 as he is seemingly always hurt. This year, he has managed to stay on the field, and his numbers are really good.
He leads all of baseball with fourteen wins, and he has really picked up the pace this summer as he is 9-1 since June 1st. In July, he was a perfect 5-0 in five starts with a 1.14 ERA. And he has been facing good teams, that swing heavy bats. In July, he picked up wins over the Braves, Phillies, and Dodgers. Strasburg has just one loss in his last thirteen starts, and that came against the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 15th.
Robbie Ray was this close to being a New York Yankee. The DBacks were clearly shopping him at the deadline, and he was the original target of the Houston Astros who later traded for fellow ace, Zack Greinke, instead. The Yankees wanted to add Ray badly, but the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, and somewhat surprisingly, Ray is still a DBack.
After a terrible month of June that saw Ray go 1-4 with a 5.00 ERA in five starts, Ray bounced back and had a very successful July. In July, Ray made five starts and had a 4-1 record with a 3.26 ERA. He was up against some pretty weak competition, with games against the Marlins, Orioles, and Texas Rangers, but you can only beat the team that is in front of you, and Ray has done just that.
How can you not like Stephen Strasburg in this one? The guy has been on fire as of late, and now that the Nationals have made several moves to bolster their awful bullpen, he isn’t going to see all these good performances go to waste. While the DBacks aren’t a terrible team, they started to fall apart at the wrong time and sputtered to the trade deadline, which essentially forced management’s hand to start a rebuild rather than make a run at the playoffs.
The death knell for the DBacks was losing three out of four games to the last-place Miami Marlins the week of the trade deadline. This team has lost eight out of their last twelve games, and I don’t think they are going to have much of anything for Stephen Strasburg today. Maybe Ray will do a good job to keep the DBacks in the game, but in the end, Washington finds a way to win this game. Give me the Washington Nationals as road favorites tonight in game two from Arizona at -129!