By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh
We’re back and fully recharged from the Betting on Sports America Conference in Secaucus, NJ. A big thanks go out to everyone that set up the great event and the attendees that stopped by the SpreadKnowledge booth. You’re all welcome for the orange pens!
There might be two games (Brewers-Mets & Marlins-Phillies) threatened by the inclement weather but plenty of other action going on around MLB tonight for us to take advantage of.
[7:07 p.m. EST] Over 9 – Oakland Athletics at Toronto Blue Jays
OAK: Mike Fiers – R (2-2, 8.28 ERA)
TOR: Marcus Stroman – R (1-3, 1.76 ERA)
The current Blue Jays’ roster hasn’t seen much of Mike Fiers, but when they have – oh my goodness. Toronto’s roster has a combined .362 batting average and 1.005 OPS in 49 career plate appearances, which is mind-blowing, considering Justin Smoak’s 2-for-12 (with 6 Ks) mark is holding the numbers back somewhat. Fiers has just flat out sucked over his last three starts, allowing six runs in each of them and a total of 23 hits and five homers over the last 10 innings. Yikes!
Marcus Stroman hasn’t had the best luck, as you can see from his 1-3 record to go along with the microscopic 1.76 ERA. But he did skill this same A’s team in his last start, allowing only one run over eight innings. It is, however, a very tough proposition to be that successful against a team for the second time in as many starts.
One other factor is the MLB debut of Vlad Guerrero Jr. tonight, which should have quite an electric feel in the ballpark. I’d expect all of these hitters to be at the top of their games with the spotlight shining a little brighter than usual for an A’s-Blue Jays game. Also, both teams (A’s: +0.3, Blue Jays: +0.2) had their respective IRTs increase slightly, thus hinting to some additional offense.
* Final Score Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays: 6 – Oakland Athletics: 5 *
[8:15 p.m. EST] Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals (-145)
CIN: Anthony DeSclafani – R (0-1, 5.59 ERA)
STL: Miles Mikolas – R (2-1, 4.97 ERA)
With the exception of Yadier Molina (3-for-22, 4 Ks) and Kolten Wong (0-for-15, 7 Ks), a lot of these Cardinals hitters have made life a living hell for Anthony DeSclafani. In fact, their current roster holds a combined .286 batting average and .891 OPS against DeSclafani in 143 career plate appearances. Much of that is due to the big boppers on St. Louis, Matt Carpenter (9-for-22, 3 HR, 1.536 OPS) and Paul Goldschmidt (8-for-13, 3 doubles, 1 HR, 1.720 OPS).
Miles Mikolas takes the mound for the Cards, and he’ll look to keep the momentum rolling from his last outing against the Mets. The 30-year-old righty only allowed four hits, two walks and two runs over eight innings – clearly his best start of the season. After losing his season debut, Mikolas has rebounded with a 2-0 record over the team’s last four starts, and the Cardinals are undefeated in each of those four starts.
Look for St. Louis to stay on the good foot and win for the fifth straight time that Mikolas starts.
* Final Score Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals: 4 – Cincinnati Reds: 3 *
[9:40 p.m. EST] Over 9.5 – Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks
CHC: Kyle Hendricks – R (1-3 3.54 ERA)
ARZ: Robbie Ray – L (0-1, 3.95 ERA)
Apparently, the theme of the evening is pitchers facing the team they just saw in their previous start. Both of these guys pitched very well at Wrigley Field last weekend, albeit in conditions that were not favorable for offenses. In fact, every single game of last weekend’s Cubs-Diamondbacks went under the total.
Well, Vegas thinks we’ll see a much different type of game as the total has jumped from 8.5 to 9. 5 – that gives us IRT increases (Cubs: +0.6, D-Backs: +0.4) as well. And I agree in thinking we’ll see plenty of runs in the desert tonight.
While Robbie Ray usually gets a good number of strikeouts, he has allowed at least four walks in three of his five starts this season. The Cubs didn’t have an answer for him and the D-Backs bullpen last weekend, but seeing Ray for the second time in five days should give their offense the upper hand.
I’ve never been a fan of Kyle Hendricks, but he did make the D-Backs look silly with 11 strikeouts over seven innings. Once again, I do think there’s a big advantage for offenses twice within a week. Prior to that last outing against Arizona, Hendricks had allowed 14 runs (eight earned) and struck out 10 batters over 13 1/3 innings of work. Look for him to come back down to Earth tonight.
* Final Score Prediction: Chicago Cubs: 7 – Arizona Diamondbacks: 6 *