By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh
* 2019 MLB Record: 133-110-5 (54.7%) *
[7:10 p.m. EST] New York Mets at Miami Marlins (ML: -110)
NYM: Jason Vargas – L (3-4, 3.77 ERA/1.31 WHIP)
MIA: Caleb Smith – L (4-4, 3.50 ERA/1.01 WHIP)
Caleb Smith hasn’t been at his best over the last few starts, but there are a couple of things attributing to that. For starters, he did land on the DL for a month with inflammation in his left hip – that would explain Smith going from utterly dominant to so-so mediocre. The other, is that he faced stiff competition – Braves, Brewers, Nationals and Padres – in each of his last four starts, all on the road… and all solid against left-handed pitching.
In fact, Smith hasn’t pitched a home game since May 15, and he’s been much better at Marlins Park with a 3-1 record and 1.84 ERA/0.89 WHIP. The young lefty has done quite well against the Mets over the course of his brief career, going 1-0 with a 3.24 ERA in three starts, including 23 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings.
On the other side, it’s the Mets. Oh, dear…
Jason Vargas has surprisingly been one of the team’s best pitchers, but the Vegas odds have already spoken. Until tonight, the Marlins have never been favored been against the Mets in 2019. Oddly enough, this is only the fifth time all season that the Marlins have been favored in a game.
Vargas allowed a season-high eight hits against Miami back on April 2 – his first start of the 2019 campaign. We’re not going to push all of our chips in the middle of the table based on that performance alone, but the Marlins have been a pesky bunch since the start of June. It’s a very underrated factor, but Miami has two veteran hitters in Starlin Castro and Curtis Granderson that have done very well against Vargas (combined 13-for-30, 6 2B, 1 HR), and those guys can certainly relay their intel to the rest of the club.
Unfortunately, the Marlins’ record and stats look feeble over that span because they’ve done nothing but face the class of the NL East (Braves, Nationals and Phillies) and most of the aces from those teams. Miami has held its own, though, and there’s certainly some motivation to try and get some wins against New York, who is the only team that is worse than them in the NL.
Last, but certainly not least, the Mets’ bullpen is notoriously known for being putrid. Cover your ears, Mets’ fans: the bullpen has the same number of blown saves this season that they do ACTUAL SAVES! Surprisingly, the only other team that can say that is the defending champion Red Sox.
Let’s take The Fish with favorable odds, an underrated starting pitching mismatch, and yeah… the Mets’ bullpen is always fun to pick on.
* Final Score Prediction * Miami Marlins: 4 – New York Mets: 2
[10:07 p.m. EST] Over 10 – Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels (ML: -154)
SEA: Mike Leake – R (7-7, 4.32 ERA/1.24 WHIP)
LAA: Taylor Cole – R (0-1, 4.32/1.58 WHIP)
Some people look at BvP (batter vs. pitcher) and think it’s a total sham – you could make the argument in a small sample size. However, when looking at a range of 281 plate appearances, there really shouldn’t be any confusion at all.
The current Angels’ roster is absolutely smacking Mike Leake around the ballpark for a combined .341 batting average, .389 on-base percentage and .948 OPS. Granted, Jonathan Lucroy and his .396 batting average will be out of the lineup for tonight (and the near future), but guys like Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons should do just fine without him. Leake won’t have to face Lucroy, but the aging righty still has to deal with the fact that he’s 2-5 with a 5.08 ERA on the road in 2019.
In 13 innings against the Angels this season, Leake has also allowed five homers. I think it’s safe to say someone has somebody’s number.
Not to get all philosophical, but this will be the first time the Angels play at home since the death of their fallen teammate, Tyler Skaggs. I really do think the Angels are going to make a nice run in his honor, and if that holds true, tonight is where it all begins.
Mariners’ pitching has been downright awful in 2019, whether it’s the starters, or their bullpen, which has allowed the fourth-worst ERA (5.03) and fourth-most homers (64) in all of MLB this season.
Taylor Cole will be the “opener” for Los Angeles tonight, and he should do just fine in limited work. He will, however, give way to the Angels’ bullpen which has allowed the most homers (25) in MLB over the last 30 days.
The Mariners’ roster has been depleted and will probably continue to have that same fate until the end of July, but these guys are a scrappy bunch that’ll put runs on the board no matter what. Of course, they have to, with the way the pitching has been this season.
Not to mention, no other defense in MLB has committed more errors (92) than the Mariners, and that gives the opposing offense more than enough chances to capitalize on scoring more run. To put that into perspective, the Orioles have the second-most errors in the league… with 68. Yikes!
All in all, the SK system likes the Angels to win this game, but the total going over 10 runs is our best bet of the night.
* Final Score Prediction * Los Angeles Angels: 9 – Seattle Mariners: 5
[10:07 p.m. EST] Chicago White Sox at Oakland Athletics (ML: -179)
CHW: Ivan Nova – R (4-7, 5.58 ERA/1.53 WHIP)
OAK: Mike Fiers – R (8-3, 3.87 ERA/1.10 WHIP)
Ivan Nova might’ve had a solid outing heading into the All-Star break, but let’s not act like all of his wounds have been healed. In fact, his two best outings since June 1 have been against the same Cubs team, while the Twins, Rangers, Yankees and Royals all roughed him up. The veteran righty is allowing a massive 5.58 ERA/1.53 WHIP and an opposing batting average of .318 this season, in addition to 19 homers over the last 78 1/3 innings of work.
Prior to the All-Star break, the A’s owned the ninth-best ISO rating (.187) in MLB against right-handed pitching. Now that guys like Khris Davis and Matt Olson are fully healthy, this is a deadly lineup with its chest puffed out. The 9-3 record that Oakland carried into the second half of the season should be a solid boost of momentum going forward.
The A’s opening IRT (implied run total) of 5.5 is one of the highest on tonight’s slate, and that says a lot about Nova’s impending meltdown, considering this is one of the worst hitting parks in MLB.
Perhaps the best part of betting the A’s tonight is their stud on the mound, Mike Fiers. In each of his last nine outings, the crafty right-hander has notched a quality start — over his last four outings, he’s allowed exactly one earned run each time out. Oakland has won seven of those nine contests, with the two losses (both by one run) coming against powerhouses Houston and Minnesota.
Fiers won’t be getting it done via the strikeout, but it’s important to note that his Statcast data is a better place than it’s ever been over his career.
When looking at the two bullpens in this game, the A’s clearly have the advantage here. Oakland’s pen is the only team in MLB allowing a HR/9 under 1.00 this season and its 3.91 ERA ranks seventh-best.
* Final Score Prediction * Oakland Athletics: 7 – Chicago White Sox: 2