By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh
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* 2019 MLB Record: 36-27-2 (57.1%) *
[6:40 p.m. EST] Chicago Cubs at Seattle Mariners (-102)
CHC: Jon Lester – L (1-1, 2.37 ERA)
SEA: Marco Gonzales – L (5-0, 2.80 ERA)
Marco Gonzales has been fantastic at T-Mobile Park this season, going 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in four starts there. The Cubs have been quite good against left-handed pitching this season, ranking in the Top-10 of most categories, but they do have a big series against the rival Cardinals starting Friday afternoon. Perhaps, Gonzales catches a Chicago team looking ahead to its next series and continues that string of dominance at home.
Jon Lester will be pitching about 35 miles from the place he attended high school (Tacoma, WA) as a teenager — could be some distractions with family, ticket requests, etc. In his last start, Lester returned from a two-week stint on the Injured List and looked great in five limited innings against the Dodgers. However, if the Cubs hold him to about 79 pitches once again, that means their bullpen will present in this game. And that’s a good thing for the Mariners, considering the Cub’s pen has the second-worst SIERA (skill-interactive earned run average) over the last seven days. Additionally, the Seattle’s offense has the second-best analytical metrics against left-handed pitching this season, which could certainly make life even more difficult on Lester.
* Final Score Prediction: Seattle Mariners: 7 – Chicago Cubs: 3 *
[7:05 p.m. EST] Detroit Tigers at Philadelphia Phillies (-1.5, -120)
DET: Daniel Norris – L (1-0, 3.93 ERA)
PHI: Aaron Nola – R (2-0, 5.68 ERA)
OK, let’s try this again. I took the Phillies on the 1.5-run line yesterday and that was an absolute disaster. Part of that could be due to the Tigers changing their starting pitcher mid-day, thus not giving Philly enough time to prepare for Spencer Turnbull.
It’s about damn time that Aaron Nola gets back on the good foot. He hasn’t had that trademark ace-start since Opening Day, although, holding the Marlins to one run in that last start still came at the expense of allowing seven hits. However, the Tigers own the third-worst power metrics (ISO: .141) and fifth-worst weighted on-base percentage (wOBA: .290) against right-handed pitching. Nola has been fantastic at Citizens Bank Park over the course of his career, compiling a 25-14 record to go along with a 3.17 ERA in 50 career starts there.
The total on this game dropped an entire run, as did each team’s IRT (Tigers: -0.7, Phillies: -0.4), so I believe that’s even further evidence that Nola gets back to elite form tonight. Not to mention, the Phils -245 moneyline number is BY FAR their highest of the season and their 42-digit increase on the moneyline since the open is the highest of any team on tonight’s slate.
* Final Score Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies: 5 – Detroit Tigers: 1 *
[7:10 p.m. EST] Under 6.5 – Cleveland Indians at Miami Marlins
CLE: Corey Kluber – R (2-2, 5.81 ERA)
MIA: Caleb Smith – L (2-0, 2.17 ERA)
This is an excellent pitching matchup going down in Miami tonight, and it’s quite interesting to note that Caleb Smith is actually the one coming in on a high note – not Corey Kluber. Smith has been dazzling tough NL East opponents in each of his five starts, the last four being of the quality variety. In fact, Smith has allowed 2 runs or fewer in four of those five starts. The Indians’ offense has struggled mightily against left-handed pitching this season, ranking in the bottom five of most major categories in that split.
Kluber, much like Nola (who I talked about earlier), needs to get back on the good foot to elite form. Aside from Opening Day (again like Nola), Kluber really hasn’t had that trademark ace-start that we’re all so accustomed to. Thankfully, he’ll be taking on a National League team, which takes away the DH, and it helps that the Marlins are one of (if not) the worst offensive team in baseball.
So, we’ve got two talented pitchers against two anemic offenses. No reason to get cute here, especially with the game total dropping a half-run to 6.5. Also, the Indians’ IRT (-0.5) and moneyline (-34 digits) both dropped significantly, thus alluding to yet another good outing by Smith. I don’t think the Marlins rough up Kluber, but it does seem like they could pull the upset in a low-scoring game tonight.
* Final Score Prediction: Miami Marlins: 3 – Cleveland Indians: 2 *