Well, this is it folks, the last few days of the MLB regular season are here but there are still berths to be claimed and divisions to be won. With the stakes high and all eyes on the Wild Card standings, we continue our march toward MLB playoffs with today’s picks of the day.
Milwaukee Brewers -135 | Jordan Lyles (11-8, 4.17) at Cincinnati Reds +125 | Tyler Mahle (2-11, 4.93), 6:40 PM ET
Wednesday marks the second of a three-game tilt between the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds in the Buckeye State. Milwaukee is in the midst of five-game winning streak, including a 4-2 victory against Cincy on Tuesday night. That coming off a sweep of the Pirates over the weekend while the Reds lost their series against the Mets.
The Brewers hold a five-game lead for the second Wild Card spot in the National League after the epic collapse of the Chicago Cubs, losing seven in a row at the worst possible time. This leaves the Brewers with sole possession of the second Wild Card spot, but just 3 games back from the Cardinals for top spot in the National League Central.
The Brewers have a real shot to win out with two games left against the Reds (73-84) and three with the lowly Rockies (67-89), an average winning percentage of just 44.72% between the pair. This means that the Brewers will be fining on all cylinders like a team with everything to play for and not just accept their Wild Card berth.
Looking to keep things rolling for the Brewers is starting pitcher Jordan Lyles, who is making his 28th start of the season. He carries into this matchup win an 11-8 record with a 4.17 ERA, 1.331 WHIP and 140 punchouts in 136 innings pitched. His last game out came against the Padres where he tossed 4.2 innings of one-run ball in what ultimately resulted in a no decision.
Since coming to the Brewers, Lyles has made 11 starts, going 6-1 with a 2.35 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 53.2 innings pitched. He has seen the Reds a lot, totaling 16 lifetime appearances, spinning a 2-1 record, 3.54 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 24 Ks in 58.2 innings. I’ll spare you guys any further numbers but Lyles is also fantastic at Great American Ball Park and is the hot hand in Milwaukee right now.
His regression will come, but he might make it through the rest of the season before that happens.
What is particularly surprising about the Brewers’ recent success is the timing. Besides it coming down the stretch of the regular season, it seemed to have been spurred on by the loss of MVP frontrunner, Chrisitan Yelich. It’s not often a bubble team would rally together in such fashion after such a devastating hit to their championship hopes.
Not only are they winning without Yelich, but they are actually playing better. As of Tuesday, Milwaukee is 19-5 since August 28, and 17-4 so far this month. Those are the best records in the league over those time periods. All done without the reigning National League Most Valuable Player.
The Reds come into this game 16.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals and have long been eliminated from postseason consideration. Coming off a series loss to the Mets over the weekend, dropping game three on Sunday while posting just six hits, the Reds are in real bad shape and look dead in the water.
Tyler Mahle will attempt to stop the bleeding, but he offers little hope. Like pouring a bottle of cheap vodka over a gunshot wound, he has proven to be ineffective. Mahle takes the hill for the 24th start of the season, schlepping a 2-11 record, 4.93 ERA and 1.25 WHIP along with him.
His last time out could be viewed as a success, having recorded a no-decision after tossing six surprisingly strong innings against the Cubs. But over his last three starts combined, Mahle is 0-1 with a 6.59 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP over 13 ⅔ innings of work. His results against the Brewers aren’t much better with an 0-1 record and 1.50 WHIP over 16 ⅔ career innings. Long story short, Mahle is just as bad as the Reds are this year and ultimately deserve each other’s company.
The Brewers are red hot and have everything to play for right now. With just 3 games separating them from a Division title, every win is so very crucial with just 5 games left on the schedule. They are 5-0 in their previous five gave versus NL Central opponents, 7-0 their last seven versus sub-.500 teams, and 8-1 over the course of their last nine home games. Conversely, the Reds are 1-7 in Mahle’s last eight starts and 3-13 in his last 16 against teams with a winning record. All signs point to a win for the Brew Crew as they scrape and claw their way closer to the division crown.
Best Bet: Milwaukee Brewers -1.5 (+120)
New York Yankees +100 |Jonathan Loaisiga (2-1, 4.25 ERA) at Tampa Bay Rays -115 | Charlie Morton (15-6, 3.15 ERA), 7:10 p.m. ET
No matter what happens in this game, the American League Division Series kicks off a week from Friday at Yankee Stadium. Their opponent will be either the Minnesota Twins or the winner of the AL Wild Card game, but they will be at home and James Paxton will be handed the ball for Game 1.
In the meantime, the Yankees are still vying for best record in the MLB, still a half-game back with four to play, but it’s possible. For now, I expect the Yankees to be playing their best ball until the Astros either clinch or falter.
Tampa Bay is also desperate for a win tonight, perhaps even more so. The Rays are clinging onto the second American League Wild Card slot, trailing the Athletics by half a game and leading the Indians by the same, slim margin. They have won two in a row, one against the Red Sox and the other last night against the Yankees. Winning the tough games is a good sign of what the Rays have left in the tank this late into the season.
Keeping that momentum going will not be easy with two more games against the Yankees who will be playing to win, despite not rolling with a traditional starting pitcher, opting instead for an opener. The Rays have struggled with the Yankees in games past, posting a 5-12 record this season against the Bronx Bombers. A weird stat that might make for a good first five inning wagers on the Rays, Tampa Bay has led eight consecutive games against the Yankees after jumping out to early leads. Sadly, they won just three of those games when all nine innings we’re in the books.
Tampa Bay is hanging a lot of hope on right-hander Charlie Morton (15-6, 3.15 ERA) to post a quality start in a must win game for the Rays. Lucky for Tampa, Morton has been phenomenal this season and at 35-years of age, shows no signs of fatigue after 188 ⅔ innings pitched since opening day. In fact, the veteran has spun a 2-0 record with a 3.42 ERA in four September starts so far. Fair to say the Rays have their best chance to win on the mount tonight, too bad he can’t toss filth every night for his team.
Morton last game was against the Red Sox last Friday. He gave up two earned runs and one walk to go with eight K’s in a tight 5-4 win, inching the Rays ever closer to realizing their postseason dreams.
As mentioned above, the Yankees at 102 wins still have a lot to play for. They are just a half-game back for the best record in baseball and home field advantage through the postseason. They have reeled off ten wins in their last fifteen games, with four of those five losses by just one run.
After taking a series against Toronto, the Yankees hope to put a wrap on Tampa Bay’s season with a pair of wins at The Trop. They then head to Texas to finish the season in Arlington. They Yankees have an uphill battle with the Astros having one fewer loss in one fewer games and have the luxury of ending their season in Seattle.
The Yankees will be tossing another “bullpen day,” with Nicaraguan’s own Jonathan Loaisiga getting the start. Chad Green was originally slated to open this game but was needed during last night’s extra inning loss to the Rays. In limited work, Loaisiga has made a total of 13 appearances, three of them starts, he is 2-1 with a 4.25 ERA. Loaisiga has gone two innings in each of his three ‘starts’ and figures to be in line for a similar workload Wednesday with J.A. Happ likely to take over after six outs or so. Happ has had a net-positive season and is preparing for his postseason role as one of the first guys out of the bullpen along with CC Sabathia.
This is a tough game to assess with the Yankees not using a traditional starter. It is made easier by their apparent desire to have Happ throw significant pitches tonight, so he may be able to go all the way from the third inning and hand the ball off straight to the closer. Another issue is the Rays consistent lack of success against the Yankees, it has kept them from winning the AL East and could keep them out of the playoffs altogether. It’s not that the Rays aren’t competitive, they have played the Yankees hard and the results are generally quite tight. But they just can’t find the wins.
Despite the Rays desperate need to win this game, facts are facts, and the numbers point to strong value on the Yankees as an underdog. The Yankees are dangerous coming off a loss, especially when it’s the first game of a series. Look for the Yankees to put another nail into the Rays coffin and cash some tickets on Wednesday night.
Best Bet: New York Yankees +100