Back for another week of winning MLB picks. Let’s take a deep dive into our best bets for Tuesday, September 10th, 2019.
Oakland Athletics +140 | Tanner Roark (8-8, 4.04 ERA) at Houston Astros -160 | Wade Miley (13-4, 3.35 ERA), 8:10 p.m. ET
Game 1 of this series saw the Houston Astros dismantle the Oakland Athletics on Monday, taking their magic number to clinch the AL West down to eight and improving to 28-2 at home versus AL West rivals.
Game 2 of this four-game tilt looks pretty clear cut at first glance, with the Astros priced very reasonable here. It’s easy to want to fade Oakland tonight with Houston taking a 10.5 game AL West division lead over the A’s and tied with the New York Yankees for the best record in the Major Leagues. The ‘Stros have also outscored their opponents by a truly impressive 225 runs, 132 more than the number Oakland has posted so far in 2019.
Currently, Oakland holds the second of a pair of AL Wild Card tickets and trail the Tampa Bay Rays by just 1½ games for the first of those berths. Nipping at their heels are the Cleveland Indians, who are a seriously talented team and trail Oakland by just a half-game. All this is to say that the Oakland Athletics have a lot more to gain and lose in these games, a near must-win situation.
Oakland hands the ball off to Tanner Roark tonight (9-8, 3.86 ERA), who has been pitching at a very high level since coming over to the A’s on July 31st. In his previous seven starts, he has amassed a 3-2 record and a superb 3.60 ERA, striking out 35 in his last 40 innings.
Despite his recent success on the mound, I view this is a plus matchup for the Astros lineup for a couple of reasons. Roark has three main pitches which he employs, a fastball a sinker and a slider, each with over 20% frequency. The first two are respectable but his slider is being hit at a .330 by opposing batters as he does an incredibly poor job of locating this pitch.
This is particularly relevant to tonight’s matchup as Houston batters just happen to slug a combined .548 against Roark’s 3 favorite pitches. Those are numbers based on the entire league mind you, not taking into account a guy who hangs sliders in the middle of the plate on the regular. It’s no wonder that as a collective the Astros have hit .340 against Roark on the season.
Wade Miley toes the rubber opposite Roark tonight with the southpaw posting a fantastic 13-4 record on the year with a 3.35 ERA. Miley has been a plus bet all season long with the Astros winning 7 of his last 8 starts with six of those wins covering the run line. Houston is up +10 units in games he starts and he is particularly effective at home, sporting an 11-2 record and a +8.7 unit return. As a home favorite, which he is tonight, those numbers jump to 20-4 and +12.8 units.
In summation, the Astros win when Miley pitches, especially at home. Sure, he is coming off his worst start of the season, but everyone has them and Miley is a prime bounce-back candidate tonight.
Trust not only the Astros bats tonight but also Wade Miley to keep Oakland off the board and cash a run line win for Houston tonight.
Best Bet: Houston Astros (-1.5) +120
Atlanta Braves -165 | Max Fried (16-4, 3.86 ERA) vs Philadelphia Phillies +155 | Jason Vargas (6-7, 4.27 ERA), 7:05 p.m. ET
The Atlanta Braves look to keep the ball rolling Tuesday night on the road in Philly when they kick off their second game of a four-game series against the Phillies. The Braves are on a tremendous tear, one which saw them win a season-high nine straight before dropping a tough game on Sunday to the Nationals.
Not a team to be kept down, they bounced right back with a win last night behind a strong offensive effort. They have taken 17 of their last 20 games and even better, their ace Max Friend takes the hill tonight. He is the Braves’ most profitable pitcher on the year, returning +12.70 units to Braves backers on the season. Last time out the young lefty hurled seven innings of one-hit ball in a 4-2 win against the Washington Nationals, at one point he sat down 19 batters in a row and earned a FIP under 1.00.
Fried has fanned at least 8 batters in four of his past six and has won seven straight decisions over nice trips to the hill. His last loss came on July 6th, at the hands of the lowly Miami Marlins of all teams, but he’s been spotless since the all-star break. Fried has faced off against the Phillies four times this year going 1-0 with a 6.94 ERA as a starter.
Backing up Fried is a high caliber Atlanta Braves lineup who continues to provide runs for their pitching staff to enjoy. Their depth and power make this squad a danger to go off on any given night.
Tonight feels like one of those nights with the Phillies handing the start to Jason Vargas. Vargas is coming off a strong performance coming away with a no-decision after a three-hit and two-run effort in Cincinnati. Overall, he is 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 7 appearances vs the Braves. It’s worth noting that his worst outing this year was against Atlanta. A start that saw him recording just a single out and giving up four runs off two hits and a trio of free passes.
Inconsistency has been the name of the game for Vargas and the entire Phillies organization. They have fallen to three games behind the Chicago Cubs in the race for the second National League Wild Card berth. They are still afloat in the race with some crucial games remaining, but this feels like one they are likely to come up short in after starting September with a 5-4 record.
Vargas is unlikely to be the answer to the Phillies issues and he really can’t seem to land with a team for very long at all. He makes just his seventh start of the season and his third with the Phillies, having previously lost his first two with his new club. Velocity has always been Vargas’ main issue with his fastball hovering around 85mph. No that is not a typo. Jason Vargas’ fastball speed is right around the same as an above-average high school player. His saving grace is the extreme movement his pitches have, but this comes with a price.
The more movement his pitches have, the harder they are for Vargas to control on a consistent basis. His three main pitches, a fastball a sinker and a change-up, each is thrown for more balls than strikes by Vargas. In fact, these pitches hover around being thrown for balls 10% more frequently than strikes, a dangerous stat for a pitcher to have. Especially when considering he is not throwing balls as part of his overall gameplan, it is his lack of control which sends these rations out of balance.
Even more alarming is the Braves’ strong results against southpaw pitchers after winning seven straight against them. Their slugging percentage sees a 26-point increase against lefties and Vargas is a sub-par lefty at best.
All signs point to the Braves here, they are just a better team overall who has won 10 of their last 11 games overall. Nine of those wins have covered the run line and I like them to do it again tonight.
Best Bet: Atlanta Braves (-1.5) +100