The Tampa Bay Rays have everything to play for Tuesday night as they look to lock down one of the American League Wild Card spots with 11 games left to play.
Tampa Bay Rays +125 | Blake Snell (6-7, 4.28 ERA) at Los Angeles Dodgers -135 | Ross Stripling (4-4, 3.40 ERA), 10:10 p.m. ET
Tampa Bay currently holds the second wild-card berth in the AL and trail the Oakland Athletics by just 1 ½ games and lead the Cleveland Indians by 1 ½ games. They have a tough road ahead with the Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays stand between them and the postseason.
The Dodgers have already clinched the National League West title and have little to play for aside from securing home-field advantage in the playoffs. The Dodgers’ magic number is seven to take top spot in the National League as they trail only the New York Yankees and Houston Astros for the best record in the MLB and the World Series home-field advantage that comes along with it.
The Rays will send southpaw Blake Snell to the mound tonight where he looks to improve on his 6-7 record and 4.28 ERA, very un-Snell like numbers for the reigning Cy Young Award winner. To his credit he suffered elbow issues which required surgery back on July 25th, this will be Snell’s first start since going under the knife. Despite his inflated ERA, games in which Snell starts on the road have seen the ‘under’ hit for a 15-4-2 record.
Snell showed no signs of discomfort in his rehab outing for Triple-A Durham on Thursday. He faced only six batters but struck out three while throwing 28 pitches in the outing. It’s important to note here that Snell is not stretched out and will likely pitch only three innings or so. This leaves a lot of questions regarding who eats the rest of the innings tonight as the Rays bullpen has had his share of issues.
The Dodgers will aim to counter the former Cy Young winner with righty Ross Stripling and his 4-4 record & 4.28 ERA. Stripling has been a jack of all trades this year for the Dodgers with appearances as a starter, out of the bullpen and as an opener as well. He is coming off a three-inning appearance Wednesday allowing just a single run on three hits in a 7-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Stripling has never made a start vs the Rays but has a 0.00 ERA in four relieve appearances.
The Dodgers have the best record in the league at home and have games have gone 4-0-1 for the ‘under’ at Dodger Stadium in their last 5 interleague matchups. The Rays have a lack of offensive weapons and Stripling should have little issue keeping Tampa Bay off the board. With a run differential of +240 and Snell’s extreme pitch count, I like the Dodgers here, especially for the price. Additionally, the trends point to an under bet here as well with LA cashing six of their last eight under lines and have a plus arm on the mound tonight.
Best Bet: Los Angeles Dodgers -135 & Under 8 (-105)
Washington Nationals +108 | Patrick Corbin (12-7, 3.20 ERA ) at St. Louis Cardinals -118 | Miles Mikolas (9-13, 4.28 ERA), 7:45 p.m. ET
The first-place St. Louis Cardinals are working hard to hold off a push from the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central race. The Nationals have similar enemies in their hopes of securing a Wild-Card berth. The stakes are high for both of these teams with the season winding down and everything to play for. The second of this three-game series is critical for the Nationals after losing game one at Busch Stadium last night 4-2.
St. Louis leads the Chicago Cubs by two games and the Brewers by three in a tightening race for the NL Central. The Nationals still have a hod on the first wild-card slot but have dropped nine of 15 games so far in September and find themselves just a half-game ahead of the Chicago Cubs in the second slot with the Brewers 1 game behind them. Manager Dave Martinez is sidelined after undergoing a minor heart procedure Sunday and the Nats bench coach Chip Hale will be manning the helm tonight.
The Nationals are hoping left-hander Patrick Corbin can help them out of their September funk as he improves upon his 12-7 record and 3.20 ERA. Corbin has had issues with the Cardinals in the past including a 6-5 loss on April 29th after surrendering six runs in five innings in what was his first loss of 2019.
Overall, Corbin is 1-2 with a 4.89 ERA in six career appearances vs the St. Louis Cardinals. He has been pitching very well of late allowing just 12 earned runs over his last 44 innings while striking out 49 batters along the way. He is far and away the better pitcher in this game and is coming in with a hot hand. Corbin has averaged a 62-point game score with a 2.45 ERA over his previous seven starts. Over those 44 innings, Corbin allowed just 12 earned runs on 32 total hits while giving up 16 walks and fanning 49, strong numbers for the lefty.
The Cardinals look to counter with righty Miles Mikolas who beat the Nationals 5-1 on May 1st, allowing just a single run over six quality innings of work. On a whole, Mikolas is 2-1 with a 4.95 ERA in four starts vs the Washington Nationals. He is a home field pitcher whose 2.91 ERA and 5-5 record are significantly better than his numbers on the road. Mikolas’ main issues have come down to his consistency, or lack of as it were. Over his previous seven starts, his average 49-point game score leaves much to be desired.
Also leaving much to be desired are his 23 earned runs over his last 38 innings with eight long balls and right walks. Bettors should also be aware of the Cardinals yielding (-5) units in his starts at night but are plus money on him during the day, and odd stat to be sure but day/night splits have some credibility when combined with other strong trends. All signs were pointing up for Mikolas but he has really regressed this season. His ERA has almost doubled from 2.83 to 4.28 while his FIP is up almost a full point.
The real offender here is his proclivity for giving up the long ball in 2019 with double the amount of home runs than last season at the same time. His slider has been the culprit with a .281 batting average against, whereas hitters struggled last year with the same pitch to the tune of a .184 average. He has been hanging it out over the plate of late, likely the reason for his inflated home run numbers.
The Nationals also hit Mikolas well with a combined batting average of .391 and are slugging .504 against him. Howie Kendrick really has Mikolas number with a .750 career BA against him. In fact, eight different Nationals hitters have a .333 average or higher against him and are slugging over .500.
This game comes down to a good old-fashioned pitching mismatch with Mikolas the clear low man on the totem pole. Coming off a loss last night the Nationals really need to pick up this win if they want to keep their playoff chances alive, so a win here is almost a must for Washington. I’m going to lean on the better pitcher here in Corbin, especially with the Nationals getting plus money odds on the road in STL.
Best Bet: Washington Nationals +108