AL Wild Card Game- Rays win with depth.

Charlie Morton (Tampa Bay Rays) at Sean Manaea (Oakland Athletics)

Starting Pitcher: Advantage…..

Every part of me wants to say the Rays have the advantage with veteran Charlie Morton on the mound. Morton has the most experience of any pitcher on either staff, spending the last two seasons with the Houston Astros, most notably his performance in the 2017 World Series.  Morton came out of the bullpen, dominating his 10+ innings. Morton has found success in his curveball even more in 2019, throwing it as a much higher rate.  Opposing batter are hitting just .151 against old Uncle Charlie. 

Sean Manaea has returned from injury, immediately regaining his form has the A’s frontline starter(1.21 ERA with with a 30-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio). Manaea lack of experience is a big deal under the pressure of what the Wild Card game brings.  He has a great future ahead of him.  This game will be what allows us to find out what and who he is.

Bullpen: Advantage Rays

The Athletics have a premier closer in Liam Hendricks as well as a “secret weapon” Jesus Luzardo. The Athletics don’t have the depth of the Rays, but they do have two guys that can be impactful if the they get the lead.  

The Rays finished first in the MLB with a 3.71 bullpen ERA and in September the ERA was a staggering 2.87. Tampa Bay has multiple assets that can be called upon at any moment.  Chaz Roe, Emilio Pagan, Oliver Drake and Diego Castillo could all be called upon as soon as the first sign of trouble comes. In a one game scenario the matchups will be the difference.

Lineup + Bench: Advantage Rays

Tampa Bay doesn’t have the premier big bats that Oakland brings to the table.  They don’t have a Matt Olson, Marcus Semien or Matt Chapman. The Rays will utilize their matchups Tommy Pham, Travis d’Arnaud, Avi Garcia and the returning Yandy Diaz all have great numbers versus lefties on the season.

Oakland will need the middle of the order to step up and make things happen. Marcus Semien and Matt Olson bring the power and name recognition that the Rays don’t have.  The bottom of their order doesn’t have the same pop.  The Rays will carry more depth into this matchup. Whi

Prediction

I want to go with the Athletics.  Every part of me says they are going to utilize their power.  I have a tough time backing Sean Manaea in this situation.  While his ERA is very appealing there seems to be a regression on the way for the Oakland lefty.  Of his five starts only one was against a winning team.  Charlie Morton’s experience and Kevin Cash’s ability to play the matchup game will be too much for the Athletics. I am rolling with the Rays.

MLB Picks May 18

Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees

This matchup seems like I’ve played it recently.  Oh.. I did and won the ML with the Yankees.  Blake Snell could arguably be the best pitcher in baseball, but he has had his struggles against the Yankees with a 3-5 record and a 4.52 ERA in his career versus the bronx bombers.  The Yankees are also quietly getting healthier with the return of Gary Sanchez Aaron Hicks.  Did you know they moved into first place in the AL East?  Most probably didn’t. 

Betting an against the best pitcher in baseball is probably not the best idea but getting +112 for a first-place team with their ace on the mound is always worth a gamble.  The Yankees are hot, ride this one while you have the value.

Pick: Yankees +112

Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels

I’m going to start by saying that the Angels are 26-17 ATS this season.  This lineup is one of the more underrated sources of power in the league with the return of Shohei Otani. They now feature a lineup that goes pretty deep as career utility man Tommy La Stella has emerged from the scrap heap to lead the Angels in homers (11).  Even players at the bottom have found ways to contribute most notably Kole Calhoun is slugging .490. 

The Angels will get a chance at Jakob Junis who couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning in his most recent start and has a problem with giving up the long ball.  The Royals have had bullpen issues as well sitting at the bottom of the league in most statistics including saves (obviously).

Griffin Canning will take the mound for the Angels.  He has had a problem giving up the long ball this season but will face off with a Royals lineup that will not provide as many power threats as the Angels. 

Pick: Angels RL (+110)

Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers- 9.5

The Tigers will send hard luck Mathew Boyd to the mound against the Athletics on Saturday.  I call him hard luck because he may be the best pitcher in baseball no one is talking about.  Boyd currently sits 3-4, 3.15ERA and .99WHIP.  Boyd will have a challenge with the Oakland A’s, a team that is tough against lefties but has overall underperformed in 2019.

Boyd should be able to hold his own while the Detroit lineup has struggled ultimately the entire 2019 campaign. I am going to bet on bad offense from Detroit and solid pitching from Boyd. 

Pick: Under 9.5 (-120)

MLB Picks 4/20/19

I have been throwing out a lot of picks lately and haven’t held myself accountable so today I begin to truly cover my plays and see what my end of the season record may be. Let’s get this started on a winning track.

Chicago White Sox (Santana) at Detroit Tigers (Norris)

The Detroit Tigers as a team haven’t hit much all year. They have however been better at home with a .244 BA at home when compared to a .183 BA away from Comerica Park. Ervin Santana has not been stellar in his first two starts of the season giving up 10 earned runs over 8 innings and getting shelled by right handed hitters.

The Tigers have a healthy Nick Castellanos back in their lineup which will propel them to a victory at home.

Pick: Detroit Tigers -135

Boston Red Sox (Porcello) at Tamp Bay Rays (Morton)

Rick Porcello has been a ticking time bomb to start the season, a matchup the leagues best team has the potential for time to run out. Lefties in particular have hit Porcello to a tune of .460 batting average in more than enough of a sample size.

The Tamp Bay Rays will have an array of lefties in their lineup including Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi and the red hot Austin Meadows. Even if Boston was playing better this is not a matchup that benefits the the world champs.

Pick: Tamp Bay Rays -1.5 (+140)

Philadelphia Phillies (Nola) at Colorado Rockies (Senzatela)

No one expected the Rockies to have struggles on the offensive side of the ball but that has been the case early in 2019. The Rockies are bottom five in most offensive categories. With a slash line of .215/.274/.360 at the plate as a team a matchup with Aaron Nola seems like trouble for Colorado. However, their offense has come alive during their recent winning streak, scoring at least four runs in each of their last five games.

The Rockies will send Antonio Senzatela to the mound coming off of a great first start against San Diego going 6.2 innings while only giving up one run. Ryan McMahon has stepped up for the Rockies filling in for the injured Daniel Murphy. The Rockies as a home dog versus a usually sluggish start to the season for Nola should give great value in this situation.

Pick: Rockies +105