If you take a look at the schedule in Major League Baseball for this evening you’ll see C.C. Sabathia, Justin Verlander and rookie Gerrit Cole on the hill. That means more than just good viewing, it means some nice opportunities to collect on some wagers.
This is the time in the baseball season where fans start to panic about their team’s current state. They often forget that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Take the Detroit Tigers for example who increased their American League Central Division lead to 3.5 games last night with an extra-inning win over second-place Cleveland.
Two years ago on this date, the Tigers were a half-game back of the Indians. Detroit ended up winning the division by 15 games even though many fans were ready to jump off the Ambassador Bridge on July 9th. Last year, the Tigers were 3.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox and a half-game back of Cleveland. Detroit would in the division by three games and advance to the World Series.
Obviously there are fan bases to whom this doesn’t matter and I’m looking at you Houston. However, most of the division races are tight and will go down to the final month so fans need to stop worrying and let things play out for at least another month before anyone hits the panic button.
Tonight in the American League
Kansas City (James Shields) at New York Yankees (C.C. Sabathia) 7.5 -120 over/-110 under Shields has been the victim this season of a Royals’ line-up that just isn’t producing runs while Sabathia appears to be coming out of an early season swoon. Shields ERA is a respectable 3.23 while Sabathia is still hovering above four. I like the Yanks tonight but I’ll take the under.
Chicago White Sox (Jose Quintana) at Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander) 8 -105 over/-125 under The division rivals meet for the first time this year and will play 18 more times after tonight. The 24-year old Quintana has gone since late May without a decision despite pitching pretty well with and ERA 3.69. Verlander is 9-6 with a very ‘un-Verlander-like’ ERA of 3.54. Despite the Sox being 14 games out, this is still a rivalry. I like the Tigers but I’ll take the over.
Oakland (Dan Straily) at Pittsburgh (Gerrit Cole) 7.5 -115 over/-115 under You would have won a ton of money had you wagered when these two being in first place when they met in July but here they are. Cole has gone five or more innings in each of his first five big-league starts to earn a 4-1 record. Let’s see how he bounces back from his first loss. Straily is 5-2 and has not lost since May despite some very up and down outings. His 4.52 ERA is a concern and is exactly why I like the Pirates and the over tonight.
Tonight in the National League
LA Dodgers (Ricky Nolasco) at Arizona (Ian Kennedy) 8.5 -115 over/-115 under Nolasco makes his debut after being recently traded to the Dodgers from Miami. He’s won two of his last four starts with one no-decision mixed in there. His ERA is a decent 3.85 and he should get a little more offensive help in LA. Kennedy takes the hill for the NL West leading Diamondbacks. He hasn’t won a decision since June 1st and his ERA has ballooned to over five. I love the Dodgers tonight and the over.
New York Mets (Dillon Gee) at San Francisco (Barry Zito) 7.5 Even over/-130 under Gee has a win and a loss and two ND’s in his last four starts. His ERA was above five for much of the season but is now at 4.45. Zito is given the ball with the responsibility of keeping the defending champions alive. They have fallen to 6.5 games back and cannot lose any more ground. Zito has not won a decision since May 30th and the most he’s gone since early May is seven innings which he did once. I’m surprised the number isn’t higher here. Take the Giants and the over.