Upcoming Match-ups

DeGrom, Mets Set to Pound Nationals in MLB Picks and Best Bets for Sep. 26

Jacob deGrom delivering a pitch
Jacob deGrom won his first Cy Young Award in 2018 and is in the hunt to make it three straight in 2020. Photo by Arturo Pardavila III (flickr).
  • Saturday, Sep. 26th, is the second-last day of the 2020 MLB regular season
  • This is the time of year when Jacob deGrom is at his absolute peak, and he’s up against a team he dominated last season
  • See MLB best bets for Saturday, Sep. 26th

The MLB regular season is into its final weekend. Playoff berths are at stake in the National League, while only seeding is left to be settled in the American League.

If you are looking for the full slate of MLB odds, follow the link. Below are the two bets on the board that I will be playing on Saturday (Sep. 26th).

Please wager responsibly. Never bet more than you can afford to lose.

Pick #1 – Phillies vs Rays: Over 8.0 Runs

Team Moneyline Over/Under Pick Units Risked
Phillies (Z. Wheeler) +105 Over 8.0 (-115) Over 8.0 (-115) 1.15 to win 1.0
Rays (R. Yarbrough) -115 Under 8.0 (-105)

Odds from DraftKings on Sep. 25th. 

This game has decent pitchers on the mound – Zack Wheeler (3.65 ERA, 1.19 WHIP since 2018) and Ryan Yarbrough (career 3.98 ERA, 1.15 WHIP since 2018) – but it’s not a case of duelling aces. Wheeler, who started 2020 strong, has given up nine runs (eight earned) in 19 innings over his last three starts. His K/9 is just 6.3 this season, compared to 8.9 over the last two, combined.

Yarbrough has produced some absolute gems. On five occasions this season, he’s pitched at least 5.1 innings and given up two or fewer runs. In total in those four starts, he’s pitched 31 innings and given up five runs on 20 hits with six walks (0.84 WHIP).

In his other five starts, Yarbrough has pitched 21.1 innings, allowing 17 runs on 31 hits and six walks (1.74 WHIP). There’s not much consistency. His last two starts were of the good variety; before that, five of the previous six were in the ugly column.

The Phillies lineup is batting .329 with an .843 OPS in 20 total at-bats against Yarbrough. With the “small sample size” caveat attached, nothing about those numbers screams under. There is no significant history between the Rays’ lineup and Wheeler (three hits in 11 total at-bats, six of which belong to Manny Margot).

The Phillies hitters, as a team, rank ninth in Weighted Runs Created-Plus (wRC+). The Rays are one spot behind in tenth. If you have no clue what wRC+ means, you’re not alone. But you should be cluing in that it’s a significant offensive metric. It basically means that both teams are well above average in terms of creating runs.

Tropicana Field skews slightly towards being a pitchers’ park, but it’s a dome. This isn’t Wrigley with the wind blowing in.

The factor that really tips the balance in favor of the over is Philadelphia’s bullpen, which has an ERA of 7.17, worst in the majors. There’s a chance that the Rays (who have clinched the AL East title) will have the #1 seed in the AL sewn up, as well, making them more likely to rest the top end of their own bullpen.

If both pitchers bring their best, this game might not reach six runs. But that’s only about a 50/50 proposition for both Wheeler and Yarbrough, which makes a pitchers’ duel that stretches into the seventh and eighth innings highly unlikely. There are more avenues to a nine or ten-run ballgame with these inconsistent pitchers and above-average offenses on the field.

Pick: Over 8.0 (-115); 1.15 units to win 1.0 unit.

 Pick #2 – Mets vs Nationals: Mets’ Moneyline (-210)

Team Moneyline Over/Under Pick Units Risked
Mets (J. deGrom) -222 Over 8.0 (-115) Over 8.0 (-115) 2.22 to win 1.0
Nationals (A. Sanchez) +190 Under 8.0 (-105)

One thing that has paid off handsomely for bettors the last few seasons (or would have if his team gave him run support) is backing Jacob deGrom late in the year as he makes his final push up the Cy Young odds. Subtracting a subpar outing against the Phillies on Oct. 16th, when he gave up three runs in 2.0 innings before leaving with hamstring spasms, deGrom’s last six starts have produced the following statistics: 39 innings, six earned runs, 22 hits, 10 walks, and 65 strikeouts. The two-time reigning Cy Young winner is mowing people down.

Let’s be clear: there is nothing at stake in this game apart from deGrom’s Cy Young resume. It’s unlikely he can catch Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer, but this is continuing a string of impressive finishes for the 32-year-old. In 2018 and 2019, his September ERAs were 1.80 and 1.29, respectively.  It was those dominant performances that put him over the top in the Cy Young race.

Last year, he started four games against the eventual World Series champs, producing a 1.88 ERA in 24.0 IP with 31 Ks. This will be his first and only start against the Nats in 2020.

Opposite deGrom will be Anibal Sanchez and his 6.80 ERA. Sanchez was downright awful from 2015 to 2017, posting an ERA in the high fives. He produced a rock-solid 2018 campaign in Atlanta (2.83 ERA and 1.08 WHIP) and was decent in his first year in Washington (3.85 ERA, 1.27 WHIP). But he’s lost it this year.

His 6.80 ERA is well-earned. His WHIP is an unsightly 1.74. Before you counter with, “Yeah, but he’s facing the Mets”, recognize that New York has a wRC+  of 122, which is tied with Atlanta for the best in all of baseball.  It’s pitching that has been the far bigger problem in Queens this year, and deGrom will have that taken care of.

Pick: Mets’ Moneyline (-222); 2.22 units to win 1.0 unit.

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