I’ve chosen 4 Major League Baseball games for this weekend where I believe value should exist. The first game I see value is on Thursday when Colorado travels to Kansas City to battle the Royals. Both Colorado and KC are in a dog fight for a wildcard spot. Although this is an inter-league game, because we are so deep into the MLB Regular Season, both teams must fight to win on August 24.
2017 MLB Week 18 Weekend Preview and Picks
The Friday, August 25 game I like has the Houston Astros traveling to the L.A. Angels. Houston doesn’t appear to be in any danger of losing the AL West Division to the second place Angels. LAA, though, could move closer to the final wildcard spot, the 5th seed in the American League, by continuing to win games. As of August 21, the Halos are a half a game behind Minnesota for the 5th seed in the American League Playoffs.
On Saturday, Baltimore heads to Fenway Park to battle the Boston Red Sox. Both teams are capable of winning that game. I predict only one team offers value. You can probably predict which team that is.
Sunday’s matchup has the Chicago Cubs, who must win every game they can, facing the Philadelphia Phillies. The Cubs are only 2.5 games ahead of Milwaukee, and 3.5 games ahead of St. Louis, in the NL Central Division. Usually, a weekend series with the Phillies constitutes automatic Ws. Not when the Chicago Cubs versus Philadelphia is concerned.
Check this 2017 MLB Week 18 weekend preview!
Thursday, Aug. 24
Colorado Rockies at Kansas City Royals
Colorado’s listed starting pitcher, German Marquez, hasn’t been horrible in 2017. Marquez has a decent 4.24 ERA. His WHIP is okay at 1.30. What you must like about Marquez is that he’s 10 and 5 on the season. What it means is that Marquez usually garners support from Colorado’s batting line-up when he steps to the mound.
KC counters Marquez with one of the younger starters in the rotation, Jake Junis. The 24-year-old’s 4.99 ERA and 1.36 WHIP imply that he hasn’t had many great moments. There’s definitely talent there, though. How else do we explain Junis pitching for 8 innings, and allowing only 1 earned run off 4 hits in a 9 to 1 KC win over Seattle on August 6?
The key for this game, not surprisingly, is how well Jake Junis pitches at home. Junis’ home ERA is a decent 4.64. His WHIP is 1.50. The good news about Junis’ home stats is that he’s only pitched 21 innings at home.
The 8 innings versus the Seattle Mariners are part of the 21 innings. In that game, Junis had great control. He followed up a game versus Seattle with a nice road performance against Oakland on August 14. In that one, he only allowed 2 earned runs off 4 hits in 6 innings. The Royals beat Oakland 6 to 2.
But after the Oakland game, Junis imploded with 4 earned runs off 5 hits in 2.1 innings versus Cleveland. Which Junis shows up on Thursday? The one that dominated Seattle and kept Oakland at bay? Or, the one that failed miserably versus Cleveland, a 1 to 10 KC loss?
I think the one that beat Seattle and Oakland shows up on August 24. Junis pitched 2.1 innings on August 18 because he had to. He’s become one of Kansas City manager Ned Yost’s best options from the bullpen.
Junis isn’t a reliever anymore. He’s a starting pitcher. What it means is that he likes to warm up and then strategize from the first inning. The last couple of times he’s started, versus the Mariners and the Athletics, Junis has been close to unhittable.
By contrast, the last couple of times that German Marquez has started for the Colorado Rockies, he’s failed miserably. Marquez has allowed 9 earned runs off 14 hits in his last 9.1 innings pitched. That won’t cut it versus a KC offense that averages 4.46 runs per.
I like Kansas City on the run line
Pick: Kansas City Royals run line
Friday, Aug. 25
Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels
Astros listed starter Collin McHugh is 1 and 2 on the season. McHugh has a 4.01 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. The Angels have taken McHugh to the woodshed many times in their former at-bats. The Halos hit .272 versus McHugh. They’ve got 40 hits from the 147 at-bats. 7 of the 40 hits went for doubles. 4 of the 40 hits went for home runs.
The L.A. Angels send one of their best pitchers, Parker Bridwell, to the mound to square off against McHugh. Bridwell has a 7-1 record, a 2.92 ERA, and a 1.18 WHIP. The 26-year-old from Hereford, Texas has been a pleasant surprise for Angel fans.
Bridwell has faced Houston batters 5 times. He’s allowed only 1 hit. The hit turned out to be a home run by Jake Marasnick.
Because Houston has the best record in the American League, the Angels, although likely favored in this battle, shouldn’t be favored by much. Bridwell isn’t as highly thought of by other MLB handicappers the way I think of him.
So, really, the value is in backing Bridwell and the Angels. But, is the bet on the money line or the run line? Before making the decision it’s important to see how Bridwell’s been performing in his last few starts.
Based on the stats, he’s been performing about well as one could expect. Bridwell’s only fallen apart, and I’m not sure he did fall apart, in his last 8 starts. On August 3, Bridwell allowed 4 earned runs off 6 hits in only 5 innings. He didn’t fall apart because the Angels beat the NL’s Philadelphia Phillies 5 to 4.
Other than that game, Bridwell has been solid. He hasn’t allowed more than 2 earned runs in 6 out of his last 7 starts. Only the National League Phillies could get to Bridwell.
I like Parker to have his best stuff going on Friday. I won’t get greedy. Since the Angels figure to be no worse than -110 home favorites, if they’re favored at all, I’ll back LAA on the money line.
Pick: Los Angeles Angels money line
Saturday, Aug. 26
Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox
On the surface, it sure looks like Kevin Gausman has no shot against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, August 26. Gausman’s ERA is 5.25. His WHIP is 1.63. His record is a less than desirable 9 and 9.
Boston sends Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound to battle Gausman. Rodriguez has a 4.01 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Baltimore only bats .229 versus Eduardo Rodriguez.
This is, easily, my favorite value play of the weekend. There’s no way that Rodriguez and the Boston Red Sox aren’t huge favorites over Kevin Gausman and the Baltimore Orioles. I expect MLB bettors to overplay the Red Sox crazy-like on Saturday.
I’m going with the O’s. Gausman has been great save for 3 games. On July 14, he yielded 8 runs in 3 innings to the NL Chicago Cubs. On August 9, he allowed 4 earned runs in 5.1 innings to the L.A. Angels. In his last start on August 19, Gausman gave up 5 earned runs in 4 innings to the Angels.
Other than the Cubs and Angels, there isn’t another team since early July that Gausman hasn’t pitched lights out against. I think Gausman holds Boston to 1 or 2 runs at the most.
I like Baltimore to upset the Red Sox at Fenway on August 26.
Pick: Baltimore Orioles money line
Sunday, Aug. 27
Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia Phillies
The Cubs John Lackey has a 4.67 ERA to go along with a 1.32 WHIP. His record is 10-9. The Phillies bat .284 against Lackey. Philadelphia has faced Lackey 74 times. They’ve got 21 hits off the Cubs’ listed starter for this Sunday.
Philly sends ace Aaron Nola to the mound. Nola has a 3.26 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP, and a 9-8 record. Nola’s home ERA is a nice 2.69. The Cubbies have only faced Aaron Nola 17 times.
Aaron Nola pitches on August 22 against the Cincinnati Reds. If Nola returns to form, he and the Philadelphia Phillies should be favored over the Chicago Cubs come Sunday, August 27.
What it means is that the Cubs should be the value play. That’s what I’m counting on. Oh, I don’t believe that Aaron Nola doesn’t dominate the Cubs early this Sunday. There’s a good chance he might.
But, the Cubbies bullpen is so much better than Philly’s that, if given odds, I’ll be all over Chicago to make one of their patented comebacks in the later innings after Nola has left the game.
Nola is the Phillies ace, but he only has a 9-8 record. What does that tell us? It tells us that Phillies relievers blow games about as much as any bullpen in MLB.
Pick: Chicago Cubs money line