I can’t buy a win lately. A tough few weeks have sent my season record right at the break-even point, albeit still at an overall profit if wagering the same amount on each bet. This is a make-or-break week based on the self-imposed rules I’ve just established.
Speaking of ugly downward spirals …
Mets at Phillies: Run Line
The Mets inspire the rare fan base more likely to be biased against their favorite team. Maybe my view is skewed as a cynic who’s witnessed this nightmare unfold before, but every possible trend points to another painful loss cementing a Phillies sweep.
After finally getting close to full health for about a day or two in July, the Mets lost Jacob deGrom, Francisco Lindor, and the ability to play baseball. They’ve lost eight of their last 10 games with a whopping 30 runs scored. They’re 26th in ISO against righties heading into a matchup against the ace they let walk away.
With deGrom unlikely to return in time to solidify his NL Cy Young Award campaign, Zack Wheeler has the best odds to claim the award (+300 on DK, +310 on FD) behind Walker Buehler (+275 on DK, +270 on FD). He leads all starters in innings pitched (147) and fWAR (5.1) along with his sterling 2.57 ERA, 2.49 FIP, and the eighth-best K-BB% (23.4%) among all qualified starters. The 31-year-old tossed seven scoreless innings against his old squad on June 27, marking one of 10 outings in which he yielded zero or one run in at least six innings. Wheeler has a golden opportunity to fortify his case against an ice-cold Mets offense that hasn’t scored more than five runs in a game since July 21.
On the other hand, Taijuan Walker has hit a wall. Since getting named to his first All-Star team as an injury replacement, the righty has allowed 21 runs (20 earned) in 15 innings. Opponents are hitting .377/.456/.739 against him in those four disastrous turns. Holding up over a full season was always a concern for Walker, who missed nearly all of 2018 and 2019 before returning for 53 frames in the shortened 2020. He’ll now try to stop the bleeding against a Phillies offense that’s scored 52 runs during an ongoing seven-game winning streak.
Led by a sizzling hot Bryce Harper, Philadelphia pushes New York deeper down the NL East standings with a decisive win. The Mets have suffered all but one of their 14 second-half losses by two runs or more.
Pick: Phillies -1.5 (+120 on DraftKings, +116 on FanDuel)
Royals at Cardinals: O/U 9.5 Runs
My original thought was to back a Royals victory, as a +138 line seems pretty good for any team facing Jon Lester. After surrendering six runs in his St. Louis debut, the 37-year-old lefty carries a 5.38 ERA and 1.63 WHIP. No pitcher with as many innings pitched (141.1) has a worse SIERA than Lester’s 5.15 since the start of 2020. Righties have 14 homers and a .393 wOBA against him this season. The Royals aren’t trotting out much of a power punch, but they still have Whit Merrifield, Carlos Santana, and Salvador Pérez at the top of the lineup card.
One problem: Kris Bubic isn’t trustworthy either. He’s certainly pitching better than Lester lately, recording a 2.63 ERA in four second-half starts. However, the 23-year-old had a 5.40 ERA and 6.15 FIP before that recent hot streak. He’s also on the hook for a 5.42 ERA and .379 wOBA as a starter. While Kauffman Stadium has treated him well, Bubic has gotten shoved to a 6.68 ERA and .410 wOBA on the road this season. He’s fared better against fellow lefties over his career, but righties have still staked him to a .191 ISO and 1.41 WHIP.
Missouri’s below-average offenses should turn up the heat against two subpar southpaws. That makes the run line an appealing wager, but Kansas City’s moneyline still isn’t a bad idea.
Pick: Over (+100 on DraftKings, -105 on FanDuel)
Diamondbacks at Padres: Moneyline
I’m hesitant to close with this recommendation because I don’t know if I’m brave enough to wager it myself. The Diamondbacks have MLB’s worst record and run differential despite Friday’s victory over the Padres. While San Diego has lost considerable ground in the NL West, they still possess the Senior Circuit’s third-best run differential behind the Dodgers and Giants.
Of course, the Padres are better. And of course, they should be favored at Petco Park, where they’re 36-23. (Arizona, on the other hand, is an atrocious 14-41 on the road.) Blake Snell is re-discovering his footing with a 2.79 ERA in six starts since surrendering seven runs at Coors Field on June 16. That’s despite giving up seven more to Oakland on July 28, which increased his home ERA to a still striking 2.81 when compared to 7.36 on the road.
You probably figured out that a “but” is coming. Snell has pitched better, but he did just give up seven runs … again. The laboring lefty also has 26 strikeouts to 21 walks during that aforementioned six-start stretch, so he’s hardly back to Cy Young form. He still has a 5.24 ERA and the highest walk rate (14.2%) of any starter with at least 80 innings pitched.
By that same logic, onlookers should also take Madison Bumgarner‘s resurgence with a grain of salt. He’s allowed five runs in four surprisingly strong starts since returning from a shoulder injury. He also has 15 strikeouts in those 25 innings. But unlike Snell, he’s permitted just three walks. The former ace has also gone seven innings in back-to-back outings, which is as many times as Snell has worked seven frames in the last three seasons. Bumgarner will need to go deep to spark an upset, as the Padres and Diamondbacks respectively rank first and last in bullpen ERA.
There’s a major bullpen discrepancy in bullpens. However, the gap on offense isn’t as wide. In fact, Arizona actually has a better wOBA against lefties (.320) than San Diego (.316). The Friars are 23rd in slugging against southpaws (.393), and that’s with a .587 mark from the sidelined Fernando Tatís Jr. A Diamondbacks win isn’t probable, but it’s possible enough for a minimal dice roll.
Pick: Diamondbacks (+172 on FanDuel, +168 on DraftKings)
Andrew Gould Overall Record: 28-28 (One Push)
Net Money (Assuming all wagers are $100): +$173.98
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)