MLB Free Picks for
Posted at 12:00 PM EST
8:05 PM EST. We haven’t played a lot of MLB playoffs because we haven’t seen enough value and it’s actually worked out well. When the favorite wins by one run, we know we save some bets but now the venue switches from Minute Maid Park to Yankee Stadium. Game 1 and Game 2 were both tight 2-1 games. Each game broke Houston’s way so the end result of two close contests is a big 2-0 series lead for the Astros. The Yankees send CC Sabathia to the mound on regular rest coming off a solid if short outing in Game 5 of the ALDS against Cleveland. The Astros are starting Charlie Morton who will be working on six days’ rest after a similarly solid if short outing of his own in Game 4 of the ALDS against Boston.
This is obviously a crucial game for the Yankees and we’re somewhat surprised that Joe Girardi’s rotation has gone Sabathia (Game 5 v Cleve), Tanaka (Game 1 in ALDS) Severino (Game 2 in ALDS) and back to Sabathia. No Sonny Gray or no Jordan Montgomery in between, which is likely going to cost Girardi. Starting C.C. over Sonny Gray is something we can’t wrap our heads around but Girardi can because he’s a loyal warrior. C.C. came through in Game 5 v Cleveland and he’s come through many times in the past. Girardi and Sabathia have a long history together. Wearing the Pinstripes is an honor they both embrace and if they go down, they’re going down together. We like Girardi in terms of his demeanor, passion, military look and everything else but his decision here to go with C.C. over Gray is an emotional one and not a rational one. Starting Gray tomorrow is a day too late. If we’re wrong, so be it.
Sabathia has actually been very good this year with a 14-5 record to go along with a 3.69 ERA. He also has 120 K’s in 149 innings and in his two playoff appearances, he struck out 10 Indians in 12 frames while posting a 2.31 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. Give C.C credit for learning to hone his craft while his skills were regressing badly. We could go over his past three seasons prior to this year and find concerns about his size and his workload. One could follow trend in just about any skill area too for three consecutive years prior to this one (xERA, control, command, first-pitch strikes and WHIP) and find reason to worry. Thus, what C.C. has been able to do this year has to be admired but that doesn’t mean we should trust him as the chalk. It's no secret that the once-indestructible CC Sabathia isn't what he was. With diminished velocity, Sabathia hasn't been able to rack up elite strikeout totals. He's missed a few more bats in 2017, but we're skeptical that can hold against the Astronauts. With two straight seasons of 4.85+ xERA, a fastball sputtering near 89 mph and a brutal home park, there's little—if any—upside on Sabathia spotting a tag. He’s a big risk in a small park.
This market is not buying Charlie Morton’s success, which is understandable considering that Morton is a 33-year-old flashing never-before-seen velocity or strikeouts. In 147 frames, Morton has 163 K’s. A couple ticks on the fastball and a knockout curve (22% swing and miss) have worked wonders for Morton's strikeouts. The strikeout gains haven't come at the expense of control either. As a result, his command has skyrocketed. Morton's two-seamer continues to be a worm killer (60% grounders). Morton's long been an extreme ground-baller with decent control but his newfound ability to miss bats quickly makes for an attractive target. Morton's skills are worth your attention. The Astronauts may indeed go on to lose here but the more likely scenario is that they get to C.C. early and make Girardi pay for another post-season bad decision. Either way, all the value is on the dog.
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Houston +124 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.48)
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