Plenty of day games are on the docket today, as the MLB card is spread out across the afternoon and evening hours. We’ve got several interesting pitching matchups on the card and a lot of angles to discuss. I’ll be stopping by the South Point Studio for “The Run Line South” as Ben Wilson and I have dubbed it for my weekly spot on Betting Across America at 3 p.m. ET, as Ben pinch-hits for Mike Pritchard and Josh Appelbaum joins from Boston.
Perhaps I’ll be asked about my thoughts on the ESPN puff piece about Rob Manfred that went up today. Here’s a cliff notes version of my thoughts on Twitter, but to elaborate a bit, Manfred is lining owners’ pockets and making the league heaps of money with TV deals that alienate and exclude lots of fans from watching lots of games because of blackout restrictions. Yet, he’s so obtuse that he still feels like pace of play is the game’s biggest issue.
It isn’t the inconsistency of the baseballs. It isn’t the lack of approaching a younger fan base. It isn’t the salary suppression (I mean, how could it be?!). It isn’t the usual suspects behind the plate that can’t do their jobs. It isn’t the ghost runner, the three-batter minimum, the banning of the shift, the minor league infrastructure or any of baseball’s other ills. It’s the fact that games maybe take 15 minutes too long.
And now, for a couple thousand words on the sport Rob Manfred hates.
Pirates/Nationals: Patrick Corbin dazzled with 12 strikeouts over eight magnificent innings with 19 whiffs as the Nationals beat the Pirates 3-1. Both Corbin and Jose Quintana pitched really well in the contest, as Quintana lowered his ERA to 3.43 with six innings of one-run ball. Not really the pitcher’s duel that we expected, but Corbin seemed to tap into the “Blind Squirrel Theory” and found a nut. I’m not sure this was anything more than an outlier, though he did have 14 whiffs on 19 swings against his slider, which he threw a season-high 45.1% of the time. If that’s the new Corbin, he’s at least semi-interesting.
Marlins/Cardinals: It took until the fifth, but the Cardinals ultimately got to Braxton Garrett and relied on the bullpen for a 5-3 win. We didn’t get multiples from Giovanny Gallegos and Ryan Helsley, but the latter struck out the side in the ninth to secure the win. This is a big handicapping factor with the Cardinals in games where they are expected to lead. As long as Gallegos and Helsley are available, you can bet with confidence. If not, stay away.
Reds/Cubs: Somebody is going to have to explain to me why Luis Castillo threw 123 pitches for Cincinnati last night. It marked Castillo’s sixth straight start topping the century mark. The Reds aren’t going anywhere and Castillo is going to be a prized piece on the trade market. He threw six incredible shutout innings with 11 punchies, but I’m not sure I understand the thought process here. Sure, Joel Kuhnel immediately came in and allowed three runs, but it seems like maybe Castillo should be protected, not extended that deep. His next start is Sunday at home against Atlanta on regular rest. That seems like a dicey spot, even with his swing-and-miss upside.