MLB schedule today has 1 game
There were a lot of zeros on the board during Game 3, as the Rangers came away with a 3-1 victory to take a 2-1 series lead in the Fall Classic. Max Scherzer bobbed and weaved for three innings before leaving the game due to back discomfort. That sent scheduled Game 4 starter Jon Gray into action and he saved the bullpen and the game for the Rangers. That leaves us with Andrew Heaney and Joe Mantiply as the starters in what will be a Johnny Wholestaff game for both teams.
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Here are some thoughts on the October 31 card (odds from DraftKings):
(odds as of 9:45 a.m. PT)
I think it had to be tough to set a line like this. We know that Heaney will start the game for the Rangers. How deep he works into it is anybody’s guess, as the Rangers have Dane Dunning, Cody Bradford, and Martin Perez available as early multi-inning guys, though I’m not sure that Perez will actually be viewed as a legitimate contributor in such an important game.
On the Arizona side, the left-handed Mantiply will open the game, but then it will likely be Ryne Nelson to take over. Nelson threw two-thirds of an inning against the Phillies in the NLCS and allowed three runs on four hits with a walk. He finished the regular season with a 5.31 ERA and a 5.07 FIP and hasn’t really been viewed as a trustworthy option at any point this postseason. That one appearance is his only one since October 1, so it has to be tough to stay sharp.
Arizona only got 12 pitches from Kyle Nelson, 20 from Luis Frias, and 11 from Miguel Castro yesterday, as Brandon Pfaadt settled down nicely after a rough third inning to pitch into the sixth. All hands are on deck for Arizona, so they don’t have to stay with Ryne Nelson and can possibly bring in Kyle or anybody else they view as an option.
That makes today’s game an incredibly difficult handicap. Both teams will have tentative blueprints coming into the action of how they want things to go. Heaney has allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings this postseason with one strikeout and two walks. Dunning has allowed four runs on six hits in six innings with five strikeouts against five walks.
Gray is the only unavailable arm for the Rangers, as he threw 30 pitches over three masterful innings yesterday. Chris Stratton is another guy capable of throwing multiples, though he has allowed three runs on three hits in just 3.1 innings this postseason.
We’re dealing with a lot of below average arms in this game. But, the market seems to have spoken very loudly about Heaney, as we’ve seen a flipped favorite situation from where this game opened overnight. I guess bettors would rather put their trust in Ryne Nelson over the Heaney/Dunning tandem. I think that’s something of a bold choice.
The other thing about Nelson is that he had some obscene home/road splits - and not the good kind.
Home: 55.2 IP, 8.25 ERA, 6.13 FIP, .356/.405/.636, .433 wOBA, 12 HR, 13.8% K%, 8.3% BB%
88.1 IP, 3.46 ERA, 4.36 FIP, .232/.280/.427, .300 wOBA, 12 HR, 18.3% K%, 6.5% BB%
Those are some pretty gross numbers at home. He also allowed a .369 wOBA in the second half and 11 HR in just 50.1 innings of work. I think he’s the weakest link of all the early pitchers, so I think that’s where we can play into this game a little bit.
I’ll take my chances with proven MLB arms in Heaney and Dunning over Nelson and the collection of low-leverage relievers for the Diamondbacks. I understand the skepticism about the Rangers here and the way that the line has moved, but I think this is the type of game that can go a ton of different ways. To me, the Rangers having the better offense is a separator against a collection of below average to bad arms from both sides.
Pick: Rangers -105
Edit: I forgot to mention the Adolis Garcia oblique issue - I still like the Rangers offense without him; certainly he's a loss. Hopefully it wasn't as serious as it looked, but we'll find out more today.