By Dalton Brown
Last Week: 3-0
Friday, August 13th, 9:40 PM ET
San Diego Padres (Blake Snell) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Madison Bumgarner)
The Padres continue their series in Arizona tonight with the Diamondbacks after an embarrassing loss on Thursday, falling 12-3 in the series opener. Once considered a shoe-in for the Postseason, the Padres suddenly find themselves virtually out of the NL West division race (9 games back of San Francisco) and holding only a 3.5 game lead for the second Wild Card spot over the charging Cincinnati Reds.
They’ll turn to Blake Snell on Friday night in Phoenix searching for a rebound. Snell has been dominant against the Diamondbacks this season, pitching 11.2 scoreless innings over two starts, including pitching a gem and earning the win with 7 scoreless on Monday night. It’s a Diamondbacks lineup without much pop at all, making their 12-run outburst yesterday feel like even more of an outlier. The current Diamondbacks roster has a combined 50 plate appearances against Blake Snell, batting .156, without a player on the roster who has ever taken him deep. Snell has not been good for San Diego on the road this season, but it’s hard to imagine him getting hit around by a lineup as soft as what Arizona will throw at him tonight.
Madison Bumgarner pitches for the Diamondbacks, making his second consecutive start against the Padres. He faced off with Snell on Monday, contributing to the pitcher’s duel with 7 strong innings of his own while allowing only 2 runs. The Padres’ projected lineup only has 4 hitters who have faced Bumgarner 10 or more times (Manny Machado, Tommy Pham, Eric Hosmer, and Wil Myers) - those 4 hitters are batting .175 combined, with no individual batting better than .208 against the veteran lefty. Bumgarner has pitched 7 complete innings in 3 consecutive starts, and hasn’t allowed more than 2 earned runs in any start since June 2nd against the Mets.
In betting an under involving Arizona, it’s imperative to avoid their dumpster fire of a bullpen - that being said, both of these starters should keep the scoring low through the early innings tonight.
The Pick: First 5 Innings UNDER 4.5
Sunday, August 15th, 4:07 PM ET
Houston Astros (Lance McCullers Jr.) vs Anaheim Angels (Reid Detmers)
Despite rumblings that the Angels, notably not from Los Angeles, might contend in the AL West this season, it’s been more of the same down in Orange County in 2021. As the dog days of summer wear on, the Angels continue to exist in a purgatory that mixes exciting moments from Shohei Ohtani with lineups that have seen Phil Gosselin and Jose Iglesias in the 3 and 4 spots. Part of the problem in Anaheim can be tied to injuries, to be fair - they’ve missed Mike Trout for the better part of this season along with Anthony Rendon, and only just recently got Jared Walsh back from missing time due to injury as well. The larger issue in Anaheim for years now has been their pitching, though - an issue they tried to shore up by thrift shopping last offseason for arms like Jose Quintana.
They recently called up their top pitching prospect Reid Detmers, drafted out of the University of Louisville in the first round only last year, to fill a void left in the rotation by the recently dealt Andrew Heaney. To put it kindly, Detmers has not looked ready for the show. His 0-2, 10.61 ERA statistics tell the story in simple terms - he simply isn’t missing bats at the big league level at this point. That the Angels continue to push him out there against lineups like Oakland, Los Angeles, and now Houston is likely doing his bright future a grave disservice.
The A’s and Dodgers both lit him up like a Christmas tree, despite entering with the 8th and 16th- highest wRC+ against left handed pitching this season. Now he faces the Houston Astros, a lineup battering lefties with earth-shattering numbers - their 120 wRC+ in such spots is seven whole points higher than the next closest team. If the Angels were closer to contending, I might understand their thought process around asking Detmers to fight through these struggles in hopes that he could contribute later this fall. The problem is that they’re not close to contending, and seem utterly determined to burn Detmers’ confidence with fire.
Lance McCullers Jr. will pitch for Houston. He’s been excellent against the Angels this season, allowing 3 earned runs over 14 innings while winning both starts against them. This will also be the least healthy Angels lineup he’s faced this season, one that falls off a cliff once you get past Fletcher, Ohtani, and Walsh. McCullers is 7-0 with a 2.70 ERA on the road this season as well, clearly benefiting when not having to pitch in the bandbox known as Minute Maid Park.
I’m not meaning to dump on Reid Detmers’ potential - I don’t doubt at all that he has the tools to be a successful major league pitcher. He’s clearly not ready yet, though, and Sunday has potential to be a real bloodbath at the Big A.
The Pick: Houston Astros -1.5