Wednesday was so close to a perfect day. We grabbed the Braves win by more than 1.5 runs, hit the Rays-Yankees over with relative ease and also got a Randy Arrozarena home run on the bonus pick. Then the Dodgers tacked on late runs -- and needed them badly, too, to crush the dream. Regardless, we sit pretty with a 10-7 record for the playoffs while also having hit on three of six bonus long-shot picks (correctly calling home runs in the specific game from Marcell Ozuna, Sean Murphy and Arrozarena). Let's stay hot!
NLDS Game 3
ALDS Game 4
ALDS Game 4
N.Y. Yankees (-1.5)
NLDS Game 3
L.A. Dodgers (-1.5)
All lines via William Hill Sportsbook
Rays-Yankees over 9
In looking back on playing baseball over the years, I often think about the things I most took away from my head coaches weren't like complex, hardcore life lessons. Instead it was really simple stuff that shouldn't need explaining and yet so many people -- myself included for years -- really need to hear these things. Such as, "control what you can control." It seems weird to latch onto this, but think about it from a baseball perspective. You can't control the weather. You can't control the umpires. You can't control how the other team acts. You can control how you act and how hard you play, though, right? So do that. Don't focus on the nonsense you can't control.
Here's another one: Stick with what works!
That is, if something is working out for you, why change it?
The Yankees have played in five playoff games so far this postseason and hit the over every single time. The Rays have played in five and hit the over in four. In the three games so far this series, the teams have combined to score 12 runs every single time. The over/under has been in the 8.5-9.0 range the whole time and here we are again.
I like the Rays to hit Montgomery and the Yankees bats won't go quietly. We're sticking with what works.
I guess the theme Thursday is that we're sticking with what works. Truth be told, I didn't want to pick against the Marlins again. They've been through so much adversity this season and they were a great story to even make the playoffs, let alone advance with a 2-0 sweep of a division champ. We're also just going to ride the wave and, yes, stick with what works.
Sixto Sanchez has excellent stuff. He's also had two rough outings this season and they had something in common. The Nationals tagged him for five runs on eight hits in four innings and then next time out the Braves got him for four runs on four hits in three innings. The common thread was these were the first two times an opponent had seen Sanchez for the second time. Now he gets to deal with the Braves for a third time. Something else I noticed last time out against the Cubs was Sanchez's velocity took a noticeable tumble between 50 and 60 pitches.
Between that, the powerful Braves' offense and my lack of confidence in the Marlins' bullpen being able to hold the Braves down for a long time, we'll stick with what works.
A's-Astros over 9
We missed on this one in Game 2, but the other two overs hit. I stand by the whole "the ball is flying out of Dodger Stadium during the day" line of thinking when I did pick the over. Let's try it again. There have been 18 home runs in three games and 38 total runs.
Astros starter Zack Greinke worries me. In his last seven regular-season starts, he had a 5.73 ERA. While he didn't really pay much for it, he had no command against the Twins in the first round and hasn't started since Sept. 29, at least partially due to arm issues. A's starter Frankie Montas has been susceptible to homers this season and posted a 5.60 ERA. Meanwhile, the bullpens have already gotten a workout. The Astros have used seven relievers for 11 2/3 innings in the first three games while the A's have used nine relievers for 17 1/3 innings.
Aside from the last four innings of Game 2 -- costing me my over! -- the bats have pretty much been wide awake throughout this series and I like that to continue.
Bonus: Gio Urshela homers, +350
Picking a player to hit a home run has been very good to me. I tried to nail a team getting shut out once and they scored in the first inning. Another time I tried to say anyone in a particular game would hit a grand slam and the teams left the bases loaded multiple times. However, four times I've grabbed an individual player at good odds to homer and three times it has happened. Let's stick with what works.
There have been 16 home runs in three games so far in this series. Eleven different players have gone deep. It's tempting to keep riding Giancarlo Stanton or Randy Arrozarena, but man, at some point they have to stop, right?
Call it a hunch, but I think Urshela is due. I did strongly consider Arrozarena (+450) on the "stick with what works" front. I also looked at a Stanton homers and Yankees win odds boost at +400. Luke Voit seems due but +225 isn't really big enough odds for where we like to go in this bonus/longshot section. Urshela it is.