What a game last night! Unfortunately, I took a loss, as the Diamondbacks on the money line did not come through. They were up 5-3 with one out in the ninth inning with Paul Sewald, who was 6/6 in save opportunities. Corey Seager hit one to the moon with a runner on and tied the game. At that point, the game was over.
We have now been on the losing end of two late-inning come-backs with a team up by at least two runs in the ninth inning. I’ve always said if I’m going to lose in the playoffs, make it like that. Some people prefer the bet be out of reach; I’d rather be able to witness an incredible walk-off.
No matter. I’m back today with my favorite pick of the playoffs and another half-unit game pick.
2023 MLB Regular Season: 154-165 (-11.66 U)
2023 MLB Playoffs: 16-17 (+2.71 U)
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Texas Rangers @ 8:07 PM EST
Merrill Kelly: 3.29 ERA, 4.13 xERA, 3.85 FIP, 3.84 xFIP, 4.12 SIERA
Jordan Montomgery: 3.20 ERA, 4.04 xERA, 3.56 FIP, 4.01 xFIP, 4.23 SIERA
I’m going to take you inside my head post-Rangers walk-off win.
I’m sitting on the couch with my good friend and Co-Founder of Just Baseball, Aram Leighton. As unbiased journalists and Diamondbacks bettors, we are both shocked over the win and slightly upset to lose money. Truthfully, we love the game, and we are more happy for the Rangers than sad over losing our sprinkle of a bet. We look at each other and say, if the Diamondbacks are +150 or better, we should bet them again.
We opened BetMGM, and we saw a +140 price. I say to him, let’s wait. I bet the public will pour in on the Rangers, and we’ll get the actionable price. Usually, I know what I will bet after the game, and I bet immediately, but I decided to wait instead. I woke up, and the price was +130, then it went down as low as +120. Now, I’m sitting here thinking, the Rangers have the value now.
It’s all about the price in the World Series. The margins are so thin; there is so much variance. If you give me a sizeable plus number on the Rangers, I will take it.
Is Merrill Kelly better than Zac Gallen? Is Jordan Montgomery worse than Nathan Eovaldi? That’s what the market is telling us. I bet the Diamondbacks at +152 yesterday and would need +155 on the Diamondbacks to make a bet on them. I prefer Jordan Montgomery right now over Nathan Eovaldi, and both Kelly and Gallen aren’t that different.
The first five-run line was -120 yesterday for Texas, and now it’s +115? What happened? Maybe it’s because the Rangers lost through five yesterday, but that’s where the value is, in my opinion, today.
A reason we took Arizona yesterday was that Eovaldi was on four days of rest, not his regularly scheduled five days. Gallen was a full go, so the price on Arizona was well worth it. Montgomery is also not on regularly scheduled rest, but he’s also not returning from an injury like Eovaldi did. Do I know how exactly he responds? Of course not, but I have a lot of faith in him.
Montgomery pitched on October 20, allowing two runs in 5+ innings, only going 82 pitches. He came in relief on October 23, tossing 2+ innings of scoreless baseball and racking up 32 pitches. He had four days of rest after throwing 32 pitches. It’s been seven days since his last start. I think he’s in a slightly better rest spot than Eovaldi, and he’s been better than Eovaldi in these playoffs.
Coming into yesterday’s start, Eovaldi had a 2.84 ERA in these playoffs. Montgomery sits at 2.16, and he’s rocking a 1.99 ERA in the playoffs over 31.2 innings in his career. He’s built for the big moment. He will have a tougher matchup, facing a predominantly right-handed lineup. Tampa was all right-handed; he didn’t seem to have any trouble. Houston had plenty of righties; he dominated them. Why can’t he stay hot?
He faced Arizona twice this season with two completely different outcomes. He threw an eight-inning shutout when he was on the Rangers and allowed seven runs through four innings when he was on the Cardinals. It’s tough to take anything from that. I believe in Jordan Montgomery; I want to back him.
Merrill Kelly is a good pitcher. He performed at a high level against the Phillies in game six. He dominated the Dodgers, allowed three home runs to the Phillies, then let one run in five innings to the Phillies. He’s good, but he’s not someone I think is a special enough pitcher to back against this Rangers offense. If you’re telling me he has a home run issue, how can I back him against a team that hits the living piss out of the baseball? His last start was on the 23rd, so he’s on four days rest. He and Montgomery pitched the same day, so who is really more rested?
He allowed 20 home runs in 177 innings this year, compared to Jordan Montgomery, who allowed 18 home runs in 188 innings. Kelly isn’t a home run machine, but one of these Rangers bats likely hits one to the moon. Another reason I’m worried about him is the walks. Gallen is known for his command, but Kelly isn’t. Kelly is -180 to go over 1.5 walks, which makes sense. He’s walked at least two hitters in all three starts, including three in each of his last two. If you allow these Rangers free passes, it won’t end well.
An interesting trend. Through every playoff game the Rangers have had, they are either losing or winning through five. We have yet to have a tie. So why go with a juiced first five ML when the run line is a plus price?
I like Jordan Montgomery better than Merrill Kelly. Yesterday, I saw the pitching matchup as even, but now the price is lower for Arizona, and I’m seeing more tickets and money on Arizona. The value is on the Rangers early as a result. As long as you see a plus sign next to the Rangers through the first five innings, that’s the play. It’s not a big play, as my much larger wager is down below.
The Pick: Rangers First 5 -0.5 (+115) Risk 0.5 U
Biggest Bet of the Playoffs
Aram and I were talking all game. Adolis Garcia is amazing, but there is some swing-and-miss in his game, and he’s uber-aggressive. That walk he had was his first of the postseason. While the Diamondbacks will surely pitch around him, Adolis is a free swinger, and he knows his job is to do damage. Seager is another story. He’s much more patient and understands that his role is not only to drive in runs but to get on base for the rest of the lineup. Especially when Marcus Semien is struggling, he has to get on first base.
While Adolis did hit the walk-off home run, Seager was the one to tie it. He is the one batter in Texas’s lineup that I believe Brent Strom will say, “Don’t let him beat us.” It’s getting to the point where they might have to institute the ‘Seager Rules” stolen from the “Jordan Rules” that the Detroit Pistons implemented.
Why in the world would the Diamondbacks pitch to him? I’m sure they’d rather deal with Evan Carter, especially considering he’s 21 years old, and Kelly is a veteran of the game who will surely believe he can get the youngster out.
I didn’t take this yesterday because of Gallen’s incredible command, and I didn’t know how they would pitch Seager. They walked him twice. They know better.
The reason it’s my biggest bet of the postseason is the price, the opposing pitcher, the situation, and the bullpen.
Kelly has allowed three walks in his last two starts. He may not even try to walk Seager, but he’s wild, and it may just happen. He should walk him anyway, but the more chances, the better it happens.
The Diamondbacks bullpen was forced to use all of its quality arms and get 20+ pitches out of them. It isn’t a wild group, but at less than full strength, do you think pitching coach Brent Strom wants them pitching in the zone to Seager right now? I would not.
The situation should prove to be profitable. This could happen in his first or second AB as Kelly pitches around him. Let’s say there is a base open near the end of the game. Do you think they are throwing to Seager in a prominent spot? No way. If they do, they’ll probably lose.
The price is absurd. As soon as the lines opened, this was +140, and I thought it was too good to be true. Then I remembered it was +145 in game one. So they lowered it. I put a whole unit on it, and then I did more research into the actual game and let our model run. I decided to wait on the game price and check how Seager’s walk line moved in those 15 minutes I was looking away.
It moved to +135, and I thought, I’ve never been more confident in a bet in these playoffs, so why not throw again at +135? Especially considering the model has Seager as the most likely player to walk in this game, and it projects Merrill Kelly at 3.1 walks.
I think this line should be -120. I realize it’s come down to +115 since last night, but I don’t care. As long as you see a +100, it’s a 1.5-unit play for me.