I blame myself for that Jacksonville loss. I also blame Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo, as the result would have been 24-23 Jaguars without a 43-yard doink in the 2nd quarter, but that’s life when you go for plus money. But we’re back at it for Wild Card Wednesday, with several opportunities on the diamond as we keep counting down the days until we get to bet football for real. Here are my best plays for August 25.
TIGERS OVER 4.5, +120
At 37 years old, Jon Lester just doesn’t seem to have it anymore. He certainly hasn’t had it at Busch Stadium, where he’s allowed 15 runs in 14.2 innings since joining the Cardinals. Detroit has quietly improved to within shouting distance of .500, and the Tigers are still playing with plenty of enthusiasm because they genuinely believe they can catch Cleveland for second in the AL Central, a major accomplishment for this team. With Lester struggling to pitch in Missouri, Detroit should be able to get the bats working.
DIAMONDBACKS-PIRATES OVER 9, -110
Until Mitch Keller proves that he can actually pitch at PNC Park, I’m fading the heck out of his totals whenever he takes the mound in Pittsburgh. Keller’s got a 7.82 ERA this year in western Pennsylvania, and the over has cashed in three of his past four home starts. It missed last time, but that was because the Pirates got shut out in a 6-0 loss to Milwaukee. Arizona shouldn’t be good enough to shut down Pittsburgh’s offense, so as long as Keller pitches the way he usually does at home, there should be fireworks on a warm night in Pittsburgh.
ANGELS-ORIOLES UNDER 4.5 F5, -110
Shohei Ohtani’s going to the mound and hasn’t given up more than two runs in any of his past five starts. This could backfire hard if the Angels end up tattooing Baltimore pitching, but considering that Anaheim just scored two runs in three games against the Indians, I’m thinking Tuesday night’s explosion was an anomaly and the Angels will go back to their light-hitting offense here. If the Angels batter the Birds, this pick doesn’t have a prayer, but I think I can count on the bats taking some time to get going here.
GIANTS ML, +105
The Giants are getting plus money here because people are noticing that Johnny Cueto is quickly running out of gas. But have they stopped to take a look at Taijuan Walker? The Mets have lost six straight with him on the mound, and only two of those could be judge to not be his fault, as New York scored a combined one run in 18 innings in those games. The other four saw Walker give up four runs or more as his team went down to defeat. Getting the Giants for a slight bump offers solid value here.
DODGERS ML, -130
You’re giving me Walker Buehler against the fading Padres, and this is all the juice I’ve got to pay? Normally, this is where I recommend being careful with a gift like this, especially because the Padres have been very successful against the Dodgers this year. But Buehler is having an incredible season and has proven himself one of the most trustworthy pitchers in the game. As long as the Dodgers’ offense doesn’t come unglued against Blake Snell, Los Angeles should be able to grab a win here.