Friday night’s regional action on MLB Network features four teams in the postseason race, including a couple of teams trying to get back on track after some recent struggles. The Detroit Tigers host the Seattle Mariners and the Atlanta Braves host the Oakland Athletics.
Matchup: Seattle Mariners at Detroit Tigers
Date/Time: August 15, 7:08 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network
Probable Starters: SEA: James Paxton (2-0, 2.38) v. DET: Rick Porcello (13-7, 3.11)
Moneyline: Detroit -125
Total: 8 -115/-105
The Detroit Tigers got exactly what they needed out of Max Scherzer on Thursday afternoon when he shut down the Pittsburgh Pirates over eight innings and the Tigers provided some much needed insurance runs in the eighth to sweep a brief two-game interleague set. The Mariners enjoyed an off day following their 2-0 win over Toronto to remain tied with the Tigers for the second wild card spot. The Tigers moved a half-game in front with Thursday’s win, so this is definitely a huge series for both teams.
The Mariners will send James Paxton to the hill to try and keep the train rolling. The Mariners have won eight of their last 10. Paxton returned to the rotation on August 2 and has had two decent starts since his return. In the first, he only lasted 4.1 innings, but kept the Mariners in the game against the Orioles as they eventually won 6-3. In his second start, he threw six strong innings against the White Sox but took a no-decision in his team’s 2-1 loss. It’s been a tough season for Paxton with some injury problems, but the promising southpaw is back and is hoping to be a big part of the Mariners’ postseason chase.
The pressure on Rick Porcello has gone up with the injury to Anibal Sanchez and the uncertainty surrounding Justin Verlander and his shoulder issue. Porcello was considered the afterthought in a Tigers rotation that included Sanchez, Verlander, Max Scherzer, and David Price, but he has been very consistent for the Tigers this season. Since his ERA reached 4.04 following his June 9 start against the White Sox, Porcello has posted a 2.17 ERA in 10 starts and one relief appearance since. Porcello took the loss in the 19th inning of the Blue Jays/Tigers marathon on August 10. Porcello has given the Tigers a lot of length this season, with 20 decisions out of his 23 starts.
Paxton will be facing the Tigers for the second time in his young career. He lasted five innings in his lone start against them, with three earned runs allowed and four walks. It was his third career start and the worst of the four he made in his rookie season. The Mariners are 3-1 in Paxton’s four starts for a profit of 1.51 units.
Porcello draws the Mariners for the eighth time in his career and only the third time since 2011. He is 4-2 with a 3.48 ERA in those seven previous starts. The Tigers are 14-8 for a profit of 6.15 units in Porcello’s 22 starts, placing him in the top 20 of baseball’s most profitable starting pitchers this season.
Free MLB Pick: Detroit Tigers
The Tigers are 25-17 against left-handed starters this season and Paxton is still trying to get his bearings at the Major League level this season. Porcello has been a very valuable starter for the Tigers with a better defense behind him and a case could be made that he has been the team’s most consistent starter.
Matchup: Oakland Athletics at Atlanta Braves
Date/Time: August 15, 7:35 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network
MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook
Probable Starters: OAK: Jason Hammel (1-4, 5.90) v. ATL: Alex Wood (8-9, 3.08)
Moneyline: Atlanta -115
Total: 7 -110/-110
For one of the few times this season, the Oakland Athletics are struggling. They’ve lost four out of their last five, including a series loss to the Royals by dropping three out of four. They still comfortably lead the AL West, but they’ll need to get back on track against the freefalling Atlanta Braves. The Braves have won just nine of their 26 games since the All-Star Break, after falling again to the Dodgers by a 6-4 score on Thursday afternoon.
The A’s have not gotten what they expected out of Jason Hammel. Since coming over from the Chicago Cubs, Hammel’s past problems in the AL have followed him. He’s 1-4 with a 5.90 ERA. After walking 23 batters in 17 starts with the Cubs, Hammel has walked 16 in six starts with the A’s and opposing batters are posting a .387 OBP against him. He has also given up six home runs in 29 innings. Balls in play have been barreled up with the home runs and a line drive percent of 28 percent.
Alex Wood did what he could in his last start to try and stop the Braves’ slide. He was magnificent over 7.1 innings against the Nationals with 12 strikeouts. Since returning to the rotation on June 25, Wood is 3-3 with a 2.70 ERA. Overall as a starter, Wood is just 5-8 despite a spectacular 2.83 ERA. Wood’s performance in his nine losses is better than most guys on the season, as he has a 3.74 ERA. His margin for error has been very thin as only San Diego’s Eric Stults has received less run support per nine innings than Wood, who has been the benefactor of just three runs per nine innings.
Hammel will be making his eighth career start against the Braves. He’s 1-3 with a 5.68 ERA over 38 innings. He has a no-decision against them this season and did not face them in 2013. The A’s are 1-5 in Hammel’s six starts for a loss of 6.5 units.
Wood will be facing the A’s for the first time in his career. In 25.2 career interleague innings, Wood has a 2.10 ERA. The Braves are 6-10 in Wood’s 16 starts for a loss of 6.31 units, but Wood has rarely been to blame.
Free MLB Pick: Atlanta
The slumping A’s draw a tough assignment in facing a pitcher like Wood, who can be tough to pick up and misses bats as a left-handed starter. Things aren’t going well for Hammel and the season-long slump of the Braves offense could be the elixir he needs, but there’s not much to like about how he’s pitched entering this start.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.