The hope for a postseason spot is starting to fade away from the Cleveland Guardians, while it is still a very real possibility for the San Francisco Giants. Those two teams will meet tonight in the Bay Area to start a three-game series, and we’ll preview the opening game before going over my play in the run in the first-inning market.
By sweeping the Rockies this past weekend, the Giants may have saved their season. Heading into the weekend, San Francisco had lost six straight games, but with their 6-3 win last night on Sunday Night Baseball, the Giants are now three games over .500 and 1.5 games back of the final Wild Card spot. In last night’s win, the Giants got most of their offense from Thairo Estrada, Joc Pederson, and Mitch Haniger as they all left the yard.
Looking to extend their winning streak to four games, the Giants will have Alex Cobb on the mound for his 27th start. The right-hander has had an up-and-down season and is coming off a short outing in which he was hit around by the Padres. In three innings, Cobb allowed four earned runs on six hits, which gave him his 6th loss of the year and raised his ERA to 3.74 in 144.3 innings of work.
The Guardians lineup that Cobb will face tonight has not only been inconsistent all season, but they may have cost themselves any hope of the playoffs in the past week. Since September 4th, the Guardians have lost a series to the Twins and Angels while failing to score more than three runs in five of those seven games, including yesterday’s 2-1 loss to LA. Despite outhitting the Angels by five, the only offense Cleveland would get in the series finale was a solo home run by Kole Calhoun.
Cleveland’s inability to produce at the plate led to Tanner Bibee getting the loss despite tossing seven innings with eight strikeouts and two earned runs allowed. The Guardians will have another young starter on the mound tonight, with Gavin Williams making his 15th start. Williams picked up a win his last time out by allowing one earned run over five innings against Minnesota.
The NRFI in this game is currently priced at (-122), and I’ll be taking it for my play. Over their last ten games, the Guardians are 7-3 to the NRFI, and in his young career, Gavin Williams has been phenomenal early in games. On the flip side, a big reason why Cleveland is profitable for NRFI bettors is due to their offense, or lack thereof, and with Alex Cobb’s success at home, I think we don’t see any runs cross the plate early in this one.
Since August 11th, the Giants offense ranks 26th in OPS and wOBA and 22nd in wRC+ against right-handed pitching at home. Not only are the Giants also tied for 6th for the lowest average amount of runs in the first inning this season, but they take on Gavin Williams, who has a 2.57 first-inning ERA and .222 batting average against the first time through the order.
Cleveland’s offense is tied for the 5th lowest average of runs in the first inning, and they enter tonight ranked 16th in wRC+ and 15th in OPS against right-handed pitching on the road over the past month. Those are not the numbers you want when facing Alex Cobb, as he has a 3.25 xFIP at home and 2.86 xFIP the first time through the order.