Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles – 7:05 PM EST
The Orioles return to Baltimore tonight from a western swing in which they managed to win six of ten in a brutal stretch of road games in Oakland, Anaheim, and Seattle. Following them across the country are the Angels, coming off three consecutive home victories against the first-place Tigers. Buck Showalter is sending Chris Tillman to the mound for the Orioles. I’m going to be very blunt about this: Tillman is one of the most overrated pitchers in the major leagues. He has posted a winning record and sub-4 ERA 3 years running despite consistently mediocre peripheral statistics. The market is starting to realize this and his lines have consistently risen throughout the season. His 4.42 FIP matches his final result from last year, so at this point Tillman pretty much is what he is. Opposing him is Jered Weaver, who has not posted a FIP above 4 since 2009 (at 4.04) and has been among the most consistent starting pitchers in MLB over the past few years. The Angels opened at -111 and quickly rose to as high as -130, though -120s can still be found at some large outs. My money will be backing Los Angeles tonight for the following reasons:
1. The line is where it is because of a perceived travel differential between Baltimore and the Angels. It is viewed as the Angels traveling across the country for an early eastern game, which would be out of their wheelhouse and an advantage for the Orioles. This is not the case due to Baltimore also coming off a western stretch that ended in Seattle on Sunday. The travel factor is a wash.
2. Pitching. Jered Weaver is markedly better than Chris Tillman, and its really not close. Tillman’s 5.7 K/9 rate and 3.5 BB/9 rate are far below Weaver’s 7.1 and 2.5, respectively, and most of Tillman’s success over the past few years appears to be luck-based. Weaver has been a great pitcher for a long time now, and shows no signs of slowing down. He never threw hard in the first place, so he has aged remarkably well.
3. The Angels’ bullpen woes appear to have been shored up by the addition of perennial All-Star Huston Street at the end of games. He has been lights out since his move to Anaheim and the late innings suddenly got a lot more comfortable for the Angels.
This line is short, and backers of Los Angeles will be the beneficiaries.
PLAY: LOS ANGELES ANGELS ML -120 (List Jered Weaver)