Orioles Clinch Division & Remain the Pick Over Blue Jays

Joe Gavazzi

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 1:31 PM GMT

This MLB handicapper points out that the Angels loss to Seattle is just an example of how tough it is to play the night after you have clinched the division crown. Does the same apply to the Orioles?

It is human nature to exhale after you have achieved a goal that you have been seeking the entire season. 

As with the Angels, just such is the case for the Baltimore Orioles tonight after they clinched the AL East crown with an 8-2 victory vs. Toronto last night. As a result, this selection is in danger of a Baltimore letdown as they may rest many regulars after achieving their goal. The 91-60 record makes them only one of two teams who is playing greater than .600 ball. It is well-deserved for a Baltimore team who began to separate themselves from the pack on June 30th. Since that date, Baltimore has posted the best record in MLB at 49-21, including a recent mark of 9-1. With last night’s LAA defeat, Baltimore remains just 3 games behind the Angels for the best record in MLB. Credit a strong 2014 starting rotation for much of their recent success. In the previous 15 games, Baltimore starters have posted a 1.79 ERA. 

Much the opposite has been true for a streaky Toronto team whose fortunes have largely been tied to their big bats. An early season 21-4 run was linked to just such a hitting outburst which saw them ascend to the top batting spot in MLB. The recent 1-4 slide, however, has left them with a record of 77-73. And all but out of consideration in the Wild Card chase. A trio of teams, Seattle, KC, and Oakland all hold at least a 4-game lead on Toronto for AL Wild Card consideration. With that reality setting in, Toronto may have as little motivation for this game as Baltimore. 

Understanding the above realities leads us to analyze the pitching matchup in this contest. That advantage clearly goes to Norris against Happ. Toronto has won just one of eight recent starts by Happ. Those recent results have seen Happ’s YTD mark drop to 9-10 with a 4.28 ERA. That, however, is not the big story in this game. For it is the home/road dichotomy of these two for the YTD that points out the clear winner. In 60 2/3 IP on the road, Happ has a 5.64 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and .288 BAA. Consider those numbers when comparing them to the work of Norris from this mound. In 12 home starts, Norris has pitched 75 2/3 IP with a 2.62 ERA. This is consistent with his performance over his career. The current form for Norris is also more reassuring. Baltimore has won 7 of his most recent 8 starts, including 4 straight. Over 44 1/3 IP, Norris has allowed just 19 runs with a strong 46/11 KBB.  For the year, Norris is 3-0 against Toronto with a 2.16 ERA. 

With questionable motivation for each team, we will ride a clear edge in the starting pitchers at this obvious value price as the top MLB pick of the day.

Free MLB Picks: Baltimore (Norris) (-125) at YouWager

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