Sports fans are notorious for having a “what have you done for me lately?” mentality. This mentality is often reflected in the betting market, and it’s something sharp bettors are able to capitalize on. If we want to know how good players and teams are, recent data does a very poor job of telling us. Decades of historical data definitely prove that longer-term trends are far more predictive, as long as we can get out of our own way and avoid the kind of recency bias casual bettors misconstrue as edge. Tuesday’s MLB slate offers us several such opportunities.
Bets I like
Detroit Tigers (-113) vs. Kansas City Royals (+ 103)
These are two obviously bad teams, so it’s surprising the game total is so high. I suspect it has to do with the Royals’ recent hot streak, ripping off six wins in a row while average 7.3 runs per game. That doesn’t change their underlying talent level which, relative to other MLB teams, is quite low. Then you have Matt Boyd and his 7.63 ERA, but his 4.62 xFIP is three full runs lower -- the biggest discrepancy of any starting pitcher. This all sets up for an easy under bet, as my projection system, THE BAT projects this game nearly 1.5 runs under Vegas.
While not as strong of a play as the under or some of today’s other moneyline/run line bets, there’s also a bit of value on betting the Tigers today.
Pick: Under 9 (-120)
Secondary pick: Detroit ML (-113)
Miami Marlins (-157) vs. Boston Red Sox (+ 147)
This play has two things going for it. The first is that it involves the Red Sox, one of the most perpetually underrated teams all season. There has consistently been sharp action on the Sox this year in the form of reverse line movement, particularly early in the year while they were really underperforming their talent level. They’ve begun to positively regress of late, but they still appear to be underappreciated.
On the other side, the Marlins have been overrated. They’ve won four of their last five and seven of their last 10, and their offense has the 10th-highest wRC in baseball this month. Their underlying talent level, however, projects them as just the 23rd-best offense in baseball. Boston is priced as a severe underdog when this game is much closer to a pick-em.
Pick: Red Sox ML (+ 147)
Houston Astros (-220) vs. Texas Rangers (+ 200)
This line feels like it was set based more on reputation -- that the Astros are great and Texas terrible -- than facts. And this is generally true, but not to the extent Houston should be implied to win 67% of the time; it’s more like 62%. Without two of its 2019 stars in Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve, this lineup has just four hitters that are of above-average quality (one of which is Alex Bregman, who is just 2-for-18 since returning from injury).
A bullpen game for the Rangers means their pitching will be of higher quality than an average starting pitcher, and there are concerns for Jose Urquidy on the other side: His 3.72 ERA in his two starts since returning from COVID bely a 7.26 xFIP with just a 2.79 K/9. Urquidy’s spin rates are down and he’s throwing his fastball 60% of the time compared to 47% last year, perhaps implying he’s not feeling himself yet.
Pick: Rangers ML (+ 200)
Tampa Bay Rays (-170) vs. Washington Nationals (+ 160)
It’s impossible to know what lineup the Rays will roll out on any given day, but the general quality of late has been much worse than what they had earlier in the year. It may be best to wait until the lineup is released to bet this, but with Yandy Diaz, Ji-Man Choi and Mike Zunino hurt and Hunter Renfroe now sitting against most righties (despite Anibal Sanchez’s reverse splits today), the lineup could be quite bad, especially if we get one of Austin Meadows, Brandon Lowe, or Nate Lowe sitting or Michael Perez catching over Kevan Smith. The Rays’ seasonal wRC of 111 is better than Washington’s 102, but the current quality of their active hitters projects to be below average -- bottom 10 in baseball, in fact.
Pick: Nationals Moneyline (+ 160)
Monday’s game observations
Miami Marlins (-157) vs. Boston Red Sox (+ 147)
The Marlins bullpen has the second worst xFIP in baseball this year, and the projected ERA of their current relievers is the worst in all of baseball.
Colorado Rockies (+ 151) vs. Oakland Athletics (-161)
The average game-time temperature today is 73 degrees, but Coors is the hottest game on the slate at 86, the only game over 80.
Baltimore Orioles (+ 158) vs. Atlanta Braves (-168)
One of the most pitcher-friendly umpires in baseball, Ryan Additon, will likely be behind the plate here.
At 65 degrees, this game also has the best pitching weather on the board.
Chicago White Sox (-128) vs. Minnesota Twins (+ 118)
Randy Dobank has a low arm angles and throws a sinker or slider 72% of the time, giving him an extremely wide platoon split. He’ll likely face six or seven Chicago same-handed handers today.
Guaranteed Rate Field is the third-best home run park in baseball, but Dobnak’s 63% groundball percentage is tops in baseball among starters with at least 40 innings pitched.
Los Angeles Angels (-140) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (+ 130)
Julio Teheran also has a low arm angle, throws a sinker or slider more than half the time and has a wide platoon split, but he’s likely to face six or seven opposite-handed hitters.