Breaking down All-Star pitching

By Jeff Fogle  (VSiN City newsletter) 

July 16, 2018 11:09 PM

Bryce Harper wins the 2018 Home Run Derby on home turf! Plus, a quick peak at pitching stats for Tuesday night’s All-Star Game. There’s always something to bet on in VSiN City!

Home Run Derby: Bryce Harper thrills home crowd with dramatic victory

Turned out to be a super-exciting Home Run Derby this season, with Kyle Schwarber energizing Chicago Cubs fans on the way to the final…but Bryce Harper delivering the final fireworks in a dramatic 19-18 “extra time” finish. 

Here are round-by-round results from the night, with South Point futures prices in parenthesis for the first round. 

First Round

Bryce Harper (plus 350) beat Freddie Freeman (plus 650) 13-12

Max Muncy (plus 650) beat Javier Baez (plus 550) 17-16

Rhys Hoskins (plus 550) upset Jesus Aguilar (plus 375) 17-12

Kyle Schwarber (plus 400) beat Alex Bregman (plus 1000) 16-15


Bryce Harper beat Max Muncy 13-12

Kyle Schwarber beat Rhys Hopkins 21-20


Bryce Harper beat Kyle Schwarber 19-18

Though many big-name sluggers weren’t part of festivities this season, the 2018 Derby will long be remembered as of the most entertaining exhibitions ever in the All-Star spotlight. Tuesday’s mid-summer classic will have trouble topping it. 

MLB All-Star Game: American League favored, with a low total of 7

Some early betting interest on the American League, with an opening line generally around -125 rising to generally around -130 depending on where you shop. (As of late Monday evening, the AL was -128 at the South Point, -127 at the Westgate). The Over/Under is 7, with Over bettors charged extra vigorish to the tune of either -120 or -125. 

As we discuss in the New York Post Tuesday, it’s been 13 years since an All-Star Game has seen a double-digit scoring sum. Everything’s been between 3 and 9 the last dozen years. Market’s finally adjusted to managerial strategies that emphasize a constant change of pitchers and the evolving hitting tendency to try to win with solo home runs. 

We’ve talked often in the past about how xFIP is the single best pitching stat in terms of predictive value. If you’re not familiar, it’s a “fielding independent” stat that helps isolate the value of a pitcher’s skill set. And, it’s designed to run along the same scale as earned run average. If you like ERA, this is better, and on a scale you already use for evaluation. 

Let’s run some xFIP’s! Note that this particular stat category is not adjusted for park effects or league effects. It’s tougher to post a great xFIP in the American League because of the designated hitter. 

Starting Pitchers

Chris Sale (American League) 2.42

Max Scherzer (National League) 3.14

Wow…GREAT performance from Sale. That’s a 2.42 in the American League throwing his home games at Fenway Park. Scherzer has been stellar (like usual), Sale has been in a league of his own this season. As Jonathan Von Tobel mentioned on “A Numbers Game” Monday, keep an eye on second half fatigue for Sale in the coming weeks…a factor that’s slowed him down the stretch in the past. 

(Yours truly will join JVT all week filling in for Gill Alexander. Join us live from 10 a.m. to noon ET, 7-9 a.m. here in Las Vegas.)

AL Starting Pitchers

Trevor Bauer 3.06

Gerrit Cole 3.07

Luis Severino 3.09

Charlie Morton 3.09

Jose Berrios 3.74

JA Happ 3.75

A couple of weak spots at the back end, relatively speaking for an All-Star game. Will Berrios and Happ even get into the game? You would expect the first three relievers in the next hunk to get innings. (Note that starting pitchers Corey Kluber and Justin Verlander were named to the team, but unable to pitch.)

AL Relievers

Edwin Diaz 1.87

Blake Treinen 2.66

Craig Kimbrel 2.76

Joe Jimenez 3.90

Aroldis Chapman was unable to pitch after being selected. Definitely guys there who can get the job done. 

NL Starting Pitchers

Jacob deGrom 2.73

Patrick Corbin 2.79

Russ Stripling 2.79

Aaron Nola 3.21

Zack Greinke 3.35

Mike Foltynewicz 3.52

Some lower numbers here because there’s no DH in the senior circuit. Only one weak spot relative to the field. Though, Greinke has been known to struggle in high pressure situations. 

NL Relievers

Josh Hader 1.78

Jeremy Jeffress 2.78

Brad Hand 2.88

Kenley Jansen 3.61

Interesting that Jansen’s number is so pedestrian in the lower scoring league. Something to keep in mind down during the playoff chase. 

Handicapping an All-Star game is difficult because you don’t know for sure which pitchers a manager will throw, and there’s no way to know in advance which pitcher may not have his best stuff or his best composure. The market sees the AL as the more talented team given this price, particularly since the NL gets a few cents for home field advantage in Washington.

CFL: Getting caught up

A couple of games from this past weekend that we didn’t get a chance to touch on yet because of travel, logistical issues. Let’s run those numbers…

Edmonton (-9) 16 Toronto 15 

Total Yardage: Toronto 346, Edmonton 370

Yards-per-Play: Toronto 6.3, Edmonton 6.9

Rushing Yards: Toronto 50, Edmonton 112

Passing Stats: Toronto 26-3-1-296, Edmonton 21-36-1-258

Turnovers: Toronto 1, Edmonton 1

Quick turnaround from a game matching the same teams in Toronto last week. Very rainy night, which dampened scoring potential for both. A credit to the offenses that both could avoid turnovers. But it was hard to turn yardage into points. James Franklin made his second start for the Argos, and did enough to keep the game very close at a spread higher than a touchdown. A good sign moving forward. We know he can cover against Edmonton! Toronto falls to 1-3, but that’s not the end of the world in the weaker East. And the Argos haven’t played anybody in the East yet…meaning they can start inflicting losses on rivals soon. Edmonton is 3-2.

British Columbia (plus 4) 20 Winnipeg 17 

Total Yardage: Winnipeg 401, B. Columbia 399

Yards-per-Play: Winnipeg 7.9, B. Columbia 6.8

Rushing Yards: Winnipeg 187, B. Columbia 73

Passing Stats: Winnipeg 17-28-3-214, B. Columbia 28-41-1-326

Turnovers: Winnipeg 3, B. Columbia 1

Another quick flip from last week. Winnipeg won 41-19 at BC. Most important note here is that Travis Lulay is back at quarterback for BC, which means they’ll probably stop playing like an expansion team. A tale of two halves…with Winnipeg impressing during a 17-0 first half rout (meaning, a “six-quarter” lead of 58-19 counting the prior meeting). But BC won the second half 20-17 to steal the win. You can see above that turnovers were the big difference. Winnipeg won the stats that usually express dominance (particularly 187-73 rushing), but lost the TO category 3-1. British Columbia moves to 2-2 on the season, with the other win coming over hapless Montreal in the season opener. Winnipeg falls to 2-3…and will long regret blowing this lead. 

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