The first seven of hopefully 2,430 games for this season are in the books and the Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks are in first place! It was certainly nice to have meaningful baseball back, as dogs barked with a 5-2 record, with Seth Beer bailing out all that Arizona steam with a walk-off 3-pointer. There are 13 games on the board today, but I’d like to recap some stuff from yesterday first.
I won’t go this deep every day, but to start the season, we need to be observant.
Guardians/Royals: Shane Bieber pitched well, but had some low velocity and spin rate numbers, as you can see here. I’ll be watching closely in his upcoming starts. Another note is that Zack Greinke gave up nine batted balls of 95 + mph, but the Guardians were just 4-for-9 with four singles. He only allowed one run on five hits, but only had one strikeout and five swings and misses. At least his spin rates weren’t down, but he was rather ineffective, despite the pitching line.
Brewers/Cubs: Kyle Hendricks had 17 swings and misses on just 37 swings yesterday, including 13 with his changeup. He looked like the Hendricks of old and really had the Brewers off-balance. The Cubs bullpen, meanwhile, only had three whiffs on 25 swings. Not great, Bob.
Pirates/Cardinals: Adam Wainwright finished with six strikeouts, but did only have four swings and misses with some decreased spin rates. I think that game was more about how bad the Pirates are and less about Wainwright.
Mets/Nationals: Tylor Megill looked great yesterday with a velo bump and five high-quality innings. Patrick Corbin looked better than I expected, but the Nationals bullpen did falter and the Mets got good relief work from everybody but Trevor May, who allowed four hard-hit balls in just one inning, including the Juan Soto homer.
Reds/Braves: There may not be a lot of good spots to back the Reds, but Tyler Mahle road starts may qualify. He had 13 swings and misses against a good Braves lineup yesterday on the heels of posting a 2.30 ERA and a 2.76 FIP in 101.2 innings with a 112/32 K/BB ratio on the road last season.
Astros/Angels: The Astros bullpen is thin as it is, but Ryan Pressly’s velo was a concern in spring training and remains a concern after yesterday’s appearance. He got the save, but there’s something going on there.
Padres/Diamondbacks: Yu Darvish threw six no-hit innings for the Padres yesterday, but did walk four batters and gave up six hard-hit balls. His spin rates remained way down from last season’s averages, but his velocity looked good. A better lineup may have made him pay. I’ll be watching him closely.
Friday Weather Report
In the Royals/Guardians game, Salvador Perez and Yu Chang hit “barreled” balls with expected batting averages of .810 and .920, respectively, based on exit velocity and launch angle. Even with the wind blowing out, both wound up looking like routine fly balls. Pitchers might generally be ahead of hitters to start the season, but the weather and atmospheric conditions are detrimental to hitting in most locales in April and the early part of May.
Winds will be blowing out in the Bronx, Minnesota, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Atlanta tonight, with winds blowing in at Wrigley and in Detroit, which will be played in ugly weather, if it’s played at all. Again, Rotogrinders is where I look. I won't update this every day, so I'd bookmark that link.
Friday Injury Report
One of many great tools here at VSiN is our Injury Report. Keep an eye on it to see who’s in, who’s out and who might be out, then be sure to seek out updates.
Marlins at Giants (-145, 7.5): Logan Webb got some preseason love in the publications and the Cy Young market. He’s taking some money today with a 10-15 cent move off of the overnight lines. Starting pitchers that get a lot of press prior to the season generally see line moves. Same with teams.
Mets (-155, 8.5) at Nationals: We saw money against the Mets yesterday that was incorrect. We’re seeing money against the Mets today as well. We could have some side drama here after three Mets were hit by pitches last night, including a head shot on Pete Alonso. Manager Buck Showalter was upset after the game and we’ll see if Max Scherzer sends a message.
As a general rule, in a game after those kinds of shenanigans, I do tend to think about overs. I won’t bet an over 8.5 with Scherzer, but umpires will be watching closely and there could be some pregame warnings, which impacts a team’s ability to pitch inside. If you can’t keep guys honest, they can cheat on the outer half and swing away without fear, which can lead to a lot of hard-hit balls.
Reds at Braves (-180, 8.5): The flip side of that coin is that teams that are collectively expected to struggle get bet against. Many expect regression from the Braves. They were bet against yesterday and are being bet against today in a big favorite role. Today’s is a little more notable with Reiver Sanmartin on the hill for the Reds against Charlie Morton. Early on, I’m expecting a lot of anti-Braves sentiment (which I’m not sure I agree with in general).
White Sox (-135, 7.5) at Tigers: The total has gone from 8.5 to 7.5 for this one, as weather looks to be a huge factor on a gross day in Detroit. I’m not even sure this early game gets played, but it’ll be in the 40s with drizzle and rain showers. Comerica Park is good for doubles and triples because the outfield is huge, but it’ll play really big in the cold-weather months as balls just hopelessly die in the outfield.
What I’ll Be Watching
Sandy Alcantara: The Marlins right-hander posted a 2.41 ERA and had a .243 wOBA against in 104.2 innings at home last season. He had a 4.01 ERA and a .314 wOBA against in 101 innings on the road. His K% was down and his BB% was up on the road, to go along with 3% increase in HR/FB%. loanDepot Park is a great pitcher’s park, so this is no surprise, but we’ll see how he does in his first road start of 2022.
Gerrit Cole: Cole finished the season with a 3.23 ERA and a 2.92 FIP, but from June 3 through the end of the season, Cole had a 4.15 ERA with a 3.66 FIP. June 3 was the first day that MLB started to enforce its crackdown on foreign substances. Cole allowed five or more runs in five of his final 19 starts. With umpires instructed to inspect closer for substance abuse, we’ll see how Cole looks.
Friday Best Bets
Shop around for the best lines! I’m using a market consensus number that should be widely available to most, but every cent matters, so do the best you can to get the best line possible.
VEGAS ODDS | ODDS BY STATE
(UPDATE: GAME PPD) Brewers (-150) over Cubs: Brandon Woodruff is elite. He has a 3.23 ERA with a 3.17 FIP in his career over 460 innings with outstanding K/BB numbers, good command, great velocity and he’s got a four-pitch mix that is almost unrivaled around the league. I personally think he’s the best starter on the staff.
The Cubs are sending out Justin Steele, who had a 4.95 ERA and allowed a .354 wOBA in 43.2 innings as a starter last season. He had a BB% north of 10% as a starter last season and the Brewers, despite struggling to hit for power against southpaws, had the second-highest BB% against them at 10.1%. Chicago used all five of its primary relievers yesterday. I do think we could see Jesse Chavez or Keegan Thompson in a piggyback with Steele here, which would be interesting to follow a lefty with a righty, but the Brewers should play from in front.
Playing from in front means Josh Hader and Devin Williams get a chance to pitch. They weren’t used yesterday in a tie game/while trailing, but I’d expect Craig Counsell to use both today no matter, since neither guy has pitched since Tuesday and he’ll want to keep them sharp.
How Burnes vs. Hendricks could be -170 and Woodruff vs. somebody most people have never heard of could be -150 seems like a mispricing to me. I’m on Milwaukee.
Rangers/Blue Jays Over 9 (-115): Jon Gray is another guy I’ll be watching closely. Obviously pitchers are affected by the conditions at Coors Field, but they are also affected on the road. Gray’s wOBA against is actually higher on the road for his career (.329), despite spending the entirety of it with the Rockies. Righties have posted a .334 wOBA against him in his road starts. The Blue Jays are a very right-handed-heavy lineup, but Gray’s splits don’t give him any advantage against that kind of group.
The Texas lineup is much improved with Marcus Semien, Corey Seager and Mitch Garver, not to mention other recent acquisitions like Brad Miller, Nathaniel Lowe and Kole Calhoun. This is a formidable group. These are two bullpens that I’m not particularly high on for this season either. Rogers Centre does have a good offensive park factor, so I’m looking for some runs here.
I haven’t gotten to the point of making these a bet yet, but we’ll see where the lines go:
Astros (+ 105) vs. Angels; Over 9.5: Reid Detmers gets the start over Patrick Sandoval, who is experiencing a little bit of a dead arm and will be skipped. Detmers made five MLB starts last season and one was against the Astros, so they have gotten a look at him. My concern is that Jake Odorizzi is a pretty extreme fly ball pitcher and it will be another nice night for hitting at The Big A. I’m wary of playing an over 9.5 this early in the season, so it’s a lean for now, but I may end up playing it.
I’ll be tracking this season’s article picks HERE and feel free to use that format to track your own picks if you’d like.