We’re already down three game on the diamond for Friday and one was the only day game on the docket. Guess you’ll have to look somewhere else for that distraction from work while you think about leaving early for the weekend. Dodgers/Cubs has been banged, as well as Rangers/Yankees and Mets/Phillies.
We had a weird situation yesterday with a line posted at several books for Cardinals/Giants and some uncertainty about the pitching matchup. ESPN had Logan Webb listed for the Giants, as it was his turn in the rotation. San Francisco opted to scratch him and give him an extra day of rest. It may have been to their detriment in a 7-1 loss. Going forward, I will avoid those games with the pitcher uncertainty. Like I talked about earlier in the week, you never want to select “Action” when making your bets. You always want to select the option for the listed pitchers. Because Webb wasn’t listed everywhere, that got a bit dicey yesterday and I apologize. I’ll do my best to avoid those issues moving forward.
Reds/Brewers: As if the complete lack of offense wasn’t enough for the Reds, it seems like every pitcher is getting tagged now. Yesterday, it was Hunter Greene. Oddsmakers are in a bad place with this team, as they can’t seem to set the line high enough. Adjustments will have to continue to be made. If you’ve been willing to lay the chalk or take the run line, you’ve done quite well. At this point, it will probably continue.
Nationals/Rockies: The Nationals look like a pretty strong over team, even in the depressed run environment. I’ve been impressed with their offense and that isn’t just the Coors Field Effect speaking. As I’ve written about, they’ve had a lot more opportunities with RISP than I anticipated. The pitching staff is just atrocious. Maybe not Josiah Gray, but the rest of it is really bad. I’ll still keep looking for over spots. Wish I had played yesterday’s and saw my thought process through like I did with fading Minnesota.
Mets/Phillies: What a collapse of epic proportions from the Phillies bullpen. The Mets trailed 7-1 in the ninth and won 8-7. The Phillies, who are only 8-4 in games when they score five or more runs, have some major defensive and bullpen issues yet again to iron out. At least Aaron Nola was dominant in his outing.
Marlins/Padres: Influential bettors have lost a lot of money this week backing the Marlins, as Miami struggled at home with the Diamondbacks and then went down after getting bet into a favorite against the Padres. Jesus Luzardo pitched well, but his offense couldn’t get to Nick Martinez, who threw seven innings of one-run ball. He has a 3.38 ERA, but a 5.36 xERA and a 5.46 FIP. He’s a primary regression candidate and I’d expect money to be bet against him in next start as well.
Cardinals/Giants: Regression is very much coming for Miles Mikolas, too. He allowed 10 baserunners in 5.2 innings with seven hits and three walks, but only allowed one run. He has a 1.53 ERA with a 2.74 xERA and a 3.01 FIP, so he’s pitched well, but his 90.6% LOB% is ripe for regression. We just have to pick the right spots, since Busch Stadium is such a pitcher-friendly park.
Angels/Red Sox: It was a rough day for Tanner Houck, who gave up seven runs in just 2.1 innings after Rich Hill pitched five shutout frames with six strikeouts. He gave up four singles and a home run and two inherited runners scored. It’s an ERA killer, but I still like him long-term.
The big story was obviously Shohei Ohtani’s dominance, as he threw 81 of 99 pitches for strikes and had 29 swings and misses with his 11 strikeouts. I hope we don’t take a day of watching him for granted because we may never see anything like this again.
Blue Jays/Guardians: We finally got the Jose Berrios bad start I’ve been waiting for, as he allowed six runs on eight hits to the Guardians. Aaron Civale also struggled through 5.2 innings, but did have eight strikeouts, so at least that was promising. Berrios only had four whiffs with decreased velocity and spin rates, so those are a couple of concerning signs. Civale actually had 16 whiffs with a mild uptick in velo and spin, so it doesn’t appear like Berrios’s issues were a result of the tracking system. It was an interesting game to say the least.
Twins/Orioles: The Orioles cashed at a + 135 price for us yesterday and this speaks to a bigger thing we can look to take advantage of as the season goes along. I felt like the two starters had a chance to cancel out and they virtually did. If that was the case, I was getting what I believe to be the better bullpen at + 135. It won’t always work out, but we got 4.1 shutout innings from Baltimore and it led to a win at a nice number.
Try to evaluate full-game lines like that. If you can snag a bullpen advantage at plus money when the starters have the chance to leave the game tied or close to it, that can be a really good opportunity. It’s one of the many reasons why I think bullpen handicapping is essential.
Tigers/Astros: Much to my chagrin, the Tigers just keep playing poorly. They made it interesting last night, but fell 3-2 to the Astros. Tarik Skubal looked great, though, with nine strikeouts and just a couple of solo homers allowed. Ryan Pressly came off the IL for the Astros and nearly blew the save with two runs in the ninth. It was his first appearance since April 13 and it was not promising. Houston still has some bugs in the system, despite this recent run.
Rays/Mariners: Robbie Ray gave up four runs in 6.2 innings, but it wasn’t as bad of a start as it seemed. The Rays scored all four runs in the fourth inning and did so on a bunt single, an 83 mph single, a 70 mph single and a home run with an expected batting average of .290. Ray only walked one guy and only gave up six hard-hit balls. I actually think it was a pretty decent start for him and maybe one that creates some value going forward.
Also, Paul Sewald struck out the side in the ninth. I’ve noticed that Scott Servais will throw his best relievers out there in hopes of keeping a game at a one-run deficit. Very few managers will do this. It may come in handy to know that one day.
Weather: Three games have already been rained out. Royals/Orioles and Pirates/Reds are also threatened by Mother Nature. Blue Jays/Guardians also looks suboptimal, especially with a cool day and winds blowing in. When Manny Acta was the Indians manager, he referred to this kind of day as “Dracula weather”. It certainly seems to fit.
The wind is blowing out at a good clip in Atlanta and could help the ball on a cool night in San Francisco.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. Also, my friend @MLBDream on Twitter put together a great MLB beat writer list to follow.
Rockies at Diamondbacks (-145, 8.5): Arizona is playing well, but this looks like a very big number at first glance, doesn’t it? Merrill Kelly and Chad Kuhl are both regression candidates that have pitched extremely well to this point, but Kelly’s 1.27 ERA with a 2.11 FIP looks better than Kuhl’s 1.90 ERA with a 3.65 FIP. It’s been a modest move, but one that caught my attention with a few cents worth of line movement on the Snakes.
Marlins at Padres (-135, 6.5): A lot total here at Petco Park, but what stands out to me is the 10-15 cent move on Yu Darvish. Darvish has pitched really well in four of his five starts and his 4.44 ERA does look to be high relative to the rest of his numbers. On the flip side, Sandy Alcantara has a 2.90 ERA with a 4.23 FIP and some noteworthy home/road splits. I agree with this move.
Royals at Orioles (-130, 8): Another day with a line move on Jordan Lyles. Blows. My. Mind. This is a guy that bettors would create a stampede to bet against, but he’s taking money again today. This is also a fade of Carlos Hernandez and the Royals, but anytime I see a punching bag viewed in a different light, it very much catches my eye. This line has jumped 15-20 cents.
What I’ll Be Watching
Eric Lauer: All of the sudden, Lauer is one of the league’s premier strikeout pitchers. The Brewers helped him to an uptick in K% to 23.9% last season, but he’s struck out nearly 37% of opposing batters through four starts this season. Milwaukee successfully added velocity to his profile and optimized his pitch usage and the results have been quite stunning. A 43.5% Whiff% on his four-seam fastball seems highly unlikely to continue, but he did have good command of the pitch last season, so I don’t think his improvements are a façade. He’s throwing three pitches at least 20% of the time after throwing only one last season.
Lauer’s struck out 24 Phillies and Cubs over the last two starts after having 10 strikeouts against the Orioles and Pirates. I’m still unsure of what his ceiling is, but pitching in Atlanta against the Braves will be a good test.
Vince Velasquez: I’ve sung the praises of White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz many times over already, but I’m curious to see if there are additional advancements with Vince Velasquez in this start. After a rocky start to the season, Velasquez fired 5.2 scoreless innings with six strikeouts against the Angels in his last outing on April 30. The most notable difference was a spike in curveball usage that came at the expense of the fastball. Fewer fastballs will be a good thing for most pitchers and I would expect Velasquez to be the same way. I’m cautiously optimistic that Katz can do something with this arsenal, as Velasquez keeps finding jobs despite poor MLB numbers, so there must be some redeeming quality.
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 LINES | ODDS BY STATE | MLB MATCHUPS
White Sox (+ 150) over Red Sox: The reality is that I don’t really like much on the card today, but I don’t want to leave readers empty-handed. I came close with the Mariners over the Rays, but Fleming’s remarkably bad luck on batted balls seems ripe for positive regression and Logan Gilbert has allowed a lot of hard contact this season with an unsustainably low 0.64 ERA. The one thing that Gilbert has done really well is prevent batters from pulling the ball, but his xBA is 70 points higher than his actual BA (.254 / .180), meanwhile, Fleming’s xBA is 60 points lower than his actual BA (.264 / .324).
I mentioned above that I’m a big believer in White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz. Vince Velasquez keeps getting work. I’m not sure if it’s the ability to pitch as a starter or reliever, the high spin rate on his fastball or what it is, but I feel like Katz can pull something out of him and the increased curveball usage in his last start might be a separating factor.
Nathan Eovaldi is clearly the better pitcher of the two, but he has a 2.51 ERA with a 4.46 FIP. His LOB% is technically 100% because all eight runs he has allowed have come via the home run, with seven of those being solo shots. BABIP doesn’t include home runs, hence the .239 mark, but he has had some command issues this season. His Hard Hit% sits at 44.9% and his Barrel% is 12.8%. Both are far and away career-highs to this point.
If the White Sox can get us a couple of big swings, the same theory applies to yesterday’s Twins/Orioles game. The White Sox bullpen has a 3.48 ERA with a 3.32 FIP and had an off day yesterday. The Red Sox bullpen has a 4.50 ERA with a 4.17 FIP. That should create an advantage for Chicago in a tight game.
Neither offense is swinging it well, but at least the White Sox have the excuse of injuries. Boston goes into this game batting .229/.279/.347 with a .278 wOBA. The price difference with this line is solely because of Velasquez vs. Eovaldi and there are other factors in play that give the White Sox a bit of line equity at + 150, so we’ll give them a look today.
Blue Jays/Guardians Under 6.5 (+ 100): A pitching matchup with Kevin Gausman and Shane Bieber speaks for itself in terms of a low-scoring environment. The two have combined for 70 strikeouts and six walks this season and all six walks belong to Bieber. I will say that I am a bit concerned about Bieber’s decreased velocity and the hard contact that he has allowed, particularly with 11 barrels already. Back in 2018, he allowed 11 barrels in 114.2 innings. He allowed 21 barrels in 2019 when he probably should have won the Cy Young.
With today’s weather conditions, though, the ball is going to die on the vine to left field. With a lot of right-handed batters for both teams, it seems like offense will be hard to come by. My concern here is that the rain may force a delay and take the two starters out of the game early. I’d be much less enthused about an under 6.5 ticket with a lot of bullpen innings. So, we’ll see what the hourly forecast looks like here throughout the day.
We’ll be rolling out some more baseball tools soon, including a tracker of my picks that will update in real-time, but for now, I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.