The worst part about betting is losing. The second-worst part is putting your hard-earned money and trust into players to perform and managers to make the right decisions while having no control or input. I’m looking at you, Brandon Hyde.
A phenomenon exists in baseball called the “Third Time Through the Order Penalty”. It is an almost universal phenomenon that starting pitchers are worse facing a hitter for the third time than they are the first or second time. I’ve written about it and surely you’ve heard about it as a baseball fan and bettor. For some pitchers, the 3TTO, as I call it, is a whole lot worse.
One such pitcher is Jordan Lyles. The Orioles trailed 4-1 in the fifth yesterday before scoring three runs to make it a tie game. With a massive bullpen advantage, and only ONE GAME PLAYED OVER THE LAST THREE DAYS, Hyde opted to bring Lyles back out for the fifth after his offense just bailed out the pitcher. The first hitter walked, the second hitter hit a mammoth two-run homer and the Orioles immediately trailed 6-4.
Lyles has been notoriously bad the third time through the order in his career. How bad? Using weighted on-base average (wOBA), every hitter collectively turns into Aaron Judge. Opposing batters a .397 wOBA for his career (Judge has a career .398 wOBA) and they own a .366 wOBA this season (George Springer and Kyle Tucker have .365 wOBAs this season). He has a career ERA of 8.80 the third time through over 1,145 batters faced.
With mountains of easily-accessible data (and a rested bullpen), Hyde sent him back out there and the most obvious outcome in the world happened.
Oh, yeah, and Tony La Russa literally intentionally walked a guy in a 1-2 count yesterday. The next guy hit a three-run homer.
There are 30 manager jobs available in a billion-dollar industry and this is apparently the best that teams can do.
This would’ve been a talking point no matter what, but it is exacerbated by the fact that I was + 15.6 units from Opening Day through May 13 and am currently -11.65 units from May 14 to the present. Baseball flipped the switch to bring back offense on or around May 14, rendering previous sample sizes useless and turning games into more of a high-variance crapshoot. I’ve psyched myself out to a degree, but also run bad and my handicapping style was counterfeited by yet another midseason change.
Hopefully it turns soon. You know, like today.
Diamondbacks/Reds: Positive regression finding Tyler Mahle. He fired six outstanding innings with 10 strikeouts yesterday before the bullpen dropped a deuce on all of his hard work. He still has a 5.07 ERA, but he has a 3.87 xERA and a 3.69 FIP. His 63.6% LOB% shouldn’t continue with a high strikeout rate. The game is tailored more towards offense now than it was, but those LOB% outliers should still regress towards the mean.
Phillies/Brewers: Corbin Burnes needed 113 pitches to get 13 outs yesterday and the Brewers struggled on offense once again, but it was the bullpen that stood out in a negative way. The Phillies scored five runs over the final three innings for an 8-3 win. They’re undefeated since Joe Girardi was canned and have been a different team since Bryce Harper got back in the lineup. One thing I need to get better at is riding waves and the Phillies are on one right now.
Nationals/Marlins: The Marlins are 3-0 since they aired their grievances about teammate Jazz Chisholm Jr., who certainly plays the game with a lot of flare and swagger. Maybe the heart-to-heart helped everybody come together. Or maybe it was facing the corpse of what Stephen Strasburg used to be. Either way, a team that should be .500 or better based on run differential is having a nice week after putting its best player on blast in the clubhouse. We’ll see if it continues.
Pirates/Braves: JT Brubaker had 16 whiffs over seven quality innings against the Braves yesterday, who won thanks to six quality innings from Max Fried and a lot of ineptitude with men on base from the Pirates. Fried actually allowed eight hits, but the only run came on a solo homer. The last five losses for the Pirates have been by two runs and three of the four prior to that were by one run. In games where they’re a big dog, run lines or + 2.5 run lines aren’t bad bets.
Athletics/Guardians: Konnor Pilkington’s one-game velo bump did not hold and he looked much more hittable in yesterday’s win over the A’s. Cleveland won the game off of the Oakland bullpen with a four-spot in the eighth off of Lou Trivino. I’m not sure how long Oscar Gonzalez will keep hitting, but he has a .404 average and a .934 OPS to start his MLB career. He fits the mold of this Cleveland team in that he doesn’t strike out, but he makes better contact authority. He’s been a nice addition.
Yankees/Twins: A day after the Yankees got crushed in a game started by Nestor Cortes and Chris Archer, they covered the run line in a Dylan Bundy vs. Gerrit Cole tilt, even though Cole allowed five home runs in 2.1 innings of work. Some days all I can do is scratch my head about this sport.
Cole’s velo and spin rates were fine. I think it was just one of those days. I don’t see any injury indicators.
Red Sox/Angels: The Angels ended their 14-game winning streak because of a Herculean performance from Shohei Ohtani. He homered and fired seven masterful innings. The Angels struck out 11 times against Nick Pivetta in five innings without Mike Trout in the lineup, so that wasn’t great, but it was a win and that’s what matters for them.
Cardinals/Rays: The Cardinals and Rays played the quintessential getaway day game yesterday. The game ended 2-1 with 19 strikeouts and just two walks. Under 200 pitches were thrown in the game and it took 1:54 to play. Getaway day unders aren’t always that easy, but they’re fun when they are for those that bet under that pretense.
Dodgers/White Sox: This getaway day game was the opposite. It was an 11-9 final started by Tyler Anderson and Dylan Cease. Cease had 20 whiffs in 4.2 innings and all six runs were unearned to lower his ERA to 3.14. This was a disgusting beat for White Sox 1st 5 or 1st 5 under bettors. It’s also a game that should have gotten Tony La Russa fired, but there have been a lot of those. I guess Jerry Reinsdorf’s grip is pretty strong.
Weather: Not too shabby around the country today. Detroit, Kansas City and St. Louis have the best rain chances, but all seem playable. Winds aren’t really a factor anywhere either. The Dodgers/Giants game does have a decent breeze blowing out to start, but winds calm as the nighttime marine air kicks in.
Injuries: We’re seeing a lot more injuries these days. A lot of position players and pitchers are dealing with soft tissue things. Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Diamondbacks at Phillies (-140, 8.5): Bettors are riding the aforementioned wave with Philly, so much so that they’re actually betting against Zac Gallen. That is a strong line move with a pitcher that is generally beloved on the betting board. It says a lot to me about the mindset on that game from bettors that shape the markets.
Dodgers (-150, 9) at Giants: The total opened as low as 8 at some places, but is painted 9 across the market with Walker Buehler and Jakob Junis. Buehler has not looked great his last few starts and Junis is a guy with big platoon problems throughout his career and the Dodgers have a lot of good left-handed batters. We’re also seeing a few cents worth of Dodgers investment to this point.
Rays at Twins (-115, 9): The Twins are getting some love today, as a spotlight series against the Yankees showed a lot of bettors what this offense is capable of. The Rays have flipped from a favorite to a dog at this point and the total has gone up from 8 to 9 with Drew Rasmussen and Devin Smeltzer set to start.
Red Sox (-110, 8.5) at Mariners: It looks like this total is on the way to 9 as well, as we have Rich Hill and Marco Gonzales listed as the starters at T-Mobile Park. The ball seemed a little jumpier in Seattle’s last home series, so we’ll see if that holds here.
What I’ll Be Watching
Tylor Megill: Megill had a 4.41 ERA with a 3.37 FIP when he hit the IL after his May 11 start against the Nationals, but we should probably take that high ERA with a grain of salt. Megill allowed 11 runs in 6.2 innings in his last two starts and then hit the injured list with that biceps problem. It seems like he was pitching hurt. Prior to that, he had allowed five runs in six starts. Megill only made one minor league rehab start at Double-A and allowed two runs on three hits in 3.2 innings with five strikeouts and no walks. He draws a weak Angels lineup because of the injuries, but it also seems like he will be on a pitch count.
Pablo Lopez: Lopez has a 2.18 ERA and a 3.07 FIP for the season, but has a 4.30 ERA with a 4.75 FIP over his last four starts. He’s allowed four runs in two of his last three starts and four of his six home runs on the year. This is an interesting assignment against the Astros, but it does come at Minute Maid Park, which has absolutely suppressed offense this season. Lopez has allowed eight barrels over his last four starts, so the command hasn’t quite been there. I don’t see any velo or spin rate concerns, so this may just be simple variance.
Friday Best Bets
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VEGAS LINES | ODDS BY STATE | MLB MATCHUPS
Rays/Twins 1st 5 Over 4.5 (-120): Drew Rasmussen and Devin Smeltzer are the listed starters for this one at Target Field. Rasmussen is stepping up in class here against the Twins after facing the White Sox, Rangers, Marlins and Tigers in his last four outings. He’s only struck out five of the last 40 batters faced and gave up a lot of hard contact in his seven shutout innings against the White Sox last time out. In his two previous starts, he allowed eight runs on 11 hits in eight innings. Four of Rasmussen’s last five starts have been at home and Tropicana Field does really suppress offense.
Since May 14, when everything seemed to change for offense, the Twins are third in Hard Hit%. For the season, they are fifth in wOBA against right-handed pitching, even with a slow start to the season with the cold conditions and dead ball of April and early May. The Twins are seventh in wOBA since May 14.
The Rays haven’t been quite as potent offensively, but do own a 106 wRC + against left-handed pitching and rank in the top 10 in batting average. Most of their high-velocity hitters do fare better in the platoon advantage against lefties. They also face a guy in Smeltzer that is overperforming to a high degree right now. His fastball SLG against is .389, but his xSLG is .578. His average exit velo on the fastball is 94.6 mph, so hopefully the Rays isolate that pitch to get after as opposed to his offspeed stuff.
Smeltzer has a 1.93 ERA with a 3.41 xERA and a 3.79 FIP for the season and just gave up a bunch of hard contact and a couple of homers to the Blue Jays after starting his season with the Guardians, Royals twice and Tigers. Both pitchers are stepping up in class here. Target Field has been a good park for offense of late and both pitchers have some red flags in terms of competition quality and some of their underlying metrics. As a result, I’m on the Over 4.5 for the 1st 5 and will lay a little juice.
Mets (-125) over Angels: As mentioned, Tylor Megill returns for the Mets today and he’ll be opposed by Jhonathan Diaz, a 25-year-old southpaw prospect in the Angels organization. Megill is set to throw around 70-75 pitches in all likelihood, but the nice thing here is that the Mets have a bullpen advantage over the Angels and also that the Mets pen is well-rested. New York had Thursday off and nobody worked back-to-back days on Tuesday and Wednesday, so everybody is available.
I can’t help but feel like the injury is why Megill had such an awful start right before hitting the IL. Prior to that May 11 blow-up, he had a 2.43 ERA with a 2.48 FIP in his 33.1 innings of work with 36 strikeouts against eight walks. The Angels offense ranks 23rd in wOBA since May 14 and has the fifth-highest K% in baseball.
That means that the Mets should be the team putting more balls in play here, as Diaz is not a strikeout guy. He was called up for some bullpen reinforcements for a June 2 appearance against the Yankees and threw four decent innings with two runs allowed on four hits, but he’s allowed 17 hard-hit balls in 37 batted ball events at the MLB level this season. In his last two minor league starts, Diaz has allowed nine runs on nine hits in 10.1 innings with 11 strikeouts against seven walks.
Hopefully the Mets get at least one of Pete Alonso or Starling Marte back in the fray, especially if the Angels get Mike Trout back in the fray, but Diaz doesn’t strike me as a guy that will work deep and the Angels pen has been one of the worst in baseball over the last three weeks. Diaz has also thrown just four innings since May 27, so I’m not sure that he’s going to be very sharp.
Megill has more upside and I think we’ve got the better lineup and the stronger bullpen with the visitors, so I’ll lay the price on the Mets. I like them to get back on track after the Alonso scare now that they know he'll be just fine.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.