We’ve got my kind of card on Friday. Fifteen games and all of them are at night. These are the days I really like because I don’t feel rushed or pressured to get the article out and can take the time to do the deep-dive digging that makes me feel most comfortable with picks.
I’ve got a Saturday commitment, so I’ll do my best to get the article out, but there may not be an article on Saturday or Sunday this weekend. I’ll see how much of it I can write tonight to try and get something out, even if it’s a shorter version. No promises, but I’m a man of the people, so I’ll do what I can. I will be on Sunday’s edition of The Run Line with my dude Ben Wilson from 8-10 p.m. ET.
Rockies/Marlins: The Road Rockies managed just two runs in the series finale, as we saw a couple of high-scoring series have prototypical getaway day games. Miami won 3-2 in this one with an eighth-inning run off of Alex Colome. The Marlins made a lot of hard contact off of Kyle Freeland, but had little to show for it. If you take anything away from this series, keep those L/R splits in mind for both of these teams. The Rockies had nine hits off Braxton Garrett, but only scored two runs in 4.2 innings.
Colorado hits lefties well and can’t really hit righties, especially on the road. Miami hits righties well and can’t really hit lefties.
Giants/Braves: The teams combined for 24 hits and 13 runs in what was NOT a traditional getaway day outcome. Alex Wood lasted one inning and gave up six runs on four hits, while Kyle Wright gave up four runs on 10 hits in 5.1 innings. The Giants bullpen is really gassed right now and Monday’s off day can’t come soon enough. At least the Reds are in town now, but Alex Cobb hasn’t worked too deep into games and Anthony DeSclafani is set to make his second start on Sunday prior to Monday’s off day.
Dodgers/Reds: The Dodgers scored 26 runs at Great American Ball Park in a three-game sweep to start off this road trip. Tonight is Freddie Freeman Night in Atlanta, so it will be an emotional day for him. This is a step up in class for both teams, so I’ll be very interested to see how this Dodgers/Braves series goes with some solid pitching matchups.
Cubs/Pirates: Some of the positive regression I wrote about with the Cubs and runners in scoring position took hold over the last two days. They were 5-for-18 with RISP last night and 4-for-9 on Wednesday night. This is an offense that should be scoring more, but, as we’ve seen consistently, this pitching staff is quite bad.
The Cubs have allowed 154 runs in 21 games this month. They’ve lost games by 9, 3, 2, 6, 1, 8, 14, 3, 7, 14, 2, 6, 11, 6 and 1 in June. Since the script flipped on offense, it sure feels like we’ve seen a lot more run line cashes and even games that would cash on the alternate run lines. Teams like the Cubs and A’s are helping those records out a lot.
Cardinals/Brewers: The Redbirds and the Beermakers split this four-game set and remain tied for first place. The games were all pretty competitive and interesting, bookended by Josh Hader saves. It feels like the Brewers are really just trying to hang on right now with their starting pitching injuries and the concerns I mentioned about Eric Lauer.
On the Cardinals side, a trend seems to be emerging. Outside of Giovanny Gallegos, Genesis Cabrera and Ryan Helsley, there aren’t many strong relief arms. If those guys are not going to be used because the team is trailing, you can live bet against the Cardinals. Guys like Drew VerHagen and Nick Wittgren aren’t any good. They’ll lock down wins, but I don’t see too many comebacks because their lesser relievers keep allowing insurance runs.
Phillies/Padres: Sigh. Losing heavy favorites is always a real bummer, but especially when you’ve got a pending Joe Musgrove Cy Young ticket. Coming off of COVID, Musgrove seemed to tire in the sixth and the big blow was a J.T. Realmuto three-run shot to maybe break him out of a prolonged slump. This was a weird game because Ranger Suarez only needed 94 pitches to get through 7.1 innings as a guy that is usually pretty inefficient.
More noticeable was that Musgrove only had eight whiffs in 44 swings, only one strikeout and had spin rate drops on all six pitches. My hope is that there’s nothing more to this, but I’d stay away in his next start to be safe.
Guardians/Twins: A 1-0 game between Zach Plesac and Devin Smeltzer was not what I expected, especially after 21 runs were scored on Wednesday. It felt like all the emotion from the first two games kind of drained both teams. It is a good sign for both squads going forward that Plesac and Smeltzer were both good. Plesac’s lone mistake was a dead-center homer to No. 9 hitter Nick Gordon in the third.
Keep a close eye on the Guardians this weekend and throughout next week. They don’t have an off day until July 7 and play doubleheaders on June 28 and July 4. They do play 11 games at home during this homestand.
Mariners/Athletics: I guess the A’s should have just let Frankie Montas try to finish the game, but their prized trade piece went eight shutout innings on 102 pitches before the bullpen blew it in the ninth.
How did the A’s pen blow it? The bases were loaded on alternating walks and then the A’s threw not one, but two, wild pitches with two outs to score two runs. Incredible. I’m sure that was a fun plane flight to Kansas City.
Astros/Yankees: Speaking of bullpen melts, this one took the cake. Aaron Hicks hit a titanic three-run homer to tie the game and then Aaron Judge walked it off with a liner into the LF corner. The Yankees bats picked up Jameson Taillon, who got blasted to the tune of six runs on 10 hits with 13 hard-hit balls.
For the Yankees to steal this one without using Clay Holmes or Michael King sets up nicely for the rest of the weekend. I don’t know, man. Maybe this is the year. They just don’t lose.
Orioles/White Sox: Those scrappy Orioles are really something. Baltimore is sort of following what Detroit did last season by getting off to a bad start and then playing .500 or better ball. After a 7-14 start to the season in April, the Orioles are 25-25 over the last 50 games. They’re a really competitive team and the bullpen keeps them in every game, but also secures wins in games they lead.
Weather: Not much to report today. Rain chances are most prevalent in Atlanta with hot, humid air and scattered storms. The only game with a decent breeze blowing out is in San Francisco, where it’ll be hoodie weather with temps in the mid-50s.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Mets at Marlins (-135, 7): A good one tonight in South Florida with Taijuan Walker and Sandy Alcantara. We’ve seen a 10-15 cent move on Alcantara at home, which is pretty much what we see every time he’s starting at loanDepot Park.
Dodgers (-130, 9) at Braves: Ian Anderson is a guy that the betting markets have been against pretty regularly in recent starts. That’s not really the case today, despite facing the Dodgers. I always like to say that it’s the line moves that don’t happen that usually stand out the most to me. This game may qualify.
Reds at Giants (-200, 7.5): We’ve seen a little interest in Alex Cobb, who has a 5.62 ERA, but a 2.25 xERA and a 3.28 FIP, but we’ve also seen this total go down from 8 to 7.5 with extreme under juice. I think we’re going to get to 7 for this one with the wind blowing in on a cool night.
Red Sox (-115, 9) at Guardians: Money coming in against Cal Quantrill has become a regular occurrence in the markets. Quantrill doesn’t miss bats and has an old-school pitch-to-contact style that probably doesn’t sit well with the modeling crowd. Also, Nick Pivetta’s been really good for a while now. However, this line went to -130 and peaked before coming back down into the -115 range. Interesting movement here.
Pirates at Rays (-210, 7): I wouldn’t call it an “ace bump” for Jeffrey Springs, but we’ve seen this line jump about 20 cents with Mitch Keller on the bump for Pittsburgh. This seems like a fade of the Pirates as they go play a much better team down in Tampa.
Blue Jays (-145, 8.5) at Brewers: We’ve seen this line move down about 10 cents as the betting world waits for an update on Toronto’s George Springer, who went for an elbow MRI a couple days ago. It seems like he may be out of the lineup again today, regardless of what the MRI shows.
What I’ll Be Watching
MacKenzie Gore: Gore allowed eight runs in his first 48 innings, but the young southpaw has allowed 14 runs on 14 hits in his last 6.1 innings of work. Both starts came against the Rockies, with the first one at home and the second one on the road. Gore allowed 16 hard-hit balls between the two starts and three barrels in the most recent one in Denver. His fastball velocity was also down in both starts. After peaking at 96.4 mph on May 22, Gore’s velo has gone down in each start since, hitting a season low of 93.9 mph last time out.
In that start, Gore had his highest curveball usage of the season, but that didn’t really work out well for him. He’s a 63% fastball guy and just had his worst start by SwStr% on that pitch at 5.3%. His previous low was 11.1%. It might just be mechanical. It might be something more. But, it’s definitely a big concern.
Ian Anderson: While there hasn’t been a line move of note on this game, Anderson seems like a scary proposition against the Dodgers. He has a K% under 20% and a BB% approaching 11%. The Dodgers lead the league with a 10.3% BB% and the walk rate goes up slightly to 10.4% against righties. Anderson has a Hard Hit% of 40.4%, but he has done well to stay off the barrel at 5.3%. He’s allowed six runs on 15 hits in his last 16.2 innings, but those starts have been against Oakland, Washington and the Cubs. This is a pretty big step up in class to say the least.
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
Phillies (-125) over Padres: The fastball concerns I just wrote about are very real with MacKenzie Gore. He draws a Phillies lineup that ranks fifth in wOBA against lefties as well, so this looks like it could be a really tricky matchup for him. We saw the increased curveball usage in his last start, but he’s allowed a .321 BA and a .500 SLG on 20 balls in play with that pitch. His Whiff% is also pretty pedestrian for a curveball. Between that pitch and the fastball, we’re talking about 60% of his arsenal. The Phillies rank 12th in SLG against left-handed fastballs, but Gore’s is losing its effectiveness at this point in time.
The Padres are just below league average against righties, largely thanks to their big series against the Cubs. They don’t have a good batting average or slugging percentage against righties, but have one of the league’s higher walk rates to aid those numbers. The problem with that is Aaron Nola has a 3.2% BB% on the season. Nola’s Hard Hit% is down to 34.1%, the lowest he’s had since 2018 when he posted a 2.37 ERA with a 2.77 xERA. He’s been extremely effective this season and there is a lot to like about the profile.
The 1st 5 is in the -140s and the full game is in the -120s because of the concerns with the Phillies bullpen. I get it, but also, the Phillies are still 24-5 with a lead after five innings, so they’re right at the 83% threshold that we’ve seen the last several seasons prior to this one for teams with a lead after five innings. I’ll trade the 20 cents of line equity, assume they have a lead and hope that they finish it off. I’m on the Phillies today.
Red Sox/Guardians Under 9 (-110): Two of the league’s top defensive teams get together at Progressive Field tonight to fire up a weekend set. Cal Quantrill and Nick Pivetta are the listed starters for this one and I think both guys can have success in this game. Pivetta had an awful month of April with an 8.27 ERA in his 16.1 innings of work, but he’s allowed just 15 runs on 41 hits in his last 65.1 innings pitched. He’s got a 66/16 K/BB ratio and has been a huge part of the Red Sox rotation.
I realize that the profile for Quantrill is far from sexy with his low strikeout rate, but Quantrill has a 34.4% Hard Hit% this season and has only allowed 16 barrels in 227 batted ball events. He’s a guy that gets hitters to expand the zone and make weak contact because he has such good command.
Both teams have been able to feast on some bad pitching this month, but these two teams are a lot closer to each other and that should create a lower-scoring, tighter environment. The Guardians pen is in okay shape with only two relievers used yesterday and Boston had yesterday off, so their top guys are all available and ready to go. With two excellent defensive squads and two pitchers that are having nice seasons, this total just feels a little too high, so I’m on Under 9.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1QeJma5cYiiw_dhahaQUY2kOH_Z_g18qqBPJRvgK3iR0/edit?usp=sharing