One day game and 14 night games are on the MLB menu for Friday as we head into the weekend. There are a lot of frontline starters on the mound tonight, a throwback to the college days when Friday and Saturday starters were the best that teams had to offer. Speaking of college, while I don’t cap it, I love watching the College World Series and that’s going on right now. There’s a ton of talent out there and the games are chock full of emotion. If you get a chance to catch a few games, it will be worth your while.
Nationals/Reds: I know that the Nationals are in a position to let Joan Adon learn on the job, but it’s almost unfair to the kid at this point. The Nationals managed just one run once again and Adon gave up three runs on six hits over 5.1 innings with four walks and four strikeouts to the lowly Reds.
One thing to keep in mind with the Reds is that Nick Senzel is back and Joey Votto is swinging a really hot bat. Since his return on 5/20 from the COVID list, Votto is slashing .289/.426/.711 with a .475 wOBA and a 202 wRC + in 47 plate appearances. He’s hit three homers, has a 58.6% Hard Hit% and five barreled balls. This offense still isn’t great, but with Votto raking, it looks a lot different.
Giants/Marlins: I nearly fired on the Marlins yesterday at what looked like an uncomfortably high price, but Sandy Alcantara is a different beast at home and Alex Wood has really struggled this season for the Giants. As it turns out, Miami won 3-0, validating that -135 to -140 line. Alcantara threw seven shutout innings in the victory and the game served as another reminder about how you have to view Miami differently at home.
The Marlins pen has a 59.4% LOB% over the last two weeks with a 5.86 ERA, but a 3.26 FIP. The Giants pen has a 6.95 ERA over the last two weeks with a 4.64 FIP and a 54.6% LOB%. Maybe the pitcher-friendly conditions at Marlins Park will help these two teams this weekend and help Miami during the homestand.
Cardinals/Cubs: Matthew Liberatore gave up 11 hard-hit balls in just 3.1 innings yesterday, as he fought with both his control and command. His velocity was down a bit as he labored through some tough innings. He’s walked eight in 13 innings so far and has been a really extreme fly ball pitcher. I’ll be curious to see what his price is next Wednesday in his next scheduled start against Corey Kluber and the Rays. I could see myself on Tampa in that one.
Braves/Rockies: Some places touched 12.5 on the total that we had at 11.5 and -120 in the morning hours for this one at Coors. The Braves got over the total by themselves. This offense has been able to get some confidence rolling against low-strikeout pitchers recently and they touched up Austin Gomber for nine runs on 15 hits in just five innings. The recipe needed to bet on the Braves is pretty clear.
Ian Anderson had nine strikeouts, but also surrendered 11 hard-hit balls and gave up five runs on 10 hits himself. In all, there were 29 hard-hit balls and five barrels in this game. Anderson probably would have been pulled earlier, if not for the big lead. Managers try to get their starters through five innings to get a win. That can be a good live betting situation if you’re following along.
Mets/Dodgers: The Mets finally faced a good defensive team and got shut out. Tony Gonsolin and the bullpen combined on a three-hitter in LA’s 2-0 win. The Mets only had three hard-hit balls in the game, while the Dodgers had 16 off of Taijuan Walker in 5.2 innings. Somehow, Walker only allowed two runs on seven hits, as he allowed a lot of quality contact. The Dodgers were 2-for-14 with RISP, so this could’ve been a huge blowout.
Twins/Tigers: Minnesota lost three in a row to the Tigers to finish out the five-game series and lost four of the five games overall. The Twins were shut out twice and scored two runs against Alex Faedo and the bullpen yesterday. That’s not a good sign for the Twins, as their schedule now ramps up with the next nine games against the Blue Jays, Yankees and Rays.
After that, however, they’re playing the Mariners, Diamondbacks, Guardians, Rockies, Guardians and Orioles up until July 4. I’m setting my target date for betting the White Sox to win the AL Central around July 4 when the two teams meet again, unless I get a plus-money price prior to that.
Rays/Rangers: The Rays left some runs on the basepaths against Taylor Hearn, but the bullpen shut it down for a morning winner. I try to shy away from taking day games because of the limited lead time, but I really liked Tampa Bay in that spot. Follow me on Twitter, @SkatingTripods, to know right away when the article goes up.
White Sox/Blue Jays: This was another ugly beat for under bettors. The game was 4-0 Toronto going into the eighth and then seven runs were scored. Alek Manoah was cruising until he turned the lineup over for a fourth time and gave up an infield single and a two-run double. Adam Cimber allowed an inherited runner to score.
These things are another reason why scoring is up. Managers are getting greedy with starters in hopes of protecting the relief arms a bit. Guys are turning the lineup over a third time. Inherited runners are scoring. Relievers aren’t as effective as the rigors of the season come into play. I’m seeing a lot of late runs, which means maybe you want to slant towards 1st 5 unders and full-game overs at this point.
Mariners/Orioles: The teams combined for 33 at bats with RISP, as Seattle went 6-for-16 and Baltimore went 5-for-17. The sixth hit for Seattle was the game winner with Abraham Toro’s triple in the 10th. In the current run environment, with strikeouts down, a lot of games honestly just come down to performance with RISP. Baltimore came up one hit short here. Winning those coin flips will define your season and this one came up on the wrong end.
Angels/Yankees: The Angels scored two runs in 18 innings during yesterday’s doubleheader. It’s bad enough that the pitching has gone in the tank, but the offense feels to be in a bit of a lull as well. Nestor Cortes and Jameson Taillon combined for 15 innings of one-run ball with seven hits, 12 strikeouts and just two walks. Not that it was an easy day to hit, but the Angels didn’t put up much of a fight.
Weather: Hallelujah! There is no rain in the forecast today. Winds are blowing out on a seasonable day in Chicago for the early game, but we still only have a total of 8.5. The winds are also blowing out a bit in Colorado, but the presence of Max Fried is keeping that total down at 11 with over juice or 11.5 with under juice.
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.
Cardinals at Cubs (-115, 8.5): The Cubbies are getting a little love in the marketplace for the Marcus Stroman vs. Miles Mikolas matchup. Mikolas is a regression candidate with a 2.67 ERA, a 3.44 xERA and a 3.41 FIP. Stroman has a 3.95 ERA with a 4.33 xERA, but a 3.65 FIP. Both guys have low walk rates and also pitch to contact, so I think this is a tough handicap, but Mikolas was a bigger regression candidate before he allowed six runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings last time out.
Giants (-150, 8) at Marlins: This total is 7.5 or 8, but what stands out here is that the Giants are taking the money with Alex Cobb against Elieser Hernandez. I’ve mentioned this a lot, but there are some influential groups that seem to bet Miami blindly at home, forcing a 10-15 cent move on the overnights or in the early morning. Market confidence is low enough in Hernandez that it isn’t happening today and the opposite is actually taking place That leads me to believe that the Giants are the right side tonight if you want to lay the -150 price tag with Cobb, who is one of the biggest positive regression candidates in the game with a 5.73 ERA, but a 2.04 xERA and a 2.64 FIP.
Diamondbacks (-120, 8) at Pirates: We’ve got a flipped favorite role here for Merrill Kelly and the Snakes on the road against JT Brubaker and the Buccos. I actually like both of these pitchers, but Kelly’s having a stronger season. This is one of the biggest line moves of the day. I think Kelly and the D-Backs are part of it, but it may also be a fade of the Pirates in a quasi letdown spot after sweeping the Dodgers.
White Sox at Rays (-185, 7): We normally see “the ace bump” that I’ve talked about in the past with guys like Shane McClanahan, but we are not seeing it today. In fact, Vince Velasquez and the White Sox are taking the early money. We’ve seen a lot of money on the White Sox against lefties over the last few seasons and I think that’s part of this, along with a low total of 7, which creates a lower-variance environment that is more conducive to an underdog’s chances.
What I’ll Be Watching
Brady Singer: Singer seems to be getting a lot of respect with the lowly Royals in a relatively small underdog role against the Astros. Singer has allowed seven runs on 21 hits over 25.1 innings of work and has a stellar 26/4 K/BB ratio. In his three starts, he’s allowed three runs on 14 hits, with one against the White Sox and two against the Twins. The White Sox can’t hit righties, as we know. In the two starts against the Twins, 18 of his 35 batted balls were hit at least 95 mph and he gave up five barrels. He was fortunate in those outings to limit the damage the way that he did.
Jose Urquidy: So, let’s look at Urquidy as well. He’s got a 4.80 ERA with a 6.22 xERA, so market confidence is low in him. He’s allowed eight home runs in 45 innings of work as a pretty extreme fly ball pitcher. Urquidy has allowed 12 runs in 8.2 innings against the Mariners and also struggled with Boston and Toronto. He’s faced two bad lineups, Texas and Detroit, and pitched well in both of those starts. The Royals are much closer to those two teams. This line smells off, but I think one pitcher is being undervalued and the other is being overvalued.
Bruce Zimmermann: The Orioles left-hander has a 4.53 ERA with a 5.58 FIP in his 10 starts covering 51.2 innings of work. Four of his 10 starts have been against the Yankees. After throwing five shutout innings in his first start against them, he’s allowed 13 runs over the last three. His most recent start came against the league’s best offense in May, as the Red Sox hit five home runs and scored six runs. He’s allowed 11 homers in his last four starts.
Now he gets the Guardians, a team that doesn’t make a lot of high-quality contact and doesn’t hit for much power. Cleveland ranks 25th in home runs. This would seem to be a better spot for Zimmermann than most of his outings.
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
Braves -1.5 (-115) over Rockies: I don’t play many run lines, but this seems like another solid opportunity to back the Braves against a pitcher that doesn’t get swings and misses. Over the last three games, Atlanta has faced low-strikeout pitchers and scored 26 runs. They get another one today in Chad Kuhl, who is a big regression candidate in my eyes.
Kuhl has a 41.1% Hard Hit% on the season, even though he hasn’t really faced a lot of offenses that make quality contact. He’s made starts against the Rangers, Phillies, Tigers, Reds, Diamondbacks, Giants twice, Pirates and Nationals. Not exactly a murderer’s row of opponents. Only three of his nine starts have come at Coors Field, leading to a 3.56 ERA with a 3.71 FIP. He has allowed three homers in those three starts at Coors.
Kuhl has an 18.8% K% alongside an 8.9% BB%, which is actually the best one he’s had since 2018. I’m not a big believer in the 11.4% K% and certainly not at Coors Field, where his SwStr% marks over three starts are 10.3%, 7.2% and 7.1%.
Max Fried should be really good just about anywhere he pitches. He’s got a 3.10 ERA with a 2.98 FIP over 61 innings and is a ground ball guy that keeps the ball in the park. He allowed five of his 21 earned runs in his first start of the season, so he’s been pretty outstanding since that opening blip.
The Braves also have the best bullpen in baseball by fWAR and have the lowest FIP at 2.95. The Rockies rank 19th in fWAR with a 4.28 FIP, but have a 5.28 ERA. They’re a bad defensive team playing in a big park and their bullpen has a lot of walk issues. Even if something strange happens with Fried or Kuhl, Atlanta should still have the upper hand in the later innings, so I’m confident with laying the run line here.
Dodgers (-150) over Mets: I circled this game earlier in the week as one that I wanted to play and the price is fair enough to do so. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the Mets this season. I cited the Mike Petriello article about how the Mets have really benefited from playing some bad defensive teams. The Dodgers are not a bad defensive team. I’ve been wanting to fade the Mets because I think they’re playing over their heads to this point, especially with an offensive profile that lacks high-velocity contact.
My hope is that yesterday’s game was a good indicator of what we can expect as the Mets play better teams. They managed three hits against the Dodgers and lost 2-0. Granted, I hope the Dodgers score more runs today and I think they will. Chris Bassitt gets the call for the Mets and he’s been walking a fine line of late. Bassit has a 3.66 ERA with a 4.31 FIP, so there are some regression signs there, along with his 81.4% LOB%.
Bassitt’s BB% has jumped recently, walking three batters in three of his last four starts. Against a very patient Dodgers lineup, that is a problem. He’s also allowed five home runs in his last three starts, getting tagged by the Cardinals and also the Giants. He’s been throwing harder, but we haven’t seen spin rate increases in line with the uptick in velocity. Today, he draws easily the best lineup in baseball against right-handed pitchers.
What Tyler Anderson is doing is legit. I think there’s a sentiment that it isn’t given his career numbers, but Anderson is now in a place that has been able to maximize his arsenal. He’s cut his walk down to 3.0% and bumped his K% to a career-best 24.2%. His Hard Hit% has always been elite, but with the K and BB improvements, he’s living up to it. His career Hard Hit% is just 30.6% and it sits at 28.9% this season. He’s also on a very good defensive team. Jake Mailhot at FanGraphs wrote a great piece on his pitch mix and sequencing.
So, I’m on the Dodgers today. It’s a bigger price, but it’s cheaper than where we usually get the Dodgers.
Guardians/Orioles Under 8 (-115): I stared at this one for a long time. In fact, it’s the reason why the article published a little bit later than usual. Shane Bieber and Bruce Zimmermann are the two starters here. This total did open 8.5 at most shops and some even touched 7.5 briefly before going back up to 8.
I still have concerns about Bieber’s velocity, but his SwStr% is still 12.9% and he takes on the team with the fourth-highest SwStr% this season. Even with decreased velo, Bieber’s Hard Hit% is under 40% for the first time since 2018, so that speaks to his command profile. He’s only allowed four home runs and cut his HR/FB% down to 7.7%, which is strong with a career mark of 14%. Lately, Bieber has gone heavier with sliders in hopes of downplaying the velocity decrease. I’d like to think we see the adjustment for more sliders and curveballs moving forward. He’s been around 60% SL/CB recently and that’s a usage pattern that should stick.
Zimmermann has a 4.53 ERA with a 6.49 xERA and a 5.58 FIP, so how could I possibly want to take an under with him? Well, four of his 10 starts have been against the Yankees. His most recent start was against the Red Sox. He’s allowed nine home runs in his last two starts, but Cleveland ranks 25th in home runs and 25th in Hard Hit%. Boston and New York are both top-five offenses in HH%.
The Guardians also rank 27th in wOBA against LHP. While Jose Ramirez has a 215 wRC + against righties (which is absurd), he’s been much less productive from the right side to this point and this offense goes as he goes.
The two bullpens have a solid collection of arms. Cleveland’s is well-rested and only lefty Cionel Perez has worked back-to-back days for Baltimore. This is an Orioles squad with a lot of good pitchers from different arm slots that the Guardians haven’t really seen. The Orioles have only allowed 4.08 R/G at home and 4.12 R/G against non-AL East foes (5 R/G vs. AL East teams). With that in mind, I’ll take the under here.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.