Fourteen games are on the Friday card, as the Cubs and Reds enjoy a rare Friday off. The rest of the league is in action with a bunch of heavy favorites across both the NL and the AL. Our one interleague matchup also features big chalk. It’s that time of year and September will be worse, at least in the games that aren’t between contenders.
Let’s see what the Friday card has in store.
Marlins/Phillies: The Marlins only mustered three runs once again, but Edward Cabrera and the bullpen combined on a seven-hit shutout to beat the Phillies. Cabrera struck out six over 5.2 innings. The Marlins have some strong pitcher development, but they just can’t figure out how to develop hitters. If they ever did, they’d be a lot more dangerous in the loaded NL East. Not much to write home about in this game, other than a complete lack of quality contact from the Phillies.
Cardinals/Rockies: Another hot-weather over in Coors, as the Rockies won 8-6 behind six respectable innings from German Marquez. All the runs came late in this game, as the Cardinals bullpen surrendered six runs in the seventh and the Rockies pen made it very interesting in the eighth and ninth. Alex Colome has been unusable for the last two weeks, but Bud Black keeps throwing him out there. More on managers in a minute, but Cardinals won hard-hit balls 12-6 and still found a way to lose the game.
Pirates/Diamondbacks: JT Brubaker hung in there for five decent innings, but the wheels totally fell off for the Pirates in the seventh. The bullpen gave up seven runs to turn a 3-2 lead into a 9-3 deficit. This pen has been awful for the last little while and the offense just isn’t good enough to give them any breathing room. I felt like the Pirates could be something of a play-on team with their starting pitching, but too many other areas of the ballclub are lacking.
Cubs/Reds: The pomp and circumstance of the pregame for the Field of Dreams Game was a lot of fun. The game started out hot with three runs for the Cubs in the first, but wound up being a dud with a 4-2 decision. Drew Smyly was strong over five shutout innings with nine strikeouts. Nick Lodolo settled down after his rocky first, but the damage proved to be too much. There were no homers hit in the game and the teams combined to go 4-for-28 with RISP.
Guardians/Tigers: With Emmanuel Clase unavailable, the Guardians had a ninth-inning melt from Trevor Stephan to erase 6.1 really good innings from Zach Plesac. Plesac’s stuff looked strong with 14 whiffs and seven strikeouts. Trevor Stephan blew the save in the ninth, but the Guardians got a two-out single from Oscar Gonzalez and some gutsy relief work from Bryan Shaw for the win. The lead is 1.5 games in the division with Cleveland going to Toronto, where only RP James Karinchak is on the restricted list.
Rangers/Astros: The start I expected Cole Ragans to have against the White Sox actually came against the Astros at a much bigger underdog price. Ragans allowed five runs on six hits over 4.1 innings with three walks and homers surrendered to Alex Bregman and Martin Maldonado. Framber Valdez had eight strikeouts over seven shutout innings with 21 swings and misses.
I feel like we take for granted how good Houston is every season. This is still a loaded lineup. I’m a little surprised they didn’t address the bullpen more at the Trade Deadline, though.
White Sox/Royals: It may be time to call it and say that the White Sox officially stink. Zack Greinke gave up nine hits and 12 hard-hit balls in 6.1 innings, but did not give up a run. The White Sox made it interesting late, but lost despite six innings of one-run ball from Dylan Cease. He had eight strikeouts and 19 swings and misses, but gave up a solo homer to Vinnie Pasquantino that proved to be the difference in the 1st 5.
The White Sox got the first two guys on in the second and didn’t score. They led off the third with three straight singles and didn’t score. They had first and third with one out in the sixth and didn’t score. They left the bases loaded in the eighth. It was a mess. This team is a mess.
Orioles/Red Sox: Commence rant. I HATE when managers bring starters back out after the offense gets the team back in the game. Brandon Hyde did this yesterday. I mentioned that a rested Orioles pen would allow Hyde to pull Dean Kremer early if necessary. Well, somehow he didn’t feel it necessary after the Orioles scored three runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game. Instead of turning it into a bullpen battle, Hyde brought Kremer back out after sitting through a long half-inning with the third time through the order looming.
To be fair, Kremer got the first two guys out before walking J.D. Martinez after getting him down in the count 1-2. Nick Vespi gave up a long double to Eric Hosmer and even the slow Martinez scored. Baltimore mustered two hits the rest of the way against the Red Sox pen and lost 4-3.
Take your five innings and be happy with it. Bring relievers into clean innings. It’s infuriating that managers insist on trying to force another inning from a starter. You might win 12-2 tomorrow. You might lose 11-4. Win today. Worry about tomorrow then. Frustrating.
Weather: All is pretty quiet tonight. The weather isn’t bad in any locale with reasonable temperatures and pretty standard humidity readings. The wind is blowing out in San Francisco, but the wind isn’t a huge factor there.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Braves (-130, 7.5) at Marlins: We’ve seen upwards of a 15-20 cent move at most shops to back Pablo Lopez at home against Atlanta. He does have some swing-and-miss upside, so I get it in this matchup, but we’ve also seen an auto-bet on Lopez and the Fish at home in most cases. I don’t think influential bettors are keen on Jake Odorizzi either.
Padres (-250, 9) at Nationals: Juan Soto returns to D.C. in this one, and we’ll see what kind of welcome he gets. I’ve mentioned how a lot of underdogs are taking money lately. This one is not. San Diego has gone north 20-40 cents depending on the book.
Phillies at Mets (-210, 7): This is another underdog that has become bigger, but that happens with Max Scherzer on the hill. The Phillies are sending Ranger Suarez out here, but Scherzer has gotten the “ace bump” in a big way.
Guardians at Blue Jays (-160, 8.5): We’ve got some dog money here, as the markets are backing Cal Quantrill and the Guardians against Jose Berrios and the Blue Jays. This line has dropped 15-30 cents depending on the book. Quantrill is a guy that the market isn’t fond of, so this is a noteworthy move.
Twins (-130, 8) at Angels: Interesting line move here. Tyler Mahle and the Twins have jumped up about 15 cents against Patrick Sandoval and the Halos. I’m a really big Sandoval guy, so this move is a bit intriguing. Some books are showing a move towards the under with some -120 on the total of 8.
What I’ll Be Watching
Tyler Mahle: Let’s go ahead and look at Minnesota’s starter. Mahle remains a positive regression candidate with a 4.49 ERA, 3.40 xERA and a 3.87 FIP. Great American Ball Park was his arch nemesis and he doesn’t have to deal with that anymore. He gave up four runs on five hits in six innings with three homers at Target Field in his first start against the Blue Jays. He draws a much weaker lineup here after allowing five barrels in that first outing. I have to think he settles in a little bit better here.
Away from GABP in his career, Mahle has allowed a .243/.309/.373 slash with a .296 wOBA and has a 3.74 ERA with a 3.52 FIP. Those are all strong numbers and show what he’s capable of when he’s not pitching at Coors Field East.
Jose Berrios: Berrios goes on a couple extra days rest with Wednesday’s rainout and Thursday’s off day. He’s got a 5.19 ERA with a 4.84 FIP and he deserves both given the rate of hard contact that he has allowed. He’s got a 44.8% Hard Hit% and an 11.7% Barrel%. Considering he can’t face his own team, which has been at the top of the league in Hard Hit% most of the season, the numbers are really ugly.
This will be an interesting start, though. For the season, Cleveland is 30th in Hard Hit% at 34%. They are last in Barrel% at 5.1%. Even with some of the dead weight shed from the lineup in the second half, Cleveland’s Hard Hit% is down to 31.4%, better than only San Francisco. The Guardians have a 4.4% Barrel%. Berrios’s biggest issue has been hard contact, but he now faces the lineup that makes the lowest rate of quality contact in baseball. The Guardians don’t strike out much and Berrios has showcased bad command all season, so we’ll see which side wins out.
Austin Voth: How about one more? Voth returned to the Orioles starting rotation on June 19 and has a 2.97 ERA with a 3.21 FIP in his 33.1 innings across eight starts. He’s got 33 strikeouts against 10 walks and has only allowed three homers. This will be his fourth start against the Rays in that span. His Hard Hit% is just 38.1% with a Barrel% of just 7.2%, so he’s been really solid, despite what the full-season numbers tell you.
Voth has a 5.53 ERA for the season, but a 3.97 FIP, a sign that his .363 BABIP and 66% LOB% have been major factors.
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
Orioles/Rays Under 7.5 (-120): Since he decided not to use them yesterday, Brandon Hyde has a full bullpen at his disposal in this one between the Orioles and Rays. I just mentioned how Austin Voth has really improved of late and there are a lot of positive regression signs in the profile for him. He’s also going to a ballpark that suppresses offense against a Rays lineup that has been suppressed for a while now. The Rays have scored 3.4 R/G in the second half.
Tampa Bay has only allowed 3.6 R/G at home this season, where they’ve scored barely over four runs per game. Tampa Bay is 33-21 at the Trop, so they’ve used that low-scoring environment to their advantage. Corey Kluber has also used the Trop to his advantage. He’s held the opposition to a .298 wOBA at home and has a 3.70 ERA with a 3.14 FIP.
Kluber has allowed 15 earned runs over his last four starts covering 23 innings of work, but he’s had a lot of bad luck in there. His Hard Hit% in that span is just 35.9% and he’s only allowed three barrels. He’s pitched better than those metrics would suggest. The Rays also have a very fresh bullpen having had Monday and Thursday off. Laying -120 on a total isn’t always the most exciting thing, but this should be a low-scoring game in a low-scoring environment, so Under 7.5 is the play.
Yankees (-115) over Red Sox: This is a pure fade of Nate Eovaldi. The Red Sox right-hander has allowed 23 runs on 34 hits in 25.1 innings since returning from injury. His velocity is still down, much like it was when he went out, and his command has not been sharp either. In those five starts (including one against the Yankees), he’s allowed a 47.3% Hard Hit% with a 9.9% Barrel%. Eovaldi’s “good” start against Houston with two unearned runs allowed on four hits in 6.1 innings featured four barrels and 10 hard-hit balls from the Astros. Houston just had no batted ball luck in that game.
Boston’s bullpen is also a major concern tonight. John Schreiber, Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier would all be in line for their fourth appearances in six days. Austin Davis has pitched three straight days and four of the last five. Kaleb Ort threw 48 pitches over back-to-back days on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Red Sox are likely to have some tired arms at the back end.
Meanwhile, the Yankees had Thursday off after a little bit bigger of a workload on Monday and Tuesday. This pen has definitely struggled lately, but the arms should be fairly fresh for the series opener in support of Domingo German. German has allowed five runs on 15 hits in his last 14.2 innings. He’s struck out 11 and walked five. He allowed three barrels in his first start against the Astros, but has only allowed two in three starts since.
The Yankees should win the hard contact battle and have the better bullpen, along with the bullpen in better shape. If Eovaldi pitches well, so be it, but he’s not locating well and he’s not out there with his best stuff. In fact, his last start was his third-lowest of the season from a velocity standpoint, so there’s still something going on there.
Twins/Angels Under 8 (-115): Tyler Mahle and Patrick Sandoval square off in this one out at The Big A, as the Twins desperately try to get back on track after getting pummeled by the Dodgers in a quick two-game series. Mahle’s road splits certainly give me a lot of confidence in this matchup against an Angels team that has scored three or fewer runs 11 times in 19 games since the All-Star Break. They’re stepping outside of the division for the first time since July 27, so there is a lot less familiarity between the lineup and Mahle.
I mentioned above that Mahle had allowed a sub-.300 wOBA and has a 3.14 FIP away from Great American Ball Park in his career, so he should be a good option in a lot of his starts moving forward. The Twins bullpen is also pretty well-rested, especially high-leverage relievers Jhoan Duran and Jorge Lopez, who haven’t pitched since Saturday. Michael Fulmer has only pitched once in that span as well. There should be a lot of fresh arms to follow Mahle.
Sandoval owns a 3.41 ERA with a 3.10 FIP in his 95 innings this season across 18 starts. He’s struck out 102 and has had a walk issue with 45, but the Twins have stopped walking since the All-Star Break. He’s only allowed four home runs this season and has not allowed one in his last five starts. Minnesota is just slightly above league average against lefties, but they don’t run into many like Sandoval.
Sandoval’s .360 BABIP against is entirely too high for a guy with a 36.4% Hard Hit%. The Twins do make a lot of hard contact, but Sandoval limits that well. The Twins also face a lot of subpar pitching in the AL Central, which has propped up their numbers a bit. Their Hard Hit% in the second half is under 40%. I’m looking for a low-scoring affair here. Shop around since there are 8s at -110, but because there are some -120s as well, I’ll split the difference and call it -115.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.