MLB betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Monday 5/2

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

May 2, 2022 11:59 AM
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Just about half of the league will be idle on Monday and it would have been more than half if the Royals and Cardinals didn’t have a makeup game to play. There are only eight games on the betting board for May 2, but the biggest favorite on the card is in the -165 range, so maybe we’ll get some competitive baseball to start the week.

I’m slightly biased, but I think The Run Line is the top MLB betting show in the business right now and we put another episode in the can last night. Holden Kushner pinch hit from Denver and I was on the desk at Circa to share two hours of baseball betting insight and analysis. If you missed it, you can catch the archived version right here (HOUR 1 / HOUR 2). 

Yesterday’s Recap

Padres/Pirates: As the proud holder of a Joe Musgrove 25/1 to win the NL Cy Young ticket, I’m pleased to say that he’s up to third in fWAR and owns a 1.97 ERA with a 2.12 FIP through 32 innings this season. However, it’s also worth noting he’s faced the Diamondbacks, Braves, Reds twice and Pirates. If you can (and I’ll try to do this when possible), take stock in who pitchers have faced to this point. Four of those offenses are quite bad and some pitchers may have inflated numbers based on the level of competition.

Cubs/Brewers: The Cubs made an appearance on the inaugural Regression Report yesterday on the show. Chicago has now fallen to fourth in BABIP overall and fifth in BABIP with RISP. That’ll happen when you score five runs in four games. They did win 2-0 yesterday, but have only scored 15 runs in their last seven games after their 21-0 win against the Pirates last weekend.

Diamondbacks/Cardinals: Sunday featured some offensive surprises, including this game with 12 runs on the board. It was another day in which the Cardinals did their damage off of somebody’s bullpen. Zach Davies actually worked five innings with no earned runs, but the Diamondbacks pen gave up five in the 7-5 loss.

The Cardinals are 21st in wOBA against RHP with a 91 wRC + that ranks 19th and their right-handed batters only have a .332 SLG against righties. I keep harping on this angle, but I think it’s something we can make money on.

Reds/Rockies: The Reds lost for the 16th time in 19 losses on the run line. Why aren’t we all rich yet?

Nationals/Giants: I wrote yesterday about how the Nationals offense has surprisingly had a lot of chances with men in scoring position. Well, they scored 11 runs yesterday and chased Alex Cobb out of the game in the first inning. In this three-game series, Washington was 19-for-48 with men in scoring position. That’s a lot of at bats with RISP. The Giants, meanwhile, were 7-for-28.

Cesar Hernandez has gotten it going, while Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Yadiel Hernandez keep swinging it well. It has been an under-filled season, but the Nationals look like a pretty good over bet with an offense that has been better than I expected and a pitching staff that is quite bad with a 5.08 ERA and a 4.17 FIP.

Phillies/Mets: My Run Line co-host Holden Kushner made an astute live bet last night, taking the Mets Team Total Over 7.5 when they had scored six runs by the bottom of the fifth. The Phillies bullpen delivered and the Mets scored four more. Isolating those kinds of live betting situations can really boost your bankroll. Knowing the bullpens is a tremendous help.

Red Sox/Orioles: Sometimes hard bets are the right bets to make. I mentioned yesterday how Jordan Lyles is a fade candidate virtually every time he pitches, but we didn’t see a line move against him on the overnights yesterday. Like I’ve said before, the line moves that don’t happen can often be more telling than the ones that do. Baltimore won 9-5 and Lyles gave up one run over six innings.

Zach Davies usually gets bet against, but that didn’t happen in Diamondbacks/Cardinals. The bullpen ultimately blew it, but those are two guys that influential bettors fade regularly. When it doesn’t happen, it really stands out. I’m upset I didn’t trust my market read. It’s easier said than done to back a guy like Lyles against what should be a really good lineup, but it was the right call and the signs were there. Use the context clues from sharp bettors that set these lines and move these markets. More often than not, they’ll give you good information.

Twins/Rays: An emerging trend with the Rays is that their infield defense has not played well. Josh Fleming was victimized by it once again on Sunday, as he allowed six runs on five hits over 3.2 innings, though he did make his own problems by issuing three walks. Fleming is a positive regression candidate with a .396 BABIP and a 33.1% LOB%, but the defense has done him no favors.

For the Twins, Josh Winder had a good start and the offense put up nine runs for the second day in a row. I’m still not a long-term believer in the Twins, but as we talked about on the show last night, their schedule is extremely friendly throughout the month of May. If you wanted, I think you can bet the Twins to win the AL Central now, get the White Sox to win the AL Central at better than even money later and have a freeroll with a two-horse race. Chicago’s schedule is very daunting through the All-Star Break, but they project to play only four teams with a winning record in the second half.

Astros/Blue Jays: Kevin Gausman now has 41 strikeouts with zero walks on the season. He’s also only allowed eight earned runs on 31 hits. Toronto will appear in this week’s Regression Report column in Point Spread Weekly for the offensive numbers, but the pitching numbers have been great. That said, another one-run win for the Jays, who are 9-2 in one-run games. That should regress as the season goes along.

Yankees/Royals: A lot is being made of how the Yankees are beating up on bad teams during this nine-game winning streak. Well, you have to beat the bad teams, too, but the Yankees will now step up in class and face the Blue Jays in five of the next seven games. New York’s numbers do look really strong from playing the last 15 games against Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore and Kansas City. I absolutely agree. However, I still think this is a quality ballclub, so I’m not rushing to fade them. Just some food for thought that I may be finding spots to go against them, but downplaying a team’s performance just because it came against bad teams is a little bit too simplistic. Those are games you should win and the Yankees have, winning most of them in lopsided fashion.

Guardians/Athletics: Triston McKenzie came through exactly as I had hoped to start May with a winner, but this is why it’s so important to study the matchups. Between that opponent and that ballpark, the conditions could not have been optimized better for McKenzie. Interestingly, McKenzie only had nine whiffs in 40 swings, which is a really low rate for seven strikeouts over 6.1 innings, but he only had one walk and that was the difference. I’m still not a full-fledged believer in McKenzie, but you make exceptions when the conditions are right.

Mariners/Marlins: Julio Rodriguez is getting hot. He was 3-for-4 with a homer yesterday and owns a .306 BA and a .370 OBP since April 17, a span of 54 plate appearances. He’s really starting to figure this hitting thing out at the MLB level and that lengthens the Mariners lineup in a big way. The best offenses are often the best because they have 6 and 7 hitters that can rake. With offense down so much, it is an even bigger luxury.

Unrelated to this game, Houston better get it going because the Angels and Mariners look very legitimate this season.

Monday Resources

Weather: Royals/Cardinals could end up PPD’d again and the wind will be blowing out a bit for Rays/A’s in the Coliseum. Otherwise, no big weather concerns today, as two of the eight games are indoors and we’ll have a rare sunny day in Chicago.

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. 

Line Moves

Diamondbacks at Marlins (-155, 6.5): It might be 10 cents, 15 cents, 20 cents, whatever it may be, but there is going to almost always be a line move on Pablo Lopez when he pitches at home. If you want to back Miami in a Lopez home start, bet it early. This total has also moved from 7 with heavy under juice down to 6.5.

Angels at White Sox (-145, 7.5): A big line move here in favor of Chicago with Dylan Cease on the bump against lefty Patrick Sandoval. This is also an early start and lineups are available, so it’s worth noting that Shohei Ohtani is not in it for the Angels after leaving with a groin issue last night. Backup catcher Kurt Suzuki also gets the call over Max Stassi. I really like Sandoval, but it’s a tough sell today with those absences.

Twins (-145, 7.5) at Orioles: We’ve seen a modest move down on the Twins/Orioles line with Chris Paddack against Tyler Wells, even though Wells has a 5.54 ERA with a 5.70 FIP on the season. I’m not a big Paddack backer either. I also agree with the general theme of betting against a Twins team that is overperforming, but backing a guy like Wells is tricky. It hasn’t stopped the groups that shape the market, though.

Mariners at Astros (-135, 8.5): This total is either 8.5 or 9 depending on where you look and the vig that the sportsbooks are using. We’ve seen a little bit of Astros investment, likely as a straight fade of Marco Gonzales. Also, Jose Altuve is back for the Astros after completing a rehab assignment, so it may just be a projection adjustment with him. Either way, the Astros have played 16 of their first 22 games away from home, so maybe this homestand will be where they get it going.

What I’ll Be Watching

Jordan Montgomery: Big Montgomery guy here. He doesn’t have a lot of name recognition, but he struck out over a batter per inning last season while running a really solid Hard Hit% at 36.5%. Montgomery has a good four-pitch mix with a four-seam fastball that plays up in velocity because it’s the only pitch he throws at the top of the zone. He throws his sinker, changeup and curveball at least 25% of the time each. This season, he’s gotten rid of a cutter that yielded a .333 BA and a .536 SLG last season. His changeup and curveball are two quality pitches and he ranks in the 84th percentile in Hard Hit% so far this season and the 85th percentile in Barrel%. He’s also getting a lot of swings and misses outside the zone. His SwStr% supports a higher overall K rate. I like this profile and think he’s generally underrated.

This is not an easy start against a Blue Jays lineup that ranks second in Hard Hit% and also features a ton of right-handed bats. Look for Montgomery to rely on the changeup a lot. Of his 2,041 pitches against righties last season, 564 were changeups (27.6%) and opposing batters hit just .187 with a .304 SLG on the pitch, with most of those balls in play coming from righties.

Zac Gallen: Gallen is off to a masterful start with 14 K in 15 innings and just one run allowed on six hits. We’ve seen the leap already from Merrill Kelly and I can’t help but feel like pitching coach Brent Strom will have a huge impact on Gallen as well. His fastball command is among the best in the league, as he held opposing batters to a .217 BA and a .366 SLG last season. He’s doing even better with a velo uptick and a spin rate increase this season, putting his fastball above the league average in velo and his spin rate in the top 8% among all pitchers. I just hope he stays healthy.

Monday 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

Yankees/Blue Jays Under 8.5 (-115): Sometimes it’s as simple as telling a pitcher to throw his worst pitch less often. That’s what the Blue Jays have done with Ross Stripling. Stripling’s four-seam fastball usage is down to where it was back in 2019 when he had a 3.47 ERA with a 3.47 FIP for the Dodgers in 90.2 innings. Stripling allowed a .263 BA and a .579 SLG on the fastball last season with 18 home runs allowed. In 2020, the pitch was even worse in the shortened season.

This year, though, his fastball usage is down from 50.9% to 38.5%. Instead, he’s throwing more sliders and changeups and sequencing the fastball better to get more swings and misses on the pitch. He’s also locating it better at the top of the zone. The slider and changeup increases have helped Stripling to be in the top 6% in average exit velo and top 3% in Hard Hit% to this point. Because he had a 5.84 ERA in 2020 and a 4.80 ERA in 2021, everybody forgot about how he was a guy with ERA and FIP marks under 4.00 every year from 2016-19. This season, Toronto has optimized his pitch usage and the changes have been very impressive. He’s even running a 3.60 ERA with a 64.7% LOB%.

He pounds the zone and his SwStr% is the highest of his career at 12.1%. The things I like about Stripling are also what I like about Montgomery. He typically induces a lot of weak contact and his high rate of offspeed pitches give him margin for error and swing-and-miss upside. Sure, these two lineups make a lot of hard contact, but offense has been suppressed this season and these are two guys with command and optimized pitch usage in the early going of the season.

The Yankees own the top bullpen in baseball by fWAR and Toronto’s pen has been much better than I anticipated. I think we get a tight, playoff-like atmosphere in this one and I’ll take the under 8.5 with a limited card.

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.

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