Twelve games are on the schedule to kick off a new week around Major League Baseball. It was a weird and wild weekend with some doubleheaders, some more injuries and some upticks in certain places on the offensive side. I’ll be writing about ballparks and the results on batted balls for this week’s Regression Report in Point Spread Weekly, so you’ll see that late Tuesday or early Wednesday here on the site.
In the meantime, you’ve got today’s daily article and also last night’s episode of The Run Line with my good buddy Jeff Parles filling in for Ben Wilson. Catch the archived version of the show (HOUR 1 | HOUR 2).
Cardinals/Pirates: The Cardinals decimated a couple below average righties in Bryse Wilson and Tyler Beede yesterday with an 18-run outburst to almost single-handedly correct some of the low offensive numbers at PNC Park this season. It was a good weekend overall for the Cards, who are now getting elite offensive production from Paul Goldschmidt.
However, St. Louis lost Steven Matz to a shoulder injury just four pitches into the game and face Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman, Brandon Woodruff and Yu Darvish over the next week and a half.
Dodgers/Phillies: The Dodgers looked like they had their eighth win in a row signed, sealed and delivered, but Max Muncy bobbled a routine grounder and two runs scored to give the Phillies a walk-off win in 10 innings. Tony Gonsolin lowered his ERA to 1.62, but what’s interesting to me is that Zach Eflin had 12 strikeouts with 19 whiffs on 53 swings. That is a great sign for the Phillies going forward.
Braves/Marlins: Matt Olson had two more hard-hit balls on a 0-for-4 night as his slump continued. Olson is a guy that I looked up last night. His Hard Hit% is 47.8%, which is below his career average, which is insane. The guy makes incredible contact, but is batting .155/.290/.392 in his last 69 PA.
His average launch angle is down to 9.6 degrees, about half of 17.3-degree career average. His GB% this season is 50.4%, over 13% higher than his career mark. Olson seems like a guy that is trying to overcompensate for the dead ball. He’s also pulling the ball a lot less. I think he needs to get back to what he does best and that will help the Braves offense start to improve. I’ll be watching this to see if it gets better.
Nationals/Brewers: Freddy Peralta only lasted 59 pitches in his Sunday start and allowed five runs on six hits. Peralta’s velocity was down a bit, but his spin rates weren’t down too much. He still wound up on the IL after the game with shoulder tightness and will have an MRI today. Peralta threw 144.1 innings last season, a huge ramp-up from working out of the pen in 2019 and 2020 with 114.1 combined innings over those two seasons. I worry about young pitchers and their arm health with what COVID did to 2020 and then the return to the full season in 2021. Peralta may just be one of many to miss time.
Diamondbacks/Cubs: Another day of correction for Merrill Kelly, who allowed three runs on five hits in five innings. It was by no means a bad start, but it wasn’t a very good one either. Kelly now has a 3.49 ERA with a 3.59 xERA and a 3.08 FIP, so his regression has been swift with 14 runs allowed over his last 12 innings. He’s an example of why looking for extreme outliers to regress can be a really sound strategy.
Mets/Rockies: What a huge lift Taijuan Walker was yesterday for the Mets. With no Tylor Megill or Max Scherzer, the Mets are relying on some depth and Walker threw seven shutout innings in Denver to give the Mets another series victory. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was another win. I will look to fade the Mets in the few weeks, though, as the schedule ramps up.
The Mets schedule is @ SF, PHI, WSH, @ LAD, @ SD, @ LAA, MIL, MIA, @ HOU, @ MIA, HOU through the end of June. Time to find out how good this offense really is. I wish the Braves were at a better price in the NL East because they have the chance to make up ground with this stretch for the Mets.
Padres/Giants: An ugly weekend for the Giants was a beautiful weekend for the Padres. We’ve seen some anti-San Diego sentiment out there because of their difference between actual record and alternate standings metrics like Pythagorean Win-Loss and BaseRuns, topics I’ll write about for Point Spread Weekly this week. But, they just keep winning games.
The Giants bullpen has struggled and the team has also not performed very well defensively this season. They’ve been very inconsistent, yet are 22-18 at the 40-game mark, which isn’t all that bad.
Rays/Orioles: How about the Orioles? The Rays led 4-0 in this one, but Baltimore battled back and took down a 7-6 decision in walk-off fashion. Corey Kluber needed 73 pitches to get nine outs, which was still better than Baltimore starter Spenser Watkins, who faced three batters, gave up three hits and left without recording an out after a comebacker got him in the forearm. The Rays are really using that bullpen heavily, so the Kluber situation merits a close eye.
Mariners/Red Sox: Only the Dodgers have scored more runs than the Red Sox over the last two weeks and the Red Sox have had a lot fewer plate appearances in that span. The Boston offense is firing on all cylinders now and had 12 hard-hit balls against Logan Gilbert, so his start could have gone much differently. The walk-off grand slam helped the case, but this team is finally hitting with RISP and we’ve seen the results. We have to start handicapping this team differently moving forward with that offense going better at home and on the road.
Tigers/Guardians: The velocity and the spin rates remain down for Shane Bieber, but he had 24 whiffs on 52 swings against the Tigers in a 4-2 loss. Bieber had 17 combined whiffs on 33 swings with the slider and curveball. I wouldn’t read too much into this start because it was the Tigers. The increased slider usage is important, but I wonder why he’s not throwing the curveball more. At this point, Bieber needs to go all Kluber and throw 65-70% sliders/curves and limit exposure on the fastball. He’s at 58.8% right now. His curveball spin rate is down substantially, but it’s still a far more effective pitch than the fastball.
As an aside, I really liked the way Alex Faedo’s stuff looked, particularly his changeup to lefties. Fastball command remains an issue, but the changeup and slider are pretty spicy. This matters with another pitcher injury over the weekend to Tarik Skubal, who took a comebacker off the shin. He should be fine, but still. Also, the “E. Rodriguez” on the board for Detroit today is Elvin, not Eduardo.
Rangers/Astros: Jose Urquidy is not known as a swing-and-miss guy, but he had 20 whiffs in 52 swings yesterday against the Rangers with 10 strikeouts. This Texas offense remains awful. This series only had 19 runs over four games and Minute Maid Park has allowed an average of just 6.35 runs per game. Houston has scored 3.7 R/G at home and 4.7 R/G on the road.
Twins/Royals: The Royals blew a 6-0 lead to lose 7-6 to the Twins yesterday after Brady Singer danced around hard contact to throw seven shutout innings. Seventeen of Minnesota’s 31 balls in play were hit at least 95 mph, including seven in two innings against the pen.
I’ll be curious to see how long Mike Matheny leaves Whit Merrifield and his .209 BA and .529 OPS in the leadoff spot. For a team pretty offensively challenged to begin with, something like that makes matters worse.
White Sox/Yankees: The White Sox had a doubleheader sweep of the Yankees on Sunday and allowed just one run over 18 innings. Many have asked me if now is the time to take the White Sox to win the AL Central. I think we still need to be patient. The Twins play next 12 against Tigers and Royals, while the White Sox next 14 are vs. Red Sox, Cubs, Blue Jays, Rays and Dodgers. After that might be the time to do it.
Reds/Blue Jays: This Reds/Blue Jays series finished with 12 total runs in three games. Neither team scored more than three runs in a game. The Blue Jays were 1-for-10 with RISP again on Sunday and 3-for-22 in the series. I don’t know how long this miserable RISP run will go for this team, but it’s starting to make me angry and I’m not even a Toronto fan.
Weather: Not much today. Rain threatens Dodgers/Nationals, but that’s about it. We don’t even have much wind to speak of, so it’s mostly a neutral day for weather.
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.
Rockies at Pirates (-135, 8): If you’re surprised at how big of a favorite the Pirates are in this game, don’t be. First, the Road Rockies Fade has been activated once again. Second, market confidence is very low in Chad Kuhl, who has a 3.86 ERA with a 3.49 xERA and a 3.93 FIP. Kuhl has allowed 11 runs on 15 hits in his last 7.2 innings of work. Along with a 15-cent move on the side, the total has come down from 8.5 to 8 with extra under juice.
Cubs (-125) at Reds: We usually see a lot of line movement against Vladimir Gutierrez, but we’ve only seen about a 10-cent move against him today. Influential bettors aren’t overly fond of Drew Smyly either and the Reds have played a bit better of late. If we didn’t see any fade of Gutierrez at all, it would have sounded alarm bells, but a cautious fade makes sense to me.
Phillies (-135, 8.5) at Braves: We saw very early, well-defined quant sharp line move on this game, as the Phillies jumped 20-25 cents shortly after open. By “quant”, I mean the modeling guys who are always looking ahead to the next day and the next line to manipulate. This line move doesn’t really surprise me.
Brewers at Padres (-110, 8): The lack of a line move does surprise me here. Nick Martinez shows all the signs of negative regression with a 3.89 ERA, 4.66 xERA and FIP. Adrian Houser’s last couple of starts haven’t gone terribly well, but he does have a 3.22 ERA with a 3.69 xERA and a 3.15 FIP. More on this game later.
Tigers at Twins (-200, 8): I don’t see any redeeming qualities in Chris Archer’s profile, but the Tigers offense is terrible and Elvin Rodriguez is on the mound. We’ve seen a 20-25 cent move on the Twins today with those two factors. Rodriguez gave up four runs on three hits in 2.2 innings of relief on April 10 in his MLB debut against the White Sox. In six minor league starts, he has a 3.57 ERA with 21 K and 13 BB in 22.2 innings of work. Truth be told, this line is probably a bit high now, but trusting the Tigers is extremely hard to do.
What I’ll Be Watching
Alex Cobb: There are several signs that Cobb’s 5.61 ERA is going to be on the way down. He has a 1.75 xERA with a 2.67 FIP and a 2.36 xFIP, so all of the other run estimators are in his favor. He’s running a .394 BABIP and a 49.7% LOB%. Those are both extreme outliers unlikely to continue. His Hard Hit% is just 27.4% and he has allowed just one barrel in 73 batted ball events. His BABIP against with the bases empty is .410, as the Giants have allowed the highest BABIP with the bases empty at .317.
This isn’t a very good team defensively, but Cobb has dealt with a lot bad luck given the quality of his command.
Marco Gonzales: Gonzales makes his ninth start of the season today and heads into it with a 3.08 ERA, a 5.17 xERA, a 5.91 FIP and a 4.81 xFIP. In the year of the dead ball, Gonzales has still allowed eight home runs to this point already. Nine of his 22 runs are unearned, which is how we’ve got such a huge discrepancy between his ERA and his other run estimators. He has allowed a .342/.425/.618 slash with a .451 wOBA with the bases empty, but a .203/.256/.405 slash with a .288 wOBA with men on base. He’s running a 12.6% BB% with the bases empty, but a 6.0% BB% with men on base.
He draws a bad Oakland offense today, so it will be interesting to see how these numbers and these wonky splits play out. The A’s are 11-12 on the road, but rank 27th in wOBA at .271 and have the league’s highest K% in that split.
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
Cubs/Reds Over 9 (-115): The only ballpark that has played to its offensive expectations thus far has been the one on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati. In a season when what’s real and what’s expected have not been anywhere close to the same according to Statcast, one constant has been Great American Ball Park. The BA-xBA is + .015, making that one of three ballparks where the batting average is higher than the expected batting average. The SLG-xSLG is + .043, making it the ONLY ballpark with a higher actual SLG than expected SLG.
Drew Smyly has allowed six home runs in his seven starts. His 3.97 ERA and 4.00 xERA are similar, but he does have a 4.48 FIP with the homers. He’s running an 80.3% LOB%, which seems unsustainable with a low 17.8% K%. Smyly’s run metrics are still living on his 9.2 shutout innings to start the season. In his last five starts, he has a 5.55 ERA with a 5.32 FIP, which includes two starts against Pittsburgh and another against a subpar Arizona offense, so it’s not like he’s faced a gauntlet of opposing offenses.
Vladimir Gutierrez might be the worst pitcher in baseball. He has an 8.65 ERA with a 5.48 xERA, a 7.52 FIP and a 6.49 xFIP. He’s given up 25 runs on 32 hits in 26 innings and has as many walks (19) as strikeouts. He’s given up 10 runs in 8.2 innings at home this season in starts against the Padres and Brewers and has a career ERA of 6.60 with a wOBA against of .405 pitching at home. For reference, Bryce Harper ranks ninth in MLB with a .404 wOBA this season.
In the past, this total is probably 9.5 with over juice or 10, but because of the deadened ball and the low run environment, we get a 9 flat here. I don’t think this total takes into account that GABP is playing like its normal self to this point. I’m on the Over 9 here.
Brewers (-105) over Padres: The Padres are certainly playing well right now, but a little bit of a letdown may be in store today after that resounding sweep of the Giants. That’s more speculation on my part than anything else, but the matchup appears to be in Milwaukee’s favor as well.
The Brewers rank third in wOBA against right-handed pitching at .330 and fourth in SLG at .429. Despite one of the higher strikeout rates in baseball against RHP, they’ve still had a lot of success in that split. The Padres have not, coming in 24th in wOBA at .290 with just a .341 SLG. The two teams have similar BB% in that split, so that should cancel out to a degree, even though Adrian Houser’s BB% is a bit higher than Martinez’s.
Martinez has a 3.89 ERA with a 4.66 xERA and FIP, so I’m looking at him as a regression candidate. He actually has a 4.40 ERA in 30.2 innings as a starter, as a scoreless relief appearance has made his numbers look a bit better than they are. He’s allowed a .365 wOBA and a .257/.346/.487 slash in his starts.
Houser only has a 63% LOB%, so that number should go up. He’s also steadily increasing his GB% after getting off to a bit of a slow start. He’s up to 48.1%, still well behind his 59% mark from last season, but he’s forcing the opposition to string hits together to score and that’s harder than ever. Martinez, meanwhile, has given up six homers to Houser’s one.
With Milwaukee in a slight underdog role, they’re worth a look for me tonight.
Royals/Diamondbacks Under 4.5 1st 5 (-110): Chase Field has been one of the ballparks with suppressed offense this season. The average combined score in 21 games at Chase Field has been 6.95 runs. First-year pitching coach Brent Strom seems to have unlocked the command of Zach Davies, who has a 28.6% Hard Hit% and an average exit velocity against of 85.6 mph. That puts Davies in the Top 9% in average exit velo and Top 6% in Hard Hit%.
Greinke has allowed a lot more hard contact and only has 18 strikeouts in 44 innings, but this seems like a pretty premier pitching environment for him, given what we’ve seen from this ballpark thus far. Greinke has also only walked four of the 183 batters that he has faced. For all the hard contact, he has only allowed a Barrel% of 5.7%. Arizona ranks 28th in wOBA against RHP, despite having the league’s third-best BB% at 10.6%, so that gives you an idea of their contact quality against righties. The Royals rank 25th in wOBA against RHP.
This is a little bit of a scary under with a couple of pitch-to-contact guys, but the Diamondbacks and Royals both rank in the top five in FanGraphs’ all-encompassing Def metric for defensive runs above average. Chase Field should also help these two pitchers out. I think you can probably wait on this and maybe get Under 4.5 at even money or maybe find a rogue + 105, but I have to use the line at time of posting. I’m on Under 4.5 for the 1st 5 and I’ll grade it at -110, even though there are some -105s out there.
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.