Nine games are on the card for Monday, as a new week begins and some new series get underway. We’ve got a couple of excellent pitching matchups in Atlanta and Tampa, but also the potential for one in Milwaukee, depending on how Miles Mikolas responds after throwing 129 pitches in search of a no-hitter last time out.
Hopefully all you dads out there enjoyed your Sunday holiday. Ben Wilson and I enjoyed doing last night’s edition of The Run Line and we encourage you to check out the episode. (HOUR 1 | HOUR 2)
Phillies/Nationals: Philadelphia took four of five in the elongated series from Washington, but lost Sunday’s finale. Zach Eflin was pulled after 38 pitches and two innings, as he allowed four runs on five hits. Eflin is battling a knee injury and just didn’t look sharp yesterday. It was concerning to see the Phillies only scratch out three runs against Jackson Tetreault, but it was one of those days, as they hit 13 balls hard, but only managed singles on the high-velocity contact.
Giants/Pirates: The Giants took two of three in Pittsburgh, but the Pirates remain a scrappy bunch, as all three games were close. Alex Cobb left after four innings and 60 pitches yesterday coming off of the IL. He only had two whiffs in 23 swings, so the stuff wasn’t terribly sharp.
Pirates closer David Bednar threw 32 pitches for a multi-inning win after a blown save in the top of the ninth. It’s great that he’s being used multiple innings, but keep that in mind regarding his availability the next day or days after.
Brewers/Reds: The Brewers swept the Reds by an 18-10 count over the weekend to get back on track before a big series against the Cardinals. Willy Adames has already had a positive impact since returning. He’s not hitting for a high average or OBP, but he’s hit for some power and has played a very good SS. Milwaukee gets Josh Hader back from the paternity list today and has Corbin Burnes on the bump, so things are looking up for the Brew Crew.
Marlins/Mets: Chris Bassitt ran out of steam in a five-run seventh, as the Marlins downed the Mets to avoid the sweep. Sandy Alcantara fired eight excellent innings to stay atop the NL Cy Young race at most shops. One interesting note is that the Marlins stole eight bases off of catcher Tomas Nido in this series. Base-stealers are now 21-for-23 off of Nido this season, who took over full-time catching duties when James McCann went out last month. It took me a while to notice this, but teams that like to run may get a bump against the Mets.
Braves/Cubs: The Braves struck out 31 times in the weekend set against the Cubs, managing to win only the series finale. Atlanta really struggled to generate a lot of offensive chances in this series and you really do have to wonder what happens now that they’re getting back to playing better teams. They get Logan Webb and the Giants tonight with Max Fried going at home for Atlanta. The Braves only mustered 19 AB with RISP in the series after the Padres scored 41 runs in four games earlier in the week.
Padres/Rockies: Blake Snell’s third time through the order penalty came to the forefront yesterday in a five-run fifth for the Rockies. The big story, though, was Manny Machado leaving the game with a sprained ankle. It looked really bad in real time, but hopefully Machado will only miss a few weeks. Machado joins fellow NL MVP candidate Mookie Betts on the IL. Machado had already surpassed last season’s fWAR of 4.2 over 153 games with 4.3 over 66 games this season en route to a career year. His loss is astonishingly large for the Padres, as he’s slashing .328/.400/.545 with a .403 wOBA. He also plays elite defense. Massive, massive loss.
Rays/Orioles: The Orioles are 4-9 against the Yankees and 26-29 against everybody else this season. There’s still this perception out there that this is a bad team, but I disagree. I love the bullpen. I love the pitching adjustments. They’re 27-29 in the games with Ryan Mountcastle in the starting lineup, as they really missed his bat when he was out for a bit. All three games in this series were one-run affairs and the Rays became one of the first teams to hit Jeffrey Springs a bit. I really think there’s some chances to make money on this team the rest of the way.
Yankees/Blue Jays: The Yankees did what they set out to do and won the series north of the border, but squandered a big opportunity at a sweep on Sunday. It’s hard to lose a game with nine runs, especially with the Yankees pitching staff, but the Blue Jays came away with the 10-9 win. I do commend Aaron Boone for his management of Clay Holmes and Michael King while so many important relief arms are out. He’s being smart about them and that’s something to keep in mind while New York has an 11-game lead. It could be a live betting angle.
Rangers/Tigers: The Tigers called up Riley Greene this weekend, so now their two top prospects are in the show in Greene and Spencer Torkelson. This season was never really about wins and losses for the Detroit, though I did think they’d be a lot better than this. It was about developing Tork and Greene. Greene has had an immediate impact already, reaching base in six of his nine plate appearances. He was only hitting .274/.338/.387 over 15 games at Triple-A, but the Tigers needed an infusion of talent in the lineup and they got one.
This pitching staff has really battled hard in the face of a lot of SP injuries. The bullpen’s been excellent. We may need to look at betting on the Tigers a little more often with Greene up and some more excitement in the lineup.
On the Rangers side, Marcus Semien is back in the tank and the two starts from Taylor Hearn and Dane Dunning were awful after strong starts by Jon Gray and Martin Perez. The story remains the same for them.
Royals/Athletics: In the Toilet Bowl series sponsored by Scrubbing Bubbles, the Royals took two of three in a set that saw 12 combined runs. The Royals managed three hits and failed to take advantage of six walks in the series finale. They won 2-0 and 5-1 otherwise. The Royals were 5-for-30 with RISP in the series and went 0-for-9 in the finale. The A’s fell to 8-25 at home, where it seems like they’d rather be anywhere else. They host Seattle starting Tuesday.
Angels/Mariners: Speaking of the Mariners, they should have considered not pitching to Mike Trout in this past series. Trout hit five homers and the Angels took four of the five games in the series. The Mariners have not scored in 21 innings and only scored 11 runs in the series, with eight in one game.
For the Angels, Raisel Iglesias, Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera have all pitched three of the last four days and now the Angels host the Royals, so keep that in mind for today’s handicap.
Cardinals/Red Sox: The Cardinals put some cosmetic touches on the scoreboard in their losses, scoring three ninth-inning runs yesterday trailing 6-1 and scoring four of them on Friday, also trailing 6-1. St. Louis is 17-17 on the road now and 21-13 at home. Busch Stadium suppresses offense and helps out their pitch-to-contact staff quite a bit. Something to follow the rest of the way for sure.
Guardians/Dodgers: What a series win for the Guardians against the Dodgers. Four of Cleveland’s runs scored on sacrifice flies in the two wins. They do the little things because they put so many balls in play. It’s allowing them to really outperform their talent level. I’m still not overly fond of this team’s statistical profile, but maybe they won’t have the big drop-off I’ve been anticipating.
Twins/Diamondbacks: Merrill Kelly was excellent in the series finale and had his first start with zero walks since April 30. The Twins are 11-13 over their last 24 games. They’ve been fortunate that only the Guardians have gained ground in the AL Central. All but one of their losses since late May have been on the run line and all but two of their wins have also been on the run line. They’re a high-variance team with swings both ways, which is what you get with bad starting pitching.
Weather: It looks like a great night for baseball across the board.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Giants at Braves (-145, 8): We’ve seen a lot of movement back and forth on Giants/Braves. There are a lot of different opinions on this one. We usually see one-way movement in Max Fried starts with the “ace bump” I always talk about, but we’ve seen enough buyback on Logan Webb to keep this line pretty much where it started at most shops.
Cardinals at Brewers (-170, 7.5): That is not the case here, as we’ve seen one-sided Corbin Burnes money. I can’t disagree with this move. Miles Mikolas is off of back-to-back starts of at least eight innings and threw 129 pitches last time out. Burnes draws a lineup that is far better against lefties than righties and Josh Hader is expected to be activated from the paternity list. Getting this line last night was the play.
Diamondbacks at Padres (-170, 7): The Padres were about a $2 favorite on the overnights, but the absence of Manny Machado is a huge deal. Not only did this total go from 7.5 to 7, but we’ve also seen 15-25 cents of movement on the Arizona side. I conservatively said last night that Machado was probably worth 25 cents to the line, but it may actually be more than that.
Tigers at Red Sox (-180, 9.5): Josh Winckowski and the Red Sox have seen about 15 cents worth of movement for the game against the Tigers. Winckowski is a big favorite in just his third MLB start. This will be Faedo’s ninth. He had strong numbers until giving up seven runs on nine hits in three innings last time out against the White Sox.
Royals at Angels (-190, 9): The total is what stands out to me here, as we’ve seen this line go from 8.5 to 9, even though the Royals offense has managed just 3.74 runs per game. I guess the markets could be wary of Noah Syndergaard’s 3.53 ERA and 4.24 xERA. Kris Bubic has also been awful over his 28 innings.
What I’ll Be Watching
Josh Winckowski: This should be a good matchup for the 23-year-old rookie against the Tigers. Winckowski’s first start against Baltimore was an ugly one, as he allowed a lot of hard contact and four runs on six hits in just three innings. His second start was much stronger. He’s a ground ball guy that projects to have limited swing and miss at the MLB level because over 60% of his usage is comprised of fastballs and he doesn’t really have a third a pitch. He has a 3.38 ERA with a 2.70 FIP in nine starts across 42.2 innings in Triple-A and over a strikeout per inning, but that’s mostly just from being a strike-thrower with some above average velocity. This is a good chance for him to get some confidence today.
Miles Mikolas: I’m watching Mikolas very closely today. Had this line not run out the way that it did, the Brewers would have been a play, but it’s hard to suggest that after such a drastic move. Mikolas is making his first ever MLB start after going at least eight innings in back-to-back starts. He also, as you would expect, threw 129 pitches for the first time ever. His previous high was 115 and that came just four starts ago. Mikolas has thrown 641 pitches over his last six starts, topping 100 pitches four times. That is a heavy workload for a guy that missed three months last season. Today’s price is steep, but I’ll be looking to fade him in upcoming starts as well.
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
Giants/Braves Under 8 (-110): It would appear that the Giants have cracked the code to unlock Logan Webb. The swing-and-miss rate on Webb’s slider has jumped from 26.8% in May up to 35.7% in June, with similar increases on the changeup and four-seam fastball. As you know, I’ve talked at length about how Atlanta’s strikeouts have held this offense down. For the better part of two weeks, they’ve faced a bunch of starters that don’t generate high whiff rates. Webb does and is on the path to being dominant.
Webb’s full-season K% doesn’t show the recent improvements, yet he still has a 3.43 ERA with a 3.40 xERA and a 3.07 FIP in his 78.2 innings of work. His 15.9% K% in April is still holding down the full-season number, as he’s had a 24.2% K% in May and a 25.4% K% in June with a 2.09 FIP in 17.1 innings of work. Atlanta has the second-highest K% against righties at 25.7% and highest SwStr% overall at 13.3%.
It is extremely hard to find a bad word to say about Max Fried. Fried has a 2.90 ERA with a 3.17 xERA and a 2.79 FIP in his 80.2 innings of work. He’s running a career-best BB% at 4.0% and a career-best HR/FB% at 9.8%, if we ignore that 2020 shortened season with a 4.9% HR/FB%. Fried continues to be a ground ball wizard that suppresses hard contact and also has the support of one of the best bullpens in baseball.
I really wanted to take the Giants at the plus-money price today, but in looking at Fried, I couldn’t find a reason to want to bet against him. I knew I wanted to play on Webb in some way (and I think a K prop is a good bet as well), but taking the straight moneyline was tough with Fried on the other side.
These are two guys that induce a lot of ground balls against two lineups that want to elevate the baseball to drive it for power. Combined, Webb and Fried have allowed 11 homers in nearly 160 innings. With an improving Giants pen and a strong Braves pen, I’ll take the Under 8, as both starters should have success tonight.
Yankees/Rays Under 6.5 (-110): Looks like we’re rooting for low-scoring games tonight. I looked up and down this game to see how runs were going to be scored and it was pretty hard to find. As we know, Tropicana Field suppresses offense. Gerrit Cole has allowed 27 runs this season and 18 have come via the long ball. Shane McClanahan has allowed 21 runs and 16 have come via home runs. That’s about the only way to score against these two guys.
Cole only allowed one hard-hit ball six days ago in his start against the Rays with seven strikeouts over six innings. The next day, McClanahan gave up a three-run homer when the inning should have been over and a solo shot for his four runs. He only gave up three hits total and only three hard-hit balls. While these two lineups are getting a second straight look at these two pitchers, these guys are about as dominant as it gets.
Both guys have struck out over 30% of opposing batters and don’t issue many walks. McClanahan also has a Hard Hit% against of just 32.8%. Cole’s is a bit higher at 37.4%, but his start against Minnesota two outings ago really skewed that number. Both starters should be dominant here, but we also have two strong bullpens. Clay Holmes and Michael King are both rested for the Yankees. For all of its moving parts due to injury, the Rays pen still has an ERA under 3 and the top arms are all in good shape for today’s game.
I’ll be rooting for the ultimate pitcher’s duel here and think we should get it down at the Trop, so I’m on Under 6.5.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.