It’s a Monday and that means it’s time to head back to the grind of Major League Baseball with the daily article. Hopefully you had a Sunday Funday without me and I also hope you checked out The Run Line with myself and host Ben Wilson, as we talked about a lot of baseball betting news and notes (HOUR 1 | HOUR 2).
Nine games are on the betting board for Monday and not a single day game is in sight, which is quite a surprise. We’ve got a few good pitching matchups and some angles I like tonight, so let’s get into the action.
Dodgers/Braves: It was a tough weekend for the Braves. They dropped two of three to the Dodgers and also lost Ronald Acuna Jr. indefinitely on Saturday. They also had plenty of emotional moments to celebrate Freddie Freeman, which Clayton Kershaw seemingly took offense to.
Maybe as somebody who moved away from home for the first time 10 months ago, I just get it. I thought it was an ignorant comment from Kershaw, who has spent his entire career with the Dodgers and couldn’t possibly understand where Freeman, who was drafted at 18 and spent 14 years in the Braves organization, is coming from. I’m not sure if it was some projection or not, as the Dodgers are only 12-10 in June, but, the Dodgers rallied for Sunday’s win after getting shut out for eight innings and still remain atop the NL West.
Meanwhile, the story remains the same for Atlanta. They’ll bludgeon pitchers that can’t strike them out or generate swing and miss, while struggling against those that can.
Cubs/Cardinals: It was a weekend full of injuries. Jack Flaherty left his start early for the Cardinals with shoulder stiffness, leaving the bullpen to shoulder a heavy load. The pen is missing Genesis Cabrera, who is now on the COVID list. This is not a deep Cardinals pen, which we saw yesterday and have seen in other recent games. The Cubs actually took two of three here and are something of a positive regression team.
Reds/Giants: The Reds actually took two of three from the Giants in the Bay Area, as San Francisco looked tired in this series. They’ve had one off day since June 6 and the bullpen has been forced to carry a heavy load. Monday’s off day should be a godsend for that group.
On the Reds side, they’ve got something in Graham Ashcraft, who was terrific on Friday, and Tyler Mahle, who continued his recent surge with a strong effort on Sunday. Since allowing eight runs to the Cubs on a windy May 24 day, Mahle has a 2.45 ERA with a 2.83 FIP in his last six starts.
Phillies/Padres: The Bryce Harper injury is obviously the big story here. Credit to the Phillies for stepping up and winning on Sunday by getting to the Padres pen, but Harper has a 166 wRC + and the Phillies have a 103 wRC + as a team. His loss is almost immeasurable for a team that has to outhit the opposition to win on account of the bad defense and bullpen.
On the Padres side, an injury that grabs no headlines is the one that will take Steven Wilson out for a bit with a bad hamstring. The Padres are a league average offense, but rank fifth in ERA and seventh in FIP. The bullpen has been a huge part of that equation and Wilson had a 3.62 ERA in 26 appearances. We’re seeing more bullpen injuries pop up and those can have a big impact on late-game situations.
Red Sox/Guardians: Regression found the Guardians, at least for a weekend. Cleveland only scored eight runs and got swept by the Red Sox after having such a solid road trip. It was a major “air out of the balloon” situation to come home and get beaten 18-8 by a superior team. The Guardians were 4-for-28 with RISP in the series, so they came back to earth in that department.
Jose Ramirez had his 13-game hitting streak snapped on Saturday, but had three hits on Sunday. He hasn’t homered since June 10, as I wonder if the thumb injury has taken away some of his power. This series was a wake-up call for Cleveland heading into a five-gamer with the Twins. This is what I’d expect from them. They beat up on (and outfox) the bad teams and struggle with the good ones. It’s been their MO for almost a decade now.
Athletics/Royals: The A’s took two of three from the Royals at Kauffman Stadium to improve to 17-21 on the road. They are 8-28 at home. This team remains competitive away from the sadness that is the Coliseum. One important note is that we saw a significant velo drop from Cole Irvin and big drops in spin rate on his fastball and curveball. Something to monitor here for a pitcher in line for negative regression anyway.
Orioles/White Sox: Dylan Cease had 21 whiffs in 49 swings against the Orioles yesterday to keep Chicago from getting swept by the O’s in this four-game set. The White Sox scored just seven runs across the four games. Baltimore’s pitching is legit, but still. That’s a bad look for Chicago, injuries and all. Big start tonight for Lucas Giolito, as I’ll write about shortly.
Mariners/Angels: The biggest update from this series is that the Mariners lost Ty France to injury. France leads the team with 2.3 fWAR and a 157 wRC +. He’s also the team’s leading RBI man and one of the best bat-to-ball hitters in the league with a 13.8% K%. Not a household name, but a big loss for a team that is already 25th in batting average, despite his .314 mark. The Mariners will struggle even more with above average strikeout pitchers now.
Rockies/Twins: The Twins took two of three from the Rockies, but that’s not the story here. Minnesota pitching coach Wes Johnson is taking the same role at LSU. He’ll stay with the Twins through the Cleveland series and then head to the Bayou. This is a huge development. Johnson, known at Arkansas as the “Czar of Velocity”, really elevated this pitching staff and many pitchers have expressly mentioned how much he has helped, including Chris Archer recently. The move seemed to blindside the players and they also found out through social media on the team charter to Cleveland. I don’t know how much it will impact them moving forward, but it is not a good thing for a team I felt was overperforming to begin with.
Blue Jays/Brewers: The Blue Jays need to give the A’s whatever they want for Frankie Montas or give the Reds a king’s ransom for Luis Castillo. Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi aren’t it. Neither guy pitched well against the Brewers this weekend and forced the Toronto pen to throw 186 pitches over the last two games of the series.
Kikuchi also had big velo and spin rate drops in his start, so I think he’s hurt, to go along with not pitching well. His fastball spin rate was down 182 rpm with a 1.1 mph drop, while his slider was down 167 rpm with a 3.4 mph drop. He now ranks in the bottom 2% in Hard Hit% and bottom 1% in exit velo, Barrel%, xERA and xwOBA. The Jays can’t keep running him out there until he gets right.
Weather: Not much to report here. A’s/Yankees might have a late start with some lingering rain, but the rest of the day looks fine. We’ll have a stiff lake breeze blowing in from LF for Twins/Guardians. Wind isn’t really a factor anywhere else.
Injuries: Lots of updates and new injuries from the weekend, so keep an eye on those. Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Marlins at Cardinals (-130, 7.5): We’ve seen about a 10-cent move on Pablo Lopez and the Marlins today. Adam Wainwright has excellent home splits, but it isn’t a big surprise to see the Marlins taking money here with Lopez, who is a betting darling for most influential punters.
Dodgers (-190, 11.5) at Rockies: A little bit surprised to see this total settle at 11.5, as I figured 12 would be the predominant number by the morning. The Dodgers did play late into the night against the Braves in what was a rather emotional series. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dave Roberts gave Freddie Freeman the day off today, so this line could drop even more. It’s already moved down about 10 cents in support of Chad Kuhl, as Tyler Anderson goes back to where it all started at Coors Field.
Rangers (-135, 8.5) at Royals: This line stinks. It’s as fishy as can be. Martin Perez has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season and Kris Bubic has not. Yet Perez and the Rangers are just favored in the -130s against a Royals team that just lost a series at home to the A’s. This one just looks off and when that’s the case, I usually stay the hell away.
What I’ll Be Watching
Lucas Giolito: Giolito got talked about quite a bit on The Run Line last night. He has a 5.40 ERA with a 5.23 xERA and a 5.08 FIP. He also has a 3.72 xFIP, but the problem with xFIP is that it assumes a league average HR/FB%. That assumes a pitcher can have average command. Giolito has not had that. He’s allowed 15 HR in 63.1 innings. Home runs don’t count towards BABIP and he still has a .360 BABIP against because of a 47.2% Hard Hit% and a 12.5% Barrel%.
Giolito’s 23.6% changeup usage is his lowest since 2018. He’s throwing more sliders this season, but he hasn’t located the pitch well and it has a low spin rate for a slider. He’s sacrificed changeup usage, even though opposing batters hit .218 with a .383 SLG last season, .157 with a .270 SLG in 2020 and .190 with a .360 SLG in 2019. Giolito’s vertical release point is at a career low this season, which makes me wonder if there’s a wear-and-tear injury to consider. His fastball velocity is down and his spin rates are also down. He ranked in the 74th percentile in exit velo last season, 83rd in Hard Hit% and 66th in Barrel%. This season, he ranks in 12th, 7th and 5th percentiles in those three stats.
The Santa Monica native and Harvard-Westlake product will have friends and family in the stands tonight in what is a big start for him.
Tyler Anderson: Anderson has plenty of experience pitching at Coors Field and he’s having a terrific season. He has a 3.00 ERA with a 3.10 xERA and a 3.29 FIP in his 72 innings of work. Anderson did struggle at Cincinnati in his last start after the near no-hitter against the Angels. He gave up for runs on five hits and was pulled after 81 pitches, which is about where he was in his three starts before the no-hit bid, where he threw 123 pitches.
The Rockies have been one of the league’s stronger offenses against left-handed pitching this season, especially at home. The Rockies have a .375 wOBA with a .299/.375/.489 slash against lefties at home in 374 plate appearances. In his career at Coors, Anderson has a 4.09 ERA in 239.2 innings, which is actually quite good by Denver standards, but he’s only pitched there for 25 innings from 2019-22. A lot has changed since then and that’s why pitcher vs. team, pitcher in a ballpark, etc. stats are largely meaningless.
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
Athletics Run Line (+ 1.5) (+ 130) vs. Yankees: The A’s are getting + 135 to win or lose by one run tonight and I think this is a worthwhile bet tonight. Obviously the Yankees have the best record inn baseball to this point, but they’re coming off of a very important series against the Astros and had a big walk-off win on Sunday. I’ve talked about some of the areas of negative regression coming for New York, including the fact that they have fared so well in close games and games where the offense has been held down.
Paul Blackburn has the chance to hold this offense down. He has a 2.97 ERA with a 3.40 FIP in his 75.2 innings of work. He’s coming off of his worst start of the season, which is a little bit concerning, but that was a Mariners team seeing him for the second time in a month. He just didn’t locate well and that happens. What I really like about Blackburn today is that righties are only batting .207/.258/.303 with a .251 wOBA in 156 plate appearances. The Yankees go as righties Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge go, so Blackburn at least has a better chance than most at holding them at bay. This isn’t just an Oakland park factor thing either, as Blackburn has a .194 wOBA against in 85 road plate appearances for righties.
I mentioned it earlier, but the A’s are 17-21 on the road. They’ve been rather competitive away from the sadness of all the empty green seats at the Coliseum. The A’s have only been outscored by 14 runs in those 38 road games. Along with their 17 wins, they also have eight one-run losses on the road. If the bullpen was better, I’d consider the big moneyline price.
I think it’s also possible that one of Judge or Stanton gets a day off after the big weekend set with Houston, so that could help Oakland’s projection as well.
Jordan Montgomery has had some serious Cluster Luck this season, as he’s holding opponents to a .186 wOBA in 57 PA with runners in scoring position. Oakland actually ranks 10th in wOBA on the road against left-handed pitchers this season and should be able to have eight or nine righties in the lineup against Montgomery, who has allowed all nine of his home runs and 11 of his 12 doubles to righties.
The primary play here is A’s + 1.5 at + 130. I think a minor sprinkle on the moneyline isn’t a bad bet and I’ve seen + 2.5 at -120, which I also think is decent. For me, the + 1.5 at + 130 is a good middle ground, so that’s the pick here.
Orioles (+ 135) over Mariners: Had this one circled last night and I’ll follow through with it as the O’s head up to T-Mobile Park to face the M’s. George Kirby and Tyler Wells are the listed starters here, as the teams kick off a weekday set. Wells has been a pleasant find for the Orioles, as he’s worked 64.2 innings with a 3.34 ERA and a 4.28 FIP. The high FIP is a byproduct of a low strikeout rate, but there isn’t much to complain about otherwise.
Wells stands 6-foot-8, so he can be a tough matchup for teams seeing him for the first time, which is the case here for the Mariners. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since his first career start on April 10 when the Rays scored four runs off of him. Even with three starts against the Yankees and a start against Toronto, Wells has a Hard Hit% of 37.3% and a Barrel% of just 6.9%. Those are the top two teams in Hard Hit% and have made a lot of violent contact off of starters, but Wells has stayed off the barrel effectively this season. The Mariners are 27th in Hard Hit%.
Kirby has pitched well for the Mariners in his nine starts with a 3.12 ERA and a 3.83 xERA. However, Kirby has a pretty limited arsenal and the Orioles have seen him once already. He threw six shutout innings, but had his second-highest exit velocity against in that start, so some batted balls just got hit at people. His Barrel% is over 10% and his Hard Hit% is almost 42%. The Orioles, quietly, rank eighth in Hard Hit%, despite some pretty good arms in the AL East.
The Orioles also have a very strong bullpen when their primary relievers are available and Felix Bautista and Jorge Lopez are both well-rested here. Dillon Tate should also be available after having yesterday off. With a big plus-money price on Baltimore, they’re worth the gamble today, especially with the Mariners missing a key player like France. There could also be some more supplementary discipline discussed from yesterday’s fracas, though there would probably be some appeals made. Either way, the Mariners are coming off of an emotional series against a division rival and now face a team that I think is better than its record in the Orioles. I’ll take + 135 with all that in mind.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.