One week removed from the Memorial Day holiday, we’ve only got six MLB games on the board on June 6. Days off are really special for teams right now because they don’t have a lot of them during this stretch, as a lot of teams have played scheduled doubleheaders because of the lockout and others have been making up rainouts from earlier in the season. A lot of teams are playing some variation of X number of games in X number of days, give or take a game or a day here and there, so these off days are huge, especially for relievers.
Let’s recap the weekend and then look at today’s action. With a small card, I’d also encourage you to check out last night’s edition of The Run Line, as I hosted with former MLB pitcher Josh Towers on the desk with me. (HOUR 1 | HOUR 2)
Diamondbacks/Pirates: Zach Thompson threw five shutout innings against the Diamondbacks and outdueled Zac Gallen to give the Buccos a series win at home. The season didn’t start out well for Thompson, who allowed 21 runs over his first four starts, but he has only allowed seven over his last seven appearances. He still has a 4.60 ERA and a 4.81 FIP while digging out of that early hole, but he’s been quite good of late. He’s a guy I liked coming into the season and maybe wrote off a little too quickly.
Nationals/Reds: Baseball is a funny game. The Reds were historically bad to start the season, but then ran into the Pirates and got back on track. The Nationals had been really bad, but now ride a three-game winning streak into this week after winning this series over the Reds. Cincinnati’s bullpen melt on Saturday cost us, as I opted for the Reds as opposed to the over, which, of course, cashed easily. These are two not great offenses and each team scored at least eight runs twice in the series. Great American Ball Park is still doing its thing.
Giants/Marlins: The turnarounds for Martin Perez and Tyler Anderson are getting a lot of love, but the one for Jakob Junis is not. Junis gave up one run on two hits and struck out eight to lower his ERA to 2.51. He’s throwing his slider 54.5% of the time and opposing batters are hitting .168 with a .274 SLG on the pitch. Even lefties are only batting .219 with a .469 SLG. He is using a changeup 26% of the time against lefties and I’d expect that to continue as he tries to neutralize the platoon splits.
Righties are batting .143 with a .175 SLG on the SL. Junis is definitely a guy to back against a right-handed-heavy lineup, so let’s file that one away and hope to find a good spot.
Padres/Brewers: The Padres took three of four from the Brewers over the weekend, including a couple of shutouts in the middle games and a near no-hitter from Joe Musgrove. Mike Clevinger returned on Sunday and had 13 whiffs over just three innings. The only hit he allowed was a Kolten Wong leadoff homer. MacKenzie Gore punched 10 tickets over six innings on Saturday. The pitching on this Padres team is absurd and they may have more staying power than I originally thought, despite the lackluster offense.
Cardinals/Cubs: It was a really neat experience watching this game live with Josh Towers last night on The Run Line. I’m a numbers guy and a self-proclaimed nerd, but the perspective you get from a player is a true learning experience.
Last night’s game was interesting. Justin Steele turned over a lineup for the fourth time, something he had not done at any point this season, and commanded the zone well. Adam Wainwright pitched around nine hits over seven innings. Genesis Cabrera went 58 pitches in four innings for the win. You don’t really see managers stick with guys that long. Usually, a manager throws a guy one and done and that’s it. Props to Oliver Marmol, who seems to be doing an excellent job as the Cardinals skipper, for pushing Cabrera to get the win. It is a good thing that those two teams have today off. Both bullpens were worked in this series.
Braves/Rockies: The Braves got just what the doctor ordered out of their trip to Denver. Atlanta came away with a four-game sweep and scored 30 runs in the process. It wasn’t always easy with some extra-inning wins, but the Braves scored 45 runs on this seven-game trip and now host Oakland and Pittsburgh at home before facing the Nationals and Cubs on the road. This is a huge stretch and they’ve done well to get over .500 and maybe start to put a little pressure on the Mets and the Wild Card teams.
Mets/Dodgers: What an enormous split for the Metropolitans, as they won games started by Walker Buehler and Julio Urias to go 2-2 in one of their first big tests in a while. I would have liked to see Edwin Diaz come back out for the ninth after only throwing 15 pitches against the top of the order in the eighth, as Seth Lugo blew the game working back-to-back days. Still, the Mets really persevered nicely in the last two games and that said a lot to me about this team. Obviously 37-19 should say something, but I still had questions. They answered some this weekend.
Tigers/Yankees: The Yankees swept the Tigers by a combined score of 21-4 to extend their winning streak out to six games in a row. I’m waiting to see what happens when the schedule stiffens up from June 14-26 with the Rays, Jays, Rays again and Astros. The Yankees have played a very weak schedule, but they’ve also done what they’re supposed to do and dominated those games and those teams. They just find ways to win. Their starters work deep into games. The offense does just enough. The bullpen is excellent. It’s hard to find flaws with this team.
The Tigers? Well, they’re flawed as can be, but they do still battle to the best of their ability. Javier Baez looks like an awful signing, though, and they’re stuck with him until 2028 at 6/140. He’s now batting .198/.234/.305. Woof.
Guardians/Orioles: Back-to-back good starts for Zach Plesac should be a good sign for the Guardians, who are one game under .500 as they continue to scrap and claw. Eli Morgan is a legit (dare I say elite?) bullpen weapon and they’ve turned some ex-starters into quality relievers. I think we saw flashes from both teams in this series of what is coming down the line and it starts with pitching.
As an aside, the Guardians continued to do what I said earlier this week. They’ll fare well against teams on their level or worse and struggle with teams better than them. It’s been their MO for a while and that’ll likely continue.
Twins/Blue Jays: The Twins took two of three from a surging Toronto team over the weekend. This was not much of a series on the pitching side, as each game featured at least 12 runs. The Twins offense might be fine, but they desperately need to do something about this starting staff. Minnesota needed 16.2 innings from the bullpen in this series. Chi Chi Gonzalez, Dylan Bundy and Devin Smeltzer aren’t really getting you anywhere. If I’m Derek Falvey, I’m calling Oakland every single day about Frankie Montas.
White Sox/Rays: A nice series win for the South Siders, though they didn’t make it easy on themselves after plating six over 1.2 innings against Ryan Yarbrough on Sunday. They’re still fighting through a lot of things and Yoan Moncada just can’t get healthy, but you can see flashes from this team. That weak schedule in the second half stays on my mind.
Astros/Royals: I’ll just hit every series today with the small card and no article on Sunday, as we keep rolling along with Astros/Royals. Houston seems prone to taking a day off here and there. The team has only lost eight games since May 2, but all eight losses have been by three or more runs. They’ve only lost consecutive games once in that span. Saturday was their “off day” with a 6-0 loss to Kris Bubic and the pen. The Astros aren’t priced daily like the Dodgers or the Yankees, but maybe they should be.
Mariners/Rangers: Martin Perez fired six strong innings again, but the Matt Bush had a meltdown and the Rangers blew a 5-2 lead in the ninth. It feels like when the Mariners win, it’s the same as finding a $20 bill on the ground. They’re playing a lot better of late with a 7-3 record over the last 10, but they’ve had some fluky wins. I’m still not sure this team is all that good.
Slowly but surely, Marcus Semien is coming out of it. Over his last 82 PA dating back to May 18, he’s slashing .267/.317/.440 with a .330 wOBA and a 119 wRC +. He’s had at least one hit in 14 of those 18 games. If he can get the bat going more consistently, there is hope for this offense.
Red Sox/A’s: Frankie Montas got no help from his defense, as only one of the four runs he allowed against the Red Sox was earned. He struck out seven and had 16 whiffs in six innings. The A’s offense was inept once again. Montas is improving his trade stock with each passing start. The Red Sox, by the way, are up to .500 now following the sweep of Oakland. What a huge turnaround from this bunch as the bats got going. If the playoffs started today, they’d be the final Wild Card.
Angels/Phillies: What a devastating loss for the Angels on Sunday. What a jubilant win for the Phillies, who finally watched somebody else’s bullpen take one on the chin. Philadelphia is 4-0 since Joe Girardi was fired, which probably has more to do with the Angels and less to do with the Phillies. The Angels have lost 11 in a row and that had to be a long, miserable flight back to Anaheim.
I’m curious to see what this does to the Phillies and their prices. Their four-game winning streak is a season-high and many scapegoated Girardi. I’m still not convinced this is a good baseball team and the Brewers are not an easy assignment this week.
Weather: Only six games on the board today, but two are very threatened by rain. Diamondbacks/Reds and Rangers/Guardians are the two in the spotlight, as storms are likely along the I-71 corridor. D-Backs/Reds looks worse, but both could either start late or be canceled altogether.
Injuries: We’re seeing a lot more injuries these days. A lot of position players and pitchers are dealing with soft tissue things. Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Mets at Padres (-115, 7.5): We’re seeing some love for the Padres and a little bit of over money in this game at Petco Park. I think bettors want to fade the Mets off of the nice victory on Sunday and also see some encouraging indicators from Blake Snell, who has a 4.80 ERA, but a 3.33 xERA and a 4.07 FIP through three starts
Rangers at Guardians (-110, 9.5): The betting market does not really like Cal Quantrill and we’re seeing some early interest in Jon Gray and the Rangers. Quantrill’s K/BB numbers are not particularly strong and he has a 3.52 ERA with a 4.27 xFIP and a 4.90 xFIP, so the expected metrics do suggest some negative regression. Meanwhile, Gray has a 4.83 ERA with a 4.05 xERA and a 3.52 xFIP, so he’s got indicators going the other way. The total has also touched 9.5 across most of the market after opening 8.5.
Mariners at Astros (-165, 8): Any under move is noteworthy these days and we’ve got one here between the Mariners and Astros. The 20 games at Minute Maid Park have only averaged 6.4 runs per contest. The Astros have scored just 3.65 runs per game at home, but have also only allowed 2.75. It will be Robbie Ray and Cristian Javier in that one.
Red Sox at Angels (-115, 9): Money is hitting the board on Boston here, as Michael Wacha and Noah Syndergaard are the listed starters. Thor has pitched pretty well overall, but has struggled a bit lately. Seeing money on Wacha, who has a 2.43 ERA with a 3.83 xERA, a 4.12 FIP and a 4.39 xFIP is a big tell, though. Bettors have been against him in recent starts, but not today, despite those obvious signs of impending negative regression.
What I’ll Be Watching
Blake Snell: Snell has allowed eight runs on eight hits with an 18/8 K/BB ratio over his three starts. He was actually pushed through six innings in his most recent start and pitched into the sixth in his second start. We normally don’t see Snell as a guy that works deep into games, but completing six innings against a Cardinals lineup that hits lefties well was impressive. Now he draws a Mets lineup that has overperformed, but does put a lot of balls in play. It’s an interesting matchup and another good test for Snell.
Ross Stripling: With Hyun Jin Ryu on the IL, Stripling slots back into the Toronto rotation. He’s been a very valuable pitcher throughout his career and is making his sixth start of the season. He has a 4.22 ERA with a 3.36 xERA and a 3.30 FIP in 32 innings. His 67.9% LOB% is holding him back in the ERA department, but everything else looks good with a Hard Hit% of 32.7% and a better pitch mix this season with fewer fastballs and more changeups and sliders. His SwStr% is up to 11.8%, which suggests his K% could improve.
The only thing for Stripling is that he hasn’t thrown more than 2.2 innings since May 7, so he’ll likely be a bit limited here. He went four innings in four starts and five in one before settling back into a relief role in mid-May.
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
Diamondbacks (+ 100) over Reds: You can find some plus-money prices on Arizona, with one book as high as + 106, but most are in the 102-103 range. I’ll split the difference and call it even money for tracking purposes, since there are some -105s out there as well. Shop around for the best odds as always. It really does matter a lot, regardless of sport.
Say what you will about the Arizona offense, but there are a lot of reasons to think that they can match up fairly well with Hunter Greene. The Diamondbacks have the third-highest BB% in baseball and Greene has walked 24 batters in 48 innings. He also has 64 K, but the Diamondbacks are 10th in SwStr% and third in O-Swing%, so they don’t really chase a whole lot. Most of Greene’s whiffs have been fastballs or sliders in the zone, but because he has poor command, he’s allowed 15 homers in his 10 starts. He’s also only worked 13.2 innings at home with a .268/.388/.518 slash against and a .396 wOBA.
Greene is also averaging fewer than five innings per start, which pushes a bad Reds bullpen into the equation. Only Colorado has a higher ERA (5.18) than the Reds at 4.92 and things have not been much better recently with a 5.36 ERA over the last 14 days.
Madison Bumgarner is a little scary with a 3.31 ERA, a 4.44 xERA and a 4.92 FIP, but he’s the lesser of two evils here. Bumgarner has allowed some homers and some hard contact, but has a better defense behind him and doesn’t exacerbate his command problems by issuing walks. He also has a lower Barrel% than Greene, which I think ends up the difference here.
The difference could also be an improved Arizona bullpen that has looked better over the last few weeks. Also, if the rain comes in-game and causes a delay, the Diamondbacks pen should have the upper hand in that scenario, even if I do prefer Bumgarner to Greene.
The odds are high that this game gets postponed, but I do like the Diamondbacks and nothing else on the card. I didn’t want to leave readers empty-handed. Hopefully it gets played and plays out the way I’ve outlined, as I’ll take Arizona as a dog today. Shop around and get the best plus-money price you can.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.