It is an unusually busy Monday on the diamond, but teams just had a few days off for the All-Star Break and will be looking to make up for lost time on July 25. A dozen games are on the betting board, with just six teams idle, including the White Sox and Mets, who are also off on Thursday.
Before we get to the action, take some time today to check out the latest edition of The Run Line, with myself and host Ben Wilson. We chatted about a lot of baseball betting topics for a couple hours last night and you can get the on-demand version here. HOUR 1 | HOUR 2
Cubs/Phillies: Could we say that, ahem, the Phillies “Faltered” over the weekend? Bailey Falter got the nod on Sunday and gave up three homers and four runs over five innings, which wound up being enough run support for Drew Smyly and friends. The Phillies weren’t just swept by the Cubs, they were outscored 25-7 in the series. Now they face the Braves, so we’ll see if they can bounce back.
Marlins/Pirates: Maybe Don Mattingly’s impassioned speech worked, as Miami found its offensive stride with 15 runs over three games in Pittsburgh. They even scored six runs in support of Sandy Alcantara on Sunday, who had his win swiped by a blown save in the ninth. He struck out 10 over six solid innings.
It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows in the Steel City for the Fish, though. Max Meyer left after throwing 10 pitches on Saturday in a game where the Marlins were shut out by Jose Quintana. Meyer left with the dreaded “elbow discomfort” initial diagnosis, so we’ll have to see how severe his injury is. He’s only thrown six MLB innings, but has dominant numbers at the minor league level.
Cardinals/Reds: Given what we know about the Cardinals heading to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays, that makes this series loss that much worse. With Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado unvaccinated and unable to face the Blue Jays, St. Louis heads north of the border after losing two of three to the Reds. Steven Matz was also hurt again in the series.
On the Reds side, Tyler Mahle only allowed two hits (both homers) over his six innings in his first MLB start since July 2.
Rockies/Brewers: The Brewers prevailed, but Josh Hader struggled again, allowing a run on two hits with a couple strikeouts in his lone inning of relief. Milwaukee swept the weekend with wins of 6-5, 9-4 and 10-9, but it wasn’t exactly the most impressive performance. The Rockies scoring 18 runs in three road games was rather interesting, though, as they had scored just over three runs per game on the road. Maybe that’s not a great sign for Brewers pitching moving forward. This is a wraparound series with Game 4 today.
Giants/Dodgers: It was a weekend to forget at Dodger Stadium for the Giants. Los Angeles swept the four-game set and pushed the Giants down further in the NL West standings and in the NL Wild Card standings as well. Bad defense and bad relief work were the main culprits, but it was a really disappointing start to the second half for a team that clearly needs some Trade Deadline assistance.
Every Dodgers hitter recorded at least one hard-hit ball in Sunday’s game. The Giants had very little hard contact to show for the weekend and scored just 13 runs over the four games. The offense isn’t good enough this season to compensate for the team’s other issues and it shows.
Padres/Mets: The Mets scored a big Sunday Night Baseball win with a big offensive outburst in the sixth inning against Joe Musgrove. I noted as we were doing The Run Line that Musgrove’s spin rates seemed to be dropping a bit during the game and the third time through the order penalty got him. On the other side, Carlos Carrasco’s velocity was down in his first start in 10 days. That’ll be something you want to watch for with pitchers over the next few days, as they will be pitching with a little rust after the Break.
Blue Jays/Red Sox: The Red Sox have some soul-searching to do. After losing 27-3 to the Yankees in the last two games prior to the Break, Boston had more defensive miscues and bad pitching in the sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays. The Red Sox only managed 10 runs in the three games and allowed 40, including the 28-run outburst on Friday night. Boston is getting very little starting pitching and a lot of bad relief work, but the defensive mistakes simply have to stop.
Rafael Devers is also on the IL with a bum hamstring, taking away their best hitter from the lineup. Times are really tough right now, but the Red Sox now face the Guardians and that could bring some hope. Boston is 12-29 against the AL East and 36-19 against everybody else.
Yankees/Orioles: It was big for New York to see a strong start from Nestor Cortes against an Orioles lineup that has seen him multiple times this season. The Yankees have had a lot of bad news on the pitching front, but Cortes scattered six hits over six shutout innings with seven strikeouts. Ron Marinaccio was also activated from the IL over the weekend, so he’ll likely see an enhanced leverage role with Michael King done for the year.
Rays/Royals: Not a great series loss for the Rays in Kansas City against the Royals. Tampa Bay won 7-3 on Friday, but fell 6-3 and 4-2 in the other two games against Brady Singer and Kris Bubic. Singer had 12 strikeouts over his six innings on Saturday. This Tampa offense looks very suspect between the injuries and the year-to-date performance and it will hurt them on the road in better hitting environments. They’ll still do what they do at home, but I’ll be looking for spots to fade Tampa away from the Sunshine State.
Guardians/White Sox: Cleveland and Chicago split a four-game set that had drama in the first three games, but very little on Sunday. Shane Bieber struggled with six runs allowed over his six innings and 12 hard-hit balls, including three homers. Dylan Cease wasn’t as sharp either with only four strikeouts, but he didn’t allow a run again, as his impressive earned runs streak continued.
Both bullpens had issues in this series and La Russa inexplicably used Kendall Graveman and Liam Hendriks with a big lead, as they each allowed runs on Sunday. This wasn’t a great series for either manager. I didn’t come away impressed with either team.
Rangers/A’s: Paul Blackburn had a big blow-up on Sunday with 10 runs on 10 hits in 4.1 innings. His ERA now sits at 4.35, so any negative regression he had coming came all in one game. Martin Perez threw seven strong for the Rangers, who tried to blow an 11-1 lead after Perez left the game. The A’s hit four home runs over the final two innings to make the game look closer than it was.
After losing 5-4 in Game 1, the Rangers fell to 5-21 in one-run games. They are 43-51 with a positive run differential. They might be a team to watch if they can figure out the bullpen.
Astros/Mariners: The Astros emphatically swatted down the Mariners with a three-game weekend sweep at T-Mobile Park. Seattle came into this series having won 14 in a row, but Julio Rodriguez was sidelined with a bad wrist and Seattle managed just eight runs against Astros pitching. Houston jumped on Robbie Ray for six early runs and coasted until the seventh when Framber Valdez ran out of gas.
Guys like Ray are the ones I’d worry about with extended layoffs. Guys with command that comes and goes or questionable control profiles are likelier to struggle with some rust.
Weather: It isn’t quite as hot and humid around MLB today, so we may not see as much offense. We’ve also got weather concerns in Philadelphia, Boston, Kansas City and Baltimore. We’ve seen some early postponements due to rain and the threat of rain this season, especially in division games, so we’ll see if that happens today.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Marlins at Reds (-130, 9): There are not many believers in the Marlins today. Nick Lodolo and the Reds are out to as high as -130 at some shops for this one against Trevor Rogers. Rogers doesn’t have great numbers this season, but has surprisingly been much worse at home than on the road. Still, bettors are lining up to bet Cincinnati, as Miami’s offense has been one of the worst in baseball against lefties all season long.
Braves (-190, 8) at Phillies: Max Fried is getting a well-defined ace bump here and the Braves draw a southpaw in Ranger Suarez that they should match up pretty well against. This line has jumped upwards of 25-30 cents as if Atlanta is free money today.
Angels at Royals (-105, 8): A pretty steady stream of under money has hit the board for Angels/Royals here. It’ll be Noah Syndergaard and Zack Greinke in the series opener and we’ve gone from 8.5 to 8, with some books even showing 7.5. Winds will be blowing in at Kauffman Stadium with a threat of rain and some very thick air with humidity percentages in the mid-80s. I’m a tad surprised at the move with two pitch-to-contact guys, but I have to respect it.
What I’ll Be Watching
Adrian Sampson: Even with what he’s done this season, Sampson has a 4.89 ERA and a 5.49 FIP in his MLB career over 220.2 innings of work. In five starts and two relief efforts this year, Sampson has a 3.34 ERA with a 3.69 xERA, 3.65 FIP and 4.47 xFIP. His Hard Hit% is down to 34.6% and his Barrel% sits at 5.8%. He’s locating better this season, but I don’t really see any changes in his pitch arsenal or plan of attack that would seem to suggest any of this is real. He has added a little bit velocity this season, but, again, not really enough to sway me. He’s got a decent draw against the Pirates today, so I’ll be checking in to see if something stands out.
Jakob Junis: The Giants need any kind of positive sign that they can find right now. Junis is making his first start since June 10. He allowed three runs on five hits in relief to the Brewers on July 17 and now gets the call against the Diamondbacks. He only threw two innings, so it doesn’t seem like he’ll be able to give San Francisco much length, which is especially concerning after the bullpen was used quite a bit in that Dodgers series. Junis has been good with a 3.06 ERA and a 3.93 FIP in his 50 innings of work, so some good signs would be welcomed.
Nick Pivetta: Because I’m still keeping my volume down with all of the uncertainties around rested pitchers, I’ll add another pitcher to watch here in Pivetta. I mentioned above how the Red Sox are 12-29 against AL East opponents. Pivetta has allowed 20 runs in 13.1 innings in his last three starts against the Yankees twice and the Rays. He has a 7.71 ERA in starts against AL East foes, but a 2.63 ERA against teams outside of the division. He’s allowed at least four runs in seven of his 19 starts and three of those are against the Yankees. He has only walked more than two batters once in a start against a non-AL East opponent and he struck out 10 in that game (Angels, 6/19). This seems like a good set of numbers to know for the rest of the season.
I’d probably be on the Red Sox today, but with Devers out and J.D. Martinez out the last three games with a bad back, it’s a tough bet to make.
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
Rockies (+ 170) over Brewers: I’ll take a shot here with the Rockies in the matchup between Kyle Freeland and Aaron Ashby. The Colorado offense has been competent in this series and now draws a southpaw in a matchup that may not be all that bad for them. I wrote above about how some guys look like they have the chance to struggle with extended downtime. To me, Ashby profiles as one of those guys.
He’s effectively erratic. His raw stuff is great, but he can have major control problems and I don’t see him pitching that deep into this game. Ashby has only thrown one relief innings since July 13, so he’s effectively on 11 days rest and just got a nice contract to set him up for life a couple of days ago. He’s got some sparkling peripherals, but his ERA is 4.57 because he allows a lot of baserunners and has a .339 BABIP against because the Brewers are not a very good defensive team around the infield. They rank 24th in Outs Above Average on the infield and have even more problems against right-handed batters, with -10 OAA in that split. The Rockies will be able to throw a lot of righties out there today and have had more success this weekend on offense than they have in most road series.
Kyle Freeland has not pitched well at Coors Field, but is the owner of a .302 wOBA against in his 46 innings away from home this season. His K% is higher and his BB% is lower on the road as well. He has an ERA of 4.11, but a 3.87 FIP in that split, as low LOB% numbers have hurt his run metrics all season long. Milwaukee ranks 23rd in wOBA against LHP.
In other words, this line is simply too high. Ashby will likely put some additional strain on the bullpen and middle relief has been an area of concern for Milwaukee throughout the season. This just looks like a good opportunity to take a shot on a dog that has a better chance to win than what the line implies in my estimation, so I’ll take the pup and grade it at + 170.
Astros/Athletics Over 8 (-110): The Astros just put a hurting on the Mariners and I do have some mild concerns about a letdown, but the matchup against Adam Oller should give Houston plenty of baserunners. Oller is making his second straight start against the Astros after allowing three runs on six hits in 4.1 innings of work. It was his first MLB start since May 14, but he had been working as a starter in the minors.
Oller has walked 19 and struck out 18 in his 27.1 innings at the MLB level this season, so the Astros should be patient with him in this second look. He’s also allowed eight homers out of his 35 hits as a very extreme fly ball guy. Oakland Coliseum can and will suppress power, but he’s also had two of his three worst starts at home this season against the Rangers and Angels. With Houston seeing him for the second time in just over a week, I expect they’ll have a good plan of attack.
The wild card here is whether or not the A’s can hit Jake Odorizzi. Like the Astros with Oller, the A’s are seeing Odorizzi for the second straight time. He allowed three runs on five hits in 5.1 innings. If the A’s can get me to 3, I like my chances with this over. The A’s still aren’t great offensively by any means, but do have a 105 wRC + over the last 14 days, so they’re at least showing some signs of life.
The Oakland bullpen is also pretty poor and I think the Astros will try to get by with some of their lesser relievers, especially if Odorizzi fails to work deep into the game. I can’t see Oller working deep into the game either, but he should give Houston plenty of chances until he exits. It’s tough to take overs in Oakland, but with two fly ball guys on a humid night with a breeze blowing out and tons of balls in play, this one feels like a worthwhile endeavor. Over 8 at -110 is tonight’s other play.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.