If you like good pitching matchups, Monday’s MLB card is for you. We’ve got some absolute gems on the card, including Musgrove vs. Alcantara, Carrasco vs. Strider, Urias vs. Peralta and Castillo vs. Ohtani. Not too shabby to ease back into the work week.
If you missed The Run Line from last night with me and pinch-hit host Brady Kannon, remedy that situation at your convenience today. HOUR 1 | HOUR 2
Plenty to get to with today’s card after an interesting weekend of baseball.
Padres/Nationals: The Padres drew 18 walks in the three-game series against the Nationals over the weekend. That’s an area in which Juan Soto and Josh Bell really help, so San Diego’s offensive projections should go up with the increase in baserunners. They lost the middle game 4-3, but drew eight walks to go with eight hits and went 2-for-12 with RISP with 13 runners stranded, so that game could’ve gone differently as well. Against below average control guys, their team total overs are reasonable bets.
Braves/Marlins: Miami has now scored three or fewer runs in 15 straight games and 24 of the last 28. They face Joe Musgrove today, so the streak has a decent shot at continuing. They are batting .224/.284/.330 as a team in the second half with just a 6.8% BB%. Pitchers aren’t afraid to go right at them and it shows.
Phillies/Mets: The Mets are 17-3 in their last 20 games after a 6-0 win over the Phillies. Philadelphia scored just two runs in the series and was lucky to get away without getting swept, but the Mets also scored just eight runs. New York’s pitching staff is so strong now and they’re going to be able to deploy starters like David Peterson and maybe even Tylor Megill in middle relief roles come playoff time. For my money, they’re the only team that can beat the Dodgers in the NL.
Cubs/Reds: Keegan Thompson only lasted 70 pitches and got just five outs on Sunday. Thompson exceeded 100 innings in that start for the first time since 2018. I wonder if there are some plans in place to watch his innings during a lame-duck season for the Cubs. His velocity was down and he only had five whiffs in 36 swings. I hope there isn’t an injury situation here.
Brewers/Cardinals: St. Louis stayed hot with a series win over the Brewers by taking Sunday’s rubber match between Aaron Ashby and Miles Mikolas. The Brewers had another bullpen melt in the eighth when Taylor Rogers gave up four runs and only recorded two outs. Milwaukee did very little against Mikolas, who got blasted at Coors Field in his previous start. They also did nothing against Adam Wainwright in Saturday’s win. The Brewers could’ve used a little more offense at the Trade Deadline, but failed to get any.
Diamondbacks/Rockies: All three games stayed under in Colorado between the Snakes and Rockies. Sunday’s had a good chance with 24 AB with RISP, but both teams struggled to get timely hits. The Diamondbacks are 7-3 in their last 10 against the Rockies, Pirates and Rockies again. The schedule ramps up a bit now, so let’s see how they fare with the Giants, Cardinals, Royals, White Sox and Phillies to finish August.
Pirates/Giants: Speaking of the Pirates and Giants, their series wrapped up on Sunday with an 8-7 SF win. Pittsburgh is 6-15 in the second half with a random sweep over the Brewers right after the Trade Deadline and only three wins otherwise. From now through September 21, Pittsburgh only plays two teams (Boston, Cincinnati) not currently in a playoff spot. It could be really ugly in that stretch.
Guardians/Blue Jays: The Guardians scored five runs on nine hits off of Kevin Gausman to take the rubber match and wrap up a strong 5-1 road trip. This seven-game homestand is huge with four against the Tigers and three against the White Sox. I’m still not convinced about this team, but I’m just trying to enjoy the ride.
The Blue Jays, on the other hand, are really underperforming at this point. The lineup seems to be going in reverse, as they’ve been picking up scraps and castoffs like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bradley Zimmer. I’m not sure what’s going on here. They’re also way too right-handed-heavy and easier to pitch to than they should be. This is a top-heavy rotation, a bullpen that can’t seem to consistently pitch well and a team without a manager. I’m thoroughly concerned that they will continue to struggle the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs, assuming they don’t collapse enough to fall out of a spot.
Orioles/Rays: Drew Rasmussen was pulled after 33 pitches last time out, as it seemed like the Rays wanted to limit his innings as a guy that has battled injuries and will top 100 innings for the first time in his career with his next start. Then he went out and threw eight perfect innings and Tampa Bay let him go. Let’s see what they do with him in his next start later this week. I would guess it’s an early exit or maybe an opener for him.
Athletics/Astros: Oakland swept Houston last week at the Coliseum, so the Astros returned the favor in this series, with all three wins on the run line. Houston has this remarkable ability to just flip a switch when desired and that’s what seemed to happen here.
Mariners/Rangers: Logan Gilbert registered a quality start in the Sunday finale, but “quality” is a misnomer. He walked four over six innings and allowed three runs on five hits. Gilbert has been struggling quite a bit lately. He’s not allowed 16 runs on 22 hits with nine walks and just nine strikeouts over his last three starts. There were lots of regression signs in the profile, but also, he’s set a new career high in innings pitched. He threw over 130 in 2019 across three minor league levels, but pitching at the MLB level is a different kind of stress. I’m curious to see how Seattle plays this with him because they don’t have any starting pitching depth, but are also staring at Gilbert having a huge innings increase.
Twins/Angels: Another “four and hit the door” from Chris Archer, who allowed three runs on four hits while recording 12 outs in the series finale. The Angels took two of three from the Twins, who have lost five of six and are just 7-11 in the second half. The complete lack of length from the starters has really hurt this team, as the bullpen looks pretty gassed at this point. The schedule softens up now with the Royals for three and Rangers for four, but I still have long-term concerns about this team.
Yankees/Red Sox: The Red Sox finally won a series against an AL East opponent with a 3-0 dub over the Yankees last night. Michael Wacha was terrific in his return from the IL and Rafael Devers had the big hit of the night with a two-run insurance shot off of Jameson Taillon. The Yankees continue to struggle with a watered-down offense missing Giancarlo Stanton and a lot of zeroes at the bottom of the order.
The bullpen remains my chief concern, but this offense is very marginal if Aaron Judge has an off night. This is still one of more talented teams in the AL, but Houston looks like a pretty clear favorite in a potential ALCS as far as I’m concerned.
Dodgers/Royals: Any line equity we had left in Brady Singer seems to be gone now. Singer ended LA’s 12-game winning streak with six masterful innings. He allowed just one hit and walked three against seven strikeouts. The Royals offense still stinks, so maybe we’ll get Singer in some dog roles, but all of his leaps this season are legit and the numbers reflect that. Since July 3, Singer has a 2.16 ERA with a 2.98 FIP in 50 innings across eight starts.
Weather: Rain chances are present in Cleveland, Washington and Atlanta for today, so we’ll see how those play out. Winds are blowing in for the Tigers/Guardians doubleheader. I talked about the weather conditions with Xzavion Curry making his MLB debut in Game 2. Winds blowing in should be conducive for the kid, so I think Cleveland is set up nicely today.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Phillies (-175, 9) at Reds: Note that this total touched 9.5 at some places and then came back down. It’s a cooler day in Cincinnati, so Great American Ball Park may play a little friendlier to the pitchers than usual. I figured we’d be at 9.5 across the board by the morning, but that is not the case.
Padres (-140, 6.5) at Marlins: This is the “alarm bells game of the day”. We’ve seen Sandy Alcantara take money blindly at home for a few seasons now. Today, the Padres and Joe Musgrove have been bet into bigger favorites. There are groups out there that have auto-bet the Marlins at home with one of their big pitchers on the mound. That group is silent today. Maybe money comes in later, but Miami’s terrible offense is a major stumbling block.
Also, after striking out 12 on July 15 and 10 on July 24, Alcantara only has 12 strikeouts in his last 21.2 innings. I think he may be wearing down a bit. I agree with this move on SD.
Cubs (-140, 8) at Nationals: Another non-line move that stands out is this one. Josiah Gray has taken money pretty regularly throughout the season, but he isn’t here against Marcus Stroman and the Cubs. It’s not like the Cubs are a good team either and they’re laying a pretty big road number, but this wasn’t even the right environment for a move on Gray like we’ve seen most of the season? That says a lot to me.
Mariners at Angels (-110, 6.5): This has been a huge mover overnight and into the morning with Luis Castillo up against Shohei Ohtani. You could have gotten the Mariners as a clear, plus-money dog last night and early this morning. Now, you cannot find that anywhere. That was a bad number from the books and it has been corrected, with this game now effectively a coin flip.
What I’ll Be Watching
Xzavion Curry: The Cleveland right-hander makes his MLB debut in Game 2 of the doubleheader against the Tigers. The 24-year-old Curry has 113 strikeouts against 30 walks in 101 innings across Double-A and Triple-A this season. He’s morphed into an extreme fly ball guy and has allowed 13 homers in his 17 starts and two relief appearances, but has only allowed multiple homers in two outings. The Georgia Tech product has had more strikeouts at a young age than guys like Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac, but has similar control. He’s a promising prospect in the Cleveland org and he gets a good assignment here against the light-hitting Tigers. I’m really excited about his debut.
Kyle Bradish: Since returning to the Orioles on July 29, Bradish has allowed six runs on 11 hits in 15.1 innings of work with 16 strikeouts against five walks. He had a 7.38 ERA with a 5.58 FIP when he missed a bit of time and then went down to the minor leagues to get right. In three minor league outings, he allowed two runs on five hits in 12.2 innings with 15 strikeouts against two walks. He looks like a completely different pitcher now. We haven’t really seen any arsenal changes for him, he’s just locating more effectively. I don’t think I can bet on him today, even against Yusei Kikuchi, but this start will tell us a lot about his rest-of-season projection.
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
Mets 1st 5 (+ 140) over Braves: I realize that there is a market infatuation with Spencer Strider (understandably so), but this is a big price for a Mets team that is really good. You know my handicaps on the Braves have been predicated on their ability to make a lot of contact. Carlos Carrasco has a solid 23.7% K% and a well above average 13.4% SwStr%.
Since shaking off a barking back in early July, Carrasco has a 1.69 ERA with a 2.84 FIP in his last seven starts across 42.2 innings. He’s struck out 42 and only walked 11, along with giving up just 39 hits and only three home runs in that span. For the season, Carrasco has a good Barrel% of 7.6% and an above average Hard Hit% of 38.1%.
I fully realize Strider’s potential and understand that he has excellent numbers with a 3.11 ERA and a 1.97 FIP, but the Mets are too good to be priced like this and Carrasco does match up pretty nicely with the Atlanta lineup. While Strider has been a strikeout machine, the Mets have the fourth-lowest K% in baseball, so they should be able to put balls in play. Atlanta ranks 28th in that department.
I’m not sure what happens in the late innings, but I can take the Mets at + 140 for the 1st 5 while the consensus number is around + 135 for the full game. The crux of my argument in this game is that I like how Carrasco matches up and think the Mets have a fighter’s chance against Strider. I’ll take the + 140 shot.
Royals (+ 165) over Twins: The thing about betting big underdogs is that they’re going to lose more often than not. The goal is finding a good price and hoping that the game lands your way. This line, which ranges from + 175 to + 160 out there implies that the Royals win about 38% of the time. I think it’s higher than that and I think this game is mispriced a bit.
Kris Bubic is still being priced as a guy with a 5.02 ERA and a 4.77 FIP. However, he’s on a streak right now with eight straight starts of three or fewer earned runs. More specifically, since he walked six against Houston on July 7, Bubic has only walked 11 in his last 37.1 innings of work against 31 strikeouts. He’s faced the White Sox, Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays and Tigers, so a good mix of lineups, and he’s pitched well. Improved fastball command has unlocked his potential.
Since the All-Star Break, Joe Ryan has had two good starts against the Tigers and two really bad starts against the Padres and Dodgers, allowing 16 runs in 9.2 innings. He’s shut the Tigers down over 10.2 innings, but that’s maybe the worst lineup in baseball. I’m not going to sit here and act like the Royals are a great lineup, but they do have a 103 wRC + in the second half of the season. They’ve faced the Rays, Angels, Yankees, White Sox, Red Sox, White Sox and Dodgers and still have a .500 record in the second half and an 8-6 mark in August.
The Twins are scuffling right now. They’re dealing with a lot of pressure in the AL Central. The Royals are just going out there and playing. They started the season 16-32 in April and May, but are just four games under .500 since. I think the Royals are worthy of a look here. Bubic has obviously made some positive changes and the offense is swing it pretty well with an infusion of young talent into the lineup. Minnesota’s bullpen is looking very tired and this is a slightly below average lineup in the second half.
It’s a big price and a tall ask from the Royals, but I think their chances of winning are better than the line implies. I’ll grade it at + 165, but shop around and see if you can do better.
Astros (-130) over White Sox: I’ve been looking to fade Johnny Cueto and this looks like a good spot to do it. Cueto has a 2.91 ERA with a 3.92 FIP and he’s running an 81.5% LOB% with a very low K% of 16.5%. The Astros don’t strike out much anyway, so I really don’t think that they’ll have an issue putting a lot of balls in play against Cueto in this game.
It sure feels like Cueto is on the verge of getting completely rocked in a start. He’s allowed 35 hits in his last four starts, but has managed to limit the damage to 10 earned runs. He’s also faced the Guardians, A’s, Rangers and Royals in those starts. This is a much, much different animal against the Astros. Houston is swinging it really well again and Cueto has so many regression signs that are just impossible to overlook.
Jose Urquidy had a rough one last time out with three homers allowed against the Rangers to snap a streak of nine straight starts with three or fewer runs allowed. If he can hold the White Sox in that range, I really like Houston’s chances in this one. Since making some adjustments in the middle part of the season, Urquidy’s Hard Hit% is 38.6% and his Barrel% is 6.3% over his last 10 starts. Over his first 11 starts, his Hard Hit% was 45.9% and his Barrel% was 12.2%.
The White Sox have been one of the league’s worst offenses against right-handed pitching throughout the season and Urquidy has made some strides in terms of his contact management as the season has gone along. Houston also has the better bullpen in this one. I’m really looking to fade Cueto here, but there are other elements that are in Houston’s favor. Astros -130 it is.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.