A new week begins in MLB and the final week of the daily article. Thursday will mark the last day that I’ll be doing it, as my focus shifts fully to football and my availability to jumping on more of our VSiN shows frees up without the heavy lift of the MLB piece six days a week in the mornings. September has historically been a tough month for me while in the content creation space because there are so many other things pulling you in different directions.
However, I’ll echo what I said at the end of The Run Line last night. I can’t thank everybody enough for reading. For being open-minded about a lot of stats and concepts that may not have been familiar to you when this started. For the questions and the positive (or constructive) feedback about the article. Hopefully I can end on a high note as another way to show my gratitude, but I wanted to say a few words and will say a few more on Thursday. I really appreciate the time every single reader has taken this season. It means the world to me.
Reds/Pirates: Cincinnati exploded for 23 runs on the road in this series, taking two of three from the Pirates. We’ve seen a quality Reds offense at home, but the road numbers have lagged well behind all season long. This would seem to be a big indictment on the Pirates’ pitching and it probably won’t get any better the rest of the way.
Mets/Phillies: A wild back-and-forth game fell the way of the Mets by a 10-9 count on Monday. New York actually took three of four in the series with that win, despite trailing 4-0 after the first inning. The Phillies did get some good news that Bryce Harper took some swings and is targeting a September return, but the weekend news that Seranthony Dominguez is on the IL really hurts. It had an impact on Sunday and will continue to have an impact with a bullpen that has been pretty inconsistent, but had been pretty strong for a while. I think Philly will continue to struggle in late-game situations without him, so I’d be less inclined to bet full games with them until (if) he’s back.
Brewers/Cubs: Milwaukee had some late-inning heroics to remain five back in the NL Central after doing nothing for six innings against Justin Steele. He had nine strikeouts and only allowed two hits and a walk, but the Cubs bullpen, which came into the game with the third-highest LOB% in the second half, couldn’t seal the deal. For Milwaukee, Brandon Woodruff wasn’t terribly sharp with 5.2 innings of two-run ball that took 105 pitches. Not much has been sharp about the Brewers, but at least they avoided the sweep.
Giants/Rockies: The Giants keep doing just enough to hang around, but not be an actual threat. They avoided a sweep at the hands of the Rockies with a 9-8 win in 11 innings on Sunday, but mustered just seven runs of offense in the first two games at Coors. This is just an obnoxious team to bet on or against right now because they’re not very good, but keep finding ways to win games late.
Marlins/Dodgers: The Dodgers rocked Sandy Alcantara to the tune of six ruins on 10 hits in 3.2 innings to drive his ERA up to 2.19. Alcantara had some negative regression signs in the profile for a while, but it finally caught up with him. He’s on track to face the Dodgers again next start, as well as the Braves and then Mets. If you like somebody else in the NL Cy Young Award chase, this might be the time to fire. Even with the short start yesterday, Alcantara has thrown 19 more innings than any other pitcher.
Cardinals/Diamondbacks: Jose Quintana had a rough start with four runs allowed on seven hits in 2.2 innings. He didn’t strike out a batter and issued three walks. He only had four whiffs on 31 swings. I don’t see any injury indicators in the velocity or spin rate metrics, so it may have just been a bad start, but it’s still not a great look and I’ll be watching closely. St. Louis came back and won, but Quintana is the bigger story for me.
Nationals/Padres: Operation Fade Patrick Corbin didn’t really work yesterday. The Padres won at a huge favorite price, but only by a 2-1 count, so those betting the run line, team total over, etc. came up short. Corbin gave up a ton of hard contact and surrendered nine hits, but only gave up two runs. The Padres struggled to get big hits, as the offense continued to be a huge question.
At least Sean Manaea turned in seven innings on just 69 pitches. He did give up some hard contact and only had five whiffs in 35 swings, so I’m not that impressed with the quality of his work and chalk it up to the Nationals.
Blue Jays/Yankees: Six strong innings from Nestor Cortes were a little better than six strong innings from Alek Manoah, but the Yankees still needed to score against the Toronto bullpen for a 4-2 win. The Yankees need every win they can get to escape this current funk, but it was another day with limited offense and Aaron Judge continued to look tired. Andrew Benintendi may have snapped out a bit with a homer, but Judge was hitless again and has four hits in 37 PA the last eight days with zero HR and only two RBI. Everybody struggles, but he can’t afford to with this lineup. Giancarlo Stanton did start a rehab assignment on Saturday, so that should help.
Royals/Rays: Another low-scoring game at the Trop that fell the way of Tampa Bay, as the Rays came away with a 3-2 win. This four-game series featured just 25 runs between the two teams and the Rays won three of the four games. That’s the type of environment that they need to play in with their offensive woes. We’ll see if they can keep it up facing better offenses moving forward.
Zack Greinke left hurt with “forearm cramping”, so we’ll see if that’s an ongoing thing or just a one-game issue.
Angels/Tigers: Eduardo Rodriguez returned for the Tigers and pitched five shutout innings to help the Tigers over the Angels. Shohei Ohtani gave up three runs on five hits in four innings and also walked four. It is very hard to walk four against the Tigers. They’ve only drawn four or more walks in a game 30 times in 123 games this season. Ohtani’s velocity was down and he was not sharp. You better believe I’m watching that one real closely. Ohtani left with a stomach virus according to Angels PR, but I’m not totally buying that.
Rangers/Twins: Minnesota managed just four hits against Kohei Arihara and Taylor Hearn in yesterday’s 7-0 loss to the Rangers. Joe Ryan worked 6.1 quality innings and then the bullpen took the game completely out of reach. The AL Central is such a dumpster fire. None of those teams deserve to be in the playoffs, but good job by the Guardians (with an assist from Mother Nature) to duck Dylan Cease. Smart.
Mariners/Athletics: A lot of the talk will be about the struggles of Luis Castillo, but let’s talk JP Sears. He’s now 5-0 in young big-league career with a 1.93 ERA. Sure, he has a 3.46 xERA and a 3.39 FIP, but I really like this kid. His high strikeout rates from the minors haven’t translated just yet, but he doesn’t issue a lot of walks and has exhibited some really good command at every stop along the way. In three starts with Oakland, he has allowed just three runs on 13 hits in 15.1 innings of work with eight strikeouts against four walks. I think he’s worth betting on at home in underdog roles for sure.
Red Sox/Orioles: The Orioles came away with a 5-3 decision as their bullpen strength was a weapon against the Red Sox. It wasn’t even a great day for Baltimore’s bullpen, but they fared better than Boston’s, allowing two runs to the three from the Red Sox. I really liked that Brandon Hyde pulled Dean Kremer before rolling over the middle of the Boston lineup in the sixth. That was excellent managing, even though Kremer was pitching well and had only thrown 80 pitches. Be proactive, not reactive. Things like that stick with me and will help with my confidence level when betting on a team.
Astros/Braves: Things got a little wild after strong starts from Jose Urquidy and Charlie Morton in this one. Urquidy threw six innings with two runs on five hits and six strikeouts, while Morton threw six innings with two runs on five hits and 11 strikeouts. Under bettors got boned on this one with five late-inning runs, including Atlanta’s valiant comeback effort in the ninth. Two brutal under beats in this series on back-to-back days. I was on Saturday’s and it still hurts.
Weather: Only nine games today, but three are threatened by wet weather. Mets/Yankees could see some rain, but that one has a lesser chance than Reds/Phillies and Braves/Pirates. Philadelphia looks like the hottest spot with a chance of showers. Wind won’t really be a factor anywhere.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Braves (-185, 9) at Pirates: This was 8.5 at most shops last night, but has moved up to 9. The Braves have also come down about 10-15 cents across the board. I’m not a big believer in Jake Odorizzi either and I could see why people like Roansy Contreras a little bit against Atlanta, but it’s not a bet I would make.
White Sox (-145, 8) at Royals: A couple of interesting things about this game. We’ve seen a little bit of a dancing with the line on the side, but not as much as we typically see with the White Sox against a lefty. Second, the total has actually gone down, which is pretty interesting. I feel like I have seen the modeling crowd with a little more respect for Daniel Lynch than I would have expected throughout the year. Today is another indication with a small side move and a totals move down.
Angels at Rays (-210, 7): It seems like Shohei Ohtani will likely be out today if he was pulled from his start yesterday with a stomach virus. That may be part of the move up on the Rays here to cross the -200 threshold. It could also be that bettors don’t really trust Tucker Davidson. We do have another low total at the Trop, though, so there is that.
Rangers at Twins (-210, 8.5): The wraparound series between the Rangers and Twins wrap up with Texas against a righty, so money has hit the board on Minnesota and Sonny Gray. This is a pretty straightforward betting angle. Money hits Texas against lefties and money hits the other team when they’re throwing a righty.
Mets (-155, 7.5) at Yankees: We’re seeing a little bit of Yankees love here against Max Scherzer. I can’t really stomach going against Scherzer, but I thought it was interesting that he was -145 against Atlanta and Jake Odorizzi last week, but was -165 against the Yankees and Domingo German here. Maybe the books overshot a little, which is what this move down implies.
What I’ll Be Watching
Edward Cabrera: Cabrera gets the call on Monday over Pablo Lopez, who has been pushed back to Tuesday. In six MLB starts, Cabrera has a 1.78 ERA with a 3.58 FIP and 36 strikeouts in 30.1 innings of work. In three starts since his recall, he hasn’t allowed a run on just six hits with 21 strikeouts against seven walks. He’s a very extreme ground ball guy, so the pitcher-friendly nature of Oakland Coliseum may not be as helpful to him, but I have noticed throughout the years that ground balls don’t really find as many holes here either. My speculation is that the cooler conditions allow for thicker infield grass and that the A’s may also manipulate the park a bit to keep things even more low-scoring because they can’t hit. Baseball Savant wasn’t complying with my queries this morning, but I know that was a thing a few years ago, though Matt Chapman certainly helped. Either way, Cabrera’s got great stuff and this should be a good matchup for him.
Drew Smyly: I’m not sure it’ll be enough to get a team to pay him $11 million for next season, as was the case in 2021, but Smyly has a 3.51 ERA with a 3.33 FIP in seven starts since returning to the Cubs rotation on July 10. He’s allowed just two runs on 13 hits over his last three starts, so he’s been even better of late. He’s cut down on the walks and has only allowed three homers in that span. His Hard Hit% is just 32.4% on a sample size of 102 batted balls, so he’s really been locating well and has a 13.2% SwStr% in that span. He’s faced the Dodgers, Mets, Phillies, Giants, Marlins, Reds (at Field of Dreams) and Nationals, so a decent mix of teams in there, though his last few starts have been against some lackluster opponents.
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
Cardinals/Cubs 1st 5 Under 4 (+ 100): Today’s slate is chalkier than a bottle of Tums and there aren’t any dogs to my liking. I’m looking at the 1st 5 Under at Wrigley Field. It’ll be a cooler night with a little bit of a breeze blowing in, so the weather seems fine. I don’t want to play the full game because I don’t really trust the Cubs’ pen. Ryan Helsley should be activated off of the paternity list for the Cardinals today, but Giovanny Gallegos and Genesis Cabrera have both pitched back-to-back days and Andre Pallante has become a multi-inning guy, so I’m not sure he’s likely to go here.
But, I like both of these starts. There’s a lot to like about Jordan Montgomery. He’s allowed one run on just 12 hits in three starts with the Cardinals with 17 strikeouts against three walks. He’s enjoying the big defensive upgrade and being away from the AL East. He’s a guy that I’ve always been a huge fan of because he’s got a four-pitch mix with average or above command on all of them. He’s hard to score runs against and I don’t see the Cubs having a lot of success today.
I just wrote above about how Drew Smyly has performed of late. He’s increased his SwStr% and has done an excellent job of cutting down on the walks. He ranks in the 92nd percentile in average exit velocity, 80th percentile in Hard Hit% and 77th percentile in Chase Rate. For the first time in his career, he’s throwing more curveballs than anything else and the results have been very positive. The Cardinals haven’t seen him yet this season and that should help Smyly’s chances of turning the lineup over a couple of times.
The lone play for today is the 1st 5 Under 4 at even money. If you like Under 8 at even money, I don’t think that’s a bad bet either, it’s just a matter of hoping that the Cubs bullpen doesn’t have one of its off nights. With a day/night doubleheader looming tomorrow, it is possible that both teams try to get this one done quick, so I gave a lot of consideration to the full-game under, but opted to take the 1st 5 instead.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.