The weekend is over and it feels a little bit like a case of the Mondays this morning, at least for me. There are only seven games to consider on August 8, as more than half of the league enjoys a much-needed day off. It sure feels like we’re getting a ton of inconsistent efforts from teams in the middle of the pack, which is unfortunate because the good teams don’t really have value and the bad teams are so hard to bet as big underdogs.
When you follow a market every day, there are things that you notice and I’ve noticed that the MLB market is really tight. I don’t make my own lines, but the people I’ve talked to that do are saying the exact same thing. While baseball may not garner the same handle or as much general public betting interest as other sports, we’re well past the sample size of NBA or NHL for a full season and it allows the sportsbooks to hang pretty efficient numbers by the dog days of summer. Even though they’re making that transition to be more focused on football, it’s basically plug and play at this point.
I mentioned this briefly on The Run Line last night with host Ben Wilson and I think you should give the show a listen if you have some time today. HOUR 1 | HOUR 2
Nationals/Phillies: Philadelphia obliterated Washington in this series, which will likely happen a lot After winning in extra on Thursday, the Phillies won by 5, 6 and 12 over the weekend to improve to 60-48. I’d be wary of anointing this Phillies team just yet, as we’ll have to see them against better competition, but some teams struggle to beat inferior teams. The Phillies did not here.
Reds/Brewers: For example, the Brewers had an awful week against the Reds and Pirates and it actively hurt them in the Central Division race. The bullpen has been a mess since the Josh Hader trade and things just don’t feel right in Milwaukee. We’ll see if they can navigate through it, but this is a team that has been in a rut for a while now. Milwaukee is three games under .500 since May 6 and has lost six of the last seven.
Marlins/Cubs: Chicago was shut out on Sunday, but took two of three in very low-scoring games against the Marlins on the heels of a five-game losing streak. To me, I see the Cubs as a team we can bet on against fellow bottom-feeders, but would want to fade against any above average team. With the next nine games against the Nationals and Reds, maybe there will be some opportunities, though today’s line is pretty damn cost-prohibitive.
Padres/Dodgers: The Dodgers smacked the Padres around over the weekend with a thoroughly impressive three-game sweep. Los Angeles played well in every facet of the game, including a near-flawless defensive showing. The Dodgers won the series 20-4 and never really broke a sweat in the 4-0 win on Sunday. I came away extremely impressed. Now that the lead is up to 15.5 in the division and five games for the best record in the NL, I wonder if we see any minor hiccups stepping down in class against the Twins, Royals, Brewers (x7) and Marlins (x7) over the next three weeks.
Rockies/Diamondbacks: This had to be a frustrating series for the Rockies. They were in line to win on Friday, narrowly escaped with a 3-2 win on Saturday and then dropped the finale with another bad bullpen effort, as Alex Colome was the losing pitcher in both games. The Diamondbacks are 7-7 since the Break, while the Rockies are just 5-12.
Colorado plays 11 of the next 14 at home, so it may be time to play on them a bit more, as they’ve been a bad road team all season long.
Braves/Mets: Speaking of teams making a statement, the Mets won four of five from the Braves. Jacob deGrom was elite on Sunday, as the Braves swung at 20 sliders and missed 18 of them. It was a thoroughly impressive series for Mets pitching and that has been the issue for Atlanta all season long. When they can make a lot of contact, they thrive. When they can’t, they struggle.
I’d expect Atlanta to bounce back in the two games in Boston against Rich Hill and Nick Pivetta. They also go to Miami for four and a Saturday double dip before hosting the Mets and Astros on the next homestand.
Astros/Guardians: If Cleveland’s young lineup can get going over the final two months, this team could actually win the AL Central pillow fight. That split against the Astros showed a ton of toughness and tenacity after they were soundly beaten on Thursday and Friday. I’m extremely impressed with their resilience and the performance of Triston McKenzie with eight shutout on Sunday. Maybe Houston flatlined a bit with their big AL West lead, but still.
Eight of Cleveland’s next 11 are against the Tigers. They must take advantage.
Red Sox/Royals: The questionable decisions made at the Trade Deadline seem to have negatively impacted the Red Sox. Boston was thumped in the series finale and lost three of four to the lowly Royals. This looks to be a fade team. Rafael Devers doesn’t seem fully healthy. J.D. Martinez still has the back thing. The pitching staff has not improved at all. I’m not very impressed with what I’m seeing.
Blue Jays/Twins: Toronto’s offense has disappeared again, but to come away with a 3-2 win after blowing the lead in the ninth yesterday was a good look for the Jays. They’ve done things like that a lot this season. They’re not hitting, but have gone 9-5 to this point in the second half. Since scoring 50 runs in the first four games of the second half, they’ve scored 42 runs in the last 10.
Angels/Mariners: Shohei Ohtani has had a rough go at the dish lately, but he also seems to be wearing down a bit. He got stepped on and moved around with a limp yesterday. He had the forearm cramp after his start last week. And all manager Phil Nevin seems interested in doing is getting him back out there the next day. It’s at the point where we might just have to fade the Angels every day when Patrick Sandoval and Ohtani aren’t on the mound. This team is that bad and Ohtani is feeling the pressure of being the only contributor.
Pirates/Orioles: Baltimore finally had a dud on Sunday, as Bryse Wilson threw another quality game for the Pirates. I’m telling you, their pitching is on the rise. I don’t know if the low-strikeout, high-ground ball strategy works forever, but they’ve been much more competent, especially guys like Mitch Keller and Wilson. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from them.
Yankees/Cardinals: Both Frankie Montas and Adam Wainwright struggled, as Montas came off of the bereavement list and got rocked by St. Louis to the tune of six runs on five hits in three innings. Wainwright walked four and gave up six runs on eight hits. The Yankees are now just 9-16 in their last 25 games, so it’s been a rough go for them.
Weather: Not much rain, but we’ve got a little wind. Helping breezes on a warm day in Baltimore could help hitters, along with some sultry conditions in New York City. A stiff breeze blowing in for Nationals/Cubs on a cooler day may help hurlers.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Reds at Mets (-320, 9): The Mets have moved upwards of 50 cents here for this matchup against the Reds. This will be the Reds debut for Justin Dunn, who came over in the Jesse Winker trade. He had a 6.75 ERA in Triple-A with a 24/17 K/BB ratio in 28 innings of work, so the numbers do not look good at all.
Nationals at Cubs (-185, 7.5): We’ve got a low total with that breeze blowing in at Wrigley Field. We’ve also got about a 10-cent move on the Cubbies with Keegan Thompson on the bump. He’s been viewed in high regard throughout the season, so today’s line move is no different.
Pirates at Diamondbacks (-240, 8): This is a pretty big number for Arizona, but it is Zac Gallen on the hill against Tyler Beede in what amounts to another bullpen day for the Pirates. Beede only has a 25/19 K/BB ratio in 41.2 innings of work and just gave up four runs on five hits last time out, but had only allowed five earned runs over his previous 26 innings.
Giants at Padres (-190, 7.5): We’ve got a 15-20 cent move on the Friars here with Blake Snell on the bump. The Giants have not played well for a while now, so this move isn’t really a big shocker with Alex Wood on the hill. The total of 7.5 does intrigue me with San Diego’s new lineup weapons, but it did come down from 8.
Blue Jays (-135, 9.5) at Orioles: We’ve seen a 10-15 cent move here on Baltimore with Jordan Lyles having a tremendous season at home and limited trust in Yusei Kikuchi. I cannot argue with this price adjustment at all.
Yankees (-110, 8) at Mariners: Seattle has been bet into a favorite or a moneyline pick ‘em at most shops for this one. This is clearly the highlight game of the night and the market looks more interested in Seattle with the betting action thus far.
What I’ll Be Watching
Zac Gallen: I feel like Gallen still gets treated as an elite starter, but he’s been merely average since late May. Gallen’s average Game Score is 50 over his last 13 starts, which is exactly average by FanGraphs’ calculation of that metric. He has a 4.50 ERA with a 4.35 FIP in those 782 innings. He’s pitched better over his last four starts with six runs allowed in 24.1 innings, but I think he’s generally a bit overrated in the betting markets. He’s allowed a 10.2% Barrel% in that 13-start stretch as well. He has a below average swinging strike rate for the season. I think he needs to be viewed in a different light moving forward.
Yusei Kikuchi: Kikuchi has thrown the ball well in two starts since returning from injury with three runs allowed on five hits in his nine innings against the Tigers and Rays. He’s struck out 10 and only walked two. He’s also allowed just seven hard-hit balls in 22 batted ball events. Given that he had a 50% Hard Hit% with a 16.1% Barrel% prior to the injury, to go along with 41 walks in 65 innings, these recent returns are really nice to see. He’s come back throwing his splitter a lot, so maybe the downtime really helped. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if he’s fixed or if this is just an out-of-body experience. The level of competition hasn’t hurt.
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
Orioles (+ 120) over Blue Jays: I’ve said that I would take the Orioles as a dog or in pick ‘em situations and haven’t followed through with that enough. I’ll take them today with the aforementioned Yusei Kikuchi up against Jordan Lyles. What I really like about this spot is that Baltimore got blown out yesterday. If you’re going to lose, get beaten badly so you don’t have to burn any good relievers. The bullpen is in excellent shape for the O’s here, as Felix Bautista has had two days off and Dillon Tate has thrown eight pitches since Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Toronto just lost Tim Mayza to a dislocated shoulder and Yimi Garcia and Anthony Bass have both pitched three of the last four days. It would also be a 3-in-4 for Zach Pop, a 4-in-6 for David Phelps and Jordan Romano threw 24 pitches yesterday. Baltimore should have a sizable bullpen advantage late in the game if this is close or they are protecting a lead.
From a statistical standpoint, this is a good matchup for Lyles. He has held righties to a .318 wOBA and owns a .302 wOBA against at home in 53.2 innings of work. He has allowed just one of his 16 home runs at home, where he has a 2.68 ERA and a 3.04 FIP. Compare that to a 5.70 ERA and a 5.16 FIP on the road. The home/road splits are certainly telling.
I’m still not sure Kikuchi is fixed. The pitch arsenal looks better with increased splitter usage, but the Tigers are terrible offensively and the Rays are still pretty limited with all of their injuries. Baltimore has been a league average or better offense most of the season and has a 106 wRC + since July 1.
Given the big bullpen advantage and what could very well be a starting pitcher advantage, I’ll take the Orioles at plus money here.
Athletics (-120) over Angels: Laying a price with Oakland is extremely scary, but Cole Irvin’s home splits are very impressive and the A’s had some good swings against Jose Suarez when they faced him six days ago. The A’s also seem to still be trying pretty hard with a bunch of young guys looking for playing time and jobs next season. The Angels usually look like a team that knows changes are coming on the horizon.
Let’s start with Irvin, who has held the opposition to a .195/.238/.257 slash with a .222 wOBA in 62.1 innings at home this season. He has a 1.73 ERA in the friendly confines of the Coliseum and has only allowed one home run. He’s allowed 12 on the road and has a 4.58 ERA. Lefties have a .233 wOBA against him in 52 plate appearances in Oakland and righties only have a .220 in 187 PA. He pitches to a lot of weak fly ball contact in the spacious outfield and has had tons of success.
The A’s had seven hard-hit balls and two barrels in 15 batted ball events against Suarez last time out. Los Angeles made some decent contact against Irvin, but didn’t barrel a ball and we know he’s not nearly as good on the road. For Suarez, he’s allowed a 10.8% Barrel%, so he’s given up a lot of hard contact this season. He also has a much bigger walk issue than Irvin.
There’s also a chance that Shohei Ohtani doesn’t play after getting stepped on yesterday and with a scheduled start on Tuesday. Even if he does, Ohtani only has a 96 wRC + against lefties, so he’s 4% below league average in that split, but has a 152 wRC + against righties. He’s less of a weapon in this split.
Oakland should play from in front here and their bullpen has stabilized a bit lately with a 3.63 ERA over the last 30 days. The Angels pen has been better as well, but I think Oakland is the one with a lead to protect. I’ll take the A’s at -120 here.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.