We’ve got 16 games on the board for Saturday and nine of them have a total of 8 or lower, even though the weather seems to be taking a turn for the better in a lot of the cooler-weather cities. Unders are cashing at over a 62% clip thus far in the season, which is simply ridiculous. The tide will turn and oddsmakers are starting to lower totals, but the humidor and its crippling effects on fly balls and hard contact are really taking a toll on scoring.
I’ve talked about it a lot already and will talk about it more on The Run Line tomorrow night from 8-10 p.m. ET with pinch hit host Holden Kushner. The stats are just eye-opening to this point, at least for a nerd like me.
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Pirates/Cubs: All good things must come to an end. The Cubs are now 4-1 against left-handed starters after the loss to the Pirates and Jose Quintana. Quintana went 4.2 innings and only had seven whiffs on 37 swings, but the Cubs only had three hits against him. Keegan Thompson pitched really well in relief of Drew Smyly, who had an off day as he gave up a couple homers. Thompson hasn’t allowed a run in four games over 13.2 innings with some outstanding contact management numbers. I wonder if the Cubs may move him into the rotation soon over Mark Leiter Jr. He may also just be really valuable in a relief role.
Cardinals/Reds: The Reds lost on the run line for the 10th time in 12 defeats as the Cardinals escaped with a 4-2 decision. Hunter Greene was erratic with four walks in his 3.1 innings, so St. Louis had some success against a righty, but this game still stayed comfortably under the total. The Reds are so bad that they have to improve at some point, but I guess that point hasn’t come yet. If the Cardinals pitching continues like this, unders when facing a RHP will make a ton of sense.
Giants/Nationals: I think Patrick Corbin is cooked. Corbin gave up seven runs in 1.2 innings on seven this with three walks and four strikeouts. He hasn’t been the same since being pushed to the brink during that 2019 World Series run and he has now allowed 17 runs on 24 hits in 13.2 innings this season with 11 walks. Corbin’s stats since the start of 2020? A 5.81 ERA with a 5.03 FIP in 46 starts over 251 innings with 48 HR allowed and a K% of just 19.4%. Woof.
Brewers/Phillies: Why is handicapping bullpen usage so important? The Brewers led 2-1 after seven innings on Friday. Normally that would be Devin Williams and Josh Hader time. Even with Thursday’s off day, Hader and Williams would have been pitching for a fourth time in six days. Williams had thrown 65 pitches over those three appearances. Craig Counsell opted to use neither. It looks like it was Aaron Ashby’s fault, but he allowed singles with exit velocities of 78.4, 50.4 and 67.4 mph to load the bases. Brad Boxberger came in and allowed two missiles for singles (101.3, 102.8) and the damage was done. The Phillies won 4-2.
You have to look and see who is available and speculate as to whether or not the managers will err on the side of caution. If you aren’t sure, it might save you some money. If you are pretty sure, it might catch you a winner.
Marlins/Braves: Kyle Wright was one of my pitchers to watch yesterday and he dazzled. He had 20(!!) whiffs on 50 swings over six innings with 11 punchouts. He only needed 95 pitches, which is a stunning level of efficiency. With an extra tick of velo and increased curveball usage, this kid looks like a different pitcher. I’m trying to temper my excitement a little bit because he’s faced the Reds, Padres and Marlins, but I think we’ll have some value on him moving forward. His usage changes have transformed him into a different pitcher after posting a 6.56 ERA and FIP in his first 70 innings.
Also, Trevor Rogers had a nice bounce back start for the Fish. Of their Big Three, he’s probably the guy I trust the most in road starts.
Mets/Diamondbacks: We had bullpen melts both ways in this one. David Peterson and Zac Gallen combined for two runs on five hits in 10.2 innings, but the game ended 6-5 thanks to the relievers. I must be living right because the Mets were a pick yesterday and they found a way to survive while only having six hard-hit balls.
Arizona’s bullpen faced 22 batters and had zero strikeouts. Their K% is down to 14.7%, 4% lower than any other team in baseball. If you’re betting Arizona (seek help), but also, only bet 1st 5 lines with them. That relief unit is very poor.
Dodgers/Padres: I don’t think the Nick Martinez experiment will last. He’s only allowed seven runs in 14.2 innings, but he’s walked 10 and given up five home runs already. His LOB% is technically 100%, which is an early-season statistical anomaly, but it means that a lot of his baserunners haven’t scored and he’s still running a 4.30 ERA with a 7.95 FIP. He’s a regression candidate with bad numbers. He has faced the Dodgers, Braves and Giants, so three good lineups, but I don’t have high hopes moving forward.
Blue Jays/Astros: The Blue Jays have been hurt a lot by the changes to the baseball. They only scored four runs yesterday, but hit 15 balls of 95 + mph in the win over the Astros. Toronto is still hitting too many ground balls for my liking, but they make a lot of violent contact and have been held down by the baseball. Yet, they’re still 9-5. In the summer months, when the baseball plays differently in the warmer weather, this team is going to be extremely dangerous.
White Sox/Twins: The White Sox are very fortunate that Michael Kopech has been as good as he has. He turned in another strong effort yesterday with five shutout innings in a 2-1 loss. The White Sox only had three hard-hit balls against Bailey Ober and the Twins bullpen. This offense has not been where it needs to be thus far. The lineup construction has been messy from Tony La Russa, who is actively holding this team back, and the injuries have played a part, but Jose Abreu has a .627 OPS and Eloy Jimenez has a .606 OPS. I think the White Sox will ultimately be fine, especially if guys like Kopech keep performing, but this is not a great start.
Orioles/Angels: Pitching is easier to develop and alter than hitting in my humble opinion and the Orioles are proof of that. This pitching staff has been awesome, especially the bullpen, to this point and John Means isn’t even there. Bruce Zimmermann worked six solid innings yesterday in the 5-3 win. The Baltimore offense is pretty terrible right now and may continue to be that way, but this pitching staff is really making significant strides. In the current low-scoring run environment, they should be a feisty dog for the next little while.
Royals/Mariners: Home/road splits really do matter. Chris Flexen allowed 10 hard-hit balls over his seven innings, but the Royals managed just one run on six hits and that one run was a Salvador Perez solo homer. T-Mobile Park suppresses power and allows a pitch-to-contact guy like Flexen to have success. He also throws a lot of strikes and doesn’t walk people.
Brad Keller pitched surprisingly well again, as his error was his own undoing before two Mariners hits that accounted for all four runs. I’m not sure this is sustainable, but the Royals need some kind of silver lining so I hope for their sake that it might be.
Rangers/Athletics: Admittedly, I had no idea who Glenn Otto was coming into the season. He had 15 whiffs in 35 swings yesterday against an A’s team that will strike out a lot, but it was an impressive start for the 26-year-old. The raw stuff by velo and movement draws comps to Freddy Peralta, Alek Manoah and Jose Urquidy, so that’s pretty nice and Alex Chamberlain of FanGraphs wrote before the season that Otto’s slider is comparable to Mike Clevinger and Adam Ottavino. I think I need to pay more attention.
Weather: Winds are blowing out to LF at a good clip at Wrigley Field on a 75-degree day, which is why that total sits at 10 and may keep rising for Zach Thompson vs. Kyle Hendricks. White Sox/Twins features winds blowing in heavy from RF, but we still have an 8.5 there because of Vince Velasquez and Dylan Bundy. Otherwise, it’s our first really tame weather day of the season.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. Also, my friend @MLBDream on Twitter put together a great MLB beat writer list to follow.