What a day sports fans have. We’ve got 17 MLB games on the card now that Rangers/Yankees have already been washed away. We’ve got the Kentucky Derby, UFC 274, continued action with the Wells Fargo, NBA and NHL Playoffs and even WNBA for those that like to tap into that betting market. That sure is a lot on the betting board.
The success of the picks so far has gotten a little bit of run the last couple of days. I sure hope it continues, but I also want readers to be checking out the article for the information and analysis. Winning picks come from a sound process and good analysis of the data. Everything has worked out to this point. There will be a downturn at some point, but hopefully I’ve passed along some skills to help readers identify line moves and good betting opportunities for themselves.
I will say that I feel like part of my success is that the team at VSiN has afforded me the opportunity to focus almost exclusively on baseball. At my previous stops with BangTheBook and ATS.io, I’d also be covering golf, UFC, NASCAR, NBA, NHL and other sports during baseball season. This is the first year I haven’t handicapped the Kentucky Derby in ages. I’ve talked about handicapping with a clear mind from a mental health standpoint, but being organized and focused on one sport should absolutely help your results and it has for me so far. I’ve felt the difference and if you are stretching yourself too thin, perhaps narrowing your focus will benefit you as well.
Lastly, as mentioned last week, there will be no article on Sundays going forward. It’s just too tough with all the morning games with the Pacific Time Zone and other morning responsibilities to get the article out in a timely manner. I don’t want to force best bets on a limited card, since the early games won’t be available to me. Fortunately, you can hear me on The Run Line from 8-10 p.m. ET on Sunday nights with my buddy and co-host Ben Wilson.
Mother Nature: Mother Nature won the day yesterday, canceling Dodgers/Cubs, Pirates/Reds, Mets/Phillies, Royals/Orioles, Rangers/Yankees and Blue Jays/Guardians. Six postponements means either six doubleheaders or the loss of off days. Those can be taxing on a bullpen and we do have three doubleheaders on the board for today.
Brewers/Braves: Another dazzling performance from Eric Lauer, who had eight strikeouts and 18 whiffs over his 6.1 innings of work. Josh Hader also returned from a barking back to record a strikeout in a scoreless inning. Lauer won’t remain quite this good, but I think his improvements are legit with a team that clearly knows how to develop starting pitching.
I think a Brewers World Series future is a real consideration. The pitching staff is obviously great and the division is awful. Milwaukee already leads the third-place team by 7.5 games and that gap will only grow. I don’t think the Cardinals are this good. The Brewers should have an inside track at being a top-two seed, which means a bye into the NLDS, thus sparing their pitching staff from throwing extra innings. I’m seeing mostly 11/1 or 12/1, but shop around and see if you can grab a better number than that. The offense is suspect, but if the ball doesn’t change by the playoffs, they’re built for low-scoring games.
Rockies/Diamondbacks: Merrill Kelly came within one out of a complete game, as he allowed one run on seven hits over 8.2 innings with eight strikeouts against two walks. Chad Kuhl was also strong in his six innings. The bottom should fall out to some degree with those two guys soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kelly does end up having a career year. Kuhl might as well, though that bar is a lot lower.
Kelly hasn’t allowed a HR yet and his LOB% is 87.2%, so somebody will get him soon. It’s just a matter of how big the price is to bet against him. Similarly, a pitch-to-contact guy in Kuhl has an 85.6% LOB% and a .179 BABIP against. Those are not sustainable numbers. I will be looking for fade spots, likely at Coors Field.
Marlins/Padres: The Marlins have lost five consecutive one-run games and six games in a row. They still have a positive run differential on the season, but are 5-8 in one-run games. Typically about 25% or so of a team’s games will be one-run affairs. Half of Miami’s games have been. The Marlins are also now 2-11 against teams .500 or better and 10-3 against teams with a losing record. Make of that what you will.
Cardinals/Giants: The offensive outage continued for the Giants on Friday, as they managed just two runs against Jordan Hicks and the Cardinals bullpen. San Francisco has dropped five in a row while scoring just 10 runs over those five games. They’ve actually lost seven of their last eight.
However, something actionable with the Cardinals remained a thing. Alex Cobb had 19 whiffs over his five innings of work with eight strikeouts. He made one mistake to Harrison Bader and gave up two runs. The Cardinals only hit five balls hard in the game and won with an xBA of .138. They still can’t hit above average RH starters. Spoiler alert.
White Sox/Red Sox: I got more than what I wished for in this game, but the logic was sound. All I wanted was Vince Velasquez to cancel out Nate Eovaldi with the White Sox at a plus-money price so their bullpen advantage would be to my favor. As it turns out, Velasquez was better than Eovaldi and the White Sox came away with a 4-2 victory at + 150. Boston’s offensive woes continued and Eovaldi did meet some of the regression signs that were present in his profile.
One thing I will note for today is that Tony La Russa used Liam Hendriks for the fourth time in five days and fourth game in a row. Aaron Bummer and Matt Foster have also thrown three straight games and three of the last four days. Thursday’s off day was big, but its effectiveness is now gone for the relievers. I actually like Dylan Cease over Nick Pivetta today, but the White Sox bullpen is very scary based on the workloads for today’s game.
Tigers/Astros: I vividly remember when the Tigers went to Houston and swept the Astros early last season in manager AJ Hinch’s return to Minute Maid Park. The Tigers just cannot hit. They scored two runs yesterday and have scored three runs per game on the season. They’ve scored just two runs in eight games and three or fewer runs in 19 of 25 games. That’s never going to get it done. However, the pitching staff has been pretty decent. This looks to be a good under team, even if the ball starts to transform in the warmer months.
Athletics/Twins: Josh Winder fired six innings with only one unearned run allowed and eight strikeouts. He was a bulk reliever a couple times in April, but has 15 strikeouts against one walk in 12 innings as a starter. It seems like the Twins have another exciting young arm in the rotation. For their sake, I hope more of those guys come up to phase out guys like Chris Archer and Chris Paddack.
Rays/Mariners: I’m glad I ultimately stayed away from this mess. Logan Gilbert’s regression did hit, which is what I was concerned about. He allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings. Josh Fleming didn’t pitch overly well for the Rays either, leaving me wishing I had taken the over here given everything I had handicapped.
I mentioned yesterday that I appreciated how Scott Servais used Paul Sewald to keep him sharp and also protect a one-run lead on Thursday. Well, in a back-to-back, he allowed three runs on a Manny Margot home run in the ninth to blow the save. It was his first back-to-back appearance of the season and those were his first runs allowed. Oops.
Nationals/Angels: This may be some recency bias talking, but let’s keep an eye on West Coast teams that finish a road trip and head home. The Angels managed just three runs against Joan Adon and the Nationals on Friday after a road trip to the East. The Padres came home off a doubleheader against Cleveland and managed just two runs against the Marlins in that first game back on Thursday. The Diamondbacks managed four runs on a couple of late HR yesterday after stops in St. Louis and Miami. Oakland scored 13 runs in a four-game series against Baltimore late last month after a long East Coast swing. The Mariners managed three runs in the series opener against the Rays after their long roadie.
The Giants did score eight against Oakland after their 11-game road trip earlier this season, but were shut out the following day. There are a lot of factors here. It could just be the opposing pitcher. It could be the dead ball. It could be coincidence. But, it is still early in the season and guys are getting into the swing of things. Maybe a “Return Home Under” for a West Coast team coming back from the East isn’t a bad idea.
Weather: Yep, we’ve got weather again. Rangers/Yankees is already off the board and rain threatens Mets/Phillies again, along with Royals/Orioles. Wind is also a huge factor today. Winds will be blowing in from LF for Dodgers/Cubs and in from RF for Blue Jays/Guardians, A’s/Twins, Mets/Phillies, White Sox/Red Sox and Royals/Orioles, all at pretty good clips.
Winds are forecasted to blow out for Pirates/Reds, Cardinals/Giants and Brewers/Braves. That sure is a lot of games impacted, so keep that in mind accordingly. Obviously we’ve got some very low totals in the games with wind blowing in.
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.