Seventeen games are on a jam-packed betting board for Saturday, as we’ve got two doubleheaders to contend with, one involving the poor Cleveland Guardians. It was Cleveland’s 10th postponed game of the season and they will now play three doubleheaders in the next 10 days. With 16 days left until the All-Star Break begins, a lot of teams are dragging, but none have had a more grueling calendar than Cleveland.
No article on Sunday, as you know, but I’ll be hosting The Run Line with Josh Towers from 8-10 p.m. ET tomorrow night.
For now, let’s check out the Saturday card.
Cardinals/Phillies: A play I had partially written up and deleted was the 1st 5 over as a way to fade Miles Mikolas in this one. It got there thanks to three Phillies runs in the fifth, but Mikolas pitched relatively well again and was very good until that point, as the defense let him down in the inning. I’ll still look to be against him in the lead-up to the Break.
Marlins/Nationals: Trevor Rogers finally turned in a solid outing with one run allowed on two hits over five innings in Miami’s 5-3 win over the Nats. Rogers still ranks in the 71st percentile in exit velocity and 86th percentile in Hard Hit%, but a sizable drop in K% and a big spike in BB% have really hurt. He has gotten a bit unlucky with a .317 BABIP and a 67.4% LOB%. I’ll wait to see another start with encouraging signs before buying in a little, but he’s probably pitched better than a 5.56 ERA would suggest.
Braves/Reds: Mike Minor actually held the Braves to two runs on six hits over six innings, but the bullpen gave up seven runs in three innings to push this one over the total. Games at Great American Ball Park have averaged 11.4 runs per contest. This one didn’t get that high, but it managed to inch over 9.5, even with two solid starts.
However, of much greater concern, Max Fried’s spin rates and velocity were down across the board, including a 1.5 mph drop in four-seam fastball velo. He only had eight whiffs in 46 swings. His velo was up and down throughout the start, but something seems off with the Statcast numbers. He only allowed three hard-hit balls and didn’t walk anybody, so maybe it wasn’t anything to be concerned about, but I’m following closely.
Padres/Dodgers: Tony Gonsolin kept rolling right along with 7.2 innings of one-run ball in the 5-1 win over San Diego. Blake Snell was a big story with 12 strikeouts over just five innings, as he racked up 22 whiffs on 49 swings, including 11 whiffs on 12 swings with his slider. Gonsolin had 18 whiffs in 52 swings himself. Both games in this series have stayed comfortably under the total, as it sure seems like the advanced scouts have done their jobs.
The Dodgers struck out 17 times in this game after striking out 10 times against Joe Musgrove yesterday. We’re seeing more strikeouts and fewer walks from the Dodgers over the last few weeks, something to monitor moving forward. They did draw four walks against Snell yesterday, but they were 16th in BB% in June, after easily leading the league at 11% through May 31.
Rays/Jays: Oh boy, this Rays offense is just extremely ugly at this point. The game still went over for Jose Berrios faders, but that’s because the Jays scored nine runs off of Corey Kluber and the bullpen. Berrios gave up eight hits in five innings and only struck out three, but also only allowed four hard-hit balls. The Rays had a Hard Hit% of 19.4% yesterday on the heels of a 36.1% mark in June, which ranked 22nd. Only the Guardians had a lower Barrel% in June. The Rays offense is in a huge funk right now and can’t snap out of it without better contact quality.
Yankees/Guardians: I know they didn’t play on Friday, but I cannot stress enough how brutal this stretch has been for this time. They’ll now play four doubleheaders from June 28 to July 12. Thursday is their only scheduled off day prior to the Break. Terry Francona mentioned how much they were dragging on Thursday before the walk-off win. I’ll be curious to see what happens, as they play all division games after Sunday, including eight against the lowly Tigers and three against the Royals, so the schedule at least provides a respite in that regard.
Royals/Tigers: Speaking of the Tigers, they managed one ninth-inning run on six hits in yesterday’s 3-1 loss. They have now scored two or fewer runs in 36 of their 75 games and are 2-34 in those games. However, when they score at least three runs, they are 27-12. Talk about a fine line.
Angels/Astros: The Angels won 5-3 over Texas on May 24 to improve to 27-17. Since then, they are 10-25 over their last 35 games and got blown out again by the Astros on Friday. They managed two hits on Friday and of course one of the hits was a Shohei Ohtani homer. It was the only hit Cristian Javier gave up over seven innings with 14 strikeouts in just 99 pitches. Javier had 18 whiffs on 37 swings against his fastball alone. It was an embarrassing performance from the Angels offense and that’s been the theme for a while now.
Orioles/Twins: The Twins finally got a taste of what Cleveland did to them this week by walking it off against Jorge Lopez and the Orioles. The Twins seemed to have a bit of a hangover from the Guardians series, as they only mustered a run on five hits against Spenser Watkins, who came into the game with an ERA over 5. The Orioles seemed a little sluggish themselves after being out west, with just one run on two hits off of Joe Ryan. Neither team had many hard-hit balls and there were only 245 total pitches in the game. Situational betting is harder in baseball than any other sport, but perhaps I should have seen this one.
A’s/Mariners: There wasn’t a whole lot of hard-hit contact in this game either, as the over never had a chance. Marco Gonzales gave up eight hits over six innings, but the A’s were 2-for-12 with RISP. For some reason, the Mariners couldn’t hit James Kaprielian. Gonzales still looks very fade-worthy after allowing 10 baserunners here, but managing to escape most of the run-scoring threats. I’ll keep looking for chances to go against him.
Red Sox/Cubs: Are the Cubbies finally experiencing some of that positive regression I’ve been talking about? They’ve got their fourth winning streak of at least three games after yesterday’s 6-5 win over the Red Six. They were 0-for-9 with RISP yesterday, but still managed to pull this one out with 3.2 scoreless innings from the bullpen. They also battled back from a 4-0 hole just two innings into the game. Maybe the tide is turning a tad.
Rangers/Mets: We had a switcheroo here, as David Peterson started in place of Chris Bassitt and struck out 10 Rangers over six innings. My guy Glenn Otto was not good for the Rangers and I got my wish with a rocky outing. Hopefully we can back him again soon, as this Rangers bunch has been a quality team since the end of a tough April. That’s why it’s important to try and follow as many league-wide happenings as possible. File things away for the future.
White Sox/Giants: Lance Lynn shoved for Chicago, as the Giants inched closer to .500 once again. Lynn went six shutout innings and the bullpen held it together long enough for Leury Garcia to drive in an unearned run in the ninth. On the Giants side, Alex Cobb only threw 67 pitches, but everything had good life as he tries to build back up from missing time in the early part of June. It was an important pitching night for both teams, but not a good night for either lineup.
Weather: Rain took away one game yesterday and has the chance to mess with games in Minnesota, Philadelphia, Washington and New York. The weather can be unpredictable with storms and unstable conditions, so delays are certainly possible. Otherwise, it’ll be warm in most places, with helping winds in Detroit, Denver, Los Angeles and New York.
Injuries: Lots of updates and new injuries from the weekend, so keep an eye on those. Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Brewers (-200, 9) at Pirates: Bryse Wilson might be the lowest-rated pitcher in baseball in the minds of the modeling crowd, so it is no surprise to see Milwaukee bet up about 30 cents in this one. Frankly, it could go up even more as moneyline parlay players take the Brewers as one of today’s heavy favorites.
Marlins at Nationals (-105, 9.5): This is a moneyline pick ‘em either way thanks to some movement on the Nationals and Jackson Tetreault. It is clear that the modeling crowd has a much lower projection of the Marlins lineup with Jazz Chisholm Jr. on the shelf, as we saw Washington money yesterday as well. It didn’t work out, so we’ll see if today’s move does.
Braves (-175, 9) at Reds: Tyler Mahle has a 2.45 ERA and a 2.83 FIP over his last six starts, but that hasn’t stopped bettors from loading up on Spencer Strider and the Braves. This line has jumped upwards of 20 cents in the market, as Mahle did have some hideous home/road splits last season. I will say that he does have 47 K in his last 40.1 innings and the Braves do struggle with guys that have strikeout upside. But, influential bettors don’t seem concerned and are betting Atlanta like the Braves are free money.
Angels at Astros (-160, 8): There is simply no love for the Angels at all right now in the investment world. This line has jumped 30 or more cents with Patrick Sandoval on the hill for LA and Jose Urquidy for the Astros. Urquidy has a 4.36 ERA with a 5.83 xERA and a 4.82 FIP, while Sandoval has a 2.63 ERA with a 3.99 xERA and a 3.20 FIP, yet the Astros are 60-cent favorites. A big part of this is that Yordan Alvarez is back in the lineup for Houston.
Rangers at Mets (-130, 9): We’re seeing some interest in fading Martin Perez today, as the Mets have jumped about 10 cents with Trevor Williams on the bump. Perez has a 2.22 ERA with a 3.05 xERA and a 2.59 FIP, so there are some slight regression signs. What especially stands out here is that Williams is a guy with minimal trust in the market, but he’s on a much better team now, so bettors are willing to reevaluate.
What I’ll Be Watching
George Kirby: I was very successful in fading Kirby last time out, as he allowed seven runs on nine hits and four home runs to the Orioles in his second start against them. This will be his first time facing a team for the third time, as Oakland saw him in Seattle on May 24 and scored four runs on eight hits, but then got shut out over six innings at home on June 22. Kirby doesn’t have a very deep arsenal, so I’m concerned about him facing teams multiple times. However, the A’s are much better against lefties than righties on the road and aren’t the caliber of offense that the Orioles are.
Kirby has allowed nine homers over his last five starts and 12 barrels in that stretch. Can the A’s take advantage of his mediocre command and limited arsenal?
Dallas Keuchel: Maybe a data point at Coors Field isn’t a great indicator for the future, but Keuchel had a pretty extreme usage change in his first start reunited with former Astros pitching coach Brent Strom. He threw his cutter 34% of the time, something he had only done one other time this season. He generated 15 whiffs on 46 swings, albeit against a really bad Tigers team. He draws a Rockies team that has mauled lefties this season and the game has a total of 12.5, but I’ll be interested to see if there are any signs of growth from Keuchel, who was raised to a Cy Young caliber level by Strom and may need to rely on him to revive his career.
Saturday 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
White Sox/Giants 1st 5 Under 3.5 (-115): Dylan Cease and Logan Webb both appear to have pretty solid matchups today in this interleague contest. Cease draws a Giants lineup that has struck out a good bit this season and just finished June with the fourth-highest K%. He has actually allowed only one earned run in his last six starts, though he has allowed 11 runs total. Ten of them have just been unearned, so hopefully we get the better part of the White Sox defense today, but Cease has struck out 40 batters in his last four starts against just seven walks.
Webb should be well-equipped to shut down the best hitters in the Chicago lineup. Righties are only batting .211/.247/.278 with a .234 wOBA in 219 plate appearances this season with 53 strikeouts against just eight walks. He hasn’t allowed a home run at home in 200 plate appearances and has only allowed a .272 wOBA over 48.2 innings of work. The White Sox have been a bottom-five offense against righties throughout most of the season and draw a good one here in Webb, who is coming off of his best month of the season and actually gets better throughout his starts.
With most guys, you worry about a times through the order penalty, but Webb’s wOBA by TTO is .326, .268, .206, so he gets better as the game goes along. Cease does not, but he’s so dominant the first and second times through the order with wOBAs of .253 and .268 that he should be fine. There is also the extra-added perk of the fact that these teams really never face each other, so the first couple plate appearances for each hitter are fact-finding missions.
I considered the full-game under, especially with Liam Hendriks back for the White Sox, but there is the chance of extra innings in a game with a low-scoring expectation and very comparable starting pitchers, plus both of these pens have had their ugly moments.
Cease has only allowed 63 hits in 81 innings and only six homers. Webb has allowed less than a hit per inning with an extreme ground ball rate and only six homers. These two guys should cruise today, so I’m on the Under 3.5 for the 1st 5.
Red Sox/Cubs Over 9.5 (-105): Josh Winckowski and Alec Mills are today’s listed starters at Wrigley Field and I’m seeing some offensive potential in this one. Winckowski is a pitch-to-contact guy that has gotten really fortunate to only allow eight runs to this point. He’s a ground ball dude, but his Hard Hit% is 46.3%. Batted balls have found holes with nobody on base, as he’s allowed a .356/.396/.422 slash and a .362 wOBA with the bases empty, but they have not with men on base, as he’s allowed a .212/.263/.394 slash with a .277 wOBA in that split and has even better numbers with RISP.
Guys like Winckowski that allow a lot of hard-hit ground ball contact won’t be able to run a .214 BABIP with men on base for long. As that number regresses, more runs will come in. The Cubs rank in the top 10 in wOBA against both righties and lefties, so they’ve generated lots of run-scoring chances, but haven’t been able to capitalize with RISP. Today seems like a good day to do that against a regression candidate.
With Mills on the mound for the Cubs, the Red Sox should be able to get some good run-scoring opportunities. He’s a pitch-to-contact guy as well, just without the good fortunes. He’s also allowed seven home runs in 17.1 innings of work, as he’s given up 20 runs on 27 hits. For his career, he has a 4.96 ERA and a 4.81 FIP in 256 innings, so he’s been a well below average pitcher. Things have just been worse this season, as he hasn’t kept the ball down at all and has allowed a 12.1% Barrel% and a 42.4% Hard Hit%.
The Cubs bullpen has had issues throughout the season and Boston’s pen has struggled recently, so even if the starters don’t get us all the way there, we’ve got chances at runs in the later innings as well. I’m on the Over 9.5 here at slightly reduced juice.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.