Sixteen games are on the card for Saturday, leaving no shortage of things to talk about and consider. We saw a lot of runs and a lot of overs on Friday, including the 28-run outburst by the Blue Jays. It isn’t terribly shocking to see an offensive uptick with rusty pitchers that are almost all going on extra rest paired with the hot and humid conditions. However, I was surprised to the degree with which we saw offense.
Some teams looked ready to play and some didn’t. Let’s see what the Saturday card has in store.
Cardinals/Reds: Road Wainwright reared its ugly head yesterday as the veteran Cardinals hurler allowed seven runs on five hits, including two homers, over 5.1 innings of work. He struck out only two with just six swings and misses. The Cardinals jumped on Graham Ashcraft for four runs over 4.2 innings and the Reds pushed him out to 112 pitches to try and get him through five innings to be in line for the win. If you see a manager do that, it’s probably a good time to live bet the over, as runs are coming.
Marlins/Pirates: I wrote yesterday about Zach Thompson’s peripherals and some of the concerning things in his profile. They came to fruition yesterday, as he allowed seven runs on nine hits in 5.1 innings, including 11 hard-hit balls. The Marlins broke a streak of 37 scoreless innings with a four-run explosion in the fourth. They also got another strong outing from Braxton Garrett. I almost wound up on the under here, but Thompson’s BABIP and LOB% saved me from a losing pick.
Cubs/Phillies: Justin Steele gave up his first home run of the season on a four-seam fastball to lead off the game, but that was the only blemish for the Cubs in yesterday’s 15-2 pounding of the Phillies. The Cubs did score three in the eighth and then five in the fifth (off a position player) to make this one look more lopsided than it really was, but made the most of their chances against Kyle Gibson in the fifth inning.
The Cubs might be an interesting team in the second half. They probably won’t be any good, but they had a lot of chances with RISP in the first half and didn’t cash them in. They were 6-for-12 yesterday.
Padres/Mets: Yu Darvish outdueled Max Scherzer as the Padres came away with a 4-1 dub on Friday. Scherzer only gave up two runs on five hits over six innings for the tough-luck loss, as the Mets’ middle relief gave up some insurance runs. That seems to be the one questionable position group for the team, but that’s easy to address at the Trade Deadline.
Rockies/Brewers: Playing 13 innings in the first game back is not great, especially when both starters only manage five innings. The Brewers ultimately prevailed 6-5 and got solid relief work from Devin Williams and Josh Hader (nice velo increase), but both teams dug deep into the bullpen on the first day back. In a vacuum, it isn’t a big deal, but we’ll have to closely watch the pen usage for these two as the week goes along.
Nationals/Diamondbacks: I nearly took a piece of the Nationals yesterday feeling like the line was a little high for a Diamondbacks bunch that limped into the Break with consecutive wins just once from June 8-9 through the end of the first half. Patrick Corbin gave up five runs on eight hits in five innings, including Ketel Marte’s big three-run homer in the third. Meanwhile, Zac Gallen fired seven shutout and pitched around nine hard-hit balls to allow just two hits.
Of note, Juan Soto, who says that the Home Run Derby helps him get his swing on track, went 1-for-4 on batted balls of 95.5, 109.3, 98.4 and 101.9 mph. If he does take off offensively, the Nationals become a decent over bet with their bad pitching staff.
Giants/Dodgers: Cody Bellinger’s tiebreaking grand slam in the eighth squandered a solid effort from Logan Webb, though he did walk four over his six innings. The Giants continue to have defensive problems, as some miscues set the stage for Belli’s bomb. The Giants also failed to do much against Tyler Anderson, who gave up an unearned run over six. What a story he continues to be.
The Giants just don’t do enough of the little things well this season. All four runs off of Sam Long for the grand slam were unearned because the inning should have been over. He also hung an 0-2 pitch, so shame on him.
Yankees/Orioles: Something to watch for in the second half is how guys that have some deception or some other quirk fare against teams that have already seen them. Tyler Wells is 6-foot-8 and that high arm slot has been a big part of his success. Facing the Yankees for the fourth time, he allowed five runs on five hits, including two homers, over five innings. He allowed four barrels in a start for the first time this season. Keep an eye out for these situations.
Jameson Taillon wasn’t any better and left after 2.2 innings with two runs on four hits and three walks over 67 pitches. The Yankees had to get a lot of relief work and also lost Michael King to a fractured elbow. He had a higher fWAR than Clay Holmes, so this is an extremely big loss. Holmes looked good in his 1.2 innings, but an injury to a high-leverage reliever is hurtful. With New York off of Thursday’s doubleheader and now this mess, times are a little tough for the team with the best record in baseball.
Blue Jays/Red Sox: Teams I bet on in the second half are on pace to score 28 runs per game, so that seems like a good thing. There’s really not much to say about this one. The Red Sox have lost their last three games by a combined score of 55-8. They now have a negative run differential for the season and get to face Alek Manoah today.
Kevin Gausman saw a big velo uptick last night, even pitching with the huge lead when guys rein it in a bit. On the other side, Nate Eovaldi’s velo is still down about 2 mph from where it was. It looks like he’s still not healthy and remains a good fade candidate.
Guardians/White Sox: Not a good start for Lucas Giolito on Friday, as the Guardians rolled to an 8-2 win. He gave up six runs on nine hits in three innings, including a two-run homer to Andres Gimenez. Giolito only allowed three hard-hit balls and gave up six hits on batted balls below 80 mph, including three with expected BAs of .050 (double), .090, .060. With that in mind, his start wasn’t as bad as the line score suggests. I’m curious to see if people will overreact.
Rays/Royals: Walks were the killer for the Royals yesterday. The Rays only had seven hard-hit balls, but drew eight walks, including five against Brad Keller in just four innings for a 7-3 win. Guys with questionable control are likelier to struggle coming out of the Break because of rust, so you may want to factor that into your handicaps.
Rangers/Athletics: Cole Irvin continued to be masterful at home for the A’s with one earned run allowed on three hits over seven innings against the Rangers, a lineup that has hit lefties extremely well this season. The game still went over, so my condolences to under bettors. Irvin has a 1.63 ERA in 55.1 innings at home and a 4.79 ERA in 47 innings on the road. He’s allowed a .199/.244/.239 slash at home with a .219 wOBA and a .266/.303/.522 slash with a .349 wOBA on the road.
Basically, hitters are collectively Leury Garcia at Oakland Coliseum and Kyle Tucker on the road using wOBA against Irvin.
Astros/Mariners: Much like Zach Thompson, we saw regression from Marco Gonzales on Friday. He allowed five runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings, including three home runs, in the 5-2 loss to Houston. That loss snapped the Mariners’ 14-game winning streak. Gonzales still has a long way to go to reach his regression signs, but I’d be more inclined to look for those on the road than at home.
Angels/Braves: Shohei Ohtani did everything he could for the Angels yesterday until the wheels fell off in the seventh inning. Ohtani allowed six runs, including two backbreaking homers, but struck out 11 over 6.1 innings. The Angels managed one measly run and it came on a Jonathan Villar solo homer in the ninth off of Will Smith. Ohtani only allowed two hard-hit balls, but the home runs did him in. He may have tired on a sultry night in Atlanta.
Cubs at Phillies (-170, 8): We’ve seen about 15-20 cents worth of movement on the Phillies in this one, as the market backs Zack Wheeler and fades Marcus Stroman. I’m a little surprised, as Stroman does have some positive indicators, including a 60.6% LOB% that should go up and a 4.69 ERA with a 4.25 xERA and a 3.85 FIP.
Rockies at Brewers (-280, 8.5): We’ve had two moves in this game, with the first being an ace bump on Brandon Woodruff, which makes sense against Jose Urena, a guy that nobody really believes in. The second is a leap from 7.5 to 8.5 on the total, which is pretty stunning. The Rockies have only scored about three runs per game on the road. I guess this says a lot about Urena and model projections to go against him.
Giants at Dodgers (-160, 8): We’re seeing about a 15-cent move market-wide on the Dodgers with Julio Urias on the hill. The Giants just have not been impressive this season and I think their prices in the second half will reflect that more often.
Astros (-140, 7) at Mariners: We’ve seen a modest move on Justin Verlander and Houston today. Seattle is sending out Logan Gilbert, who has some regression signs in the profile with a 2.76 ERA and a 4.22 xERA, plus a high LOB% of 81.4% with a pretty average strikeout rate.
Twins (-175, 8.5) at Tigers: Seeing a modest move here on Joe Ryan and the Twins as well, moving up about 15 cents against the Tigers. Saw the same with Blue Jays/Red Sox and Manoah vs. Kutter Crawford. I expect we’ll see a lot of this as bettors take positions to fade certain guys coming out of the Break. I think a lot of respected bettors really slowed down going into the ASG with all the questions surrounding teams.
What I’ll Be Watching
Logan Gilbert: Let’s dig a little deeper into Gilbert. As mentioned, he has a 2.76 ERA with a 4.22 xERA, a 3.51 FIP and a 3.80 xFIP. Those are still pretty strong numbers and he’s been a guy throughout his career that has kept the ball in the park despite a high home run rate. What greatly concerns me, and the reason his xERA is so high, is that he has a 46.6% Hard Hit% against. Oddly enough, even as a fly ball guy, Gilbert has a .288 wOBA against both at home and on the road. I would’ve expected some home/road splits, but that is not the case. He does have a lot more trouble with control on the road.
He may just be a guy able to navigate around the hard contact. It also may come back to haunt him. I’m not entirely sure, but what I do know is that he allows a low Barrel% for a fly ball guy with a high Hard Hit%, so he’s something of an anomaly.
Patrick Sandoval: Sandoval is having a strong year and nobody is really talking about it because it’s easier to just dump on the Angels and all of their problems. Sandoval has a 3.00 ERA with a 3.05 FIP and a 3.81 xFIP. He does have a 4.37 xERA, due in large part to a high BB% of 10.3%. But, he’s struck out over a batter per inning, has an outstanding Hard Hit% at 34.2% and a strong Barrel% at 6.8%. He’s a really good pitcher that will get even better if he figures out how to command his fastball more effectively. This will be an interesting start against a Braves lineup that seems to hit everything hard. He tilts to the ground ball side and has a good strikeout rate with a 12.7% SwStr%. I think he can have success against the Braves today, even with an Atlanta offense that hits lefties well.
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.
| ODDS BY STATE
| MLB MATCHUPS
Cardinals/Reds Over 10.5 (+ 100): There are some 10s with the over at -115, but I’ll be fair to everybody and grade this at 10.5l. This pitching matchup combined with the weather conditions should be pretty conducive for offense in Cincinnati. Steven Matz returns from the IL to make his first MLB start since May 17. He wasn’t overly effective at the MLB level prior to the injury, posting a 6.03 ERA in 37.1 innings of work. He’s pitched well on his rehab assignment, allowing three runs on nine hits in 12.2 innings, but the Major League game is different and Matz hasn’t started in 11 days because the last game before the All-Star Break was rained out.
Mike Minor has a 6.21 ERA with a 6.38 FIP in his 42 MLB innings this season. He’s allowed 12 home runs since coming back on June 3 and draws a Cardinals lineup that has certainly fared better against lefties than righties. St. Louis is still sixth in wOBA against lefties at .332 with a 118 wRC +. For what it’s worth, Cincinnati’s better split has also been against lefties. They’re actually fourth in home wOBA vs. LHP.
With Matz likely to go around 75-80 pitches, the Cardinals will be forced to use their middle relief, which is one of the weaknesses of the roster. The Reds just have a bad bullpen all the way around, ranking dead last in fWAR for the season with a 5.38 ERA and things have not gotten much better recently with a 5.86 ERA over the last 30 days.
We’ve seen a boatload of runs at GABP throughout the season to begin with, but with hot, humid temps and excellent hitting weather, we should see a lot more again today. I’m on Over 10.5 at even money, but try to find a 10 at -115 if you can. I’m still keeping my volume really low coming out of the Break with so much pitcher uncertainty.
Guardians/White Sox 1st 5 Over 5 (-120): I’m going to wait for lineups on this one with the day/night doubleheader, but I went against Konnor Pilkington the last time he faced the White Sox and it worked out well. Chicago still hits southpaws well and Pilkington is a guy that struggles to settle into games early.
Lance Lynn has had plenty of issues of his own lately, as his command has not been up to snuff and he doesn’t have the swing and miss working yet, which has been more hurtful with Chicago’s defense. I don’t like playing Game 2s well in advance if I can help it and I’ll wait to see what happens with Game 1 before making a final decision on this game.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.