We’ve got two days left in July and three days left until Deadline Day. One big domino fell last night with the trade of Luis Castillo to the Mariners for a very strong haul of prospects, including Noelvi Marte. Seattle got a lot better with yesterday’s trade and we’ll wait to see which other contending teams make moves to improve.
No article on Sunday, but I’ll be on The Run Line tomorrow night at 8 p.m. ET talking all things baseball.
Mets/Marlins: A rare off night for Sandy Alcantara led to a bullpen battle that was won by the Mets. Alcantara allowed four runs on eight hits in just five innings with three walks and five strikeouts. He only had seven whiffs in 50 swings, so the stuff was not up to snuff. He was staked to a 3-0 lead heading into the top of the second, but gave it right back, as the Mets went 4-for-16 with RISP on the night. The game went over 6.5 by the bottom of the second.
Cardinals/Nationals: Certainly you’ve heard the phrase “a day late and a dollar short”. Well, the 1st 5 bet was an inning late and a dollar short. Washington failed on a good scoring opportunity in the second to at least give us a push and then St. Louis blew the game open with three runs in the sixth on a couple of homers. It’s been an incredibly frustrating week and the violent swings of the season are definitely getting to me as football prep is underway. The last day for the article will be August 25, but I’ll do some playoff MLB writing.
Phillies/Pirates: The Keystone State Clash went to the Phillies on Friday night with a 4-2 win. Jose Quintana and Bailey Falter were both solid and the Phillies got some quality relief work with four scoreless innings. Philadelphia had 16 hard-hit balls to just six for the Pirates, who are likely to move some players over the next couple of days. They are, however, one of the few bad teams with little to trade.
Diamondbacks/Braves: Madison Bumgarner allowed 14 hard-hit balls and had zero strikeouts over six innings against the Braves. He’s lucky that he only allowed five runs. Atlanta got a solid effort from Kyle Wright, but Kenley Jansen had a shaky ninth with two walks, a hit and three strikeouts. Arizona could look a lot different after the weekend with Christian Walker and David Peralta as potential trade candidates.
Dodgers/Rockies: The Dodgers jumped on Chad Kuhl for five early runs, but went scoreless over the final six innings of the game. Craig Kimbrel made it very interesting in the ninth with two runs allowed on three hits, but the Dodgers narrowly escaped with a 5-4 win. For the second straight night, a Dodgers lefty pitched well against a Rockies team that has hit lefties well all season long, as Julio Urias went seven efficient innings on 89 pitches. Colorado batters bad lefties at home. Tyler Anderson and Urias are not bad lefties.
Cubs/Giants: A day late and a dollar short here, as the Cubs came away with a 4-2 win over the slumping Giants. Marcus Stroman scattered eight hits over his six innings and the Cubs pitched a shutout until the ninth when David Robertson struggled. Chciago’s offense struggled as well, as Alex Cobb racked up 11 strikeouts in six masterful innings. Camilo Doval gave up three insurance runs in the ninth and San Francisco’s two in the bottom half weren’t enough.
The Giants have some very attractive trade pieces and are playing like a seller right now, so we’ll see who gets moved.
Royals/Yankees: Gerrit Cole gave up a three-run homer to Salvador Perez on a 100 mph fastball at the top of the strike zone that gave the Royals a 5-3 lead. They never scored again and Aaron Judge hit a grand slam to put an exclamation point on the 11-5 win. If you look at pitch run values, the Royals have consistently been the worst fastball team this season and it burned them late in this one.
Tigers/Blue Jays: I’ve mentioned before that the Tigers bullpen is a weapon. They threw 5.1 scoreless innings of relief yesterday to score a huge underdog upset cash against Alek Manoah and the Blue Jays. Most of these guys have pitched a fair amount of innings and the five relievers to work yesterday finished their appearances with ERAs of 3.20, 2.87, 3.00, 2.77 and 2.36. Not bad at all. They just haven’t had enough leads to protect and the Trade Deadline will take apart this pen.
Manoah left in the sixth after taking a comebacker off the elbow. X-rays were negative and he shouldn’t miss too much time, if any.
Guardians/Rays: After a really rocky first inning, Shane Bieber settled in nicely and had 20 whiffs over seven one-run innings with eight strikeouts. It was a night where Cleveland’s best offensive players shined, as Steven Kwan had three hits and scored twice, Andres Gimenez had an RBI double and Jose Ramirez drove in three of the four runs. That’s how this team wins and the Rays allowed them to do it, pitching to Ramirez with first base open twice. The Rays offense continues to struggle after last week’s brief out-of-body experience.
Athletics/White Sox: The A’s have won four in a row for the first time all season and seven of eight to get within three games of the Angels in the win column. They knocked around Lance Lynn yesterday and scored five runs on six hits in 5.2 innings of work, while the White Sox did absolutely nothing of consequence against James Kaprielian.
Tim Anderson was ejected for arguing balls and strikes and it looked like he made contact with the home plate umpire, so a suspension may be looming for him. This team is a mess. They need a new leader in the dugout and really need to find a way to become more balanced offensively. They can’t continue to get shut down by marginal right-handers.
Mariners/Astros: It was ugly for Robbie Ray and the M’s yesterday, as the Astros put another beating on them and have gone 5-0 against Seattle since the All-Star Break. Ray only lasted 2.2 innings and gave up four runs on five hits and four walks. Tommy Milone gave up four insurance runs in the sixth. Meanwhile, Justin Verlander just rolled along through 7.2 innings.
The Mariners had gone 6-6 against the Astros before losing five straight. Fortunately for them, today and tomorrow are the final head-to-head meetings with Houston for the season.
Rangers/Angels: Sometimes if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... As much as I love Patrick Sandoval, the Angels are not playing like a team that deserved to be in a toss-up game with Martin Perez on the other side. Sandoval had 19 whiffs in his 5.2 innings, but the bullpen left a steaming pile on the mound and the Rangers scored a 7-2 win. Perez went seven strong and only allowed two hard-hit balls. The Angels only had four total. There’s no contact quality. There’s no approach. This Angels team seems to have quit and they’re going to mail in the rest of the season with no direction and no coaching.
Orioles/Reds: Kyle Bradish was excellent and the Baltimore bullpen navigated a few jams before the offense broke out in the ninth for four runs in a 6-2 win. The Reds bullpen continues to be bad. Unlike the Tigers from above, the relievers to pitch for Cincinnati finished their outings with ERAs of 5.87, 7.41, 5.06, 6.20 and 6.23. Now they’ve traded Luis Castillo, so they lose an innings workhorse, and Tyler Mahle could be next.
Brewers/Red Sox: Brandon Woodruff had 19 swings and misses over his 6.1 innings of work with nine punchies and just one run allowed on four hits. Brayan Bello served as the bulk reliever for the Red Sox and struggled yet again, giving up two runs on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Bello has been a big negative in his appearances for the Red Sox and it may make sense to just fade him if he’s going to appear in the game at all.
J.D. Martinez’s offensive numbers are dropping like a rock with his injury and this group misses Rafael Devers badly. I feel like I should have been a lot more proactive in fading this team. Maybe I haven’t missed my chance just yet.
Twins/Padres: Baseball is the weirdest game ever. Joe Ryan had 17 swings and misses for the Twins. Blake Snell also had 17 swings and misses for the Padres. Ryan gave up 10 runs on eight hits, including FIVE home runs. Snell gave up one run on four hits. The Padres had hit 34 home runs in 46 home games prior to last night, so naturally they broke out when I had a bet on the Twins.
Two of the home runs that Ryan allowed had xBAs of .190 and .210. Three of them were under 375 feet. Just one of those days I guess.
Weather: Weather conditions will be pretty conducive for hitting after we had a little bit of a temperature downturn in most places throughout the week. Atlanta is the only place that really looks threatened by rain at game time.
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.
Cardinals (-140, 10) at Nationals: Today’s “Choose Your Fighter” game with Dakota Hudson and Erick Fedde is an interesting one in the betting markets. The majority opinion is to bet against both of these guys, but it looks like the influential money has chosen Fedde as the one to trust more. The line has moved down a few cents on the Nationals, even though Juan Soto could be traded at any minute.
Phillies (-150, 7.5) at Pirates: We’ve got an ample move on the under here, with this line going down from 8.5 to 7.5. I know Mitch Keller has been good of late with his ground ball stylings and Ranger Suarez continues to battle and give his team some decent efforts. I’m not sure I’d be piling on here, but this is quite a big total move.
Cubs at Giants (-135, 8): For the third straight game, this line features the Giants in the -130 or -140 range and the Cubs getting + 120ish on the takeback. Drew Smyly and Jakob Junis are today’s starters and the market has shown some modest interest in Junis and the Giants, but this line hasn’t moved a whole lot.
Guardians at Rays (-140, 7.5): We’ve seen about a 20-cent move in favor of Corey Kluber against his former team. Zach Plesac is a guy that the Guardians may be looking to trade, so this could be his last start for Cleveland. Plesac has a 4.09 ERA, but a 5.42 xERA, which could be part of the move. That said, over his last 10 starts, Plesac has a 3.07 ERA with a 3.51 FIP and has only allowed five home runs. He’s pitched rather well in that span.
Royals at Yankees (-330, 9); Tigers at Blue Jays (-300, 9): I’ll lump these together because we’re seeing moves on both heavy favorites. Nestor Cortes goes for the Yankees and Ross Stripling goes for the Jays, with Jon Heasley and Drew Hutchison, respectively, on the other side. Both lines probably aren’t done moving either.
What I’ll Be Watching
Paul Blackburn: What has happened to Blackburn? He’s allowed 21 runs over his last three starts, including a 10-run dud against the Rangers six days ago in his first start following the All-Star Break. He had allowed just 28 runs total in his first 16 starts. In fact, if we limit it even more, Blackburn has allowed 31 of his 49 runs over his last six starts. In five of those six starts, he faced AL West teams. The other was against the Yankees.
In today’s outing, Blackburn draws a White Sox team that ranks 27th in wOBA against righties. The White Sox don’t walk in this split and don’t hit for much power. Interestingly, while Blackburn got rocked in back-to-back starts by the Rangers, his Hard Hit% marks in those starts were 25% and 29.4%. I’m not sure if I could trust Oakland enough to bet them today, but there is some reason to hope that Blackburn bounces back. He also said he worked on a mechanical issue in his bullpens and throwing sessions after that outing.
Dean Kremer: In what may be Tyler Mahle’s last start as a Red, my focus is on the Baltimore starter in this one. Kremer has a 3.06 ERA with a 5.21 xERA, a 3.69 FIP and a 4.61 xFIP. This is a really interesting start in an elite hitter’s park, as Kremer’s GB% of 32.4% is the 12th-lowest among starters with at least 40 innings pitched. Being a fly ball guy at GABP is generally not great and Kremer will put that to the test here.
In 21.2 road innings, he has only allowed one homer and has a 1.66 ERA with a .314 wOBA against, despite the fact that his home ballpark has been one of the best for pitchers this season. Kremer’s road starts have come in Tampa, Seattle, Chicago and Kansas City, so he hasn’t exactly faced good lineups. He’s also allowed 12 runs over his last 19 innings of work. He’s also posted a .256 wOBA against in 81 PA the first time through, but a .350 wOBA against the second time through.
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.
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Rangers (+ 105) over Angels: Chase Silseth gets the start for the Angels today and he hasn’t pitched in 15 days. The rookie right-hander owns a 5.84 ERA and 5.84 in his six MLB starts and has not completed five innings in any of his last five outings. He’s got a Hard Hit% against of 51.2% and it sits at 59.1% if we take away his first start against Oakland in which he threw six strong innings.
Silseth was slated to start in Double-A for the Rocket City Trash Pandas tonight, but the Angels are pushing Reid Detmers back a day. Silseth worked 4.1 innings and gave up two runs on seven hits in his minor league start on July 15. Now he’ll face a Major League offense in a spot where he may end up being very rusty.
Glenn Otto has had a lot of problems walking people, but he’s only issued three walks in his last 15.2 innings of work, so it seems like something that the Rangers are actively trying to fix. He’s got a 5.37 ERA with a 5.19 FIP, but has held the opposition to three or fewer earned runs in 10 of his 14 starts. He’s had much better fortunes on the road for one reason or another with a .297 wOBA against and a 3.57 ERA in 35.1 innings of work.
I just don’t feel like the Angels are very invested right now. They’re just wondering if Shohei Ohtani or Noah Syndergaard get traded and whether or not the bullpen will remain in tact. The Rangers are a positive regression candidate with the worst win percentage in one-run games in MLB history and they’re still a team looking to buy for the future and keep fighting. Ohtani as a favorite? Fine. Patrick Sandoval as a favorite? Fine. Chase Silseth as a favorite? Nah. I’ll take the Rangers at + 105.
Reds 1st 5 (-115) over Orioles: It may just be anecdotal or a byproduct of recency bias, but it sure feels like teams are rallying at home for the players that are likely to be traded. We’ve seen the Cubs and Orioles win in the final home games for some of their players and the A’s swept the Astros with their Trade Deadline losses looming. This may very well be Tyler Mahle’s last start as a Red and I’d expect a strong effort from Cincinnati tonight.
Mahle was drafted by the Reds in 2013, so he’s been in this organization for nine seasons and he’s never pitched in the postseason. His teammates will be happy for him if he goes to a contender, but they’ll also try to win what could be his last home start. Mahle has a 4.48 ERA with a 3.78 FIP in his 98.1 innings this season, but actually has a 2.81 ERA and a 3.72 FIP in his last eight starts covering 51.1 innings of work. He’s also made six home starts in that span, where he has allowed 13 runs in 35.2 innings of work.
I wrote above about my concerns with Dean Kremer going to Cincinnati. He’s a fly ball guy that mostly pitches to contact. The HR/FB% this season for Orioles pitchers at home is just 8.7%. The HR/FB% for Reds pitchers at home is 14.4%. The Orioles obviously have a much better pitching staff, but these two park factors are very, very different.
Kremer also draws a righty-heavy Reds lineup today and righties have had more success against him than lefties. RHB are slashing .292/.343/.427 compared to LHB at .247/.322/.309. Righties are 50 points higher in wOBA and also own a .327/.365/.449 slash and a .358 wOBA when Kremer pitches on the road.
I have no interest in taking the Reds bullpen against the Orioles bullpen, but I do like Mahle for the 1st 5 here at a short favorite number.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.