We’re three days into the MLB season and already have seen how much variance there is in this sport. I’ll recap some of it and make mention of other examples as the days and weeks go along, but the daily MLB grind can definitely be extremely frustrating.
Sundays are admittedly my least favorite days to cap baseball. Most games start early, leaving little lead time, and managers will sometimes give key guys a day off, so the lineups may not always be what we expect for those that lock in plays before the lineups come out. Fresh off of a day when totals went 13-1-1 (or even 14-1, depending on the number you got), even with the winds blowing out in several parks, let’s see what today’s slate has in store.
Brewers/Cubs: It started ugly and finished uglier for the Brewers, who were a chalky pick of mine yesterday that lost 9-0. Brandon Woodruff was not sharp at all and the Brewers actually allowed three bases loaded walks to drive in runs. Milwaukee also had only four hits against Justin Steele and a collection of relievers. It’s a slow start for the Brewers, who lost consecutive games started by Woodruff and Burnes just twice all of last season. They’ve already done it to start 0-2 this season.
Milwaukee’s leadoff hitters are 9-for-16 with a walk to start an inning thus far. Everybody else is 5-for-45 with six walks and has grounded into five double plays.
Marlins/Giants: Carlos Rodon struck out 12 batters in five innings and 89 pitches yesterday. Per Codify Baseball, Rodon’s start was the 17th in MLB history to have at least 12 K in fewer than 90 pitches. The Giants still lost 2-1, as Pablo Lopez was equal to the task and the Marlins won the bullpen battle. Marlins relievers Scott Okert (4) and Richard Bleier (3) struck out every batter they faced. There were 28 combined Ks in the game.
Mets/Nationals: Chris Bassitt’s Metropolitans debut was a good one with eight strikeout over six scoreless innings. Joan Adon’s was not, with four runs on four hits and four walks. He gave up eight batted balls of 95 mph on 14 balls in play, two of which were barrels that wound up as outs. My biggest takeaway so far? I talked about how the top of the Nationals order was solid and the bottom was awful. Washington’s 6-9 hitters are 1-for-37. Hard to score runs like that.
Reds/Braves: I wound up putting a pizza money bet on Joey Votto to lead MLB in home runs at 225/1. He increased his Barrel% a lot last season and had the highest Swing% of his career since 2010. He’s only walked once thus far and his Swing% is 50%. He’s being really aggressive, as walking with this lineup doesn’t mean a whole lot. Something to keep an eye on this season for props and/or Reds team totals, seeing as how he’s looking to drive himself in more than anything. He’s 3-for-10 so far with three singles and a much higher launch angle than usual.
Dodgers/Rockies: German Marquez got through seven innings in just 74 pitches yesterday against the Dodgers. He threw 18-of-24 first-pitch strikes and 51 strikes total. He only had eight swings and misses, but topped out at 98 and had velo bumps across the board. The Dodgers were 0-for-10 on plate appearances ending in a non-fastball with all five of Marquez’s strikeouts. It was about as impressive of a start to the season as one can have.
White Sox/Tigers: The White Sox lost AJ Pollock to a hamstring injury, but got a strong Dylan Cease effort to ease some rotation concerns with a 5-2 win over the Tigers. I said I was going to watch Casey Mize, who gave up four runs on seven hits over five innings. He only had two strikeouts, despite getting to two strikes on 10 of the 22 batters he faced. He only had five whiffs in 38 swings. I was really disappointed with his start. Also, his spin rates were down considerably and the splitter he said he was bringing back only appeared on 11% of his pitches.
Mariners/Twins: Through two games, the Twins have only scored via the long ball. They’ve struck out 20 times in 18 innings and only have eight hits against Mariners pitching. It’s been chilly in Minneapolis, but this offense is off to a rough start.
Rangers/Blue Jays: Through two games, the top three hitters in the Toronto lineup (Springer, Bichette, Vladito) are 10-for-24 with nine runs scored. The length of this lineup is scary, but the top of the order will be what sets the table and the table has been set with the finest china so far.
Red Sox/Yankees: Luis Severino hit 100 and had nice velo numbers across the board in New York’s 4-2 win, but he had 20 swings against his fastball with only one swing and miss and the five balls in play averaged 100.3 mph. The Red Sox fouled off 18 pitches against him, including 14 fastballs. He may be somebody to bet against until he proves his command and swing-and-miss upside are back.
Guardians/Royals: What a sleeper this game was. The Royals had one at bat with RISP up until the gimmicky ghost runner concept in the 10th inning, where they had back-to-back singles to walk-off as a winner. The Guardians were shut down by Brad Keller, who threw six shutout innings for the first time since 2020. I may have lost a bet on Cleveland yesterday, but that season win total under sure looks smart based on what I’ve seen thus far.
Astros/Angels: The Astros hit eight home runs across Thursday and Friday, but then got shut out by Noah Syndergaard and the bullpen on Saturday. Baseball is a weird game.
A’s/Phillies: Speaking of weirdness and variance, we had 14 runs scored in a game started by Frankie Montas and Aaron Nola on Friday, only to have just six runs scored with Cole Irvin and Kyle Gibson starting on Saturday. Gibson had 10 strikeouts over seven innings with 16 swings and misses. What an embarrassing performance from the Oakland lineup.
Sunday Weather Report
Winds blowing out: Kansas City (plus temps in the 70s), San Francisco, Bronx (Sunday Night Baseball)
Winds blowing in: Minneapolis
Lots of windy games with the breezes blowing basically from third to first or first to third that could make fly balls an adventure. Bookmark Rotogrinders for weather updates.
Sunday Injury Report
Always stay up on the latest by following beat writers, fantasy sites, etc., but we also have a great Injury Report tool here at VSiN.
Also, keep an eye on that bullpen usage. Guys that pitched Friday and Saturday may be unavailable or not as sharp today. My favorite resource for reliever usage is Baseball Press.
Mets (-140, 9.5) at Nationals: After seeing Washington money in the first three games, the Mets are taking money here, as the market shies away from betting on Erick Fedde. Also, there was some positive press on Carlos Carrasco coming into the season after having surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow. I’d expect Carrasco to be popular in the markets at the outset and Fedde to be a fade guy most of the season.
Underdog money: Lots of underdog money today. The Reds, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Tigers and Rangers have all seen some fairly significant investment.
Under money: After Unders went 13-1-1 (or 14-1) yesterday, most games have moved down today. We’ve seen several half-run moves towards the under and even full-run moves in BOS/NYY and OAK/PHI. The only game with noticeable over money is that wind game between CLE/KC.
What I’ll Be Watching
Hunter Greene: Hitters are still trying to get up to speed and get their timing down. It’s not easy to time up triple digits. This will be Greene’s MLB debut for the Reds and he’s sure to light up the radar gun, but how poised does the 22-year-old look against a good Braves lineup. He racked up a ton of strikeouts in the minors, but did allow 11 HR in 65.1 Triple-A innings last season. Let’s see if he’s ready for primetime.
White Sox vs. LHP: Tim Anderson returns from his suspension today, giving the White Sox another potent right-handed bat against lefty Tarik Skubal. The White Sox were fifth in wOBA against LHP in 2021, even though some prominent right-handed bats in Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert missed ample time. Back in 2020, the White Sox were second in wOBA against LHP and 18 points ahead of the third-place team. They’re sixth on the young season thus far in a very small sample size and roughed up Eduardo Rodriguez on Friday. I’m surprised to see that line coming down.
Sunday Best Bets
As always, shop around for the best lines! I’m using a consensus number that should be widely available to readers, but every cent matters, so do what you can to get the best price out there.
VEGAS ODDS | ODDS BY STATE | MLB MATCHUPS
Mariners/Twins Under 8.5 (-105): Marco Gonzales and Bailey Ober should have some excellent pitching conditions in the Twin Cities today. It will be sunny and in the 50s, but a stiff breeze will be knocking balls down to right field. That should benefit Ober, who was an extreme fly ball guy last season, but also one that struck out over a batter per inning with a low walk rate. The home run issue that popped up at the MLB level with 20 HR in just 92.1 innings was not an issue in the minors with just 11 homers allowed over four seasons and multiple levels.
Like Ober, Gonzales had a big bump in homers allowed last season, as he gave up 29 long balls in just 143.1 innings of work. It was a weird season for Gonzales, who wasn’t fully healthy coming out of spring training and missed the entire month of May. After a rough first half, Gonzales posted a 2.70 ERA and a .275 wOBA against in 86.2 innings in the second half. His FIP was high because of the long balls and a low K%, but his Hard Hit% dropped to 32.5% and his Barrel% also fell to 8.2%.
The teams have combined for just 22 hits thus far. The Twins only have five hits that aren’t home runs. The conditions should help the relievers as well, which is why I’m taking the full game. If the ball does carry better than anticipated and there are some homers early, I’m hoping the bullpens would lock it down late.
White Sox (-128) over Tigers: Tarik Skubal has some well-defined platoon splits that could come into play in this game. Righties slugged .502 against him last season with a .341 wOBA. He gave up 34 of his 35 homers to RHB. The lone lefty in the lineup will be backup catcher Reese McGuire. I’d rather see Yasmani Grandal catching Michael Kopech, but it is what it is. I’d like to see Kopech get some game action in before I start firing away. Also, Skubal allowed a .601 SLG and a .378 wOBA to righties in road outings last season, where his ERA was also two runs higher and his wOBA against was 51 points higher. He’s a great road fade against RH-heavy lineups, so we’ll file that away. I think Chicago wins today, but I couldn’t bet it just yet.
Astros (-110) over Angels: I’m a big believer in Jose Urquidy, who doesn’t walk people and has an extreme fly ball style that should be good more often than not. The Astros seem to perennially be a top-five offense against lefties and get one today in Jose Suarez, but Suarez actually pitched better against righties than lefties last season because of a strong changeup. I may simply be undervaluing him a bit, but I’ve got more time to decide on this one.
I’ll be tracking this season’s article picks HERE and feel free to use that format to track your own picks if you’d like.