We have a rather robust card for a Thursday in Major League Baseball, but a lot of the action will be during the day, giving bettors a lot of welcomed distractions while waiting for tonight’s NFL Draft. Our NFL Draft coverage is going to be exceptional here at VSiN.com and I encourage everybody to check out the Draft BetCast beginning at 7 p.m. ET (LISTEN HERE | WATCH HERE).
Personally, I’ve done very little with the draft, as baseball takes up the majority of my time, so I’ve been relying on our experts and their smart takes, so I am excited to see how tonight plays out. First, we’ve got some work to do on the card and everything happening around the big leagues.
Mets/Cardinals: This series wound up with a lot of fireworks, as the benches cleared yesterday and the pitchers jawed back and forth through the media about baseballs and beanballs. Ultimately, it ended with Carlos Carrasco giving up eight runs in 3.2 innings. Carrasco only allowed three hard-hit balls, but sometimes variance appears. He gave up a couple of doubles and a bunch of singles that all happened to be grouped together. Context is important with bad starts. He only had 11 whiffs in 43 swings, but his velo was up and his spin rates looked fine, so he’s healthy and a prime bounce back candidate next time out.
Dodgers/Diamondbacks: I have a theory about some teams when they play against really bad opposition. I don’t think they’re nearly as invested or engaged. With a team like the Dodgers, destined to win 100 games and return to the playoffs, not every game gets the attention it should. It’s almost like the NBA in that respect. The Dodgers just scored eight runs in three games off of D-Backs pitching. They didn’t get swept, but just didn’t seem overly engaged. It’s entirely possible that they won’t this week against the Tigers either, given that San Francisco is in town next week. I may try to prey on some of those kinds of spots as the season rolls along.
Brewers/Pirates: Josh Hader is 100% unavailable today for the Brewers having pitched four of the last five days. His velo and spin rates were both down yesterday, a sign of some fatigue, as he needed 26 pitches to end the game. I’d be surprised if he pitched on Friday as well. Bullpen usage is so important to handicap. I wrote about that this week in Point Spread Weekly HERE.
Padres/Reds: Vladimir Gutierrez is one of the lowest-rated pitchers in baseball by the modeling crowd that shapes numbers. You can see that with his line moves in advance of starts. He now has a 7.41 ERA to open the year after giving up six runs. Keep fading him on the overnights and you should be just fine.
It was another day where a run line bet against the Reds won. It has cashed in 13 of Cincinnati’s 15 losses, as the Reds are 3-15 to start the season. Mackenzie Gore used his fastball-heavy plan of attack to rack up 10 strikeouts in just five innings. I genuinely can’t remember a team as bad as this Reds one to start a season. They’re being outscored by 2.6 runs per game. That gravy train will run out soon, but kudos to everybody that has been betting run lines against them.
Marlins/Nationals: Yadiel Hernandez hit a ball with an exit velocity of 107.3 feet, a launch angle of 30 degrees and an xBA of .950 against Anthony Bender in the eighth innings yesterday. In past years, that kind of batted ball was a home run about 98% of the time. It was a fly out short of the warning track.
Maikel Franco’s long single in the ninth was hit 101.1 mph and 343 feet down the left field line. It looked gone off the bat, but hit the wall and Franco’s home run trot led to a single and the Nationals lost the game by a run. The Nationals hit four barreled balls yesterday with three fly outs and a long single. We see examples every day about how the baseball isn’t carrying enough and this game had several for the Nationals, who have lost seven in a row. Tough to hit Pablo Lopez, but tough when the breaks don’t go your way either.
Cubs/Braves: Charlie Morton is a pitcher I’ll be following. He’s allowed 14 runs in 18 innings and has a 7.00 ERA. His spin rates remain elite and his contact management numbers suggest a better fate, as he ranks in the 76th percentile in average exit velo and 66th in Hard Hit%. But, he’s in the 21st percentile in Whiff% and 11th in Chase Rate. I don’t think he’s out of gas quite yet. The market bet against him yesterday, but I think that’s more of a commentary on how Atlanta is playing. This would be Morton’s first season with a SwStr% under 10.9% since 2015 and I don’t think we’re truly at that point. I may look to bet on him soon.
Mariners/Rays: Twenty-six of the 43 batted balls in this game were 95 + mph, yet only five runs and 12 hits were accumulated. I can’t stress enough how much the humidor has sucked the life out of offense. It will be changing once we get into May and the weather warms up in some of the Midwest and East Coast cities, but probably not at a place like Tropicana Field.
Red Sox/Blue Jays: This Blue Jays offense is a riddle. They had nine hard-hit balls against Michael Wacha, but managed just one run on four hits over six innings. The Jays are 12-7, so life is good, but they’re already 6-2 in one-run games and have scored three or fewer runs in seven of 19 games. They lead the league in home runs with 26, but rank 11th in runs scored. They don’t walk at all, which is part of this equation, but they’re second in Hard Hit%, so the offense should be just fine.
Tigers/Twins: Joe Ryan seems to be the real deal. He gave up one hit over seven innings with nine strikeouts against the Tigers yesterday. Not bad for two months of Nelson Cruz. Unfortunately, I think he’s pitched too well for us to find a lot of betting value on him. That said, he’s faced the Mariners on a miserable day, Boston, Kansas City and Detroit. If he stays healthy, his next run of starts will be against Baltimore, Oakland, Cleveland, Oakland again and Detroit twice. He’ll probably carve up most of those lineups, but we’ll have to think long-term and try to find spots to fade him. I’m seeing 50/1 out there for Cy Young. If you’re seeing something higher, it might not be a bad speculative play, given that he has the chance to run some great numbers in his next six starts.
Astros/Rangers: I nearly took the under in Astros/Rangers yesterday, but I also nearly took the 1st 5 under. The full game got there, the 1st 5 did not, as Houston scored three in the fifth against Glenn Otto and Brett Martin. Otto held his own over 4.1 innings with two runs on four hits and five strikeouts. Like I talked about yesterday, the comps on his pitches rate highly. He’s a guy to follow and maybe a guy to bet on against lesser competition.
Guardians/Angels: I talked in my Guardians season preview about the coaching losses on the pitching side with Matt Blake and Ruben Niebla gone. I feel like it’s hardly coincidence that Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac have regressed. Plesac only had three whiffs in 33 swings yesterday and gave up seven runs in 3.2 innings. The pitching is supposed to be the saving grace for this Cleveland team and it’s not right now. They’re ticketed for a long season and it’ll soon be time to get more prospects up and let them learn on the job.
Weather: Winds are blowing in for the games in Philadelphia and D.C., as well as Minnesota and Chicago. Helping winds will be blowing out to right in the Bronx, but it will be another cool day in a lot of places with some rain in the forecast in Chicago and St. Louis.
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.
The biggest note today is that Ronald Acuna Jr. is back with the big league club in Atlanta, so the Braves should get a nice shot in the arm from one of the game’s best hitters.