Weather is a major factor around Major League Baseball on Thursday. It is a rare Thursday with only one day game, but we could have several postponements or delays because rain is in the forecast in a lot of the cities hosting games. Think long and hard about whether or not your bet will be compromised in the event of a rain delay, as some are long enough for starting pitchers to not be able to come back out.
With 12 games on the board, we’ve got plenty to discuss. Hopefully Mother Nature eases off the throttle and allows us to get the majority of these games in without issue.
Rockies/Pirates: After a couple of low-scoring duds at PNC Park, we saw 15 runs on Thursday afternoon. Bad pitching played a part, but maybe we’re just seeing the effects of the humidor lessened a bit during the warmer daytime hours. Either way, Colorado lost, so the Rockies Road Fade was successful. Just know that if you want to bet against the Rox on the road, you had better do it early.
Mets/Giants: Another day, another over at Oracle Park. The Giants scored nine runs early and the game went over the total by the second inning. The Mets are definitely showing the signs of all of their pitcher injuries right now and it doesn’t help that Chris Bassitt struggled in his last start as well. The thing about missing starters is that the replacements aren’t as good, but also that it puts more strain on the bullpen. Both pens logged a lot of innings in this series, but especially the Mets’ relief corps.
Dodgers/Nationals: Just like we all expected, Erick Fedde threw six shutout innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Julio Urias pitched well himself, but the one run he allowed was enough for the Nats to secure a 1-0 victory. I mentioned this last week, but the Dodgers could be in a little trouble offensively if they can’t draw walks. Fedde only walked one batter, though Los Angeles did threaten a bit against the bullpen. Either way, the Dodgers will have lapses of focus like this throughout the season when they lose games that they shouldn’t. The trick is hoping that we can isolate them.
Brewers/Padres: Are the Padres starting to come back to earth a bit? When you look at the lineup, only Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer are really hitting, and Hosmer is starting to tail off a bit. San Diego has been living right on the pitching side, and did again on Wednesday, but still lost 2-1. Maybe the fade sign is lit up for this team, as their recent line moves suggest.
Cubs/Reds: I mentioned this during my Betting Across America spot yesterday, but didn’t it seem odd that the Reds would be pumped up to a -140 favorite against anybody? They’ve been such a bad team most of the season that many probably looked at the Cubs at + 130 and said “why not”? Well, the Reds held on for a 4-3 win. The betting market will tell you a lot. You just have to listen.
Phillies/Braves: Neither Charlie Morton nor Ranger Suarez was effective yesterday, but the Braves bullpen threw 4.2 shutout innings and three of the four Phillies relievers gave up runs. Atlanta’s bullpen is really pitching well now, especially multi-inning weapon Spencer Strider. If the offense ever truly gets going, this team can go on a serious run. I’m still waiting for that to be the case.
Athletics/Mariners: I feel like we’re getting to the point where we should fade Paul Blackburn. After such an impressive start with 23 K in 24.1 innings of work, he has a 13/9 K/BB ratio over his last four starts. He’s still limited the number of runs allowed, but I feel like he’s starting to teeter on the brink of a big collapse. He only allowed four hard-hit balls yesterday, but went into that start in the 24th percentile in Hard Hit%. He was also in the 11th percentile in Chase Rate. I feel like all of that contact in the zone is going to hurt him soon. I’ll be trying to isolate spots to go against him.
Orioles/Yankees: Well, my read on JP Sears was right, not that I followed through with it. We saw a hefty move on the total with Sears vs. Tyler Wells and no Giancarlo Stanton for the Yankees. Sears threw five shutout innings and the Yankees pen did the rest in the shutout. Sears only allowed two hard-hit balls and really had a fine start. Hopefully he won’t be too overpriced next time out.
Red Sox/White Sox: Some losses are more frustrating than others. This qualifies. The Red Sox only scored one run despite five hits and a walk against Lucas Giolito. They were 1-for-9 with RISP, many of those coming early in the game. The White Sox only managed a three-run homer off of Rich Hill. Hill only had three whiffs in 31 swings. Giolito had 17 whiffs in 47 swings, so the stuff was good, but we really just needed a big early hit from Boston and never got it. Such is life, but that was a frustrating one.
Guardians/Astros: Cleveland doesn’t swing and miss much, but Cristian Javier had 20 whiffs in 51 swings over 5.2 dominant innings. Cal Quantrill pitched around a low strikeout rate once again to keep the Guardians in the game, but the Astros won another low-scoring affair at home. This game only featured seven hard-hit balls, with four for the Astros and three for the Guardians. It was not a great day for quality contact to say the least. Minute Maid Park continues to be a solid under venue.
Rangers/Angels: My man Glenn Otto threw five strong innings with seven strikeouts and the Rangers cruised to a 7-2 win. Texas had 31 balls in play and 16 were hit at least 95 mph, including nine off of Reed Detmers in six innings. For the second time this season, Mike Trout struck out four times in four at bats. Crazy! Hopefully Otto continues to be underpriced in the marketplace with his 4.91 ERA. One or two bad starts can really skew an ERA and produce some hidden value. That’s the case with him right now.
Weather: As I said in the intro, we’ve got a lot of weather considerations. Rain and thunderstorms are in the forecast for several games, including Cubs/Reds, Guardians/Tigers, Phillies/Braves, Red Sox/White Sox and Brewers/Cardinals. Winds often accompany storms, so you definitely want to think long and hard about those games today.
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.
Rockies at Nationals (-110, 8): You’ve heard me say this before, but sometimes the moves that you don’t see are the most noteworthy. The Rockies get faded in basically every road game that they play, but it isn’t really happening today. That should tell you all that you need to know about the market perception of Washington starter Patrick Corbin. It’s doubly noticeable because German Marquez has not pitched very well this season with a 6.14 ERA. He is a positive regression candidate, though, with a 4.54 xERA and 4.59 FIP.
Royals at Twins (-175, 8): I feel like I’ve seen small bits of money on Daniel Lynch a fair amount in his starts this season. Lynch doesn’t really have strong peripherals and only pitched 57 innings above A-ball in the minor leagues, but it does seem like he’s been one of the more popular Royals starters for bettors. Kansas City has moved down a few cents today.
Blue Jays at Angels (-160, 7.5): Shohei Ohtani and the Angels have jumped up about 15 cents for this matchup against Hyun Jin Ryu and the Blue Jays. Ryu has had some issues in his four starts and the Blue Jays offense continues to struggle. I also wonder if this move is a little speculative thinking that Taylor Ward will return tonight for the Halos.
What I’ll Be Watching
Eric Lauer: Lauer has taken a massive leap for the Brewers this season and the sustainability of his performance will now be a big part of the equation with Freddy Peralta on the IL. The left-handed Lauer draws a Cardinals lineup that has torched lefties, including good ones, this season. Lauer has faced the Nationals, Marlins, Braves, Cubs, Phillies, Pirates and Orioles, so there aren’t a ton of quality offenses in there. Let’s see what he does today against a St. Louis bunch that leads the league with a .377 wOBA and a 147 wRC + against southpaws.
Michael Wacha: Wacha is one of the league’s most obvious regression candidates as things currently stand. He has a 1.76 ERA with a 3.54 xERA and a 4.32 FIP. He’s running a .173 BABIP and a 93.3% LOB% in his six starts over 30.2 innings. His 11.7% BB% is a major red flag, though the White Sox don’t walk much, so it may not be as much of a factor today, but it will be soon enough. Wacha was shaky coming off the IL last time out with two runs allowed on four hits and three walks in 4.2 innings of work.
Thursday 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
Cardinals (-120) over Brewers: As mentioned, the Cardinals have been the best team in baseball when it comes to hitting left-handed pitchers. Eric Lauer is not a run-of-the-mill southpaw, but he has faced a few weaker lineups while putting up some thoroughly impressive numbers. That said, his .255 BABIP and 92.7% LOB% marks should be regressing to the mean as we go forward here. Lauer’s Hard Hit% is 41.6% and his Barrel% is 9.9%, so those would both suggest the BABIP regression is coming.
His Z-Contact% is 79.7%, well below his previous best at 83%, so that’s another area where I think he’s been overachieving a bit, which will lower his strikeout rate and his swinging strike rate. It seems like a lot of those things could happen today against a quality Cardinals lineup.
Adam Wainwright is a guy that is always worth consideration at home. He’s also having a really fine season with a 2.87 ERA and a 3.84 FIP. He has not had the same strikeout rate as previous seasons, but his Hard Hit% is just 27.4% on 135 batted ball events, so the command profile is still very much there.
Josh Hader has been away from the team while his wife has had complications with her pregnancy. As a result, Devin Williams has pitched three straight days. Trevor Gott has worked three of the last five. Miguel Sanchez was used in high leverage the other day. There are a lot of moving parts with this pen and there are also some offensive injuries with Willy Adames and Hunter Renfroe out. They’ve played really well with those absences, but I think this is a tougher spot.
Lastly, the Cardinals bullpen had yesterday off and the primary relievers are all in good shape to follow Wainwright. I’ll lay the short price in this one on a day where very little jumps out.
We’ll be rolling out some more baseball tools soon, including a tracker of my picks that will update in real-time, but for now, I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.