The June swoon continued for the Los Angeles Angels yesterday, as the Nickelback walk-up song strategy fell short in a 1-0 loss. My own June swoon is in place right now, as the last month has been a rough one. You will be challenged in a lot of different ways over the course of a season and the mental side of the handicapping process will be the biggest hurdle to overcome.
You’ll have stretches where you wake up and look at the board and it looks like you’re trying to decipher the Wingdings font. The odds don’t make sense and you’ll question every number you see. Your confidence and conviction, not only in your bets, but also in your process, will lower. It can consume you and be lurking in the back of your mind when you do things not related to betting and be at the forefront laughing at you when you are.
With a wide swath of readers and different levels of bettors, maybe this isn’t that serious to you. Maybe it’s incredibly serious to you. But, we all go through ups and downs as bettors, times when this is a lot of fun and times when it is equivalent to a root canal while getting kicked in the shins. I’ve come to find that the mental aspect is harder than anything else in this whole equation and also the hardest part to fix. You can adjust the stats you use or what you’re looking for. You can do more work to find what you’re missing. You can tail someone else. You can do so much to try and make more winning picks, but believing in that process and being satisfied with it is a different beast.
This is one of those stretches for me and I apologize to those that have been along for the uncomfortable ride. Picking winners or stepping away are really the only ways out of this mindset. Since the latter isn’t an option given my occupation, I’ll keep stepping into the box and swinging away while trying to find the correct answers.
Diamondbacks/Reds: Merrill Kelly told reporters that he had found a proverbial hitch in his giddy up, as he isolated a mechanics issue that was taking a toll on his control and his effectiveness. Well, if he truly fixed it, we saw the results yesterday, as Kelly threw six shutout innings with one hit allowed. He only had five strikeouts, but also had 17 whiffs in 48 swings, so he very well could have had more. It was the Reds, but Cincinnati has been raking at home, so that’s a good step in the right direction for Kelly.
Nationals/Marlins: I noted yesterday that the markets liked Josiah Gray a bit against Sandy Alcantara and the Marlins. Gray was excellent yesterday in his five innings with six strikeouts and 16 whiffs in 51 swings. Alcantara was even better with nine shutout innings and the Marlins offense finally bailed him out with two runs in the bottom of the 10th.
Phillies/Brewers: Another day, another Phillies win with Joe Girardi gone. Maybe he was having more of a negative impact than I expected. Of course, it’s also worth noting that the Phillies were without Bryce Harper for several days prior to the firing due to injury and he’s swinging a really good bat right now. Long starts help as well, as they keep the bullpen off the field. Aaron Nola’s eight shutout innings helped yesterday.
After a 19-8 start, the Brewers are just 14-16 over the last 30 games. Their offense has tailed off and this is a team really fighting it right now.
Mets/Padres: I guess I should have followed through with my thoughts on Chris Bassitt. He was pummeled by the Padres in a lopsided 13-2 win. Bassitt spoke with reporters after the game and was at a loss for words about his recent performances. In his last five starts, Bassitt has a 7.62 ERA with a 5.76 FIP across 26 innings. He’s given up seven homers in that span, though he didn’t allow one last night and actually did not allow a single hard-hit ball. Everything was just well-placed for the Padres.
Rockies/Giants: Back-to-back quality efforts from Alex Wood have to inspire some confidence for the southpaw and also his team. Wood threw seven innings of one-run ball against the Rockies yesterday, pitching through the sixth for the first time this season. His .340 BABIP seems to be on the decline, as his contact management numbers don’t support such a number. The San Francisco defense may be improving. It’s hard to look at small sample size defensive data, but a team that smart would likely figure something out.
Blue Jays/Royals: Yusei Kikuchi failed to make it through the first inning after throwing 45 pitches to get two outs yesterday. The Jays ended up scoring four runs, but the Royals scored eight and doubled up Toronto to salvage a game in the series. The Royals had lost 15 of 20 prior to that game and had been shut out in back-to-back games.
Mariners/Astros: I’ve been a Mariners skeptic, but the talent level of the team might be starting to show through. They just won a series in Houston for the first time since 2018 and have won two of three in each of the last four series.
Maybe the bigger thing to look at is the Astros offense and how Yordan Alvarez is carrying them with a .299/.395/.630 slash. He seems to be the only hitter consistently swinging it well for them. Jose Altuve has good numbers and other guys have done good things, but Alvarez is the guy shouldering a lot of the load.
Yankees/Twins: Baseball is a funny game and a frustrating one. Nestor Cortes had his worst start of the season while Chris Archer had probably his best one, as the Yankees lost 8-1 to the Twins. Cortes gave up seven hits, with five singles and two solo homers. It felt like the Yankees were almost psyched out against Archer and not aggressive enough. He walked four, but only allowed two hits. The Yankees were 1-for-8 on hard-hit balls. Just one of those days for both teams, I guess.
Red Sox/Angels: The Angels lineup is not imposing with all of their injuries. Nobody in yesterday’s lineup finished the day with an OPS over .765. With Mike Trout, Taylor Ward and Anthony Rendon all hurt, this is a below average group and we’re seeing it with 14 straight losses. Even when the Angels have gotten pitching, they haven’t gotten any hitting. This might be a franchise-altering tailspin, especially with a relatively new hire in Perry Minasian as GM. Joe Maddon is already gone, but I’d expect more shifts to come.
Cardinals/Rays: The Rays scored 11 runs on 18 hits yesterday. The only pitcher they didn’t score off of was Yadier Molina because baseball. Prior to yesterday’s game, the Rays had scored 3.8 R/G at home. Good day to bet an under at the Trop!
Dodgers/White Sox: The Dodgers bounced back with a nice 4-1 win over the White Sox after getting shut down by Michael Kopech on Tuesday. Tony Gonsolin lowered his ERA to 1.58 with one run allowed over six innings and the bullpen did the rest. The Dodgers being carried on the pitching side by Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson is probably not what we expected, but here we are.
Weather: Weather worries are finally few and far between. Winds are blowing out in every game today, but around 10 mph or higher in Cincinnati, Chicago, San Francisco and Atlanta.
Injuries: We’re seeing a lot more injuries these days. A lot of position players and pitchers are dealing with soft tissue things. Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Nationals at Marlins (-140, 8.5): There isn’t a whole lot of confidence in Stephen Strasburg for his 2022 debut tonight, as the Marlins have gotten their traditional home treatment of moving up 10-15 cents. The total actually opened as low as 7.5 in some shops, but has hit 8.5 across most of the market. Strasburg allowed three runs on four hits with six walks and 13 strikeouts in 13.2 innings over three rehab starts.
Red Sox at Angels (-115, 8): Most shops have moved down 10 or so cents in this one with Nick Pivetta and Shohei Ohtani set to start. Ohtani has allowed nine runs on 14 hits in his last two starts covering nine innings. There’s a lot of pressure on him to do everything right now for the Halos. We usually don’t see the market invested in a guy like Pivetta, but he’s been as good as anybody since the start of May. Mike Trout remains day-to-day. Whether or not he’s in the lineup will move this number.
What I’ll Be Watching
Nick Pivetta: Pivetta allowed 13 runs on 16 hits over his first three starts of the season in just 11.2 innings of work. Since then, Pivetta has allowed 11 runs total in his last eight starts covering 50 innings. Over his last six starts, Pivetta has gone at least six innings and has allowed a total of six runs. He’s locked into an incredible groove right now. He has faced the White Sox twice, A’s, Orioles, Astros and Rangers, so a lot of offenses that are bad against righties, but the Angels offense is a shell of what it was when everybody was healthy.
Konnor Pilkington: The reason why the Indians/Guardians have been able to do what they’ve done with small payrolls and a lack of position player development has been because of what they’ve done to elevate guys like Pilkington. The 24-year-old southpaw is coming off of a thoroughly impressive performance against the Royals with eight strikeouts over five innings. Pilkington’s fastball velo took a big jump in that start, but it is worth noting that he threw 74% fastballs. He has very little depth to his arsenal, so it’s all about fastball command.
He’ll throw changeups about 20% of the time to righties and the pitch has a high whiff rate with strong batted ball results. It looks like the Guardians made a mechanical change with Pilkington prior to his last start, as his release extension was closer to home plate than any other start he’s had. It added velo and made the fastball get on hitters quicker. I’m curious to see if this change sticks.
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
Orioles (-105) over Royals: Jordan Lyles was pushed back a day because of yesterday’s rainout, but what excites me about the postponed game is that the Orioles bullpen got a day off. You won’t find many bigger bullpen discrepancies than this game and this series. The Orioles bullpen has a 3.11 ERA with a 3.69 FIP and ranks third in fWAR. The Royals pen has a 4.86 ERA with a 4.31 FIP and ranks 29th in fWAR. Add in Monday’s off day and the Orioles have an all-hands-on-deck capability today in support of Lyles.
My feeling is that the Orioles will have a lead to protect. They’re going up against Kris Bubic, who has a career 4.86 ERA with a 5.27 FIP in 198.1 innings of work. Bubic is coming off of five shutout innings against the Astros, but he gave up nine batted balls of 100.9 mph or higher. One was a barrel that was an out. Four of them were singles. The outs had xBAs of .610, .840, .460, .150, and .670. He got lucky to not get shelled in that start. It wasn’t like Bubic was pitching well in the minors when he got recalled. He had allowed 10 runs on 14 hits in 13.2 innings of work.
The Orioles do have the second-highest K% against lefties, but Bubic’s SwStr% is just 5.5% this season and 9.3% for his career, both of which are well below average numbers. I’m also not sure Bubic gets a lot of run support, as the Royals rank 25th in wOBA over the last two weeks. Baltimore ranks ninth, as the Orioles bats have gotten going again with Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays healthier.
Lyles has the more favorable matchup. The Orioles bullpen is a lot better than the Royals pen and well-rested. With a coin flip line, I’m on Baltimore here.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.