Thirteen games are on a heavy Thursday schedule as we look ahead to the All-Star Break beginning Sunday night. Except for the players going to Los Angeles for the festivities, teams will get four days off to rest and recharge for the remainder of the season.
I’ve got some noteworthy injury updates and some other intriguing stats to share, so let’s dive into the July 14 card.
Mets/Braves: The Mets cooled off the hard-charging Braves by winning Thursday’s rubber match behind six strong innings from Chris Bassitt. Bassitt has come back with COVID with two solid efforts and has put the issues from mid-May and early June behind him, allowing just nine runs over his last five starts.
This was Charlie Morton’s first rocky start in a while after allowing six runs in his last five starts. I don’t see anything in the profile other than some natural variance, though quite a few pitchers have been going every fifth day for a while now and have struggled a bit with it. The Break will help everybody.
Diamondbacks/Giants: To borrow a line from Rounders, the Giants have alligator blood. They trailed 3-0 through six, but came away with a 4-3 win to spoil what was a pretty good start from Zac Gallen, at least until he gave up a couple runs in the seventh. Pitchers are doing that a lot more often these days. San Francisco has 45 wins and 22 have been of the comeback variety. The Giants are 26-6 when they allow two or fewer runs, but are .500 or under with every other number of runs allowed except for 12, oddly enough.
The inconsistency of this team and this offense is pretty glaring, but wins like this one have saved the season.
Pirates/Marlins: Some days it’s better to be lucky than good. This is one of those instances, as the over was dead and buried in regulation, but the teams scored five runs in the 10th inning to end 5-4 in favor of the Marlins. It was a bad handicap that turned into a positive result. Never take those for granted because you’re going to need them every now and then.
I will say that Pablo Lopez continued not to be sharp. He only had nine whiffs in 37 swings with a velo decrease and four walks against three strikeouts in five innings. He didn’t allow much hard contact, but it wasn’t an impressive outing at all. Meanwhile, JT Brubaker struck out nine over seven innings. Jazz Chisholm Jr. had a pinch-hit appearance on June 28, but stopped being an everyday player on June 25. Since June 26, the Marlins are batting .214/.268/.322 with a .264 wOBA.
Dodgers/Cardinals: Tony Gonsolin finally had a rough outing, giving up five runs on seven hits in five innings of work. A start like this had been building with a sub-.200 BABIP and a LOB% north of 90%. He still has a 2.02 ERA and I still have concerns moving forward with the increased workload.
The Cardinals pen blew this one, as Adam Wainwright bobbed and weaved through 5.1 shutout innings before four relievers combined to give up all seven runs. That was only the second game that the Cardinals have lost with a lead after five innings. They are now 38-2 in that split.
Padres/Rockies: The Redbirds weren’t the only team to have a bullpen melt. The Padres had one as well, but Joe Musgrove got the ball rolling with five runs allowed on nine hits over five innings. He started the sixth, but didn’t get an out and didn’t get much relief from Nabil Crismatt either.
San Diego is slipping. The Padres have won consecutive games once since June 20-22 and are just 6-13 over the last 19 games. They were overperforming a bit given the lackluster offense and were being carried by the pitching. That has cooled off, especially with the bullpen. They’re one of the teams that needs the All-Star Break.
Tigers/Royals: For three innings, Tarik Skubal looked like he was back to normal. A four-run fourth and another run in the fifth left him with another poor outing, as he allowed five runs on eight hits with five strikeouts. His velo and spin rates did tick up, which are positive developments, but the command profile is still lacking. Skubal heads into the All-Star Break with a 7.46 ERA in his last seven starts. He’s been the victim of some bad batted ball and defensive luck, but the stuff hasn’t had the same life.
The Royals made a ton of headlines yesterday because 10 roster players are unvaccinated and won’t be making the trip to Toronto this weekend, including Andrew Benintendi.
Red Sox/Rays: Business as usual for Shane McClanahan, who worked 6.1 innings with one run on three hits and six punchies in just 85 pitches. He only allowed two hard-hit balls and the Red Sox only had four total. At least it was an encouraging bounce back outing for Josh Winckowski with a quality start after getting shelled by the Yankees last time out. The Rays have done well so far without Wander Franco for the second time. Let’s see if it continues.
White Sox/Guardians: Aaron Civale left hurt in the first inning and it became a bullpen game for the Guardians, who did nothing of consequence against Lucas Giolito. Civale’s velo looked fine, but the spin rates were down a bit on his better pitches. He went for an MRI on his right wrist, so we’ll see what those results look like.
Giolito had a velocity drop yesterday, but limited hard contact against, despite not having much swing and miss. A lot of that may simply have to do with a Guardians offense that generates very little hard contact, but it was still a welcomed sight with Giolito.
No surprise, but the White Sox got their two runs off of a lefty in Sam Hentges. They managed just five hits and eight strikeouts against the righties that they faced.
Athletics/Rangers: After the five-game offensive explosion in Arlington, we got back to normal with a 5-2 game on Wednesday. Jon Gray only allowed one hit over seven innings with nine strikeouts and allowed just two hard-hit balls. The Rangers got five runs off of Paul Blackburn on just three hits, though he did walk four. All 16 of Gray’s swings and misses came on the slider. It was a dominant start for a pitcher that has had a really nice season and has a 2.06 ERA with a 2.79 FIP in his last seven starts.
Astros/Angels: Not even the Houston Astros lineup could slow down Shohei Ohtani. He had 24 whiffs over six brilliant innings with 12 strikeouts. If the Angels do opt to trade him with one full season left on his contract, he might bring the biggest return we’ve ever seen.
Cristian Javier only recorded 11 outs, but 10 were via the strikeout. He threw 92 pitches in 3.2 innings and gave up three runs on five hits. It was quite a night for swings and misses, as the starters combined for 43. Mike Trout missed the game with a bad back, which he doesn’t think is serious.
Mariners/Nationals: The Mariners stayed red hot and swept the doubleheader in D.C. by scores of 6-4 and 2-1. Juan Soto basically provided the only offense for the Nationals with a couple of mammoth home runs. The Mariners only scored two runs on six hits against Erick Fedde, but had 12 hard-hit balls, so they deserved a better fate, but they’ll take the two wins and head to Texas on a roll.
Brewers/Twins: Jose Miranda hit a game-winning three-run homer off of Josh Hader, who has had a few bumps in the road recently. I was watching Joe Ryan close in this one and the Twins starter allowed just one run on two hits in 5.1 innings. He was limited to 78 pitches and only struck out three, but also allowed very little hard contact. Aaron Ashby only allowed one run in 4.1 innings, but threw 101 pitches.
The Twins are definitely trying to pull their starters early still, so their bullpen usage will be a very important factor in your handicap. Are their guys fresh? Who’s unavailable? Jhoan Duran doesn’t really pitch back-to-back days, so he’s the one to watch.
Reds/Yankees: Luis Severino left after two innings and 43 pitches to go for a shoulder MRI. All of his pitches were down about 2 mph from their season averages. It’s been a tough few days for the Yankees, who pulled out the win, but also saw a huge velo drop and spin rate drop from Clay Holmes in his relief appearance. Lots of monitor here.
Phillies/Blue Jays: The Blue Jays fired Charlie Montoyo and promptly won 8-2 over the Phillies and a tough customer in Zack Wheeler. Wheeler fell apart in the middle innings and wound up allowing six runs on seven hits. Meanwhile, Ross Stripling fired seven innings and allowed two unearned runs on just two hits. I’m not sure what the long-term implications are of Montoyo’s firing, but Toronto sure looked engaged yesterday.
Orioles/Cubs: Baltimore just kept right on rolling with a big 7-1 win over the Cubs. It was a wire-to-wire job with three runs in the first. Justin Steele settled in after that, but you’re in trouble once the Orioles get a lead because their bullpen is so good. The insurance runs in the eighth were a huge help to keep some of the primary relievers out of the game. Regression will come for Baltimore, but this run has been fun to watch.
Primary reliever Dillon Tate did have a velo and spin rate drop, though. He hadn’t worked for a couple days, so that concerns me.
Weather: Rain chances are limited today, as the Padres/Rockies game may be affected. Otherwise, not much to report.
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.
Mets (-125, 7.5) at Cubs: This is an interesting line move. I’m not sure if bettors are expecting a letdown from the Mets off of the Braves series or what. Jeff McNeil is on the paternity list and Starling Marte has missed four straight games, but there isn’t much else to say. Perhaps projections are really high on Keegan Thompson and lower on Carlos Carrasco.
Mariners at Rangers (-125, 8.5): The Mariners are on a tear, but the markets are strongly against them today with a straight fade of Marco Gonzales. He has a 3.24 ERA with a 4.64 xERA and a 5.14 FIP. Martin Perez has been going the wrong way lately with 13 runs allowed in his last 18.2 innings, but he’s still taking the influential money.
Astros (-175, 8) at Angels: Houston has taken a good bit of investment today. Mike Trout has a bad back and wasn’t swinging it all that well anyway. We also have a big pitching mismatch with Framber Valdez and Reid Detmers. The Angels haven’t won a game started by somebody other than Shohei Ohtani since June 27.
What I’ll Be Watching
Tyler Anderson: After allowing more than two runs just once in his first eight starts and two extended relief appearances, Anderson has allowed at least three runs in four of his last six starts. He still has solid peripherals with a 3.78 FIP to go with a 4.04 ERA, but his K% is down and more balls in play are always going to be something to follow. He’s still done well with his contact management numbers, but his LOB% has sagged, as he’s been unable to pitch out of as many jams. He draws a Cardinals lineup that hits lefties really well, so we’ll see what happens in tonight’s game. Some of this could be residual from the 123-pitch effort against the Angels in search of a no-hitter as well.
Nestor Cortes: The deceptive southpaw has hit a bit of a wall. After allowing 11 runs on just 38 hits in his first 60 innings, he has allowed 17 runs on 32 hits in his last 28.2 innings. He’s allowed nine of his 13 home runs over the last six starts. The Reds aren’t exactly a scary lineup, especially on the road, but Cortes has not been locating nearly as well in recent outings and has a Hard Hit% against of 45.6% and a Barrel% of 10%. He’s actually throwing a bit harder lately than he was earlier in the season and I wonder if that’s been to his detriment. Hitters don’t see a lot of 89-91 anymore and it’s almost more of an adjustment than hitting high velocity. This is a matchup where Cortes should have some measure of success. If he doesn’t, it’ll be a red flag. I hope he does because I think fading him against AL East lineups that have already seen him is a good betting angle moving forward.
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
Mariners/Rangers Over 8.5 (-110): Marco Gonzales and Martin Perez are the scheduled starters here as Seattle takes a 10-game winning streak into Texas. We’ve seen that aforementioned move on the Rangers, which definitely makes a lot of sense. Gonzales has a lot of negative regression indicators in his profile with a 3.24 ERA, 4.64 xERA and a 5.14 FIP. He also has one of the lowest strikeout rates in baseball coupled with a 77.5% LOB%.
I know I’ve been looking for it over his last several starts, but he just keeps going out there and keeping his team in the game. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since May 23. However, there are just so many signs and he’s facing a Rangers lineup that has the second-highest wOBA against LHP since June 1 at .359. Only the White Sox are higher at .367.
What makes Texas’s performance so impressive against LHP is that they’ve also struck out 27.2% of the time. With a guy like Gonzales that pitches to contact and only has a 12.1% K% with a paltry 7.3% SwStr%, the Rangers should match up extremely well here.
The hard part is that I don’t want to trust Perez either. He still has a 2.72 ERA with a 3.27 xERA and 3.07 FIP, but has allowed 13 runs in his last three starts covering 18.2 innings of work. He’s given up four homers in his last two starts and all six for the season over his last six starts.
The Mariners offense has been swinging it pretty well during this win streak, especially with Ty France back in the lineup. They’ve also gotten a big lift from Carlos Santana. They could also get a lift from a Rangers bullpen that has a 4.50 ERA and a 5.05 FIP over the last 14 days. This is a group that has worked a lot this week with all the high-scoring games and early exits from starting pitchers.
Seattle’s pen just played a doubleheader yesterday, including a bullpen game in Game 2, so just about everybody got a workout. With starting pitchers that boast ERAs of 2.72 and 3.24, doesn’t a total of 8.5 seem a little peculiar? I think it’s a pretty good indicator of a higher-scoring game. I’m on Over 8.5 at -110 as today’s only play on a pretty unpalatable card.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.