Well, friends. I’m back. The MLB season resumes with six games on Thursday and two doubleheaders. It’s not very nice of the schedulers to give the Yankees, Astros, Tigers and Athletics a double dose of baseball on the first day back, including some early day games, but that’s what we’ve got as the second half gets underway.
I’ve written three articles regarding the second half, with some adjusted season win total bets, play on/against teams and the top run line teams to this point, so that will be some additional reading to supplement today’s daily article.
One overarching point to remember over the next several days is that a lot of guys will pitch on extreme rest after the All-Star Break and may be rusty. Take stock of how long it’s been between starts and decide if that should factor into your handicap.
Braves/Nationals: Spencer Strider had a rare misstep on Sunday, as he gave up five runs in just four innings of work to the Nationals. When you look a little deeper, though, he only gave up three hard-hit balls and nothing over 99.3 mph. Victor Robles homered on a batted ball with a xBA of .420 The Nationals only had four hits, three of them singles, and didn’t hit a single ball with a xBA of better than .420. It was just a bad luck day. I wouldn’t worry about it.
Phillies/Marlins: The Marlins went scoreless over their final 18 innings of the first half, losing 10-0 and 4-0 to the Phillies. Without Jon Berti and Jazz Chisholm Jr., this is arguably the worst offense in baseball. Aaron Nola struck out 10 over 8.1 innings on Sunday and Ranger Suarez had five shutout on Saturday. Between the two games, the Marlins only had 10 hard-hit balls. Their regression at home against RHP has been swift and may continue.
Mets/Cubs: New York swept Saturday’s doubleheader before dropping a 3-2 decision on Sunday. The three-game series only featured 15 combined runs. Max Scherzer looked good again in Saturday’s nightcap with 11 strikeouts over 6.1 innings and got pushed to 102 pitches. I didn’t mention them in the above article, but the Mets are likely a play-on team in the second half to start things off.
Pirates/Rockies: Six shutout innings from Jose Urena against the Pirates at Coors Field on Saturday makes me question everything I know about baseball. Mitch Keller also threw six scoreless, but the Rockies pen was better than the Pirates pen. Keller looks like a good play-on pitcher in the second half, as his ground ball stylings have really helped his overall profile.
Brewers/Giants: Milwaukee limped to the end of the first half with a couple of losses at the hands of the Giants. Aaron Ashby was used as an opener on three days rest on Sunday for Jason Alexander and it backfired, as he got hit hard and had spin rate decreases. He did get engaged over the All-Star Break, so maybe he’ll come back with a vengeance.
The Giants got good starts from Alex Cobb and Logan Webb in these two games and those are great signs moving forward for a team that has good pitching, but has been hurt by shoddy defense.
Diamondbacks/Padres: MacKenzie Gore worked in relief of Mike Clevinger on Sunday and recorded just one out with a hit and two walks that led to two runs. Gore has allowed 25 runs in his last six appearances covering just 20.2 innings of work. I still have long-term concerns about San Diego’s offense.
Royals/Blue Jays: The Royals were a nice story on Thursday, as they won despite 10 players on the restricted list because they couldn’t go to Canada due to vaccine policies. After that, the Blue Jays won three in a row to go into the Break on a high note. I think this is a play-on team exiting the Break. They had three off days from May 30 until this past Monday. They were simply gassed. I think they can make up for lost time now.
Red Sox/Yankees: Things got ugly in the Bronx on Saturday and Sunday as the Yankees won by a combined score of 27-3. Chris Sale wasn’t locating well, but left after a comebacker broke his finger in the first and the bullpen day was a slog for Boston. That was on the heels of Nick Pivetta getting obliterated on Saturday with seven runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings.
I wouldn’t read too much into these two games, though I think it is fair to say that the Red Sox have some pitching concerns.
Orioles/Rays: The road splits for Jordan Lyles came into play on Sunday against the Rays, as he allowed six runs on six hits in just 2.2 innings of work. Baltimore made a lot of solid contact against Corey Kluber, but dropped a 7-5 decision after winning 6-4 on Saturday. I was really impressed with how the Rays battled that last week without Wander Franco, but they suffered another setback when Harold Ramirez got hurt. He’s batting .329 with an .825 OPS, so he is a sizable loss for an offense that is really low on production.
Athletics/Astros: The Astros may have mailed it in a bit on Sunday in a 4-3 loss to the A’s. Houston has a big lead in the West and in the race for the No. 2 seed and the bye to the ALDS, so they looked a little disengaged in the first half finale. I wouldn’t read anything into it.
White Sox/Twins: What a huge series for the White Sox. I lost a little bit of value on the price, but the time finally came to fire on the White Sox to win the AL Central at + 125. They won three of four from the Twins and cut the deficit to three games. Lance Lynn is still a mess, but everything else seems to be coming together a bit. Dylan Cease had 21 whiffs and gave up one hit over seven innings in Sunday’s game. I can’t believe how little he’s being talked about for the Cy Young given that he’s allowed three earned runs since May 24.
Mariners/Rangers: Seattle ran the winning streak up to 14 games on Sunday with a 6-2 triumph over the Rangers. I’m still concerned about the overachievers in the rotation in Logan Gilbert, Marco Gonzales and Chris Flexen, but this offense has come together nicely and the bullpen is very solid.
Weather: Nothing to worry about today. Nice weather in the three outdoor games and the other three will be played indoors.
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.
We did have a lot of late starting pitcher announcements for today’s games and we’ll have the same tomorrow, so it’s a bit of a unique situation.
Giants at Dodgers (-130, 8): We’ve seen a move down on this number with the Giants and Dodgers with Carlos Rodon on the hill for SF and Mitch White for LA. This line has dropped anywhere from 15 cents to 25 cents depending on the book and the opening line.
Game 1 Yankees at Astros (-125, 8): For the early start, we’re seeing money on Cristian Javier and the Astros, which has more to do with the fact that Giancarlo Stanton is not in the lineup than anything else. I assume he’ll play Game 2. Perhaps we see Aaron Judge sit out Game 2 after all the All-Star festivities.
Rangers at Marlins (-125, 6.5): We’ve seen a move from 7 to 6.5 on this total down in South Florida. I mentioned how bad the Miami offense has been and Jazz Chisholm Jr. is going for another CT scan on his injury, so he remains out. This move doesn’t surprise me one bit.
What I’ll Be Watching
Domingo German: Not much to choose from tonight, but German is making his 2022 MLB debut. He has a career 4.54 ERA with a 4.47 FIP and a 4.14 xFIP. The long ball has been a recurring issue for him, as his strikeout and walk rates have been solid, but he’s had below average command. German is coming back from a shoulder injury and also recently had to serve a domestic violence suspension, so he only threw 98.1 innings last season and 20.1 innings during his rehab stint. He’s allowed one run on nine hits in his five minor league starts with an 11/1 K/BB ratio and no homers allowed. He went six innings in his final tune-up on July 15, but only struck out one of the 21 batters he faced.
Frankie Montas: Scouts and front office members will be plugged into Game 2 of the doubleheader between the Tigers and A’s. Frankie Montas has missed 18 days after experiencing a big velocity drop in the first inning of his July 3 start against the Mariners. Luis Castillo is probably the best starting pitcher being discussed on the trade market, but Montas is a very close second. He’s got a strong 3.26 ERA with a 3.30 FIP in his 96.2 innings this season.
Montas has been dominant at home with a 2.67 ERA in 70.2 innings of work. He has only pitched 26 innings on the road, but this one comes at home. He did not make any rehab starts, just some bullpens and side sessions, so everybody will be watching this start closely.
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
I don’t have any. There are only three late games and I don’t see anything actionable in any of them. German is a big wild card, particularly against a solid Astros lineup, even if Yordan Alvarez is still sidelined. Montas is coming back from injury and the A’s are virtually impossible to bet in any favorite role. The Giants/Dodgers game has already seen a noteworthy line move. I do like Mitch White, but the total has also come down from 8.5 to as low as 7.5.
I’ll likely ease into the second half, especially with pitchers on long layoffs and some teams and players ready to come back and others not so much. I just wanted to get some notes out and get back into the rhythm of writing the daily article. You may find some actionable props and futures from the articles linked above, so I’d encourage you to check those out.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.