MLB betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Thursday 8/25

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

August 25, 2022 12:20 AM
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Well, my friends. It’s been fun. At least if you like roller coasters. It has been some kind of MLB season with the daily article, as the ups and downs and violent swings have all led us up to the start of the college football season. I’m sure many of you will continue to bet baseball going forward. I may dabble as well when I see a game I really like, but football drives the bus in the sports betting content creation business and fully focusing my attention on that is of the utmost importance.

One of the things I learned really early in this business is just how hard it is to try and be a master of everything. When you do that, you become a master of nothing. In tracking and analyzing my results over the long-term, September has easily been my worst MLB month and that is far from a coincidence. Football gets underway and then NBA and NHL aren’t that far behind. There are only so many hours in the day to read and write. So baseball, despite being my favorite sport, takes a backseat to focus on the opportunities in less mature markets. There are no secrets left in MLB. Lines are sharp. Pitchers are well-known. Upwards of 150 days worth of betting data is already out there. It’s a good time to move on.

But, before I do, I have to reiterate what I’ve already said a couple times this week. I cannot thank each and every one of you enough for reading these daily scribbles. I know they’re long. I know they’re detailed. I know they’re full of stats you may not have known coming into the season and some that you may still not fully grasp. But, you’ve been willing to learn. I’ve learned a lot this season about myself and how to communicate my baseball knowledge and methods to a new audience. Another thing I’ve come to find in this business is that you never stop learning. When you do, your edges are gone and turning a profit is virtually impossible. You have to adapt, evolve and mature as a handicapper and as a bettor.

My goal entering the season is that all of you would have accomplished those things by reading this article, hearing my spots or listening along to The Run Line. If that’s the case, I did my job. And we made a little money along the way. If you didn’t, please let me know because I need that feedback. I need to know what I can do better.

To those that have tweeted or emailed kind words, I’m eternally grateful. This business can wear you down, but that’s the type of fuel that keeps me going and encourages me to keep doing the best I can to teach and assist new and improving bettors. To those click on this link every day, a few times a week or when they remember to check in, I’m also grateful. Thank you. Thank you everybody.

I’ll put together some playoff stuff when we get to that point, likely some series previews or updated futures. For now, let’s do this one more time for the 2022 season and I’ll be back in full force with a new MLB Betting Guide for 2023.

Yesterday’s Recap

Braves/Pirates: The Braves did what good teams do and beat up on the Pirates by a combined score of 22-4 in this three-game sweep. Yesterday’s 14-2 rout on getaway day showed how engaged this team still is. Once again, they battered a guy in Mitch Keller with low swing-and-miss and strikeout upside and I’d carry that betting angle with you the rest of the way with this team. I don’t think they’ll repeat, but the MLB playoffs are what I call the Tournament of Variance, so anything can happen.

Reds/Phillies: I’m still thinking that TJ Zeuch might be the worst pitcher in MLB right now. I nearly played the Over 9.5 here and Zeuch did his part by allowing six runs on seven hits with four walks in 2.2 innings. He’s 6-foot-7, but wastes that height advantage by only throwing 92 mph with a sinker that he can’t really bury down in the zone far enough. I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes into next season with a different pitch arsenal, as the Reds are doing a good job of developing arms otherwise.

Cardinals/Cubs: A big underdog cash for the Cubbies in a 7-1 thrashing of the Cardinals was an interesting result. Miles Mikolas only gave up six hits over 6.2 innings, but also only had three strikeouts and the defense had a rare miscue that led to two unearned runs. His velocity and spin rates were down over his 106 pitches. He’s thrown 164 innings after throwing just 44.2 in 2021 and 0.0 in 2020. I wonder if he may be hitting a wall a bit or if it was just a tough spot on the heels of back-to-back eight-inning efforts. I’d watch him closely going forward.

Brewers/Dodgers: The 1st 5 Over 4.5 hit in the first inning of this one, which was really nice for a late game. The Dodgers ultimately scored 12 runs on 13 hits. The handicap on Adrian Houser was dead on with four walks and five hits allowed in 2.1 innings. Andrew Heaney did give up a couple of runs to aid the cause, but struck out double digits yet again. The Dodgers just look like an absolute machine. The Brewers do not. I don’t think Milwaukee can catch St. Louis at this point. The two teams look drastically different and many will question David Stearns’ plan of attack at the Trade Deadline.

As a side note (and probably a jinx for today), the MLB picks are 11-1 in the last 12, with the lone loss an Under 7.5 that was a 1-1 game going to extra innings. If that’s not a microcosm of this year’s roller coast, I don’t know what is.

White Sox/Orioles: Baltimore’s bullpen had a rare off night yesterday. Spenser Watkins did his job to keep the team in the game over six innings of two-run ball, but the O’s did little of consequence against Lucas Giolito and wound up trailing 5-1 by the eighth. The White Sox show you these brief moments of feeling like they can right the ship and make a push, but then they take a step or two backwards. This has been one of the most frustrating teams for me all season long.

I can’t say enough about the Orioles. Adley Rutschman is the real deal and they’ve got some other exciting pieces. Bullpens are extremely volatile, though, so we’ll see what next season’s expectations look like. What they’ve done to develop competent starting pitching has been a huge organizational win and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Blue Jays/Red Sox: Just as we all expected, a 3-2 game between Jose Berrios and Brayan Bello. Bello actually took a huge step forward over his five innings with seven strikeouts and just two runs allowed. Sadly, the bullpen wasted his efforts, but the rest of this season for the Red Sox is about individual development because this is not a playoff team.

I still think Toronto is incredibly dangerous going to the playoffs, but they’ve become easy to pitch to because of the lack of balance in the lineup. There are a lot of free swingers from the right side and this team does not walk much. Pitchers have adapted to them and they have not made any adjustments coming back. The raw talent of this ballclub is enough to be dangerous in October, but it will continue to be a struggle without plate discipline.

Angels/Rays: The biggest news for the Angels this week is that Arte Moreno is looking to sell the team. This is great news for Angels fans. Meddling owners that obstruct the people that they’ve put into decision-making positions are the worst thing for an organization. The fact that he blocked any type of Shohei Ohtani trade and now wants to sell, especially in light of the announcement about Mike Trout’s back, is embarrassing. New beginnings are what the Angels need and I hope they come soon.

Twins/Astros: We’re not talking enough about the Astros. This is a team that was 7-9 after the first 16 games and is now 35 games over .500. They’ve won by five or more runs 27 times. They’re simply dominant at home (41-18, 3.24 R/G allowed) and have been strong on the road as well. There is a pattern in all sports to take for granted a team that is consistently good and not give them any buzz because we just expect it. I don’t think enough people appreciate just how good this team is.

Meanwhile, I still contend that Minnesota isn’t very good. They’ve gotten a little more length from their starters recently, but this is a bullpen approaching 500 innings that doesn’t use openers and bulk relievers. It’s a group that ranks just outside the bottom 10 in FIP. The offense is 6% below league average in the second half. The Twins and Guardians still play eight huge head-to-head games, so the division is very much up for grabs, but I don’t believe in this Minnesota team at all. If they do make the playoffs, they’ll be a quick exit once again.

Giants/Tigers: I’ll be looking to bet the Tigers over their season win total next season. Guys like Matt Manning are a big reason why. Manning fired six shutout innings yesterday with eight strikeouts against the Giants. Tarik Skubal is the only starter to make more than 15 starts for Detroit. Manning has made seven. Big free agent acquisition Eduardo Rodriguez has made nine. The Tigers have used 16 different starting pitchers.

The Javier Baez contract looks like a sunk cost, but owner Chris Ilitch seems willing to spend. They need bats, but I think the pitching staff is largely fine and that injuries really derailed this season.

On the Giants side, this season is a monumental disappointment. The offense cratered and the team defense has been awful all year long. The bullpen hasn’t panned out either. I’ll be curious to see what happens here. This is a pretty old roster and some of those guys are coming off of the books or their contracts are winding down. Spending is a possibility and the farm system is mediocre. I’m not sure how I’ll handicap them next season, but I laughed at PECOTA’s 78-84 projection and apparently I shouldn’t have.

Marlins/Athletics: Miami failed to score at least three runs again yesterday against Cole Irvin, who remains elite at the Coliseum. This season is more of the same for Miami. A lot of exciting pitching and absolutely no hitting. With an unwillingness to spend, I don’t see anything changing. The Marlins are 15-30 since July 5 and have a long streak of not scoring to blame. In 124 games this season, the Marlins have scored three or fewer runs 75 times. It’s hard to win like that.

It will be an interesting offseason for the A’s, as they find out if they’ll keep playing in Oakland or move here to Las Vegas. After watching my first game at Las Vegas Ballpark, the shift between the pitcher-friendly Coliseum and Vegas, even with a retractable roof dome, would be substantial. I don’t see much to be optimistic about with the roster going forward, as next season projects to be another long year.

Guardians/Padres: The Padres will still be a dangerous team come October because of the sheer talent on the roster, but something is not clicking with this team. They got shut down by Cal Quantrill yesterday and have not any offensive consistency since the Trade Deadline. Or really all season. Josh Bell and Brandon Drury have not hit well. Juan Soto has, but he only gets regular help from Manny Machado.

I’ll be really interested to see what next year’s win total looks like for this team. My initial thought is that it will be priced too high with all of the optimism surrounding the big names on this team. It’ll be a tough under bet to make, but likely the right one, barring some big spends this offseason.

As far as the Guardians go, I’m just trying to enjoy the ride like I talked about earlier this season. This team may be better than I’ve given it credit for and the young kids are maturing pretty well. With a stacked minor league system, this could be an over bet for me next season if guys like Gavin Williams and Daniel Espino look likely to crack the rotation early in the year.

Nationals/Mariners: The Nationals are 13-34 since the start of July and have only scored 151 runs in those 47 games. I give the team credit for battling as hard as it still is, but there are a lot of guys trying to secure jobs or make an impression. The pitching is just atrocious and that will be an area that needs to be addressed.

On the Seattle front, I still have a lot of concerns about the starting staff. This is also a below average offense by wRC + in the second half. I think this team is good, but probably not great. I also think they’re dangerous in the playoffs because of the bullpen. I’m not sure they can challenge Houston next season without a bit of spending, specifically in the rotation, but this is a team with a wide range of outcomes the rest of the way.

Diamondbacks/Royals: One of the things I’ve struggled the most with this season is being torn between a 1st 5 or a full-game wager. I chose correctly in this game, as it was a horrific beat for full-game under bettors. These are two bad bullpens, so I went 1st 5, but I’ve applied that strategy before and would’ve won a full game, while losing a 1st 5. It’s something I will work on and evaluate as time permits in the offseason. Sometimes, the difference is so nominal that it’s legitimately hard to make a decision and one happens to work and the other doesn’t. It’s just the nature of the beast. As my good friend Brad Powers says, “It’s why they call it gambling and not winning.”

Looking ahead, these two teams have a really long way to go. Arizona is stuck in a tough division and Kansas City just has very little to build around from hanging on too long to the glory days of the mid-2010s and not trading stalwarts before they hit free agency or lost their trade value. I’ll have low expectations for both next season.

Thursday Resources

Weather: Cardinals/Cubs features healthy hitting conditions with winds blowing out at Wrigley, but rain could be hanging and the teams may be looking to play this one quickly to get out of Dodge before the rains delay the game. Otherwise, a lot of neutral offensive settings.

Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.

Line Moves

Cardinals at Cubs (-115, 10): Market confidence in Dakota Hudson is really low, but that isn’t the only reason this line is moving. Nolan Arenado is getting a day off, so not only do the Cardinals lose one of their best hitters, but they’re also losing their best defender with a ground ball hurler on the hill. The Cubs went from clear favorites to clear dogs based on the betting action.

Reds at Phillies (-330, 8.5): Justin Dunn has been bet against in each of his starts for the Reds, as Aaron Nola is out to a -330 favorite in this one. Somehow, that’s not even the biggest line on the board.

Rockies at Mets (-430, 7): This line is anywhere from -395 in faraway places to -455 in the legal U.S. market with Jacob deGrom against Ryan Feltner. The line has actually gone up at most places, too. The Mets will be in every moneyline parlay today and the books know that, so they’ll go as high as they need to on the price.

Guardians (-110, 8) at Mariners: Red flag city here. Triston McKenzie has been extremely good for Cleveland and has pitched well against the Astros and Yankees recently. He also just had 14 strikeouts in his last start. Yet, with all of the positives and the accolades, Marco Gonzales and the Mariners are the ones taking money here. Gonzales is a primary regression candidate, but he’s getting the bets. This is one of those line moves that stands out in a big way.

White Sox (-115, 8) at Orioles: Baltimore opened a home favorite with Jordan Lyles on the hill, but this line has flipped to show Chicago as a road favorite. Backing Lance Lynn is pretty tricky right now, but we have seen a bit of money against Baltimore in some of their games recently. They keep cashing as an underdog at a high rate, so the books have made some modest adjustments on their odds. It would seem that the modeling crowd and others perhaps feel like the books went too far in pricing the Orioles.

What I’ll Be Watching

Kutter Crawford: The Red Sox haven’t found a whole lot of pitching to build around this season, but Crawford, who does in fact throw a cutter as one of his primary pitches, looks to have some upside. He has a 5.14 ERA because of a 67.9% LOB% and a high home run rate, but his xERA is 4.47 and his FIP is 4.35. He gave up nine runs on 11 hits in his last start to really blow up his ERA, as he had a 4.18 ERA and a 3.88 FIP prior to that. Those one-start blow-ups can be indicative of other problems, but that just appeared to be one of those days.

We’ll find out today, but even if you aren’t betting games the rest of the way or aren’t betting a specific game that day, try to take some information from it.

James Kaprielian: The A’s are still trying to figure out what they have in the oft-injured Kaprielian, who faces his former team in this start. He has a 4.29 ERA with a 5.14 FIP for the season, but now has a 2.88 ERA with a 4.20 FIP in his last 11 starts over 59.1 innings of work. Kaprielian has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of those starts. The peripherals are concerning, with a low strikeout rate and a high walk rate, but he’s kept the ball in the park and limited hard contact very effectively with a 32.4% Hard Hit%. Oddly enough, he’s actually made six starts on the road compared to five starts at home in that stretch. Of course, he’s also faced Texas three times, the Angels twice and the Royals among the teams in that stretch. The Yankees are a little more formidable, even with their recent struggles.

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

Guardians/Mariners Under 8 (-115): I typically don’t like to go against totals moves because the modeling crowd is often the catalyst behind those, but this is a spot where I think it makes sense. It is easy to look at these two pitchers and expect some regression. It’s been happening to Marco Gonzales for a while now and he still shows additional signs with a 4.08 ERA, 4.85 xERA and a 5.08 FIP. The best attribute for the Guardians offense is that they don’t strike out, but Gonzales doesn’t strike anybody out anyway, so that’s not really part of the equation to me.

What is part of the equation is that Cleveland ranks 27th in wOBA against LHP for the season. They’re much better against righties than lefties. While that has changed a little here in August with a 120 wRC +, the Guardians had an 89 wRC + in July and a 63 wRC + in June.

Gonzales, not surprisingly, has been better at home, where opposing batters have a .320 wOBA against. On the road, they are slashing .306/.364/.520 with a .379 wOBA. Gonzales’s ERA is about a full run lower at home and his FIP is well over a full run lower. With Monday’s off day, the Mariners bullpen is also in pretty good shape as well, so Gonzales won’t have to be pushed too far.

Like Gonzales, Triston McKenzie shows some modest negative regression signs, as he has a 3.11 ERA with a 3.81 xERA and a 3.86 FIP. He’s an extreme fly ball guy and that should play well in Seattle. The biggest thing for McKenzie has been cutting down on the walks. He’s only walked 35 in 141.2 innings this season and only walked more than two batters in three of his 22 starts. He’s got a .232 BABIP against, as the Guardians are one of the best defensive teams in baseball.

Also like Gonzales, McKenzie has the support of a full and mostly-rested bullpen. Only Bryan Shaw and Enyel de los Santos pitched yesterday and the Guardians had back-to-back off days on Sunday and Monday thanks to a rainout. I understand why the total has gone up given some of the starting pitcher numbers, but I think both guys have a chance to succeed here and these are two quality bullpens with Paul Sewald of the Mariners the only guy likely unavailable. As a result, it’s Guardians/Mariners Under 8 at -115 for me.

Once again, it’s been quite a season and I wish all of my readers and listeners nothing but the best. Stick around because I’ll have a lot of NFL/CFB content alongside my talented and smart colleagues and will do some MLB for the playoffs.

Season-long tracking in this spreadsheet HERE.

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