The month of May wraps up with 16 games across the MLB card and only one huge favorite on the board, as the Dodgers lay an enormous number against the Pirates, who blew a 4-0 lead yesterday, but still prevailed 6-5 as a huge underdog winner.
I wrote yesterday about how offense has picked up around the league as the temperatures have increased and now we’re back to seeing plenty of 9 and 9.5 totals on the board. Weather was a big factor yesterday in terms of high totals, but some games came up short of their expectations. The sportsbooks also got middled on totals in Philadelphia and Cleveland thanks to where the sharp money drove the line. If you like overs, bet ‘em early. If you like unders, bet ‘em late.
Brewers/Cubs: The Brewers swept yesterday’s doubleheader and, astonishingly, used Josh Hader in both games. I never would have thought Craig Counsell would do that, but he did, and Hader’s push towards being the first reliever since Eric Gagne to win the Cy Young in 2003 added another signature moment.
In other news, Drew Smyly fell victim to the dreaded oblique injury. We’re seeing a lot of these this season with pitchers and he is the latest, leaving after three no-hit innings. The Cubs are really banged-up right now, including injuries to Jonathan Villar and Seiya Suzuki, but they also don’t have many starting pitcher options on the 40-man roster. It’s been a tough season already, but it could get tougher.
Padres/Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt couldn’t extend his hitting streak with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fifth to help out our over bet, but he did hit a two-run homer in the seventh to help us to a push. He’s got a 21-game hit streak going now, as the Cardinals are now 12-13 against teams .500 or better and 15-8 against teams with losing records. The Padres have only played 13 games against teams .500 or better and are 24-11 against teams with losing records, which is a big reason why their 3rd Order Win% is lagging behind their actual record.
Giants/Phillies: Yesterday was a day ending in –y, so the Phillies bullpen had another forgettable day. It took until the ninth, but Corey Knebel blew the save and Andrew Bellatti gave up two in the 10th. It was an odd day for the Phillies offense, as they struck out 10 times against Logan Webb, but also had 12 hard-hit balls over eight innings, which only resulted in four hits, three of them solo homers. At least Kyle Gibson pitched well in the losing effort.
There is some unrest around the Phillies right now, as some are wondering if Joe Girardi should go, but this is a systemic failure with the bullpen. The Phillies haven’t had a good bullpen in forever. There’s only so much any manager can do with that.
Marlins/Rockies: Ryan Feltner and Pablo Lopez combined for 13 innings of one-run ball, but the Rockies got to the Marlins bullpen for a 7-1 victory. Miami will go as Jazz Chisholm Jr. goes. After missing about a week, he’s 0-for-9 in the last two games and 3-for-24 in the last 10 days. The Marlins can ill afford slumps from any offensive contributors and Chisholm especially. Until he gets it going again, this offense will suffer, apparently even at Coors Field.
Nationals/Mets: Ben Wilson and I talked on The Run Line about how neither one of us believed in Erick Fedde. Well, he allowed six runs on eight hits in 1.1 innings and the Mets rolled to a 13-5 triumph. The relentless Mets offense just continues to put up numbers, despite a Hard Hit% that ranks 21st and a Barrel% that ranks 23rd.
Other teams in that hard-hit range are Arizona, Miami, Cincinnati, Seattle, Cleveland – bad or below average offensive teams. Outliers like this are frustrating because they put some doubt into my handicapping strategy and the stats that I like to use. The Mets have the league’s second-highest BABIP at .310 (despite the below average contact quality) and lead the league in ground ball batting average at .268. They also have 64 RBI on ground balls. The Dodgers have 58, the Cubs have 55 and no other team has more than 50. I really do believe this offense is a regression candidate and I’ll be looking to fade the Mets in their upcoming stretch against better teams.
Braves/Diamondbacks: The Braves defense did not do Spencer Strider any favors, but I’m looking more at their offensive woes. They managed just two runs on eight hits against Zac Gallen and the D-Backs pen. Atlanta strikes out too much and doesn’t walk enough. The Braves should be better offensively with a top-five Hard Hit% and the league’s second-highest Barrel%, but they aren’t. They aren’t putting enough balls in play and rank 27th in wOBA with RISP. This has to be maddening for Braves fans, backers and their coaches and executives.
Pirates/Dodgers: Walker Buehler only had eight whiffs in 37 swings with decreased velocity and spin rates yesterday against the Pirates. He had a lot of called strikes, but he wasn’t sharp and there were some really concerning signs, especially early. That’s the second straight start with a decrease in spin rate and was his worst of the season. Something to monitor.
Astros/A’s: All in all, it was a pretty good start for Paul Blackburn yesterday. He generated some swing and miss and commanded the zone well. His issue was that he gave up a couple of homers and tired in the fifth against a good lineup. I’ve been feeling like Blackburn is on the verge of a collapse, but maybe not.
Royals/Guardians: Some positive signs for the Guardians lineup yesterday. The top four hitters – Straw, Rosario, Ramirez and Miller – combined for 11 hard-hit balls, four hits and two walks. Royals pitching certainly helped, but the Guardians really need Straw and Rosario to set the table for the others. Rosario was only 1-for-5, but hard contact is a positive sign. I still don’t think this offense is very good, though. They’ll hit bad pitching, as they did yesterday.
Orioles/Red Sox: Alex Cora was very complimentary of the Orioles after yesterday’s game, talking about how they’ve constructed their pitching staff and all of the different arm angles and guys with stuff. I don’t know if this offense ever becomes anything, but the pitching staff is getting a reputation around the league as being quite good.
Quietly, because they’ve scored a lot of runs, the Red Sox pen has been scuffling and it hasn’t really been talked about much. Something to keep in mind.
Rays/Rangers: The Glenn Otto handicap was pretty good, but Drew Rasmussen was awful for the Rays yesterday. The Rangers won 9-5 as the offense continued its slight surge. Otto went six innings with one earned run allowed. Let’s see if there’s any adjustment for his next outing.
Weather: The heat has been turned up. We’ll have 90s in Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, the Bronx, Baltimore, Queens, St. Louis and close to it in Chicago. That should help offense in those locales. There are some weather concerns in St. Louis, Chicago and Denver. We don’t have as many games with helping winds today, but the warmth may be more important given the humidor.
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 Mets (-185, 9): The hate is strong for Patrick Corbin. Trevor Williams is not a popular pitcher in the investment community, but the Mets have grown into a bigger favorite in this game with a fade of Corbin and the Nats.
Brewers (-130, 9.5) at Cubs: It looks like this line will push out to 10 at Wrigley Field with winds blowing out on the North Side. Rain is a possibility here, but we’ve got 9.5 with -115 or -120 on the over. We’ll see if piggybackers keep pushing the total up.
Marlins at Rockies (-125, 10): This total has come down from 11 to 10 with German Marquez and Edward Cabrera set to go. It will not be a nice night for hitting and this game is at risk of getting PPD with rain and temps in the 50s with a chilly breeze in the forecast. I wish Marquez was going against somebody other than Edward Cabrera, who has seven MLB starts to his name.
Royals at Guardians (-120, 9): Cal Quantrill has a 3.42 ERA with a 4.04 FIP and a 4.96 xFIP with a low strikeout rate in his eight starts this season. I’ve noticed that the market seems to be buying some stock in Daniel Lynch this season. Combine those two things and we’ve got a 20-25 cent move in this game. We’ll see if that’s the right move.
Rays at Rangers (-110, 8): The season that Martin Perez is having came out of nowhere. It seems that today’s influential bettors are looking to go against him, as we’ve seen this line drop about 20 cents at some shops. Perez had a 1.60 ERA with a 2.43 FIP and a 3.63 xFIP in his 56.1 innings. It will be Ryan Yarbrough for the Rays.
What I’ll Be Watching
Blake Snell: Snellzilla draws a tough assignment today against a Cardinals team that has spent the season making life hell for left-handed pitchers. In Snell’s two starts since coming off the IL, he has allowed six runs on six hits in nine innings with 12 strikeouts against five walks. He actually only allowed one run in his last start, but two inherited runners scored after he was pulled in the sixth. He’s on two extra days of rest here, which could be a positive. I think this line is suspiciously low given Adam Wainwright’s home splits and the Cardinals’ numbers against southpaws, which leads me to believe that maybe Snell actually pitches well here.
Luis Castillo: The Reds right-hander has allowed 10 runs on 18 hits in four starts this season, as he’s faced the Brewers, Pirates, Blue Jays and Cubs. This is a pretty big step up in class to face the Red Sox. Castillo has struck out 18 and walked five, but three came in his 2022 debut, so he’s only walked two of the last 64 batters he has faced. He’s allowed a 41% Hard Hit%, but does keep the ball on the ground very effectively. One thing to watch, though is that Castillo’s average fastball velocity has been around 97 mph for his career. He’s below 96 mph thus far. Let’s see if the velo comes back and how effective he is against the best lineup he’s faced to date.
Tuesday 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
Braves/Diamondbacks 1st 5 Over 5 (-105): If Atlanta can’t hit Humberto Castellanos, I’ll be even more concerned about the offense than I already am. This feels like precisely the right type of matchup for their offensive profile. Castellanos is a guy with very minimal swing and miss that pitches to fly ball contact and has below average command. This should be right up Atlanta’s alley.
Castellanos has allowed 15 homers in 96 career MLB innings and has allowed six in 39.2 innings this season, with all six in his last four appearances. He only has a 15.7% K% on the season with a 7.7% SwStr%. When the Braves have made contact, they’ve had a top-five Hard Hit% and the second-highest Barrel% in baseball. They should make a ton of contact today, as Castellanos doesn’t get whiffs and doesn’t get chases outside the zone.
Something still isn’t right with Charlie Morton. Morton has a 52.1% GB% throughout his career, but only sits at 35.1% this season. He’s given up a lot of line drives and a lot of aerial contact, which is not what we’re used to seeing from him. His SIERA of 4.47 is the worst he’s had since 2009 and his 5.28 FIP is his highest since 2010. I just wonder if age and an extended injury history are hurting him.
This season, Morton is also running a 9.9% BB%, his highest since 2016. Most teams aren’t walking much this season, but Arizona is one of them, ranking third behind the Dodgers and Giants. The Diamondbacks are also tied for sixth in home runs, so they’ve shown an interesting bit of power.
I don’t think either starter matches up particularly well today, so I’ll roll with the 1st 5 over 5.
Angels (+ 120) over Yankees: The Angels are in the Bronx to fire up a three-game set with the Yankees in a matchup that features Noah Syndergaard against Jordan Montgomery. Montgomery has allowed a home run in each of his last four starts and in five of his last six. That gives me some concerns about the command profile, given that we’re seeing the ball travel a lot better now that it has warmed up.
The Angels are 11th in wOBA against lefties, but that seems like a number that could go up given some of the right-handed power on the roster. I’m also a little bit skeptical of Montgomery’s 3.30 ERA and 3.72 FIP given that four of his nine starts have been against the Orioles, plus he has faced the Tigers and has caught the White Sox and Blue Jays in down offensive years.
Syndergaard has been great with a 3.08 ERA and a 3.53 FIP on the season. Righties only have a .259 wOBA against him and he’ll face a pretty right-handed lineup today. The Yankees will be missing two of their top three right-handed bats against right-handed pitchers with Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson on the IL. In fact, over the last two weeks, the Yankees are just 27th in wOBA as a team, better than only the Guardians, Phillies and Tigers. Stanton’s absence has been a big loss and it is even more concerning of a performance given how offense has really spiked around the league.
With all those things in mind, the Angels look to be worth a shot at plus money today, so I’ll jump in at + 120.
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.