One day game and 15 night games make up Tuesday’s schedule on the diamond, as the Guardians and White Sox play two on a perfect weather day in Cleveland. Sunny and 82 sounds pretty good back home when it’s 110 and blinding in Las Vegas.
Anyway, we’ll head to the card and see if I can’t get out of the July swoon that followed the June one with a tremendous stretch in between. The roller coaster ride of an MLB season can be fun at times and leave your stomach lurching at others. Let’s see what Tuesday has in store.
Pirates/Marlins: Mitch Keller was solid for the Pirates and Miami’s home regression against RHP continued with a 5-1 loss in a big favorite role. The Pirates scored two in the first against Trevor Rogers, who limited hard contact and had seven strikeouts in 5.1 innings, but three early runs were too much for the Fish to overcome. This is an angle I’ve been watching with Jazz Chisholm Jr. still out and one I apparently should have played yesterday. Hopefully you did.
Keller did have a huge drop in velocity yesterday, so we’ll see if anything comes of that. His slider velo was down almost 4 mph and his two fastballs were down 1.3 and 1.6, respectively. Those velo numbers were closer to what he did in 2021. It may just be a reporting error, but I’ll check back later this week.
Phillies/Cardinals: The Phillies had 11 hard-hit balls against Miles Mikolas in 7.1 innings of work, but managed only a solo homer from Rhys Hoskins in the first inning. They had six hits, all singles otherwise, and didn’t draw any walks. Aaron Nola gave up three runs to the bottom of the order in the fifth and two in the seventh when his third time through the order penalty kicked in. It was a sick beat for Phillies 1st 5 and 1st 5 under backers to say the least.
Mets/Braves: Mad Max looked like the ace the Mets needed in a massive win over the Braves. He had 21 whiffs on 55 swings and struck out nine over seven innings. Max Fried had five walks, which made the day difficult for him. It was a tough spot to back Max in his second start off the IL, but he threw seven innings in 93 efficient pitches, which was my worry. The Braves have had issues with swing-and-miss guys and few are better than Scherzer.
Padres/Rockies: This over had no chance and then it did. The two bullpens really struggled, as 11 runs were scored, despite a combined 2-for-14 performance with RISP. Maybe this one deserved a better fate, maybe it didn’t, but I know it was another frustrating loss in a string of them. How Jose Urena only gave up two runs on seven hits with three walks and just three strikeouts at Coors Field will forever be a mystery to me.
As far as Sean Manaea goes, the velo looked fine and he allowed 10 hard-hit balls over 6.1 innings, but was able to minimize the damage and only walked one. His 65% sinker rate was his second-highest of the season, as he dared the Rockies to put balls in play.
Diamondbacks/Giants: Another excruciating loss for the Giants, who went down 4-3 to the Diamondbacks. Merrill Kelly outdueled Alex Cobb and the Arizona bullpen held on for the victory. San Francisco only had six hard-hit balls in the game on 30 balls in play. Their contact quality has really dropped off this season and they’re back to being just one game over .500.
Tigers/Royals: The Royals swept the doubleheader from the Tigers on Monday, beating Michael Pineda 3-1 and Alex Faedo 7-3. Detroit’s ongoing offensive issues continued, as they scored four runs in two games against Brad Keller and Daniel Lynch. They did make a lot more hard contact in Game 2, but only scratched out two earned runs. The story remains the same for Detroit. They’re 3-37 when scoring two or fewer runs and 33-14 when scoring at least three runs, though Game 2 went down as a rare loser.
White Sox/Guardians: One team was going to have a big offensive night here, but I couldn’t figure out which one. Turns out it was Cleveland, who jumped on Lance Lynn for five runs in the first. Lynn ultimately gave up all eight runs on nine hits and still looks like he’s working through some things. The Guardians scored eight runs on an 0-for-4 night from Jose Ramirez, which is kind of crazy.
Lynn only gave up two hard-hit balls, a Nolan Jones 110 mph barrel up the alley and a Josh Naylor 103 mph groundout. Cleveland had four hits under 85 mph in exit velo. Lynn isn’t locating well, but he’s also had a ton of bad luck. He’s not somebody who handles bad luck well and it snowballed here.
Athletics/Rangers: Another high-scoring game in Texas. We saw a big offensive uptick in Royals/Astros in the Lone Star State and we’ve seen a ton of runs from the Rangers on this homestand. Even the A’s scored eight runs, most of them off of reliever Kolby Allard. Oakland’s offense is definitely more competent on the road. The Rangers are just a hard team to gauge right now, as they’ve been extremely inconsistent.
Weather: Rain chances are noteworthy on the East Coast in the Bronx and D.C. It could rain in Minnesota leading up to the game, making for some soupy conditions. We’ve got winds blowing out around 10 mph on a warm evening at Wrigley Field, but the total is only 9 with some extra vig for Jordan Lyles and Adrian Sampson, which is surprising.
Injuries: Lots of updates and new injuries from the weekend, so keep an eye on those. Check out our Injury Report (https://www.vsin.com/injuries/mlb/) right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Mets at Braves (-185, 8.5): Huge ace bump for Spencer Strider today in this one, as we’ve seen upwards of a 25-30 cent move on the rookie right-hander. David Peterson is on the other side for the Mets and he has good numbers, but Strider has been virtually unhittable with filthy stuff.
Dodgers (-150, 8.5) at Cardinals: I don’t think the modeling crowd has Matthew Liberatore rated well. This is not the first line move we’ve seen against him, as the Dodgers send Mitch White to the bump. I’ve noticed that influential bettors fade guys with high walk rates pretty regularly and Liberatore has a 5.11 BB/9 this season to go with his 4.74 ERA and 5.49 xERA.
Red Sox (-115, 7.5) at Rays: Bettors seem unsure how to treat Chris Sale’s first MLB start since October 3. He’s said to be around 85 pitches here, though the most recent thing we saw was Sale trashing a minor league hallway after walking five in 3.2 innings in his last rehab start. Minor movement towards Corey Kluber and the Rays, but not much.
Athletics at Rangers (-165, 8.5): I mentioned how the market doesn’t like high BB guys. Glenn Otto has a 5.61 BB/9 for Texas, but we’re not seeing the same line move against him. That’s because James Kaprielian has a high walk rate as well, just with fewer strikeouts and similarly bad numbers. This total might be on its way to 9 with -120 on the 8.5.
Mariners at Nationals (-110, 9): Josiah Gray has been the one Nationals pitcher that bettors have taken with some confidence. In this spot, though, he’s in a slight favorite role and those with influence seem less excited about taking him here. This is an interesting line to follow. One thing we have seen is a move down from 9.5 to 9 on the total.
What I’ll Be Watching
Beau Brieske: The Tigers probably didn’t want to get this much from Brieske this season, but with 80% of their starting rotation on the IL or away from the team on the restricted list, he’s been forced into action. He’s made 14 starts and has allowed three runs or fewer in 10 of them, including 6.1 shutout innings against the White Sox last time out. He doesn’t generate a lot of strikeouts, but his 14 home runs are a tad misleading, given that he’s only allowed two in his last six starts. Since June 11, he has a 3.21 ERA with a 3.44 FIP in 33.2 innings of work. His Hard Hit% is only 39.3% in that span with a 7.5% Barrel%.
It’s been subtle, but he’s shown some growth over the course of the season. Given that he’s only thrown 54 innings at Double-A/Triple-A and was a 27th round pick in 2019, he deserves a ton of credit.
Noah Syndergaard: Except for two really bad starts, Syndergaard has been very solid for the Angels. He’s allowed two or fewer runs in eight of his 13 starts and owns a 3.84 ERA with a 3.83 FIP. He’ll catch a break today facing the Astros without the services of Yordan Alvarez, who is on the IL with a hand issue. Righties only have a .283 wOBA against Syndergaard this season with a 34/8 K/BB ratio in 166 plate appearances. Thor has also spit in the face of the third time through the order penalty, holding opposing batters to a .298 wOBA in 65 PA. Let’s see if he can give the Angels a little life in the series opener.
Tuesday Best Bets
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VEGAS LINES | ODDS BY STATE | MLB MATCHUPS
Game 2 White Sox 1st 5 Run Line (-0.5, -125) over Guardians: This should be a huge mismatch. Dylan Cease has allowed three earned runs in his last eight starts and all three have come on solo home runs. In that stretch, he’s got 62 strikeouts in 45.1 innings of work and has only allowed 28 hits. He’s given up 10 unearned runs, but six of those came in one start, so he’s allowed one or fewer runs in six of his last eight starts.
The Guardians rank 23rd in BB% over the last 30 days, so it’s not like they’ve been working a lot of counts. They also have one of the league’s lowest SLG at .370. Cease should go out there and pitch effectively.
Konnor Pilkington gets the start for Cleveland tonight and he throws left-handed. The White Sox have a .359 wOBA and a 136 wRC + for the season against lefties on the road. They’ve got the highest SLG in that split and Pilkington has allowed a 12.8% Barrel%. Chicago leads the league in batting average, is third in SLG and leads the league in wOBA and wRC + against lefties.
Given that Shane Bieber is throwing Game 1 and the White Sox are awful against right-handed pitchers, my expectation is that Cleveland wins Game 1 and uses their primary relievers, while Chicago’s will be fresh for Game 2, so I thought about the full-game price, but -160 is a big price to lay. I still think that's good, too, but we can cut down on the vig and play the big SP matchup edge. So, I think -160 full game is good. I think 1st 5 money line is good. I also think 1st 5 run line at -125 is good. Cease has been locked in and the Guardians offense has not been for the most part, but the White Sox pen has been a little messy and I guess we can avoid them while still playing Cease over Pilkington.
Orioles/Cubs 1st 5 Over 4.5 (-120): It should be a pretty good night for hitting at Wrigley Field with temps in the 80s and a breeze blowing out to right field. Jordan Lyles is having a nice season for the Orioles, but his well-defined home/road splits stand out in this matchup. Lyles has a 2.72 ERA with a .265/.322/.343 slash and a .296 wOBA at home, but this start is in Chicago. He has a 5.89 ERA with a .279/.339/.514 slash and a .366 wOBA against in 55 innings across 245 plate appearances on the road.
All 12 home runs that Lyles has allowed have come on the road. For a guy allowing a .374 wOBA with men on base, that absolutely gives us the chance at some multi-run homers while he’s in the game. Opposing batters are hitting .299 with men on base. That has been the biggest problem for the Cubs offense this season, but this should be a better matchup for them in that regard. They’re seventh in home wOBA this season.
I’m also not buying Adrian Sampson. Sampson has two good starts and one bad one, with the bad one coming at home against the Red Sox. While Baltimore’s offense certainly isn’t on par with Boston’s, the Orioles have been quite a bit better over the last six weeks, especially with increased contact quality. Sampson has a career 4.93 ERA with a 5.51 FIP in his 210 innings of work. Some guys go to the KBO and figure it out, but Sampson even had a 5.40 ERA and a 4.55 FIP over there in 130 innings in 2020. He’s just not a good pitcher and whatever’s happening in this small sample size seems unsustainable.
Both bullpens are rested and the Cubs pen has been better of late, while the Orioles have had one of the best bullpens in baseball this season. With that in mind, I’ll lay a little extra vig and take the 1st 5 over, especially since it’ll be a little bit warmer then and the breezes may be a little stronger early in the game. Hopefully today is the day that the tide turns with the picks.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.