We’ve got a more traditional slate of games on Tuesday, though we still have one stray day game out there between the Mariners and Padres. Otherwise, nighttime baseball comes our way after the holiday weekend and there is a lot to discuss.
After a 17-4 run from June 10-22, the last 15 picks have gone 5-9-1, including a 0-4 start to July. This is an example of why the “hot hand theory” can be a dangerous game. It is also an example of why overreacting to small sample sizes in your handicapping might not be the best course of action. Hopefully July turns quickly, but I expected a downturn after the torrid 12-day pace because that’s largely just how this business and the world of variance goes. Sometimes you see the board well and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you get a set of series that you don’t really like or there are a lot of huge favorites and unattractive underdogs on the card.
It’s all about the long game and being mentally and emotionally prepared for the grind. With that, let’s look at what happened yesterday and then focus on today.
Marlins/Nationals: Back-to-back solid efforts from Patrick Corbin certainly caught me off-guard, as the Nationals southpaw gave up eight hits, but only one run in the loss to the Marlins. He also went eight innings of one-run ball against the Pirates and struck out 12 to end June on a high note. Opposing hitters are batting .354 with a .524 SLG on his four-seam fastball this season and he’s thrown that pitch less often in recent starts. I’m still not sure he’s fixed by any means, but he may be less of a punching bag in the short-term.
Cubs/Brewers: Speaking of enduring the tough times, the Brewers are back up to a three-game lead over the Cardinals. I mentioned at the time how that split against St. Louis on June 23 was big for the team and they’ve gone 7-3 over their last 10 games since. This is also a really soft patch on the schedule with the Pirates and Cubs for 10 straight games. With Brandon Woodruff back and a good effort from Eric Lauer yesterday, the team’s projection does look a lot different.
Mets/Reds: Another over in Cincinnati on a warm day, as the Mets took down a 7-4 decision. Taijuan Walker gave up three runs on four hits and struck out nine over six innings. I have noticed that the market is a little skeptical of him with a low strikeout rate and a 2.86 ERA with a 3.82 xERA and 3.73 xFIP. His HR/FB% of 5.9% is well below his career mark of 12.7%, likely a byproduct of throwing his splitter more than ever this season. I’m skeptical myself, though, and I wish he was facing Atlanta next week on the road. That would’ve been a great fade spot.
Cardinals/Braves: I know that we’re pretty hardwired not to lay big numbers, but sometimes it just needs to happen. I should have bet the Braves yesterday. I’ve preached all season long about Atlanta against pitchers that don’t generate swings and misses and they scored six runs on nine hits in four innings against Dakota Hudson. I’ve also talked about the Cardinals against above average RHP. Sometimes, you just have to lay the price and this was one of those spots. Wright was limited to four innings because of a rain delay, not because of injury.
Giants/Diamondbacks: It had been smooth sailing for a while for Carlos Rodon, but he gave up four runs on five hits in five innings and had his first bad start in over a month. Rodon had allowed four earned runs over his last five starts combined prior to this one. I don’t see anything overly concerning under the hood. It looks like it was just one of those days that is bound to happen.
Meanwhile, what is concerning is that the Giants keep going in reverse. They scored three runs in five innings off of Madison Bumgarner, but he only allowed six hard-hit balls and the Giants did nothing off the pen. San Francisco is only two games over .500 now and just 3-11 over the last 14 games. They’re 10-16 in one-run games and 1-5 in the last six. This is a team that really plays poor defense and has been held to three or fewer runs in 17 of the last 30 games. I really expected a lot more.
Rockies/Dodgers: The Road Rockies got a lefty in Julio Urias, but couldn’t do much against him in the 5-3 loss. Colorado has been held to three or fewer runs in 22 of 36 road games, which is honestly fewer than I expected. They’re now 12-24 on the road, scoring an average of 3.03 R/G. If you want to bet a team like that on the road, it needs to be a game with a low-scoring expectation that gives them a better chance to hang. Those are probably not games against the Dodgers.
Rangers/Orioles: The third time through the order got both Dane Dunning and Dean Kremer yesterday. Kremer gave up five runs in the fifth and Dunning gave up a run in the fifth and two in the sixth. I don’t do a ton of live betting, but if you are somebody that does, look for these spots where you know managers are going to try and push a starter a little too far. That was the case here and this game went off the rails in the middle innings as a result.
Guardians/Tigers: What a pathetic display of baseball from Cleveland yesterday. Getting swept by the Tigers in a doubleheader is inexcusable and that’s precisely what happened. I’m trying to be level-headed because this is just a tired team at this point, but a deeply-flawed team that has a stars and scrubs roster. And the scrubs have really been scrubs.
But, as far as something actionable goes, Zach Plesac only gave up two runs in six innings, but also only struck out three and gave up 10 hard-hit balls. It’s Sunday, so there won’t be an article, but I’ll probably fade Plesac against the Royals and look to do so a lot in the second half.
Royals/Astros: It’s really tough to say that a 7-6 game with a total of 9 was a good handicap because it wasn’t. That said, Jake Odorizzi allowed three singles of 75.3 mph or lower early in the game and some other softer-contact hits. The Astros did nothing against a bad pitcher in Jon Heasley. It was another example of how much having swing and miss stuff increases a pitcher’s margin for error, though, as balls in play are highly volatile. There were only 12 strikeouts in this game and some softly-hit balls found grass.
Twins/White Sox: The baseball gods seem to be giving the Twins back all of the games that they lost from bullpen meltdowns. Minnesota walked off Baltimore twice over the weekend and then scored four runs in the 10th to win 6-3 yesterday in what was an awful push for Under 9 bettors. I’m endlessly amazed at how relievers can only throw one inning these days. Tony La Russa got three combined innings on 30 pitches from Matt Foster, Liam Hendriks and Kendall Graveman, just to be left using Joe Kelly in the 10th with a ghost runner on second. He got two outs and gave up four runs.
Blue Jays/A’s: Baseball is fascinating sometimes. Cole Irvin allowed 11 hard-hit balls over eight innings and one run on four hits. Alek Manoah allowed nine hard-hit balls in 5.2 innings and five runs on six hits, including two homers from an A’s offense that has done virtually nothing at home this season. I call this the Blind Squirrel Theory. “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut...”
Mariners/Padres: Talk about not really having it. Sean Manaea gave up 14 hard-hit balls on 26 swings in just 3.1 innings with 71 pitches in San Diego’s 8-2 loss to the Mariners. It was a really ugly start with four walks as well. This may have just been one of those things, but Manaea now has 10 walks over his last 15.1 innings. I’ll be watching closely.
Weather: Mother Nature will be involved all over the country today. Storms are present in the Rust Belt again, as Detroit, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are all in the crosshairs, but what plagued the Midwest yesterday has moved east, so there are storm chances in Philly, Baltimore and Boston. I don’t really have the luxury of playing it by ear with the article posting time, but if you want to wait it out for some of these, I don’t blame you.
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 (-200, 9) at Reds: Mad Max is back, as Scherzer takes the bump for the Mets in Cincinnati. A total of 9 in a Scherzer start is a pretty rare thing, so I’ll be curious to see where that ends up throughout the day, but we’ve had about a 15-cent “ace bump” on New York.
Cardinals at Braves (-140, 9.5): Not a whole lot of love for Ian Anderson today, as we’ve seen a little bit of Cardinals money, but have seen this total get bumped up from 9 to as high as 10 in the market.
Cubs at Brewers (-125, 8.5): The Cubs are taking a little bit of money here with Jason Alexander on the hill for the Brewers and Kyle Hendricks for the road dogs. I know everybody loves team vs. pitcher stats (they shouldn’t) and Hendricks has a career 3.54 ERA in 173 innings against Milwaukee, but he has allowed 25 runs on 46 hits in his last 36.2 innings of work against them over the last two seasons.
So, if you see somebody touting Hendricks’s career numbers vs. Milwaukee, point out how flawed their logic is. Those career numbers go back to 2014. That’s not relevant at all. All that is relevant is the present. Pitcher vs. team stats are a waste of time. Thank you for attending my TED Talk.
Guardians (-155, 9) at Tigers: I’ve mentioned prior to just about every Cal Quantrill start that the betting market is not overly fond of his projections. Well, Quantrill and the Guardians are taking money today against Drew Hutchison and the Tigers. Anytime a pitcher that gets faded on the regular is taking money, my Spidey senses tingle.
What I’ll Be Watching
Logan Gilbert: In last Friday’s article, I highlighted Gilbert as a guy that I’m following closely. He gave up four runs on eight hits to the A’s last time out and only had three strikeouts in that start. Gilbert ranks in the bottom 7% in exit velocity and Hard Hit% per Statcast and also ranks in the 15th percentile in Chase Rate. His four-seam fastball has a wOBA against of .335, but an xwOBA of .374 based on exit velo, batted ball distance and other factors. The difference between his wOBA and xwOBA on the slider is 30 points, on the curveball is 178 points and on the changeup is 95 points.
Basically, his contact management numbers suggest that he has gotten very fortunate this season to be running a 2.66 ERA. He has a 4.09 xERA on the season, the same mark he had last year in 119.1 innings, but had a 4.68 ERA. The question is whether or not the Padres offense is capable of delivering that regression blow.
Jeffrey Springs: Springs returns with a tough assignment against the Red Sox. The southpaw has been a great story as a starter this season for the Rays over 60 innings with a 2.25 ERA, a 3.33 FIP, elite K/BB numbers and some seriously impressive Statcast data. He hasn’t pitched since June 24, though, as he returns from the family medical emergency list. He allowed seven runs on 14 hits in 10.1 innings to the Pirates and Orioles in his last two starts before leaving the team. This is a pretty extended layoff, almost like an IL stint, so I’ll be curious to see how sharp he is in this outing.
Tuesday Best Bets
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Cardinals (+ 130) over Braves: Andre Pallante doesn’t miss a lot of bats, but there are a few things that he does really well that should give him the chance to succeed against the Braves in today’s matchup. Pallante is a pitch-to-contact guy, but that contact is typically on the ground, as he has only allowed four home runs in 55.2 innings of work and a Barrel% of just 3.4%. He’s only allowed six barrels in 175 batted ball events. Overall, he’s had 113 ground balls, 29 fly balls and 33 line drives. His GB% is 64.6% and that is a sound strategy with the infield defense he has.
The Braves like to elevate the baseball. They were one of the teams at the forefront of the launch angle craze and have the fifth-highest FB% this season at 39.9%. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t really jive with Pallante’s extreme ground ball nature.
Another thing I like about the pitching side of this one for the Cardinals is that Giovanny Gallegos and Ryan Helsley are well-rested. That is not the case for Atlanta’s pen, where closer AJ Minter has worked two of the last three days and looked awful on Sunday against Cincinnati. Will Smith just threw 35 pitches yesterday and has thrown 57 in the last two days, so he’s unlikely to be used. Rubber-armed Jesse Chavez has thrown 55 pitches in two days. Darren O’Day and Dylan Lee pitched yesterday and Tyler Matzek just returned from IL. The Cardinals pen is in far better shape here, especially with the primary guys.
Then there’s Ian Anderson on the hill for the Braves. Anderson has not pitched well at all this season with a 5.31 ERA and a 4.58 FIP. His 4.09 xERA is a little more optimistic, but he’s a low-strikeout, high-walk pitcher that has a career-worst 42.2% Hard Hit%. The Cardinals lineup is a little more balanced now with lefties like Nolan Gormanand Brendan Donovan, but it still comes down to the righties like Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Righties own a .382 wOBA with a .308/.370/.517 slash against Anderson this season. He’s also allowed a .376 wOBA in his 28.2 innings at home this season.
Pallante can keep the ball on the ground and keep the Braves offense at bay by pitching away from their strength of barreling the baseball. I’m not sure Anderson can pitch away from anybody’s strength right now with 30 runs allowed on 49 hits in his last 40.1 innings of work. He’s given up at least four runs in six of those eight starts. With all that in mind, the Cardinals at an underdog price look good to me tonight.
Josh Winder is now the Twins starter. This will be graded as no play. It is left up for transparency purposes, as I don't edit the content of the article once it goes up.
White Sox (-125) over Twins: Michael Kopech and Chris Archer are listed for Game 2 of this hugely important set between the White Sox and Twins. Minnesota drew first blood yesterday, but it could have come at the expense of today’s game. Archer has not pitched more than five innings in a game yet this season, so it will be another day with tremendous strain on the Minnesota bullpen. Jhoan Duran has only worked back-to-back days once this season and he pitched yesterday, so he’s probably unavailable.
But, Archer is a massive regression candidate, as he has a 3.08 ERA, but a 4.89 FIP and a 4.99 xFIP in his 61.1 innings of work. He’s running a 79.9% LOB% with a very low strikeout rate and a .224 BABIP despite a Hard Hit% that ranks in the 25th percentile. In fact, Archer does not grade league average in any Statcast category. He’s in the 20th percentile in both xwOBA and xERA, so that 3.08 ERA should be a thing of the past soon. He’s also been very vocal to credit Wes Anderson for his performance this season and this will be his first start without him in the dugout.
Kopech’s last three starts don’t look great on paper, but they haven’t been as bad as the stat lines suggest. He had a rough first inning against Anaheim and then threw four shutout innings before giving up a two-run homer as he tired in the sixth. In his start against Baltimore, one of the runs was a bunt single, stolen base, ground out and a wild pitch and another came home on a balk. Baltimore also stole five bases in that game. Minnesota has 13 stolen bases for the season.
Archer hasn’t been working deep into games, has a lot of regression signs in the profile and the Twins pen has had a lot of issues throughout the season. To me, that’s worth laying the short price here on the White Sox. Sorry for the late posting, but I put a lot of extra effort and research into today, so hopefully it pays off.
Edit: There has been some confusion about the Twins pitching change today. All of my handicaps are with LISTED PITCHERS ONLY. Make sure that is the option that you are also selecting when you lock in your bets. In this case, I handicapped this game expecting Archer to start. Winder is an entirely different handicap. It is not advisable to simply use "Action" because you get locked into a bet at different odds with a pitcher you never even handicapped. Always use [NAME] must start for both teams or Listed Pitchers, however your particular sportsbook words it.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.