After a lighter slate on Monday, we’re back to a full slate plus one on Tuesday. We’ve got a doubleheader in Wrigleyville between the Cardinals and Cubs on the heels of last night’s 1-0 pitcher’s duel. Ernie Banks will be smiling down on a pretty afternoon in Chicago as the teams play two, with every other game set for 7:05 p.m. ET or later.
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Braves/Pirates: It was a sleepy day around MLB with very little run-scoring and that included this game, where the Braves came away with a 2-1 decision. Jake Odorizzi was strong over six excellent innings with seven strikeouts. Pittsburgh only managed five hard-hit balls in the game. Roansy Contreras threw seven very good innings against the dangerous Braves lineup, who played everybody, but still only managed two runs on four hits against the young right-hander. It was a big start for Contreras’s confidence and we’ll see if the betting market treats Contreras in the same manner it does other solid starters on bad teams moving forward.
Reds/Phillies: This game was a dud as well, but there are some interesting things to talk about. Noah Syndergaard only had TWO whiffs in 43 swings. The stuff looked mostly fine from a velocity and spin rate standpoint, but to only have two swings and misses is astonishingly bad. He located well enough to only allow one run on three hits, but the one strikeout is a major concern. I still don’t like this fit, even though the results have been okay.
Cardinals/Cubs: Jordan Montgomery gave up a double to Christopher Morel in the third inning and that was it. He struck out seven and didn’t walk anybody in his first complete game ever. The 1st 5 under was never even a sweat with a 0-0 game until Albert Pujols homered for the game’s lone run in the seventh. Drew Smyly threw seven excellent innings again himself, so he kept it rolling, but his offense was no match for Montgomery. In terms of Trade Deadline pitcher acquisitions, this is one of the best ones in recent memory.
Brewers/Dodgers: Eric Lauer bobbed and weaved through five scoreless innings by limiting hard contact with two walks and two strikeouts. More importantly, the Brewers bullpen held up long enough to get three insurance runs in the ninth against Phil Bickford for the 4-0 win. Julio Urias was excellent over six innings, but a tough-luck loser on a rare night when his offense didn’t show up. He did only have nine whiffs in 45 swings, but stayed off the barrel and only allowed three hard-hit balls.
White Sox/Royals: The only game with runs yesterday was this one, as Chicago erased a 4-0 deficit, but ultimately lost 6-4 to the Royals. Michael Kopech did not record an out, as he issued two walks a hit-by-pitch and a 105.5 mph single to Salvador Perez. Kopech’s fastball velo was down 3.2 mph and his spin rate was down 107 rpm from his season average. He hurt his knee during warmups and was still forced to make the start. We see crazy, inexplicable things every baseball season. How Tony La Russa still has a job tops the list for 2022.
Angels/Rays: Jeffrey Springs had a lot of deep counts over his 5.2 innings of work, but only allowed one run on five hits. His offense failed to capitalize on a lot of hard contact against Tucker Davidson, but the two runs that they scratched out were enough with yesterday’s throwback to the Dead Ball Era. The Angels were without Shohei Ohtani, who pinch hit and struck out, but nobody else did much and the Rays won another low-scoring game at home. This is the environment they thrive in.
Rangers/Twins: Malachi Moore had one of the worst games of any umpire behind the plate this season in this 2-1 game that went the way of the Rangers. Both dugouts were visibly angry and frustrated, but only one celebrated a win. Sonny Gray allowed a good bit of hard contact over his six innings of work, as he struck out six. The Twins only hit four balls hard against Rangers pitching yesterday and remained a below average offense in the month of August. They’re just not a good team or a good team to bet on.
Mets/Yankees: That’s why they play the games, eh? Domingo German and the Yankees bested Max Scherzer and the Mets by a 4-2 count on Monday night. It was a huge win for the Yanks, who should start to get things turned around, although they did lose another reliever with Scott Effross now on the IL. That’s a big loss as one of their top Trade Deadline acquisitions. Clay Holmes is expected to come back the first day he is eligible. Giancarlo Stanton is expected to be activated for the big road trip that starts Thursday. Slowly, but surely, things are kind of coming back together.
Marlins/Athletics: Despite his best efforts, Edward Cabrera could not get Don Mattingly to let him come back out for the ninth inning to finish off his shutout. He threw eight masterful innings with seven strikeouts against three walks in a 3-0 win for the Marlins. Miami made a lot of hard contact and drew five walks against Adam Oller, but still couldn’t score more than three runs, so that team total under cashed yet again. Oller threw 111 pitches and only had seven whiffs. I’m not really sure how he gets anybody out with some of the numbers I’ve seen.
Weather: Just about every game is in the clear except for one. The start of Blue Jays/Red Sox could be bumped back a day depending on the timing of the rain. Other than that, smooth sailing across the rest of the baseball world. Not much wind to speak of either.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Reds at Phillies (-200, 8): A little bit of Nick Lodolo money has hit the board with about a 15-cent move down on this game. Good starters on bad teams will take money with some of the inflated favorite prices that are out there and Lodolo qualifies as a good starter given his recent returns.
Braves (-260, 7.5) at Pirates: We haven’t seen the ace bump for Max Fried here, as this line appears to be priced at the top of the market, but we have seen a move on the total from 8 down to 7.5. There is a lot of juice on the over 7.5, though, so this one may be ticketed to move back to 8. That would surprise me if it did and would be a pretty telling indicator about the thoughts on this game.
White Sox (-140, 7.5) at Orioles: Money is coming in on Baltimore and against Dylan Cease in this one, as Baltimore’s big bullpen advantage and impressive resume as a dog seems to be enough to offset the historic run that Cease is on. We’re also not seeing much love for the White Sox offense these days, which is understandable.
Blue Jays (-140, 9.5) at Red Sox: As mentioned, rain threatens this one, but the line has been up and down with some Toronto money early, followed by Boston money when other books posted. The total has also fallen from 10 down to 9.5 on this game with some interest in the under.
Twins at Astros (-300, 7.5): Justin Verlander was priced at the top of the market at as high as -350 in some places before Minnesota took some influential bets to drive the price down to around -300 with Aaron Sanchez on the mound. I guess the Twins are a fairly live dog given their record and whatnot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this ticks back up a little.
What I’ll Be Watching
Nick Lodolo: Lodolo owns a 3.60 ERA with a 3.94 FIP in his 40 innings covering eight starts since returning to the team on July 5. That includes seven shutout innings against the Phillies last time out with eight strikeouts. He’s been able to keep the ball in the park and has showcased a lot more swing and miss with 53 strikeouts out of 182 batters faced. He has only allowed a 32% Hard Hit% and a 6% Barrel% in those eight starts. That’s what we call “wildly effective”. A lot of guys with high strikeout rates and high walk rates are capable of keeping their Hard Hit% down because opposing batters are hitting with two strikes a lot and have to protect the zone. He’s a guy I’ll have a close eye on for next season.
Jose Suarez: There are a lot of interesting pitchers on the mound today that aren’t exactly household names. Suarez had a rough outing against the Dodgers on July 16, but has been really solid most of the season otherwise. The full-season marks show a 4.12 ERA with a 4.22 FIP, but he’s only allowed three earned runs over his last four starts and 21 strikeouts against five walks. He’s also faced the Mariners, A’s twice and Royals in that stretch, so I’m not ready to anoint him as a changed man. But, he draws a Rays team that hasn’t been hitting a whole lot either, so this may be another solid outing for him.
Pablo Lopez: Speaking of good draws, Pablo Lopez gets one, but you can see from his odds today in the mid -130s that he’s not the same guy. He faces Oakland with a 5.40 ERA and a 4.43 FIP in his last 14 starts. He’s allowed 11 home runs in that span and hasn’t really been able to pitch out of jams. He’s allowed 18 runs over his last four starts against the Padres, Braves, Cubs and Mets. The A’s aren’t in that category by any means, but Lopez has really struggled for a sustained period of time. This is more than just a blip on the radar.
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
Diamondbacks (-120) over Royals: The Snakes hit the road as a short favorite against the Royals in a game that won’t garner a whole lot of attention. Zach Davies takes the hill for Arizona and Jon Heasley will get the call for Kansas City. As long as the Diamondbacks aren’t in a food coma from some of the great KC BBQ (I’m a Joe’s guy, myself), I think they’re in a pretty good position for this one.
Arizona has tapped back into the thing that Davies did well early in his career and that is limit hard contact. Davies has a 31.5% Hard Hit%, which puts him in the 88th percentile. His average exit velocity ranks in the 89th percentile. Compare that with Heasley, who ranks in the 4th percentile in both average exit velocity and Hard Hit%. He’s in the 8th percentile in Barrel%, which Davies is about league average. Heasley’s Hard Hit% is 46.5% and his Barrel% is 10.5%.
So, there’s a big advantage in terms of contact quality against for Arizona in this game. Also, the Diamondbacks are just outright playing better. They’re 10-10 in August and 15-14 in the second half. They’re still invested and engaged on a daily basis. The Royals have just three wins in the last 12 days and have been getting blown out with regularity. To be fair, they have played some decent teams, but this is a poor offense with a lot of bad pitchers.
Arizona comes in following an off day, so the bullpen is in good shape, while the Royals used Scott Barlow yesterday and they have two guys that have worked back-to-back days and two others that have pitched two of the last three days. Arizona is also one of the best defensive teams in baseball, which matters in a game with two pitch-to-contact starters.
I’ll lay the short price with Arizona today at -120 in one of seven interleague games.
Guardians/Padres Under 8 (-120): Aaron Civale and the Guardians face former friend Mike Clevinger to kick off a five-game West Coast swing. The Padres are heavy favorites in this one, but bettors have pushed this price back down a bit and a lot of it has to do with what we’ve seen recently from Civale.
In seven starts since returning from the IL on June 21, Civale has a 3.55 ERA with a 2.54 FIP. He added another IL stint for a wrist injury from July 13 to August 10 and has allowed three runs on six hits with 14 strikeouts against one walk in two starts since that return. Both starts came against the Tigers, so obviously take those with a shaker of salt, but the quality of his stuff has looked so much better since he returned from that first injury. He’s struck out 36 and walked seven, along with allowing just two homers in 134 plate appearances. The Guardians are also an excellent defensive team, which should continue to help Civale.
The Guardians are not a great offensive team. They tend to manufacture runs by going first-to-third, first-to-home, stealing bases and the like. In facing Clevinger, they run into a guy that generally allows a lot of weak contact and very few hits. He’s got a career Hard Hit% against of 32.7% and a low Barrel% at 6%. This season’s numbers are a little bit higher than that, but some of that has to do with injuries of his own. He’s only been able to throw 27.1 innings at home this season, but has limited the opposition to a .299 wOBA in the pitcher-friendly conditions of Petco Park.
Both bullpens are extremely well-rested here, especially Cleveland’s, with three off days in the last five. There isn’t a lot of familiarity between the hitters and these two pitching staffs, which should lead to a slow start and then the specialists start coming in. These are two top-five teams by Outs Above Average, which should further limit the chances in a park where the ball doesn’t carry all that well.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.