The buzz about the baseballs won’t be going away anytime soon. In yesterday’s post-game press conference, Chris Bassitt effectively confirmed that MLB is using two different balls. Others have been quoting anonymous pitchers regarding the lack of grip on the ball. Offense took a bit of a spike yesterday, as there were a few high-scoring games, but there were also some very low-scoring games, so it seems like, as Bassitt inferred, it’s just the luck of the draw right now.
All we can do is take all of it into consideration and keep digging through the stats and metrics to find something that appears to be actionable.
Brewers/Pirates: Credit to the Brewers for bringing the bats to the Steel City on Tuesday. It was their third game in three different cities with a very quirky scheduling situation. Brandon Woodruff wasn’t very sharp in his four innings, leaving the bullpen to get through a bit of a messy situation. Those innings are mounting with that group with limited off days, so that merits watching.
Rockies/Phillies: I nearly took the over in this game because German Marquez has no command whatsoever right now. He gave up seven runs in 3.2 innings of work yesterday, with 10 hard-hit balls and only one strikeout. Marquez’s Hard Hit% is now 49.4% and his K% is below 15%. Marquez’s velo was almost 96 mph in his first start, but has been in the 94.3 range in his last three starts. I think a stint on the injured list might be coming. If not, fade away.
Marlins/Nationals: Josiah Gray gave up four runs on seven hits, but did strike out 10 in his 5.2 innings of work. Sandy Alcantara was great again for the Marlins, even on the road. The Nationals are careening down a hill with no signs of stopping, but at least Gray does seem like a bright spot. As I mentioned yesterday, the markets bet on him and I think he’s the only guy they’ll bet on in that rotation moving forward.
Cubs/Braves: Marcus Stroman only allowed two earned runs over six innings, but the Braves had 13 hard-hit balls in his seven innings. Stroman ranks in the bottom 4% in Hard Hit% with a rate of 57.1%. He’s actually been really fortunate not to be worse than he has. His average launch angle against is far and away the highest of his career, so he’s not doing a good job of getting the ball down in the zone. After posting a career-worst HH% last season of 42%, I’m wondering if Stroman is dealing with something that has been a long-term concern.
Royals/White Sox: The Royals have had one of the lowest walk rates this season, but drew 11 walks against Dallas Keuchel and the White Sox bullpen. Nobody in the AL Central has grabbed the bull by the horns, as Chicago is playing very poorly right now. They’re struggling to pitch and struggling to hit with so many injuries. Keuchel got no help from his defense again, but walked five in four innings. It’s more about the injuries than the manager, but I don’t believe Tony La Russa is doing a good job.
Guardians/Angels: The Guardians have scored eight runs during this five-game losing streak and seem unlikely to fare well against Shohei Ohtani tonight. They’ve scored 48 runs in their four offensive explosions and 28 runs in their other 13 games. Feast or famine offense, but mostly famine.
Weather: We’ve got a lot of cold weather in the forecast today. Winds are blowing out in Pittsburgh, New York and San Francisco, while Minnesota, Washington and Philadelphia feature winds blowing in.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. Also, my friend @MLBDream on Twitter put together a great MLB beat writer list to follow.
Dodgers (-175, 8) at Diamondbacks: The markets still love Zac Gallen, so much so that they’re betting the Diamondbacks against the Dodgers. We’ve seen about a 15-cent move down in this game. Expect Gallen to be the only D-Backs starter that takes money regularly as the season goes along.
Marlins (-140, 7.5) at Nationals: Another day, another Nationals fade, this time with Pablo Lopez and Erick Fedde on the hill. Lopez is a really popular guy in the investment markets and Fedde is not, but this is also another indication of anti-Washington sentiment, which has clearly permeated the market. Expect the Nationals to get bet against with any decent opposing pitcher slated to throw.
Mariners at Rays (-135, 7.5): I don’t think the betting markets are very fond of Marco Gonzales. We’re seeing money against Seattle here to back Drew Rasmussen and the Rays. Gonzales has a 3.29 ERA with a 5.86 FIP, which is pretty close to his numbers from last season, so he is definitely viewed as a regression candidate. I’d expect line moves against him in most of his upcoming starts.
Royals at White Sox (-190, 7): Zack Greinke has a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings, but a 7.40 xERA, a 3.58 FIP and a 4.96 xFIP. Greinke has struck out only two of the 63 batters that he has faced. Regression absolutely has to come for him. He also has a 47.4% Hard Hit%, so it’s not even like he’s limiting hard contact to any degree. If he’s able to navigate this start, expect line moves against him until he does experience some regression.
Tigers at Twins (-195, 7): It seems like we won’t be getting any bargains on Joe Ryan. The Twins right-hander has been bet up to almost a -200 favorite here against the Tigers. Ryan has thrown the ball extremely well to this point and influential bettors have noticed. You’ll have to hit the overnight lines when he pitches.
What I’ll Be Watching
Glenn Otto: The 26-year-old Rangers right-hander has had problems staying healthy throughout his career, but his raw stuff rates really highly with good spin rates and movement. In 28.1 MLB innings, he’s struck out 33 and walked only nine, but has allowed 25 runs on 34 hits. He has a 7.94 ERA, but a 2.91 FIP and a 3.36 xFIP, so he was unlucky last season with some bad batted ball luck and sequencing. After shutting down a pretty punchless Oakland lineup, now he draws the Astros, so that will be a much bigger test.
Jakob Junis: I’m curious to see what, if any, magic the Giants are able to pull with Junis. The former Royal was a two-pitch pitcher that got knocked around often and allowed a lot of home runs. He tried a cutter in 2021, but now the Giants have him throwing changeups at a much higher rate than ever before. He’s basically a slider/changeup guy, which could be an interesting pitch mix and should help with the problems he’s had against lefties. Junis will be bulk reliever after Sam Long, drawing a weak Oakland lineup. I’m interested to see how the Giants’ latest experiment goes.
Wednesday 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
Rays (-135) over Mariners: The Rays bring a top-five offense against lefties into this matchup with Marco Gonzales and the Mariners. Seattle is not using Andres Munoz back-to-back days and the bullpen has gotten a lot of action in recent games, so there is a lot of emphasis on Gonzales to pitch deep into the game. I’m not sure that will happen with all of those regression signs in his profile.
After posting a 3.96 ERA with a 5.28 FIP last season, he has a 3.29 ERA with a 5.86 FIP to start this season in 13.2 innings. He has already allowed four home runs and is on track for his second season in a row with a Barrel% in double digits. There isn’t much swing and miss in the profile, so the Rays will put a lot of balls in play and hopefully do so with authority like so many others have against Gonzales.
Drew Rasmussen gets the call for the Rays and he has several signs of improvement in his profile. He had a 2.84 ERA with a 3.09 FIP last season, so this year’s early returns are a bit of a surprise. His LOB% is only 68.2%, so that should be on the rise. His SwStr% is about where it was last year, so a K% bump is likely to come as well. Rasmussen does allow a lot of hard contact, but generally keeps the ball on the ground. He hasn’t done that quite as well this season, but it should be coming as a smart team and a solid pitching coach will help with the necessary changes.
I agree with the line move here and still think there’s some value, even if it has jumped up 10 cents on us. Just the one play for tonight with quite a few big favorite numbers on the board.
We’ll be rolling out a nice MLB package with some site enhancements and a tracker soon, but I’m tracking the picks in my own spreadsheet HERE for now.