The day-to-day challenges of betting go beyond handicapping the games and looking at the matchups. With yesterday’s card, I had written out the Blue Jays as a pick at -135 and pivoted at the last minute to take the 1st 5 under, which wound up being a bad decision. Sportsbooks don’t want to operate under the “less is more” strategy. The more betting options there are out there with the vig and the house edge, the more chances that bettors have to trip up. I should’ve stuck with my gut and my initial read.
I’ve talked about this before and no matter how much I attempt to speak it into existence, I know I’m going to go in a different direction and make a misstep again at multiple points this season. As I step off my soapbox and get into the meat of today’s article, I’ll just end by saying that confidence is key in this business and you have to do whatever you can to find it.
Rockies/Pirates: The Rockies scored two runs in 10 innings yesterday and have now scored 44 runs in 17 road games. Like I said yesterday, maybe we just need to blindly bet their team total unders on the road. It cashed again yesterday, along with an easy under in the 2-1 game. Kris Bryant is also back on the IL again, which won’t help matters.
Cubs/Reds: Another trend continued yesterday, as Great American Ball Park played to another over with 15 runs on the board. The Cubs won 11-4, as Tyler Mahle’s home splits reared their ugly head again with eight runs allowed on nine hits in four innings. His ERA jumped to 6.32. He still looks like a positive regression candidate by the stats, and maybe he will be in his road outings, but positive regression assumes a reasonable level of command. Mahle had none yesterday.
Dodgers/Nationals: I was a bit surprised to see money against Walker Buehler and on Josiah Gray and the Nats in the overnight and early-morning hours. As it turns out, those funds were misguided in LA’s 9-4 win. Gray continues to really struggle with the lack of depth in his arsenal. In the current pitch-to-contact era, I think pitchers with shallower arsenals and bad fastballs are likely to struggle more. Batters are now slugging .662 on Gray’s fastball, which he’s throwing almost 46% of the time.
Phillies/Braves: These teams traded blown saves in the ninth inning yesterday, as Atlanta prevailed 6-5. The Phillies are now just 11-23 when scoring seven or fewer runs. That’s not really a sustainable path to winning. I wind up with a love-hate relationship with this team because I see the potential, but I also see a lot of downside. In that same breath, the Phillies are 5-17 when they allow four or more runs. That makes this team really hard to bet on.
Mets/Giants: If you stayed up late to watch this one, you were treated to an instant classic. It looked like a dud, as the Giants knocked around Chris Bassitt and led 8-1 going into the seventh, but the Mets scored 10 runs in the final three innings, only to lose in walk-off fashion 13-12. Lost in the craziness is that Logan Webb threw five solid innings and Joc Pederson hit three home runs, had eight RBI and all six of his batted balls were 95 + mph, including a 95.1 mph HR with an xBA of .160. His other two homers were no-doubters.
Orioles/Yankees: Business seems to be picking up offensively in a lot of places. We had a 7-6 final in the Bronx, where Bruce Zimmermann gave up four solo homers in his 6.1 innings. Collectively, the league batted .274/.335/.454 yesterday with 46 home runs and a 130 wRC +, meaning the league was 30% better than its year-to-date performance. I don’t know if MLB has pulled a switcheroo again of some kind or if the warmer weather is really helping, but yesterday was a day full of offense.
Red Sox/White Sox: Boston scored 16 runs off of Dylan Cease and the White Sox bullpen yesterday in one of the most surprising results of the season. The Red Sox lead the league in wOBA at .355 in the month of May and have far and away the highest SLG at .475. I knew that this offense was in line for some positive regression, but this uptick in production has been staggering. Over the last 14 days, Boston has a .388 wOBA, which is 30 points better than any other team. They’re simply mauling the baseball right now.
A’s/Mariners: Another night with a lot of offense at T-Mobile Park as well, as the A’s came away with a 7-5 win. In this game, the A’s had an xBA of .252 and the Mariners .193, so maybe we shouldn’t have had the offense we got, but it was another night for runs in Seattle. By the way, the A’s are only a half-game worse than the Mariners right now at 18-27. Remember all that preseason Seattle hype because they were big winners of the offseason?
Marlins/Rays: Pablo Lopez surrendered three home runs on a night when he had eight strikeouts and 21 swings and misses in a 4-0 loss to the Rays. Shane McClanahan was spectacular again for Tampa with six shutout innings. The story remains the same for the Marlins. Pitch well, but lose because the offense doesn’t do anything. They’re just such a hard team to bet on as a result.
Blue Jays/Cardinals: Toronto scored eight runs, but went 2-for-14 with RISP once again. My buddy works in the Blue Jays org and texted me yesterday about how sick he was about the team’s approach and about how nothing will change until they make adjustments. He even called the team “easy to pitch to”. Make of that what you will, but he’s a very sharp baseball mind and it certainly registered with me.
Royals/Diamondbacks: Adding to my intrigue and raised eyebrows about the offensive uptick, the Royals and D-Backs scored 14 runs for the second consecutive night. Even Zac Gallen was not immune with six runs allowed on seven hits in 5.1 innings. Maybe this is just natural regression to the mean in a lot of parks, but Chase Field was one of the ones that just missed the cut for this week’s Regression Report article about ballparks that are lagging behind on offense. The last two days have been a shock.
Weather: We’ve reached the point of the year where a lot of games will have scattered storms in the forecast. The air is warmer at ground level and still somewhat cooler up in the atmosphere, so we get a lot of thunderstorms and the chance at severe weather. Patchy storms could be an issue in Cincinnati, Atlanta and Chicago. It looks wet in Minnesota as well.
Wind, however, is not really a huge factor today. Helping winds are in San Francisco for the Mets/Giants tilt, which has already been a high-scoring series.
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.
Rockies at Pirates (-130, 8): This game goes off very quickly with a 12:35 p.m. start time, but I just wanted to mention another Rockies Road Fade, with a move of 10-15 cents on Pittsburgh. You can set your watch to the overnight line movement. Keep that in mind.
Dodgers (-210, 8.5) at Nationals: We’ve seen some back-and-forth movement here, as the Dodgers and Nationals wrap up their series. I’ve been surprised to see some Nationals investment in this series, especially yesterday against Buehler and today with Erick Fedde on the hill. That leads me to believe that the quant guys see general value in backing a Washington team that has not won consecutive games since April 18-19 and is 8-23 over the last 31 games.
Brewers at Padres (-135, 7.5): There aren’t a lot of believers in Aaron Ashby in the marketplace for this matchup against Yu Darvish and the Padres. Remember that we’ve seen a good bit of money against the Padres lately with their differences between actual record and the other standings metrics. That is not the case today, which leads me to believe that the modelers have some good projections for Darvish and/or a concerning outlook for Ashby.
Cubs at Reds (-140, 8.5): The markets have no confidence in Kyle Hendricks. Luis Castillo is making just his fourth start of the season and he is taking line-moving money for tonight’s game. Castillo does show some positive regression signs with a 4.60 ERA and a 3.68 xERA, so there is that to consider, but this is another start with bettors selling any remaining Hendricks stock.
Phillies at Braves (-155, 9): The biggest move of the day was on Charlie Morton and the Braves for this one against Ranger Suarez and the Phillies. This line had jumped upwards of 30 cents, as Morton is locked into a nice groove right now, but this line also got bet back down while I was putting the finishing touches on today’s article.
Orioles at Yankees (-165, 8): JP Sears had an 0.83 ERA over 21.2 innings in Triple-A when he was told that he would be starting this game for the Yankees against the Orioles. He has a 30/2 K/BB ratio in the minors and has only allowed 11 hits. We’ve still seen money come in on Baltimore and Tyler Wells, which also includes Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu out for the Yanks in this one. We’ll see how Sears fares, as I think he’s an interesting pitcher in a lot of ways.
What I’ll Be Watching
JP Sears: Let’s expand on Sears a bit. He likes to work up in the zone with the fastball and his slider is his best weapon. Driveline Baseball founder Kyle Boddy tweeted about how vital a good slider is to a pitcher these days and Sears has one. Furthermore, pitching up in the zone with the fastball to counteract the uppercut swings in the launch angle generation and to stay off the barrel has proven to be a sound strategy. The Astros have employed it for years and other teams are doing the same. I think Sears has the chance to be a pretty good big leaguer. Health has been an issue, as he just topped 100 innings in a season for the first time in his career, but he misses bats, throws strikes and keeps the ball in the park. We may find some value betting on him as an unknown name down the line.
Aaron Ashby: Ashby is a really interesting player. He’s hard to pin down as well. He has explosive stuff, but doesn’t always know where it is going, as high walk rates have plagued him throughout his career and this season. His 13.8% BB% is paired with a 27.6% K%, so over 41% of his plate appearances have either ended in a strikeout or walk. When you add a 64.8% GB% to the mix, you can see why he has been able to pitch around the free passes with a 3.49 ERA and a 3.55 FIP. Hitters don’t make great contact off of Ashby (31% Hard Hit%), but he may simply be a reliever at this point. Thirteen of his 17 walks have come in his three starts over 13.2 innings. He has a 21/4 K/BB ratio as a reliever, but a 13/13 K/BB ratio as a starter. The sample sizes are small, but it makes him a tricky guy to bet on or against because there is clear upside, but some downside risk as well.
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
Red Sox/White Sox Over 7.5 (-110): Rich Hill and Lucas Giolito are the slated starters here and I think this total is a little bit too low. The White Sox offense has been a major disappointment this season, but that is because of the team’s performance against right-handed pitchers. The White Sox are still third in wOBA against lefties at .337, trailing only the Cardinals and Rockies, who have extremely high BABIPs and are likely to regress.
Righties are batting .277/.333/.436 against Hill with a .340 wOBA in 102 plate appearances. He’s been dominant against lefties in 24 plate appearances to pull the numbers down a little bit, but right-handed batters have had success and the White Sox will throw a lot of them his way tonight. Hill is also having issues pitching from the stretch this season, as he has allowed a .455 wOBA with men on base. Given Chicago’s contact quality and performance in this split, they should be able to put traffic out there.
Giolito has been great this season with a 2.84 ERA, but there are some underlying regression signs. He has a 3.71 xERA, which takes contact quality into account and he has a 40.3% Hard Hit% and an 11.1% Barrel% against. His ERA is a direct result of a 94.8% LOB%, which is sure to regress as the season goes along and could regress here against the hottest lineup in baseball.
Giolito also has what we call “reverse platoon splits” this season, in that he’s been more effective against lefties (.275 wOBA) than righties (.366 wOBA). With this recent offensive surge, Boston has gotten into the top 10 in R vs. R wOBA, so this may not be a bad matchup at all for the Red Sox.
Over the last 14 days, the White Sox bullpen has a 4.61 FIP and a 5.03 xFIP, so they’re struggling, especially with some of the heavy workloads for their pitchers. The Red Sox offense has picked up, but the bullpen has been struggling with a 4.56 ERA and a 4.91 FIP over the last two weeks. All in all, I disagree with the move down on the total here and think both offenses can have some success, so I’m on Over 7.5.
Rangers (+ 155) over Angels: I’m taking a chance today on Glenn Otto and the Rangers in their matchup with Reid Detmers and the Angels. Let’s start with Otto, whose 5.55 ERA and 5.63 FIP are not exactly attractive, but he gave up eight runs in his start against Boston on May 14. In his other four starts, he’s allowed a total of seven runs, so he just has one big ERA killer on the ledger. He’s a guy that doesn’t strike out a lot of people, despite some really interesting raw stuff with strong spin rates and movement. I do think the strikeouts will come and there’s a lot to like under the hood.
Detmers is a regression candidate in my eyes. He has a 4.15 ERA with a 4.19 xERA and a 4.65 FIP, but I’m looking at his .172 BABIP against as something that should be on the rise sooner rather than later. The left-hander does have that no-hitter to his name, but he’s allowed 16 runs in his other 25.2 innings of work. He’s also facing the Rangers for the second straight time, so Texas should have a bit of familiarity after making a lot of hard contact in that matchup. Detmers is also pitching on seven days rest, which is definitely out of routine for a starter.
The Angels bullpen is going through that regression patch that I talked about a couple of weeks ago, so that unit really hasn’t been as effective of late. This just feels like a good opportunity to give Otto a look, especially with my concerns about Detmers and to get a nice plus-money price in the process.
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.