All 30 teams are in action on Hump Day with baseball all day long. We’ve got six day games and nine night games for a nice schedule on June 15, including some solid pitching matchups and some that aren’t so solid. We also started the morning with three blanks in terms of starting pitchers. Some sportsbooks aren’t even listing pitchers anymore. Be careful with those, as your bet ends up getting locked in regardless of who starts.
Today marks the halfway point of June. So far this month, teams are batting .249/.315/.411 with a .319 wOBA and a 107 wRC +. That comes on the heels of a .246/.313/.398 month of May with a .313 wOBA and a 102 wRC +, but that change I talked about from May 14 on was predictive, as hitters posted a .249/.315/.406 slash. That’s pretty similar to what we’re seeing now.
In other words, the new baseline that was created looks like the new normal for the rest of the season. Extreme heat could skew numbers a tad here in the second part of June and through the summer, but we don’t have to wonder about offense now. What we’re seeing is what we’re getting.
Pirates/Cardinals: Mikes Mikolas threw 129 pitches and lost his no-hitter with two strikes and two outs in the ninth inning of Game 2 yesterday. St. Louis won that one 9-1 and swept the day as a result. While Mikolas’s start was impressive, my big takeaway is that Bryse Wilson remains a fade at any price. The Pirates right-hander gave up seven runs on 10 hits. He now owns a career 6.17 ERA with a 5.43 FIP in 150.1 innings of work. Pittsburgh scored two runs on eight hits in 18 innings and has lost nine games in a row after climbing to respectability earlier this month.
Braves/Nationals: All teams can do is play the opponents that are on the schedule. The Braves ran their winning streak to 13 games yesterday with a 10-4 win over the Nationals. Since the streak began on June 1, the Braves are batting .287/.348/.567 and have hit 32 home runs. Yes, they’ve beaten the D-Backs, Rockies, A’s, Pirates and now Nationals (with the Cubs on deck), but that is a torrid offensive pace for a group that felt like a sleeping giant. The Ozzie Albies foot fracture is a bummer, but they’ve scored 93 runs in the last 13 games.
Marlins/Phillies: We got the full Philadelphia Phillies experience on Tuesday. They lost as a -145 favorite because of the bullpen and defense in a game where they scored nine runs. That’s why this team, even with the recent streak, is hard to bet on long-term. Corey Knebel has been removed from the closer’s role and the Phillies will go with a by-committee approach. Ranger Suarez should be in that mix, but that’s just my belief.
Brewers/Mets: The Brewers are honoring the late, great Tom Petty by Free Fallin’ right now. Milwaukee is 2-10 in June and has been outscored 70-32 over those 12 games. All of the sudden, this team is down to 32-29 with some key injuries and enormous concerns. Since sweeping the May 30 doubleheader against the Cubs, the Brewers have gone from a four-game lead in the NL Central to trailing by 2.5 games.
Chris Bassitt seemed to fix whatever was wrong. He had 16 whiffs over eight shutout innings with seven strikeouts against a walk and three hits. The Brewers are batting .210/.271/.328 in June and their 68 wRC + is better than only the 53 that belongs to the Tigers.
Padres/Cubs: I’m mad at myself for leaving the Padres off of the card yesterday. Sometimes I can get buried in all of the stats that I use and miss something that stands out. Fortunately, I found it this morning, though a day late and a dollar short. While I’ve lamented the Padres offense this season, they scored 12 runs last night and have now scored 5.2 R/G on the road with 171 in 33 games. They’ve only scored 113 runs in 30 home games (3.8). I’m not if it’s the humidor, Petco or something else, but San Diego needs to be evaluated differently on the road. In light of that, yesterday’s price was short and I’m upset that I missed it.
Reds/Diamondbacks: Tyler Mahle had 18 whiffs over nine outstanding innings with 12 strikeouts and just three hits allowed. That’s the fourth strong start in a row for Mahle, who is experiencing a lot of positive ERA regression towards his xERA, FIP and xFIP. His ERA is down to 4.46 with a 3.71 xERA, a 3.30 FIP and a 3.83 xFIP. Over his last four starts, he’s allowed four runs on 15 hits in 27.2 innings of work with 36 strikeouts against seven walks. Amazingly, three of those starts were at home.
Rays/Yankees: The vitriol on social media when Gerrit Cole has a bad start is hilarious to me. Foreign substances or not, the dude is still really good. He threw six shutout frames again yesterday and Aaron Boone held him to 92 pitches with a fresh bullpen in the 2-0 Yankees win. Corey Kluber was also good over six innings with two unearned runs allowed. The Yankees are 11-1 in June and 12-1 in their last 13 games. What a machine this team is.
Orioles/Blue Jays: The Jays got Yusei Kikuchi thinking they could turn him into the new Robbie Ray. They got rid of his cutter, increased his fastball usage and worked hard on a slider. To this point, it hasn’t really worked out. Kikuchi’s actually gotten lucky that his fastball hasn’t been tattooed worse with a .213 BA, .304 xBA, .413 SLG and .674 xSLG. The slider experiment is not working. He’s also walking a ton of dudes and had four more walks yesterday in four innings. His Hard Hit% is up to 47.8% on the season and things haven’t gotten any better for him after starting the season with the Yankees three times, Astros twice and Red Sox once. That’s the concerning thing for me.
At this point, Kikuchi cannot be trusted at all. Fade or bet 1st 5 overs in his starts.
A’s/Red Sox: The A’s moved to 14-19 on May 12 during a season-high three-game winning streak. Since then, Oakland has won consecutive games once and has lost 23 of 30. Thirty-one of Oakland’s 42 losses have been on the run line. Interestingly, Oakland was only -3 in run differential on the road at 14-18 prior to yesterday’s 6-1 loss, but -75 at home with a 7-23 record. Guess they’re really angling for that move to Las Vegas.
Astros/Rangers: The Rangers bullpen has had a few meltdowns lately. They’ve had three blown saves in the last two games and also had issues on Friday. A lot of bullpens seem to be up and down right now as the rigors of the season take hold. Handicapping bullpens is a big part of my daily strategy, but leaning towards 1st 5 wagers right now isn’t a bad idea.
Also, the loss of Eli White in CF is a big deal for Texas. This is still a below average offense and a team that needs all the defensive help it can get for run prevention.
Twins/Mariners: Joe Ryan ran into issues in the fourth and fifth of his first start back with the big league club. He threw 74 pitches and ran out of gas in the middle innings after only going three innings in his lone rehab start. Keep an eye on those returning pitchers and those middle innings. Live betting is a good option with those guys.
Guardians/Rockies: Shane Bieber allowed 11 hard-hit balls in his 6.2 innings with three runs allowed on nine hits. With how bad his fastball has been this season, Bieber’s arsenal didn’t set up particularly well going to Coors. Fortunately for him, the Rockies were just 1-for-9 with RISP.
Regression is coming for this Cleveland team. They’re really getting by with a lot of luck and guile right now. With decisions like Bryan Shaw in a tie game in the ninth and Andres Gimenez batting seventh behind some inferior hitters, they’re a paper tiger.
Royals/Giants: Yes, it was the Royals, but Logan Webb finally flashed his swing-and-miss upside with 20 whiffs and nine strikeouts over seven innings of work. Webb went slider and changeup heavy with 17 whiffs between those two pitches. I really like that approach and it paid dividends. It was Webb’s second-highest SL% this season and his lowest SI%. Two smart adjustments from the Giants. Slider usage has dominated his last several starts, maybe taking a cue from Jakob Junis. That elevates his profile in my mind.
Angels/Dodgers: How much longer until Tony Gonsolin is the NL Cy Young favorite? He gave up one hit over 6.1 shutout innings with six punchies in the Dodgers’ 2-0 win. The LA offense struggled again with just three hits, but the pitching dominated. That was the Angels’ full lineup as well, so that was a really strong effort from Gonsolin.
Weather: Rain isn’t much of a factor again today. Heat and humidity could be, especially in Chicago, where the winds are blowing out on a sweltering day at Wrigley Field, but you already knew that with a total touching 12. Otherwise, it’s humid and hot in St. Louis for Jack Flaherty’s debut and the winds are blowing out in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Braves (-190, 9) at Nationals: The betting markets are fading Erick Fedde against the red-hot Braves and this line may not stop going. Spencer Strider has been very strong for the Braves this season in a relief capacity and he’s performing pretty well as a starter. He has a 2.35 ERA with a 1.99 FIP, so bettors are firing away with confidence.
Padres at Cubs (-135, 12): This is a pretty big favorite role for a Cubs team that has lost eight in a row, seven of them by more than one run. The Cubs have given up 88 runs in 12 games this month. But, Caleb Kilian is getting the benefit of the doubt in his second MLB start against Ryan Weathers. Weathers started out well in 2021, but finished with a 5.32 ERA and a 5.44 FIP. In 12 minor league starts this season, he has a 7.29 ERA with a 6.88 FIP, so bettors are not overly confident in his abilities. He’s allowed six or more runs in five of his last six Triple-A starts.
Twins (-140, 8) at Mariners: Marco Gonzales has a 3.63 ERA with a 5.08 xERA, a 5.64 FIP and a 4.93 xFIP. If you want to bet against him, doing so on the opening line is going to be your best course of action. This line hasn’t moved a lot, but it has moved on the Twins and Sonny Gray, whose numbers are much stronger. With ERA-FIP and ERA-xERA gaps that big, Gonzales will get faded in the majority of his starts.
What I’ll Be Watching
Jack Flaherty: Flaherty’s return could be a huge lift for the Cardinals, who now lead the NL Central over the slumping Brewers. Flaherty made one rehab start at Double-A and one at Triple-A and allowed a solo homer over seven innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. He made three appearances and pitched just 2.1 innings after August 24 last season. He’ll be on what appears to be a strict 60-pitch limit, which made Miles Mikolas’s start so important last night.
Flaherty has given up a few too many homers for my liking in his career, but has nice K/BB numbers and he’s only 26. He sat 92-94 in his rehab outings, so his velocity is right where it should be. The Pirates should be a good opening matchup.
Reid Detmers: I’ve been really intrigued by what the Angels are doing with Detmers. We’ve seen a big spike in changeup usage from Detmers, who only threw the pitch about 6% of the time in April and 15.6% in May. In June, his usage is up over 26% on the pitch. All 112 of them have been thrown to right-handed batters and they have a .211 BA with a .263 SLG on the pitch. This month, Detmers’s fastball usage is below 41%.
The changes seem to be working. The Red Sox only had three hard-hit balls out of 15 balls in play last time out and the Yankees had just two on 13 balls in play two starts ago. Those are two lineups that are crushing most pitchers right now, but Detmers was able to survive and even thrive. He draws another hard assignment with the Dodgers today, but the Angels are making changes that I fully support with his pitch arsenal.
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
Orioles/Blue Jays 1st 5 Over 5 (-115): There is a chance that the Blue Jays get to this by themselves given how Bruce Zimmermann has been pitching, but all of the hard contact allowed by Jose Berrios this season gives me hope that the Orioles can contribute as well. Zimmermann has allowed 27 runs on 41 hits in his last 25.2 innings of work. He’s given up 12 home runs in that span with a Hard Hit% of 41.2% and 19 (!!!) Barrels in five starts. That is an absurd rate of hard contact.
Zimmermann isn’t getting any whiffs with his changeup right now and has no feel for what was pretty much his best pitch. The Blue Jays lineup has figured things out over the last few weeks and ranks third in batting average and third in wOBA against left-handed pitching. This should be a really good matchup for them.
On the Berrios front, the Blue Jays righty has a 4.73 ERA with a 4.41 FIP in his 64.2 innings of work. He had 13 strikeouts against his former team two starts ago, but that start against the Twins was the big outlier. He’s only struck out 41 across his other 11 starts and has an 8.7% SwStr% for the season. That’s bad because his Hard Hit% is the second-highest among qualified starters at 47.3%. He’s allowed 24 Barrels this season with a Barrel% of 11.8%. That is the highest among qualified starters.
Zimmermann’s Barrel% is the highest among pitchers that have thrown at least 60 innings this season. Berrios’s is seventh. There should be a ton of hard, violent contact in this game and that looks worthy of a 1st 5 Over 5 bet.
Guardians/Rockies 1st 5 Over 6.5 (-110): This is a really big 1st 5 total, but I think both offenses are going to have success in tonight’s matchup. Let’s start with the Guardians against Gomber. Righties are slashing .304/.366/.520 with a .380 wOBA against him this season. Cleveland’s only lefty in the lineup may end up being Josh Naylor. With any luck, Andres Gimenez will be one, but I digress.
Gomber is a pitch-to-contact guy on a bad defensive team with some ugly numbers at home and on the road. The interesting thing between his 6.21 ERA at home and 6.14 ERA on the road is that his home wOBA against is .399 and his road wOBA against is .297. He’s allowed six of his eight home runs at home. Also, the hallmark for the Cleveland offense has been hitting with runners in scoring position. While I do think that regresses over time, opposing hitters own a .377 wOBA against Gomber with men on base this season and a .403 wOBA with men in scoring position. He hasn’t been able to minimize damage and get out of innings, a byproduct of multiple things, including this bad defense.
On the Cleveland side, I hate this matchup for Konnor Pilkington. So much so that I strongly considered taking the Rockies here, even with my Gomber concerns and their bullpen woes. As a starter, Pilkington has walked 13 in just 17.2 innings of work. He’s been able to minimize damage, but that’s a lot harder at Coors Field, especially against a lineup with a .357 wOBA at home against southpaws.
Commanding and controlling the baseball in this environment will be a challenge for Pilkington. He’s spent his career with the White Sox and Guardians, so he’s never really pitched at elevation either. Not only does he have the walk issues, but he has a 14.3% Barrel% and a Hard Hit% of 41.3%.
Both offenses should feast early here. It’s a big number, but a very attainable one, so I’m on Over 6.5 for the 1st 5.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.