We’ve got another full dance card for Wednesday, as all 30 teams are in action, including a handful of day games. The lines are tightening up out there, as sportsbooks have gotten just about all of the data that they need on the teams and what bettors do with various pitchers. That means you really have to dig deep into your research to find good angles and actionable info.
Baseball is also getting a lot more attention now that the NBA Finals are over and there is a maximum of four hockey games left. We’re seeing more and more bettors get involved on the diamond, so keep an eye out for some areas in which favorites may be propped up a few cents here and there to cost a little extra for those straight bets and moneyline parlays, especially depending on the book.
Dodgers/Reds: Tony Gonsolin actually cleared a pretty big hurdle yesterday. While the Reds aren’t thought of as an elite offense by any means, they are one of the best home offenses in the league, but Gonsolin had 19 whiffs in 49 swings over five respectable innings. He gave up a couple of solo homers and got pulled after 87 pitches. While I’m very skeptical of this pace continuing deep into the summer and on into the fall, Gonsolin’s Whiff% are up on the four-seam fastball and the splitter this month and those are his two primary pitches that he is throwing about 64% of the time for the season and even more in June. Fatigue is the only thing that will slow him down.
Rockies/Marlins: As it turned out, the Marlins got Jesus Aguilar and Jesus Sanchez back from the COVID list yesterday for the 9-8 win over the Rockies. Ryan Feltner looked great for three innings and then it all came crashing down in the fourth, while Daniel Castano never looked good. Can’t say I expected 17 runs with these two offenses in this venue, but the Marlins had an xBA of .415 with 18 hard-hit balls in the game. It’s still crazy to me that the Marlins of all teams rank sixth in wOBA against RHP.
Cubs/Pirates: The Cubs lost 7-1 yesterday, despite an xBA advantage of .284 to .181 against the Pirates. Pittsburgh didn’t make a ton of great content in the game, but took advantage of their opportunities better than Chicago did, which was a topic I wrote about in this week’s Regression Report.
The Pirates do seem to have some life with Oneil Cruz up and I’m still a big fan of that bullpen. Maybe they’ll be lined at more palatable prices after playing the downtrodden Cubs.
Giants/Braves: What a roller coaster this game was. The Giants prevailed 12-10, as neither Spencer Strider nor Anthony DeSclafani pitched well. Strider worked some deep innings, but did have a velo drop on his fastball yesterday, so I’ll keep an eye on that with his transition from relieving to starting.
Cardinals/Brewers: Jack Flaherty had just four whiffs in 22 swings over 71 pitches yesterday. He walked five in his three innings of work, but limited hard contact and only gave up two runs on a Willy Adames homer. Props to Oliver Marmol for using Giovanny Gallegos and Ryan Helsley for two innings each at the end of the game. That’s the kind of thing I love to see from a manager, especially a first-year guy.
For a long time, analysts have tried to quantify the impact of a manager. I think it’s impossible, but I’m beginning to think that they mean more than originally thought because of the specialization of the game and the need to deploy relievers effectively.
Diamonbacks/Padres: Neither team made a lot of quality contact as the Snakes/Friars game was the pitcher’s duel we expected with Zac Gallen and Sean Manaea. Gallen had 18 whiffs in 51 swings and threw 115 pitches. The 115 pitches for Gallen were a career-high and he’s had back-to-back season-highs in pitches thrown with 115 and 104. Fortunately, he’ll get two extra days with Thursday and Monday off, which is probably why Torey Lovullo was willing to push him.
Yankees/Rays: The Yankees dropped another one-run decision yesterday, so it looks like some of their regression in close games may be hitting. The line dropped when Aaron Judge wasn’t in the opening lineup and those that hopped in caught a nice underdog cash. Nestor Cortes had his worst start of the season by Game Score yesterday in his third matchup of the season against the Rays and second in a row. Three of his four worst starts have been facing a team for the second or third time.
Be sure to check the game logs for Cortes. As he faces AL East teams again, I’d expect more starts that look like this.
Guardians/Twins: Another gutsy win for the Guardians, who are tied atop the AL Central. I’m genuinely shocked as a fan of this team to see what they’re doing. I’ve written a lot about my concerns and how skeptical I am based on a lot of situational outliers, but they’re very scrappy and have a good bullpen. Aaron Civale looked really good yesterday with 11 whiffs in 36 swings over his 80 pitches. He allowed some hard contact the second time through, but his pitches had a lot more life. If they can get him back on track, that’ll be special.
Similarly, Joe Ryan struggled early, but settled in very nicely and had seven strikeouts. Ryan’s back to being a play-on guy I think. The jury’s still out on Civale, but Ryan struck out the side in the sixth (when he should have been tiring) and retired the last seven batters he faced in order.
Blue Jays/White Sox: Dylan Cease and Kevin Gausman combined for 39 whiffs yesterday with 18 strikeouts against four walks, but both bullpens melted down. Home plate umpire Doug Eddings had the worst strike zone of the season and both pitchers took full advantage. This White Sox team might be turning the corner. After today, the White Sox play the Orioles, Angels, Giants, Twins, Tigers, Guardians and Twins entering the All-Star Break. It’s probably time to buy with Lynn and Anderson back. However, as you’ll read shortly, I have some big worries about Lucas Giolito.
Royals/Angels: The Royals won 12-11 last night, as their offense has really gotten going lately. After an awful April, Bobby Witt Jr. is slashing .254/.304/.520 in his last 194 PA with a 127 wRC +. Over his last 57 PA, he’s slashing .353/.386/.627, so I think he’s absolutely figured out MLB pitching. Carlos Santana has been better. This is still a team with bad pitching and, more specifically, a lot of bad fastball pitchers. More high-scoring games are likely coming.
Mariners/A’s: Oakland fell to 8-26 at home and under 2.5 runs per game with yesterday’s loss to the Mariners. Seattle kept it interesting for a while, but we eventually cashed a winner. I’d still look to fade Marco Gonzales under most circumstances, as he allowed two runs on seven hits and only struck out two batters, but this was a unique circumstance against an awful team.
Twenty-four of Oakland’s last 28 losses have been on the run line, just in case you don’t want to lay the big moneyline price.
Phillies/Rangers: Marcus Semien heard me and went 3-for-4 with a homer and a double in yesterday’s 7-0 win. Martin Perez threw six shutout innings and has a 1.96 ERA. Some things are just really hard to explain. That’s one of them, but he’s been outstanding and the changes that the Rangers made with him have been tremendously effective. He’ll probably have a blow-up here and there, but I wouldn’t expect him to have a dramatic decline.
Weather: We have a few rain chances today, mostly in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, but it seems like the Nationals/Orioles game is the only one really threatened. Otherwise, we’ve got warm weather again in Chicago, Cincinnati and Atlanta that should help offense.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Dodgers (-145, 9.5) at Reds: An interesting line move here. Bettors seem content to fade Tyler Anderson off of the near no-hitter and back Luis Castillo in today’s game. The total is either 9.5 with under juice or 9 with over juice on a hot day. It’s a high total given the statistical profiles of these two guys, but that’s all about the weather and the park. The 15-20 cent move on Castillo isn’t terribly surprising, though Anderson did have two extra days off after throwing 122 pitches last time out.
Cubs (-120, 9) at Pirates: Keegan Thompson seems to have a big advantage over Jerad Eickhoff based on the line movement that we’ve seen here. This will be Eickhoff’s 2022 MLB debut after posting a 4.84 ERA with a 4.98 FIP in 48.1 innings at Triple-A Indianapolis. I wrote recently about how to evaluate minor league stats. The International League is the kinder of the two leagues, so Eickhoff’s numbers are certainly concerning.
Giants at Braves (-135, 9): This is one of the more surprising moves of the day. I realize that Atlanta’s offense is swinging it very well, but Charlie Morton’s command has been messy this season. The Braves are second in wOBA against LHP, but still swing and miss a lot and have the sixth-highest K% in that split. Carlos Rodon gets a lot of whiffs. It’s an interesting move.
Tigers at Red Sox (-130, 8): Tarik Skubal’s impact on the betting line has been seen here, as some books have moved upwards of 25 cents in this one. It also helps that Michael Wacha shows a ton of negative regression signs, but this is also the Tigers lineup we are talking about. Skubal gets the ace bump every start and those are usually magnified when it’s an ace on a bad team.
Royals at Angels (-230, 8): After hitting two absolute nukes yesterday, Shohei Ohtani starts for the Angels against the Royals. We’ve seen a 20-cent move on the Halos here, but I’m still in awe of the fact that we have a dude hitting 440-foot tanks that also pitches once every six days. Incredible.
Nationals at Orioles (-145, 9): What does the betting market think of Patrick Corbin? The Orioles are this much of a favorite for tonight’s interleague battle. Tyler Wells has pitched well in his 13 starts, but this is all about how awful Corbin is. We’ve seen about a 15-cent move at some shops here.
What I’ll Be Watching
Triston McKenzie: I said on Sunday’s edition of The Run Line that I’d be looking to fade McKenzie here. Unfortunately, the price is too steep to do that with Sonny Gray on the other side, as we’ve seen a bit of a move towards the Twins. McKenzie has a 2.96 ERA with a 3.83 xERA and a 4.37 FIP, which is why this line has moved. McKenzie’s K% is down 5.1% this season, but his BB% is down 4.7%, so it’s been a trade-off that the Guardians can probably live with. He’s running a .197 BABIP and 85.6% LOB%, so he’s been fortunate in those two areas, though he’s always run a low BABIP as a fly ball guy.
I think this could end up being a tricky start for him in some respects, especially against a top-five lineup by wOBA against RHP. I couldn’t fade him because of the price, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he struggles.
Lucas Giolito: This is an early start and I won’t have any action on it, but this has carryover impact moving forward, so even if you don’t read it before the game, it’s still worth noting. Giolito has a 4.78 ERA with a 4.86 FIP through 11 starts. He’s given up 23 runs in 20.2 innings over his last four starts, including one against Toronto on May 31. His fastball velo has wavered and his Hard Hit% is almost 45% with a high Barrel%. He’s in the 23rd percentile in exit velo, 14th in Hard Hit% and 6th in Barrel%. Those are all awful numbers.
His swing and miss rates are down this month on every pitch but the four-seam fastball. He’s faced some decent lineups, but we may be looking at an underlying injury here. He’s also throwing fewer changeups and that’s usually been his best pitch. I’m very concerned. I might need to see something better from Giolito before I make that White Sox AL Central bet I’ve been teasing for a while.
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
Giants 1st 5 (+ 100) over Braves: The full-game line is Giants + 120 across the board and you can even find + 125, but San Francisco’s bullpen situation is a mess. Camilo Doval is unavailable after pitching four of the last five days. Dominic Leone and Trevor Rogers have each worked three of the last four. Zack Littell and John Brebbia both worked yesterday. This is the type of situation where I’ll trade 25 cents to avoid a bullpen.
I mentioned how the Braves are second in wOBA against lefties, but most of that has to do with what they’ve done this month against them. They have a .403 wOBA and a 158 wRC + in June over 222 PA. They had a .333 wOBA and a 111 wRC + in both April and May, which is still solid, but not at all like what we’ve seen recently. In June, the left-handed starters that the Braves have faced are Madison Bumgarner, Austin Gomber, Kyle Freeland, Cole Irvin, Jared Koenig, Jose Quintana and Justin Steele. None of those guys really miss bats at a high rate. I’ve mentioned how good the Braves offense can be when they have the chance to make contact, but that’s much harder against a guy like Rodon.
Rodon has a 30.5% K%, a 13.4% SwStr% and has only allowed a 5% Barrel% this season. The Braves have a much tougher matchup today than they’ve had most days during this recent offensive surge.
Charlie Morton’s stuff just doesn’t have the same life anymore. His Chase Rate is the lowest he’s had since 2018 and he isn’t missing bats at the same rate. His HR/9 is the highest he’s had since 2010. He also hasn’t faced many good offenses lately. He’s faced the Cubs, Pirates, Rockies (albeit at Coors), Diamondbacks and Phillies in his last five starts. He had allowed four runs in each of the first four before shutting out the Cubs last week in a game it seemed like neither team wanted to play. The Giants are eighth in wOBA against RHP.
I can’t take the full game and the more attractive price because of the Giants’ bullpen situation, but I can take the 1st 5 and get the Giants in what I think is a pretty good matchup for Rodon at even money. There are + 105s out there if you line shop as well.
Cardinals/Brewers 1st 5 Over 4.5 (-110): I thought about the full game 9 here, especially with the middle relief issues that the Brewers have had most of the season, but opted to stick with the 1st 5. Adam Wainwright and Eric Lauer are the two starters here. Let’s start with Wainwright, who has a 3.06 ERA with a 4.15 xERA and a 3.41 FIP. The xERA suggests some negative regression, but I’m fading Waino here because of the home/road splits. They aren’t quite as pronounced this season, but his wOBA against is 40 points higher on the road and his SLG against is 70 points higher on the road.
Busch Stadium has been very, very kind to him. Since the start of the 2016 season, Wainwright has a .289 wOBA against and a 2.98 ERA in 498.1 innings at home. He’s allowed a .343 wOBA and has a 5.28 ERA in 387 road innings. So, that’s step one of this handicap.
Step two is Lauer. He’s had velocity and spin rate drops here in the month of June, where he’s allowed 15 runs on 19 hits in 17.1 innings of work. He’s actually allowed six home runs over his last two starts. Now he runs into a Cardinals offense that ranks sixth in wOBA against lefties. Lauer’s fastball velo is down a full mph in June compared to May and his cutter spin rate is down almost 150 rpm. I’m not sure if there’s an underlying injury, a dead arm or a mechanical situation, but I’m not too thrilled with the quality of his stuff this month. With Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta out, there’s a good chance he’s pitching through something and keeping it quiet.
His Whiff% are way down this month after he was racking up strikeouts left and right earlier in the season. I think the Cardinals can get some good swings and the Brewers offense seems to be perking back up lately. With all that said, I’m on the 1st 5 Over 4.5 tonight.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.