Two day games and 13 night games are on the MLB menu for Wednesday, as most of the betting world’s attention will be on Game 3 of the NBA Finals. MLB lines are pretty plug-and-play for the sportsbooks at this point, as they have enough data on most starters to feel pretty confident in their numbers. They can also anticipate a lot of the same line moves start after start for many starters and teams as well.
Before I get into today’s article, I’ve got a rant. The Cardinals were one strike away from getting there for us as a + 140 dog yesterday, but Drew VerHagen gave up a walk-off three-run homer off of the foul pole on a two-strike pitch to .147 hitter Taylor Wells by grooving a batting practice sinker. This was after Giovanny Gallegos threw 12 pitches in a scoreless eighth and Ryan Helsley threw 11 pitches in a scoreless ninth.
Baseball has evolved so much, but there are a lot of managers that are still stuck in the past. The idea that relievers can only pitch one inning is infuriating and virtually all of them do it. Why would you go into extra innings, where a runner is automatically placed in scoring position, with your fourth or fifth-best option when you could simply use one of your best relievers for multiple innings?
VerHagen gave up more runs in yesterday’s 10th inning than Helsley has allowed all season in 22.1 innings. But, sure, throw him out there instead of asking for a second inning from your best reliever. It’s asinine. It’s incompetent. It’s frustrating. Bonehead coaching decisions are not limited to baseball, but with all of the other variance we have to try to overcome on a daily basis, managerial malpractice as a major contributing factor in a losing wager is something you lose sleep over.
Diamondbacks/Reds: I could make this a lot easier on myself and just bet every over in Cincinnati. We had 22 runs in yesterday’s Diamondbacks/Reds game, as it sailed over the total of 10.5. As much as Brent Strom has helped the D-Backs, there are still a lot of bad pitchers on that roster. The Reds have a lot of bad pitchers as well. There were 13 runs scored over the final inning and a half yesterday after Cincinnati scored nine in the first three innings.
Graham Ashcraft has some legitimate stuff. He threw six shutout with four strikeouts and scattered three hits. Cincinnati has some dudes with arms. If the command catches up to the raw stuff, there’s something there with guys like Ashcraft and Hunter Greene.
Nationals/Marlins: Another start, eight more runs allowed by Joan Adon. This poor cat has a 6.95 ERA and is throwing BP on a regular basis for Washington. Like I said after his last start, I’m not sure how much longer Washington can watch this without ruining the kid. Let him go to Triple-A and figure it out. I realize the Nats aren’t going anywhere, but this kid might and getting shelled every time out isn’t exactly a good long-term plan.
Phillies/Brewers: It turns out that Josh Hader is human. He gave up two solo homers and the resurgent Phillies won another game off of somebody else’s bullpen, despite Corey Knebel’s best efforts to blow it with three walks in a 32-pitch ninth inning. Those were the first runs Hader has allowed all season long in 18.2 innings and his first runs in an appearance since July 28 of last season. What a run.
Mets/Padres: Yu Darvish fired seven shutout and gave up two hits to a Mets offense that many of us in the analytics community think has overperformed. Pete Alonso was hit on the hand by a pitch in his first plate appearance and left the game. X-rays were negative, but follow-up tests are pending. We’ll see if the Mets have avoided a major injury. Usually, when something can go wrong, it has for this organization, so fingers crossed that they can avoid one this time.
Rockies/Giants: As if the Cardinals outcome wasn’t irritating enough, this over was a push after four first-inning runs. The Giants didn’t score again off of German Marquez and the bullpen and the Rockies got a pinch-hit three-run homer in the sixth from Charlie Blackmon just to get us that push. San Francisco has been a hard team to figure out this season and yesterday’s complete offensive outage after the first was just another example.
Rangers/Guardians: I’ve been saying that Texas might be a good team to bet on once Marcus Semien gets going. He was 7-for-8 with three homers and seven RBI across yesterday’s doubleheader. Since May 18, Semien is now slashing .325/.374/.590 with a .412 wOBA. It’s almost like good hitters with track records figure it out. Hitting Kirk McCarty isn’t a huge accomplishment, but the Rangers finally have something other than a black hole in the leadoff spot and that should help a lot.
Blue Jays/Royals: The Blue Jays pitched a shutout and the implication would be that Alek Manoah was dominant, but he was not. He gave up six hits, walked three and only had four strikeouts in the start. He also only had two whiffs on 38 swings. His spin rates were down across the board. He actually had a velocity uptick late in the game, so it wasn’t that, but I’m a little miffed as to why he couldn’t get swings and misses. Maybe something worth watching for his next start.
Red Sox/Angels: The Angels have now lost a baker’s dozen in a row. The Red Sox prevailed 6-5 in 10 innings to send the Halos to another loss, but Los Angeles may have lost more than the game. Mike Trout homered and had a double before leaving hurt in the third.
The Angels fired Joe Maddon before the game and replaced him with Phil Nevin. I’ve actually felt like Maddon has been extremely overrated for a long time now, so this is probably a long-term positive for the Angels, but time will tell.
Cubs/Orioles: Seven homers were hit in Baltimore yesterday, as the Orioles won 9-3 over the Cubs. Keegan Thompson gave up three of them en route to seven runs on five hits. Alec Mills actually pitched really well in relief and that could be a piggyback we see going forward with Thompson’s inability to work deep into games.
It was a really successful night for the Orioles. They haven’t won many games in lopsided fashion, so getting a dub while resting the top relievers is big for the rest of the week.
Dodgers/White Sox: Mitch White and Michael Kopech threw dueling zeroes until the sixth, as White left and the Dodgers bullpen had melt. All four of the game’s runs came in that inning and were scored by Chicago. Kopech had a rough outing last time out, but had his turn in the rotation skipped, so he pitched on nine days rest. He wasn’t sharp. Back on a regular turn, he was dominant with eight strikeouts and just one hit allowed. It’s really important to look at game logs when capping starters.
Weather: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it’s going to rain in Cleveland today. There is a decent chance that the Guardians will have their 10th PPD of the season, which means a makeup date down the line with the Rangers for a team already playing five more doubleheaders this season. Brutal.
The best location in the nation isn’t the only one with rain in the forecast. Cubs/Orioles, D-Backs/Reds and A’s/Braves are also threatened by Mother Nature. Winds are blowing out again in San Francisco, not that it helped yesterday. Helping breezes are also present in Anaheim, Chicago and Minnesota.
Injuries: We’re seeing a lot more injuries these days. A lot of position players and pitchers are dealing with soft tissue things. Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Nationals at Marlins (-200, 7.5): Alert! Alert! We’re actually seeing money on Josiah Gray and the Nationals today against Sandy Alcantara and the Marlins. This is quite an interesting development. Alcantara is one of the shorter prices to win the NL Cy Young. The Marlins are bet differently at home, as I’ve mentioned before. But, we’re seeing underdog Washington money, which really stands out.
Mets at Padres (-125, 7): With Pete Alonso likely out tonight against southpaw Sean Manaea, we’ve seen about 15 cents of movement on the Padres. I also haven’t been overly impressed with Chris Bassitt lately, so maybe that’s part of the line move as well.
Rockies at Giants (-225, 9): Despite the struggles of Alex Wood this season, the Rockies Road Fade has been activated again, this time with Antonio Senzatela on the hill. Wood, like so many Giants starters, has a much higher ERA than FIP, suggesting some positive regression. That could be part of this move as well.
Blue Jays (-135, 8.5) at Royals: We’re seeing some Royals money today with the market investing in Brady Singer. Singer was shelled by the Astros last time out, but had pitched very well prior to that. Yusei Kikuchi has a 3.91 ERA with a 5.40 xERA and a 4.57 FIP, so it isn’t overly surprising to see money come in against him.
Cubs (-120, 8.5) at Orioles: We’re seeing some Jordan Lyles investment from influential bettors today and you know my feelings on that. It is a pretty big indicator when pitchers that are typically bet against wind up taking money. That is especially true in the case of somebody like Marcus Stroman because he has a 5.32 ERA, but a 4.81 xERA and a 4.19 FIP suggesting positive regression.
What I’ll Be Watching
Logan Gilbert: Gilbert draws the Astros for the second time in three starts after firing seven shutout innings back on May 28. Gilbert has a 2.22 ERA, but a 3.60 xERA and a 3.09 FIP going into this one. He’s a fly ball pitcher that has a 47.7% Hard Hit%, so xERA is skeptical of his performance to this point, but he has only allowed eight barrels, so he’s forcing hitters into a lot of pop ups and largely harmless fly ball contact. That style plays well at T-Mobile Park and it seems like it should play well at Minute Maid Park as well, given the lack of offense we’ve seen there this season. In his last start against the Astros, 11 of 20 batted balls were hard-hit, but he only allowed five hits.
Johnny Cueto: Cueto’s first two starts were masterpieces against the Royals and Yankees, holding the opposition to eight hits in 12 scoreless innings. Against the Cubs and Blue Jays, though, Cueto has allowed nine runs (eight earned) in 12.2 innings with 16 hits allowed. Those two starts have been his worst by Hard Hit% and he allowed three barrels against the Jays. Today’s assignment is not an easy one against the Dodgers and the task is even tougher with Tony Gonsolin on the bump for LA with his 1.59 ERA. I’m curious to see if the early Cueto magic has worn off.
Merrill Kelly: Real quick note here that Merrill Kelly spoke with reporters about finding a mechanics issue that he plans to correct. Kelly has allowed at least three runs in each of his last five starts after doing that just once in his first six. He’s also walked 15 batters in his last six starts after walking just nine in his first six. We’ll see if he can get things squared away.
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
Yankees Run Line (-1.5) (-110) over Twins: Nasty Nestor Cortes is on the bump for the Yankees today at Target Field against Chris Archer and the Twins. Cortes has allowed 11 runs over his 10 starts this season and there is an interesting pattern with the runs he has allowed. Five of the 11 runs he’s given up have been in his second start against a team. He threw 4.1 shutout innings against the Jays on April 12 and then gave up two runs on four hits with four walks in his second start against them on May 4.
Cortes faced the White Sox in back-to-back starts on May 15 and 21. He allowed one run over eight innings on just three hits in the first start and three runs on six hits in five innings in the second start. Cortes’s fastball wouldn’t get a speeding ticket in Texas, but he throws a bunch of junk with movement and a variety of arm angles. Facing him for the first time has to be rough and that’s what Minnesota does here.
If you’ve followed this article throughout the season, you know that I have no respect for what Archer can do as a pitcher. His 3.89 ERA looks solid, but it’s smoke and mirrors. He has a 5.51 xERA, a 4.94 FIP and a 4.89 xFIP. He’s walked 9.9% of opposing batters with a low K% of 18.6%. His Hard Hit% is 41.3% and his Barrel% is 12.4%. The Yankees lead baseball in HH% and Barrel%. This should be a strong matchup for their lineup.
I can’t say the same for the Twins against Cortes. I thought about the 1st 5 run line, but Cortes has been working deep into games and Clay Holmes and Michael King are well-rested. Rather than lay -125 on the 1st 5 run line, I’ll take the full game run line at -110. The Yankees have the second-best bullpen by fWAR and FIP. The Twins pen has the sixth-highest FIP and ranks 29th in fWAR. The Twins also have one of the worst bullpens in baseball over the last two weeks with a 5.17 ERA and a 5.27 FIP to go with the highest HR/FB% at 19.1%.
I think the pen advantage is worth the extra uncertainty of going with nine innings instead of five and especially to save 15 cents worth of vig.
Cardinals/Rays Under 7.5 (-105): Packy Naughton gets the call for the Cardinals tonight in what amounts to a Johnny Wholestaff kind of day. St. Louis will need a starter on Friday, as they’re pushing some guys back for an extra day of rest. Today’s options to follow Naughton are Andre Pallante or Zack Thompson, as Johan Oviedo threw 103 pitches on Saturday.
Naughton has allowed four runs over 11.2 innings of work with a 12/1 K/BB ratio. Pallante’s underlying stats show the possibility of regression, but he has a 1.23 ERA in 29.1 innings with a 63.4% GB% and one of the best infield defenses in baseball. The 24-year-old Thompson has control issues, but a lot of swing-and-miss upside and he allowed one run over four innings in relief during his MLB debut last time out. The Rays are a league average offense, but they clearly miss Wander Franco badly. Since he went out on May 30, the Rays are slashing .188/.273/.304 with a .261 wOBA.
Kluber should match up well against the Cardinals. The two-time Cy Young winner has a 3.73 ERA and a 3.57 FIP. He has thoroughly enjoyed pitching at Tropicana Field with a .265 wOBA against in 27.2 innings of work. Kluber doesn’t walk people and is throwing fewer fastballs than ever with more emphasis on the slider (sometimes classified as a cutter) and curveball. He has only allowed six runs over his last four outings.
Both bullpens are in decent shape here, including St. Louis’s, as I mentioned in the intro because guys apparently can’t pitch multiple innings. In a park that suppresses offense, I’ll take the Under 7.5 tonight.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.