Wednesday features 16 games with a double dip in D.C. because Mother Nature didn’t want the surging Mariners and the slumping Nationals to play last night. Either that or Juan Soto pulled a Crash Davis and turned the sprinklers on. In any event, we’ve got a few day games and a lot of night games on Hump Day.
Briefly, I wanted to mention the VSiN Baseball Betting Pentathlon. Yesterday, I split the picks with the only favorite I really liked and also used the Mets + 181. I didn’t expect the Mets to win, but in a small sample of five picks with a loss on the totals play on Monday, the only way to win is to take some big plus-money prices to get back in it. My strategy is to try and win, not just have a positive number, so I’ll be on some kind of reverse run line today because that’s the only way to really gain ground. It’s more about the tournament format and it required some additional gamble after Monday’s loss.
Lastly, some breaking news this morning as the Blue Jays fired Charlie Montoyo. The timing is a little odd a few days prior to the All-Star Break, as he’s the scapegoat for Toronto’s struggles during a brutal part of the schedule. We’ll see how it affects them moving forward.
Pirates/Marlins: I wish I had been on the Pirates one of the last two nights. This type of lower-scoring environment against the Marlins is more conducive for their style of play. Yesterday’s Johnny Wholestaff game led to a 3-2 win, as five pitchers combined on a five-hitter. The Pirates aren’t on the Orioles level, but you can see improvements with their pitchers and the team across the board. Plus, the Marlins were overachieving against RHP and they managed one run on three hits against RHP yesterday.
Pittsburgh is 38-41 outside of a nine-game losing streak in mid-June and has won four in a row. They’re not that bad of a team.
Mets/Braves: The aforementioned Hail Mary on the Mets against Spencer Strider was almost answered. It was a 2-1 game before Seth Lugo surrendered two insurance runs. David Peterson actually had a higher Whiff% than Strider (33% to 24%) and did everything he could to keep his team in the game. The Braves struck out 13 times in the game, so their concerns against strikeout pitchers continued. This is something that would make me hesitate to bet any kind of playoff future because you don’t see bad pitching staffs in the postseason.
Dodgers/Cardinals: St. Louis went double opener with Jordan Hicks and Johan Oviedo to try and limit the exposure of Matthew Liberatore to the Dodgers offense. It still didn’t really work, as Liberatore gave up three runs on four hits in 2.1 innings, but the six that the Redbirds got off of Mitch White held up.
Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol used Ryan Helsley in the eighth against Gavin Lux, Trea Turner and Mookie Betts instead of saving him for the ninth, warming my cold, dead sabermetrician heart. Use your best relievers when you feel it’s necessary. Giovanny Gallegos made it interesting in the ninth, but I liked the creativity and the offense rewarded him with a much needed insurance run in the eighth.
Padres/Rockies: The Rockies got six strong from Austin Gomber and four runs in the middle innings off of Mike Clevinger to secure a 5-3 win at Coors. Clevinger’s spin rates looked fine, but his velocity was down across the board in his 83 pitches and he couldn’t spot his slider at all. Coors Field is a different beast, so I’ll chalk it up to that for now, but the oft-injured right-hander is always on my radar.
Diamondbacks/Giants: Logan Webb got to cruise through six shutout innings because his offense put up eight runs by the third inning against Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel gave up three homers and has now allowed 20 earned runs in four starts with Arizona. It seems like the reunion with Brent Strom hasn’t really helped. The former Cy Young winner is only 34, but he hasn’t been effective for quite a while now.
Let’s see if this offensive explosion gets the Giants going. They’ve been in a pretty prolonged funk and just haven’t played terribly well most of the year. They’re too smart and too talented for what we’ve seen.
White Sox/Guardians: Tony La Russa struck again yesterday, issuing an intentional walk with a 0-1 count on Jose Ramirez in a game the White Sox trailed 4-0. It became a joke, but my guess is that the umpire and/or catcher missed the IBB sign prior to the first pitch. Whatever the case, the White Sox look like a defeated team against any right-handed pitcher and wake up against lefties. The problem is that you face a righty a lot more often than a lefty. I’m running out of patience and optimism with this bunch, even if Dylan Cease continues to shove. He’s allowed three earned runs in his last nine starts.
Red Sox/Rays: The Rays were a one-run winner behind a strong effort from Corey Kluber last night. The offense still stinks, but Kluber had 14 whiffs on 39 swings and six efficient innings on 88 pitchers with seven punchies. Chris Sale looked good enough in his return with five shutout innings and five strikeouts, but the bullpen faltered in the sixth. Sale only had four whiffs in 28 swings, but the velocity and spin numbers looked good.
Athletics/Rangers: Another high-scoring game in Texas on this homestand. The five games against Minnesota and Oakland have featured 77 runs. Prior to these games, the combined total runs over 37 games averaged 8.46 R/G. The average is up to 9.29 with these five games. Oakland scored eight runs in the top of the 12th after the Rangers scored two to tie it in the ninth and matched Oakland’s run in the 10th.
Sean Murphy is heating up a bit for the A’s after last night’s four-hit performance. He has hits in five straight games, including four doubles. Look for him to be the next Oakland player traded. He’s slashing .284/.345/.465 on the road.
Tigers/Royals: The Tigers scored seven runs, which is crazy. Miguel Cabrera stole a base, which is even crazier. It was an oddly satisfying night for Detroit and there haven’t been too many of those this season. They got three unearned runs off of Jose Cuas, but they really should have gotten more off of Kris Bubic with 10 hard-hit balls and eight hits in 5.2 innings.
Detroit really does have a better bullpen than most teams. The issue is that they are 25-48-15 on the 1st 5 money line, so they rarely have leads to protect. But, they have protected the ones that they’ve had. If you project them to lead, they’re not a bad bet.
Astros/Angels: Four unearned runs off of Phil Maton gave the Angels some hope, but they ultimately lost 6-5 to fall even further out of the playoff picture. Noah Syndergaard wasn’t great and Luis Garcia was, but there’s more to the game than that. It looks like there was a cold radar gun in Anaheim last night, but Raisel Iglesias’s velo was down a little more than others. At this point, the Angels need to sell anything they can and start over, with Iglesias likely being one of those guys.
Reds/Yankees: The Reds scored a 4-3 win over the Yankees to cash as a huge dog on Tuesday. Clay Holmes gave up four runs without recording an out in a stunning development after Gerrit Cole struck out 11 in seven shutout innings. The Yankees are due for some of these, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking. The bigger issue is that Aaron Boone had to go to Wandy Peralta after Holmes struggled with a walk and two hit-by-pitches. The Yankees might need another pen arm or two.
Phillies/Blue Jays: As mentioned at the top, Charlie Montoyo was fired by the Blue Jays, so they’ll have a new skipper the rest of the way. The big story from last night is that Jose Berrios struck out 13 and had 20 whiffs over his six innings. He still gave up three runs, but all four pitches were working yesterday. We’re seeing more changups and curveballs lately from him, which is a good idea because his fastball and sinker are getting destroyed. The Jays may have finally made some adjustments with him.
Brewers/Twins: It was a very late night in the Twin Cities for these two teams. There were almost two hours worth of rain delays and three different stoppages. Ultimately, the Brewers won 6-3 and Devin Williams threw nine pitches and Josh Hader threw 16. Weird game, so we’ll see if it has any impact for today.
Orioles/Cubs: The Orioles win again. Jordan Lyles navigated his road splits and the bullpen shut it down. I keep saying that this team is going to be the better option in toss-up games or as a short favorite/dog with that pen. It held up yesterday as Baltimore officially made it to .500. Also, the 1st 5 over got there, even though the full game stayed under. It was a bright spot in an otherwise tough run, so hopefully that’s the start of something.
Weather: Today looks a lot less impacted than yesterday, as we could see a rain delay in Mets/Braves, but the rest of the card looks just fine.
Injuries: Lots of updates and new injuries from the weekend, so keep an eye on those. Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Diamondbacks at Giants (-125, 8): Another game with no line movement in favor of Zac Gallen. Gallen is a popular figure in the investment community, but we haven’t seen a whole lot of influential money on him recently. Maybe we’ll get some right before first pitch, but Arizona is struggling again after treading water for a while.
Pirates at Marlins (-165, 7): We’re used to seeing 20-25 cents worth of line movement on Pablo Lopez at home. In this instance, not only are we not seeing that, but we’re also seeing a little bit of a move on the Pirates. Even though it’s small, that’s a line move that really stands out in a huge way.
Red Sox at Rays (-180, 7): The Rays have taken 15 cents or more worth of movement in the marketplace depending on where the opening line came out. It’s Shane McClanahan day and bettors are excited to back him against Josh Winckowski. I’m not sure I’d be thrilled about it at the current number, but Shane Mac is elite.
Astros at Angels (-115, 7): Shohei Ohtani starts have seen a lot of Angels money lately. That is not the case today, as the Astros are actually the side taking some money. I guess we’ve reached a point where Ohtani is overpriced. Another line move that isn’t big in size, but still speaks volumes.
Phillies at Blue Jays (-110, 8): We have a flipped favorite situation here with the Phillies and Blue Jays between Zack Wheeler and Ross Stripling. The Blue Jays opened a small dog at home and are now a small favorite. This move happened overnight and before the Montoyo announcement.
Orioles at Cubs (-140, 8): Chicago has taken one-sided influential money here to move up 10-15 cents with Justin Steele on the bump against Spenser Watkins. Not sure I’d step in front of the Orioles train, but Steele and Watkins definitely have very different numbers.
What I’ll Be Watching
Joe Ryan: The Minnesota right-hander came back from an extended bout with COVID on June 14. In five starts since, he’s allowed 14 runs on 27 hits in 26.2 innings of work. The stuff quality hasn’t been as good, as he’s allowed five home runs and only has 21 K with a 4.39 ERA and a 4.87 FIP. He has, however, kept his team in the game with three or fewer runs allowed in four of those five starts. He’s just not working overly deep into games since returning and allowing a ton of fly balls. I think this is an interesting start, as the Brewers have been swinging it well lately, even if Christian Yelich can’t go tonight with the back issue.
Jon Gray: Globe Life Field has suddenly become a launching pad this week, so I’m watching Gray closely in tonight’s game. He’s allowed nine runs on 15 hits in his last two starts, including four homers, but he’s also given up three unearned runs. Gray had allowed four runs in four starts prior to that. He’s actually only thrown 23.2 innings at home so far this season. He’s had four straight starts with a Hard Hit% of 40% or higher, so I’ll be curious to see if he can locate better tonight.
Wednesday Best Bets
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Pirates/Marlins Over 7 (-105): JT Brubaker and Pablo Lopez are the listed starters for tonight’s game at loanDepot Park. Lopez hasn’t been quite as sharp this season or recently and there are some numbers that make me think he could be susceptible to giving up a few runs tonight.
Over his last six starts, Lopez has allowed 11 barrels and a Hard Hit% of 43.6%. In that span, he has a 4.36 ERA with a 4.75 FIP and has allowed five home runs. The Pirates offense has gotten a little better recently and has been able to generate a bit more power. While this ballpark does suppress power and offense, we’re talking about a total of 7 here and Lopez has not been locating as well as he usually does.
Brubaker has had four straight starts with a Hard Hit% of 42.1% or higher. He has allowed at least three runs in 11 of his 17 starts and 10 runs in 17 innings over his last three starts. The Pirates are also a bottom-six defensive team per Outs Above Average and Brubaker has certainly seen that with a .316 BABIP against. He’s allowed 47 hits in his last 39.1 innings, so the Marlins should be able to get some traffic on the bases.
Brubaker has also allowed a .335 wOBA the first time through and a .334 wOBA the second time though (including a .451 SLG).
When Brubaker does exit, the Pirates are going to have to cobble something together. Primary relievers David Bednar and Wil Crowe have each worked three of the last four days. Yesterday’s game was a bullpen day, so Chris Stratton was also used extensively. This isn’t a very deep pen, which could be an issue.
There are enough concerning signs here to take the over, especially at reduced juice, so Over 7 at -115 is the play.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.