Baseball games are spread throughout the day on Wednesday with a handful of matinees and a bigger grouping of night games. It sure feels like a tricky environment for betting right now. Surging teams are heavy favorites on a nightly basis and are taking care of their affairs. Teams that have been struggling continue to struggle and have been at big underdog prices. Everybody else seems like a crapshoot day-to-day. Thirteen of 15 teams in the AL have either won or lost at least two in a row and nine of the 10 in the NL East/West have a similar streak,
The All-Star Break is 11 days away. All of the off days from April and early May are gone and we’re seeing more spot starters, more day-of pitching changes (like yesterday for the Twins and Dodgers) and the heat of summer take a toll. I’ll be treading lightly for the next week and a half.
Lastly, I wanted to mention yesterday’s mess with the Twins pitching change that took a play off the board. My handicaps are for LISTED PITCHERS ONLY and I suggest that you always select that option at your sportsbook of choice. ‘Action’ means your bet is live no matter the starting pitcher, which makes no sense for you as a bettor because you didn’t handicap the game based on the new pitcher. If there is a pitching change, it is a no play from me.
Mets/Reds: A 1-0 game at Great American Ball Park feels like seeing a narwhal and a unicorn in the same place, but that’s what we got from Max Scherzer, Nick Lodolo and the Reds bullpen. What’s even rarer is that it was the Reds that won it. How good was Lodolo? He pitched 4.2 innings and had the same number of swings and misses that Scherzer did over six innings with 11 strikeouts.
There were four hard-hit balls for the Mets and two for the Reds. The game featured 21 strikeouts on just 273 pitches. This was like a getaway night game from the box score.
Cardinals/Braves: Nowhere close on this handicap with the underdog Cardinals, as Atlanta won 7-1. Ian Anderson only walked one, but did give up eight hits in five innings. It’s just that all eight were singles, so the Cardinals mustered very little offense. Andre Pallante gave up five in the first and the game was basically over at that point. Teams in funks seem to be having a hard time getting out of them right now. The Cardinals have lost five of six and have scored three or fewer runs in all five losses.
Cubs/Brewers: Kyle Hendricks left after three innings and 69 pitches with two runs allowed on two hits and two walks. He doesn’t throw that hard anyway, but after sitting 87 in the first, he sat 84-85 the rest of the way. The results of today’s MRI showed a shoulder strain, so he’ll likely be out a while.
Giants/Diamondbacks: The Giants were one of two subjects in the Regression Report this week, as they fell to a game within .500 in the 6-2 loss to the Diamondbacks. This time, it was an eighth-inning bullpen melt in what had been a 2-1 game. Alex Wood, mentioned in last week’s Regression Report, threw five solid innings, but was pulled after just 71 pitches. He apparently had hamstring cramps, but he’s also allowed a .429 wOBA the third time through the order in 52 plate appearances, so he probably wouldn’t have gone deep anyway.
The Giants are a mess right now. I will admit that it takes me a while to sour on analytically-savvy teams, but the Giants have been fading fast.
Rockies/Dodgers: We nearly had another bet with a pitching change as I considered the under here with German Marquez and Mitch White, but Ryan Pepiot stepped in for the Dodgers. Marquez wasn’t great and wasn’t bad, but the Rockies once again mustered just two runs in the 5-2 loss. Marquez allowed four runs on six hits with seven strikeouts, three walks and two homers. He only allowed five hard-hit balls. He’s been a bit better lately.
Rangers/Orioles: I should have been on this over yesterday. One thing I’ve noticed since offense picked up in mid-May is that games with two bad starting pitchers have been flying over, even if the offenses aren’t that great. Spencer Howard and Austin Voth are both bad pitchers and both bullpens are gassed. The two starters went 8.1 combined innings and allowed seven runs on 10 hits. Four of the five relievers that pitched for each team gave up runs.
For today’s handicap, Felix Bautista has pitched four of the last five days. Jorge Lopez has pitched three of the last five. Dillon Tate has pitched three of four. Joey Krehbiel has pitched two of three and thrown at least 20 pitches both days. Keegan Akin threw 36 pitches yesterday and 51 over the last three days.
On the Rangers side, Joe Barlow and Dennis Santana have pitched three of four. Matt Moore has worked B2B days, with 25 pitches from John King yesterday and 31 from Brock Burke on Monday. Matt Bush is on the IL. Both pens are really up against it.
Guardians/Tigers: The Guardians have dropped 11 of 14 and all three games against the Tigers, a team that they have dominated for the last six seasons. Cal Quantrill got rocked yesterday and backup catcher Sandy Leon was the only pitcher to throw scoreless innings. This team has really hit a wall. All of the emotions from the Twins and Yankees series drained them for this one and they’re threatening to fall back to .500. I didn’t think that they were capable of hanging around based on a variety of factors, but I didn’t expect a melt against the Tigers. Brutal.
Rays/Red Sox: Neither Jeffrey Springs nor Nick Pivetta was sharp yesterday, as both guys gave up first-inning runs and struggled from there. Pivetta completely melted in the sixth and Springs left after four innings. Every Ray except Josh Lowe had a hard-hit ball with a rare offensive outburst.
It was Pivetta’s first big blow-up in a while, but he’s had a 48.6% Hard Hit% in his last six starts now, so he was trending in that direction.
Royals/Astros: Another high-scoring game between these two teams comes as a shocker at Minute Maid Park, which had only yielded 7.4 runs per game until this series. Maybe the humidor was turned off. Bobby Witt Jr. left hurt for the Royals, so we’ll see what comes of that.
Twins/White Sox: I was hopeful that Michael Kopech would get back on track, but that was not the case yesterday. He gave up four home runs in 4.2 innings and a lot of hard-hit contact. Since leaving his June 12 start with a bad ankle, Kopech has allowed 17 runs on 23 hits over 21 innings with seven homers and 17 strikeouts against 11 walks. In his last three starts, he has allowed 26 hard-hit balls and nine barrels. It looks like he might be hitting a wall or the ankle is worse than originally thought.
Blue Jays/A’s: The Blue Jays have lost two straight to the A’s in Oakland. The Athletics were 8-28 at home entering this series. Yusei Kikuchi walked five in 2.1 innings and looks completely unusable at this point. Meanwhile, the Jays hit a bunch of balls hard, but had very little to show for it. Kikuchi just might be an auto fade in some context every single time out.
Mariners/Padres: Logan Gilbert did it again. He only struck out one batter over 5.1 innings and allowed 11 hard-hit balls, but gave up just one earned run on six hits with three walks. The Padres weren’t the offense to deal the big regression blow, but it continues to build. His next start comes Tuesday at Washington against Josiah Gray. I might be on the over or the Nationals there if the price is right.
By the way, the Mariners were mentioned a couple weeks back in the Regression Report because of how soft their schedule was going to get. They are 12-3 in the last 15 games and can get to .500 with a win on Thursday over Toronto.
Angels/Marlins: The Marlins only gave Sandy Alcantara two runs of support, as he threw eight shutout innings with 10 strikeouts. The NL Cy Young frontrunner is one of the only starters regularly working deep into games and he was dominant again yesterday. The Angels got a good start from Noah Syndergaard, but couldn’t touch Alcantara, as their freefall continued.
Yankees/Pirates: Jameson Taillon’s return to Pittsburgh didn’t go particularly well, as he allowed five runs on six hits in 5.1 innings. The Yankees have lost consecutive games for just the sixth time this season. Is today another potential flat spot with four against the Red Sox coming over the weekend? Hmmm.
Weather: Storm chances in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Atlanta stand out the most, but you know already that it’s simply that time of year. The bigger thing for me is that we’re seeing a lot of humidity on the East Coast and Midwest, which absolutely help offense.
Through five days of July, we’ve already seen 189 home runs.
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.
Giants (-125, 8.5) at Diamondbacks: Alex Cobb has a 4.59 ERA with a 2.51 xERA and a 3.13 FIP. Usually that kind of stat line creates a line move in that pitcher’s direction, but not today. We’ve seen about a 15-cent move to back the D-Backs and Merrill Kelly, who has been solid throughout the season. Bettors are selling their stock in the Giants at this point.
Twins at White Sox (-115, 8): The White Sox seem to be the preferred side for the day game on the South Side between Joe Ryan and Lance Lynn. I’m not sure if this is just a sweep avoidance angle or what, but this game swung from a split market to the White Sox clearly favored.
Blue Jays (-180, 8.5) at Athletics: Speaking of sweep avoidance, I guess that’s what we’re seeing here, too. It’s really hard to lay that kind of number on Jose Berrios and his subpar command profile, but this line has jumped about 15 cents on the Toronto side.
Rangers at Orioles (-110, 9.5): It’s Glenn Otto Day for the Rangers, but bettors aren’t overly excited about that. The O’s have taken more of the early money than the Rangers and the total has gone from 9 to 9.5. I can’t really argue with either move, as much as I want to like Otto.
Yankees (-200, 8.5) at Pirates: We usually see the ace take money in a game like this, but we are not today. Luis Severino and Mitch Keller are the listed starters here and we’ve actually seen some underdog money on the Pirates. As mentioned, the Yankees open a four-gamer with the Red Sox on Thursday. It wouldn’t be all that shocking to see Aaron Judge and/or Giancarlo Stanton given a day off today.
What I’ll Be Watching
Miles Mikolas: To remind you of how unhealthy this lifestyle can be sometimes, I had a dream about Mikolas vs. the Braves last night. Mikolas has a 2.61 ERA with a 3.37 xERA and a 3.49 FIP over 100 innings. I’ve been talking about his heavy workload and how there has to come a point where it catches up with him. Maybe today is that point. He’s got a .243 BABIP, but a 33.4% Hard Hit% against, so there’s a higher degree of sustainability to it for him. His HR/FB% in his last two seasons has been 16.1% and 14.6%, but sits at 8.7% this season.
He doesn’t miss a lot of bats and has an 8.1% SwStr%, which should play into Atlanta’s hands. It’s just such a big price to fade him because of the presence of Max Fried on the other side.
Oh, in my dream, he gave up a huge tank to Ronald Acuna Jr. with the bases loaded and lost 4-2. I don’t really know what that means for today.
Trevor Rogers: There are a lot of concerning things about this season for Rogers, but his performance at home might be the biggest. He’s only thrown 24.2 innings at home, but has allowed a .330/.388/.596 slash with a .419 wOBA. This is usually a pitcher’s park in Miami, but Rogers hasn’t enjoyed the benefits. On the road, he actually has a 3.95 ERA with a .310 wOBA in 43.1 innings of work. His BB% on the road has been the biggest issue, but he’s pitched much better there.
Because of the way the schedule has fallen, Rogers has faced a lot of teams that have a lot of experience against him. He’s seen the Braves three times, Washington three times, Philadelphia twice and the Mets twice. Against non NL East opponents, he has a 6.75 ERA, though one of those starts came in Coors Field.
Wednesday Best Bets
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Yankees/Pirates Under 8.5 (-105): The Yankees wrap up this quick two-game set in Pittsburgh before taking on the Red Sox for an important four-game weekend set. Maybe they plug in and stay focused on this one, but it wouldn’t be terribly shocking to see them minimally engaged, even coming off of yesterday’s loss to the Pirates. Also, as I mentioned above, this seems like a good day to steal another off day for Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton.
Luis Severino has been solid for New York and he has a very well-rested bullpen in support after Monday’s off day and Sunday’s quality start from Jordan Montgomery. Severino has a 3.35 ERA with a 3.65 FIP over his 78 innings of work. His last three starts have been against the Astros twice and the Blue Jays, so he gets a bit of a break here and faces a lineup that looks more like the Cubs or Tigers, two lineups he dominated earlier in June. The Pirates are hitting for some more power, but still have a 27.2% K% over the last 30 days, which ranks second to the Angels.
The Pirates are starting to tap into some of Mitch Keller’s potential. He is on extra rest here in this one after having some control issues last time out against the Nationals, but his wOBA and ERA have steadily improved month by month and he actually posted a 2.81 FIP in 26.1 innings in June. The Pirates are having him throw more sinkers and fewer four-seam fastballs, plus they’ve increased the spin rate on his slider to offset the loss of swing and miss on the hard stuff.
Keller did not allow a home run in June and has also pitched well at home overall with a .312 wOBA against and a 3.64 FIP. Some bad sequencing luck with a 66.4% LOB% is why he has a 4.46 ERA at home, but he’s certainly pitched better than that. With the new-look arsenal, Keller induced a ground ball almost two-thirds of the time from right-handed batters in June. Keeping the ball on the ground against this Yankees lineup makes a lot of sense.
It’s a tough card and I haven’t had a good read on most of these series, but this is the one play that looked to make some sense to me, so I’m on Under 8.5 at -105.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE