I’m taking a break from building my shrine to Ronald Acuna Jr. to put together the Wednesday edition of the article. I know there are a lot of things we can complain about when it comes to Major League Baseball, but the incredible amount of young, exciting talent is the best it has ever been. Every day, we’re treated to watching some awesome under-25 players and guys whose primes are just beginning. It’s great to see.
We’ve got a lot of games to tackle on the betting board today and a few early starts, so Happy Hump Day everybody.
Marlins/Phillies: Miami managed one run against Zack Wheeler and the Phillies bullpen in a 4-1 loss. Philadelphia is taking full advantage of a weak part of the schedule and that’s absolutely what teams need to do at this point. Miami has scored 45 runs in 18 games since the All-Star Break with a 6-12 record.
Reds/Mets: Credit to the Mets for not having a letdown against the Reds. It would have been easy to take a breath and relax a little bit after taking four of five from the Braves, but the Mets have taken the first two in this series with the Reds. It’s a gray area, but this is an example of how much Buck Showalter has helped this team.
Nationals/Cubs: I’m not entirely sure why the Cubs felt like Mark Leiter Jr. was the right call after scoring four runs in the seventh to take a 5-4 lead, but he went out there and blew the save. I think David Ross is in way over his head as a manager. Maybe he figures it out, as there are a few former catchers as big-league skippers, but it hasn’t been a good look this season and I’m not sure the dynamics in the clubhouse are healthy. I’m also not sure what’s happening in the front office. Once Theo Epstein left, it all went to hell.
Of course, once again, the Cubs banged out 15 hits and only scored five runs. Their lack of luck with RISP and performance in high-leverage situations has been poor all season long. They’re ninth in batting average at .244 with the bases empty and 29th with RISP at .222.
Cardinals/Rockies: It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the regression signs for Miles Mikolas, but they showed up in a big way yesterday. He gave up 10 runs on 14 hits in 2.2 innings of work to raise his ERA to 3.50. The start was so bad that his career ERA went up 0.12 runs. It’s Coors Field. It happens. His ERA now looks a lot more like his FIP, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
Pirates/Diamondbacks: I don’t know what to do with the Pirates. Rodolfo Castro, who is batting .189 with a robust .552 OPS, had his phone fly out of his pocket sliding into third in yesterday’s game. He was just called up yesterday prior to the game. We’ll see if he gets a text that he’s been sent down. Here’s his response.
In any event, the Pirates were also shut down for seven innings by Tommy Henry and lost 6-4 after trailing 6-1. I feel like some of these bad teams are only going to step up playing against division foes. Arizona, on the other hand, has won four of five on this homestand after the passing of Nicole Hazen, the wife of GM Mike Hazen, following a long battle with cancer.
Giants/Padres: Manny Machado’s walk-off three-run homer just might be the spark that the Padres need to right this ship. It was quite a celebration at Petco Park and it felt like the night that all of the pieces and parts on this team came together. Juan Soto also homered and doubled on two extremely hard-hit balls. Given that Machado’s homer bailed out Josh Hader, after he gave up three runs and walked three in the ninth, it meant that much more.
White Sox/Royals: The Tim Anderson injury is a huge blow to the White Sox, who have had a litany of injuries this season. They’re still in the hunt in the dreadful AL Central, but Anderson’s loss is huge at the top of the order. The White Sox scored five runs over two games, but three were enough to win Game 2 after getting shut down by Brady Singer in Game 1.
Chicago only drew three walks in the two games. Their contact quality is great, but they only get on base with a hit and that limits scoring opportunities. You don’t want to sacrifice the contact quality that comes from being aggressive, but you also need to be more balanced. The White Sox also don’t have enough left-handed bats. This is a bad job by GM Rick Hahn.
Blue Jays/Orioles: Baltimore is fun. The O’s scored one in the seventh and two in the eighth to take a 6-5 lead and made it stand up to move within a half-game of the final wild-card spot. Baltimore got a gutsy effort from Kyle Bradish and Alek Manoah left after just 77 pitches due to a rain delay, but he wasn’t terribly sharp anyway.
Toronto’s bullpen remains a major problem and one that I’m not sure they can fix. But, the O’s, man. Young teams with a sense of belief usually don’t have enough to get there, as they oftentimes flame out in September when the grind of the season catches up with them. I’m not sure if that happens here (or to my Guardians), but it’s a hell of a ride for now.
Guardians/Tigers: Well, the Guardians and the run line were the right plays, as Shane Bieber fired seven very efficient innings with eight strikeouts. All the props I mentioned got there and so did Cleveland, though they didn’t do much damage against Tyler Alexander, which is why I was worried. In watching the Tigers, there’s just nothing to get excited about with the lineup aside from Riley Greene, who just looks like a player.
Cleveland had 15 of the 20 hardest-hit balls in the game, which gives you an idea of how sharp Bieber was. They also had two barrels end up as fly outs, a reminder of how challenging hitting at Comerica Park can be.
Rangers/Astros: Martin Perez gave up seven runs on six hits in five innings, as the Astros came away with a 7-5 win on a night when Jose Urquidy wasn’t sharp either. Perez had allowed just one earned run in each of his previous four starts, but he’s had some hiccups against the White Sox, Twins and Astros dating back to mid-June. I think the takeaway here is that Perez is safe against average and below teams, but you’ve gotta be real careful against the better lineups capable of making a lot of hard contact.
Yankees/Mariners: What a fun baseball game this was. Andres Munoz blowing through DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge and Andrew Benintendi was electrifying. Sure, the Yankees had some baserunning blunders and blew some chances, but the Mariners scratched and clawed and battled and showcased why they’re very dangerous in the AL playoff picture. I just wish they had at least one more starter.
Braves/Red Sox: I owe Ronald Acuna Jr. and Tyler Matzek a couple of Edible Arrangements or something after miraculously helping the run line get there last night. I was right about the Braves offense getting on track, I just went about it the wrong way. I guess the over was the sweat-free pick. Atlanta only struck out in four plate appearances last night. They’re in line for a lot of great things when that happens.
Rays/Brewers: The Brewers scored a big win over the Rays by a 5-3 count and got a quiet ninth inning from Matt Bush. Taylor Rogers is on the mend with a knee issue and Devin Williams got a day off, so it was nice to see Bush have a clean ninth. Freddy Peralta only gave up two hits in his five innings across 65 pitches, so he’s working his way back. It was a good day for the Brew Crew overall.
Twins/Dodgers: It was not a good night for Joe Ryan or the Twins offense, as Ryan allowed four runs over the first two innings and the bullpen provided little relief in a 10-3 loss. Julio Urias was dominant and the Twins only had five hard-hit balls in the game, which featured 16 whiffs on 55 swings for Urias. His velo numbers and spin rates were up, so he looks completely locked in right now.
Weather: It looks like Mother Nature could impact Blue Jays/Orioles again today and we may also see rain in Philadelphia for another division battle between the Marlins and Phillies. Otherwise, pretty smooth sailing, as well as a hot day in Colorado with winds blowing out to LF.
Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.
Nationals at Cubs (-155, 7.5): It’s another day in which influential bettors are backing Josiah Gray. As I mentioned after his last start, I don’t really get it, but the Cubs have dropped 10-20 cents across the board, along with the total coming down to 7.5. Justin Steele goes for Chicago.
Marlins at Phillies (-120, 7): We’ve seen some Marlins interest with NL Cy Young favorite Sandy Alcantara on the bump. The Phillies will counter with Noah Syndergaard, whose first start didn’t go overly well. It’s all well and good to back Alcantara, who is having an excellent season, but the Marlins still need to find a way to score for him.
Pirates at Diamondbacks (-150, 8): We’ve seen a move of 15-25 cents on Pittsburgh today behind Mitch Keller. Keller has allowed just 26 earned runs in his last 12 starts with a 3.15 ERA and a 3.57 FIP. He’s allowed more than three runs just twice. Meanwhile, Madison Bumgarner has a 3.96 ERA with a 5.14 xERA and a 4.64 FIP, so this isn’t a surprising line move.
Yankees (-110, 7) at Mariners: The Yankees are still favored across the market, but the Mariners have taken some underdog money with Robbie Ray on the bump. Nestor Cortes has only allowed four runs on 12 hits in 16.1 innings since the All-Star Break, but that hasn’t stopped influential money from backing the home pup.
Blue Jays (-145, 9) at Orioles: Lots of underdog money today on the board. This is a fade of Jose Berrios, as the Blue Jays right-hander goes up against Dean Kremer. Berrios has allowed a ton of hard contact this season, so we’ll see if the O’s can cash another plus-money price.
White Sox (-140, 8.5) at Royals: I’m a little surprised to see this total come off of 9. I know Tim Anderson is out for Chicago and that really hurts their offensive projection, but they still face a bad lefty in Kris Bubic and Johnny Cueto is a noteworthy regression candidate. It won’t be overly warm at Kauffman Stadium, but warm enough for offense. Bettors aren’t confident, though.
Braves (-140, 9) at Red Sox: Another hefty price on the Braves today as they face Nick Pivetta. Kyle Wright is on the hill for Atlanta and we’ve seen this total come off of 9.5 down to 9 with -115 on the over. I’ll have more on this one shortly.
Twins at Dodgers (-165, 9): I mentioned this last week, but any time the Dodgers are priced under -200, it seems like they take money. That’s especially true if they’re hanging out in the -150 range. This one has jumped 10-15 cents with Ryan Pepiot for Los Angeles and Sonny Gray for Minnesota. If the Dodgers’ overnight price looks low, expect it to go up.
What I’ll Be Watching
Nick Pivetta: Pivetta certainly has a lot more strikeout upside than Rich Hill, but he also allows a lot more hard contact. The Red Sox right-hander has allowed a 46.5% Hard Hit% on the season. He’s faced a lot of the Yankees and Blue Jays, which doesn’t help, but other teams have hit the ball hard off of him as well. Since June 19, his Hard Hit% is 49.7%. That includes games against the Royals, Guardians, Rays and Cardinals.
He does have a 22.6% K%, but just a 9.5% SwStr%. The Braves should match up really well here again, as their offense makes a ton of loud contact. We saw it yesterday, as they had 19 hard-hit balls and four barrels out of 40 balls in play. Faraway places are showing the Braves team total at 4.5 with heavy over juice.
Dean Kremer: Kremer has not run into the Blue Jays yet, so this will be an interesting matchup against a team that makes a lot of quality contact. In his 11 starts, Kremer has a 3.43 ERA with a 3.91 FIP, but he does allow a lot of hard, fly ball contact, leading to an xERA of 5.03. So far, he’s faced the Rays twice, Rangers, Pirates, Yankees, Angels, Guardians, Mariners, Royals, Reds and White Sox, so we’re not talking about a lot of good lineups against right-handed pitching. Even with a relatively tepid slate of opponents, Kremer’s Hard Hit% is 40.3% with a Barrel% of 8.8%.
He’s a pitch-to-contact guy that has thrived at home with a .290 wOBA against, but has allowed a .359 wOBA against on the road. He’s also got reverse platoon splits, as righties have a .308/.349/.470 slash with a .355 wOBA against him and lefties are only batting .248/.313/.324 with a .287 wOBA. The Blue Jays will likely send at least seven right-handed bats at him here. It seems like a bit of a tricky matchup.
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
Braves/Red Sox 1st 5 Over 5 (-105): I’m expecting the Braves’ bats to have another solid night drawing Nick Pivetta and his high rate of hard contact. He just doesn’t locate well and other teams that are loaded with right-handed thunder bats have hit the ball hard like the Yankees and Blue Jays, so I expect more of the same from the Atlanta lineup. Pivetta has allowed a ton of pull-side contact this season (42.3%) and the Braves pull the ball at the highest rate of any team in baseball. That is a really bad sign for him.
Kyle Wright has nice full-season numbers with a 3.22 ERA and a 3.75 FIP, but sports a 4.11 xERA and hasn’t been nearly as good of late. His regression has been more gradual, but he does have a 4.09 ERA and a 4.99 FIP over his last nine starts over 55 innings. He’s given up 11 home runs in that span, including nine over his last six starts. The Mets really rocked him, but he also allowed three homers in two starts to the Nationals and also struggled a bit with the Angels and Diamondbacks, as he allowed a lot of hard contact in that start against Arizona.
Wright only threw 143.1 innings last season, with 137 coming in Triple-A. The higher-stress innings may be a bit of a factor as the season goes along and I’m already seeing some dips in his command profile. I think Wright’s propensity to allow the long ball comes into play here as well. I’ll take the Over 5 at slightly reduced juice.
As a side note, I also think the Braves run line is a decent look again. Pivetta’s third time through the order penalty is steep with a .294/.351/.521 slash and a .374 wOBA against. With the extra-inning marathon last night, I think both managers could try to push the starters a bit. It also brings Over 9 into the equation as well.
I haven’t bet it yet, but I want to see where this Marlins/Phillies line ends up. As I mentioned, the Marlins can’t score and they don’t really score for Alcantara. Second, he’s facing the Phillies for the second time in a month and they did hit the ball hard against him when they put it in play. Alcantara’s Hard Hit% for the season is 38.8%, but he’s exceeded that in each of his last five starts. He’s thrown 13.2 more innings than any other pitcher (Nola) and I can’t help but feel like the .244 BABIP is going down soon.
If I can get the Phillies closer to -110 or -105 later today, this may be an add to the card. For now, just the one play, but I stared at a lot of different things I liked, but didn’t love, including Blue Jays/Orioles Over 9, White Sox/Royals Over 8.5, and backing the A’s with the announcement that JP Sears would get the start (line moved UP 5-10 cents with Blackburn scratched).
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.