MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Friday, July 7th

By Adam Burke  ( 

July 7, 2023 01:50 PM

MLB schedule today has 15 games

We’ve reached the final Friday of the first half, as the Major League Baseball All-Star Break begins when all games are completed on Sunday. Fifteen games are on the betting board as new series begin and ones that started last night continue. The flavor of the month has been the 5-5-5 format and that’s what we’ve got yet again today with five NL, five AL, and five interleague games, all at night, for July 7.

Before I break down the games, I want to talk about this weekend. The weekend leading into the All-Star Break can be a tough handicap. Some teams are engaged. Others are already on vacation. Sunday is a complete crapshoot in my opinion and Saturday can be rather tough as well. I usually try to tread lightly or have to really, really like a bet to make it on this weekend every year.

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Here are some thoughts on the July 7 card (odds from DraftKings):

Philadelphia Phillies (-135, 7) at Miami Marlins

What would have been the top pitching matchup of the day last season may not be this season. It is crazy to think that both Zack Wheeler and Sandy Alcantara come into starts on July 7 with ERAs above 4, but that’s exactly what we’re dealing with in this one. Wheeler has a 4.03 ERA, though it does come with a 3.39 xERA and a 2.82 FIP, so his heightened ERA isn’t fully his fault.

Wheeler has stellar K and BB numbers with a 26.8% K% and a 5.3% BB% on the season, but he has a .326 BABIP against and a 67.4% LOB%. Despite holding the opposition to a 36.5% Hard Hit% and a 5.4% Barrel%, he’s been very unlucky on balls in play. The Phillies aren’t even as bad defensively as they’ve been in past seasons, but Wheeler has not been shined upon by the BABIP gods. Case in point, he’s allowed nine runs on 16 hits in his last 10.1 innings with 14 strikeouts and a 36.4% Hard Hit%. He has allowed four barrels in those two starts, but an average exit velocity of 85.6 mph.

Wheeler has a .242 BA against with a .238 xBA and a .292 wOBA against with a .289 xwOBA, so this has all been about bad sequencing luck for him. He’s allowed a .358 BABIP with men on base. So, we’ll see if that comes back down here against the Fish.

There are some similar positive regression signs for Alcantara, but not to the same degree. He has a 4.93 ERA with a 4.22 xERA and a 3.87 FIP in 107.2 innings pitched. His K% is down nearly 4% from last season and his BB% is up 1.7%. His LOB% is down 16.4% from last season to 62.4%. His Hard Hit% is up from 38.5% to 40.3%. So, sequencing has had a lot to do with his slide, though he has had modest dips in several key metrics to add more fuel to the fire.

Negative Cluster Luck is present in his profile as well. He’s allowed a .197 BA and a .258 wOBA with the bases empty. He’s allowed a .345 BA with a .380 wOBA with men on base and those numbers jump to .388 with a .419 wOBA with RISP. Bad luck abound for both guys makes this a tough handicap, as that total of 7 might be a fair number, but a continuation of the sequencing fortunes of both could send this game much higher in the run department.

No play for me, but that explains what’s going on with those two guys and they are worth watching closely in the second half.

Cincinnati Reds at Milwaukee Brewers (-115, 7.5)

This enormous series will start with the first of nine games between these two teams over the next 19 days. They’ll play three here, three in Cincinnati starting next Friday, and then three more in Milwaukee from July 24-26. And then that’s it. They won’t play each other again.

This one features Andrew Abbott and Corbin Burnes, so we get a good matchup right out of the chute. This is the spot where the Brewers really need Burnes to be an ace. The 28-year-old right-hander has a 4.00 ERA with a 3.64 xERA and a 4.22 FIP. He has not been ace-like this season. At first, it was some bad luck, but lately, Burnes has added to that problem with some bad pitching. He shut down the Pirates last time out with two runs on one hit, but he allowed 14 runs on 23 hits in his previous 16.2 innings.

Like Wheeler, his Hard Hit% is just 33.2% with just a 6.4% Barrel%, so his contact management numbers don’t support a 69.4% LOB% or an ERA of 4. He’s actually got a .248 BABIP against, but his mistakes have been punished, as he’s allowed 13 home runs. His K% is down 7.5% from last season and 7.7% from his career average, along with a spike in BB%. Negative Cluster Luck is present for him as well, with a .185 BA and a .249 wOBA with the bases empty, but a .263 BA and a .331 wOBA with men on base.

There are quite a few regression signs in the profile of Andrew Abbott, who has a 100% LOB% over six starts with a .190 BABIP against. He has a 1.21 ERA with a 2.68 xERA and a 3.48 FIP with a 29.4% K% and a 9.1% BB%. Abbott has allowed a 42% Hard Hit%, but has only surrendered 20 hits in his 37.1 innings pitched. He has only allowed one run that did not come on a solo homer. It came on a sac fly that left nobody on base, hence the 100% LOB% figure.

While what he’s doing is not sustainable just simply because of the nature of his numbers, he’s gone from a 6.5% SwStr% in his first three starts to a 16.6% SwStr% in his last three starts. As I’ve talked about a lot this season, the Brewers have been a bad offense against lefties, checking in 28th over with a .294 wOBA and an 82 wRC+. They’ve also struck out a league-high 27.6% of the time.

As I’ve also mentioned, they’ve been better about it recently with a .321 wOBA and a 99 wRC+ since June 1 against southpaws. They’ve cut the K% down to 24.2%. With some sustainability questions for Abbott and a little recent success, I’m not sure I love the Reds today, but I certainly don’t trust Burnes.

This is the biggest series for the Reds since 2013. They come in with a two-game lead and I’ll be rooting for this young, exciting team to widen it. Just not rooting for it with my money.

Pittsburgh Pirates at Arizona Diamondbacks (-200, 8.5)

The big story in this game is the injury suffered by Corbin Carroll late last night. Manager Torey Lovullo gave a somewhat positive update that the shoulder was structurally sound after the game, but he’ll go for more testing today. Carroll was far and away the favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year and even a distant second to Ronald Acuna Jr. in the NL MVP race. His loss for any length of time would be enormous.

As it is, Arizona has dropped five in a row as the Pirates come to town here. It will be Rich Hill for the Buccos and Zac Gallen for the Snakes, as Gallen faces another big favorite number. Gallen has a 4.00 ERA since the last time he faced the Pirates on May 19. He gave up eight runs in 3.2 innings in that start. Since then, he’s had a few good outings, but I wouldn’t say that he has been dominant. In fact, he’s allowed four or more runs in three of his last five starts. His last start finally saw some more strikeouts with 12 punchies against the Angels in seven innings.

Including that start against Pittsburgh, Gallen has allowed a 45.7% Hard Hit% and an 11.6% Barrel% in nine starts. He has a 21.8% K%, which is basically league average for starters. His season K% is 26.8%, so that illustrates how much it has dropped since the early part of the year.

I just don’t know if I can go against Gallen with Hill, who has a 4.50 ERA with a 5.51 xERA and a 4.29 FIP in his 94 innings of work. Since May 23, Dick Mountain has a 5.21 ERA. It comes with a 3.95 FIP, as a 61.5% LOB% has plagued him, but he has allowed four or more funs in five of the eight starts and his starts have been quite spread out at times. He’s just not in a great rhythm right now.

Arizona is better against righties, coming in 19th with a .314 wOBA against lefties for the season. Since June 1, Arizona is actually 26th in wOBA at .293 with a 79 wRC+. With Carroll out again and Ketel Marte recently out for two games with a backing back, the Diamondbacks are certainly up against it a bit. I would like to think a division leader and playoff contender would rally together and the ace would look like the ace in that situation. The Dodgers are also just a half-game back now.

Let’s see what happens. I lean towards Pittsburgh, but I’m a little scared of their inconsistent offense and Hill.

New York Mets at San Diego Padres (-125, 8)

Justin Verlander and Yu Darvish square off here as the surging Mets take a five-game winning streak to Petco Park for the battle of first-half underachievers. The Padres are showing signs of life with a sweep of the Angels and wins in four of the last five.

Much like what I mentioned about Burnes, it would be great for the Mets if Verlander could turn back the clock and look like an ace. He comes in with a 3.66 ERA, 3.61 xERA, and a 3.99 FIP. While those aren’t bad numbers by any means, they aren’t up to Verlander’s standard. Maybe we have to consider a new standard for JV now, but it would still give Mets fans some solace.

His K% is down 7% from last season at 20.8%. His BA against is up 39 points and his BABIP is up 43 points. His HR/FB% looks more like his career average, which was to be expected and would absolutely shoot his ERA up a bit. He has worked 12 innings in his last two starts with just an unearned run allowed on five hits with an 11/3 K/BB ratio. His SwStr% is still just 9.7% and he’s not throwing enough first-pitch strikes to get ahead and bury guys in the count. We’ll see if he can do that against the Padres, who have come alive a bit offensively in June and thus far in July, as they rank sixth in wOBA against righties at .339 with a 116 wRC+ that ranks fifth.

Darvish comes in with a 4.84 ERA, but a 3.64 xERA and a 3.88 FIP. He’s worked 80 innings and has over a strikeout per inning, but a 65.9% LOB% looms large in terms of his ERA. His last five starts have not gone terribly well, as he has allowed 21 runs on 29 hits. That stretch even includes seven shutout innings against the Cubs back on June 3. Darvish hasn’t made a start since June 21 while dealing with an illness. He has allowed four or more runs in four of his last five starts and a 40.8% Hard Hit%.

I haven’t the slightest idea what to expect from Darvish coming off of a 16-day layoff. It’s not like he made any minor league rehab appearances and it doesn’t seem like he has felt well enough to throw many side sessions or bullpens. That being said, I’m not terribly confident in Verlander, who just isn’t the same guy. 

Also, both bullpens are in a bit of a pinch. Josh Hader worked three straight days Monday-Wednesday, so this would be 4-in-5. Tom Cosgrove has worked four of the last six days going into Thursday’s off day. Nick Martinez had worked 3-in-4 and would be working a 4-in-6. The Mets got a light day on Thursday with a laugher, but this would be 4-in-6 for David Robertson and Adam Ottavino has been used heavily of late.

It’s a good stay-away game.

Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants (-165, 8)

The Giants will use Ross Stripling as a straight starter here and the Rockies are supposed to use Austin Gomber, but maybe we’ll see an opener or a switch. No starter had been confirmed for the game and the line doesn’t imply that it will be Gomber, since he has a 6.64 ERA with a 6.51 xERA and a 5.91 FIP. If he does go, he’s one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball and I can’t help but think this line would be a lot higher.

Stripling hasn’t exactly pitched well either, but the Giants are a vastly superior team. He has a 6.51 ERA with a 6.19 xERA and a 6.08 FIP in his 37.1 innings pitched on the season. Since returning to the ballclub, he’s worked five innings of one-run ball with four hits allowed and five strikeouts with one walk against the Blue Jays and Mets. He’s allowed a 50% Hard Hit%. He’s maxed out at 13 batters faced and three innings, so this will still be some sort of piggyback situation.

I would presume Tristan Beck, who threw 41 pitches on Sunday, gets the call. He has a 3.20 ERA with a 3.67 xERA and a 4.40 FIP in 45 innings of work. The Giants bullpen is actually in pretty good shape going into this weekend set. The three primary relievers worked Monday and Wednesday, but nobody is in a back-to-back or anything with the off day.

I’m still not convinced that Gomber gets the start with where this line is. I think when he is officially listed, the line probably goes up. DraftKings doesn't have either starter listed at time of publish.

Toronto Blue Jays (-130, 9) at Detroit Tigers

In today’s ultimate head-scratcher, apparently Alek Manoah is ready to be back in the Majors. The Blue Jays sent Manoah down to the Complex League in Dunedin, Florida to get straightened out and it felt like they were going to tear him down to the studs and rebuild him from the ground up. 

After going 22 days between outings, he came back and allowed 11 runs on 10 hits in 2.2 innings against 18 and 19-year-old hitters. His next start came five days later in Double-A and he allowed one run on three hits with 10 strikeouts in five innings. His next start is today against the Tigers. Maybe he is fixed. Maybe the 6.36 ERA with a 6.53 FIP and a hideous K/BB ratio is a thing of the past. I’m clearly skeptical, as is everybody else.

Uncertainty can be a bettor’s best friend sometimes because high-variance situations are usually good for betting if you can find an edge. I don’t even know where to begin to find an edge in the case of Manoah. We didn’t see what happened over the 22 days. We just laughed about the Complex League outing. Baseball teams make stupid decisions all the time, but there has to be some reason why the Jays think Manoah is ready to be back. I think.

The other tough part about this handicap is that Alex Faedo is coming off of the IL for the Tigers. You want to talk about bad sequencing luck, give Faedo a look. He has 26 strikeouts in 26 innings and just two walks. Yet he has a 5.54 ERA with a 3.15 xERA and a 4.52 FIP. He’s allowed six homers in those five starts, but it’s a 44.9% LOB% that really stands out.

That ERA number also doesn’t really tell the full story, as he allowed 10 runs in his first four starts and then gave up six runs on seven hits before hitting the IL after his May 30 start against the Rangers. He only made one rehab start, though, and allowed four runs on six hits in 3.1 innings five days ago, so I’m not thrilled about where he is right now.

This might be the most brutal handicap of the season and I’m happy to move along with my morning.

Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Guardians (-180, 8)

Poor Jordan Lyles. He threw five really good innings yesterday against Cleveland, but the bullpen came in and made a mess of things. But, the game stayed under, so it was a sweep of yesterday’s two plays thanks to Tanner Bibee, Lyles, and the Guardians bullpen. Today’s game will see Daniel Lynch and Aaron Civale on fireworks night in Cleveland.

Lynch has low-key thrown the ball really well this season. I know his 4.14 ERA with a 4.67 xERA and a 4.84 FIP isn’t super impressive, but he has only allowed a 33.1% Hard Hit% on the season and a 7.5% Barrel%. He gave up seven runs, including four homers, to the Reds on June 14, but he’s allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his six other starts. He has a solid 11.8% SwStr% that hasn’t totally translated into strikeouts with a 16% K%. He also threw the ball well in five minor league starts with a 3.98 ERA over 20.1 innings with a 24/4 K/BB ratio.

I feel like he’s throwing a few too many fastballs for my liking, but pitching coach Brian Sweeney has gotten him to increase his changeup usage and I think that’s a really good pitch for him. If his velo could bounce back to last season’s 94 mph, I think a little more separation would be a good thing. Opposing batters are hitting .091 with a .109 SLG on the CH, which has been his primary weapon against righties. The pitch also has a 38.9% Whiff%.

I would guess we see six righties in the Cleveland lineup today, if not seven. With that changeup, righties have a .288 wOBA in 155 PA, while lefties have a .426 wOBA in just 20 PA. I’m not sure Terry Francona will be smart enough to realize that a lineup loaded with righties just helps Lynch play up his best pitch. (Spoiler alert: he won’t be)

Aaron Civale goes for Cleveland in this one. He’s thrown the ball well since coming back. In six starts, he’s allowed 11 runs on 27 hits with 27 strikeouts against 14 walks. It’s more about the fact that he’s allowed just a 27.8% Hard Hit% and a 3.1% Barrel% with only three barrels allowed. He also has a 10.2% SwStr%, so he’s gotten some swings and misses here and there. He’s also got a 70% first-pitch strike rate. He’s mixing his pitches well and nicely leveraging his curveball, which I’ve always felt is his best pitch.

I was looking at the Under 8 here or the 1st 5 Under 4.5, but something scared me off. It’s the fact that this will be just the second start for Civale this season on the traditional four days rest. His only other one was against the Brewers on June 25 and he allowed four runs on six hits with a 93.5 mph average exit velo and a 44.4% Hard Hit%. He wasn’t nearly as sharp with his contact management in that start as he has been in his other starts. It seems like pitching every sixth day is becoming more standard around the Majors nowadays and the oft-injured Civale has been on that schedule much more often.

That pushed me to think about the Royals and Lynch for the 1st 5 at a big number. In three starts since that Reds blow-up, Lynch has allowed just a 29.3% Hard Hit% and four runs on 12 hits. Cleveland is a bottom-five offense against lefties for the season. While they’ve improved since June 1, they’re still 17th in wOBA in that split.

At +160, I think backing Lynch over Civale is worth a shot for the 1st 5. After seeing what we saw from the Royals bullpen yesterday, I can’t have any interest in the full game, but I like the 1st 5, especially with the way Lynch is leveraging that changeup.

Pick: Royals 1st 5 (+160)

Oakland Athletics at Boston Red Sox (-245, 10.5)

Luis Medina and Brennan Bernardino are the listed starters here as this series opens up at Fenway Park. Bernardino begins what will be a full-fledged bullpen day for the Red Sox, who are down to three starting pitchers due to injury. Chris Murphy threw 55 pitches on Tuesday, so I guess he’s good for a few innings.

Bernardino has allowed a single run in two consecutive appearances, including his first opener assignment of the season, but he has only allowed eight earned runs over 26.2 innings pitched. He has 26 strikeouts against seven walks with a 56.3% GB%. I would think there’s a chance that the Red Sox try to push for two innings out of him against the A’s. He’s had good numbers on the season and has induced a lot of weak contact. He’s been a nice find off of waivers.

Murphy has allowed three runs on 11 hits in 13.2 innings, pitched in a bulk capacity. Both Bernardino and Murphy are lefties, so the A’s are likely to get those two to start and then we’ll see what happens from that point forward.

Medina comes in with a 6.37 ERA, 5.55 xERA, and a 5.92 FIP in his 53.2 innings of work. The numbers are not pretty in any capacity, but Medina has only allowed one home run in his last six starts. Of course, he still has a 5.88 ERA with a 4.41 FIP, so the long ball has not been his only issue this season. He also has a 25/21 K/BB ratio in his last 26 innings.

The A’s have used an opener in two of his six starts, but as of now, they aren’t doing that today. I guess we’ll see what happens. Hard to like anything about this game unless you think the A’s can hold up their end offensively. Even with Boston at home, this is still a pretty steep run line price at -120 or -130.

Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros (-115, 7.5)

The Mariners have not been over .500 since June 2. If they beat Hunter Brown today, they will be over .500. Luis Castillo heads to the hill for the M’s, who have won five of six in their quest to get back into the AL Wild Card race. A lot of people are talking about how the Mets and Padres are big underachievers, but so are the Mariners in my opinion. They’ve gotten a ton of great starting pitching, but the offense and the bullpen have been underwhelming.

The starting point for Castillo here is his home/road splits. He has a 3.05 ERA with a 3.67 xERA and a 3.89 FIP, but that only tells part of the story. Castillo’s turn in the rotation has fallen at home way more than it has been on the road. He’s thrown 66.1 innings at home with a 2.44 ERA and a .254 wOBA against. He has a 30.5% K% at home with a 6.1% BB% and an 11.5% HR/FB%.

On the road, however, Castillo has a 4.24 ERA with a .347 wOBA against in 34 innings. His slash difference is 60 points in BA, 70 in OBP, and 165 in SLG. His road K% drops to 23.3% and his BB% spikes to 8.2%. His HR/FB% goes up to 16.7% and he allows way more fly balls on the road with a 48.5% FB% on the road compared to 37.7% at home, so that increase is even bigger than it seems. He’s allowed seven homers at home in 66.1 innings, but eight on the road in 34 innings.

Home or away, Castillo’s command has been on the fritz lately. He’s allowed nine homers in his last five starts, including five at home in three starts. I would not consider him trustworthy today at all. That being said, righties have a .258 wOBA against Castillo and just a .267 wOBA on the road. Lefties have done all the damage against him and the Astros only have two on the roster. One is Bligh Madris, who has a 39 wRC+ in 143 MLB PA.

Brown has a 3.76 ERA with a 3.75 xERA and a 3.43 FIP in his 91 innings pitched. Like Castillo, the K and BB numbers look great. Unlike Castillo, there aren’t any huge home/road splits. Brown has allowed seven of his nine homers on the road, where he’s pitched 12.1 more innings. He has only allowed a .295 wOBA at home and actually allowed a lower SLG (.322) at home than OBP (.329), which is extremely rare. Only six of the 37 hits he has allowed at home have been extra-base hits.

He has a 27.5% K% for the season with a 10.8% SwStr%, so those two metrics should play up against Seattle. He actually hasn’t seen the Mariners yet this season, which is kind of remarkable. He has allowed a high 43.7% Hard Hit%, but he’s mostly kept the ball on the ground with a 55.7% GB%, so that’s fine. I’d rather not see all the hard contact, but the ground balls and strikeouts do make it tougher to score off of him.

I was all ready to fade Castillo and then remembered how the Astros just don’t have any left-handed bats at all. Maybe they still hit him, but that makes it a lot tougher. If nothing else, file away the Castillo road numbers, especially when he runs into a lineup littered with lefties. I’m passing here as a result.

Baltimore Orioles at Minnesota Twins (-145, 8.5)

Cole Irvin and Bailey Ober are the listed starters in this one, as Ober and the Twins are hefty favorites. To some degree, I get it, but the Twins have been awful against lefties most of the season. Since June 1, they are 17th in wOBA at .317 with a 103 wRC+, so they’ve improved, but they’re also running a 28.1% K% in that split. For the full season, Minnesota has a .293 wOBA and an 86 wRC+ in 806 plate appearances with a 26.3% K%.

Irvin has a 6.32 ERA with an 8.56 xERA and a 5.01 FIP in his 31.1 innings this season. It has not gone according to plan for the O’s with him, as he has had two separate IL stints. Since coming back from the second one on June 10, Irvin has a 3.44 ERA with a 4.76 FIP in 18.1 innings. He’s allowed seven runs on 22 hits with a 15/5 K/BB ratio. He only struck out one of the 24 Twins he faced last time out and allowed a 47.4% Hard Hit% with three barrels.

His Baseball Savant data is very messy because his fastball and sinker seem to blend together. He’s also started throwing a cutter a lot more lately, topping out in usage at 36.6% against the Twins. They had three hits and an average exit velo of 95.5 mph on the pitch. They actually hit just about everything hard, but didn’t have much to show for it with one run on six hits and three walks.

This will be Ober’s second straight start against the O’s. He was extremely successful in his first one with seven shutout innings and only two hits allowed with eight strikeouts. He had allowed 11 earned runs in his previous four starts, so he really locked it down in that one. He has a 2.70 ERA with a 3.42 FIP for the season, so he’s been highly effective more often than not.

I’ve talked about this before with the 6-foot-9 right-hander, but I think facing him for the first time is really, really hard. The way the schedule has worked out, Cleveland is the only team to face him twice this season. They had seven shutout innings the first time and cut it down to six shutout innings the second time, but their offense stinks. They did cut their SwStr% from 15.4% to 7.7%, though. They also went from a 23.5% Hard Hit% to a 38.9% Hard Hit% and had two barrels instead of one.

Last season, Ober missed almost a month in May and 3.5 months from June to mid-September, so it’s kind of unfair to apply this theory, but Kansas City was better against him the second time in back-to-back starts in May. It’s a super small sample size data point, but I do really believe that there’s something to it, especially with that arm slot you just don’t see all that often.

Baltimore was really disciplined in the first game with an O-Swing% of just 25.7%, the second-lowest rate for Ober of the season. They just swung through some pitches and also had the lowest Swing% of the season against him at 44.7%. I think they find a little more success tonight with a little more aggressiveness and more familiarity and I also expect the Twins to find more against Irvin.

I like the 1st 5 Over 5 here. Both pens are pretty well-rested in a relative sense. Felix Bautista and Yennier Cano are both available. Nobody in the Minnesota pen has pitched since Tuesday and none of their primary relievers have pitched since Monday.

Pick: 1st 5 Over 5 (-110)

Atlanta Braves at Tampa Bay Rays (-110, 8.5)

Charlie Morton will face one of his former teams as the Braves and Rays square off down at the Trop. Tampa has experienced an offensive outage recently and has actually dropped five in a row, including a sweep at the hands of the Phillies, which gave us another winner in that series last night. 

Morton was a Ray in 2019-20, so he’ll be able to exchange some pleasantries with old friends while he’s in town. He comes into this start with a 3.57 ERA, 4.67 xERA, and a 3.75 FIP in his 16 starts over 90.2 innings of work. He has a solid 26.1% K%, but has had to work around a 10% BB%. He’s been much better from a contact management standpoint this season than he was last season, as he has a Hard Hit% of 36.1% and an 8.7% Barrel%. His last start was his first since his first start of the season with a single-digit SwStr%, so I’m curious to see if that means anything for today.

He went 5.2 shutout innings against the Marlins in that start, so maybe it doesn’t mean anything at all. Besides, I’d be more worried about Tyler Glasnow, who makes his eighth start of the season. He has a 4.50 ERA with a 5.06 xERA and a 3.68 FIP in 36 innings pitched. Glasnow has one blow-up to his name with six runs allowed on June 20 against the Orioles. Otherwise, he’s allowed three or fewer earned runs in his other six starts, but he has allowed a 48.8% Hard Hit% and an 18.3% Barrel%. Those are two very bad numbers taking on the Braves.

Despite that, Glasnow can get a ton of swings and misses and does have an 18.5% SwStr%, so that’s the one way you can neutralize the Braves. In the series against the Guardians, I did notice how often they are willing to chase up in the zone. I’d like to think a 6-foot-8 pitcher could leverage that into some swings and misses here. I think the Braves are going to look like an easy play to a lot of people because it’s a coin flip line with two teams going in different directions. I don’t think it’s that cut and dry and I’m leaving the game alone.

Chicago Cubs at New York Yankees (-165, 8)

Jameson Taillon and Carlos Rodon are the starting pitchers here, as Taillon makes his return to Yankee Stadium and Rodon makes his Yankees debut in the Bronx. It has not been a good season for either of these guys. Taillon has a 6.93 ERA with a 5.62 xERA and a 5.17 FIP. Rodon hasn’t thrown an MLB pitch yet.

Rodon worked 178 innings with the Giants last season with a 2.88 ERA, 2.64 xERA, and a 2.25 FIP. He’s been one of the league’s top hurlers the last two seasons after battling a litany of injuries with the White Sox from 2017-20. In three minor league rehab starts, Rodon has allowed one run on three hits with 17 strikeouts against three walks, so he’s thrown the ball extremely well. The first two starts were in Double-A and the last one was in High-A, so it was all about making sure he was healthy.

He topped out at 15 batters faced and four innings. He went from 42 pitches to 48 pitches to 58 pitches, so I’d presume he’s somewhere around 60 or 65 here.

I really want to take Taillon and the Cubs here, but it’s hard to find reasons to back Jameson. Even though his .337 BABIP and 56.2% LOB% suggest positive regression, we haven’t seen it. He’s allowed 15 runs in his last three starts, 22 runs in his last five, and has a 7.52 ERA with a 6.18 FIP in his last 10 starts. He’s allowed at least four runs in eight of the 10 starts.

The Cubs are also not what they used to be against lefties. They have a .305 wOBA and an 89 wRC+ since June 1. I think Rodon is overpriced for what he’s coming back to and the fact that the Yankees pen will have a heavy lift, but I just can’t do it.

Texas Rangers (-175, 10) at Washington Nationals

Left-hander Cody Bradford is quite the favorite in D.C. against the Nationals and Trevor Williams in this one. The Rangers could opt for an opener at some point throughout the day, but Bradford is currently listed and would at least pitch in bulk. He’s got a 4.98 ERA with a 4.93 xERA and a 3.98 FIP in his 21.2 innings of work. He has a 27% K% at the MLB level with a 64.2% LOB%, so that would normally signify some positive regression, but his 27% K% doesn’t have a lot of sticking power to me.

He had a 21.8% K% in Triple-A before his call-up. A lot has been said about how much smaller the Triple-A strike zone is than the big league zone with the automated system, so maybe it was just that, since his lower minors K numbers were solid. If this holds as a start for Bradford, it will be his first since June 29 and his second since June 13. He was used for 2.1 relief innings on July 3 against Houston, so this is a little weird of a setup.

Bradford has also allowed a 56.1% Hard Hit% with a 17.5% Barrel%. If we look just since his June 13 recall, his HH% is 68% with a 16% Barrel%. That’s not particularly great and the Nationals have good numbers against lefties for the season, even though they’ve dropped to 21st in wOBA against LHP since June 1.

Williams has a 4.34 ERA with a 5.23 xERA and a 5.58 FIP in his 85 innings pitched. He’s not the most trustworthy guy and the betting markets can’t stand him. He’s a battler, though. He rarely gets completely crushed. He’s a three runs over five innings type of guy on average in my mind, so that’s usually where I put his baseline. This season, he does have an 11% Barrel%, so that’s a bit of a concern.

I thought about the Over 10 here, but the Nationals are a tough offense to trust, as their early-season fortunes have mostly evaporated.

St. Louis Cardinals (-115, 8.5) at Chicago White Sox

Plenty of scouts will be in attendance on the South Side tonight, as Jordan Montgomery looks to be one of the top arms on the trade market. The Cardinals left-hander has an expiring contract and comes into this start with a 3.28 ERA, 4.02 xERA, and a 3.48 FIP. He’s been one of the few bright spots on the pitching side for St. Louis this season and he’s also a durable dude with 79 starts over the last 2.5 seasons.

This season looks like most seasons for Montgomery. He has a 22% K% with a 6.3% BB%, which are both in line with his career averages. He’s got a .304 BABIP against, which is a lot higher than last season, but not that far off of his other seasons. His 9.5% HR/FB% is better than most years and his 35.9% Hard Hit% is pretty standard as well. He’s just a solid starting pitcher and a good add to a contender (I’m looking at you, Arizona).

The White Sox will respond with Dylan Cease, who has a 4.10 ERA with a 4.22 xERA and a 3.85 FIP in his 96.2 innings pitched. The White Sox right-hander has a 27.4% K% with a 10% BB%. The biggest thing for him is that he cut his Hard Hit% down to 31.2% last season, but it has ballooned to 46.7% this season. He’s actually been under that mark in five straight starts, so it is improving, albeit slowly. 

Since allowing seven runs to the Royals on May 8, Cease actually has a 3.04 ERA with a 3.50 FIP, so he’s thrown the ball well in his 56.1 innings of work. He’s still allowed a decent amount of hard contact, but 41.5% is way better than what we’ve seen for the entirety of the year.

I like both starters here, but the Under isn’t a very attractive bet. I don’t see an edge one way or another on the side. I know it’s the White Sox against a lefty, but they are 23rd in wOBA against LHP since June 1, so this isn’t the White Sox we’re used to against southpaws.

Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers (-165, 9)

The Battle of Los Angeles is back around, as the Angels and Dodgers square off at Dodger Stadium. It will be Griffin Canning against Tony Gonsolin, as the Angels once again take the field without Mike Trout and with just four wins since June 18. They lost both games against the Dodgers 2-0 to kickstart this rough stretch, where they’ve gone seven games under .500 and look to be falling out of the playoff chase again.

Canning has a 4.29 ERA with a 3.94 xERA and a 4.54 FIP in his 71.1 innings of work, as he has a solid 24% K% and a 7.1% BB%. His peripherals actually look quite good this season, except for the 12 homers he has allowed and the 46% Hard Hit% that he has. His control has improved, but his command is still a work in progress. 

I’ve also talked about how he’s at his best when throwing his fastball 30% of the time or less. Well, his fastball usage has been back up again in his last two starts and he hasn’t mixed his pitches as much. It worked against the Rockies, but did not work against the Diamondbacks with five runs allowed over six innings. You just never know what you’re going to get from him, but the ceiling is pretty low.

Gonsolin has a 3.69 ERA with a 4.55 xERA and a 4.49 FIP in his 61 innings pitched on the season. He is not throwing the ball well at all. He has allowed 15 runs on 17 hits in his last 14 innings pitched. He hasn’t allowed a ton of hard contact, so there has been some bad luck in there, but he’s also had a single-digit SwStr% in five of his last six starts, so the quality of his stuff doesn’t seem very high right now.

This will be his first start on four days rest since giving up seven runs to the Giants on June 18. I wish I had more faith in a Trout-less Angels offense because this has a chance to be a good Over bet, but I simply don’t.

TL;DR Recap

Royals 1st 5 (+160)

BAL/MIN 1st 5 Over 5 (-110)

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