MLB schedule today has 10 games
A new week begins in Major League Baseball with 10 games on the card. The Trade Deadline is eight days away, so the discomfort level ramps up for the teams that could be sellers and the young players on contenders who know that they could be going from the penthouse to the outhouse.
Much like I did last year, I’ll be doing a Trade Deadline live blog on actual deadline day, which is August 1, so there won’t be any picks that day. I think it’s cruel that there are games that day, since it can be an extremely emotional day for everybody. Also, from a betting standpoint, players are removed from the lineup or sometimes starters are even changed.
I’ll be firing up that file today so I can hit the trades that have already taken place, but it will get a lot busier next Monday and Tuesday. I’ll do the article like normal next Monday, though it’ll probably be a low-volume day, and then spend the two days covering trades.
With that housekeeping out of the way, let’s look at offense from the weekend. Hitters collectively slashed .247/.320/.429 with a .324 wOBA and a 106 wRC+ from Friday-Sunday. Strikeouts are up over the last little while, which I’m not sure what to think about that. The HR/FB% was 14.7%, so that did pop back up after being down a bit on Wednesday and Thursday.
More homers, more strikeouts, as it doesn’t seem like we’re seeing as many stolen bases, so the players continue to adjust to the ever-changing dynamics of the league.
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Here are some thoughts on the July 24 card (odds from DraftKings):
The last time Patrick Corbin was a -150 or higher favorite was June 15 of last season when he faced the Pirates and Tyler Anderson. That appears to be the case today against Jake Bird and the Rockies. Bird will be the opener and it seems like Karl Kauffmann has a good chance to bulk since he has been recalled.
The Rockies were missing CJ Cron and Kris Bryant yesterday and those are two huge components against lefties as two of the better right-handed sticks in this lineup, although the Rockies only have three dudes with a wRC+ over 100 against lefties - Randal Grichuk, Jurickson Profar, and Mike Moustakas. Moustakas is no longer on the roster. It’s been a really bad split for them throughout the season, so that could help Corbin, who needs all the help he can get. He’s got a 4.89 ERA with a 6.17 xERA and a 4.88 FIP in his 114 innings of work.
His last two starts have been solid with four runs allowed on 11 hits in 12.1 innings with 12 strikeouts against two walks and he has the chance to keep it going here.
Bird has worked 58 innings over 45 appearances and this will be his third start. He has a 4.03 ERA with a 4.29 xERA and a 3.28 FIP with good home run prevention numbers and a decent K/BB ratio. He has given up runs in four of his last seven appearances, including three the last time he opened on July 18. He went two innings the first time he opened, but only went one the last time.
Kauffmann has a 10.19 ERA and a 9.08 xERA in his 17.2 MLB innings with more walks than strikeouts and three homers allowed. He has a 6.94 ERA in Triple-A with a 5.61 FIP, so that isn’t a great look either. It’s possible that Corbin isn’t enough of a favorite here, especially if Cron and Bryant are out again, but laying a big number with Corbin doesn’t seem like a fun thing to do.
The Reds and Brewers only have three head-to-head meetings left and they will be today, tomorrow, and Wednesday. It will be games against other teams that decide the NL Central champion, which could be a good thing for Cincinnati. The Reds are 2-8 against Milwaukee this season and have lost five of the last six. Those six games were played going into the All-Star Break and coming out of it, as Brewers pitchers held the Reds to three runs in the three-game series at Great American Ball Park.
Unless something changes here at American Family Field, there will be a lot of pressure on Graham Ashcraft. He’s the Game 1 starters and he’s been on a really nice run in his last four starts with five runs allowed on 20 hits in 24.2 innings of work. The peripherals are not exciting, as his 1.82 ERA comes with a 4.54 FIP. He’s only got 14 strikeouts in that span against nine walks and has been fortunate to run a .254 BABIP with a 92.2% LOB%.
In his defense, he’s allowed just a 34.2% Hard Hit% and deserves a lot of credit for that. However, he’s still a guy working with pretty thin margins given the ugly K/BB numbers. It would be nice to see his raw stuff convert to more strikeouts, but that is not the case to this point.
Colin Rea, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta are the listed starters in this series for the Brewers, so this is a game that the Reds should really prioritize. Rea has a 4.64 ERA with a 4.08 xERA and a 4.80 FIP over his 85.1 innings of work. He has allowed 14 homers on the season and that’s been his biggest issue, as he’s allowed under a hit per inning otherwise with a 70/26 K/BB ratio.
Homers don’t count towards BABIP, but I feel like he’s really fortunate to have a .256 BABIP against with his 42.3% Hard Hit%. He only has a 6.2% Barrel%, so he’s been a bit unlucky that most barrels have left the yard. It isn’t a very sexy profile and this is a game where both guys will be BABIP-dependent and that makes for a wide range of outcomes.
In 10 games, the teams have averaged seven runs per game. The Reds have only scored 2.9 runs per game and the Brewers have scored 4.1. Milwaukee’s pen is in better shape here, as the Reds have won five in a row, which means using all of their high-leverage guys pretty regularly. Alexis Diaz and Lucas Sims have each pitched three of the last five and Ian Gibaut has worked back-to-back days.
There was no morning line for this one, as Arizona had not yet named a starter. With Adam Wainwright coming back from the IL, this is quite a messy game. It is Ryne Nelson’s day, but there was some debate as to whether or not he’d actually go. He’s thrown 106.1 innings this season after throwing 154.1 last season and 116.1 in 2021, so his innings workload is actually in pretty decent shape.
Also, Nelson has been throwing the ball rather well of late. He has a 4.82 ERA with a 4.94 xERA and a 4.74 FIP in his 20 starts, but he’s allowed two or fewer runs in four of his last five starts. He gave up seven runs to the Mets in his last start of the first half, but has shut down the Blue Jays and Braves in his last two outings. He’s allowed three earned runs on 12 hits in 12.2 innings with eight strikeouts against a walk.
Wainwright is allegedly good for 65 pitches today, as he’s been activated from the IL following a shoulder injury. He’s made exactly zero rehab appearances, as he’s simply done bullpens and sim games. He hasn’t pitched since July 4 when he allowed seven runs over 3.1 innings to the Marlins. In Wainwright’s last three starts, he allowed 20 runs on 24 hits in just eight innings pitched.
Maybe Wainwright was actually hurt. Maybe at age 41, his body is just done. He turns 42 on August 30. It’s sad to see it end like this with a 7.66 ERA and a 5.88 FIP, but that’s what he currently looks like and I couldn’t trust him today against any lineup with a pulse. He’s allowed at least three runs in each of his 11 starts, so expect at least that and possibly more.
The Padres are a massive home favorite here in what amounts to be a critically important series. They need a sweep here to really position themselves better in the NL Wild Card chase and may be able to avoid being a seller. But, it starts with beating up on a bad team and the Pirates are a bad team. They’ve dropped all the way to last place in the NL Central and this is a golden opportunity for the Padres to keep making a push.
Quinn Priester will make his second MLB start in this one. He had three perfect innings to start his MLB career with eight ground ball outs. He gave up a walk, homer, walk, and double the second time through, but then went single, double, double, homer, single the third time through before being pulled with a 7-0 deficit.
Priester wasn’t hit all that hard, as he left that start with a 23.8% Hard Hit%, but things really snowballed very quickly for him. He only struck out two, so that didn’t really help his margin for error any.
Yu Darvish has a 4.36 ERA with a 3.57 xERA and a 3.77 FIP, so there are some positive regression signs in his profile going into this outing. He has a solid 25.9% K% and has gotten really unlucky in the BABIP department with a .311 mark. His 70.8% LOB% is also the lowest of his career since his rookie season back in 2012. Since coming back from the Break, he’s allowed one run on nine hits with 16 strikeouts against five walks in 12 innings against the Phillies and Blue Jays.
Darvish battled a viral illness that kept him out of action for over two weeks right before the Break, but he seems to be just fine now and back to his normal self. Even as a home team likely to only bat eight times here, the Padres run line is -130 or -135. Honestly, it could be worth it. I’m not on it, but it’s one of the bets I think makes some sense today.
Another day, another bullpen meltdown for the Guardians, as they had the chance to sweep the Phillies, but wound up giving up four runs in extra innings and then couldn’t execute when they had the chance in their half of the 10th. But, it was still a good series win and now Cleveland faces Kansas City while Minnesota faces Seattle again.
Ryan Yarbrough and Logan Allen are the respective starters today, as Yarbrough makes his third start since getting hit in the face by a comebacker and Allen makes his second start since getting recalled. Allen was sent down to work on his pitch efficiency, but also to try and control and maintain his innings increase. That plan went out the window when Shane Bieber hit the IL.
Allen came back up and threw five one-hit innings against the Pirates with eight strikeouts. He’s gone 13 straight scoreless innings, though he did only throw 77 pitches last time out, so I wouldn’t expect him to work too far tonight, unless he’s going to be really efficient with his tosses again.
Yarbrough has allowed four runs on 12 hits in his last 11.2 innings with nine strikeouts against two walks since coming back. His first start back was actually against Cleveland and then he faced the Tigers in his second outing. He really kept Cleveland at bay with an 81.4 mph average exit velo and a 33.3% Hard Hit%, but the Tigers hit him much harder with a 93 mph average EV and a 52.6% Hard Hit%, along with three barrels. It was his first start in 10 days with the All-Star Break.
Cleveland is a huge favorite here and maybe a little too big of one, but like I talked about with the Pirates, these are the types of teams that Cleveland gets right against. It’s an easy pass in that respect, as I’m not sure I trust them enough for a run line, especially with the state of the bullpen.
These two teams just played a four-game set in Seattle last week and split, as the Twins won the two middle games and the Mariners won on the front end and the back end. This series marks the first road set of the second half for the M’s, as they missed out on a sweep of the Blue Jays yesterday and went 5-5 on the 10-game homestand.
Luis Castillo and Kenta Maeda are the listed hurlers here, as we run back the July 19 game. Castillo allowed three runs on six hits with 11 strikeouts over six innings. Maeda allowed two runs on three hits with nine strikeouts in 6.1 innings. The game still went over the total, despite those two very fine starts.
One big difference today is that this start is at Target Field. Castillo has allowed a .196/.248/.361 slash at home with a .265 wOBA and has a 2.79 ERA with a 3.43 FIP and a 31.3% K%. In his road starts, Castillo has allowed a .239/.295/.453 slash with a .320 wOBA and has a 3.51 ERA with a 4.97 FIP and a 21.4% K%. Castillo has thrown 77.1 innings at home and 41 innings on the road.
So, this is a road start for him, where he has allowed eight of his 19 home runs in the 36.1 fewer innings. His K% is also way lower on the road, which was also true of his road starts as a Mariner last season. He’s done a lot of things well this season, but he’s allowed a 44.3% Hard Hit% and a 9.9% Barrel% on the year. He’s actually allowed 15 hard-hit balls in 27 batted ball events in his two second-half starts with five barrels allowed.
Maeda returned from a triceps injury that put him on the IL for about two months on June 23. He has a 2.73 ERA with a 2.56 FIP in his 26.1 innings since with a 36/9 K/BB ratio. He’s only allowed two homers and just 18 hits. He has allowed a 49.1% Hard Hit%, so that concerns me about his ability to keep running a decent BABIP, but he has generated a ton of swing and miss to offset some of the hard contact.
Seattle had a 48.6% Chase Rate in that last start, so he was getting them to expand the zone quite a bit. Castillo happened to get a lot of swings and misses in the zone. In breaking down the two starts, I like what Maeda did more. I also like that Castillo goes on the road here with some ugly splits.
I like the Twins for the 1st 5 today. Their bullpen is in a tough spot. Jhoan Duran and Griffin Jax have been used back-to-back days. Emilio Pagan has been used four of the last six. Lesser relievers are available, but the best guys could be limited. Duran has already worked three games in three days once in the second half. I don’t think Rocco Baldelli wants to do it again with his prized closer.
So, I’ll go 1st 5 instead.
Pick: Twins 1st 5 (-120)
Jon Gray and Brandon Bielak are the listed starters for this one, as an important series between AL West hopefuls begins. Gray has a 3.31 ERA with a 4.44 xERA and a 4.47 FIP in his 103.1 innings of work on the season. It has been a bit of a struggle for Gray of late. He had that blister issue in June and has a 5.76 ERA with a 5.20 FIP in 29.2 innings of work over his last six outings.
That includes 4.1 shutout innings against the Rays on July 19, but he allowed eight hits and a walk over those 19 batters. He just happened to not allow a run, as he danced out of danger quite a bit. I’m not really sure what to think, as I felt like Gray was maybe an undervalued pitcher because he had seen a K% increase in late May and early June before this blister seemed to throw everything out of whack again. Righties are batting .262/.330/.361 against Gray compared to a .215/.289/.392 slash from lefties, so maybe finding some total bases props or something for Astros hitters is the best course of action here.
Bielak is a guy that I do want to fade. He has a 3.46 ERA with a 5.49 xERA and a 5.13 FIP over 65 innings pitched. He has a lot of regression signs. Along with the ERA-xERA-FIP numbers, he has an 82.7% LOB% with just an 18% K%. He has a 48.5% Hard Hit% and an 11.1% Barrel% against, so his .293 BABIP seems a little bit fortunate as well.
He’s allowed just two earned runs on seven hits in his last 17.2 innings of work, so these signs are building up even more. However, I just can’t trust Gray a whole lot. The Rangers are also missing a huge bat in Corey Seager, which certainly lowers their projection on a day-to-day basis. Adolis Garcia is also day-to-day after getting hit on the hand on Saturday.
Hopefully this isn’t the day when Bielak’s regression hits.
With Giants/Tigers already well underway by the time I posted the article, we’ll skip it and talk about the Orioles and Phillies. It will be Dean Kremer and Cristopher Sanchez here, as you can see what the market thinks about Kremer with the Phillies such a big favorite. It was a huge, emotional series for Baltimore over the weekend, so I’ll be really curious to see if they can keep up the intensity.
Kremer has a 4.80 ERA with a 5.64 xERA and a 5.05 FIP in his 108.2 innings of work. He’s actually 10-4 on the season despite those numbers, as he’s gotten quite a bit of run support. He allowed five runs to the Dodgers last time out after shutting down the Marlins in his first start back from the Break.
Kremer has some weird splits on the season. He’s allowed a .332 wOBA at home with a .250/.315/.453 slash, but has a 5.43 ERA in 59.2 innings with a 5.64 FIP. On the road, he’s allowed a .292/.340/.487 slash with a .356 wOBA, but has a 4.04 ERA with a 4.37 FIP. His K% is actually quite a bit higher (25.4%) than it is at home (18.9%), hence the FIP difference, but he’s allowed a .361 BABIP away from home.
Kremer has four starts with at least seven strikeouts and three have been on the road, including 10 K against the Yankees on July 5. When you look at his high-strikeout games, three of them have been against lineups that have a lot of righties. Lefties own a .302/.365/.547 slash with a .389 wOBA against him and have had success both at home and on the road. The Phillies will throw five lefties at him here, though three of the righties are Trea Turner, Nick Castellanos, and JT Realmuto, so some pretty decent players.
Sanchez has a 3.06 ERA with a 3.94 xERA and a 3.93 FIP in his 35.1 innings pitched. He’s allowed a 42.3% Hard Hit% and a 9.6% Barrel% in 104 batted ball events. He hasn’t faced many good lineups in his seven starts and this will be just his third start against a top-10 offense against lefties. The others were the Rays, who have been among the worst in baseball in that split since the start of June, and the Nationals. Baltimore is 11th in wOBA at .332 since June 15 against lefties.
I like the Over 9.5 here. I don’t think Brandon Hyde wants to use either of Felix Bautista or Yennier Cano today. Both guys have worked four of the last five days with two back-to-backs. That means lesser relievers will be called into action behind Kremer and I think it also means Kremer could be pushed, even if he’s struggling. I was told between that or the 1st 5 Over, but I think either one is good and Baltimore’s pen situation pushed me to the full game.
Pick: Over 9.5 (-110)
Jose Berrios and Michael Grove wrap up this slightly smaller card today. Berrios has been great in his last three starts, allowing just three runs on 12 hits in 18.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 19 and walked six. To me, this does feel like the type of start where he could struggle, since he allows a lot of hard contact and will have home run issues from time to time. He’s allowed 13 this season and been better about his contact management, but the Dodgers punish mistakes and Berrios is still making some.
Even though he’s been better in a lot of ways, he’s allowed a 45.3% Hard Hit% and a 12% Barrel% in his last five starts. I’ve been watching for some signs of the old Berrios showing up and it seems like maybe some of those are taking place.
Grove comes in with a 6.40 ERA, 5.18 xERA, and a 4.82 FIP, so there are some positive regression signs in the profile for him. He has a .348 BABIP against and a 64.8% LOB%. He threw five good innings against Baltimore last time out with one run on five hits, but he did allow 10 hard-hit balls over the course of that start and has allowed a 57.8% HH% in his three July appearances. He’s only allowed six runs on 16 hits in that span.
Tough game here. I could see a lot of runs, but good Berrios would keep the scoring down if he shows up. I think it’s a good one to bypass, as the Blue Jays offense is only 18th in wOBA against RHP since June 15 and only has a 99 wRC+ in that span.
Twins 1st 5 (-120)
BAL/PHI Over 9.5 (-110)