MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Tuesday, August 15th

By Adam Burke  ( 

August 15, 2023 12:37 PM

MLB schedule today has 15 games

Nine interleague games are on the board to make up 60% of tonight’s MLB card. There are only three games in the NL and three games in the AL, leaving us with what I believe is a season-high of NL vs. AL matchups. No day games are on the docket, so it’s a pretty standard Tuesday in that regard, but it is very fascinating to see so many crossover games. This is the clearest byproduct we’ve seen of the schedule distribution that was new for the 2023 season and I’m here for it.

We’ve also got a fair number of competitively-lined games today, so there should be some good wagering opportunities for August 15.

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Here are some thoughts on the August 15 card (odds from DraftKings):

Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Mets (-142, 9)

We start the card at Citi Field, where the Pirates and Mets will square off for the second night in a row. The Mets won 7-2 on Monday and have won back-to-back games for the first time since July 27-28. Three would tie the current high for the second half, achieved July 16-19. New York is favored to do so with David Peterson on the bump against Bailey Falter.

Peterson comes in with a 5.61 ERA, 4.94 xERA, and a 4.45 FIP over 69 innings pitched. He’s struck out 24.1% of batters, but also walked 9.8% and has allowed a sky-high .374 BABIP on the season. His 44.5% Hard Hit% certainly supports a high BABIP, but maybe not as high as this. He made it through 3.2 innings last time out against the Cubs with two runs allowed on four hits. He hasn’t gone more than 3.2 innings since July 8, so I would presume he’s somewhere around four innings here.

Bailey Falter has a 5.21 ERA with a 4.91 xERA and a 5.01 FIP in his 48.1 innings of work. Like Peterson, he’s running a high BABIP at .342, but unlike Peterson, his BB% is just 5.1%. He also has a 15.4% K%, so he’s more of a pitch-to-contact guy and that hasn’t worked out super well with a .315 BA against and a 64.1% LOB%. Falter just allowed four runs on eight hits to Atlanta in four innings. He’s allowed five runs on 14 hits in eight innings as a Pirate with just five strikeouts out of 39 batters faced.

There could be a lot of traffic on the basepaths in this one, so it will likely just come down to timing and sequencing. Which team finds more success with RISP? These are two bottom-10 offenses against lefties in the second half, so your guess is as good as mine with that one, even though the Mets clearly have bigger names in the lineup.

Rain and storms are a factor here, so this game could be delayed at some point.

Arizona Diamondbacks (-155, 12.5) at Colorado Rockies

In tonight’s biggest dumpster fire game, it will be reliever Joe Mantiply as the opener for Arizona and the Rockies will counter with Ty Blach. Blach has actually pitched well in a starting capacity for the Rockies, but I’ll get back to him in a second. 

Mantiply has allowed 16 runs on 22 hits in 20 innings of relief this season. This will be his first-ever MLB start. Since being recalled on August 2, he’s allowed six runs on six hits in just 4.1 innings of work. Mantiply pitched last night and allowed three runs on three hits against three batters faced, but he’ll be sent right back out there tonight to open.

Slade Cecconi is likely to be the bulk reliever. He’s made two MLB appearances and allowed two runs on five hits. He gave up both runs in his 4.2-inning start back on August 2. He worked 1.2 innings in relief last time out on the 11th. Cecconi had a 6.38 ERA with a 5.93 FIP in Triple-A over 103 innings with 23 home runs allowed.

Blach has a 4.22 ERA with a 6.17 xERA and a 4.83 FIP in his 32 innings of work. The veteran left-hander will make his fifth straight start here and he has allowed five runs on 16 hits in that role. He only has eight strikeouts out of 73 batters faced, which is downright terrifying, but he’s only walked four and only allowed a couple of homers. His only start at Coors Field in that span came on July 30 against Oakland and he scattered three hits over five shutout innings.

The Diamondbacks have a .295 wOBA and an 83 wRC+ against lefties in the second half, which has been propped up by a 9.6% BB%. The D-Backs only have a .350 SLG in that split. Of course, Colorado only has a .290 wOBA and a 65 wRC+, but Mantiply will open and then the right-handed Cecconi will come in.

Of course, Colorado also has a .293 wOBA and a 67 wRC+ against righties in the second half, including a 59 wRC+ at home. The numbers really are depressing, but I still think the Rockies have some equity today. Cecconi is a young arm with no exposure to Coors Field and that always worries me, especially with the balloon home run rate he had in the PCL, where there are a lot of parks at higher elevations. 

Furthermore, I just don’t think Arizona deserves a favorite role of this size in this game. The Rockies pen is in better shape from a fatigue standpoint and Arizona has lost 10 of 12 of late and 20 of 27 in the second half. They’re just not playing well enough. They’re not hitting well enough. I would think Colorado has more of a chance tonight than the line implies.

Pick: Rockies +130

Milwaukee Brewers at Los Angeles Dodgers (-218, 9)

It will be Adrian Houser and Bobby Miller here as the Brewers and Dodgers fire up a weekday set in Chavez Ravine. Houser heads into this one with a 4.38 ERA, 4.44 xERA, and a 4.22 FIP in 78 innings of work. He’s got an 18.1% K% with a 7.6% BB%, making him a pitch-to-contact guy and his .336 BABIP suggests that it’s been a struggle at times. He does have a 74% LOB%, though, so that’s why he’s been able to get by. 

In five starts in the second half, some regression has found him. He’s allowed 17 runs on 29 hits in 26.2 innings with a 5.74 ERA and a 64.8% LOB%. That’s not a good trend line to have going into a start against the Dodgers.

Miller has a 3.89 ERA with a 3.78 xERA and a 3.57 FIP in his 69.1 innings of work. The rookie right-hander has a 22.6% K% with a 7.2% BB% in his 13 starts. We’ve had three stages of Miller this season - the guy who allowed two runs over his first 23 innings; the guy who allowed 20 runs in his next four starts; and the guy who has allowed nine runs in his last five starts.

The All-Star Break was a good reset for Miller, who has a 2.84 ERA and a 3.35 FIP in 25.1 innings since the Midsummer Classic. He did walk four last time out against Arizona after only walking two in his first four second-half starts, but didn’t give up any runs. He’s only allowed four barrels in the second half and a 39.5% Hard Hit%, so he’s rebounded nicely for a Dodgers rotation that needed the help.

Nothing from me here, as the Dodgers are deservedly priced high.

Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins (-192, 8.5)

The Twins and Tigers run it back here with a game I lost the Under on last week. It will be Alex Faedo against Bailey Ober, but at Target Field this time. Ober allowed five runs on 11 hits in that start and has now had a couple of bad outings recently. He has a 3.40 ERA with a 3.79 FIP for the season, but he’s allowed 28 hits in his last 14 innings with 12 earned runs (13 total) against the Royals, Diamondbacks, and Tigers.

Ober generated a bunch of whiffs with a season-high 21.5% SwStr% against the Tigers in that start and struck out nine, but his batted ball luck was nowhere to be found. He’s had some command hiccups recently with seven homers allowed in five starts in the second half. Someone needs to hit the reset button with him and we’ll see if he can make some adjustments and get some better fortunes this time around against the Tigers.

I may have been a bit too optimistic on Faedo, who has a 5.80 ERA with a 4.47 xERA and a 5.18 FIP in 40.1 innings of work. His last start was his first one at the MLB level since July 23 and he allowed three runs on four hits with five strikeouts and a couple walks over 4.2 innings pitched.

Faedo has had issues staying healthy and also staying at the MLB level. Two bad starts skew his numbers a bit with six runs allowed against Texas and seven against Toronto. In his other six starts, he’s allowed 13 earned runs, but he’s just not all that trustworthy and I paid to learn that lesson last time out, although Ober was the worse of the two.

Somebody else can bet this game tonight. It won’t be me.

Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers (-180, 8.5)

Lucas Giolito and Jordan Montgomery square off in a battle of Trade Deadline acquisitions as the Angels and Rangers continue their series. The Trade Deadline proved to be much more fruitful for the Rangers, as they’ve been rolling since the calendar flipped to August and the Angels have gone in the opposite direction. Yesterday represented more of the same with a 12-0 Texas win.

Giolito had a decent homecoming with three runs allowed on three hits in six innings for his first home start as an Angel. It went better than his previous start when he allowed nine runs in 3.2 innings against the Braves and three runs on six hits (two homers) against the Blue Jays in his Angels debut. Giolito has had three big blow-ups accounting for 24 of the 66 earned runs he has allowed. For the most part, he’s been able to keep his team in the game, but that’s a tall task against the Rangers right now.

Not only does Texas have the big offensive upside, but the Rangers have allowed 27 runs in 12 games while going 10-2 in the month of August. After going 25-26 in June and July, they’ve really flipped the switch and are back to being one of the league’s best teams. Rotation reinforcements have helped, as Max Scherzer has been good and Montgomery has been his usual solid self.

Montgomery has allowed four runs on 13 hits in 12 innings with an 11/2 K/BB ratio against the Marlins and Athletics. This is a bit of a step up, as the Angels have a .326 wOBA and a 105 wRC+ against lefties in the second half. Miami’s performance against southpaws has really slacked off and the A’s have largely been a poor offense throughout the season.

It’s been a strong season for the impending free agent in Montgomery, who should get a nice payday after the season. He’s got a 3.38 ERA with a 3.78 FIP and has allowed three or fewer runs in 18 of his 23 starts.

I wouldn’t be surprised if running back the Rangers run line works again tonight, much like it did last night, but Montgomery doesn’t have as much strikeout upside as Scherzer, so that adds a little more variance to the game. I’m not on it tonight, but I wouldn’t blame anybody who is.

Seattle Mariners (-142, 9.5) at Kansas City Royals

The Mariners have suffered a couple of setbacks recently and last night was a tough one to swallow. Seattle trailed 5-0 entering the eighth and scored four runs there before taking the lead with two runs in the ninth, only to blow the lead and suffer a 7-6 defeat. Seattle surely could’ve used Paul Sewald last night, but it was Matt Brash who tried to lock down the save and failed.

I guess I buried the lede here. Jordan Lyles is starting for the Royals. He has a 6.13 ERA with a 4.94 xERA and a 5.25 FIP. The Royals have lost 19 of his 22 starts. Kansas City has scored 9, 10, and 7 runs in the games that they’ve won. They’ve even lost a game when they gave Lyles 10 runs of support back on May 26 against Washington.

Lyles had been pitching a little bit better, but he’s now allowed 17 runs in his last four starts, so he’s been making life difficult on himself and his team again, but he’s been eating up innings. He just worked eight innings in a losing effort against Boston with four runs allowed on seven hits. I made a case recently about Lyles getting better and looked smart for a moment there, as his 56% LOB% is unsustainable over a long period of time, but he has a 59.9% LOB% in his last four starts and still has a 6.46 ERA, so it is what it is I guess.

Emerson Hancock gets the call today for the M’s, as he allowed a run on two hits over five innings in his debut back on August 9. He struck out three, walked three, and allowed just a 35.7% Hard Hit%. He had a 4.32 ERA with a 4.12 FIP in his 98 innings at Double-A and did have a bit of a walk rate issue with a 9.2% BB%, but also had a 26% K% to wipe out some of those free passes.

Nothing from me on this one. I gave a little thought to the Over 9, but I’m not sure what Hancock does here, and it went up to 9.5. The Mariners pen has worn L’s the last three days, though, so maybe a live Over isn’t a bad idea as Hancock turns the lineup over.

Cleveland Guardians at Cincinnati Reds (-112, 9.5)

The Ohio Cup is on the line over the next four games between the Guardians and Reds. The teams will play two in Cincinnati this week and two in Cleveland on September 26-27, which is hella random as the playoff picture is shaking out. The Reds have not won the Ohio Cup since 2014, as a tie gives the prestigious trophy back to the previous winner. The teams have tied 2-2 and 3-3 over the last two seasons, with Cleveland winning outright in 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Now that your history lesson on the Ohio Cup is over, let’s get to the game. Logan Allen and Graham Ashcraft are the listed hurlers here, as Allen is one of just two left-handed starters out of the 18 that will begin tonight’s interleague games. Allen has a 3.55 ERA with a 4.47 xERA and a 4.09 FIP in his 91.1 innings of work. Since getting recalled when Shane Bieber hit the IL after the All-Star Break, he’s got a 3.72 ERA with a 4.93 FIP over five starts and 29 innings.

Allen has 25 strikeouts against 11 walks, but he only has 17 strikeouts in his last 24 innings. He’s allowed five homers in that span and a 38.3% Hard Hit% with a 9.9% Barrel%. The Reds only have a .291 wOBA with a 74 wRC+ against lefties in the second half. Most notably, they only have a .260 wOBA and a 48 wRC+ at home against lefties since the Break.

Ashcraft has a 4.95 ERA with a 5.08 xERA and a 5.13 FIP in 120 innings of work. The right-hander has had a weird season, but he’s been very effective since June 30 with a 1.94 ERA over his last eight starts. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of those outings. He does have a 4.57 FIP in that span, though, and is running a .234 BABIP with a 94.8% LOB%. He will face Jose Ramirez tonight, as J-Ram’s two-game suspension wrapped up on Sunday.

I really want to fade Ashcraft and fade those BABIP and LOB% numbers, but my trust level in this Cleveland offense is, um, low. After having a little fun in June and July, they’re back to a .273 wOBA and a 70 wRC+ in August. They have been incredibly bad against lefties and better against righties, so maybe they do hit Ashcraft, but this just isn’t a very good baseball team.

Houston Astros (-125, 9) at Miami Marlins

Cristian Javier and Johnny Cueto meet down in Miami after the Marlins won with the help of back-to-back-to-back jacks off of Framber Valdez and Hector Neris in the eighth inning. This will be Cueto’s fifth start and sixth appearance since returning from the IL on July 16. He allowed one run over his first nine innings, but has allowed 11 runs in his last 17 innings, including five homers, over the last three starts. 

He hasn’t been hit terribly hard in that stretch and has only allowed 14 hits, but five have left the yard. He’s also only allowed four walks out of 66 batters, so it’s not like there has been a ton of traffic, but the long ball has been problematic. He has only allowed a 33.3% Hard Hit%, but five barrels have been the issue. Overall, Cueto has a 4.15 ERA with a 4.81 FIP since coming back. He had a really bad first start that doesn’t really matter much now.

Javier has a 4.36 ERA with a 4.68 xERA and a 4.59 FIP as one of the most disappointing starters in baseball this season. His ERA is nearly two runs higher than last season, his xERA is over two runs higher, and his FIP is nearly 1.5 runs higher. His K% is down nearly 11% and he’s allowed more homers (18) in 117.2 innings than he allowed last season (17) in 148.2 innings. 

His results have been a bit better in the second half, though I’m not sure that the quality of his stuff has been. Javier allowed eight runs to the Rangers in his final start before the Break, but has allowed 13 runs in five starts since. He had 13 days off before making his July 16 start against the Angels and allowed three runs on five hits. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of these last five starts and has a 4.44 ERA, but he has a 5.78 FIP with a 28/16 K/BB ratio and has still allowed five home runs.

At first glance, I felt like this line was low on the Houston side. The Marlins have hit lefties way better than righties throughout the season and have a .295 wOBA with an 85 wRC+ against righties in the second half. They also only have a 5.8% BB%, so that could help Javier. The park factor should probably help as well, as loanDepot Park ranks 29th in homers this season with 110. Javier is a fly ball guy and this is a pretty good place to be one.

Houston has also hit lefties better in the second half, but the Astros do have a .328 wOBA and a 110 wRC+ against righties in the second half and Cueto is average at best at this point. Ultimately, though, I’m going to stay away, as the odds that both starters cancel out and it becomes a bullpen battle seems too likely for my liking. Cueto is a crafty guy, so he rarely gets completely shelled and Javier is a shell of his former self.

Boston Red Sox (-170, 9.5) at Washington Nationals

Nick Pivetta gets another start here as the Red Sox host the Nationals. Pivetta has a 4.16 ERA with a 4.08 xERA and a 4.37 FIP on the season, but he has a 2.67 ERA with a 3.41 FIP in 57.1 innings since he got moved to the bullpen after his disastrous May 16 start. He’s made two starts over his last three appearances and they’ve been solid. He’s allowed a total of eight runs on 15 hits (5 HR) in his last 16.1 innings of work.

The two starts came on July 31 and August 9 and he allowed five runs on nine hits with 18 strikeouts. His resurgence as a pitcher has been a big development for the Red Sox and I honestly thought they’d take a look at trading him when his value was really high, but Boston still has playoff aspirations and moving one of their better arms would’ve been counterproductive to that quest.

He should be in line for another good start here, as the Nationals hit lefties well, but only have a .310 wOBA and a 91 wRC+ against righties in the second half. That being said, the Nationals are also one of the league’s top teams in strikeout avoidance. Pivetta’s potential was largely unlocked by jacking up his K%. To his credit, he has cut his Hard Hit% down to 35.2% this season, but he’s allowed some hard contact recently, including five barrels in his last three appearances.

Josiah Gray has been a regression candidate most of the season for the Nationals. He has a 3.69 ERA with a 4.74 FIP and an 80.4% LOB% with a below average K%. Gray seems to be experiencing some of that lately with nine runs allowed on 10 hits in his last 8.1 innings of work. He’s on six days rest here and was on six days rest in his last start, so we’ll see how it goes for him. I’m not enamored with the profile and he has a 4.78 ERA with a 4.60 FIP since the All-Star Break in five starts with an 18/12 K/BB ratio.

Weather could push this one into a late start and I’m always wary of that because teams sometimes want to just get the game over with and not play all that late into the night. I think the move to push the total up to 9.5 is the right one here and I will not be invested.

Philadelphia Phillies (-115, 7.5) at Toronto Blue Jays

We’ve got a good one here between the Phillies and Blue Jays. The other left-handed starter on today’s interleague card is Toronto’s Yusei Kikuchi. The Blue Jays will deal with right-hander Zack Wheeler, who probably took note of what fellow righties Gavin Williams and Tanner Bibee did to the Jays last week.

Toronto is 25th in wOBA at .290 with an 83 wRC+ against righties in the month of August. They’ve run into some tough customers, but they’ve also really had problems in that split. Their .338 SLG in that split is the second-lowest in baseball in that span. That should bode well for Wheeler, who has a 3.74 ERA with a 3.32 xERA and a 3.06 FIP on the season. His ERA has been coming down as it catches up to his advanced metrics, which have been better than that throughout the year.

Wheeler has a 3.03 ERA in his last six starts and has not allowed more than three runs in any of them. He has a 43/3 K/BB ratio in 38.2 innings. He has allowed seven homers in that stretch, including four in his last two starts, but has done a really good job overall. I will say, though, that he only had a 6.3% SwStr% last time out against the Nationals and his 95 mph average fastball velocity tied for the second-lowest of the season. Washington is good at making contact and great at strikeout avoidance, but I am a tad worried to see that. His average FB velo for the season is 95.9 mph.

Kikuchi has a 3.53 ERA with a 4.26 xERA and a 4.52 FIP this season. He’s got terrific K/BB numbers and has an 84.5% LOB% that is the reason why his ERA is so much lower than his run estimators. He’s been outstanding lately. In five starts since the All-Star Break, he hasn’t allowed a home run. He’s allowed a total of four earned runs on 23 hits in 29 innings with a 53.2% GB% and a 1.24 ERA with a 2.41 FIP. He’s faced a good mix of offenses in that stretch with starts against the Diamondbacks, Mariners, Dodgers, Orioles, and Guardians. 

In that span, Kikuchi has only allowed a 33.8% Hard Hit% and a 2.6% Barrel%. This will be a good test for him, as the Phillies rank fourth in wOBA at .362 and have a 126 wRC+ in the second half against southpaws. The Phillies have those good numbers despite a 24.1% K% against lefties, which is the second-highest of any team in the top 12 in wOBA. They’re drawing walks at a 12.4% clip, which is something that hasn’t been a problem for Kikuchi this season.

But, all of this is already priced into that 7.5 total. I don’t see a big enough edge between the pitchers to pick a side. Kikuchi is locked in right now, but Wheeler is also throwing well and the Blue Jays have had huge issues against righties of late. Great game, interesting handicap, no bet.

New York Yankees at Atlanta Braves (-218, 10.5)

We’ll test the “baseball makes no sense” theory today when Luis Severino takes on the Braves. Atlanta has hit basically everybody all season long and this would seem to be a good matchup against Severino, who has an 8.06 ERA with a 6.75 xERA and a 6.65 FIP. He has allowed 18 runs on 20 hits in his last 9.1 innings of work against the Orioles, Astros, and White Sox. If we remove his first two starts of the season from the equation, he has a 9.46 ERA with a 7.28 FIP over 52.1 innings.

If we look since the start of July, Severino has an 11.71 ERA with a 7.75 FIP. It is honestly sad to see. He’s allowed a 45.5% Hard Hit% with an 11.2% Barrel% in 224 batted ball events on the season. His velo has been down in his last two outings as well, so I think he’s probably hurt again or at least pitching through some sort of discomfort.

Bryce Elder goes for the Braves tonight with a 3.64 ERA, 4.44 xERA, and a 4.30 FIP in 131 innings of work. He’s got a 52.3% GB% to go with a low strikeout rate and a good walk rate, so he’s a pitch-to-contact guy who relies on the defense. Recently, he’s had some issues. He’s allowed 12 runs on 13 hits in his last 9.1 innings. He also struggled before and after the All-Star Break, allowing seven runs in consecutive starts.

There will be a lot of liability for the books on the Braves Team Total Over and probably the Yes Run First Inning here. I can’t argue with any of it. I’m not going to be invested here, though the Braves may very well get this game over the total themselves. I don’t trust the Yankees offense to really hold up its end of the bargain if Atlanta can’t get the majority of the way there.

This might be a KISS handicap, where keeping it simple stupid is the way to go. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised, but I’m not in on it.

Oakland Athletics at St. Louis Cardinals (-230, 9.5)

Spenser Watkins gets the start for Oakland today against Dakota Hudson as this is one of the uglier pitching matchups of the day. Watkins has spent the season in Triple-A or hurt, so we don’t really have much to go on here. What I can tell you is that he had an 8.35 ERA over 46.1 innings in Triple-A with a 36/31 K/BB ratio for the Orioles and Astros. He’s allowed a .325 BA and had a 5.28 FIP, so there was some bad luck in there, but you can also make your own breaks and he hasn’t made many.

As a Major Leaguer, Watkins has a 5.85 ERA with a 4.97 FIP and a 4.99 xFIP in 160 innings. If the Orioles and Astros couldn’t fix him and figure him out, I’m not very optimistic about how the rest of his career will go.

Hudson has a 4.31 ERA with a 5.01 xERA and a 4.87 FIP on the season over 31.1 innings. As I mentioned prior to his last start, he’s getting a golden opportunity with the trades of Jordan Montgomery and Jack Flaherty (who both start today for their new teams) to make an impact going into 2024.

Since getting stretched out a bit in his last three outings, he’s allowed 11 runs on 18 hits over 16.1 innings pitched. He’s given up three homers and has a 12/6 K/BB ratio. We are not going to get many swings and misses in this game I wouldn’t think. We’re going to get lots of balls in play and Hudson will also issue some walks to create more traffic on the bases.

Oakland actually has a .320 wOBA and a 108 wRC+ against RHP in the month of August. The offense looks a lot better with Zach Gelof out there. Another factor in this total is that the A’s pen has worked a good bit the last three days and there aren’t likely to be a lot of good options, which will either force Watkins to wear one or make the A’s make a move quick to some already-tired relievers.

Three relievers for the Cardinals have worked two of the last three days and worked yesterday, so their pen isn’t in the best of spots tonight either. It’s a hefty total, but I think we can get to double digits. The Cardinals have been a top-10 offense most of the season and that’s true of them this month, as they are eighth in wOBA and have a 121 wRC+ against righties.

Pick: Over 9.5 (-105)

Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs (-185, 8.5)

Touki Toussaint and Kyle Hendricks are the listed starters here, as the South Siders head north to take on the Cubs. The White Sox have gotten the full Toussaint experience since the All-Star Break, as he has a 5.24 ERA with a 4.79 FIP in 22.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 25, but also walked 14. He had five scoreless innings against Cleveland, but has also allowed 13 runs in his other three starts. 

Toussaint has 18 strikeouts in his last 10.1 innings against the Rangers and Yankees, so he’s had the swing and miss stuff working, but he’s also allowed eight runs on 11 hits and four barrels with a 47.8% Hard Hit%. So, it’s the full gamut and that means he’s probably in line for something similar today against the Cubs, who are second to the Braves in wOBA against righties in the month of August and first in the second half.

Hendricks comes in with a 3.96 ERA, 4.14 xERA, and a 4.20 FIP in 86.1 innings of work. He got hammered by the Braves two starts ago, but rebounded with five decent innings against the Mets. Hendricks has limited the opposition to a 31.6% Hard Hit%, so he’s basically been the guy we’ve always known him to be, just with fewer strikeouts this season. He’s also allowed 11 homers, which is on the high side, but he allowed four of them in one of his 15 starts.

Not much betting value in this game to me, as the Cubs should take care of business, but it’s a steep price to pay.

Baltimore Orioles at San Diego Padres (-130, 8.5)

Michael Wacha returns from an extended IL stint to take on Jack Flaherty and the Orioles. Wacha has made one MLB start since June 19 and that July 1 outing was a good one against the Reds with five innings of one-run ball. He has a 2.84 ERA with a 3.73 FIP in 85.2 innings on the season, but he was sidelined with a shoulder issue and only made one rehab appearance that lasted two innings 10 days ago.

It’s all well and good that he’s been throwing side sessions and sim games and it does appear that teams are prioritizing that route over the traditional rehab start. I’m sure there’s a good reason for it, as people in those front offices are smarter than me, but it does strike me as concerning. Wacha did throw five innings and 67 pitches against minor leaguers in Arizona late last week, so I guess that served as a tune-up for his return.

As it is, Wacha was a negative regression candidate with a 4.20 xERA and an 80.9% LOB%, so I’d be surprised if he’s entirely sharp here in this one.

This will be Flaherty’s third start with Baltimore. For the season as a whole, he’s got a 4.33 ERA with a 4.56 xERA and a 4.12 FIP over 120.2 innings of work. In two starts with the Orioles, he’s faced the Blue Jays and Astros and has 16 strikeouts over 11 innings with four runs allowed on 10 hits. He’s only walked four and hasn’t walked more than three in a start since June 7, so that high BB% that he has really isn’t as much of a concern as it seems.

He’s allowed just a 6.4% Barrel% and a 35.8% Hard Hit%, so he’s done a good job with his contact management numbers. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the Orioles end up making a pitch to re-sign him after the season if he’s able to really improve his supplemental skills with an organization that is doing all kinds of special things.

I like Flaherty over his former teammate here. The question is whether or not to take the 1st 5 or the full game. Baltimore’s pen is a consideration. If Yennier Cano and Felix Bautista were called into action, it would be a 4-in-6 for each, with a B2B for Bautista. It would also be 3-in-4 for Mike Baumann and Cionel Perez, while Jacob Webb would be throwing 5-in-7.

Because Brandon Hyde leverages his pen well and has a real good pulse on the team, along with the emergence of fresh right-hander Shintaro Fujinami, I’ll take the extra 10 cents and take the +110 on Baltimore over the +100 for the 1st 5, where DraftKings has a 30-cent spread.

Like usual, you can shop around and 5-7 cents better on the moneyline and also find some 20-cent spreads on the 1st 5 that lead to +105 or even a rogue +115 out there on the 1st 5. I like both and think Baltimore wins, but the official pick is the full game. For you, shop around and decide which one has the most line equity attached to it.

Pick: Orioles +110

Tampa Bay Rays (-112, 8.5) at San Francisco Giants

It looks like we’re going to get a piggyback for the Giants on Tuesday, as right-hander Jakob Junis will start and left-hander Sean Manaea will follow. The Giants opted to roll with righty Tristan Beck yesterday after Ryan Walker and it did not go well, as Beck followed up Walker’s two scoreless innings by allowing five runs on 10 hits in just three innings.

It was a good win for the Rays, who are without Wander Franco on this trip and got six strong innings from Tyler Glasnow. They’ll send out Zack Littell today, as he has a 4.10 ERA with a 4.81 xERA and a 3.54 FIP in 41.2 innings of work this season. Littell is somebody I pegged as a regression candidate going into his last start against the Cardinals and he gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings. Technically, there was some regression, but not as much as I had hoped holding an over bet.

Littell has a 2.42 ERA with a 3.05 FIP in 22.1 innings in the second half. He has a 17/1 K/BB ratio and has only allowed one home run. I was expecting more regression because he’s allowed a 47.9% Hard Hit% in 73 batted ball events and eight barrels. I don’t think there’s a lot of depth to the arsenal to keep turning lineups over and to keep evading all the punishments from hard contact. But, it didn’t happen last time out and the Giants have been putrid offensively this month with 39 runs scored in 12 games.

Junis has a 4.36 ERA with a 3.83 xERA and a 4.13 FIP in 64 innings. This will be just his second start of the season, but he’s been a multi-inning relief weapon all year long. He hasn’t thrown more than three innings since June 22, so we’ll see how far the Giants push him. Getting to Manaea may make more sense, as the Rays are 28th in wOBA at .269 and have a 74 wRC+ against southpaws in the second half.

That said, Manaea has a 5.10 ERA with a 4.44 xERA and a 3.58 FIP in 77.2 innings of work. He has only allowed one run in his last five appearances, but two were under an inning and another was under two innings. He hasn’t pitched since August 9, but he’s about guaranteed to work in this one.

I don’t have anything here. I think Littell is a regression candidate, but the Giants aren’t the team to bet on in hopes of getting some. 

TL;DR Recap

Rockies +130

OAK/STL Over 9.5 (-105)

Orioles +110

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