MLB schedule today has 15 games
The 3-3-9 format is alive and well again on Wednesday, as we’ll see three games in the NL, three games in the AL, and nine interleague games on Hump Day. All 30 teams take the field today and only 12 take the field tomorrow, so it will be a travel day for some or a day of rest for others. Perhaps that leads to a few lookahead spots today, as we’ve got a handful of getaway day games and the rest of the action will be at night.
There are a lot of big favorite roles on the diamond today and that will likely be the norm going forward now that the playoff picture has sorted itself out and a lot of teams are going through the motions until the end of the season.
Something to keep in mind as we dig into the Wednesday slate.
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Here are some thoughts on the August 16 card (odds from DraftKings):
It was a day to forget on the diamond yesterday, as the Rockies took a 5-3 lead into the ninth and left the inning trailing 8-5. That blown save was the cherry on top of a feces sundae, as the Cardinals scored four in the first inning and two runs the rest of the game to keep that one under the total and the Orioles gave up five in the first and lost by a 100. But, this Rockies blown save was the one that really hurt.
We’ll see if that’s the catalyst for Arizona, who has still lost 10 of 13 and 20 of 28 here in the second half. Slade Cecconi will actually start today after Bryce Jarvis was used as the bulk reliever yesterday following Joe Mantiply, Austin Gomber gets the call for the Rockies, who are just 4-10 in August themselves.
Gomber has at least been a bright spot recently. He has a 5.33 ERA with a 5.57 xERA and a 5.20 FIP in 125 innings pitched over 24 starts this season, but he has allowed exactly two earned runs in six of his last nine starts. In the others, he has allowed zero runs twice and four runs once. Dating back to June 25, Gomber has a 2.72 ERA with a 3.46 FIP, so he’s really performed well in that span. He does only have a 31/8 K/BB ratio, but he’s also only allowed three homers and a .312 BABIP.
That being said, his Hard Hit% is 42.2%, so I’m not sure how sustainable all the sequencing luck will be with a low K%. He only has a 14.4% K% in that span and that typically won’t support a 78% LOB%. If the Diamondbacks are able to use last night as a spark, maybe this is where some Gomber regression leaks into the picture.
Cecconi has allowed two runs on five hits in 6.1 innings at the MLB level this season. He’s got a 6.38 ERA with a 5.96 FIP in Triple-A over 103 innings with 23 homers allowed and 113 total hits. His 104/29 K/BB ratio is really nice, but the command metrics don’t look to be all that nice. Most Triple-A parks in the PCL are at some kind of elevation. Coors Field is the MLB equivalent. That was a big part of the reason why I liked the Rockies yesterday, but they wound up holding Cecconi back to start today.
We’ll see what happens here. It’s a day game with no lead time, but I may just swear off both of these teams for a while.
One of two games today with all left-handed starters will feature a couple veterans as Wade Miley and Clayton Kershaw head out for their respective teams. Miley comes in as a pretty obvious regression candidate with a 2.90 ERA, 4.69 xERA, and a 4.42 FIP in his 77.2 innings of work. He’s done well to limit walks, but he has a .246 BABIP against with an 84% LOB% and just a 17% K%. He’s made two starts since returning from three weeks on the IL and has allowed two runs on five hits in 10 hits.
He only has seven strikeouts against five walks in that span, but the BABIP and sequencing gods have been on his side against the Nationals and Rockies. Let’s see if they’ve made a trip out to Dodger Stadium to keep Miley’s numbers in tip-top shape. He’s missed almost two months collectively on the IL this season, so it’s pretty hard to look at bigger samples of his stats. Since coming back from the IL the first time on June 17, he’s got a 2.00 ERA over seven starts.
Speaking of IL returns, Kershaw just made one himself, as he allowed one run on three hits over five solid innings against the Rockies last Thursday. He has a 2.51 ERA with a 3.49 xERA and a 3.56 FIP in his 100.1 innings of work. He’s got all of the usual Kershaw peripherals with a good strikeout rate, good walk rate, and a high LOB% because he’s pretty unflappable in any situation and has the stuff to back it up.
He went from June 27 to August 10 on the IL, so I’m not going to be surprised if there are a few hiccups here and there, but he does have a 100% LOB% in every start since June 2, as his five runs allowed have all scored on solo homers. Nothing from me in this one, but I thought that was a very interesting stat.
Reid Detmers and Jon Gray get together here as the Rangers look for a sweep of this three-game series. The run line did cover easily yesterday for Texas once again, as Jordan Montgomery fired six excellent innings and Lucas Giolito battled through six okay innings against a terrific Rangers lineup. But, it wasn’t enough and Texas just kept on rolling and the Angels just kept on falling.
This is the smallest line of the series with Gray and Detmers. I think it happens to be a touch on the high side, but I don’t have much interest in fading the Rangers, who are now 20-9 in the second half and 12-2 in August, outscoring the opposition by 52 runs. The Angels are 14-16 in the second half, as they played just well enough to fake owner Arte Moreno into thinking they could be a playoff team before bottoming out in August with a 3-11 record.
Detmers has a 5.27 ERA with a 4.63 xERA and a 4.31 FIP, but those numbers aren’t really indicative to me of how he’s thrown the ball this season. He has a .335 BABIP against and has allowed 17 homers, but he also has a 27.8% K% and has only allowed a 6.9% Barrel%.
That being said, he has allowed six barrels in his last two starts and has allowed a 47.1% Hard Hit% in five starts since the Break, so he isn’t exactly pitching well in that span. He’s allowed 22 runs on 30 hits in 22 innings, so this recent stretch has really made things look a whole lot worse. He has allowed seven runs in back-to-back starts over just 6.1 innings as well.
Gray has a 3.65 ERA with a 4.23 xERA and a 4.10 FIP in his 120.2 innings of work. That doesn’t really tell the whole story, though, as he has a 5.73 ERA in his last nine starts. He did just throw seven shutout innings against the Giants five days ago to get back on track and does have 19 strikeouts in his last 17.1 innings, so maybe things are slowly getting back to normal after the blister that took him completely out of rhythm.
Detmers has been so incredibly bad that it’s hard to see him turning it around in this matchup, but if the Angels are going to steal a game in this series, I would have pegged it to be this one.
Johnny Wholestaff Day for the Royals will begin with James McArthur, while the plan is much simpler for the Mariners because Luis Castillo will get the ball. The Mariners narrowly escaped another gut-wrenching loss last night, as they blew a three-run lead in the ninth before scoring two runs in the 10th to win 10-8. It was another ugly start for Jordan Lyles, but also a poor start from Emerson Hancock.
The Mariners pen has been used a ton in this series and overall, which is the byproduct of close games. Andres Munoz threw 42 pitches yesterday and is definitely unavailable today. Justin Topa has worked three straight days. Gabe Speier, Matt Brash, and Tayler Saucedo would all be working 3-in-4, with Saucedo actually working three straight. So, that’s the concern here today for Seattle. They’d really like a good, long start from Castillo.
He comes in with a 3.14 ERA, 3.70 xERA, and a 3.92 FIP in 143.1 innings of work. However, he has much worse numbers on the road. While his ERA is fine at 3.75, he does have a 4.59 FIP in his 60 road innings. His slash line (BA/OBP/SLG) is higher on the road by 46/46/87 points and his wOBA against is 53 points higher. His K% is 7.8% lower on the road as well. Specifically, lefties own a .360 wOBA against him away from T-Mobile Park.
McArthur will open for the Royals here in advance of Alec Marsh. McArthur has allowed nine runs on 12 hits in 31 batters faced at the MLB level since being acquired from Philadelphia and making his MLB debut. To be fair, he allowed seven runs in his debut against Cleveland back on June 28 and has allowed two runs on six hits in five innings since getting recalled on August 6.
Marsh has a 6.27 ERA with a 6.06 xERA and a 7.18 FIP in 33 innings pitched. He’s allowed 24 runs on 36 hits with a 35/19 K/BB ratio. He’s made six starts and two relief appearances, with one as a bulk effort against Boston last time out, where he allowed two runs on six hits.
Tough handicap here, as Castillo on the road is a bit of a concern, but the McArthur/Marsh piggyback doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence either. Maybe this one is another slugfest. The first two games have had 13 and 18 runs in the heat of the Kansas City summer.
Aaron Civale and Ryan Walker are the listed starters here, but it is Ross Stripling bulk day for the Giants, unless they pull a late switcheroo. This getaway day game by the bay will be Civale’s third start as a Ray and they’re all very important from this point forward based on all the injuries the rotation has suffered. He has allowed five runs on 16 hits in 9.1 innings with just six strikeouts out of 46 batters faced.
Civale has only issued one walk and hasn’t allowed a homer. In today’s game, it really comes down to that. Don’t give free baserunners and don’t give up long balls. He has a 2.61 ERA with a 3.41 FIP for the season over 86.1 innings pitched and has been effective when healthy, but health has been an issue and health is a major issue right now for the Rays organization, who has gotten a rash of Tommy John cases all at once.
Walker has made nine starts out of his 31 appearances and has a 2.28 ERA with a 2.54 xERA and a 3.52 FIP in 43.1 innings pitched. Since the Break, Walker has worked 20.1 innings and allowed a total of three runs on 13 hits, with four opener roles, including three of at least two innings. That’s what he did two days ago with two scoreless frames against Tampa before Tristan Beck had a rough day.
Stripling has a 5.10 ERA with a 5.15 xERA and a 5.26 FIP, but that doesn’t paint an accurate picture of how things have been lately. Stripling has worked 72.1 innings, but he’s been a changed man since returning from the IL on June 28. Prior to his IL stint, Stripling had a 7.24 ERA with a 6.70 FIP in 32.1 innings.
He has a 3.38 ERA with a 4.09 FIP in his last 40 innings. He also has a 32/1 K/BB ratio, which is downright insane. This should be a good one, but it’s a day game and I don’t have a lot of lead time on it to suggest something one way or the other. Truth be told, it’s lined pretty fairly anyway, since I do like the Walker/Stripling combo, but the Giants haven’t really scored many runs lately.
Justin Verlander and Jesus Luzardo make up a really good pitching matchup down at loanDepot Park. The Astros were a short favorite across the board for this one, as the line did swing a little in the early afternoon, but we’ve got a really interesting set of stats with Luzardo and the Houston lineup. The Astros are third in the second half against lefties with a .365 wOBA and a 135 wRC+. They also have the most plate appearances against lefties in that split, so we’re talking about a good sample size.
Luzardo has a 3.31 ERA in 81.2 innings at home with a .224/.287/.375 slash against and a .287 wOBA. His K% at home is 30.2%, so he’s been dominant in that regard as well. However, Luzardo did just get smashed at home by the Yankees to the tune of seven runs on nine hits in 3.1 innings. He’s now allowed 15 runs on 22 hits in his last three starts with 13 strikeouts against six walks.
In five starts since the All-Star Break, Luzardo has allowed a 54.1% Hard Hit% with a 10.8% Barrel%. He’s given up 19 runs on 31 hits in 24.1 innings in that span and that even includes a start with 13 strikeouts against the Rockies back on July 23. I don’t see any injury indicators from a velo or spin rate standpoint, but I think he could simply be getting tired. Luzardo set a career-high with 100.1 MLB innings last season and he’s thrown 133.2 already this season. He threw 112 total last season and that was an all-time high.
Verlander will make his third start since returning to the Astros. He has allowed five runs on 13 hits in 13 innings of work with 11 strikeouts against two walks. He has allowed five barrels in those two starts, but only 14 hard-hit balls total out of 40 batted ball events. He draws a Marlins bunch that ranks 27th in wOBA against righties in the second half at .295 with a 85 wRC+. On the whole, the Marlins are 24th in wOBA against righties at .303 with a 91 wRC+ for the season. They’ve been much better against lefties all year long.
I’m on the Astros here at the short price. Respect to Luzardo for what he’s done this season, but the fuel light may be on at this point and the Marlins are going to have to figure something out because it could be a long month and a half for him if he’s supposed to keep going with the playoff push in mind.
Pick: Astros -110
I’m not a Noah Syndergaard fan by any means, but this number shocked me a little bit. The betting markets came in heavy on the Reds and Andrew Abbott, who is having a tremendous season, but a lot of this also has to do with how inept the Guardians are against lefties. Still, it was striking to see Cleveland at this price, since it has only really happened against elite teams or really good starters.
Maybe Abbott is exactly that. He has a 2.95 ERA with a 3.44 xERA and a 3.86 FIP in 76.1 innings of work. He’s a little bit of a negative regression candidate with an 84.5% LOB%, but he’s got over a strikeout per inning and he’s a fly ball guy, so a .257 BABIP is somewhat sustainable. Still, Abbott has allowed 12 runs on 18 hits in his last three starts over 14.2 innings of work for some of that regression to take hold.
The issue here is that the Cleveland offense is abhorrent against lefties and even Jose Ramirez has been awful in that split. Here in the second half, Cleveland has 353 PA against lefties, which ranks seventh. They rank 30th in wOBA at .250, 13 points lower than Tampa Bay. They have a 55 wRC+, which is the worst in the league by 12 points over the Giants and Rockies. They simply stink against lefties and have all year.
For the full season, Cleveland is 30th with a .284 wOBA and only Colorado has a worse wRC+. Remember that wRC+ is park-adjusted, so Coors Field is very much taken into consideration here.
That puts a lot of pressure on Thor, who has a 6.35 ERA with a 6.10 xERA and a 5.79 FIP in 72.1 innings for the season. As a Guardian, he has a 3.71 ERA, but a 6.62 FIP, as he’s run a .245 BABIP against and a 92.4% LOB%. He allowed five runs on nine hits to the White Sox on August 5, but allowed one run in 5.1 against the Astros and one run in 5.2 against the Blue Jays in the other two starts. He only has eight strikeouts against 72 batters faced.
Regression is really staring him in the face and I guess that’s another reason for the Cleveland fade today. I’m not on the game with all of those factors. For some reason, I won’t be shocked if the Guardians win, though.
Paul Blackburn and Matthew Liberatore are listed for this one and St. Louis is a heavy favorite. It is a little bit presumptuous to make Liberatore this big of a favorite, given that he has a 5.72 ERA with a 6.50 xERA and a 4.61 FIP in his 45.2 innings at the MLB level, but it is the A’s and they have won under 28% of their games this season. They’ve also lost five in a row.
Maybe Liberatore also showed some signs of life, much to my chagrin, last time out against the Rays with eight shutout innings and seven strikeouts. It was Liberatore’s first pro start ever of more than seven shutout innings and his first over six innings since he was pitching in A-ball in 2019. To say that it was unexpected is to sell the word short.
He allowed five runs on six hits in the start prior to that and hadn’t made an MLB start since July 5 when he allowed six of seven batters to reach and gave up four runs against the Marlins. I guess what I’m saying is that you can’t script luck that bad and that I have no idea what the hell he’ll do today against a bad Oakland team.
Blackburn has a 4.52 ERA with a 3.95 xERA and a 3.73 FIP in his 65.2 innings of work this season. He gave up four runs on eight hits in his most recent start against Washington, but had pitched well in three starts prior to that. He’s struggled on the road over 28.2 innings with a 5.34 ERA, .376 wOBA against, and a big drop in K%.
Couldn’t pay me to bet this game.
James Paxton takes the mound for the Red Sox in the middle game of this interleague set. MacKenzie Gore will be on the other side for the Nationals, as this is the other game with two left-handed starters. Paxton has a 3.36 ERA with a 3.32 xERA and a 3.87 FIP in his 80.1 innings and has allowed a total of seven earned runs over his last four starts.
He did allow three homers to the Blue Jays two starts ago and four of those seven runs, but rebounded nicely with 5.1 shutout innings against the Royals last time out. Paxton has allowed 23 hits in his last three starts and has allowed a 45.9% Hard Hit% in five starts since the Break, so I’ll be curious to see how he fares in this one. The Nationals are 10th in wOBA in the second half against lefties and rank eighth for the season.
Gore has a 4.62 ERA with a 5.18 xERA and a 4.62 FIP in 117 innings this season. The 24-year-old left-hander just allowed six runs on seven hits in five innings last time out against the Phillies. Prior to that, he had thrown the ball pretty well with five earned runs on 12 hits over three previous starts, but Gore’s only struck out 12 batters in his last 16 innings and he’s also been dealing with some decreased fastball velo for a while.
His season average is 95 mph, a mark he hasn’t hit since July 1. With a 44.9% Hard Hit% for the season, I definitely have some long-term concerns, even as the Nationals go to a six-man rotation in hopes of spreading him out a little bit more. He’s allowed eight barrels over his last three starts and has a 12% Barrel% for the season as a whole.
Paxton showed a velo drop in his last start as well, as he sat just 93.9 mph with the heat. He has averaged 95.3 mph for the season. Paxton has also been one of the biggest decreasers in the Stuff+ metric created by Eno Sarris, as his spin rates have been falling. The velo drop is another red flag, as the oft-injured lefty has thrown almost five times more innings this season (102) than he had over the previous three years (22.1)
The Red Sox have an 80 wRC+ against lefties in the second half with a high 26.2% K%. There may be some sample size noise in there with 237 PA, but they are 12th in wOBA for the season with a 103 wRC+, so just a little bit above average. Gore has allowed five or more runs three times in his last seven starts and has allowed five homers in his last three starts.
It should be a decent night for hitting at Nationals Park. There are a lot of 4.5s out there for the 1st 5 Over. DraftKings has some of the highest juice at -125, so shop around as always, but I do like this one.
Pick: 1st 5 Over 4.5 (-125)
Aaron Nola and Kevin Gausman make up another pretty darn good pitching matchup north of the border. Last night’s didn’t disappoint with Zack Wheeler and Yusei Kikuchi, as the game ended 2-1 in Toronto’s favor. The Jays haven’t hit any good righty with a pulse in a while, so we’ll see what they do here against Nola. We’ll also see if the Phillies can deal that one random bad start per month to Gausman.
Nola has a 4.49 ERA with a 3.81 xERA and a 4.21 FIP. He’s had a big K% decrease this season and has also seen regression in his home run numbers, as he’s back to a 15.5% HR/FB%. He is two homers away from a career-high and topping the one he set in 2019 when the ball was juiced to the moon and he gave up 27 homers in 202.1 innings.
Nola was good last time out against the Nationals with one run over five innings, but he allowed 12 runs on 17 hits in his previous two starts. It took him 105 pitches to get 15 outs against the Nationals, as they fouled a ton of balls off and he really had to labor. Nola just hasn’t been as sharp as we’ve seen him in the past, but the Blue Jays haven’t hit a worthwhile righty in a long time, so maybe this will be a decent matchup for him.
On the other hand, maybe it won’t be. He’s got a 5.15 ERA and 4.78 FIP in 85.2 innings away from home and has allowed 18 of his 26 homers in that split. He’s allowed a .467 SLG and a .323 wOBA compared to a .372 SLG and a .274 wOBA at home. Citizens Bank Park isn’t known as a good pitcher’s park, but he’s struggled away from there for some reason.
Gausman has a 3.04 ERA with a 3.73 xERA and a 2.72 FIP in 139 innings of work for the season. He’s struck out 32.5% of opposing batters with a solid 6% BB% and a .235 BA against. He does have a .333 BABIP against because he does allow a lot of hard contact, which is why his xERA is where it is, but his 44.8% Hard Hit% and 10.5% Barrel% have been covered up by all the strikeouts.
Gausman has also been better at home, where he has held the opposition to a .278 wOBA and has 100 strikeouts in 69.2 innings pitched compared to a .296 wOBA on the road with 83 K in 69.1 IP. He has a 36.2% K% at home and we’ve seen Rogers Centre play like a pitcher’s park this season.
I expect Gausman to pitch well tonight and the Blue Jays have put together a really solid bullpen through their trades and moves and also got Jordan Romano back a couple days ago. It’s chalky, but Gausman has such a good projection at home here and Nola has had some definite command issues. I like Toronto to take care of business.
Pick: Blue Jays -148
Though not officially listed, it appears that Randy Vasquez will get the start for the Yankees today as they take on the Braves. Atlanta will counter with Charlie Morton and the Braves are a huge favorite.
Morton has a 3.71 ERA with a 4.91 xERA and a 4.17 FIP, so there are some regression signs in the profile on account of his 78.2% LOB% and his high BB% of 11.4%. I also have some workload concerns for the 39-year-old, as he’s got a 5.84 ERA with a 6.19 FIP in his last five starts over 24.2 innings. He’s actually got 22 walks against 21 strikeouts in that span, so that is a major concern. He’s also allowed 16 runs on 25 hits.
The Yankees have hit lefties well, but are a borderline bottom-five offense against righties here in the second half. The one thing that they have done, however, is draw walks against RHP. They have a 12.7% BB% in that split. Unfortunately, they’ve also struck out nearly 25% of the time and have just a .352 SLG.
This is not an easy spot for Vasquez, as his K% marks from the minors have not translated to the Majors, making him a pitch-to-contact guy that is a big regression candidate going into this start against Atlanta. He’s got a 1.89 ERA with a 4.91 xERA and a 5.11 FIP in 19 innings and has a .182 BABIP with a 94.1% LOB%. You can bet I gave some thought to the Over today, but I don’t know how much the Yankees will help and that would mean asking Atlanta to do a lot.
Mike Clevinger and Javier Assad are the starters here, though the books haven’t officially listed Assad yet. The Cubs may end up using an opener for Assad after he went a season-high seven innings last time out just five days ago. He allowed one run on four hits. He hadn’t thrown more than four innings since May 9, so an opener might make sense to just stretch out the game a little bit more.
Mike Clevinger goes for the White Sox today, as he has a 3.55 ERA with a 4.59 xERA and a 4.59 FIP in 78.2 innings of work. He’s got some pretty pedestrian K/BB numbers, but he has an 80.4% LOB% with some pretty good Cluster Luck numbers, as he has allowed just a .151 BA with a .254 wOBA with runners in scoring position. He has allowed a .264/.333/.460 slash and a .342 wOBA with the bases empty, but has buckled down with men on base.
Nothing really interests me about this game. I worry about guys like Assad coming off of outlier performances and Clevinger is a negative regression candidate. Plus, the wind is blowing out at Wrigley, so we get a high total here.
If you’re gonna lose, get crushed. That way the high-leverage guys in the bullpen get a day off. That was the case for the O’s yesterday, as Jack Flaherty put them behind big early and then San Diego cruised to victory. Blake Snell is on the bump here today for the Padres, so they would appear to be in really good shape against the O’s.
Snell has a 2.63 ERA with a 3.84 xERA and a 3.74 FIP in his 130 innings of work this season, but that undersells what he’s done over his last 15 starts. He has a 1.16 ERA with a 2.79 FIP in 85 innings with a 123/49 K/BB ratio. He has walked at least four batters in each of his last five starts, so I fear that a rough outing is coming. He’s allowed five runs on six hits with eight walks and 15 strikeouts in his last two starts.
In this stretch, Snell has a 93.1% LOB%, which is going to come back to earth to some degree. All these walks are creating run-scoring opportunities, but he has silenced most of them. I guess we’ll see if today’s the day.
I’m not interested in backing Dean Kremer, though a live bet on Baltimore around the sixth when Snell leaves and the O’s rested bullpen has a chance to take over might not be a bad strategy to take with the late game. Kremer has a 4.50 ERA with a 5.46 xERA and a 4.96 FIP in 132 innings of work. Kremer has allowed eight earned runs in his last four starts, so he’s been having some success here of late.
He’s also been more effective on the road this season with a higher K% and better command numbers across the board. Still, while I think Snell is building towards a rough patch, today isn’t the day I’ll be fading him.
BOS/WAS 1st 5 Over 4.5 (-125)
Blue Jays -148