MLB schedule today has 15 games
We’ve got a handful of day games and a full slate in Major League Baseball today, as all 30 teams take the field, some as early as 10:05 a.m. PT. This will be a bit of a condensed version of the MLB article, as I won’t really be able to hit those early games with a late start, as final edits and preparations are being made on the Updated VSiN NFL Betting Guide, which includes some preseason musings from Michael Lombardi and beat writers, as well as some fresh feature articles, and a best bet from every host on the VSiN fall schedule.
Now, let’s get to the baseball.
Latest MLB betting splits | MLB odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
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Here are some thoughts on the August 30 card (odds from DraftKings):
I wasn’t going to have a strong take in Padres vs. Cardinals, so we’ll hop down to Brewers vs. Cubs. I don’t have a strong take here either, but it’s a way more important game and the rubber match of this three-game set. If the Cubs win, the lead drops to three games. If the Brewers win, they gain a game and leave up five with only three head-to-head meetings left that take place the final weekend of the season.
Woodruff had his best start since coming back last time out with 11 strikeouts over six one-run innings against the Padres. He’s allowed nine runs on just 14 hits over 22.2 innings with a 29/6 K/BB ratio. He’s given up six homers, as he’s still working on his command a bit, but he’s been precisely what the Brewers needed him to be. To be honest, I was a little surprised to see Milwaukee such a short favorite in this one, but the Cubs will be the best offense against righties in the second half that Woodruff has faced to this point (Pirates, White Sox, Rangers, Padres).
Hendricks has a 3.80 ERA, 4.13 xERA, and a 3.97 FIP in 104.1 innings of work. He has allowed eight total runs over his last four starts, but has faced the Mets, White Sox, Royals, and Pirates. The last time he faced a real offense, he gave up seven runs to the Braves. That being said, the Brewers are a middle-of-the-road offense for the season themselves.
Still, the betting markets have a pretty big bias against Hendricks for his low K% and his ERA/FIP/xFIP discrepancies. That’s why we got the big overnight swing on Milwaukee. It’s a line move I agree with and it just keeps climbing as first pitch draws near.
The Reds nearly got no-hit last night and I believe that would’ve been the second time this season that I bet on a team that failed to get a hit. Things have really fallen apart for Cincinnati. Injuries are mounting. Elly De La Cruz is batting .188/.261/.386 in August on the heels of a .238/.277/.410 slash line in July. The kids are going through some growing pains and a great story has now become a mere footnote of the season.
Could it still be salvaged? Sure, but it’s going to take a 180-degree turnaround, not only from the team, but also from Hunter Greene. Greene has allowed 14 runs on 15 hits in 6.2 innings since coming back with an 8/8 K/BB ratio and five home runs allowed. He didn’t allow a homer in his second start against Arizona, but the results were still poor. His velocity looks fine and he looks healthy, but he’s just all out of sorts.
Cincinnati is still only two games out, but they’re really trending in the wrong direction. Maybe it’s not as dire as it seems, but they’ve scored two or fewer runs in four of the last five games, all against teams around them in the Wild Card race. I’d be shocked if they hit Logan Webb today. I’m not fading them with the big price, but I’d be surprised if they pull out the win.
Just dropping in here with the huge favorite to note that the Braves will use rookie Darius Vines to make his MLB debut. And that he's a -245 favorite in his debut, which might be among the highest odds ever for a guy making his debut, if not the highest.
He’s got a 2.86 ERA with a 5.40 FIP over 28.1 innings at Triple-A. The 25-year-old is a changeup artist with a bad fastball out of Cal State Bakersfield and it will be interesting to see how he fares with his first start at Coors Field. He’s a strike-thrower per the scouting reports at FanGraphs, which is important at Coors because walks only exacerbate all of the other problems.
Kyle Freeland goes for Colorado, so between a rookie making his debut and a pitch-to-contact lefty having an awful season, that’s how you get a 13.5. This is the first 13.5 total we’ve had in the U.S. since August 3, 2020. We had a bunch of them at Coors Field in 2019 during the year of the juiced ball.
Brandon Pfaadt and Ryan Pepiot are the starters for this one. Pepiot isn’t listed across the market yet, but it was announced that he would be recalled to make the start. He was used as the 27th man last week when the Dodgers and Guardians played two at Progressive Field.
Pitching whisperer Brent Strom has turned Pfaadt into a useful MLB starter with his third go-round at the big league level. Pfaadt was recalled on July 22 and has a 3.48 ERA with a 4.07 FIP over 41.1 innings of work. He’s got a 39/10 K/BB ratio and has allowed six homers, but only three in his last six starts. He came up and allowed three solo homers to the Reds after a change was made to move him to the other side of the pitching rubber.
Pfaadt allowed four runs on six hits to the Dodgers on August 8, but has not allowed more than three runs in any other start and has allowed two runs on four hits over his last 12.1 innings of work. It’s been a thoroughly impressive turnaround and could not have come at a better time for the Diamondbacks, who are looking to avoid a sweep tonight. They’ve been beaten 16-5 over the first two games of this series and desperately need a good start tonight.
Pepiot went four innings in a bulk relief capacity against Cleveland last week and allowed a solo homer over four innings with six strikeouts. He was also up on August 19 and worked five innings of one-run ball. In six Triple-A starts, he has a 3.97 ERA with a 26/5 K/BB ratio and has allowed 10 runs on 21 hits with four homers. His last start at Triple-A featured 6.2 shutout innings with 11 strikeouts against Tacoma, so he’s been throwing the ball very well of late.
I like Under 9.5 here. I like what Pfaadt has done recently and Pepiot has been throwing the ball well. The primary relievers are all rested and in good shape here. I could also see a bit of a lackadaisical effort from the Dodgers tonight. They just got back from a six-game trip to Boston and Cleveland and flew home Sunday with no off day for travel. They’ve done what they’ve needed to do in this series and the Braves come to town for four games tomorrow with a chance to gain ground in the race for the No. 1 seed.
I’m not entirely sure that lookahead spots exist in baseball, but it’s at least something to consider. I think this could be a lower-scoring affair.
Pick: Under 9.5 (-110)
Early game, so I’ll be quick, but this is the must-win game of all must-win games for Cleveland. I thought they had to play Game 1 of this series like that, but they didn’t. They have a chance to at least leave Minneapolis in better shape than when they arrived. It’s still too little, too late, but the teams and players don’t think that way.
Tanner Bibee and Sonny Gray are the listed starters here. Bibee has effectively been Cleveland’s ace this season with a 3.01 ERA, 3.64 xERA, and a 3.78 FIP in 119.2 innings pitched. If you like Cleveland or some part of the total, you’ll see Bibee has some big home/road splits. He’s allowed 11 of 13 HR on the road and has a .341 wOBA compared to a .240 wOBA at home. The homers are a thing, and he gave up two of them in Toronto, but those were the only two runs he allowed. He gave up six runs on June 13 to the Padres in his only homecoming start of the season. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any start otherwise.
As for Gray, he has a 3.06 ERA with a 3.74 xERA and a 2.85 FIP, so nearly identical ERA and xERA numbers, while Gray’s FIP is a lot lower because he’s allowed just six homers in 150 innings. Gray has allowed more than three runs just three times in 26 starts, with one right before and one right after the Break.
Great pitching matchup and I could argue that Minnesota’s a little bit high-priced here, but this is the biggest start of Bibee’s young career, so I’m curious to see how he fares.
The mystery that is Framber Valdez takes the mound today against Kutter Crawford to round out this series. Houston jumped all over Boston again for a 6-2 win and the sweep is in play with Valdez on the bump. The second half for Valdez has been something to see.
He has a 5.33 ERA with a 5.12 FIP in 50.2 innings of work. He’s thrown a no-hitter and also thrown seven no-hit innings, while allowing 31 runs in his other six starts. Valdez went 114 pitches last time out against the Tigers with six strikeouts and five walks over his seven hitless frames. Between no-hit starts, he allowed 16 runs in 19.2 innings on 24 hits. I’ve been handicapping baseball in a content creation role since the late 2000s and I’ve never seen anything like this.
Crawford has been low-key good in the second half for the Red Sox. In eight starts, he owns a 2.95 ERA with a 3.95 FIP in 39.2 innings of work with a 43/12 K/BB ratio. Crawford has allowed more than three runs just once and just held the Dodgers to two runs on four hits over five innings with seven strikeouts six days ago. He’s also been extremely good against righties for the season, holding them to a .231/.275/.369 slash and a .281 wOBA.
In 85 PA in the second half, righties have a .139/.200/.190 slash and a .182 wOBA against Crawford. That ranks 10th minimum 10 innings pitched in the second half.
I’ll fade Valdez off of the 114 pitches and buy into Crawford’s numbers against righties. Valdez has battled a litany of ailments this season and I can’t imagine his body feels great coming off of his highest workload of the season. Not to mention, he’s been terrible more often than he’s been good here in the second half.
Ryan Pressly was sick yesterday, so the Astros might not have him available and they used Hector Neris and Bryan Abreu yesterday, while the Red Sox didn’t use Kenley Jansen or Chris Martin. I think Boston is worth a shot today at the dog price, but shop around because other places definitely have a better line than DraftKings.
Pick: Red Sox +114
Skipping over the Mariners (vs. Oakland) and Yankees (Gerrit Cole) in big favorite roles against lesser opponents, let’s talk about what happened yesterday. The Angels, who mistakenly embraced the role as buyer at the Trade Deadline, outright cut Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Randal Grichuk, Matt Moore, and Hunter Renfroe yesterday. Giolito and Lopez were acquired in the same trade and Grichuk was added from the Rockies.
The move was purely financial, as it could cut down on the luxury tax payment for the Angels. But, they traded away viable and valuable minor league pieces to get those guys, only to cut them for nothing less than a month later. It was kind of the Angels, as those guys are free to sign anywhere and join the playoff picture, but it was also motivated by luxury tax considerations.
The team actually performed better than I expected last night with seven runs and led 4-2 after five, but it all fell apart in the sixth with a 12-7 loss. I can’t imagine this team is remotely excited to go to the ballpark on a daily basis and these trades right before yesterday’s game had to really piss a lot of people off.
It’ll be pricey to fade them going forward, but it’ll probably make sense.
The Rays rolled to an 11-2 win yesterday by getting to Sandy Alcantara in the sixth and they scored runs off of each reliever that came into the game. They’ll look for the mini two-game sweep here with Zach Eflin against Jesus Luzardo.
I think Luzardo is a tricky handicap here. I thought I was onto something by fading him, as he had allowed 21 runs (eight HR) over his previous four starts, but then he went out and fired six shutout innings with two hits against the Padres eight days ago. Luzardo seemed like he was hitting a wall, as his innings workload this season dwarfs anything from the past and he didn’t seem to have much command or explosiveness to his pitches.
Maybe it was more of the exception than the norm, but he’s back at home now, where he has a 3.38 ERA with a .305 wOBA against compared to a 4.34 ERA with a .342 wOBA against on the road. His K% is quite a bit higher at home and draws a Rays team that has had some issues against righties in the second half at times.
However, Tampa Bay is up to a .314 wOBA and a 104 wRC+ against southpaws with their recent offensive surge and they are back on track with wins in seven of eight and nine of 11. Their only loss in the last week and a half was against Gerrit Cole and that’ll happen. Their other loss in the last two weeks was Game 1 of a doubleheader.
Eflin has a 3.55 ERA with a 2.93 xERA and a 3.13 FIP in 144.1 innings pitched. He’s had a couple of hiccups in the second half, as he’s had three starts with five or more runs allowed, but he’s also allowed four runs total in his other five starts. He struck out 11 over six innings in that head-to-head start with Cole, but two runs on seven hits were just too much.
The same thing that applied yesterday with Civale applies here with Eflin, as the Marlins rank 27th in wOBA at .298 and have an 85 wRC+ against righties in the second half. By winning in lopsided fashion, the top relievers for the Rays were not needed.
I’m going to trust the Rays and trust my position on Luzardo here. This line has gone up about 10 cents from where it was overnight, but I still think it’s playable with Eflin vs. a lineup that can’t hit righties and a surging Rays group that is on the rise again.
Pick: Rays -125
Dane Dunning and Denyi Reyes are listed for this one, as the Mets and Rangers finish up their bland series. We’ve seen a total of 10 runs in two games here, as the Mets have pitched well, but haven’t gotten any offense to speak of over these two games. The Mets have lost six of seven and have scored a total of 13 runs in that span.
We’ll see if they can get to Dunning, who has been a regression candidate most of the season. He has a 3.36 ERA with a 4.52 xERA and a 4.11 FIP in his 136.2 innings of work. Regression may slowly be creeping in, as he has allowed seven runs on 12 hits in his last nine innings. He was really lucky to only allow four runs to the Twins last time out, as he also walked six and allowed a 60% Hard Hit% and two barrels. If the control starts to go the way of the command, as his Hard Hit% has skyrocketed of late, it could be tough sledding for him moving forward.
Reyes is a fringy 27-year-old with 19.2 MLB innings to his name. He spent a lot of time in the lower levels of the minors and only reached Triple-A in 2022, where he was not good with Baltimore and has continued that trend with the Mets. He has a 5.80 ERA with a 6.86 FIP in 76 innings at Triple-A this season and has allowed 10 runs on 16 hits in 12 innings at the MLB level.
Maybe this will be the high-scoring game of the series, but I’m not going to trust the Mets offense to hold up its end of the bargain.
Andre Jackson and Angel Zerpa are listed as the starters here and, yes, those are real baseball players. Jackson has actually been fairly interesting with a 4.91 ERA, 5.13 xERA, and a 4.52 FIP. He has a really nice K/BB ratio, but has allowed seven homers in 36.2 innings pitched. He’s made three straight long appearances and allowed seven runs on 15 hits in 14 innings. While not terribly special, he’s at least shown some chops and could be a roster piece for the Pirates next season.
Zerpa is only 23, so his struggles aren’t a huge deal, at least not yet. He’s allowed 16 runs on 22 hits in 17.1 innings of work with a 14/4 K/BB ratio. He also has allowed 14 runs on 27 hits in 26.2 innings at the minor league level. Zerpa has worked as much as four innings at the MLB level this season, so I guess that’s about the max of what we can expect here.
Obviously no play and no interest from me in this one.
ARI/LAD Under 9.5 (-110)
Red Sox +114