MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Wednesday, July 19th

By Adam Burke  ( 

July 19, 2023 11:56 AM

MLB schedule today has 15 games

Wow. What an incredible night for offense around Major League Baseball. On the whole, the league slashed .271/.345/.478 with a .353 wOBA and a 127 wRC+, meaning last night was 27% above league average compared to the rest of the season. The .353 wOBA would rank 37th among 148 qualified hitters and tied with Brendan Donovan and Ozzie Albies. In all, 49 homers were hit and 197 runs were scored across 15 games. 

Only 49 qualified hitters are batting .271 or higher for the season.

The average fly ball distance last night was 326 feet, up nine feet from July 1-17 and up 10 feet from the season as a whole through Monday.

The HR/FB% last night was 17.8%. Only four pitchers have a HR/FB% higher than 17.8% among qualified starters - Lance Lynn, Yusei Kikuchi, Austin Gomber, and Hunter Brown.

Twelve teams scored 10+ runs for the first time since July 4, 1894, when 13 teams did it. Four of those teams lost while scoring 10+ runs. 

So, the burning question once again…Is the ball juiced? I still don’t think we can definitively say that. A combination of record heat and pitchers who hadn’t pitched in 8+ days had a lot to do with it. Does it make sense for happy homer fun time if you’re Rob Manfred? Absolutely. Do I think that’s what has happened? No…at least not yet. Let’s see how the pitchers do as they get back into the rhythms of the season. 

If what we’ve seen since the All-Star Break with a 14.4% HR/FB% continues, then I may be singing a different tune, but I’ll need a couple weeks worth of data to really believe that.

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Here are some thoughts on the July 19 card (odds from DraftKings):

Miami Marlins at St. Louis Cardinals (-110, 8.5)

The Marlins and Cardinals wrap up their series early on Wednesday with a matchup between Sandy Alcantara and Dakota Hudson. It is weird to see Alcantara not favored over such an inferior starter, but he’s had his issues this season and the Marlins are winless in five tries since the Break. In fact, the Phillies have passed them in the NL East and also in the Wild Card chase.

Alcantara has a 4.64 ERA with a 4.39 xERA and a 4.00 FIP in his 120.1 innings pitched on the season. He’s seen a big drop in K%, a spike in his HR/FB%, and a lot less fortune with men on base. His 66% LOB% is the worst of his career in a full season and 12.8% below last season’s finish. He allowed two homers and three runs total against the Orioles five days ago in his first second-half outing.

He did allow 10 hard-hit balls in that start and three barrels to tie a season high, so he has a 40.5% Hard Hit% now with a 6.8% Barrel%. He’s allowed seven barrels in his last four starts and 13 barrels in his last six starts, which accounts for more than half of his total of 25 over 19 starts, so it’s not like the quality of his stuff seems to be improving much.

Hudson will make his first start since 2022 for the Redbirds here. He’s allowed two earned runs on nine hits over 10 innings with a 7/3 K/BB ratio. He worked 3.1 scoreless innings against the Nationals four days ago, so he’ll likely be in that 3-4 inning range today. The Cardinals pen has been used a lot thet last two days, but the long men and the lesser guys are available, so guys like Zack Thompson and Kyle Leahy could be the first options out of the pen.

No play on this one, as the Marlins are scuffling and the Cardinals, who have had a good offense all season, are doing everything they can to stick around as long as possible, as they’ve won four in a row.

Milwaukee Brewers at Philadelphia Phillies (-165, 9)

The aforementioned Phillies appear to be in good shape to run their winning streak out to five games as they lay a sizable number against the Brewers. Left-hander Cristopher Sanchez goes for Philadelphia here, as he brings a 3.26 ERA with a 3.82 xERA and a 4.15 FIP into his seventh start of the season. He’s got some pretty nice peripherals with a 27/5 K/BB ratio over 30.1 innings pitched and a 54.1% GB%. He has not allowed more than three runs in any outing, though that could change soon.

Sanchez has allowed a 44.2% Hard Hit% and an 11.6% Barrel%. That includes four barrels and a 61.5% HH% in his first start after the Break against the Padres. He allowed 10 hard-hit balls to the Rays in his final first-half start as well. For the season, Milwaukee is 26th in wOBA at .300 against lefties with an 86 wRC+, but they actually boast a top-five offense against southpaws since June 15 with a .342 wOBA and a 114 wRC+. They’ve really cut down on the strikeouts and have had a lot more batted ball success with a .317 BABIP compared to a .290 mark for the season.

Perhaps Colin Rea will get a little run support as a result. He likely needs it, as Rea has a 4.71 ERA with a 4.13 xERA and a 4.82 FIP in his 80.1 innings of work. This will be his first start in 11 days, as he last pitched on July 8 against the Reds and allowed five runs on seven hits over 4.2 innings. He struck out seven and only walked one, but gave up a lot of missiles with an average exit velo of 95.7 mph and a Hard Hit% of 64.3%. For the season, he has a 42.1% HH%, though he has kept the barrels to a minimum at 6.6%.

I’ll be on the 1st 5 Over 5 here. Sanchez has been struggling to locate and the Brewers have some good vibes going against southpaws. Rea fits the bill as a guy who hasn’t pitched in a while and we’ve seen some of those guys get crushed in their first second-half starts.

If you’re looking at the full game, keep in mind that Craig Kimbrel and Gregory Soto have worked three of the last four days for the Phillies. The Brewers pen is in better shape. But, I’m just sticking with the 1st 5 and that total.

Pick: 1st 5 Over 5 (-115)

San Francisco Giants (-115, 10.5) at Cincinnati Reds

With all the pitchers getting bashed in their first second-half starts, it is even more incredible that Graham Ashcraft was really good against Milwaukee last Friday. He allowed one run on five hits over six innings and has only allowed three runs on 15 hits in his last 18.2 innings. He still hasn’t found much strikeout upside with 11 of them against seven walks, but he’s found some better batted ball fortunes and he’s back to burning up worms with a 55.6% GB% in that span.

Of course, he still has a 5.95 ERA with a 5.51 xERA and a 5.26 FIP, so I still have plenty of reservations, but it would be nice to see a guy with his raw stuff actually perform up to his capabilities. He’s had some starts where he’s allied a ton of hard contact, including a prolonged stretch from May 23 to June 30, but he’s allowed 12 hard-hit balls in his last 39 batted ball events. 

The Giants are a better offense than the Brewers and this is another start at home, where Ashcraft has allowed a .292/.372/.513 slash with a .380 wOBA and has a 7.16 ERA with a 6.11 FIP in 49 innings. So, my hopes aren’t high for this start, but for his sake and Cincinnati’s sake with six straight losses, it would be nice to see him pitch well.

Ross Stripling will start for the Giants, to be followed by… I don’t know. The Giants bullpen is in a sad state of affairs and may need to call somebody up. Sean Manaea threw 40 pitches yesterday. Ryan Walker threw 20 and Jakob Junis threw 19. Camilo Doval has pitched four of the last five days and two back-to-backs, so he’s out for tonight. Taylor Rogers and Scott Alexander have both worked three of the last four and Tyler Rogers has worked three of the last five. Only getting two innings from Anthony DeSclafani last night was the worst-case scenario for the Giants.

Stripling may be pushed hard in this one. He has a 6.11 ERA with a 5.33 xERA and a 5.75 FIP in 45.2 innings of work. Since returning from injury on June 28, he has allowed five runs on 13 hits with a 14/1 K/BB ratio in 13.1 innings. That’s good for a 3.38 ERA and a 3.37 FIP. He’s maxed out at 4.2 innings and 18 batters faced and I have to think the Giants will hope for more today.

Tough game to handicap, especially with the state of the Giants pen if it’s close. The Reds bullpen has been used a ton as well, but Alexis Diaz, Lucas Sims, and Ian Gibaut were not used yesterday at all, so they would have the upper hand in a close game late.

Arizona Diamondbacks at Atlanta Braves (-225, 10)

The Cardinals beat the Falcons 16-13 yesterday, as Matt Prater made a 42-yarder with 13 seconds left on the clock after Colt McCoy went 65 yards in eight plays to give Arizona their first win of the season.

Alright, so maybe not, but we had some football scores, or slow-pitch softball scores, yesterday and this was definitely one of them. Both Zach Davies and Bryce Elder were awful, leading to heavy lifts for both bullpens. Davies at least waited until the second inning to give up five runs. Elder did it right away. The full-game total cashed by the top of the second and the 1st 5 total cashed by the bottom of the first.

Ryne Nelson and Charlie Morton will go today. Nelson has a 4.98 ERA with a 4.89 xERA with a 4.67 FIP in his 99.1 innings pitched. He’s a pitch-to-contact guy with a 15.8% K% and a 43.4% Hard Hit% with a 10.5% Barrel%, so this looks like about the worst possible matchup for him. Atlanta hits basically everything hard and the one thing you can do is get them to swing and miss. Nelson has an 8.5% SwStr%. It was 5.1% against Atlanta when he faced them on June 3 and he allowed a 57.9% Hard Hit% and four barrels with an average exit velocity of 96 mph.

The crazy part is that Atlanta only managed three runs on six hits against him with four walks. Nelson didn’t strike out a batter. It’s the only time this season that has happened. Even though Nelson pitched five days ago against Toronto and held them to two runs, he did allow nine hits. There will be a lot of people on the Braves Team Total Over today and I will be one of them.

Charlie Morton’s second half started with a bang, as he threw seven shutout innings against the White Sox with three hits scattered around a walk and four strikeouts. While the four strikeouts imply a lack of dominance, Morton only allowed a 29.4% Hard Hit% on 17 batted ball events and his second-lowest average exit velocity of the season. The lowest actually came 18 days ago against Miami. He’s only allowed one run on 11 hits in his last 19 innings of work.

There are a few ways to attack this game. Braves run line at -120 at DraftKings and better prices elsewhere. Braves 1st 5 run line at -150. Braves Team Total Over 5.5 at -125. The last one is my preferred method. This will shock you, but it will be hot at first pitch with temps in the upper 80s and humidity percentages in the 60s and rising. It’s a good night for hitting again and Nelson is a guy that the Braves should crush.

Pick: Braves Team Total Over 5.5 (-125)

Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs (-155, 9)

The Bears defense showed up in a big way with a 17-3 win over the Commanders last night. Justin Fields threw for a touchdown and rushed for another in the fourth quarter, as Chicago put Washington away with a couple of scoring drives late in the game.

The Cubs turned a close game into an absolute laugher with 14 runs over the seventh and eighth innings. It was a 3-3 game through six and the Cubs scored two in the sixth to actually tie it. Then the wheels totally fell off for the Nationals bullpen and Paulo Espino gave up eight runs on seven hits while recording one out. Jameson Taillon and Patrick Corbin were actually pretty decent.

A couple of wily veterans will try to navigate these rough pitching seas, as Trevor Williams saddles up for the Nationals and Kyle Hendricks takes the mound for the Cubs. Williams has only thrown 2.2 innings here in the second half. He allowed a solo homer against the Cardinals on July 14 and then Mother Nature intervened. The game was suspended and he just shifted his focus to this start. He’s got a 4.42 ERA with a 5.46 FIP in 93.2 innings across 19 starts. He’s a guy that has a low ceiling, but a fairly high floor, in that he tends to keep his team in the game.

Hendricks has a stat line that looks all too familiar for him. He’s got a 3.57 ERA with a 4.21 xERA and a 4.44 FIP in 10 starts across 58 innings of work. His K% is well below past seasons, but he’s been stingy with the walks and has only allowed a 32.4% Hard Hit% in 188 batted ball events. Hendricks has yet to have a game with a double-digit SwStr%, so that worries me, especially if we’re now dealing with a different ball.

He allowed five runs on eight hits in 4.2 innings against the Red Sox and gave up four homers. As a guy who is around the plate a lot, I’m thoroughly concerned. He’s allowed six homers in his last two starts and I don’t think extreme heat is good for him, especially if there are shenanigans afoot with the baseball.

Tough handicap here, as the Cubs deserve the favorite price, but I’m not excited to back them here. I also don’t love Williams and the Nationals pen in this one.

Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers (-120, 9)

Zack Littell will serve as the opener in the series finale between these two teams, as Jon Gray gets the call for the Rangers. Texas is in search of a sweep here after beating Shane McClanahan and Taj Bradley. Today they’ll get Littell and a collection of relievers. Kevin Kelly and Shawn Armstrong are fresh. Frankly, a good number of guys are available, so it’ll just be a Johnny Wholestaff Day for the Rays.

Littell hasn’t pitched in 10 days and has a 6.05 ERA with 4.12 FIP, so I’d have thought about somebody else to open, but the Rays are way smarter than I am. He’s allowed two runs on four hits in each of his last two appearances, with one as the opener.

Gray has a 3.45 ERA with a 4.33 xERA and a 4.59 FIP, as there are a good number of regression signs in the profile. He’s got a .253 BABIP against with a 78.6% LOB%, so those are two right there. Gray had a nice K% bump in May and early June, but that has gone away. He has a 6.75 ERA with a 5.74 FIP in his last five starts and has allowed at least four runs in four of them, including his first start out of the Break with four runs on five hits against the Guardians in six innings. He’s allowed four homers in that span with a 16/13 K/BB ratio.

The Rays aren’t really hitting right now and haven’t hit well in a long time. They are baseball’s worst offense by 23 points in wOBA against lefties since June 15 and 16th in wOBA against righties in that span. Gray is a righty, so maybe they have a better shot today, but they haven’t really hit Nate Eovaldi or Dane Dunning the last two nights.

It’s an early game with minimal lead time, so I wouldn’t have a play anyway, but I don’t like anything here. Gray’s recent struggles are an issue, especially with the K/BB numbers.

Boston Red Sox (-215, 8.5) at Oakland Athletics

What a breath of fresh air to actually have overnight lines in this series, just as it’s coming to a close. It will be Brayan Bello for Boston and Ken Waldichuk for Oakland to finish things up at the Coliseum. The Red Sox came up on the short end of a 3-0 decision yesterday, as they were blanked by Luis Medina and the A’s pen. They’ve got a great chance to take the series as the line implies.

Brayan Bello gets the ball today for Boston with a 3.14 ERA, 3.77 xERA, and a 3.94 FIP in 86 innings of work. He allowed three runs on eight hits in six innings five days ago to start the second half. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a start since April 17, which was his first MLB start of the season. He has emerged as a true ace for the Red Sox and should be solid here in this one. Boston faced Oakland just before the All-Star Break, but Bello did not pitch in that series.

Waldichuk has a 6.66 ERA with a 5.23 xERA and a 5.97 FIP over 75.2 innings pitched. He’s made 12 starts and 10 relief appearances. He’s been bad both ways, but worse as a starter. Waldichuk has a 6.71 ERA with a .300/.390/.595 slash against and a .414 wOBA in 52.1 innings as a starter. He has a 6.56 ERA as a reliever in 23.1 innings, but he’s allowed a .373 wOBA in that split. Waldichuk has allowed 14 of his 15 homers as a starter.

Not really much more to add here. Would be pretty bad if Boston can’t win this one with an enormous pitching advantage. They’ll fly home after to host the Mets.

New York Yankees (-140, 8.5) at Los Angeles Angels

Chase Silseth goes up against Carlos Rodon in this one, as the Yankees and Angels wrap up their series with a 4:07 p.m. PT first pitch, so the shadows could be a factor. This is a true getaway day for the Yankees, as they’ll enjoy an off day on Thursday before flying home to host Kansas City. The Angels stay home and host Pittsburgh.

Silseth has allowed 14 runs on 17 hits in 18.2 innings at the MLB level with a 15/13 K/BB ratio this season and has a 6.08 ERA with a 5.93 FIP in his 47.1 MLB innings. He’s been good at Triple-A this season with a 2.79 ERA and a 3.48 FIP in 42 innings of work. However, he hasn’t pitched since July 5, so he’s on two weeks worth of rest. I’m not super fond of that. Also, Silseth, who went seven innings in his last Triple-A start, had not worked more than five innings otherwise.

I’m not sure how deep he’ll actually be able to go in this one. Fortunately, unlike a lot of bullpens around the league, the Angels pen is in decent shape, though Carlos Estevez has worked three of the last four days.

Rodon has allowed six runs on eight hits in 10.1 innings since coming off the IL. He’s got an 8/4 K/BB ratio in 43 batters faced. He’s allowed a 45.2% Hard Hit% and three barrels in two starts, which makes sense, as his velocity seems fine, but command is always the last thing to come back for a pitcher. In three rehab starts, he allowed one run on three hits with a 17/3 K/BB ratio in 10.2 innings.

He went from 69 pitches to 88 from his first start to his second, although this will be his first on four days rest. I’d assume he’s somewhere in that 90 range again. I have no interest in this game, as the Yankees offense stinks to high heaven and I don’t know how sharp Rodon will be.

Detroit Tigers (-145, 8.5) at Kansas City Royals

Eduardo Rodriguez and Ryan Yarbrough are the listed hurlers here, as the Tigers and Royals play Game 3 of a four-game set. This has been quite the series. The Tigers were shut out by Jordan Lyles for six innings on Monday, only to come back against the bullpen and win 3-2. Yesterday’s game fell in line with most of the league with an 11-10 decision for the Royals. Detroit actually trailed 11-6 in the ninth, but scored four runs against Scott Barlow to make it much closer.

The Royals were 7-for-10 with RISP yesterday, while the Tigers were 3-for-14, yet Detroit still scored 10 runs. It’s definitely a game of sequencing.

Rodriguez has a 2.70 ERA with a 3.43 xERA and a 3.28 FIP for the season, but this will be just his third start since coming back from a finger tendon injury. In two starts, he’s allowed seven runs on nine hits in nine innings with a 14/2 K/BB ratio. I picked against him last Friday against the Mariners and he allowed two runs on three hits, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He allowed six hard-hit balls in 11 batted ball events and four of them were barrels. One went for a double. The other three were all flyouts.

He’s had nice strikeout numbers in his two starts, but he’s also had some iffy command. On a really hot night in KC, I’d assume he’s more trustworthy than Yarbrough, but to what degree? Is it worth laying the -145 price?

Yarbrough returned on July 9 and threw six innings of one-run ball against the Guardians. He missed over two months with facial fractures after getting hit by a very scary comebacker against the A’s on May 7. He has a 5.29 ERA with a 4.63 FIP, but the contact management metrics do look like the Yarbrough of old with a 28.8% Hard Hit% against and just six barrels allowed in 104 batted ball events.

I don’t think I can lay the Tigers today. Their offensive upside is generally so limited and the Royals have a better wOBA against lefties since June 15 at .311, while the Tigers are at .302. Both bullpens are a little worn down, so it’s a war of attrition back there.

Minnesota Twins at Seattle Mariners (-145, 7.5)

Kenta Maeda and Luis Castillo are the slated starters here, as the teams have split the first two games of this four-game set. The Twins won 10-3 last night, as Bailey Ober settled down after a bad first inning and Bryan Woo did not.

This is a pretty interesting matchup. Maeda has a 5.50 ERA with a 3.85 xERA and a 3.46 FIP in his eight starts over 36 innings, but what really matters is what he has done since his June 23 return. In four starts, Maeda has allowed six earned runs on 15 hits with a 27/9 K/BB ratio. As we know, Seattle is prone to strike out a lot, so Maeda could be in line for a good outing if he can keep up the swings and misses.

On the other hand, Maeda, who walked four in his July 14 start after a 10-day layoff, has allowed a 48.9% Hard Hit% in these four starts and that number is 58.3% in his last three starts. So, he’s gotten some swing and miss, but hasn’t exactly located all that well on the balls that have been put into play. It’s kind of a boom or bust look from pitch-to-pitch and that kind of variance really scares me.

Castillo wasn’t too sharp in his first start of the second half with three runs on four hits, including two homers, against the Tigers. He only went five innings and needed 91 pitches to get those 15 outs. As I talked about when I took the 1st 5 run line there, Castillo’s been outstanding at home with a .192/.243/.349 slash against and a .257 wOBA in 71.1 innings of work. He has allowed nine of his 17 homers at home, but has thrown 30.1 more innings at home.

His K% at home is 30.2% and the Twins will strike out a lot, so maybe that’s the way to try and attack this one. The Twins are 11th in wOBA at .337 against righties since June 15, but also have a 27.9% K%. Castillo’s K prop is high at 7.5 and -140, though, so that’s a lot. I don’t see anything I like in this one. Both bullpens are on decent footing tonight after the blowout game last night, so the top guys should be available for each team.

Cleveland Guardians (-140, 8.5) at Pittsburgh Pirates

This game has already started, but a few thoughts...

The Guardians have scored double-digit runs in back-to-back games, so maybe that’s the best indication we need of the balls being juiced. They absolutely crushed Mitch Keller last night, while Logan Allen pitched well and the bullpen had an easy night. That puts them in pretty good shape to get the sweep with Aaron Civale against Rich Hill.

This is an early game, so I won’t have any bets on it or a ton to say, but Civale has been the subject of a few trade rumors. When he’s healthy, he’s great. Could Cleveland capitalize and maybe get some better bats in the system as Civale goes through a hot run? Maybe. He has a 2.65 ERA with a 3.79 xERA and a 3.82 FIP in 57.2 innings of work this season. He’s allowed two or fewer runs in all but one of his eight starts since returning on June 2 from injury.

He is a bit of a tough guy to peg, though, because he’s not really a guy that misses a ton of bats and racks up strikeouts. He’s a command artist who has a deep pitch mix and keeps hitters off-balance. Against a bunch of young hitters for the Pirates, he’ll probably throw well today, but I don’t know if he’s a huge, long-term buy. He’s also running an 86.4% LOB% with a .236 BABIP in this eight-start stretch with a 2.60 ERA and a 4.19 FIP. His 32% Hard Hit% and his 4.7% Barrel% are really, really solid, but I think regression is lurking.

Hill will be traded at some point over the next 13 days, as the Pirates don’t have much use for him other than a player/coach. He has a 4.76 ERA with a 5.40 xERA and a 4.40 FIP. He could be a good bulk reliever for somebody and he hasn’t played for the Giants yet, so maybe that’s an option. He allowed three runs on seven hits to the Giants last time out, but only had two strikeouts.

Could be lots of balls in play today, adding to the variance. The heat of a summer afternoon could crank the offense up, but it’s also a getaway day game, so you never know how invested all parties are.

Los Angeles Dodgers (-135, 9) at Baltimore Orioles

This game features a delayed start because the grounds crew didn't cover the infield and it rained overnight. Oops.

Julio Urias and Dean Kremer start the getaway day game today between these two squads. Urias was outstanding in his first start of the second half with six shutout innings against the Mets. He came back and the BABIP gods took out some frustration against him on July 1 against the Royals. In two starts since, he’s allowed two runs on four hits over 12 innings with 15 strikeouts against two walks.

In three starts since coming back, Urias has allowed an 18.4% Hard Hit% with seven hard-hit balls in 38 batted ball events. He’s allowed just two barrels, both of which came in his last start. He’s definitely at his best when he’s staying off the barrel and limiting hard contact and he looks pretty good right about now.

Kremer has a 4.59 ERA with a 5.37 xERA and a 4.80 FIP in his 104 innings of work. The right-hander had a good start with six innings of one-run ball against Miami to start the second half. He also had a good final start against the Yankees in the first half and has 18 strikeouts over his last 13 innings. However, he’s allowed 20 homers this season and a 44.7% Hard Hit% with a 10.4% Barrel%, so he’s not all that trustworthy in my mind.

Early game, so not much more to add, but the Dodgers have to be ecstatic to have this version of Urias back.

Houston Astros (-155, 12.5) at Colorado Rockies

With this total up to 12.5 at some shops, it will be the 12th game this season with a total of 12.5 or higher. Two of them took place in Mexico City and one in London. The others have all been at Coors Field and we get one today with Brandon Bielak and Austin Gomber.

With all of the offense that we have seen over the first four days of the second half, I’m still shocked that Gomber held the Yankees to two runs on six hits in six innings. He only struck out one batter of the 23 he faced and has three strikeouts in his last 46 batters faced, so I’m not really buying what he’s selling.

There is some natural regression in here that seems to be hitting, but over his last six starts, Gomber has a 3.82 ERA with a 4.20 FIP with a 24/3 K/BB ratio. He might as well just challenge hitters to put the ball in play and see what happens. Righties own a .274/.324/.479 slash with a .345 wOBA against him overall and a .306/.346/.565 slash with a .386 wOBA at Coors Field, which is pertinent because the Astros only have one lefty in the lineup.

Bielak is a guy I really don’t like. He also hasn’t pitched since July 9, so that would be very scary in my mind. He has a 3.79 ERA with a 5.25 FIP, so he’s a negative regression candidate anyway. But, he’s allowed a 48.6% Hard Hit% and an 11.9% Barrel% with 10 homers allowed and a .309 BABIP. How he has an ERA under 4 is a mystery. 

Well, it’s not. He has allowed a .175 BA and a .258 wOBA with runners in scoring position, so he’s saved his best for the most important spots, but that seems wildly unsustainable with his contact management metrics. My guess is that it winds up happening today when the total is too big for my liking and I can’t back Gomber because his risk of ruin is pretty high at home.

No play for me, but let’s see if Bielak’s rabbit’s foot falls out of whatever hole it’s lodged in.

San Diego Padres at Toronto Blue Jays (-120, 9)

Finally, an interleague game at night. It will be the Padres and Blue Jays with Yu Darvish and Jose Berrios in the middle game of this three-game set. Alek Manoah turned back into a pumpkin last night and the Friars came away with a lopsided 9-1 dub, as Joe Musgrove turned in another fantastic outing.

Berrios has a 3.41 ERA with a 4.57 xERA and a 3.89 FIP in his 113.1 innings of work. The right-hander had 5.1 solid innings against Arizona to kick off his second half after firing seven shutout frames against the White Sox going into the Break. I think that eased some concerns for the Blue Jays, fans, and bettors, as there were some signs that Berrios was teetering on the brink of bringing 2022 back.

His Hard Hit% for the season is 34.7% and his Barrel% is 8.4%, but he’s at 39.8% since June 8 and a 9.3% Barrel%. Shrink that to his last four starts and you get a 45.2% HH% and an 11.3% B%. I am looking forward to this test for Berrios, as the Padres are ninth in wOBA against righties since June 15. Of course, a lot of that has to do with an 11% BB%, but they’ve hit for some power in there as well.

While the Blue Jays are 21st in wOBA against righties since June 15, they are fifth in home wOBA against righties in that span at .346, so that’s been an interesting development. Rogers Centre has been pretty stingy in the run-scoring department this season, but Toronto has some good numbers in that split. We’ll see what that means against Darvish, who’s had a rough go of it lately.

He has a 4.65 ERA with a 3.63 xERA and a 3.87 FIP, but it’s been more about his workload and health. Darvish actually did run really bad in June with 14 runs allowed in three starts over 12 days before a mystery illness sidelined him for 2.5 weeks. He’s made two starts since and allowed four runs on 12 hits in 11 innings, including six really good innings against the Phillies on July 14.

Darvish looked more like himself coming out of the Break. He had a 13.8% SwStr%, his highest mark since May 17, and had nine strikeouts in six innings. I wish I was a little more confident in him today, since I think Berrios is a little bit vulnerable. With an off day on Monday and a light workload yesterday, the Padres pen has stabilized a bit, but Darvish has made three starts since June 21.

I don’t have a bet here, but one last note: I’m sure people will talk about Darvish’s 5.52 ERA on the road as justification for a bet. While Petco Park is way better for pitchers and home/road splits are to be expected, Darvish’s wOBA against is nine points lower on the road and his SLG is 39 points lower. His road FIP of 3.71 is lower than his home FIP of 4.02. It just so happens that his road LOB% is 17% lower than his home LOB%. So, it’s not like he’s a bad pitcher on the road. It’s just that he hasn’t had as much luck. Also, his start in Mexico City was technically a home game for the Padres, so the splits don’t consider that a road game.

Chicago White Sox at New York Mets (-210, 9)

Touki Toussaint and Justin Verlander wrap up today’s card. It will be the second appearance for Toussaint and should be his third stretched-out appearance for the White Sox. He’s allowed nine runs on 15 hits in 24 innings overall, with 3.2 for the Guardians and the rest for Chicago. He has a 22/18 K/BB ratio, so his 3.38 ERA comes with a 4.51 FIP. The walks will ultimately catch up with him once his .237 BABIP regresses. His 60.3% GB% will regress as well. I’m not a big believer in this profile.

The Mets have not seen the best of Verlander, but even in his current state, he’s still been effective. Verlander has a 3.72 ERA with a 3.56 xERA and a 4.04 FIP. He’s cut his HR/FB% down to 9%, though we’ll have to see if the balls are different because he’s a guy that would be negatively affected if so. But, his K% is way down from past seasons and his BB% is up, so there are some concerns.

On the other hand, he’s allowed five earned runs in his last four starts, so it seems like he’s figured it out with his new normal. He allowed three runs on two hits against the Dodgers last time out with six walks in 22 batters faced, so that was a significant outlier relative to his career. He only has one double-digit SwStr% game to his name in his last five starts. He’s not doing well throwing first-pitch strikes, as it seems that he’s trying to be too fine or something.

It’s a weird profile. I don’t really know what to do with it today or long-term. I can’t say I like much about this game and we all know the Mets have been anything but trustworthy this season.

TL;DR Recap

MIL/PHI 1st 5 Over 5 (-115)

Braves Team Total Over 5.5 (-125)

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