MLB schedule today has 15 games
The baseball betting card starts early today with a couple of games just after the Noon ET hour following a night of bullpen meltdowns. The teams that I highlighted with some potential fatigue issues - Reds, Blue Jays, Orioles, Twins, specifically - all had problems late in games and three of them lost as a result. The Reds nearly blew a four-run lead before having to call on Alexis Diaz to bail them out.
Keep an eye on that bullpen usage. It doesn’t get any better today for those teams and it may take a few days for everything to stabilize. That will be one of many things to watch for today’s slate.
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Here are some thoughts on the July 26 card (odds from DraftKings):
This will be the final head-to-head meeting of the season for these two teams unless Game 163 is required to determine a division winner. If that is the case, the Brewers would host it, since they are 9-3 against the Reds on the year. The third loss came last night, as the Reds got two insurance runs off of Bryse Wilson in the ninth that proved to be hugely important.
Ben Lively and Freddy Peralta will bring it home for the season series with a 2:10 p.m. ET first pitch. Peralta comes in with a 4.72 ERA, 4.08 xERA, and a 4.69 FIP in his 103 innings of work. He’s got a big K% at 26.7%, but his BB% is up from last season at 9.7% and his HR/FB% has ballooned to 16.4%. He’s allowed 18 of them in 19 starts. Peralta is a guy I’d be wary of betting today and going forward, as he only threw 78 innings last season and had a big ramp-up in 2021 from 29.1 innings during the COVID year to 144.1. His workload concerns are very much on my mind.
He allowed six runs on six hits and two more homers last time out against Atlanta after firing six shutout innings against the Reds in his first start after the Break.
Lively comes in with a 3.88 ERA, 4.53 xERA, and a 4.86 FIP in his 60.1 innings of work. The right-hander has been a revelation for the Reds in the absence of guys like Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene, especially since his 0.6 fWAR in 10 starts and two relief appearances is approaching a career-best. Like Peralta, he’s had a home run problem, while his other peripherals are pretty decent. He has a 17.1% HR/FB% with 12 dingers.
No play here. It’ll likely come down to whether or not the homers are solo shots or multi-run bombs, but Alexis Diaz has pitched four of the last five days and all of the primary relievers for the Reds are up against it a bit. Milwaukee’s pen is in substantially better shape, so that could be a live betting angle.
Will today be Jack Flaherty’s final start with the Cardinals? My guess is yes. The 27-year-old right-hander is one of many pitchers available in a market where virtually every contender needs pitching help. He comes into this one with a 4.39 ERA, 4.74 xERA, and a 4.17 FIP, as a high walk rate from early in the season is still lingering, plus he’s allowed a .343 BABIP in his 19 starts across 104.2 innings.
Flaherty’s K% is fine at 22.2%. The BB% is definitely high at 11.3% and a team like the Orioles that has had success with cutting down walk rates makes some sense. So do the Diamondbacks, who, oddly enough, Flaherty will face in this start. Jack has only allowed a 34.6% Hard Hit% and a 6.4% Barrel%, so the walks are the only true issue and his BB% drops to 9.4% if you take away his first two starts when he walked 13 guys.
Of late, Flaherty has had some ups and downs. He allowed six runs on 10 hits in back-to-back starts on June 13 and 19 before missing a couple of weeks due to injury. In four July starts, he’s allowed seven runs on 24 hits over 24.2 innings of work. All seven runs have come over his last two outings. He has only allowed a 31.5% Hard Hit% and a 5.5% Barrel% in that span.
Zac Gallen has a 3.18 ERA with a 3.67 xERA and a 3.03 FIP in his 130.1 innings of work. Over his last five starts, Gallen has a 4.22 ERA with a 4.35 FIP with 15 runs allowed on 25 hits over 32 innings. He’s allowed six homers and has a 43.2% Hard Hit% against with a 10.2% Barrel%. In five of his last six starts, Gallen only has five or fewer strikeouts. He struck out 12 against the Angels on July 2. Since May 2, when his scoreless streak ended, Gallen has a 22.2% K%, which is well below his 26% for the season. His run in mid-to-late April skewed his K numbers in a big way.
Over his last three starts, Gallen only has a 7.6% SwStr% against the Pirates, Blue Jays, and Braves. His velo looks fine and I don’t see any injury indicators, but it is still a bit concerning to see, especially since he does allow a good bit of hard contact.
I don’t have a play here with the early start and the article release time that doesn’t give much advance notice. I do think Flaherty’s BB% troubles aren’t as much of a concern against the D-Backs, but it’s also a tough spot for him since his next scheduled start would be Tuesday and I don’t think he makes it for the team that drafted him back in 2014.
Johan Oviedo and Seth Lugo square off here in a must-win game for the Padres. San Diego cannot afford to lose this series against the Pirates. It might be too little, too late to avoid being a seller, but if they hope to avoid that fate, then winning games like this is mandatory. Blake Snell did his part last night, though he did walk five guys over his six innings. The bullpen shut it down and there were some fireworks with Angel Perdomo hitting Manny Machado after Juan Soto homered off of him.
Maybe that will be a galvanizing moment for the Padres, who have been said to have a lot of finger pointing and unhappy players with the underwhelming season. The players, including Machado, seemed to take it all in stride. They have bigger things to worry about and that includes today’s game.
Lugo has a 3.72 ERA with a 4.37 xERA and a 3.67 FIP over his 75 innings pitched. He allowed five runs on seven hits in his first start after the All-Star Break, but came back with six good innings against the Tigers in his last start with two runs on six hits. He’s got a 40% Hard Hit% against and an 8.4% Barrel%, so his contact metrics are pretty in line with league averages. Most of his peripherals are, except for a BB% that is way better than the average mark.
Oviedo has a 4.77 ERA with a 4.65 xERA and a 4.39 FIP on the season. I’d keep an eye on him going forward, as the 25-year-old has ramped up from 56 MLB innings last season, mostly as a reliever, to 111.1 innings this season. He did work 117 innings across three levels last year, but I think the Pirates will either monitor his innings a bit going forward. I could see them stopping him around 140 or so.
He’s been doing a good job of managing innings on his own, as he’s allowed five or more runs in three of his last four starts and has surrendered eight homers in his last six starts. After averaging 96.3 mph on the fastball to this point, his fastball velo was down last time out, so that will be something to watch as well.
No play from me here, but the Padres should take care of their affairs here to finish the series.
This game has already started, but a few thoughts…
Another early start here with a 1:10 p.m. ET first pitch between the Mariners and Twins. They’ve played some interesting games over the last two weeks and it’s a shame to see the season series come to a close given all the great starting pitching between the two teams.
The Twins pen is in a little bit better shape today. Emilio Pagan and Oliver Ortega were the guys that got hit yesterday, as Rocco Baldelli stayed away from Griffin Jax, who had worked three straight days, and also Jhoan Duran, who now has two days off. That’s a huge thing for the Twins today if this is another close game.
On the Seattle side, Paul Sewald has pitched five of the last six days and three straight, so he is definitely unavailable. I think everybody else would be available, though, so we’ll see how Scott Servais handles it if this is another close game. Both teams have Thursday off and the Twins actually have Monday off as well, so they are in a decent spot long-term.
Anyway, this is Bryce Miller and Joe Ryan to wrap things up. Miller has made two starts since his return from the IL and allowed one run on a solo homer over 10.1 innings pitched. He’s got a 9/3 K/BB ratio and has allowed eight hits, but he’s allowed a Hard Hit% of 50% and 53.8% in those outings against the Tigers and Blue Jays.
Ryan has hit a way and hit it pretty hard all of the sudden. His ERA is up to 3.88 with a 3.65 FIP, as he has a 5.75 ERA with a 5.30 FIP in his last seven starts. He’s allowed 13 homers in that span and a 45.3% Hard Hit% with an 11.3% Barrel%. He’s allowed 26 runs on 42 hits in 40.2 innings of work. The hot weather has not helped as a fly ball pitcher and neither has his shoddy location. He’s still generating lots of swings and misses, so maybe he can snap out of it, but it’s a rough look right now.
This game has already started, but a few thoughts…
Another early start with Alec Marsh and Gavin Williams. Marsh has allowed five runs twice and five runs combined in his other two starts as he heads into this one with a 6.20 ERA and a 7.96 FIP. The 11-strikeout game against the Rays is a huge outlier, given that he has 13 strikeouts over 67 batters faced in his other three outings. He’s allowed eight homers and it is a hot, humid day in Cleveland with temps hitting 90 and warm winds blowing out to dead center. That doesn’t bode well for Marsh.
I don’t think it bodes all that well for Williams either, who has a 26/15 K/BB ratio in 33.2 innings. He’s only given up four homers and three were to the Braves back on July 3, but he’s not working very deep into games and tilts more towards the fly ball side. The one thing he has done pretty well in his six starts is limit hard contact with a 35.7% Hard Hit% and a 4.1% Barrel%.
The ball carries pretty well at Kauffman in the heat, too, so we may get other chances to fade Marsh in some way.
It will be Patrick Sandoval and Michael Lorenzen, as we get our first night game of the card. This is a 6:40 p.m. ET start in Motown and weather could be a huge factor with some severe storm potential in the Great Lakes region today.
If the weather isn’t a factor, this should be a pretty interesting one. The Angels had an epic collapse yesterday, but managed to escape with the win in the 10th inning. It came at a bit of a cost, as Carlos Estevez had to throw 26 pitches and has now thrown 64 pitches over the last five days. I’ll be curious to see how Phil Nevin handles the late innings if he needs to use somebody in leverage. There’s a definite chance that he will with Sandoval on the bump.
Sandoval’s 2023 season bums me out. He has a 4.16 ERA with a 4.25 xERA and a 3.99 FIP, but I see so much more potential for him and I wish he’d get traded somewhere else. Somewhere with better defense on an annual basis and a better feel for pitching. At least the Angels have gotten a little better with it this season, as guys like Reid Detmers and Griffin Canning have shown more upside.
Sandoval has only allowed a 34.2% Hard Hit% with a 6.8% Barrel% on the season, so his contact management numbers are awesome. He has a 51% GB%, which is also awesome. His K% is down to 18.7%, but his SwStr% is 12.4%, so he should have more strikeouts than he does. One thing that worries me today is that Sandoval has only made one start since the All-Star Break and hasn’t pitched since July 18, but he was excellent in that start. He allowed a solo homer and one other hit over 7.1 innings against the Yankees with seven strikeouts.
The Tigers are 22nd in wOBA at .292 against lefties since June 15, so they haven’t set the world ablaze with their performance, which is hardly a surprise. They haven’t had a good offense in a long time, but they are making gains on the pitching side.
This will probably be Lorenzen’s last start for the Tigers, as he is an impending free agent and is having one of his better seasons. He’s got a 3.49 ERA with a 4.20 xERA and a 4.03 FIP in his 17 starts across 100.2 innings of work. Obviously there are some regression signs there. He’s got a low 19.1% K% and a league average Hard Hit% at 39.1%, so his .258 BABIP is low, since the quality of his stuff doesn’t seem to support a low number like that.
Lorenzen has not allowed a run in his last three starts across 18.2 innings of work with 14 strikeouts against six walks. He’s only allowed eight hits in that span. I’m still amazed by his season, as he’s allowed six runs three times, five runs three times, two runs twice, and then one or no runs in nine starts. What’s weird to me is that his velocity is down over his last three starts, but he’s been really effective.
With Lorenzen riding a high, I’ll pass on this one as well, but I would expect Sandoval to pitch well, so there are some prop options in play. Of course, the timing of the weather makes that a moving target here.
Andrew Heaney and Framber Valdez meet here, as the Astros can move into a tie for first place in the AL West with a win. They’ve won the first two games of this series and the series finale is a really, really big game. The Rangers nearly came back against Ryan Pressly in the ninth, but the rally fell one run short. It’s been a tough week for the Rangers with Corey Seager out, plus they’re once again seeing how big the need is for pitching.
At least Adolis Garcia came back and went 1-for-4 yesterday with a single and a strikeout. It was just good to have him back in the lineup after he missed a couple days from getting hit by a pitch on the hand.
Valdez has had a bit of a rough go lately. He’s battled various ailments and has allowed nine runs on 13 hits in his last 11.1 innings of work. He struck out 13 Angels on July 15, but still allowed five runs. He gave up four runs to Oakland last time out and only had four strikeouts. He’s allowed a ton of hard contact this season with a 44.6% Hard Hit% and he’s been north of that number in three of his last four starts. He’s also allowed six barrels in his last four starts and has dealt with a velocity decrease.
Valdez sat 94.6 mph with his sinker last time out, which was his second-lowest number of the season. His previous low was on April 10 in a road game at Pittsburgh and I’m sure it was cold. He sat 94.8 mph two starts ago, which was then the third time that he had been under 95 mph. Now he has four. He’s had no feel for his cutter lately and it had a huge velo drop of five mph in his first start back from the Break. He just doesn’t look all that sharp right now.
Heaney has a 4.58 ERA with a 4.78 xERA and a 5.10 FIP in his 96.1 innings, so he isn’t inspiring a ton of confidence with his numbers. He’s been very Jekyll and Hyde over his last five starts, as he’s allowed 4, 0, 8, 0, and 6 runs, so you never quite know which version of him you’re going to get. The weird part is that those starts in order are the Dodgers,Guardians, Nationals, Astros, and Tigers, so he’s been at his worst against the Nats and Tigers, while shutting down the Guardians and Astros.
What’s tough about backing the Rangers here is that Heaney has allowed a .473 SLG to righties and they’ve hit 17 of the 18 homers that he has allowed. They’ve also had 349 PA compared to 67 PA for lefties. Houston has a .347 wOBA and a 123 wRC+ against lefties since July 1. Texas is actually 26th in wOBA against lefties this month at .283 with an 80 wRC+.
Ultimately, I’m going to pass on this one as well. It hasn’t been a strong card yet, but plays are coming.
The Blue Jays and Dodgers square off in the series finale with a 4:10 p.m. ET first pitch at Dodger Stadium. It will be Yusei Kikuchi and Tony Gonsolin in what has been a really interesting series. Both games have required extra innings and have had their fair share of bullpen shenanigans.
We’ve got a couple interesting pitchers here as well. Kikuchi comes in with a 3.92 ERA, but a 4.46 xERA and a 4.95 FIP in 103.1 innings of work. He’s got a strong K/BB ratio, but he’s got an 18.3% HR/FB% with 22 homers allowed in his 20 starts. He’s allowed 13 of those 22 homers on the road, where he’s also allowed a .498 SLG and a .348 wOBA. His K% is also a lot lower on the road than it is at home for one reason or another.
Gonsolin has similar regression signs with a 3.94 ERA, 4.84 xERA, and a 4.73 FIP, but he doesn’t have the strong K/BB numbers that Kikuchi has. He also doesn’t have the same home run rate against. Gonsolin only had a 19.7% K% with a 9.4% BB%, but he’s still doing really well from a BABIP standpoint with a .209 mark. Lately, it has been a struggle, as he has allowed 24 runs on 28 hits in his last 31 innings. He’s allowed at least four runs in five of his last six starts.
Another game where there just doesn’t appear to be a whole lot to like. The total sits up at 10, which is pretty high, even for a 90-degree day in Chavez Ravine. Neither pitcher is super trustworthy and both bullpens are a mess, but that’s a lot for a getaway day game.
We got a little lucky with the Phillies last night, but part of the handicap was about the state of the Baltimore bullpen and there are some long-term concerns about Yennier Cano with the ramp up in innings and high-stress innings at that. It was interesting that Brandon Hyde tried to save Felix Bautista by using Cano a fourth time in six days knowing the arm slot was dropping rather than use Bautista.
At least he has Bautista tonight if he needs him with Kyle Bradish on the mound against Ranger Suarez. Bradish has a 3.05 ERA with a 4.20 xERA and a 3.52 FIP in his 97.1 innings of work. Over his last 15 starts, he has allowed more than three earned runs just once. Over his last seven starts, he has not allowed more than two runs in any outing with a 1.62 ERA and a 3.42 FIP. He has a 41/9 K/BB ratio in those 44.1 innings pitched and has only allowed eight barrels.
Suarez comes in with a 4.07 ERA, 4.49 xERA and a 3.84 FIP in his 73 innings pitched. He’s allowed 16 runs on 29 hits in his last 22 innings with a 17/12 K/BB ratio. He’s allowed nine barrels in that span with a 12.2% Barrel%.
The O’s have a robust .358 wOBA and a 131 wRC+ against lefties this month. The Phillies have also hit lefties well, but the problem is that Bradish is a righty. They only have a .299 wOBA and a 85 wRC+ in that split.
I’m on Baltimore tonight.
Pick: Orioles -105
Veteran left-handers Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon meet in the Subway Series here, as we’ll see the second start of the season for Quintana and the fourth for Rodon. Quintana allowed two runs on six hits in his 2023 debut with three strikeouts and zero walks against the White Sox. He pounded the strike zone and worked ahead in the count, so it was a pretty decent first effort from him.
It has been a struggle for Rodon, who has allowed 12 runs on 12 hits in 14.2 innings of work since his return. He’s allowed four home runs with an 11/9 K/BB ratio. He’s allowed a 42.2% Hard Hit% and five barrels in starts against the Cubs, Rockies at Coors, and Angels. The Mets come into this game sixth in wOBA against lefties at .355 with a 129 wRC+ in July. The Yankees are 21st with a .299 wOBA and a 90 wRC+.
Rodon’s name value has inflated this number. This Yankees offense is not good right now and I don’t know if we could say that these two pitchers are all that different in their current states. Both bullpens are fine for now. I also like that Quintana had such a high GB% in his first start. Rodon seems to be having trouble keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate, while Quintana induced a lot of worm-burners and did not allow any barrels. In a small ballpark like Yankee Stadium, that matters.
The Mets are worth the underdog look here in my opinion. Rodon is not pitching like the guy we’re used to seeing and I don’t think there is a huge difference between the two bullpens. I’m getting the better offense at +130 and I think that’s a worthwhile investment.
Pick: Mets +130
The top pitching matchup of the night is at Fenway Park between Spencer Strider and Brayan Bello. Strider comes in with a 3.78 ERA, but a 3.03 xERA and a 2.88 FIP, so he’s pitched much better than his ERA would suggest. He’s got a 39.7% K% and will cross 200 strikeouts again very soon with two months left to go in the season. The thing for Strider is that he’s allowed 16 homers in his 116.2 innings compared to seven last year in 131.2 innings.
But, that’s really the only thing. He throws really hard, so he does apply the power sometimes and has allowed 24 barrels on the season, but his Hard Hit% is only 37%, so that’s not bad. He’s allowed nine runs on 12 hits in his last 12 innings, but he has 23 strikeouts against one walk in that span, so he’s fallen on the wrong side of some sequencing luck.
This will be a really interesting one because the Red Sox have the seventh-lowest K% overall and the third-lowest home K%. They also have the third-best home offense with a .358 wOBA. Strider has a .330 BABIP, which is batting average without strikeouts and home runs in the equation. The Red Sox have a chance if they aren’t striking out a lot.
Then there’s Brayan Bello, who has a 3.60 ERA with a 3.97 xERA and a 4.36 FIP in his 90 innings of work. Bello only has a 20.5% K%, but he’s got a 55.7% GB% and stays away from allowing walks. He’s also been able to conquer Fenway Park this season and has only allowed a .297 wOBA and a 3.14 ERA in 48.2 innings.
Bello is just coming off of the paternity list and this will be his first start in a week. He allowed six runs on five hits last time out against Oakland, but he was on the road with a pregnant significant other at home and that had to be a really weird spot for him. He also allowed three runs on eight hits over six innings in his first start after the All-Star Break. He’s given up six of his 13 homers in his last three starts and strikeouts have been tough to come by, but he’s 24 and was about to become a dad down in the Dominican Republic.
Bello actually went to the Red Sox Dominican baseball academy over the All-Star Break to keep throwing and also be closer to his family. So, I think it’s fair to just assume that his last two starts had a lot to do with the travel and the anxiety. He doesn’t have a ton of strikeouts, but he does have an 11.2% SwStr% and that’s up to 12.1% in his last six starts.
The primary relievers are good for both sides here, so this is a pretty straight-forward handicap. Here in July, the Red Sox are second with a .363 wOBA and have a 128 wRC+ against righties, while the Braves are 10th with a .330 wOBA and a 104 wRC+. I think the Red Sox are worth the gamble since they should put a lot of balls in play against Strider and I would expect Bello to be stronger. I do prefer the 1st 5 to the full game since I’m handicapping Bello against a really dangerous lineup, not all of the Red Sox pen, whose numbers this month are heavily influenced by the dominance of Nick Pivetta, though some of their guys have been really solid. I'd just rather leave it in Bello's hands and trade the five cents for the 1st 5.
Pick: Boston 1st 5 (+140)
In what should be Marcus Stroman’s final start as a Cub, this is a toss-up game against the White Sox. It will be Lance Lynn for the South Siders after the Cubs won easily last night behind Kyle Hendricks and another fine offensive showing. With seven more runs last night, the Cubs are still averaging about 6.9 runs per game in the second half. They’re playing really well and might not be fully dead yet in the NL Central race, but being a seller would put the kibosh on any kind of push.
Stroman has a 3.09 ERA with a 3.86 xERA and a 3.51 FIP in his 122.1 innings of work. He does have regression signs in his profile, as I’ve talked about before, but his BABIP has been going up a few points at a time as it inches towards something representing normal. He had a .272 BABIP last season and he’s up to .258 now for this season.
Since a blister popped up in late June, Stroman hasn’t been the same guy. He’s allowed 21 runs on 27 hits in his last 23.2 innings with a 22/12 K/BB ratio. He’s got a .342 BABIP against and a 51.1% LOB% as those regression signs are definitely hitting. Only 17 of the runs are earned for a 6.46 ERA, but he’s allowed four or more runs in four of his five starts and just had a rough outing against St. Louis after six good innings coming out of the Break against Boston.
Lynn checks in with a 6.18 ERA, 4.81 xERA, and a 5.28 FIP in his 115 innings pitched. He has allowed 28 homers, which is now a career high and he still has two months of the season left. He has 139 strikeouts, which is 15 more than he had last season in 6.2 innings, but he just can’t stay away from the long ball. He has allowed 36 barrels this season for an 11.1% Barrel% and a 39.9% Hard Hit%, which actually isn’t that far from league average. He’s allowed nine homers in his last four starts and that includes seven shutout innings against Toronto with 11 strikeouts in his last start before the Break.
He’s allowed 13 runs on 14 hits in two starts since the Break with six homers allowed. Stroman is running into death by singles and Lynn continues to allow a bunch of long balls. Stroman has faced the Cardinals twice, Guardians, Brewers, and Red Sox during this recent stretch, so he’s faced a couple good offenses, a Milwaukee team playing really well in July, and then Cleveland.
The Cubs are eighth in wOBA against RHP in July at .340. The White Sox are 30th at .278. To me, this is another game just like yesterday for the Cubs. They’re simply the better team right now. They’re playing better. They’re ignoring the Trade Deadline noise better. The White Sox offense stinks and has pretty much all season. They show some signs of life against lefties, but Stroman is not a lefty.
I disagree with the line move here. Lynn has positive regression signs, but those don’t come when you’re giving up tons of home runs. It generally takes multiple hits against Stroman to score runs, especially when you are a team like the White Sox that doesn’t draw walks. I’m on the Cubs again tonight.
Pick: Cubs -115
The Giants are laying a big numbers again with opener Ryan Walker followed by some combination of relievers. The A’s are said to be using Hogan Harris as a starter, but Ken Waldichuk was listed that way until he didn’t start and Tayler Scott did. Sean Manaea threw 84 pitches on Saturday, so I don’t think it’ll be him. Jakob Junis threw 32 pitches on Sunday, so I could see him following Walker.
No matter how this one shakes out, I don’t really see anything to get excited about.
Red Sox 1st 5 (+140)