MLB schedule today has 15 games
Hump Day in MLB features 15 games and a few early starts, so we’ve got baseball all day on the 17th. We once again have a slate jampacked with interleague action, as just under half of the league’s contests will feature an AL team vs. an NL team. Unique matchups are fun, but can also offer some different betting opportunities and handicapping strategies.
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Here are some thoughts on the May 17 card (odds from DraftKings):
Have I ever mentioned how baseball makes no sense whatsoever? Brandon Williamson couldn’t find home plate without an expedition the likes of Lewis & Clark in the minor leagues, but then comes up to the big leagues and works 5.2 innings with six strikeouts and two walks in a 3-1 win at Coors Field. Oh, yeah, and a 3-1 (!!) game at Coors. What a game we’ve chosen to invest our hard-earned dollars in.
Anyway, Graham Ashcraft and Austin Gomber are the slated starters for this one and it’s been a struggle lately for one and not the other. Ashcraft has allowed 12 runs on 12 hits over his last 7.1 innings of work with just six strikeouts against four walks. Despite stuff that comps out with guys like Corbin Burnes and Jacob deGrom in terms of velo and movement, Ashcraft just can’t induce more swings and misses and is also having some control mishaps. He’s got a 3.95 ERA with a 4.43 FIP because his stuff is just so hard to hit and he’s only allowed four homers, though three have been in those last two starts.
Gomber, meanwhile, has allowed just six runs over his last four starts after giving up nine runs in just two innings to the Pirates on April 19. He’s shut down the Guardians, D-Backs, Mets, and Phillies, with two of those starts coming at Coors Field. He still has a 6.30 ERA with a 5.70 FIP, but his recent results have been significantly better.
That said, he has allowed a 50% Hard Hit% in three of those four starts, but the BABIP gods have been smiling favorably upon his results. Gomber has a 64.1% LOB% for the season, hence the super high ERA, but like Ashcraft, he doesn’t miss a lot of bats with just 28 strikeouts in 40 innings.
That makes this a high-variance game with lots of balls in play and I don’t think there are any great betting edges to be had.
Taijuan Walker and Ross Stripling are the slated starters for afternoon baseball by the bay. Walker heads into this start with a 5.75 ERA and a 5.25 FIP over his 40.2 innings of work. He’s got 38 strikeouts against 17 walks, but his results have been varied recently. He gave up eight runs to the Dodgers in just 3.1 innings on the heels of allowing a five-spot in four innings to the Mariners, a start in which he left with some forearm discomfort. Since allowing 13 runs over those two starts, he’s allowed four runs on 10 hits with nine strikeouts against zero walks in his last 12 innings.
I really don’t know what I’m going to get from him on a start to start basis, which is problematic because he’s kind of always profiled to me like a pitcher that I want to avoid. The one thing that stands out here about this start is that 10 of Walker’s 17 free passes have been issued to lefties and the Giants lineup is pretty left-handed-heavy, which is why they excel against right-handed pitching. Walker has also allowed four homers out of his eight, even though lefties have 13 fewer plate appearances.
On the whole, Walker has a 5.75 ERA with a 4.75 xERA and a 5.25 FIP, so the numbers are lacking, but that one big start is the one that stands out. He does have a 67% LOB%, so his ERA may improve as he goes forward.
Stripling has a 7.14 ERA with a 7.17 FIP, so there isn’t a lot to like about the 29 innings that he has put forth this season. He’s allowed 10 homers in that span and a 13.4% Barrel%, so location has been a major issue. He’s also allowed a 42.3% Hard Hit% and has been north of 50% in four of his last five appearances. I spent too much time on this game already. Neither pitcher has a lot of redeeming qualities, nor do I see reasons for optimism one way or the other.
After squandering an opportunity against a southpaw yesterday, the Nationals are back to facing righties as they draw Edward Cabrera in this one. Washington took a late lead yesterday, only to blow it on Jorge Soler’s walk-off blast in the ninth. It was definitely a tough pill to swallow for a team that has been fighting hard with a clear lack of talent. It was also a tough pill for me to swallow as a Marlins season win total under ticket holder.
Cabrera is a really tricky guy to handicap. So far this season, over 48% of his plate appearances have either ended in a walk or a strikeout. He has a 29.9% K% and an 18.3% BB% all leading to a 5.35 ERA with a 5.00 FIP. He has 49 strikeouts and 30 walks in 35.1 innings of work. You really never know what you’re going to get, but he has allowed two runs in five of his eight starts and never more than four runs.
Not only are the Nationals 27th in wOBA against righties, they have one of the lowest BB% at 6.9%, which is anything but nice drawing a matchup with Cabrera. Cabrera also has a 3.60 ERA at home in 15 innings compared to a 6.64 ERA on the road in 20.1 innings. His FIP is still 4.70 at home and 5.22 on the road, but he’s had some better batted ball success and less of a home run issue at pitcher-friendly Marlins Park.
Gore is one of the biggest early-season success stories, as the Nats left-hander has a 3.29 ERA with a 3.62 FIP over 41 innings of work. Like Cabrera, he has a lot of strikeouts and a lot of walks, but his walk rate isn’t nearly to the same degree with a 51/21 K/BB ratio in eight starts. Gore also issued 14 walks in his first four starts and has only walked seven in four starts since.
His BABIP is on the high side at .347 with a Hard Hit% of 40% on the dot, which is only 0.8% higher than league average. In some respects, you could argue that Gore could be better, however, an 82.7% LOB% is also a little on the high side. The Marlins are better offensively against lefties, so I don’t have as much confidence in Gore here as I would like and I have no clue what the Nats do on their weak side of the platoon against Cabrera.
What a disappointing effort from the Cardinals yesterday against Wade Miley and the Brewers. They failed to cash in on some opportunities and, frankly, just didn’t generate enough of them in that game. So, they’ll look to take the series by throwing another southpaw at Milwaukee with the recalled lefty Matthew Liberatore. The Brewers will counter with ace Corbin Burnes.
The Brewers scratched out a little bit of production against Jordan Montgomery yesterday, but not much. They are 29th in wOBA against lefties at .286 and have a 77 wRC+, which ranks 28th. They are still striking out nearly 31% of the time against southpaws to lead the league and get a guy in Liberatore who probably should have been up a while ago with St. Louis’s rotation woes.
Liberatore did struggle last season in 34.2 MLB innings with a 5.97 ERA and a 5.02 FIP, but he’s put up some excellent numbers in the minors this season with a 3.13 ERA and a 3.69 FIP. The 23-year-old southpaw has 56 strikeouts against 17 walks in 46 innings of work, though his two most recent starts were a little bit rocky with eight runs allowed on 12 hits in 12.1 innings of work. Either way, Liberatore provides some ceiling for a Cardinals rotation that doesn’t seem to have much of one at present.
Burnes has a 3.35 ERA with a 4.11 FIP over 45.2 innings, but there are some oddities in his profile that make him a tough guy to gauge. His K% this season is just 21%, down over 10% from his career average and 9.5% from last season’s mark. His BB% is up to 9.7%, the second-highest mark of his career, with the highest coming in the COVID season at 10%. He’s allowed just a .238 BABIP against, which is nearly 50 points better than his career average, despite a 37.3% Hard Hit% that ranks as one of the highest in his career.
In other words, Burnes really hasn’t been sharp. He has only allowed six barrels and that will limit damage. He also allowed 10 of his 17 earned runs in his first two starts of the season, but he hasn’t been the dominant guy that we’re used to seeing. I don’t know if we see that here or not, but Burnes has been tough to nail down. I was on him back on May 5 when he only allowed two earned runs, but five total, as the defense failed to bail him out. It’s just weird seeing the low strikeout totals out of him.
I don’t have a bet here, but obviously will be keeping a close eye on both hurlers with some questions that I’d like answered.
Griffin Canning and Kyle Bradish get us started with the AL portion of the card, as there are no day games in the Junior Circuit today. It has been a weird season for Bradish to this point. He suffered an injury on a comebacker in his first start on April 3, so he basically came out of Spring Training and then hit the shelf for 16 days. After throwing six shutout against the Nationals, he allowed 13 runs on 19 hits in his next 12 innings of work.
In his last start, he silenced a Pittsburgh lineup that barely talks about a whisper this month, as he allowed one unearned run on three hits over six innings of work. After recording just 10 strikeouts in his previous three starts, he had six against just one walk in that start. He gets a much stiffer test today against the Angels, who are quietly a top-10 lineup against righties with a .327 wOBA and a 105 wRC+.
Bradish’s super advanced pitching metrics like Stuff+ suggest that he should be a lot better than a 4.56 ERA and a 4.36 FIP, but he’s got a .329 BABIP and has allowed a 48.1% Hard Hit%. The Orioles are one of the league’s weaker defensive teams, so hard-hit contact should be more penal for their pitchers than it might be for another arm. He’s 32nd out of 203 pitchers with at least 200 innings in Stuff+, a metric derived by Eno Sarris. He’s also just outside the top 50 in Pitching+. So, we’ll see if these metrics do ultimately suggest some positive regression for him.
Interestingly, Canning is among those tied for 40th in Pitching+ with a 104 mark in his 24 innings of work, but not all of the metrics look favorably upon him. Also, he has a 6.38 ERA with a 5.10 FIP in his 24 innings of work. Canning has allowed 10 runs on 11 hits in his last 8.2 innings of work. I talked about how his new-look arsenal should benefit him with fewer fastballs and more of everything else, but he only has 21 K in 24 innings and a 61.2% LOB%.
Tough to like anything about this game, so onward we go.
A day after Aaron Judge was accused of cheating by internet tough guys and the Blue Jays broadcast team, Domingo German was ejected for using foreign substances by home plate umpire James Hoye. German didn’t seem to put up much of a fight and was under scrutiny earlier this season in a start against the Twins, so that added some more fuel to the fire.
The Yankees ultimately won the game and have won the first two in this series as they send ace Gerrit Cole to the bump in search of securing a series victory in this four-gamer. The Jays will counter with Chris Bassitt, who has turned his season around in very impressive fashion.
Cole has a 2.22 ERA with a 3.09 FIP in his 56.2 innings of work this season. He’s struck out 62, walked 18, and, most importantly, only allowed four home runs, though all of them have come in his last two starts against the Rays. He has allowed two or fewer runs in eight of his nine starts, with his only blow-up coming two starts ago at Tropicana Field.
All of the metrics look good for Cole with a 38.9% Hard Hit%, a low 7.6% Barrel%, and nothing too far out of range to be ripe for regression. His 83% LOB% is certainly sustainable for a pitcher of his caliber with a high K% and his .264 BABIP seems quite reasonable as well. His last two seasons have featured LOB% of 77.9% and 78.2%, so some mild regression is definitely not out of the question, but he did run 83.3% in 2019 and 85.9% in the shortened 2020 season, so we’re not talking about him going down to the mid-70s or something.
Bassitt brings 20 straight scoreless innings into this start. He allowed four runs in the first inning on April 30 via a Taylor Trammell grand slam, but has not allowed a run since, including a complete game shutout against the Braves last time out with just two hits allowed. Over his last five starts, Bassitt has allowed just a 22% Hard Hit%, so he’s been locating really effectively and the results have come along with it.
Frankly, aside from allowing nine runs on 10 hits in 3.1 innings in his first start of the season, he’s been great, with just 10 earned runs allowed in his other seven starts. His ERA of 3.49 comes with a 4.87 FIP, but he allowed four of his six homers in that first start and it’s just lingering there.
That being said, Bassitt has a 1.97 ERA with a 3.85 FIP in his last seven starts. The 22 walks and five hit batsmen are doing a lot of the work on that FIP, but he has a .173 BABIP in that span with an 81.9% LOB%. He’s due for some regression here shortly and it could very well happen today against the Yankees. Toronto should hope not because Cole has been stingy and has done a good job to limit runs.
There are a lot of layers to this game, but I honestly don’t see a great edge to be had. Cole at this price is tempting to say the least, but Bassitt has been locked in himself and this game may come down to the bullpens and a few key plate appearances late.
Marco Gonzales and Brayan Bello are the slated starters for this one at Fenway Park, as we saw a rare bad outing from Luis Castillo yesterday in a 9-4 loss. Runs continue to be plentiful at Fenway and we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case in this one. I could certainly see Boston’s offense having some success.
This is a terrible park to be a pitch-to-contact guy like Gonzales. He only has 25 strikeouts in 36.2 innings with a 4.42 ERA and a 4.34 FIP over seven starts. He has pitched well on the road this season in matchups against the Guardians, Phillies, Blue Jays, and Tigers, but I’m seeing plenty of regression signs and he was rocked by Toronto out of that group to the tune of eight runs (five earned) in three innings.
Gonzales has a strong 34.7% Hard Hit%, but it’s up at 41.8% over his last three starts and he’s allowed five barrels in that span. He’s faced Cleveland twice, who ranks 30th in wOBA against lefties, along with Milwaukee, who ranks 29th. He’s also drawn the Phillies, who are 24th, and the Tigers, who are 21st. The Blue Jays are currently 18th and the Astros are 19th, so he hasn’t faced an offense in the top half of the league in wOBA against lefties yet. He will tonight, as the Red Sox are 11th.
Furthermore, the Red Sox are fourth in home wOBA vs. LHP at .365, trailing only the Nationals, Rays, and Braves. They’re batting .296 in that split, which is especially concerning for a guy in Gonzales who won’t get many strikeouts to offset the batted ball results. He’s allowed an average exit velocity of at least 90.1 mph in four starts this season and three of them are his last three outings, including one of his worst against the Tigers in his last start.
Gonzales had a .372 wOBA against on the road in 80 innings last season with a 4.84 ERA and a 5.62 FIP. Compare that with a 3.58 ERA and a 4.64 FIP in 103 innings at home with a .307 wOBA against. He’s a guy that struggles away from T-Mobile Park and I very much expect him to struggle here.
Bello heads into this start with a 5.01 ERA and a 5.06 FIP, as he’s had some command concerns of his own with a homer allowed in each start and a 52.1% Hard Hit%. In fairness to him, he has drawn the Angels, Blue Jays, and Braves, who are all top-10-ish offenses against righties. The Brewers are also better in that split than they are against lefties. Seattle is certainly better against righties than lefties, but still just a tick below league average with a 99 wRC+ and a .308 wOBA.
Bello also has an 11.5 SwStr% and the one thing that really neutralizes the Mariners is a guy that can generate swing and miss. They have a 25% K% against righties, which ranks third behind the Giants and A’s.
The Red Sox have the second-lowest K% at 19.2%. They should put up some numbers against Gonzales here in what is a really bad park and a bad matchup for him. I’ll lay the short price with the Sox in this one.
Pick: Red Sox -130
What an ugly pitching matchup on the South Side today with Peyton Battenfield and Mike Clevinger. For some reason, the Guardians appear to be wasting 100 mph bullets from Gavin Williams in the minor leagues to run out Battenfield, who is simply not a Major League pitcher. He’s sprinkled in a few good starts, but he has allowed a 93.9 mph average exit velocity on the season and a 50% Hard Hit%. He’s given up a 13.6% Barrel% as well.
Battenfield has allowed an average EV of at least 91.7 mph in each of his six appearances, so any good stats he has are a result of batted ball luck, not of command or control. To his credit, he hasn’t walked anybody in his last two starts after walking 11 batters in his previous 12.2 innings of work. Still, there’s very little to like in the profile here.
I don’t see much to like in the profile for the former Guardian in Clevinger either. I assure you that this start will mean a hell of a lot to him, as he enters with a 4.79 ERA and a 5.26 FIP in his 41.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 35, but also walked 18 as a fly ball guy with just a 29.9% GB%. He could absolutely maintain a lower BABIP like his .281 mark if he keeps inducing all this fly ball contact. He does have a high Barrel% at 9.4%, but a low Hard Hit% at 35.9%. The Guardians don’t make a lot of hard contact, so this may not be the best of matchups for them.
However, lefties own a .246/.338/.522 slash and a .365 wOBA against Clevinger in 80 plate appearances. The problem here is that Cleveland is missing its best hitter in Jose Ramirez, who is on the bereavement list, and he is a switch hitter. They’ve gotten an 0-for-40 from the catcher position in May and still aren’t getting a whole lot from Josh Bell or Steven Kwan. It’s a bad offense now missing its top piece.
As much as I have concerns about Clevinger, Battenfield scares me more. This line moved about 15 cents, but Ramirez is worth more than that to this team and this paltry lineup. Josh Naylor also left hurt yesterday and it looks like an IL stint is possible. Add it all up and I think the White Sox look worthy of a play in what I really hope is Battenfield’s last start.
Pick: White Sox -135
The man, the myth, the Dick Mountain will take the hill (pardon the pun) for the Pirates as Rich Hill squares off with Eduardo Rodriguez. E-Rod has been outstanding this season, but I admit to doing a double take when I saw this line. Some betting action has come in on the Tigers to drive it up, but, man, the Tigers don’t get favorite prices like this often.
In fact, the last time Detroit was -170 in a real, actual baseball game was July 5, 2017. I’ll let that sink in for a second.
So, that’s the situation at hand here, an historical outlier six years in the making. But, I guess that’s what you get when the Pirates score less than the fat, nerdy kid at the prom and just got shut out by Michael Lorenzen last night. Rodriguez has some regression signs in the profile with a .209 BABIP and a 90.4% LOB%, so maybe the universe explodes and the Pirates are the team to deliver it. He’s got a 1.57 ERA with a 2.60 xERA and a 3.07 FIP, as all of his peripherals are spectacular, but a BABIP that low and a LOB% that high just aren’t sustainable at all.
After going on a bit of a run, Hill seems to have regressed a bit, as he only got 11 outs last time out and has allowed 10 runs on 20 hits in his last three starts. In fairness, one was against Washington and the other was against Toronto, but he’s not viewed as a reliable starter with a 4.35 ERA and a 5.02 FIP in 41.1 innings of work.
No play here, but man, what an indictment on how things have gone for the Pirates to be the biggest dog against the Tigers in nearly six seasons.
It’s May Day at Chavez Ravine as Dustin May takes the hill for the Dodgers in their quest to win this interleague series against the Twins. I’m definitely angry with myself for not taking the under in yesterday’s game, as Bailey Ober was terrific and Clayton Kershaw battled his way through four innings. Ober won’t be coming at cheap prices moving forward given what he’s done thus far, so I probably missed that boat as well.
Sonny Gray gets the call today for the Dodgers with his 1.39 ERA and 1.89 FIP over 45.1 innings of work. There are some regression signs in the profile for Gray, but mostly just the 85.7% LOB% that accompanies his absurd strikeout rate with 56 punchies in eight starts. What’s crazy is that he has 55 of them in seven starts after a lackluster first outing against the Royals.
Gray does have a 40.9% Hard Hit%, so it’s one of those things where he has earned his .300 BABIP against, but Cluster Luck has been on his side to strand runners and get strikeouts at opportune times. He has a .333 BABIP with the bases empty, but that drops to .255 with men on base and .219 with men in scoring position. If there’s a correction in that arena, that’s how his ERA will rise up towards a normal level. Maybe it comes today against a top-five Dodgers offense against righties.
But then there’s May, who has a 2.68 ERA with a 3.37 FIP and a 4.68 xFIP in his 47 innings. He only has 32 strikeouts, but has also only allowed one home run and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in seven of his eight starts. If you’re wondering how we have a total of 8.5 with two guys that have sub-3 ERAs, it’s going to be in the 80s with a nice breeze blowing out, so the weather is conducive for runs, even if the pitching matchup isn’t.
I don’t really have a play here. I’m just sitting here writing this up angry that I didn’t take that under yesterday. Of course, the 1st 5 under would have pushed on 4, but I always could have gone full-game under at 8. Missed opportunities in a slump are even more frustrating, even if they validate your process.
I wouldn’t say that Ryne Nelson profiles as the type to be a -165 road favorite, but the Athletics are just that kind of team and Luis Medina is just that kind of pitcher. Medina has allowed 11 runs (10 earned) on 13 hits in 11 innings of work with nine strikeouts against three walks. He’s given up three homers across outings against the Angels and Rangers and his minor league numbers don’t exactly inspire a ton of confidence either.
Medina had a 7.43 ERA and a 6.38 FIP in 13.1 innings at Triple-A when he was called up. He was a bit more effective in the Yankees organization in previous seasons when the A’s got him in the Frankie Montas deal, but he’s struggled at three different levels for the A’s to this point. Having only three walks surprises me because he was spraying the ball all over the place in the minor leagues and Major League hitters are way better than those guys. I can’t help but feel like the control problems are going to show up soon, along with the existing command woes with the homers and a 44.7% Hard Hit% through two starts.
The profile for Nelson isn’t all that special either. He has a 6.20 ERA with a 5.07 FIP in his 40.2 innings of work. He’s surrendered seven homers in eight starts with just 26 strikeouts against 11 walks. He has gotten a bit unlucky with a 63.9% LOB% and a .333 BABIP against with a 41.5% Hard Hit%, but he’s a really fringy MLB arm at this point. He just allowed four barrels last time out against the Giants, as he really failed to locate in that start.
Nelson actually limited the damage to just five runs in his three starts, so he’s allowed 24 runs in his last five outings. It’s going to be a bit warmer for a day game in Oakland, so I wonder if maybe the A’s will be able to generate a little more offensive prowess today.
I also look at these two bullpens and have huge concerns. The Diamondbacks have used Andrew Chafin four of the last five days, so he’s out. This would be four games in six days for Miguel Castro. Scott McGough just threw 49 pitches yesterday and took the loss. Two other relievers threw 34 and 36, respectively. It was a long night for both bullpens, as the A’s needed five relievers themselves. This is also the worst bullpen in baseball and has been throughout much of the season. A guy like Medina doesn’t help matters.
It’s hard to take an Over 9 at the Coliseum, but I’m going to do it today. It’ll be a bit warmer and these two starters just aren’t very good. Furthermore, with yesterday’s long game, the managers won’t have a quick trigger finger, so a struggling starter is going to be left out there to figure it out until he simply can’t any longer.
Most of the market is 9.5 on this one and either +105 or even money. That’s still a decent bet, but DraftKings does have Over 9 and -120 on this one. I think that’s a worthwhile endeavor, and I also think 9.5 is fine at plus money or down to -105.
Pick: Over 9 (-120)
Yu Darvish and Carlos Hernandez are set to go in this one, as we’ve got some goodbye baseball at Petco Park. I don’t have to spend much time on this one, as Darvish is light years better than Hernandez, who has worked exclusively in relief this season. Darvish has a 3.16 ERA with a 3.58 FIP and his one ugly start was one of the Mexico City games, in which he allowed four runs on nine hits and three of the four homers he has given up this season.
Hernandez had a 7.39 ERA with a 5.20 FIP last season in seven starts and 20 relief appearances over 56 innings of work. He was primarily a starter up until this season, but couldn’t crack this year’s Royals rotation, which really says all you need to know. Keep an eye on this game heading into the weekend because Hernandez has not faced more than eight batters in an appearance.
I presume Jackson Kowar will work in a bulk capacity here, but this isn’t a super deep Royals bullpen if this is a Johnny Wholestaff type of game. The guys working bulk innings are really thin right now.
Josh Fleming will get the straight start today for the Rays against Kodai Senga and the Mets. There was some talk that Taj Bradley would be called back up to make the start, but it will instead be Fleming, who has a 4.26 ERA with a 4.79 FIP in his 31.2 innings of work. He’s only started one other time this season, working as more of a bulk reliever after an opener.
It’s still possible that the Rays change their minds and use an opener or scratch Fleming for Bradley, but the latest news was that it would be Fleming making the start. I don’t see much to like in his profile. He has a 17/14 K/BB ratio, which doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, and he’s a guy that has a 43.7% Hard Hit%. He has only allowed three barrels this season, so I give him credit for that, but he’s subject to a ton of batted ball variance and that’s a hard profile to bet on.
Senga is a tough guy to figure out as well because the raw stuff looks spectacular, but the execution and the command aren’t always there. He’s walked 23 batters in 37 innings and has 43 strikeouts, but he’s also allowed six homers despite a 53.1% GB%. There just isn’t a lot of consistency from pitch to pitch, let alone start to start, and I don’t have much interest in betting on or against him until that takes place one way or the other.
What a dandy we’ve got here with Spencer Strider and Nate Eovaldi. Eovaldi is off to an incredible start with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.95 FIP in his 53.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 56 and only walked eight over his eight starts on the year. He’s given up one home and that start against the Royals on April 12 accounts for six of the 16 earned runs he has surrendered on the season.
He has allowed a bit of hard contact with a 41.1% Hard Hit%, but most of it is on the ground and he has only allowed six barrels on the season, with four coming in his last two starts. It is safe to say that this is a step up for Eovaldi, who has faced the Phillies, Cubs, Royals twice, Reds, Yankees (no Judge or Stanton), Angels, and Athletics, but the Braves are a lesser team against righties than they are against lefties, so we’ll see if Eovaldi can keep it going.
Strider has a 2.51 ERA with a 1.63 FIP in his 46.2 innings of work on the season. He’s struck out 79 batters, which is simply absurd. He’s on pace for well over 300 strikeouts this season if he can stay healthy. He’s walked 15, but only four in his last four starts. He’s given up just two homers on the year, despite having just a 32.2% GB%. His Hard Hit% is 41.4%, but, like Eovaldi, he’s limited the barrels he has allowed.
Baseball makes no sense, so this may end up being a 7-6 game somehow, but this looks like a pretty tight, low-scoring affair on paper. The Braves may be a little bit too high of a favorite here, but I could think of 400 million things I’d rather do with my money than step in front of the Quadzilla Express.
The Cubs and Astros finish up their weekday soiree with this matchup between Drew Smyly and JP France. Smyly’s performance has been a really pleasant development for the Cubs this season, as he has a 3.05 ERA with a 3.57 FIP in 44.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 38 and walked 10 while allowing just an 85.1 mph average exit velocity and a 28.6% Hard Hit%. He’s done such an outstanding job of limiting hard contact that he’s carrying a .238 BABIP.
He actually has a 2.04 ERA with a 3.13 FIP in his last seven starts, but his LOB% there is 82.7% when you take out the bad start he had against the Reds to open the season. He’s also running a .202 BABIP without that start. As much as I love what Smyly is doing and the weak contact adds an extra dimension of sustainability to his performance, it is hard to run these types of numbers long-term and there will be another rocky start soon. I’m just not sure when it will be.
This will be the third start for France and the first home start for him after shutting down the Mariners and White Sox in road outings. He’s struck out just eight of the 44 batters that he has faced, but he’s running a .156 BABIP and a 100% LOB%, as the only run he’s allowed has been a solo homer. He’s got a 33.3% Hard Hit% in his two starts and the one barrel he allowed left the yard.
France is a big deception guy, so I can see why he’d be tough to face the first time around. At the minor league level, it led to a lot of strikeouts, but also a lot of walks. At the MLB level in two starts, it seems to be leading to a lot of soft contact and some bad swings. He’s always been an effective pitcher, though, and sometimes it takes being at the MLB level, around other MLB starters and coaches, to really harness everything. Perhaps he’s doing that. Or perhaps he’s just had a couple decent matchups and now gets a way better Cubs lineup.
This is the better split for Astros hitters, as they have a 101 wRC+ against lefties while being among the league’s worst in wOBA against righties, otherwise I may have given Smyly a shot here. Instead, I just don’t see a play I love.
Red Sox -130
White Sox -135
ARI/OAK Over 9 (-120)