MLB schedule today has 15 games
We’re inching closer to the return of football for this week, but today is all about Major League Baseball, as we’ll have a few early games and a ton of late games to get through the middle of the work week. There are a lot of lesser-known pitchers on the slate, but also some household names making important starts, which gives us plenty to discuss and consider on Wednesday.
Latest MLB betting splits | MLB odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
Follow me on Twitter, @SkatingTripods, to get the article right as it goes live. (Tracking sheet)
VSiN Daily Baseball Bets will be out shortly.
Here are some thoughts on the September 13 card (odds from DraftKings):
Skipping over Cubs (Jameson Taillon) as heavy early favorite against the Rockies (Ty Blach)...
We’ve got the conclusion of this series in Pittsburgh between the Nationals and Pirates, as Colin Selby will open for the Buccos and Quinn Priester is set to bulk. The Nats will call up Jackson Rutledge to make his MLB debut. Rutledge has had a rough go of it since moving up to Triple-A with a 4.44 ERA and a 5.83 FIP in his 50.2 innings of work. The 2019 first-round pick performed well at Double-A with a 3.16 ERA and a 3.72 FIP over 68.1 innings, but Triple-A hitters have found a lot more success.
Rutledge was the 12th-ranked Nationals prospect per FanGraphs in their June update and was graded as a future fourth or fifth starter. He’s 6-foot-8, so this will be a bit of a different arm slot for the Pirates and that could allow Rutledge to find some success early.
Priester has found very little success at the MLB level to this point with 29 runs allowed on 37 hits in 28.2 innings of work. He’s struck out 23 and walked 18 over six starts. This will be his first bulk relief appearance and his first appearance at the MLB level since August 14. He allowed six runs over four appearances in Triple-A while working on some things.
This line is probably a little bit high on the Pirates given Priester’s inability to get outs at the MLB level, but Rutledge has major walk rate issues and those increase his risk of ruin enough to scare me away.
I just wanted to mention this game because we’re seeing money come in against Spencer Strider, even though the Phillies are sending out left-hander Cristopher Sanchez. Sanchez has some regression signs in the profile with a 3.26 ERA, 3.65 xERA, and a 4.15 FIP. The Braves have also hit lefties extremely well throughout the season, but the market is moving against them and Strider today.
There is a little bit of a Strider bias in the market because he does have a 3.83 ERA. His other run estimators are way stronger, but he’s had some blow-ups, including a couple recently with 10 runs allowed over his last two starts. Strider is also said to be getting over an illness, so maybe that’s part of it here as well.
Whatever the case, when money comes in against an elite team and a starter whose advanced metrics look great, it really catches my attention.
Zac Gallen is coming off of a complete game shutout five days ago as the Diamondbacks battle Joey Lucchesi and the Mets. It was another start for Gallen where he allowed a lot of hard contact, but he’s suddenly been keeping the ball on the ground a lot more and that’s why he has been able to work around a high Hard Hit%.
Gallen had allowed 11 runs on 17 hits over his previous two starts, but threw a CGSHO against the Cubs with just three hits allowed and nine strikeouts. He still allowed a 47.2% HH% and has a 50% HH% with a double-digit Barrel% over his last 11 starts since the All-Star Break. It’s been frustrating because I’ve noticed this trend and have talked about it a lot, yet haven’t been able to time it up right and capitalize.
Today is not that day either because I don’t trust Lucchesi, who has allowed 11 runs on 26 hits in 28 innings at the MLB level this season. He’s getting called up from Triple-A to make this start, where he has a 4.74 ERA and a 5.12 FIP over 81.2 innings of work. He has allowed 13 runs over his last 14 innings, so he’s not exactly riding a high into this one.
I’ll still keep trying to pick the right spot to fade Gallen, but it won’t be today.
I got what I wanted and got a low-scoring affair in Milwaukee yesterday to give the Marlins a chance, but they mustered just one measly run against Freddy Peralta and the bullpen in a 3-1 loss. The handicap and the philosophy were right, as Edward Cabrera did pitch well in a bulk relief role, though he did have six walks. The Marlins only managed two hits and Peralta’s fastball looked just fine.
It will be Braxton Garrett and opener Trevor Megill in this one. Megill will open for Colin Rea, who has a 5.02 ERA with a 4.60 FIP in his 109.1 innings of work. Megill has worked two innings a few times, so this may not be a one-and-done situation, but I believe this is the first time this season that the Brewers have utilized the opener concept.
Garrett has a 3.82 ERA with a 4.60 xERA and a 3.69 FIP over his 143.2 innings. His xERA is high as a result of a high Hard Hit%, but he’s induced a lot of ground balls on the year. He also has a really strong K/BB ratio. The Brewers are pretty good at working counts and will draw walks, as evidenced by yesterday, but Garrett has only walked 25 guys out of 596 batters faced.
He has not allowed more than three runs since July 21 and has only allowed three homers in that span. He has a 2.68 ERA with a 3.79 FIP over his last eight starts, but does only have 29 K in 43.2 innings of work. His Hard Hit% has come down and his 2.2% Barrel% is exceptional. The problem here is that I simply don’t know if I can trust Miami to hit Rea.
I’d like to think that they do, but I’d like to be getting a little better on the price to give it a try.
This is the game where Blake Snell can officially secure the NL Cy Young Award. Snell was really good in a huge test last time out against the Astros and acing this exam today will remove all doubt. He’s -220 at DraftKings right now, so there isn’t a ton of doubt and Justin Steele (+150) is the only other legitimate contender, but it will be over tonight if Snell navigates the Dodgers.
He’s navigated everybody else for the last 3.5 months, so why stop now? Snell has a 1.40 ERA with a 2.89 FIP over his last 20 starts covering 116 innings of work. He has allowed just six homers in that span and has 161 strikeouts. He has issued 65 walks and that’s about the only thing we can hold against him at this point. The Dodgers are a patient lineup and have been exposed to Snell a lot, so this start is a tough one.
He did allow a 96.9 mph average exit velo to Houston, who only managed two runs on five hits over six innings. The Astros had 10 hard-hit balls and a 66.7% Hard Hit%, but Snell did what he seemingly always does and weaved his way through trouble. Let’s see if he can do it again here.
Ryan Pepiot gets the call for the Dodgers. He’s allowed two runs on just nine hits in 21 innings of work with a 17/2 K/BB ratio since coming back to the bigs on August 19. Pepiot missed time with injury and made several minor league starts before making that MLB meal money again. He’s pitched extremely well since returning, but I don’t foresee a .151 BABIP and a 94.8% LOB% sticking around forever.
I think it should have some staying power today, though, and I’ll take the Dodgers at this short price. The Dodgers have a high walk rate and a low strikeout against lefties, so I think they can draw some free baserunners and put some balls in play against Snell. I’ll take the chance that they are able to scratch out enough for a lead and hold on, as Pepiot does an excellent job of limiting walks and that’s been the bulk of the Padres offense this season.
Pick: Dodgers -125
Skipping over the Rays (Taj Bradley) and Twins (Dallas Keuchel) with an early game and the Mariners (Luis Castillo) laying a big number against the Angels (TBD)...
The Rangers are looking to secure a series victory in this four-game set against the Blue Jays with Jordan Montgomery on the hill against Yusei Kikuchi. Texas has won the first two games and scored 16 runs in the process, so they have righted the ship a bit on offense and that is a sight for sore eyes, not to mention the bullpen improvements of late.
Montgomery does face a Blue Jays bunch that has slaughtered LHP in the second half. Toronto is second in wOBA at .375 and also wRC+ at 141. Over the last month, the Jays have a .356 wOBA and a 128 wRC+ against southpaws. So, this is not an easy task for Montgomery, who comes in with a 3.62 ERA, 4.18 xERA, and a 3.72 FIP in his 161.2 innings of work.
Montgomery has struggled recently, though, as he has allowed 14 runs over his last three starts on 19 hits, including three homers. He’s faced the Twins twice and the A’s, so not exactly on the level of the Jays. That makes this a bit of a tricky spot in a lot of ways.
Regression has found Kikuchi a bit, as he allowed 13 runs over three starts before shutting down the Royals in five efficient innings five days ago. Only two of the six runs he allowed against the Rockies were earned in his September 2 start, but he had allowed six earned runs in six starts in the second half prior to that 13-run stretch.
Like many of the Jays pitchers, Kikuchi has been really good at home, holding opposing batters to a .293 wOBA in 69.1 innings at Rogers Centre. Ultimately, I just don’t see enough of an edge here. I can’t back Montgomery with his current form, but I don’t want to back Kikuchi against a potent lineup like the one Texas brings to the table.
Skipping over the Athletics (Paul Blackburn) against the Astros (Hunter Brown)...
Clarke Schmidt and Tanner Houck are the listed hurlers in this one, as Schmidt makes the start two days after he was scheduled to pitch. Schmidt was slated to go on Monday, but the game was rained out and he didn’t start either game on Tuesday. He will get the start on Wednesday, though, as he comes in with a 4.54 ERA, 4.04 xERA, and a 4.13 FIP.
Schmidt has only allowed more than three runs in a start once since mid-May. That start was against the Braves recently and he gave up eight runs on nine hits. Otherwise, he’s been not only competent, but pretty good. He’s been a nice find in an otherwise lost season for the Yankees. He is getting a start at Fenway Park here and had a subpar outing last time he was there with two runs allowed on five hits in 4.2 innings on June 18, but he’s been pretty reliable overall.
Houck is struggling a bit heading into this one, as he’s allowed nine runs on 15 hits in his last 10.1 innings against the Royals and Orioles. Since returning from injury on August 22, Houck has a 44.6% Hard Hit% and a 6.05 ERA with a 5.33 FIP. He’s faced the Astros and Dodgers along with the other two teams I’ve mentioned, so it hasn’t been an easy run of opponents, but he’s struggled to locate and only has 16 strikeouts over his 19.1 innings of work.
The Yankees swept yesterday’s doubleheader and both teams called eight relievers into action. It was a long day at the yard, but a positive one for New York. I was curious to see how Alex Cora’s team would respond after he basically waved the white flag over the weekend in his chat with the media and the answer was not well.
New York might have a little bit of equity in a dog role here, but they are 30th in wOBA against righties over the last 30 days and that scares me too much to trust them, even if I think Schmidt is better than Houck.
My intuition was right about the Royals, as they did split the double dip yesterday and would have netted a small profit as a dog in both games. However, they sure as hell made it interesting in the nightcap after blowing a 9-0 lead. The White Sox had an eight-run sixth inning, but ultimately lost 11-10 after winning Game 1 by a 6-2 count.
Steven Cruz will open and Alec Marsh will bulk for the Royals here. Cruz has made five MLB appearances and his last four have been scoreless. He allowed four runs on three hits with three walks in his MLB debut back on August 29. Otherwise, he’s been fairly useful, although he has allowed a ton of hard contact with a 53.3% Hard Hit% on 15 batted balls.
Marsh comes in with a 5.95 ERA and a 6.47 FIP in his 56 innings of work. He went four solid innings against Toronto last time out after giving up six runs in 2.2 innings to the Red Sox. He’s shown flashes throughout the season and his development is a big key for KC going forward.
Mike Clevinger has made 20 starts with a 3.64 ERA, 4.12 xERA, and a 4.21 FIP in his 108.2 innings of work. He gave up eight runs on 12 hits to the Tigers two starts ago, but then fired seven shutout innings with three hits allowed in his next start. It’s been a Jekyll and Hyde season for him, as he’s allowed four or more runs six times, but also allowed two or fewer runs 11 times, including seven starts of at least 4.2 innings with no runs allowed.
Tough game, tough handicap. The White Sox are rarely deserving of this big of a favorite role, but the Royals don’t have a great pitching setup tonight.
Just dropping in here to note that the Guardians are facing a lefty in Kyle Harrison, so the market has moved against them. I think there’s a little bit of anti-Logan Allen sentiment, but much like what we saw yesterday, Cleveland is a fade team against any left-hander. They didn’t do much against Sean Manaea last night, but scored a big two-run single against reliever Ryan Walker after Manaea left some inherited runners out there.
Harrison has big strikeout upside with an impressive prospect profile, but he’s had some issues in his last two starts with 10 runs allowed on 11 hits over his last 10.2 innings. He’s given up five homers in that span as well.
Allen is basically a five-and-fly guy right now as Cleveland monitors his innings and he tries to find swing-and-miss pitches to get outs. I don’t think that I’d want to get invested in the Cleveland pen to cover four or more innings of this one.
Skipping over Cardinals (Drew Rom) and Orioles (Kyle Gibson)...
It will be Connor Phillips and Eduardo Rodriguez in Motown after the Reds escaped with a 6-5 win yesterday. Rodriguez has a 3.18 ERA with a 3.81 xERA and a 3.43 FIP in 130.1 innings of work. He’s allowed 15 runs on 29 hits over his last five starts with a 26/12 K/BB ratio, but he’s had a couple of really good starts mixed in with some mediocrity.
I’m not really seeing a compelling reason to back the Reds today, as E-Rod has a much higher ceiling than Phillips, who started the season in Double-A. Phillips had good Double-A numbers and okay Triple-A numbers, though he had a noticeably high BB% down there. In his first MLB start, he allowed five runs on six hits over 4.2 innings of work. He did strike out seven, but walked two.
I’m also not enthralled with laying this kind of number on the Tigers, especially when they aren’t really playing for anything and the Reds very much are.