Weird baseball was played over the weekend, particularly on Sunday. We saw a lot of games with dramatic swings in win expectancy and there was a lot of extra-inning baseball. It was a crazy weekend with a lot of different developments. It can be tough to follow along with everything that happens, but it’s important to stay on top of as much as you can in order to make the most informed wagers possible.
For Monday, we’ve got 13 games on tap and some pitching changes to contend with. There are some big favorites on the board and some other games that are priced in the -120 to -140 range. It actually looks like a pretty good day to dive in and bet some baseball, so let’s see which games are appealing for April 25.
Our focus, as it always is, will be on the games that provide a lot of line value and those that give us the opportunity to dig deep and find the wagering angles and betting tips that will produce winners.
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Per usual, the games with big lines will be overlooked, unless there is something particularly noteworthy about them or a play on the underdog is a possibility. Also, day games are usually skipped due to the lead time of the article. That will not be the case on Thursdays or Sundays when there are a lot of day games.
Baltimore at Tampa Bay (-125); Total: 7.5
Kevin Gausman makes his 2016 debut against the struggling Chris Archer on Monday night. Archer has become an auto-fade at this point. Allow Rotowire/Fangraphs contributor, and former Baseball Prospectus writer, Jason Collette to explain:
Archer's slider has gone from elite to eeek! Command & shape of it are MIA when watching the tape pic.twitter.com/lg1y0P7UYz
— Up in the Air (@jasoncollette) April 21, 2016
It’s very obvious that something is up with Archer. Not only has his elite slider vanished, his fastball command has taken a hit as well and the loss of velocity probably has something to do with that.
Gausman worked 11 minor league innings after a shoulder issue popped up late in Spring Training. He lacked control in those outings. As badly as I want to go against Archer from a side standpoint, I can’t do it with Gausman on the mound.
What I can do, however, is to go against Archer by playing Baltimore’s team total over and the game total over. This covers me in the event that Archer puts it together, but Gausman struggles. Right now, it’s best to go against Archer until he figures it out or to stay away. With a lineup like Baltimore’s that can hit mistakes a long way, going against Archer is the way to go on Monday night.
Boston (-145) at Atlanta; Total: 8
This is my favorite game of the night. Hopefully it plays out in our favor. Last year, I did a twice-a-week podcast called The Bettor’s Box. Now, my MLB thoughts are part of the daily broadcast of BangTheBook Radio. One of the things I really became interested in last season was trying to find situational betting spots based on the Circadian Rhythm. You’ve used these concepts, knowingly or unknowingly, in your handicapping. Any time you bet because a team is playing a back-to-back with travel or something similar, that’s a play with Circadian Rhythm in mind.
It’s very different in baseball than in other sports because there are a lot more games and fewer off days. We have one of those spots here in this game. The Red Sox played Sunday Night Baseball last night and played 12 innings against the Houston Astros. The game, which started at 7 p.m. local time, took over five hours to play. The Red Sox left Houston probably around 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. CT and then had to fly to Atlanta. By the time they got to Atlanta, and lost an hour in-flight, it was probably 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. By the time they got checked in to the team hotel and got settled in, it was probably 7 or 7:30 a.m. ET. They’ll play a game 12 hours later.
As a result, I’m looking to fade Boston tonight. They have the better starting pitcher in Rick Porcello, but Julio Teheran isn’t bad. Boston’s bullpen has thrown over 30 innings over the last six games, so they are taxed. They desperately need a good start. Porcello can give it to them against a bad Atlanta lineup, but who knows how much run support a tired lineup will provide.
I’m looking to back Atlanta, only because of the spot. Catching a rested team at plus money at home is a great value given the travel timeline for Boston.
Cleveland (-140) at Minnesota; Total: 8
The Indians took the short trip from Detroit to Minneapolis, but they were short one very key player. Sunday’s starter Carlos Carrasco will be out for the foreseeable future with a hamstring injury. The grade of the strain will dictate how long Carrasco is out and whether or not he returns at all. The Indians should know what Carrasco’s future is before the game tonight. A devastating diagnosis may really hurt them. A positive diagnosis could give them a shot in the arm and something to rally around. A terrible diagnosis might do that, too, but this is a team that looked lifeless when Yan Gomes went down early last season.
In theory, this is a great matchup for the Indians. Tommy Milone throws left-handed and the Indians will have at least seven right-handed bats in the lineup, if Michael Brantley returns tonight. That’s another wrinkle to this game. Carrasco went down, but the Indians’ best hitter returns tonight.
The Twins haven’t done much hitting, but they always seem to be a pain in Cleveland’s ass. They’ll find a way to do the same here this week. As an Indians fan, I know these things and remember them. I’m staying off of this game, but the Indians are rightfully favored by a sizable amount. If the Carrasco news is awful, expect the market to react to what could be a downtrodden Tribe team tonight.
St. Louis at Arizona (-125); Total: 7.5
I can’t tell what the bigger surprise is. The fact that Jaime Garcia is through three starts without getting hurt or that he’s pitched so well. Garcia brings a 2.70/1.69/2.54 pitcher slash into this one with 26 strikeouts against eight walks in 20 innings of work. One thing that you have to remember about this time of year is that sample sizes are not big. Garcia’s complete game shutout of the Brewers was so good that it has skewed his overall numbers. In his other two starts, he’s given up six earned on nine hits over 11 innings with a 13/7 K/BB ratio.
Zack Greinke has put together two back-to-back excellent outings and looks like the guy that the Diamondbacks thought they were getting. Greinke struggled in his first start and had some unfortunate luck in his second start, but the strikeout stuff is back and the control is still very good. He hasn’t gotten a lot of help from the defense yet, even though Arizona has a pretty good defensive team. It hurts to be without AJ Pollock and Ender Inciarte in the outfield, but there’s still upside, particularly on the infield.
In this one, I’d have to lay it with Greinke. He looks good over these last two starts and I’m not sure what to expect from Jaime Garcia. The Diamondbacks have swung the bats well this season and have their ace on the mound.
Kansas City at Los Angeles (AL) (-125); Total: 7.5
We’ve had success with Ian Kennedy and I’m looking at him again here on Monday night. Kennedy has been terrific so far, even though there are some signs of regression. He’ll be a guy to fade in the future, but not at Angel Stadium. Kennedy has a .255 BABIP against with a 25.5 percent GB% and a 90.9 percent strand rate. Angel Stadium is good for fly ball guys and it’s clear that Kennedy is interested in pitching to the Royals’ defensive strengths. It doesn’t hurt that he’s struck out over a batter per inning so far.
Garrett Richards is great, but this isn’t an ideal matchup for him. Because Kansas City is so contact-oriented, they aren’t going to be overpowered by a guy like Richards. They put bat-to-ball and do so with a lot of success. Richards is a great pitcher and he’s been excellent in his four starts this season, even though run support has been non-existent. He doesn’t have any big platoon splits, so the lefties for Kansas City don’t have that big of an advantage.
This is a great fit and a great park for Kansas City. I’m also content with taking the Royals at plus money against the Angels bullpen. While Richards is great, he’s thrown 97, 102, 104, and 118 pitches in his starts this season and has worked, 5, 6.2, 6, and 6.1 innings in those starts. He’s not very efficient with his pitches and that will force the Angels pen to get some work in today.
Miami at Los Angeles (NL) (-125); Total: 7.5
We’ve seen some Wei-Yin Chen money hit the market here against the Dodgers. Chen is a guy that is due for some positive regression. We saw it in his last start when he gave up three runs and a handful of hits over seven innings, but the Marlins didn’t score for him. His 4.91 ERA is due to a .327 BABIP against and a 62.5 percent strand rate. His 3.26 FIP and 3.34 xFIP are better indicators of how he has pitched so far this season. His ground ball rate is up a couple ticks this season, which may not be a good thing for him, since it comes at the expense of a really tremendous pop up rate. Pop ups are effectively strikeouts and that was one of the things I liked about Chen with Baltimore. His strikeout rate wasn’t great, but a 14 percent pop up rate last season meant a decent amount of harmless balls in play.
Since he flirted with a no-hitter, Ross Stripling has been okay. He only lasted 3.2 innings against Atlanta in his last start, so obviously the market is reacting to that poor performance. The Marlins haven’t done a lot of hitting yet, so Stripling has a few matchup advantages in that respect. But, one thing that does hurt Stripling here is that six Dodgers relievers worked yesterday in the slow-pitch softball game at Coors Field. Kenley Jansen has worked back-to-back days. Pedro Baez and Luis Avilan have worked three straight days. The Dodgers bullpen is a little bit taxed. Yimi Garcia is out. Chris Hatcher would be working his third day in four nights.
Miami has a lot of intrigue and value here in this one. If you feel comfortable firing on this one, I think there’s a lot of good reasons to do so.
Houston at Seattle (-145); Total: 8
Had we gotten in on this one earlier, Seattle would have had some value. Taijuan Walker draws a tired Houston lineup that had a similar, if not worse, night than Boston. The Astros lost that game to fall to 6-13 and then got to Seattle in the wee hours of the morning.
Readers know my thoughts on Doug Fister, Houston’s starter for Monday night. There’s probably still some value in Seattle today, even with the line move. I normally won’t go above -140, but the Mariners have a nice starting pitcher edge and I was impressed with their bullpen arms when Cleveland faced them last week. That’s a much better group than what the Mariners were trotting out last season.
Factor in the Circadian Rhythm and this is a very bad spot for a struggling Astros team.