Sundays are not my favorite day for handicapping baseball, especially with this article. The lead time just simply isn’t there more often than not and that makes it hard for readers to get down on these games. But, there are 15 games on the schedule and some of those matchups are particularly interesting, so the show must go on. Maybe there are some wagering angles to betting Sunday baseball that I haven’t found. If you have any ideas or anything that works for you, I’d love to hear it, so hit me up on Twitter @SkatingTripods and let me know.
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.
Chicago (AL) at Tampa Bay (-120); Total: 7.5
A couple of southpaws will duke it out on the diamond on Sunday when Jose Quintana and the White Sox battle Matt Moore and the Rays. Quintana is a personal favorite of mine as one of the most underrated starters in all of baseball. I got to put my eyes on Matt Moore this past Tuesday when he went pitch-for-pitch with Corey Kluber. He looked good. The stuff looked sharp and explosive, much like it did before he had to go for Tommy John surgery. Consistency and command are always buzzwords for TJS guys, so I’m not going to say that Moore is fixed yet. But, there were a lot of promising signs.
Quintana has improved every season with the White Sox and with Don Cooper. Last season it was a decrease in BB% and a spike in GB%. The year before that, it was a big increase in command. Everything about Quintana should be celebrated. With Moore, the velocity is back and the snap is back on the secondary stuff.
I’m really high on these two guys and I don’t see many runs being scored here. Even though the Rays use platoons well, Quintana has no discernible platoon issues. Moore may be a guy that struggles here and there, but if his stuff follows the same path as it did on Tuesday, he’ll be in great shape throughout the season. I’m buying stock in both of these guys. I’m not sure who will win, but it should be a low-scoring game.
Atlanta at Miami (-140); Total: 8
Jhoulys Chacin will have a hard time topping his first start of the season, but he’ll have to try. Chacin tossed six shutout and struck out eight against a pretty good Washington Nationals lineup. The Miami Marlins present another stiff test. They’ll counter here with Jarred Cosart.
It’s really hard to figure out what, exactly, Jhoulys Chacin is and can become. He had some really decent seasons in Colorado, which is a terrible environment for pitching. Injuries have dragged him down over the last few seasons, but he seems to be healthy now and had a really impressive debut outing this season. He may actually be a guy worth buying some stock in because the stuff seems to be there and he’s out of Colorado.
Jarred Cosart has the stuff, but no idea how to deploy it. His control sucks, his command manages to be worse, despite a heavy sinker and good velocity. He’s going to go down in history as one of those guys that people look at and wonder why he wasn’t good. To be fair, Cosart won’t turn 26 until late next month, but it seems unlikely that he’s going to suddenly get it.
The Braves, sad to say, are the value side here. They’re going to take years off of your life every time you take them, but they have the better starter and Cosart has major blow-up potential against just about every lineup. There’s no way of knowing if the Braves will hit, so this is probably a stay away game.
Toronto (-125) at Boston; Total: 9
Aaron Sanchez gets another tough assignment here against the Boston Red Sox. He’ll be opposed by knuckleballer Steven Wright. Sanchez deserves a lot of credit for his two starts so far. I wasn’t a believer of him as a starter, though I did think that Toronto needed to develop him as one. He’s faced Tampa Bay and New York, two teams designed to hit guys like him with lopsided platoon splits, and he has had very few issues. He’s worked through jams and has induced weak contact. This is another difficult lineup to face. This is a start that worries me quite a bit.
Steven Wright is just a guy. He’s your standard knuckleballer where he can generally escape big, blow-up innings, but when it’s high and guys let it fly, he’s in trouble. As a general rule, it’s best just to stay away from knuckleball guys because it’s hard to tell how hitters will do and how they, themselves, will do. That’ll be the case here. Just stay away from this one and look for better opportunities.
Los Angeles (AL) (-125) at Minnesota; Total: 9
This is a weird one for me. Earlier in the series, Garrett Richards was -125 or thereabouts against Ervin Santana. Personally, at this stage of both of their careers, I like Kyle Gibson more than Ervin Santana. We all know that Garrett Richards is a better pitcher than Nick Tropeano. Because of that, I’m going to say that the Twins are unquestionably the value side here. The market bumped this number up a few cents and it’s not surprising to see a Twins fade because of how they’ve played, but this number is off.
All of that being said, there’s not a whole lot of respect for Kyle Gibson out there and that makes sense. He hasn’t done much to earn that respect. This season, it has been ugly and last season’s results aren’t going to excite the casual fan or typical bettor. For me, I see a guy that could have a little bit more strikeout upside, but has a really good ground ball rate. That makes him defense-dependent and the Twins are serviceable on the infield.
If you look at Gibson’s second half, he struck out 67 in 81 innings. His first half had 78 strikeouts in 113.2 innings. Modest strikeout gains with that ground ball rate can turn Gibson into a pretty reliable pitcher. His issues from the stretch are a lot to overlook, as he posted a 48/42 K/BB with men on base and a 97/23 K/BB with the bases empty.
Minnesota is the value side here and Gibson is a guy that I will watch closely throughout the season to see if he makes any significant strides that we can look at and use to our advantage down the line.
Kansas City (-115) at Oakland; Total: 8
Some books are even showing an 8.5 for this afternoon affair between the Royals and the A’s with Kris Medlen against Chris Bassitt. I actually like both of these guys. Medlen showed good velo in his first start and picked up a few strikeouts. Bassitt is a guy that rates well in the stuff department, but hasn’t been able to put it all together. One impressive thing about Bassitt is that lefties batted just .215/.313/.337 against him last season as his secondary stuff, particularly his changeup, improved.
Before Tommy John claimed yet another victim, Medlen was a pretty good arm for the Braves. He’s one of those guys that spent the winter training rather than rehabbing, so I’ll be following him closely here at the outset. Having 58.1 innings under his belt last season was a good start.
I’d look to go under the total here. As mentioned, some of the more public books have hung an 8.5 on this one. If you can find one of those, as Sir-Mix-A-Lot would say, jump on it.
Arizona (-130) at San Diego; Total: 7
Everything seems a little bit off for Patrick Corbin at the outset. Hitters aren’t chasing outside of the zone and that’s made it hard for him to rack up strikeouts. He’s also throwing more changeups this season, which is a pretty interesting development. So far, it boils down to fastball command, which has not been up to par. Corbin showed some really nice strikeout stuff in his 85 innings last season after coming back from Tommy John. It’s still early and this was his first Spring Training since 2013, so we’ll have to see how he settles in.
Robbie Erlin has been held down by injuries at various points in his career, but he was once a very highly thought of prospect. So far, he’s thrown the ball very well. But, as you know, we’re not taking anything overly significant or predictive from a sample size of 10 innings. I have a hard time with guys that don’t strike out hitters. Erlin is one of those guys. With this Padres defense, not striking out batters is an issue. His fastball velo is down a little bit through two starts, so we’ll have to monitor that for signs of injury.
In this spot, the over looks reasonable. Corbin has yet to settle in and Erlin has some inflated numbers through two starts. One problem is that Arizona should be better offensively against righties than lefties, but that would be the only lean in this game. Also, these teams played 14 innings last night. The Diamondbacks only got 1.2 innings from Shelby Miller. Andrew Cashner worked six innings. So, the bullpens combined for 20 innings of work in this last night’s game.
San Francisco at Los Angeles (-140); Total: 7.5
If anybody other than Jeff Samardzija was on the mound for the Giants, this would probably be a good spot to back them. His first two starts haven’t been bad, but last season was so horrible that it’s tough to buy in at this point of the season. There are some areas that are going to see positive regression from last season. He’s got an excellent defense behind him. His strikeout rate will come back up by virtue of pitching in the NL. His home run rate will improve in the NL and with AT&T Park. He may be a value guy because everybody remembers how Samardzija burned them last season.
Kenta Maeda is going to keep having success his first time around the league. The stuff hasn’t been explosive by any means, with just eight strikeouts in 12 innings, but the control has been exquisite and the deception has kept hitters from barreling up the baseball. He’s a very uncomfortable at bat, standing just six-feet tall with a very thin, wiry frame. He’s throwing his fastball just 46.4 percent of the time and in the high 80s/low 90s. He’s throwing his slider over 30 percent of the time. He’s not overpowering, but Asian pitchers are known for their deception, so Maeda will be a good bet against teams seeing him for the first time.
The Giants are seeing him for the first time, but this is the best lineup he will face to date. As more data and better scouting reports are prepared, he may run into some issues, but nothing can simulate a plate appearance or two against a new guy.
This price is inflated and San Francisco is the value side, but I can’t do it here.
For those interested throughout the season in the good situational spots presented by Sunday Night Baseball, there isn’t one here. San Francisco stays home and plays Arizona. The Dodgers are idle.