It’s not an exciting Monday card on the diamond. A lot of big favorites and a day off for 10 of the league’s 30 teams combine to form a pretty lackluster schedule. There are two really important series beginning in the American League and the New York Yankees take on the Detroit Tigers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim battle the Houston Astros. Other than that, it’s a tough night to bet, but we’ll try to break down some winners anyway.
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Chicago (AL) at Detroit (-110) Game 1; Total: 9
The lead time of this article makes it a little bit tough get detailed about these day games, but I wanted to point out this line. Jeff Samardzija is taking on Kyle Ryan. I realize that the White Sox are horrible against lefties (and they face two on Monday), but Jeff Samardzija has been atrocious for a long time. Samardzija is hanging a 7.43 ERA in the second half with a .295/.361/.547 slash. He’s not missing any bats. He’s given up as many runs in 72.2 innings as he gave up in 125.1 first half innings.
The Tigers are undoubtedly the play here. I don’t know if either team is particularly concerned about a day/night doubleheader with nothing to play for, but Jeff Samardzija has been awful for a long time now.
Baltimore at Washington (-140); Total: 8
The Orioles and Nationals are still playing hard, even though neither of them will make the playoffs. The Orioles are a dog here with Ubaldo Jimenez on the hill against Gio Gonzalez. Speaking of bad second halves, Ubaldo Jimenez fits the bill. After posting a 2.81 ERA with respectable peripherals and almost a strikeout per inning in the first half, he has a 6.58 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 65.2 innings of work in the second half. All of his numbers are way up across the board. Jimenez was due some regression with a 3.28 first half FIP and a 3.39 xFIP, but he’s gone above and beyond his 5.25/4.40 second half marks.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to see a lot of room for improvement. His strand rate is unusually low at 63 percent, especially for a guy that has generally done a good job with runners on base. But, his mechanics are always inconsistent and the Nationals are swinging the bats pretty well as a team right now.
Gio Gonzalez doesn’t get enough appreciation for just how consistent he is. An unsightly .341 BABIP has led to an increased ERA, but Gonzalez’s 3.60 xFIP is basically right in line with his career numbers. For the third straight season, Gonzalez is worth exactly 3.2 fWAR and he produced 3.1 fWAR in 2010 and 2011 with the Athletics. There’s something to be said about consistency like that. He’s been limited a little bit by some nagging shoulder trouble over the last two seasons, but he’s really good at his craft.
I like the Nationals here, though this price isn’t all that exciting. Jimenez is not pitching well and Gonzalez is. It’s basically that simple. The Orioles lose a hitter because they’re playing in a National League park and that is usually something that bothers AL teams that are constructed like the Orioles.
New York (AL) at Toronto (-240); Total: 8
I wrote up a preview of this game. Check it out.
Atlanta at New York (NL) (-200); Total: 7.5
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a good situational betting spot out of the Sunday Night game, but the Mets were trounced as Matt Harvey left after five innings and the bullpen had an epic meltdown. Will there be any carryover to this game?
Probably not, but the Braves are the value side here. Shelby Miller’s been pretty darn good this season, despite a total lack of run support. With a new career high in innings pitched, Miller’s 1.60-run jump in ERA from the first half to the second half might be concerning to some, but I’m hardly worried about it. The control has fallen off a little bit, which does raise a red flag, but a lot of this is simply variance. Miller posted strong strand rates and a solid BABIP against in the first half. In the second half, those things have regressed and his ERA has risen as a result. His strikeout rate is actually better in the second half from a K/9 standpoint and the same from a rate standpoint.
Jon Niese had his first good start in a while against the Braves last time out. In his four previous starts, he gave up 23 runs in 19.2 innings of work. The stuff hasn’t been particularly sharp for Niese since the Mets started going with extra rest for their pitchers. Niese hasn’t worked since September 13, so this may be a bit of a tricky spot for him. The Mets didn’t have a letdown after their Nationals series a couple weeks ago, but I could see one here after getting pummeled by the Yankees on Sunday. Yoenis Cespedes is in a bit of a slump and the rest of the Mets seem to be having some difficulties without him carrying the load.
Take a stab at the Braves tonight. I think there’s some value there, even though they’re a terrible team.
Tampa Bay (-120) at Boston; Total: 8
For some thoughts and a free pick on this game, take a look at my preview.
Los Angeles (AL) at Houston (-190); Total: 8
There’s no better place to get thoughts and analysis on this game than right here at BangTheBook in my preview.
Pittsburgh (-145) at Colorado; Total: 10.5
This game was the subject of Sunday night’s free podcast pick on The Bettor’s Box. Give it a listen!