Thursday often means a smaller MLB card and that’s the case on September 10 with eight games and 16 teams in action. Two of the eight games are during the day, but there should be enough lead time to look at the Texas vs. Seattle matchup. There are a few big favorites as well, so this will be a little bit shorter of an article, but you can get all of the MLB betting insight that you need in today’s edition of The Bettor’s Box.
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Derek Holland takes on Felix Hernandez in the series finale between the Rangers and the Mariners. This is a huge game for the Rangers, who can take three out of four and keep putting pressure on the other teams vying for a wild card spot. Holland, who has spent most of the last two seasons injured, has been outstanding over his last two starts. In five starts, he has posted a 2.37 ERA with a 4.13 FIP (HR) and a 3.48 xFIP. His FIP is high because the Blue Jays hit three home runs off of him in his August 25 start. He has a 25/3 K/BB ratio since returning from the DL and has allowed 21 hits in 29.1 innings of work.
You can have a lot of fun with small sample sizes, especially when they include a .228 BABIP against and a 95.2 percent strand rate. Holland is throwing the ball well and that’s what matters. He needed microfracture knee surgery after an incident with his dog that cost him most of 2014 and a shoulder strain cost him most of 2015. After sitting at 86.6 miles per hour for his season opener against Houston, Holland has been sitting in the 92-94 range since returning from the DL. He’s also mixing all four pitches effectively. There’s a lot to like here.
Then, there’s Felix Hernandez. The subject of an incredible article from Eno Sarris last month, Hernandez has not been himself this season. An ankle injury early in the year may have had an impact. It also doesn’t help that a 3.65/3.56/3.21 pitcher slash would be a good year for most, but it’s the second-worst year of Felix’s career. Hernandez watched some video after struggling against the White Sox, something he generally doesn’t do, and has a 16/1 K/BB ratio with five runs allowed on nine hits over 16 innings in his last two starts. The problem is that the ball is still up in the zone, as Hernandez has allowed three runs in those two starts.
I don’t know what to make of Felix right now. The raw stuff is elite, as it has always been, but the command just isn’t there this season. Over the course of time, Felix may continue to drop off. He’s thrown 2,235.2 innings before turning 30. That’s an enormous workload. In a one-start sample, he always has the chance to be dominant. I think the under is the way to look in this game. I was a little bit surprised to see it at 7 and not 6.5, so I think there’s some value there. Both starters will work deep into the game and have swing-and-miss upside. Plus, it’s a day game after a night game and those can be sluggish.
Unfortunately, I missed the fact that the Blue Jays/Yankees series begins tonight when I was wrapping up The Bettor’s Box. It’s a shame, too, because this is a great pitching matchup between David Price and Luis Severino. Price is comfortable road chalk here and the overnight money has been trickling in on the road team.
The Blue Jays got David Price for starts like this. When they set up their rotation, they set it up to ensure that Price faced the Yankees the maximum number of times, despite his career struggles against them. I’m not much for pitcher vs. team stats because teams are always changing and pitchers are always evolving, so I’m not worried about that. What I care about is how both of these teams and pitchers are doing entering the game.
Price has been his usual dominant self with Toronto, posting a 2.15/2.33/3.07 pitcher slash over seven starts with a 29.3 percent strikeout rate. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start with Toronto and has only allowed more than three runs once in his last 12 starts. It was his final start with the Tigers when he knew he was going to be traded. The strikeout bump should come as no surprise. The Blue Jays have a quality pitch framer in Russell Martin and Alex Avila and James McCann are well below average for the Tigers. This will already be Price’s third start against New York since joining the Blue Jays.
Luis Severino is fearless and he’ll have to be against a tough Blue Jays offense. Severino is the reason that the Yankees didn’t acquire a pitcher at the trade deadline and they’ve been rewarded for their trust thus far. Severino has only made six starts, but the swing and miss is there and the pitchability seems to be as well. The 21-year-old has stranded almost 91 percent of his runners thus far with some timely strikeouts. Severino’s “worst” start as a Major Leaguer came against Toronto on August 16, when he allowed three runs on five hits. But, he also struck out nine over six innings.
This should be a great pitcher’s duel and both bullpens are looking pretty sharp. I think I’d actually lean towards the Yankees in this one. Their offense will have some struggles against righties with good power stuff and I do think that their bullpen is a bit stronger than Toronto’s. If this game is close or tied late, you’re holding +120 with New York’s bullpen against Toronto’s. I’d take that bet every time.
There’s not a whole lot to write about today with some really big favorites, but you can hear my pick on this game on today’s edition of The Bettor’s Box.
This is an interesting line. Given how Jaime Garcia has pitched and the position in the standings for both teams, the Cardinals should probably be a bigger favorite. But, the Cardinals aren’t very good against left-handed pitching.
First, we’ll look at Garcia. It’s amazing to think about what he could be if he was healthy. Since 2008, Garcia has only made 112 starts. He missed all of 2009, most of 2013 and most of 2014. If he stays healthy the rest of the way, his 2015 innings total will pass the combined total of 2013 and 2014. Over 694.2 career innings, Garcia owns a 3.26 ERA with a 3.35 FIP and a 3.39 xFIP. His K/BB rates, skewed a bit by his 2010 walk rate, are basically right around average. He’s an extreme ground ball guy with an average K rate and good command. That’s a special set of traits, and yet he can’t stay healthy.
This season, Garcia owns the lowest BABIP against of his career at .248 and the highest strand rate at 81.2 percent. It seems unsustainable for a 63.5 percent ground ball guy to have a BABIP that low. The next lowest BABIP among extreme ground ball guys with at least 100 IP this season is Dallas Keuchel at .263 and 62.2 percent. The next lowest is Jake Arrieta at .256 with a 54 percent GB rate. It’s rare.
John Lamb opposes Garcia in this one. Signed out of high school following the 2008 draft, Lamb took a long route to the big leagues. He made his MLB debut with the Reds five starts ago following the Johnny Cueto deal. He’s in search of his first MLB win here. He’s shown a lot of promise, but also a lack of command. Lamb has struck out 26.8 percent of batters and has a solid walk rate, but he also has a .410 BABIP against. He’s given up four home runs in 28 innings and HRs don’t count towards BABIP, so that’s a sign of really awful command. That’s why he has a 6.11 ERA with a 3.50 FIP and a 3.37 xFIP.
The Reds have to be the value side in this game. I don’t like the Reds going forward because they’re not fighting all that hard and there will be a lot of changes this offseason that will cause the clubhouse to be an uncomfortable place the rest of the season, but the Cardinals rank 27th in wOBA and 28th in SLG against LHP. The Reds were hovering around the top 10 against lefties for a while, but the Marlon Byrd trade and regression have dropped them to 13th.
It’s not a strong play, but the Reds look to have some value on Thursday night, especially with a Cardinals team that is struggling to score runs.