A couple of day games are on tap for Wednesday as the Houston Astros and New York Yankees wrap up their three-game set and the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners do the same at Safeco Field. There are a lot of big favorites on the card for Wednesday, so it’s a matter of looking for value on underdogs or laying big chalk. This will be the last picks and analysis article of the week. The analysis of the MLB betting card will continue again on Monday. In the meantime, check out our NFL Preseason picks and catch up on what you’ve missed for the upcoming football seasons, including the latest Gridiron Gambling Report and Wednesday’s College Football Podcast.
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Los Angeles (AL) at Detroit (-135); Total: 8.5
Was Hector Santiago’s last start an example of the regression that we can expect the rest of the way? Santiago has spent the bulk of the season outperforming his advanced metrics. With a 2.91 ERA, a 4.12 FIP, and a 4.54 xFIP, the chances for regression are pretty high. A .256 BABIP against and an 83.2 percent strand rate are usually good indicators of regression. However, Santiago is having his best season from a K/BB standpoint and fly ball pitchers are sometimes able to sustain low BABIPs against. Santiago got no help from his defense last time out and his 3.2 innings with four runs allowed, two earned, on three hits with four strikeouts and four walks was one of his worst starts of the season.
Against a Detroit lineup that is quite potent against left-handed pitching, Santiago could be in line for another tough outing. Then, there’s Justin Verlander. After posting a 6.62 ERA in his first six starts, Verlander has made some impressive adjustments. The strikeouts are gradually coming back, even though the stuff is clearly not as dominant as it was. The Tigers are just 2-4 as a team over Verlander’s last six starts, but he has allowed two runs or less in five of them, posting a 1.67 ERA with a .208/.235/.279 slash against. His 40/6 K/BB ratio is definitely a step in the right direction. Also, he’s faced Boston twice, Houston, Texas, and Kansas City in that span. His start against Kansas City was the only clunker of the bunch.
I like the Tigers here. I think Verlander’s learning how to adjust without his overpowering velocity and that’s a great sign for the Tigers going forward. Because Verlander’s good stretch came just after his first start following the All-Star Break, I have to think that these are some mechanical adjustments that he worked on during the time off. Whether or not they have long-term sustainability is up for debate, but I do like him in this spot.
I’ve been very impressed with Shelby Miller this season because the development of his cutter has completely changed his makeup as a pitcher. He’s more of a ground ball guy now and has basically cut his home run rate in half. He no longer has to rely on elevated fastballs to get swings and misses and the differences have been astonishing. Miller is just 5-10 due to a lack of run support, but he has a 2.50 ERA with a 3.29 FIP and a 3.86 xFIP on the season. He has been able to maintain the same low BABIPs that he has enjoyed in the past even though ground balls generally go for hits more often than fly balls.
The Braves will face Yohan Flande in this one. The 29-year-old has been pretty competent as a starter, all things considered, with a 3.90 ERA and a .240/.297/.485 slash against. He has given up six home runs over his last three starts, but those are about the only mistakes he has made in those outings. He’s a sinker/slider guy that doesn’t miss a lot of bats, but he manages to miss barrels more often than not. Consistency isn’t a strong suit, which is why he hasn’t been able to stick in the bigs. In a park like Turner Field, against a lineup that struggles against lefties, he could actually be serviceable in this start.
While I can’t, in good conscience, back Colorado, I think they are the value side, but I like the under more in this game.
With the pitching change in the Brewers/Indians game, there was no line at the time of print, but I have some thoughts on this matchup. Jimmy Nelson has a below average strikeout rate for the NL and has shown some control issues this season. He has a 3.60 ERA with a 3.99 FIP and a 3.91 xFIP. But, he’s actually pitched really well over the last two months and owns a 2.15 ERA with a .200/.277/.301 slash against. He’s a guy that I expected to see some improvement from. This start presents an interesting opportunity for Nelson, against an Indians lineup that has been swinging it pretty well lately. With Jason Kipnis back in the lineup, the Indians have a good lefty/righty balance. Lefties are batting .292/.367/.494 against Nelson, while righties are batting .190/.267/.275.
But, then there’s Cody Anderson. Anderson is being pushed back into the rotation due to Carlos Carrasco’s shoulder inflammation. Anderson, who left the rotation with an oblique injury after getting battered in four straight starts, has not made any rehab appearances and has not pitched since August 7. Maybe the “oblique” was an excuse to give him some time to catch his breath, but he was far from effective before he went on the DL. One thing to watch in this start is that lefties pepper Anderson to the tune of a .274/.318/.494 slash. Righties bat .230/.262/.343. Both of these pitchers have some extreme platoon splits, but the advantage goes to Anderson because the Brewers are very right-handed heavy.
Without a line, I can’t give you a pick on this game, but there’s some food for thought anyway.
The Cardinals draw another lefty after they beat up Robbie Ray on Tuesday night. This time, it’s Patrick Corbin, who has looked fantastic since returning from Tommy John surgery. He will be opposed by John Lackey. Lackey has been worth 2.7 fWAR for the low price of $500,000 this season. He has a 2.99/3.60/3.99 pitcher slash in 165.2 innings of work, with good control and better sequencing to keep his home run rate down. There are a few things to note about Lackey. He has sharp home/road splits, with a 1.91 ERA and a .241/.286/.324 slash against at home and a 4.40 ERA with a .260/.317/.431 slash on the road.
Another thing to notice is that Lackey’s batted ball data is trending in the wrong direction. He has his second-highest line drive percentage by month this season and his HR/FB has risen in each of the last three months. As a soon-to-be 37-year-old, there’s a lot of mileage on that arm. Things are trending in the wrong direction and Chase Field is an unforgiving run environment.
Patrick Corbin’s comeback story hit a bump in the plot in his last start when the Reds knocked him out after just two innings. His command is still a work in progress, as it is for all post-Tommy John guys not named Jose Fernandez. Corbin has averaged more than a strikeout per inning over his 44 frames this season and owns a 4.09/3.74/3.18 pitcher slash on the year. His home run rate and BABIP against are indicative of his command shortcomings, but his high ground ball rate and a great infield defense have allowed him to keep his strand rate high.
This is an interesting matchup to pick. Corbin is a wild card because pitchers coming off of TJS always are. Lackey is a wild card because some of his batted ball data is trending in the wrong direction and this is a bad park for that to be a thing. Overall, a small lean to Lackey because Corbin has been limited to about 90 pitches and the Diamondbacks bullpen isn’t very good. The Cardinals bullpen, on the other hand, is very good.
Kyle Hendricks isn’t getting a whole lot of respect in this outing against Jake Peavy. Peavy is a small home favorite, even though the Cubs are the hottest team in baseball and the Giants are showing all sorts of offensive dysfunction. Now, Brandon Crawford has also left the lineup after some discomfort on Tuesday night. Without Crawford and Hunter Pence, this lineup is a lot different than the one that has been in the top 10 most of the season.
The focus is always on Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, but Hendricks has been pretty good this season as well. Over 24 starts, Hendricks has a 4.03 ERA, but a 3.45 FIP and a 3.40 xFIP. Hendricks has improved his strikeout rate by over six percent this season and his biggest problem is that balls in play haven’t been hit at people with men in scoring position. Perhaps Hendricks has a bit of a mechanics issue with RISP as well. With the bases empty, hitters are batting .257/.303/.360. With RISP, the numbers go up to .298/.385/.505. Hendricks has especially struggled of late, but he has averaged more than a strikeout per inning since the All-Star Break and has a .342 BABIP against.
Jake Peavy has made 11 starts for the Giants with a 4.35 ERA, a 4.03 FIP, and a 4.45 xFIP. Peavy was declining rapidly in the AL before he was traded to San Francisco last season and threw 78.2 innings of pretty good ball for the Giants down the stretch. He hasn’t been able to replicate it this season and even struggled in his six minor league rehab starts at Triple-A. Peavy’s command and velocity remain in decline. There’s very little to like about his current skill set, even if AT&T Park provides a bit of a safety net.
I’m on the Cubs here. The Giants offense has taken some big hits lately and I really don’t like this matchup for Peavy.