The last full week of August begins with 10 MLB games, including a couple of makeup games. The Indians and Cubs play a day game at Wrigley to compete their June two-game series and the Tigers and Reds meet on the banks of the Ohio River to finish their interleague set. Make sure to catch today’s edition of The Bettor’s Box for more MLB betting insight and analysis. Also, podcast-exclusive picks on two of tonight’s games.
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Overnight and morning money has been coming in on the Astros for this one. The Yankees are dealing with a lot of problems right now. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez have been hampered by some nagging injuries and CC Sabathia left his start on Sunday, leaving the bullpen to work extensively. The Astros are in a potential letdown spot off of a sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the wide-eyed, bushy-tailed young Astros club has to be excited to play at Yankee Stadium.
Scott Feldman’s lone redeeming quality remains the ability to eat innings and not destroy his team’s chances of winning. Over 16 starts, Feldman owns a 4.05/4.31/3.98 pitcher slash and has one of the lowest strikeout rates in the league. It should come as no surprise that Feldman has a 5.16 ERA at home and a 2.78 ERA on the road because he’s given up 12 home runs this season and Minute Maid Park is a great hitter’s park. He, surprisingly, has sharp reverse platoon splits, which could actually help him at Yankee Stadium with the short porch in RF and a lot of left-handed bats in the Yankees lineup.
Nate Eovaldi is basically Scott Feldman with better stuff. He eats innings, doesn’t hurt his team, and doesn’t strike out a whole lot of batters. Eovaldi is 13-2 on the season with a higher ERA than Feldman because ERA and win-loss record tell us nothing. His peripherals are very strong, with a 3.53 FIP and a 3.82 xFIP. Eovaldi has been the victim of a bad defensive team with a .337 BABIP against on the season. Since he gave up eight runs in 0.2 innings against Miami on June 16, Eovaldi has allowed two runs or less in seven of 11 starts and no more than four runs in any of those 11 starts.
Eovaldi is more trustworthy than Feldman, but the Yankees lineup is missing some key pieces right now due to injury. That’s why the market has been coming in on the Astros. This game is a complete no play for me, but my lean would be to the under because neither team is really hitting right now and both bullpens are very solid.
Whichever team cares more will win this game. The Reds quit on themselves on Sunday in a 4-0 shutout loss to Chase Anderson and the Diamondbacks, who were wrapping up a 10-game road trip. The Tigers lost three of four to the Rangers in an ugly offensive series for them. Buck Farmer and Keyvius Sampson are the listed pitchers, so at least the pitching matchup features guys that will be engaged. Farmer should have every opportunity to make the Tigers pitching staff next season and Sampson has been pretty impressive in his first stint as an MLB starter.
Buck Farmer’s MLB stints have not gone well. As in he has a 9.26 ERA, 6.42 FIP, and a 5.05 xFIP over 34 innings. The Georgia Tech product was fast-tracked to the Majors in 2014 with 18 starts at Single-A, two at Double-A, two at Triple-A and two in the bigs. He struggled as he moved up the chain and has had major command problems at the higher levels. Right now, even though Farmer’s raw stuff is pretty decent, he’s really not worth backing.
Keyvius Sampson is coming off of his worst start at the big league level and it’s always a worry to see a pitcher like him going up against a pretty fantastic lineup. On the other hand, the Tigers lose a bat for this game and just had a really disappointing home series against a team they are fighting for a wild card spot. There really isn’t a whole lot to like about this spot for Detroit. Neither team has a worthwhile bullpen, so that cancels out. The play in this game has to be the Reds, but it’s hard to put money on either team right now.
In another game where you don’t want to put your money on either team, the Braves play host to the Rockies. Jorge de la Rosa takes the ball against one of the worst lineups in baseball against left-handed pitching. On the other hand, his run support system is one of the worst road lineups in baseball. Who will win?!
The Braves are 28th in wOBA against lefties and 27th in wRC+. They are 29th in SLG and are saved from being in Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox territory by their walk rate, which is around average. JDLR has increased his ground ball rate this season, which has helped, but he has also seen a big spike in his walk rate. Of course, with that, his strikeouts have gone up as well. In an effort to stay healthy, de la Rosa has lessened the usage of his slider and is basically a fastball/cutter/splitter guy now.
As I expected, Julio Teheran has been coming around. In the month of August, Teheran owns a 24/4 K/BB ratio and has allowed seven runs over 25.2 innings of work. It was only a matter of time, as some bad batted ball luck and an unfortunate home run rate were affecting his run prevention abilities. I told you that a strikeout rate increase was coming because his swinging strike rate was similar to last season. The Braves have gotten some contributions from Nick Swisher since he was acquired, so maybe the offense will gradually start to turn things around.
After the embarrassing showing by the Rockies on Sunday, I like the Braves here and I’m even willing to lay the -130 on them. The Rockies have quit on the season yet again. The Braves haven’t quit, they just aren’t very good. They might get it turned around a little bit here.
After seven relief appearances without his arm falling off, Kris Medlen will get his first start of the 2015 season for the Royals on Monday. He will oppose Ubaldo Jimenez. The Orioles played poorly in almost all facets of the game over the weekend against the Twins, with bad situational hitting, poor defense, and they squandered a good opportunity. Can they bounce back against the best team in the American League?
It would help if Ubaldo Jimenez could get it figured out. Jimenez gave up 31 earned runs in 99.1 first half innings. In 36.2 innings since the All-Star Break, he has allowed 29 earned runs. He allowed eight home runs in the first half and has already allowed eight home runs in the second half. We all know that Jimenez is an unknown from start-to-start. It’s impossible to know what to expect and his mechanics seem to be all out of whack once again.
Kris Medlen was a pretty effective pitcher for the Braves before Tommy John surgery got in the way. As a reliever, Medlen has been able to ease back into action. Back as a starter now, it will be a big test to see where Medlen is right now. It’s impossible to take anything of significance out of his numbers for this year. With post-Tommy John guys, you look for velocity first, then control, then command. Medlen’s is right at pre-surgery levels from when he was mostly working in relief. The control is a work in progress and the command will be tested in this start against an Orioles team with good power.
All in all, I like the Royals and Medlen here. The Royals continue to surprise me with how invested they are in every game, even though they are running away with the division.