Happy Saturday! A full slate of MLB action is on tap with three day games and 13 night games. The Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees play at 1:05 p.m. ET, the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates continue their series at 4:05 p.m. ET and the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs meet at 4:05 p.m. ET once again. That leaves a busy night of MLB betting opportunities, so let’s see where we can make some money tonight.
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Texas (-120) at Detroit; Total: 9
Yovani Gallardo takes on Randy Wolf…who? That Randy Wolf? Yes, that Randy Wolf. Desperate for a starter with Anibal Sanchez and Daniel Norris both on the DL, the Tigers traded for Randy Wolf from Toronto to make the start on Saturday. Wolf, who missed all of 2013 and made four starts for the Miami Marlins in 2014, was 9-2 with a 2.58 ERA and a 2.96 FIP in Triple-A this season. His ability to prevent home runs was the biggest advantage that he had over the younger hitters at that level.
Wolf carved out a so-so career in the National league and owns a 4.21/4.37/4.35 ERA/FIP/xFIP for his career at the big league level. The 39-year-old will celebrate his birthday with his first Major League start since June 14 of last year. The thing about Wolf here is that there is some unknown. His command was great in Triple-A, but it was pretty poor over his final few seasons in the Major Leagues. If nothing else, it’s a good story that he’s back.
Yovani Gallardo keeps doing his thing. After allowing five runs in three straight starts out of the All-Star Break, Gallardo has allowed 3, 0, 3 over his last three starts. His strikeout rate has been progressively dropping, so that’s definitely a concern with a pitcher like him. He needs whatever strikeouts he can scrape together because he’s so BABIP-dependent with mediocre control.
Given the line, oddsmakers expect absolutely nothing from Randy Wolf, because Yovani Gallardo should not be favored over this Tigers lineup. I’ll take the Tigers here and take the value. Wolf should be okay if he finds a way to give Detroit four or five innings with no more than four earned runs.
A great pitching matchup here between Zack Greinke and Scott Kazmir. The Dodgers were no-hit in an embarrassing display of offense by Mike Fiers on Friday night, though Fiers deserves a lot of credit for locating his pitches well. The Dodgers continue to underachieve as the most expensive team in baseball history. One guy that has not underachieved is Zack Greinke. Greinke has been dominant this season with a 1.58 ERA, a 2.55 FIP, and a 3.13 xFIP. His 85.5 percent strand rate is well out of the normal range, but he’s well out of the normal range as a pitcher. A drop in strikeouts has not deterred him one bit, as his walk rate continues to be elite. It’s fair to wonder whether or not a .242 BABIP and an 85.5 percent strand rate are things that will continue throughout the rest of the season, but we’ve seen no indication otherwise.
Scott Kazmir is now just 1-3 in five starts with Houston, with a 2.59 ERA, 4.42 FIP, and a 4.41 xFIP. A spike in home runs allowed was expected with a move from Oakland to Houston, but his home run rate has nearly tripled over this small sample. The big surprise is what has happened to his strikeout rate so far, but, again there’s some small sample size noise in there. His swinging strike rate is roughly the same with Houston, so expect that strikeout rate to come back up. Against a Dodgers lineup that has gotten better against lefties throughout the season, Kazmir will need to command well.
This is a tough game to pick because the Dodgers have a poor bullpen and seem to be pressing a little bit right now. On the other hand, the Astros, a swing-and-miss team, are taking on one of the game’s best in Greinke. For me, it’s a stay away, but it should be an exciting game to watch.
The biggest line move of the morning belongs to the game between Tampa Bay and Oakland. Sonny Gray has been bet up into the -130 range against Erasmo Ramirez. The Rays lineup has really struggled over the last week after busting out a bit over the previous few weeks. Bettors aren’t ready to buy into Erasmo Ramirez, who has really improved throughout the season. He doesn’t have anything particularly sexy about his stat line, but he has a 3.57 ERA and a 3.80 FIP. It’s fair to suggest that his .253 BABIP against is not going to be sustainable, since he has a 48 percent ground ball rate this season. I would agree with that statement and it’s why I would take Oakland in this one.
Sonny Gray was thrown out of his routine after getting scratched from his scheduled start against Toronto two weeks ago and struggled a little bit against Baltimore his last time out. Oakland’s awful defense hurt him in that one as three of the four runs he allowed were unearned. But, the stuff didn’t look as sharp and Gray left after 5.2 innings. In his A’s career, Gray has a 2.95 ERA with a .222/.280/.330 slash against. Oakland will be a tough bet to make for most of the remainder of the season, but not today, even though the line value is mostly gone.
Marco Estrada is getting some betting market love this morning as the Blue Jays face another lefty. This is almost a blind move by the market any time the Blue Jays face a southpaw. Estrada continues to be an effective pitcher for the Blue Jays with a 3.20 ERA, 4.01 FIP, and a 4.76 xFIP. As I’ve mentioned before, sabermetric stats hate fly ball pitchers and Estrada is one of the most extreme. What Estrada has done this season is pretty incredible, given that Rogers Centre is one of the best parks for home run hitters. In this one, Estrada is at Angel Stadium, a park suited well for his skill set.
All the focus will be on the Blue Jays offense, which knocked around Hector Santiago and the Angels bullpen on Friday. Heaney has some signs of regression in his stat profile with a .266 BABIP against and an 84.1 percent strand rate. Unlike Estrada, whose saber stats are unfavorable because he’s a fly ball pitcher, Heaney’s a pretty neutral GB/FB pitcher with saber stats that don’t look too kindly on the rest of his season. The strand rate with a below average strikeout rate is a big reason why. I happen to like Heaney quite a bit. He mixes his pitches well and has the potential for two plus offspeed offerings. Righties are batting .235/.295/.363 off of him and that will be the big test in this one. He’ll rely heavily on his changeup to try and keep the Toronto hitters at bay.
I like both of these pitchers in this setting, so my lean would be to the under. This park is tailored to Estrada and Heaney has a good enough changeup to get righties out. He has allowed two runs or less in nine of his 10 starts this season and you don’t do that by not knowing how to pitch.