A couple day games and a lot of night games are on tap for August 15 as the MLB playoff races heat up in both leagues. Some big games are on the docket this evening and some very interesting betting lines have been set for those key contests. Yesterday’s article picks didn’t go as well as hoped, but the podcast thoughts from Thursday’s edition of The Bettor’s Box worked out pretty well. Just another reason to make sure that you’re listening every Monday and Thursday for the latest MLB betting insight and analysis. Let’s get back on the horse for Saturday.

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Oakland at Baltimore (-135); Total: 8

Some money has come in against the Baltimore Orioles as home chalk in this one between Chris Bassitt and Miguel Gonzalez. I like Chris Bassitt now and going forward, but I don’t like him in this start and don’t fully understand this line move. This is one of those examples I disagree with in regards to betting numbers and not teams. Yes, the line was too high. But, a losing pick with a good number is still a loser. There’s no guarantee that the A’s lose, obviously, but here’s why I don’t like this game for them.

Since joining the starting rotation on June 30, Bassitt has made five of his seven starts in Oakland, one in San Francisco, and one right before the All-Star Break against the Indians in front of his friends and family as a University of Akron alum. Situationally, that was a great spot for Bassitt right before the All-Star Break with an Indians team that was dying to get some time off. Sure, Bassitt has been great, with a 2.27 ERA and a .226/.269/.335 slash against as a starter. As a fly ball pitcher, he owns a 4.3 percent HR/FB%, which will regress when he gets into some better parks for hitting. His line drive rate is pretty high to have a .281 BABIP against. His 3.57 xFIP suggests regression and a start at the more hitter-friendly Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a place for that to start.

On the other side is Miguel Gonzalez, who really isn’t very good. This season, he has been unable to outpitch his advanced metrics because of a high home run rate, even though he’s still shown the ability to pitch out of jams more often than not. Gonzalez’s 4.45 ERA, 4.87 FIP, and 4.26 xFIP are obviously not good numbers. As mentioned on Thursday’s podcast, this is a make-or-break homestand for the Orioles because they’re now chasing the Angels and Yankees and time is running out. They stepped up offensively on Friday night and I think they step up again here.

I really like Chris Bassitt in home starts with his fly ball stylings and surprising strikeout rate. But, this is not a good situation for him. Defying line moves is hard to do, but I think it’s the play here.

Chicago (NL) (-125) at Chicago (AL); Total: 7.5

The number is all across the board for this game, but the Cubs are favored are every shop in the market. The Cubs really stepped up in what I felt was a tough spot for them on Friday night and they’re in a much better spot in this game. Jake Arrieta has emerged as a legit front of the rotation starter over the last couple of years. His advanced metrics are a little bit higher than last year, but that’s not a concern. Considering how abnormally low his home run rate was last season, some minor regression should have been expected. The fact that he still owns a 2.38/2.65/2.85 pitcher slash is what to focus on. The White Sox offense is still pretty bad and Arrieta has dominant stuff.

Jose Quintana is good. More than that, Quintana is consistent. He’s got numbers right in line with his career averages and has improved his control this season. The scary part for Quintana is that the Cubs offense is getting better with Joe Maddon’s new lineup that features Kyle Schwarber in the two-hole. The Cubs have had some difficulties against left-handed pitching of late, however. They were in the top 10 in wOBA for a while but now sit 14th.

After some offensive fun yesterday, I’d expect a low-scoring affair in this one. Both pitchers limit free baserunners and have very good stuff. These are two solid bullpens and I would look for this one to stay under the total.

Cleveland at Minnesota (-110); Total: 9

Josh Tomlin will return to the Indians rotation in place of Cody Anderson, who is out with an oblique strain. He will face Tyler Duffey, who was rocked in his Major League debut last time out. Injuries have derailed Tomlin’s career over each of the last four seasons and he is just returning from a shoulder injury. Tomlin is what he is. He has great control but mediocre command, so he doesn’t walk batters, but his starts tend to become laser shows. He’s a fly ball guy with a low 90s fastball, a pretty sharp curve ball, and a decent cutter.

As for Tyler Duffey, his promotion to the big leagues was a little bit of a surprise because the Twins had Jose Berrios ready and waiting to be called up. With the season slipping away from the Twins, they opted to leave Berrios down and not start his service time clock. Duffey has a 3.5-pitch mix with a four and two-seamer, a curve and a change. Toronto rocked him for six runs over two innings, but Toronto does that to a lot of guys. Like Tomlin, Duffey had some decent minor league walk rates.

This is an impossible game to pick and that’s pretty much why the oddsmakers set the line where they did. Tomlin has more of a Major League track record, but both guys have the chance to get blown up. In knowing Tomlin better than the oddsmakers, my lean would be to Minnesota, but I also don’t know a whole lot about Duffey.

Pittsburgh at New York (NL) (-115); Total: 7.5

Chuckles Morton takes on Jonny Niese as the Pirates and Mets continue their weekend set. My spidey senses were strong about Friday night’s game in this series like I talked about in the podcast. My podcast thoughts on Saturday and Sunday leaned towards the Mets and that’s what I’ll do with this game. Morton became a lot less effective this season when his strikeout rate dropped. His command has also tailed off a bit as well. There’s only so much that the defensive shifting can do, even with a high ground ball rate. Morton has a 4.48 ERA, 4.10 FIP, and 3.89 xFIP, so his HR rate could see some positive regression, but, again, that assumes a reasonable level of command and Morton’s command just isn’t there right now.

On the Mets side, Jon Niese has been pretty reliable for the Mets this year. He’s far less exciting than his rotation mates, but he’s a different look from the left-handed arm slot and has done a good job of getting hitters to put the ball on the ground. All in all, with uninspiring peripherals, he still outpitches his FIP and xFIP on a regular basis, just like he’s doing this season. Since battling some shoulder/dead arm issues earlier in the year, Niese has a 2.76 ERA with a .236/.294/.331 slash against since the start of June.

Gimme the Mets in this one. Morton’s command problems are a worry against an improved Mets lineup and Niese has been pretty reliable.

Tampa Bay (-125) at Texas; Total: 8

Today’s head scratcher line comes from the Rays/Rangers game, where Chris Archer is a small favorite over Colby Lewis. Archer has been dominant this season. He owns a 2.62/2.54/2.57 pitcher slash and has struck out 11 batters per nine innings, with elite control and some pretty good command. His slider is one of the best in baseball this season. The Rays offense struggled last night against Martin Perez, which came as a surprise to me in my favorite play of the night.

Colby Lewis is giving the Rangers some adequate work this season, though his 12-5 record is one of the most misleading in baseball. Lewis has a 4.61/4.16/4.39 pitcher slash with a great walk rate and a heavy fly ball split. Like most righties, Lewis owns a platoon split. Lefties are batting .266/.315/.453, while righties are hitting .241/.274/.409 with a 60/9 K/BB ratio.

I won’t play this game because the line scares me. When you handicap any sport, you have to look for lines like this. Archer at only -125 makes it look like oddsmakers are begging for Rays money because Archer has been a much bigger favorite on the road in the past. Everybody knows Colby Lewis isn’t very good. Yet, the line, which opened -135, went up and then came back down. This is a weird line that I would stay away from.

San Diego (-105) at Colorado; Total: 11

Here’s an example of why watching the betting market is important. Tyson Ross was a -115 or -120 favorite over Yohan Flande on Friday night and the Padres won. Today, the Padres face rookie Jon Gray in his third start with a much more experienced starter on the mound in Andrew Cashner and some places have Colorado favored. That’s a neon sign flashing right before your eyes.

Colorado is the play here if you read the context clues in the line. It’s been a very rough season for Cashner, who has taken the Tyson Ross approach of trying to strike out as many batters as possible to take the defense out of the equation. The end result is a spike in home runs and a huge spike in ERA because Cashner can’t get out of innings. He has a 63.4 percent strand rate, one of the lowest in baseball among starters.

Jon Gray has been impressive in his first two starts. The major worry here is that the Rockies are really watching his innings, which will bring a horrendous Colorado bullpen into play a lot earlier than you would like. Gray made is four innings in his MLB debut against Seattle at home and then gave up just one hit, a home run, against the New York Mets over six innings in his last start. Gray has good stuff, with the potential for three plus pitches.

Yesterday was a good situation for the Padres against a lefty in Flande. The Padres are 28th in wOBA against righties are .295 with one of the worst walk rates and a high strikeout rate. The Rockies look to be the play as Jon Gray should get his first MLB win if the bullpen can take care of business.

Other Games

New York (AL) at Toronto

Seattle at Boston

Los Angeles (AL) at Kansas City

Arizona at Atlanta

Philadelphia at Milwaukee

Detroit at Houston

Miami at St. Louis

Cincinnati at Los Angeles (NL)

Washington at San Francisco