Those of you that followed last night’s pick from The Bettor’s Box were given an easy winner on a plus money dog in about as good of a situational spot as you can get in MLB. It was a tough slate otherwise, but the Arizona Diamondbacks came through and now we’re turning the page to Tuesday for more baseball betting insight and analysis. With 15 night games on the card, and some really great matchups, it should be a good night to make money on the bases.
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Remember when Miami was favored at Atlanta over the weekend? LOL. The Marlins are rightfully a home dog against knuckleballer Steven Wright on Tuesday night with Justin Nicolino on the mound. The Marlins are awful, as previously mentioned in this article and as poignantly mentioned on Monday’s edition of The Bettor’s Box. They are the worst offensive team in baseball against right-handed pitching.
Steven Wright is an interesting case. Wright was a middling reliever in the Indians organization when he decided to develop a knuckleball. It has gotten him to the Major Leagues, so it has clearly been a success. In 53.1 innings as a starter in his career, the numbers are somewhat respectable with a 4.05 ERA, 4.77 FIP, and 4.48 xFIP. It’s a small sample and he has allowed nine home runs in 47.1 innings of work this season to drive up the FIP. He does have a 3/1 K/BB ratio, which is pretty impressive all things considered.
Justin Nicolino is also a relative unknown. The pitch-to-contact southpaw has made a couple of uninspiring starts this season, including his Major League debut. His control is passable, but he doesn’t miss many bats and is very defense-dependent. He has a good situation in Miami, with a good park factor for his fly ball style and a pretty good defensive team behind him. He’s your standard lefty with some cut and sinker and the three standard offspeed offerings.
The Red Sox are middle of the pack offensively and will lose the DH for this game, but they are the side to look at. David Ortiz is batting .192/.214/.325 against lefties anyways, so he’s not a huge loss to the lineup in this instance. He’ll also be a dangerous pinch hitter in later innings. Nicolino doesn’t have many redeeming qualities at this stage of his development and the Marlins probably won’t handle knuckleballs very well.
What a great pitching matchup in Cleveland on Tuesday night. Top prospect Luis Severino will make his road debut after a dazzling five innings in his MLB debut last week against Boston. The 21-year-old has a really impressive arsenal of stuff and will be taking on an Indians lineup that is nowhere near as good as it showed over the weekend against the Twins. The Indians scored 34 runs in three games against the Twins and it included two Abraham Almonte home runs, a Jerry Sands grand slam, and a lot of production from what is effectively a Triple-A lineup plus Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana. I’m an Indians fan, and I had fun over the weekend, but that was the Blind Squirrel Theory at work.
Severino has a very live fastball with some run and a plus slider. He managed to not walk anybody even though he only threw 27.8 percent first-pitch strikes in his debut. That’s pretty impressive, though that first-pitch strike rate obviously needs to climb. The Yankees enter this one with the fifth-best offense against RHP, but they were held to one run over the weekend by RA Dickey, David Price, Marco Estrada and the Blue Jays bullpen.
Carlos Carrasco is a tough customer in his own right. Carrasco’s last two outings? 18 innings pitched, three hits, one run, two walks, 14 strikeouts. Bad batted ball luck has really hurt him this season, but it’s coming back around lately and that ERA is starting to inch closer to his 2.81 FIP and 2.76 xFIP. The Yankees haven’t seen the new and improved Carrasco, so it will be interesting to see how they adjust. On the other hand, run support may be hard for Carrasco to attain.
Take the under here and don’t look back. The Yankees need a win, so Joe Girardi will be a bit more aggressive with his best relievers when Severino leaves after five or almost certainly six because the team is monitoring his workload pretty closely. Carrasco has been dominant of late and Terry Francona will aggressively use his bullpen as well after Corey Kluber’s CG on Sunday and an off day on Monday.
The Tigers are snowballing down the hill of failure and there’s no end in sight. Dave Dombrowski did a lot of good things as the GM, but he failed to address the starting rotation and it cost him big this season. Anibal Sanchez hasn’t helped matters. Sanchez is 10-9, but a 4.82 ERA and a 4.47 FIP are not what the Tigers expected from their #2 starter entering the year.
After giving up 530.1 innings of work in Rick Porcello, Drew Smyly, and Max Scherzer, the Tigers tried to cobble together a rotation of broken Justin Verlander, Alfredo Simon, and Shane Greene. It failed exponentially. Sanchez has been a big reason why. After averaging about a strikeout per inning earlier this season, Sanchez is not just a slightly above average K guy with awful command. He’s battled and pitched through injuries in the past and they may have simply taken their toll. Sanchez has now set a new career high in HR allowed with 25, blowing away his previous high of 20 in 46 more innings.
As far as Kansas City goes, Yordano Ventura is a pitcher that you need to dig a little bit deeper on. He was shelved for UCL nerve discomfort in June and came back before the All-Star Break to throw one marginal start against Tampa Bay. His first start after the Break was awful and the Royals sent him to Triple-A to work on some things. For one day until Jason Vargas’s UCL exploded. Media narratives came flying after a great start against Houston on July 26 and the last two starts have been horrible against Toronto and Detroit.
In Ventura, you’ve got a guy that is A. pitching hurt, B. fighting his command, C. pitching with no confidence, and D. fighting last season’s workload. Ventura threw 183 innings during the regular season and then added a lot more in the playoffs. He threw 150 innings in 2013. As a smallish right-hander with a lot going on in his delivery and mid-90s velo, this is a hard spot for him. The raw stuff is good and the advanced metrics agree, but high-stress pitches have been hard for him, given the 65.5 percent LOB% and his ERA due to bad sequencing. At this point, I can’t back Ventura at all. The stuff will allow him to throw a good game here or there, but at -145, I can’t do it.
But, I won’t play the Tigers either, since they’ve mostly quit on the season. Don’t touch this game at all.
Hello, weird line movement. How are you today? The Minnesota Twins opened -105 at home and have been steamed a quarter already with Yovani Gallardo on the mound for the Rangers and Kyle Gibson on the hill at Target Field. Gallardo is a guy that I have a ton of respect for. As I’ve said before in my work here at BangTheBook, Gallardo reinvented himself as a pitcher when his velocity disappeared at a very early age and he’s still effective.
The Rangers opted to hold on to Gallardo at the trade deadline, which leads me to believe that they intend to take a shot at re-signing him next season. Frankly, they should. He’s outpitching his advanced metrics, but his pitchability is off the charts, which is why he can strand 74 percent of his runners with a well below average strikeout rate. I’ll blame trade deadline uncertainty and expected variance for Gallardo’s last few starts, with 18 runs allowed over 19 innings of work. Prior to that, Gallardo hadn’t allowed more than three runs over his previous 10 starts.
Kyle Gibson was a guy I started to change my mind about and then he hit the wall again. Gibson posted a 2.85 ERA in the first half by severely outpitching his advanced metrics. Since the Break, he has given up 22 runs in 22 innings. Regression has hit in just about every form, specifically BABIP. Gibson owned a .268 BABIP with a poor defensive team before the Break. He has reverse platoon splits with a .234/.311/.355 slash against versus lefties and a .276/.330/.436 slash against versus righties. Most of Texas’s damage is done by left-handed bats.
This line move was a little bit surprising. Gibson’s home ERA of 3.13 is a lot better than the 4.57 ERA on the road, but his home/road slash lines against aren’t all that different, with a 23-point gap in OBP and a similar SLG.
Gun to my head, I’m going against the line move and looking at Gallardo. With neither guy pitching all that well lately, I’ll take the guy with the veteran knowhow to get out of a slump over the guy banging his head against the wall to figure it out.
Quite a storyline for this game as Hector Santiago makes his return to Chicago to face his former team. The Angels will be tasked with hitting against Carlos Rodon. Against left-handed pitching, the Angels are 22nd in wOBA and the White Sox are 30th in wOBA, so right away you have to look at the under as a possible play with this total. The idea behind the total is that Santiago is showing regression in his advanced metrics and Rodon is “wild” and therefore a blowup risk.
Let’s debunk two myths right now. First, Hector Santiago’s performance is, on the whole, sustainable. His strikeout rate is up this season and his walk rate is down. Those are two good things. His extreme fly ball rate plays well in Anaheim and in road parks like Seattle and Oakland. Sabermetric stats don’t like fly ball pitchers because they give up more home runs and home runs are bad. Sabermetric stats focus on what a pitcher can control. Home runs are considered one of those things because they are a mistake. What stats like FIP and xFIP don’t take into account is that fly balls go for hits less often than ground balls. Fewer baserunners means fewer runs to give up. The 86.7 percent strand rate is the unsustainable part, but we’re going on four months of doing this now. He’s always had an above average strand rate and, while it won’t stay at 86.7 percent, he’s still a mid-3.50s ERA guy with a more reasonable figure.
Now, for Carlos Rodon. Yes, he has a 12.9 percent walk rate on the season. He has a 5.17 ERA, which has everybody up in arms. He also has a hideous .359 BABIP against and a low strand rate because he’s still learning how to pitch. The normally aggressive Angels actually have a very respectable walk rate against lefties this season, so that is a concern. But, they’ve also never seen Rodon and unfamiliar lefties with deception are guys I like to play on against teams that have never faced a pitcher.
In eight of Rodon’s 15 starts, he has allowed three runs or less. He has three huge blowups of eight, seven, and seven runs, two of which have come since the All-Star Break. I’m buying into his potential against an Angels lineup that hasn’t impressed me all season. While I won’t take the White Sox, because they’re terrible, I will look at the under as a way of supporting Rodon without supporting his teammates.
Oddsmakers have no idea how to price this game and that’s what makes it fun. Michael Lorenzen, owner of a 4.84/5.73/5.04 pitcher slash over 89.1 innings takes on Colin Rea, who is making his MLB debut. The Padres are favored in Rea’s debut, even though he has six career starts at the Triple-A level and was a starter, then reliever, then starter in the minor leagues. The Padres moved Rea back into the starting rotation full-time in 2014 and he went 11-9 with a 3.88 ERA and a 4.02 FIP in High-A. This season, Rea started in Double-A, but showed elite command and control and made the jump to Triple-A, where the command and control wavered over 26.2 innings.
We’ll start with Lorenzen, an interesting arm projected to be a back-end starter when his development is finished, has shown no feel for control at the big league level thus far with 64 strikeouts against 51 walks. He’s given up a hit per inning and 15 home runs in 18 appearances.
Rea is an interesting guy. He’s 6-foot-5, so there’s some length to the delivery that allows his low-90s fastball to look a bit quicker. His secondary pitchers, a slider and change, need work. The Padres, for all of their warts with hitter development, have done a mostly solid job developing pitchers. Rea has shown better control overall this season and may have some promise as a sleeper prospect. There’s not a lot of scouting report info out there, because he sort of popped up out of nowhere as a prospect and is now considered the top pitching prospect in San Diego’s organization by some media outlets.
Based on what I’ve seen and read, I’m skeptical of Rea. He was sent to the bullpen because of control problems, because the idea is that wild arms can be effective in short bursts rather than over the course of a five-inning start. Does he have more than a fastball to get Reds hitters out with? Are the secondaries developed enough? I don’t know because I haven’t found enough information on that. As a result, I have no choice but to look at the Reds for this one. Lorenzen’s been bad, but lefties have a .437 wOBA against him and righties drop down to .310. The Padres are right-handed heavy, as we know, so the Reds are a small lean, given the unknown of Rea.
The best pitching matchup of the night is probably in Cleveland, but the nightcap at AT&T Park between Scott Kazmir and Madison Bumgarner is pretty exciting. Bumgarner and the Giants are a clear favorite and both teams struggled over the weekend. Even though the Giants are a really good lineup, you have to be a little bit interested in the idea of Kazmir against a NL lineup. On the other hand, the Giants are one of the best offenses in all of baseball. Kazmir has a 2.08/3.16/3.72 pitcher slash, with a very low BABIP against of .249. AT&T Park should be a good yard for him to pitch in.
Then you have Bumgarner, an elite lefty with a tremendous strikeout rate and excellent peripherals across the board. He’s the type of guy that can really dominate an Astros lineup with a lot of swing-and-miss. Bumgarner just keeps getting better as he ages. The slight bump in ERA is due to a small spike in home runs, but his K rate is improved for the fourth straight season and his walk rate is the best of his career. A subtle, but noteworthy usage change from fewer sliders to more curveballs can explain the increase in fly balls. Also, Bumgarner is throwing more fastballs and fewer changeups this season. These subtle arsenal changes can often explain some stat changes and they do with Bumgarner. Are they significant against the Astros? Not really, because Houston never sees him anyway, so they don’t know any different, but they are interesting to note.
Lay the price with the Giants here. Kazmir is very good, but Bumgarner is better and this is a better matchup for MadBum than it is for Kaz.