With just seven games on the slate for Monday night, today’s picks and analysis article will definitely be a bit shorter than usual. You can hear some of my Monday thoughts, including my top pick of the day on my MLB betting podcast, The Bettor’s Box. Overall, there aren’t a whole lot of betting options available, with two of the five games featuring favorites pushing two dollars and some favorites in the -150 range in the other games. In any event, we’ll see what we can find for Monday’s small slate.
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We’ve seen a pretty significant move on the Mets, up from around -165 to as high as -200 for Monday’s matchup with the Rockies. Jonathan Gray will be making his second career start for the Rockies after struggling against the Seattle Mariners in his Major League debut. Gray currently features a plus fastball with good life in the 91-94 range and two secondary pitches that flash plus. He doesn’t have the same velocity that he had in college and the Rockies have been awful at developing pitching, but he’s still an intriguing arm. Control and command were issues last start, but it’s the kid’s MLB debut.
Jon Niese is a decent back-end guy, but there are some concerns present here as well. The strikeout rate continues to fall off and the peripherals aren’t particularly happy with Niese. He has a 3.51 ERA with a 4.11 FIP and a 3.93 xFIP. I’m not sure he deserves to be a $2 favorite over anybody, but I can see the rationale behind the line move. The Rockies have the 26th-ranked offense by wOBA and therefore the worst wRC+ by a large margin because that is park-adjusted and Coors Field plays a huge part.
I’m not saying I’d run to back the Rockies, but they are the value side. The concern is that Colorado has already said that they will limit Gray’s innings and their bullpen isn’t good. But, Gray is a guy to have on your radar in the future with what could be three plus pitches.
Play the under here. Chris Sale is awesome and the White Sox offense is not. Matt Shoemaker dominated the Indians last time out and has had some positive regression coming in his home run rate most of the season. Without going too in depth, this is my favorite play of the card.
The Philadelphia Phillies are a lot like the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers from a betting standpoint. Oddsmakers were willing to remain skeptical on all three of those teams and take their lumps while they waited for the other shoe to drop. It dropped with the Twins. It dropped with the Rangers, who improved a bit recently. The Phillies are rolling since the All-Star Break and still get no respect. They were a +160+ underdog throughout the weekend in San Diego. In a sense, this line shows some respect, but bettors have driven the line down by backing the Phils.
There’s not a whole lot to like about Aaron Harang in this start. The extreme fly ball pitcher will be at Chase Field, arguably the best extra-base hit park in MLB. His strikeout rate is down significantly this season and he has a 4.11/4.21/4.73 pitcher slash. On the other hand, Rubby de la Rosa is an enigma. One start he’s dominant, the next start he’s awful. RLDR has traded in control concerns for a regression in command, so there’s no telling what to expect. Lefties are decimating RDLR this season with a .303/.360/.571 slash, so that’s worth watching in this start.
Overall, I don’t really know where to go with this game. The Phillies are playing pretty well, but Harang in this park is terrifying. Maybe you look for some runs to be scored in this one, though power is not a hallmark of the Phillies offense. I’d say that Arizona will be the side to play when the line movement is said and done.
The Reds stay out west after taking on the Diamondbacks to entertain the Padres. David Holmberg will get the start in this one against Ian Kennedy. Holmberg, in two starts, has allowed a lot of contact. The lefty has a 3.27 ERA over 11 innings, with an ugly K/BB ratio and some fortunate batted ball luck. Holmberg may be on borrowed time in this rotation as John Lamb has had a couple strong starts at Triple-A since being acquired for Johnny Cueto.
One would think that Petco Park would be a good spot for Holmberg, who is a fly ball pitcher. Petco has been a much better offensive park this season than in years past, though the Padres defense has a lot to do with that as well. Holmberg’s control is bad, but the Padres don’t really walk a whole lot and actually have the highest K% against LHP this season. On the other hand, Holmberg isn’t a big strikeout pitcher.
With Ian Kennedy, the Padres weren’t able to get any bites at the deadline, even though his advanced metrics paint a better picture than his traditional stats. Kennedy has a respectable K/BB ratio with some awful command, leading to a 4.49 ERA and a 5.08 FIP. His 3.86 xFIP is solid, however, so there’s some hope for positive regression over the remainder of the season. It’s not great, but after allowing 12 home runs over his first 39 innings, Kennedy has allowed 12 over his last 71.1 innings. That’s a bit better.
It’s hard to tell how much the Padres care right now after losing six straight. There’s a difference between being bad and being apathetic. The Reds are the former. The Padres are the latter. The Padres don’t seem very interested, so it’s worth looking at the Reds as a plus money dog here.
Wei-Yin Chen and Vidal Nuno won’t win any awards for the best pitching matchup of the day, but it’s certainly interesting. Wei-Yin Chen will be a compelling free agent, sans the fact that Scott Boras represents him. Chen will not return to Baltimore after the stunt that the Orioles pulled sending him to Single-A to avoid facing Toronto. He’s improved his strikeout rate this season and seems to be sequencing a bit better. The command is still scary, with 22 HR allowed in 130 IP, but the right fit could allow Chen to be a quality MOR starter.
In this one, Chen draws a Mariners lineup that has been really strong lately. They’re a top-five offense since the start of July and that’s definitely meaningful for a team that plays in such a bad hitter’s park. Chen is very defense-dependent, so that’s a consideration, but he has allowed three runs or less in 18 of his 21 starts.
After 21 relief appearances, Vidal Nuno got a poor start against the Rockies on August 4. He allowed three runs on five hits in 3.2 innings of work. The journeyman swingman isn’t a very good pitcher overall. Righties have hit substantially better than lefties this season, which is no big surprise. There has been a move to the Orioles in this game, which is also no big surprise. I’d be wary of the Mariners offense in this one, though, because they’ve been pretty good.
The over looks like the best play here, given that Nuno probably won’t last more than four innings, which means that the Mariners will have to use their worst relievers as a bridge to the later innings. Swings against bad relievers always have some upside.