A full Sunday menu of wagering options is on the board today, so we’ve got a lot of opportunities to end the week on a high note. All 30 teams are in action. It’s a good time for a reminder that the dog days of summer are upon us. All these day games often mean some strange lineups and some guys getting a day off. Keep an eye on that with today’s line moves because there are going to be a lot of instant reactions to star players sitting and there are sure to be some here today.
Looking back to yesterday, the Diamondbacks couldn’t come through for us on what was one of my favorite players over the last couple of weeks. The Reds only gave up three runs to San Diego, but failed to score any, so that was a decent handicap that didn’t work out for us. On the positive side, Dillon Overton was a winner in his MLB debut over the Angels. Regression did hit for Steven Wright and the over hit nicely there.
Our focus, as it always is, will be on the games that provide a lot of line value and those that give us the opportunity to dig deep and find the wagering angles and betting tips that will produce winners.
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Per usual, the games with big lines will be overlooked, unless there is something particularly noteworthy about them or a play on the underdog is a possibility. Also, day games are usually skipped due to the lead time of the article. That will not be the case on Thursdays or Sundays when there are a lot of day games.
Cleveland at Detroit (-120); Total: 8
The morning move on this game between the Indians and the Tigers is hardly a surprise. The Tigers opened in the -130 range and money came in quickly on the Indians, who are rolling right now with eight straight wins. I’m not sure I’ll have a play on this game, but there are a lot of things in play for this game. The Tigers absolutely mailed it in against Carlos Carrasco in the late innings yesterday. He had 70 pitches through four innings. In the seventh inning, he made seven pitches. In the eighth inning, he made four pitches. In the ninth, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez made him work a little bit.
There’s not a whole lot of character on the Tigers right now. Justin Verlander has to be the leader of this team. He’ll have that chance here today in an effort to stop the bleeding against the Indians. This is a huge start for Verlander in my mind. I also know that he’s going to wear his emotions if he struggles and things could spiral out of control if the Tigers get down multiple runs early. As an Indians fan, I hope that happens. As a handicapper, I’m watching this game very closely. This is the kind of start Verlander needs to remind everybody that he’s still a good MLB starter and to right the team’s ship. If they lose this one, I could see the Tigers really hitting a big funk. They don’t really have any stoppers in the rotation and Michael Fulmer has regression coming.
There are important watershed moments for teams throughout a season. To me, this is one for Detroit. So, there’s no play on this game, but there’s a lot to watch for.
San Diego at Cincinnati (-120); Total: 10
I have a hard time believing that the oddsmakers were nearly 20 cents off on this line. The Padres are the worst offense in baseball against right-handed pitching and Anthony DeSclafani is a good one. He’s still working his way back from an oblique injury, so he probably won’t be as sharp, but the Padres are wrapping up a six-game road trip and they’ve already locked up a winning trek. At 33-43, there are no playoff aspirations here. They get a day off and return home. Situationally, this is a great spot for the Reds.
The nice thing about games like this is that you know that you’re going to get a big effort from DeSclafani. He’s still working on things, but he’s going to remain focused. Focus can be an issue for starting pitchers at times, but it won’t be a problem here. The Reds are really bad. We know that. We also know that four-game sweeps tend to be really difficult.
Both the starting pitching matchup and the situation favor the Reds here in this one. At this price, I feel like there’s good value in the home team.
Chicago (NL) at Miami (-155); Total: 6.5
It’s too bad this number got away from us because the Marlins were going to be a favorite pick of mine today. Jason Hammel shows the standard signs of regression and Jose Fernandez is an elite starting pitcher taking on a lineup with a high K% against righties. My only worry here is how many innings the Marlins bullpen has to pitch. There’s a reasonable chance that the Cubs win, but the Marlins win the first five innings. There are some creative ways to play this game, even if some of the value seems to be gone.
Toronto at Chicago (AL) (-125); Total: 8.5
There are a lot of line movements in the market today and almost all of them have come on the underdog. We know that perception influences lines and a lot of people remember the Blue Jays as that team that hammered left-handed pitching last season. They did do that. But, they are 13th in wOBA against LHP this season with a 97 wRC+. Last season’s performance was both historic and unsustainable. We’re seeing that here this season.
There are a lot of layers to this game. You have the Toronto perception. You have the fact that the White Sox have been horrible over the last six weeks. You have the fact that bettors are expecting positive regression from Marcus Stroman with a 5.23 ERA and a 3.78 xFIP. You have the fact that nobody wants to lay -140 with the White Sox.
Lost in all of this, as far as I’m concerned, is how damn good Chris Sale is. He’s pitching to more contact this season, which, as I’ve discussed, isn’t something I would have asked of him, but it’s working. His ERA is down from 3.41 to 2.83 and he’s still able to get strikeouts when he needs them.
Maybe some positive regression is coming for Toronto in this split. Their .278 BABIP is the fourth-lowest in baseball, so batted balls simply aren’t finding enough holes. I think I’d look for that against somebody other than Sale, who is pitching to weak contact this season. The White Sox are the only side I’d look at here in this one, since Stroman can’t seem to get out of his own way and there’s whispers about a demotion if he can’t figure it out. He doesn’t need any more pressure. He’s a very cerebral guy and it’s in his head now.
Houston (-120) at Kansas City; Total: 8.5
I was surprised with how the line closed yesterday on Kansas City. I figured they would close a bigger dog, but it appears that sharp money outweighed public money yesterday. Another Royals line movement has come in today, as Doug Fister has dropped a few cents for the Astros. The Astros have buried Kansas City early in each of the first two games in this series and they look like a confident, highly-skilled team. That’s exactly what they should be.
I’ve talked about Fister here in these articles recently. The nice thing about Fister is that he rarely gets rocked. He keeps his team in the game and that means a lot more now that the Astros have started hitting. It’s not a pretty or sexy profile, but he can be elevated by a team playing with the focus that the Astros are playing with. He’s so dependent on batted ball luck and defense that better feelings around the field are helpful. That’s not a quantifiable point of view, but you should take my word for it.
Ian Kennedy is struggling. He’s up to a 4.19 ERA with a 5.47 FIP and a 4.90 xFIP. He’s given up 18 dingers in 81.2 innings of work, so that home run problem is back in full force. I expected a bit of an increase going to the AL, but not to this extent. He can miss some bats, but he also gives up homers and his walk rate has climbed back up a little bit. These are bad things against the Astros.
I understand playing against perception. Houston has rolled in the first two games of this series. But, I think this matchup favors them here today. The Royals were playing with house money with this rotation and how they overcame the injury bugs. This is a team that should run into regression and it’s been happening. I think it continues.
Oakland (-110) at Los Angeles (AL); Total: 8.5
This is one of the most interesting lines of the day for me. For a while, you couldn’t get anybody to submit an Oakland ticket. Now they’re road chalk in a division matchup. Sonny Gray still doesn’t look like himself, but the A’s right-hander has given up 10 runs in four starts covering 24.2 innings of work since he returned from a stint on the DL for a back injury. The control is back, which is a big deal, as he’s posted a 19/4 K/BB rate in those starts.
Hector Santiago’s regression has hit in a big way. He’s got a 4.99 ERA with a 5.26 FIP and a 4.94 xFIP. Last season, he had a 3.59 ERA with a 4.77 FIP and a 5.00 xFIP. With Santiago, he’s stopped getting lucky with stranding runners and that has made all the difference. Is it safe to assume that things will get better for Santiago? Maybe. He’s got a 20 percent K% and a 14.7 percent IFFB%. Those are a lot of easy outs that do no damage. His hard-contact rate and HR/FB% are really concerning, but I think there’s a small chance that he gets a little bit better in the near future.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’ll happen today. Oakland is league average against lefties and they’ve seen a lot of Santiago. He may sneak up on a team that hasn’t seen him. Oakland has plenty of experience. I also like this park for Sonny Gray. Another side note here is that day games at Angel Stadium tend to lean towards the under because of the shadows from the light fixtures. I think that benefits Gray a little bit more. So, look Oakland and under here in this one.
St. Louis at Seattle (-130); Total: 8
How about this line move? The Cardinals are getting no respect with Jaime Garcia on the mound against James Paxton. Garcia has been solid this season with a 3.83/3.50/3.70 pitcher slash and the Mariners are 21st in wOBA against lefties. The market seems unfazed by that, as they can’t back the Mariners fast enough. St. Louis is 26th in wOBA against lefties and James Paxton has been generating a lot of buzz.
Paxton’s sudden velocity increase has turned him from a promising prospect with injury issues to a high-upside big league starter. He struggled to locate last time out against the Tigers, but he’s back at home now and draws a lineup that has a lot of trouble with lefties. The Mariners were scuffling and people were able to buy low on them on Friday and Saturday. That’s not the case here.
I’m staying away, but the market has capitalized on a line that was off at the opening number.
Los Angeles (NL) (-270) at Pittsburgh; Total: 7
Obviously I don’t have an opinion here and wouldn’t stand in front of the Clayton Kershaw train. We do like to use Sunday Night Baseball for Circadian Rhythm situational spots when possible. We definitely have one here. The Dodgers have to turn around and play a 12:35 p.m. ET getaway day game in the morning. This is their first series in the Eastern Time Zone since May 27-29.
No play tonight, but you absolutely have to consider Pittsburgh on the overnights or in the morning on Monday, even with Francisco Liriano on the mound.