If you thought handicapping baseball was a little bit overwhelming before, a 16th game has been added to the slate for June 25. The Rays and the Orioles will play a day/night double dip in Maryland, so that’s where the extra game comes from. It’s an interesting day with a lot of middle and back-end of the rotation types of guys on the mound. Normally, these types of matchups create betting value for us. We’ll see if that’s the case today as we dive in to this big Saturday card with all day baseball action.
Checking back to yesterday’s results, if you had the fortitude to make it, the under bet did come through on Tampa Bay/Baltimore by a half run. Regression vs. lefties did not happen for the Padres, who blasted the Reds for a second straight day, so that one was a loser. The loser on the Tigers balanced out the winner on the Mariners, as that game played out as we expected. It was pretty much a wash of a day, but, that’s not a bad thing.
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.
San Diego (-120) at Cincinnati; Total: 9
We’ll start our day down on the Ohio River with the 4:10 p.m. ET start between the Padres and the Reds. San Diego draws yet another lefty here, this time with a matchup against Brandon Finnegan. Padres ace Drew Pomeranz toes the rubber for the road team. We have the same situation as yesterday, except that the Reds are facing a much better pitcher. Yesterday’s number swung in a big way to Cincinnati’s side and oddsmakers conservatively opened this one up in the -105 range. As you can see, money has hit the Padres.
I still have a hard time believing in this Padres offense against lefties. After last night’s battering of Cody Reed, the Padres are fifth in wOBA against LHP and third in wRC+. Their BABIP now sits at .343. Nine of the top 10 guys in wOBA against lefties have a .340 or higher BABIP and many of them are hitting for extreme power in this split. I really don’t see that continuing. Brandon Finnegan is erratic, but he’s also very good at inducing weak contact, as seen by his .250 career BABIP in 142.1 MLB innings.
I’d love to back the Reds today, but Drew Pomeranz is a stumbling block. Pomeranz has seen some regression recently, which is no surprise, but he still boasts a 3.00/3.45/3.64 pitcher slash with one of the league’s top K%. The Reds are 13th in SLG against lefties, but 14th in wOBA and six percent below league average when adjusted for park factor. Pomeranz has given up four home runs and 11 runs on 20 hits in his last three starts.
I feel like this game is Cincinnati or nothing. If you wait it out, you can probably get an extra 10 cents or more on Cincinnati, if you can make that bet.
Arizona at Colorado (-125); Total: 11.5
This is quite an interesting game. Shelby Miller is on the hill for the Diamondbacks and Jorge de la Rosa goes for the Rockies. This number actually opened a few cents higher at most shops, which, in my mind, was a terrible opening line. I still think it’s a terrible line. Confidence is low in Shelby Miller based on what he did early in the season, but he did seem to legitimately have an injury.
Miller returned for a getaway day game in Philadelphia earlier in the week and fired 6.2 quality innings. He only walked one, for just the second time this season, and had really good velocity. I’m cautiously looking to buy Miller. All the market remembers about Miller is how horrible he was before missing a month with the injury. In this spot, he should get plenty of offensive support.
Jorge de la Rosa has fared well at Coors Field throughout his career, at least in a relative sense, but he takes on the best lineup in baseball by wOBA against left-handed pitching today. JDLR owns a 7.17 ERA with a 6.08 FIP and a 4.41 xFIP in his 42.2 innings this season. It’s too much for me to overlook Arizona’s dominance of lefties in this spot. The Diamondbacks should have opened a money line pick ‘em or close to it. I still feel like this line is 15 cents off, even after the line move. Give me the Diamondbacks in one of my stronger opinions of the last few weeks.
Houston (-130) at Kansas City; Total: 9
After Houston obliterated Edinson Volquez last night, they opened a short favorite for this one. The market drove that price up about 15 cents to sit at the -130 price across the market at time of writing. I’ve talked about this before, but I’m not a huge Mike Fiers fan. The massive drop in his strikeout rate is very concerning to me because living at 88-89 above the belt in the American League is a lot more difficult than it is in the National League. As a result, we see Fiers with a 4.42 ERA, a 4.59 FIP, and a 4.07 xFIP. The home run rate has ballooned this season.
On the other hand, Fiers gave up eight of his 13 home runs over his first six starts, so he’s only allowed five in his last seven starts. He’s sort of a more neutral version of Doug Fister. Where Fister’s more of a ground ball guy, Fiers’s distribution is a little bit more even between grounders and fly balls. That’s actually a change this season because he used to be a pretty extreme fly ball guy. Fiers is throwing more cutters and changeups, so more downward action has created a higher ground ball split. In theory, that should have helped his performance, but it has done the opposite.
Chris Young has a 5.61/6.99/4.76 pitcher slash on the season. He’s struck out over a batter per inning, but he’s allowed NINETEEN home runs in 51.1 innings. Nineteen. 1-f’ing-9. That’s insane. We know that the Houston lineup is loaded with power. We also know that perception of the Astros is pretty high right now as they roll along. When you start to hear “This is the team we expected”, you know that perception is off the charts.
I’m not saying I’d back either team here, but I can tell you that Kansas City will have value today at the closing number and tomorrow at the opening number if they lose again. Whether or not you want to step in front of the Astros train is up to you. I wouldn’t today, but, it wouldn’t stun me if KC won and this number closed +135 on them.
Boston (-130) at Texas; Total: 10
It was sad to see AJ Griffin go down with a shoulder injury after his good start to the season. Griffin is a past Tommy John guy, so his success is exciting. It seems like there would be a more appropriate time to bring him off the DL, but he draws the Boston Red Sox as his first assignment. The Red Sox are the best offense in baseball against righties in several categories.
Griffin mixed his pitches really well prior to hitting the DL, so we’ll have to see if he has a feel for that big curveball and that cutter. If he can’t spot the cutter in to lefties, he’s going to get battered. That’s probably what will happen. Both of them are “feel” pitches because flat cutters and curves get hit a ton and command is so important with them.
Steven Wright is having one of the most successful seasons for a knuckleballer in a long time. The hot conditions in Texas will probably have an effect on the pitch and it won’t be a positive one. Humid air is heavy and thick. Knuckleballs are at their best when there’s not as much resistance on the ball. It’s actually not going to be as humid in Texas as we would expect and, with this being a night game, Wright may get a little bit fortunate here in this one, but these still aren’t optimal conditions for throwing knucklers.
I’d lean towards the over here. It’s hard to expect regression from a knuckleballer because the pitch is so unique, but Wright has a 2.01 ERA with much higher peripherals. I wouldn’t expect Griffin to be all that sharp against a dominant lineup. I could see some runs here.
Oakland at Los Angeles (AL) (-140); Total: 9
As usual, I like to try and give you some idea about new pitchers. Oakland has yet another one here in Dillon Overton. Overton, a polished college arm out of Oklahoma, has been in the system since 2014 and has followed the natural development curve of a college arm. He missed a lot of bats at the low levels, but hasn’t really done the same at the upper levels. Still, he boasts about average K/BB metrics and has done a really good job limiting home runs. Tommy John surgery took away some of his velocity last season, but he has a back-end of the rotation projection because he has that plus command. Also, Dan Farnsworth of Fangraphs wrote in his scouting report that his closed off, overhand delivery creates deception. New lefties are tough enough, but some deception in his motion can give him the chance to succeed. Overton could have been a first-rounder before the forearm trouble.
Jhoulys Chacin goes for the Angels here. This price is way too high, but the Athletics are awful. Chacin now has a 5.56 ERA, a 4.30 FIP, and a 4.85 xFIP in eight starts with the Angels, with awful K/BB peripherals and a terrible strand rate.
I’d gamble on the A’s here at this price. Overton has enough to get by, especially the first time or two through the lineup, and Chacin may not be able to do that, even against this hapless lineup.