There are nine games on the calendar for June 23, as 12 teams enjoy a quick break before putting on a big push prior to the All-Star Break. There are a lot of lopsided lines out there in the market today as well, so we will have a shortened version of the picks and analysis piece today. Frankly, we probably need it. The Major League Baseball grind is so difficult and days like today are a welcomed break, like a cold swimming pool in the Sahara.
Looking back to yesterday, it was a mixed bag of results. The market was wrong on Oakland and so was I. Michael Fulmer continued to stave off regression and held the slumping Mariners to one run, so the over was dead in the water. But, the under hit nicely in Tampa Bay vs. Cleveland and the lean on Jose Quintana hit for the White Sox over the Red Sox. BangTheBook Radio listeners were treated to a walk-off winner on the Dodgers over the Nationals.
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 Francisco at Pittsburgh (-115); Total: 8.5
Can the Pittsburgh Pirates get off the deck? As I discussed on yesterday’s BangTheBook Radio, the next month will be very interesting for Pittsburgh. Does Neal Huntington try to shake things up? Do the Pirates try to add and aim for the second wild card? After yesterday’s difficult loss, the picture got less clear. The Pirates had a 6-1 lead and squandered it to fall to 34-38. Now, they have a quick turnaround for a day game at PNC Park.
What I find really interesting about this game is that everything should point to the Pirates. They have the more established pitcher on the mound and the Giants are wrapping up a seven-game road trip to head back home. The Giants are 5-1 on this trip, with their lone loss coming by a 1-0 score in the series opener on Monday.
Will the Giants get up for this early start? If they do, they may have a bigger effort than the Pirates, who have dropped seven of eight and welcome the Los Angeles Dodgers to town on Thursday. Conflicting situational betting angles are always fun to evaluate. In this case, I’d have to look at the Giants, even with the early start, because the Pirates are a dispirited team right now. It’s hard to keep coming to the ballpark day after day. This was a 32-26 team on June 7. They are now 34-38.
Albert Suarez should have enough to navigate this lineup and the Giants are seeing yet another lefty here in this series. I think San Francisco wants to emphatically end this road trip and wants to keep putting distance between themselves and the Dodgers.
San Diego at Cincinnati (-110); Total: 9.5
It’s tough with the lead time of this article to focus on the day games, so we’ll skip ahead to the night games. Christian Friedrich and John Lamb are not the stars of a Grumpy Old Men reboot, rather the starting pitchers for this matchup in the Queen City. The Reds are back home after a mediocre 4-5 road trip. The Padres head home on Sunday after this series.
This is a tough one for me because I like the raw stuff of both pitchers, but the polish and execution aren’t there. We’ll start with Friedrich. The lefty has a 3.15/3.97/4.62 pitcher slash on the year with a 50.8 percent ground ball rate and a decent strikeout rate. His control has been a problem this season, with 21 BB in 40 IP, but he’s pitching out of jams and has a somewhat unconventional pitching style. He can have success a time or two through the lineup before things start to unravel.
The Reds are 13th in wOBA with a .319 mark against lefties, though their park factor creates a below average wRC+. That could be the deciding factor here, since the Padres are sixth in wOBA against lefties at .341 and move up a couple spots in wRC+. John Lamb has had his share of issues this year. He walks too many guys and hits too many barrels. In 10 starts covering 49.2 innings last season, he had 58 strikeouts. In nine starts covering 47.1 innings this season, he has 30 strikeouts. His velocity is also down by 1.6 mph this season on his fastball.
That’s not a good sign and the Reds Bullpen of Doom will likely make its way into the game pretty early. The Padres are a tough team to back in any scenario, but so are the Reds. As far as this one is concerned, I’d have to lean Padres and hope that their splits against lefties hold up. I think Friedrich can get through the lineup a time or two before running into trouble and that might be all the Padres offense needs.
Oakland at Los Angeles (AL) (-135); Total: 8
Kendall Graveman and Tim Lincecum are the slated starters for this AL West matchup. I was surprised a couple of weeks ago to see how close to .500 the Angels were. Now that they are 10 games under .500, I’m nodding to myself. This is a bad baseball team. It’s Mike Trout and a bunch of nothing. Rotation injuries forced the team to sign Tim Lincecum as a bit of a panic move, but here we are.
This is the second start for Lincecum, who threw six innings of one run ball by inducing weak contact. He only struck out two and walked two, but not many hitters were able to barrel up the ball. The velocity was on par with his last couple of seasons, which is nowhere near what it was close to a decade ago, but he’s got a deep pitch mix and can get by with declining velo. To an extent, anyway.
It’s nice for Lincecum that he gets to ease back into MLB by facing Oakland in back-to-back starts. The A’s offense is terrible. They are 27th in wOBA against right-handed pitching at .291 and have hit for effectively no power. We’ll have to see what kinds of adjustments Lincecum makes the second time facing the A’s, but he’s probably just focused on throwing strikes at this point.
Kendall Graveman, who hopefully goes by Kenny G, doesn’t work very deep into games because he gives up a ton of hits. He’s given up 79 hits in 68.1 innings and 12 of them have left the yard. The A’s try for this pitch-to-contact rotation to maximize the park factor at O.co Coliseum, but they end up exposing just how bad the team is defensively. Oakland is already -57 defensive runs saved with by far the worst UZR and UZR/150 in the league.
At this point, it’s damn near impossible to find spots to back the A’s and this isn’t one of them. That’s not to say I’d lay it with Lincecum in his second start. Maybe the over is a consideration here because Graveman will give up a lot of balls in play and the A’s will be seeing Timmy for the second time in a week.