Lots of day baseball is on the docket for this July 4 holiday. There are also a lot of really big betting lines out there. Only a handful of games have reasonably-priced favorites, so it’s a matter of looking for the top dogs or laying the big prices. It’s not a great day, nor is it a great week, for betting on baseball. The weekend will be an especially difficult handicap because some teams just mail it in for the break and others are laying big prices as favorites. We’ll try to sort through today’s card and see what we can find.

Glancing back to yesterday’s outcomes, there weren’t many concrete picks in the write-up. Some of the leans did come in nicely, though, particularly, the play on the Pirates. The Yankees also won late, so that was a nice pick-up. The Braves lost the Fort Bragg game. It wasn’t a great card, but the leans did turn a profit for those that followed along.

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.


Los Angeles (AL) at Tampa Bay (-115); Total: 8

The fade of the Tampa Bay Rays against right-handed pitching continues with the return of Nick Tropeano to the big leagues. Tropeano is a really interesting pitcher. He’s basically Chris Young, but with better stuff and more strikeout upside. That means he’s an extreme fly ball guy that has shown the ability to post about a strikeout per inning. Sometimes it gets him into trouble with the long ball, but it would also mean that he has a knack for inducing weak contact.

It hadn’t really happened this season, which is a big reason why he hasn’t had a ton of success. An 88.4 percent strand rate was helpful in keeping his ERA at 3.25, but the other run metrics had him much higher. His 4.67 FIP and 5.00 xFIP were better indicators, along with a 4.72 SIERA. We’ll have to see how Tropeano looks against the 25th-ranked offense by wOBA against RHP.

Matt Moore has had a really weird season. There has been no consistency whatsoever in his numbers. Moore has a 4.67 ERA with a 4.46 FIP and a 4.33 xFIP. Since May 9, his runs allowed have been two, four, five, three, four, give, zero, two, five, zero, so he has been really up and down and the Rays don’t have a lot of offensive help to provide. That makes him a really tough pitcher to handicap. The Angels have a 106 wRC+ against lefties, since Angel Stadium is such a bad yard for hitters, so it’s fair to wonder whether or not they will have success against Moore.

It’s a shame since there are a lot of high numbers out there, but I see no reason to play this game either way. It’s not an ideal spot for either team and this pitching matchup provides a lot of uncertainty.


Oakland at Minnesota (-130); Total: 9.5

As I talked about prior to his last start, I thought there were some signs that Ricky Nolasco was hurt. He was subsequently blasted by the White Sox. As I look at this matchup, I want to go against Nolasco again, but it’s not easy. The A’s are coming in playing poorly and send Kendall Graveman to the mound. This number opened in the -105 or -110 range, so we have seen a pretty significant Minnesota move.

For a while, it was a low strand rate that was playing with Ricky Nolasco’s numbers, but he’s regressing across the board now. His strikeout rate has consistently dropped and he’s still giving up a lot of long balls and a lot of hard contact. His velocity picked up a little bit last start, but it’s still lower than it was in early May. From April 10 to June 3, Nolasco had 60 K in 65.2 IP. Over his last five starts, he’s down to 19 K in 31 innings of work. He gave up three HR last time out. I don’t think everything is in working order and with an injury history like his, that’s probably a safe bet.

There are a lot of problems here. Graveman isn’t very good, and that’s with a 76.4 percent strand rate that he cannot sustain. Another problem is that the A’s are flying east for an early start, so that will throw a wrench into the handicapping of this game. I’m going to have to sit this one out, but you can bet that I’ll be watching Nolasco closely for any additional signs of injury.


New York (AL) (-120) at Chicago (AL); Total: 9.5

CC Sabathia faces James Shields in a Party Like It’s 2009 game. How much respect is James Shields getting right now? His team is a home dog against a team that flew in from San Diego late last night and has to play a day game. This false sense of security about CC Sabathia has been interesting to watch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m rooting for the guy. He’s pitching with no knee cartilage and a pretty surprising velocity gain, so I’m very pessimistic on his performance.

After three years of awful command, he’s only allowed four home runs in 76.2 innings. In 2014, he gave up 10 HR in 46 innings. Last season he gave up 28 in 167.1. I’m not really buying any of this. I think it’s all random variance. I give him a lot of credit for going to rehab and coming back healthier, but I can’t back him as a favorite given this situation.

Obviously there’s not a lot to love about James Shields. Last week, we got fortunate with Shields because he managed to scatter eight hits and strand every baserunner he allowed, except for the home run that was hit against him. He’s actually thrown two straight serviceable starts, so maybe there’s some hope there. There probably isn’t, but, this is another great spot to back Shields and get a reasonable price doing it.

Sometimes you have to make the hard bets. This is one of them. The Yankees got in late from San Diego and they’re not a very good team anyway.


Colorado at San Francisco (-135); Total: 8

I understand what’s going on with this line, but I don’t agree with it. The Giants opened about 10 cents higher than this at most shops, but the market is looking to continue that Giants fade against lefties. So far, Tyler Anderson has been a good one, but I’m not buying it at all. Anderson has a 2.66/2.33/2.62 pitcher slash in his 23.2 innings of work. He only made three starts at the Triple-A level before getting the call and has really impressed at the big league level.

What’s weird is that he has everything I want in a starter. He’s got excellent command, a very high ground ball rate, and a great strikeout rate. His minor league development path is dotted with injuries, including one that cost him the entire 2015 season. Perhaps that’s why I’m having a hard time buying in. I don’t know when he was healthy. I see average control, below average swing-and-miss stuff, and that plus command. I think there’s a skill set in there, but it’s certainly not the performance he’s posted so far.

I feel like perception has gotten a little bit high on him and I think a sobering reminder of how hard pitching in the big leagues is will be coming very soon.

It’d be nice if the Giants were trotting out anybody other than Jake Peavy. Peavy has been pretty terrible this season with a 5.33 ERA, a 4.24 FIP, and a 5.03 xFIP. Throw out the xFIP, because he’s never posted a league average HR/FB%. The biggest difference for Peavy from 2015 to 2016 is luck. He stranded 74.2 percent of his runners last season and has stranded 63.9 percent of his runners this season. His BABIP has climbed 59 points. His K/BB rates are pretty similar and his batted ball data is as well.

I don’t know if Peavy will see some LOB% regression, but if he does, and it happens today, this price is a bargain on the Giants. I’m not buying the Anderson stock yet.


Detroit at Cleveland (-175); Total: 8

With a rare sellout in Cleveland, the Indians return home after an 8-2 road trip to packed ballpark at Progressive Field. They’re heavy chalk against the Detroit Tigers, a team they have already beaten nine times this season. It’ll be Daniel Norris against Danny Salazar. I’m not going to beat around the bush here. This number is entirely too high.

The Indians have had two days off since May 26 and they’ve played two separate 10-game, three-city road trips in that span. This team is absolutely gassed.

Danny Salazar also shows some signs of regression. Salazar has a 2.22/3.13/3.74 pitcher slash with an 84.9 percent strand rate and a .252 BABIP against. He’s got great stuff and can induce some weak contact with the premium velo on his fastball and one of the game’s best changeups, but he’s due to get bombed here in one of these starts. It could very well happen tonight.

The Indians are 25th in wOBA against left-handed pitching and did absolutely nothing against JA Happ yesterday. Today’s opponent is Daniel Norris, who has some stuff, but isn’t quite sure of where it’s going or how to use it.

Either way, this number is at least 15-20 cents too high in my mind. It sucks for me as an Indians fan, but I’m really worried about this game today.