It’s a late start here on a Saturday afternoon because the poker table’s pull was too strong to pull away from on Friday night. Humblest of apologies for that, because it will narrow down what we can look at on the Saturday MLB card. It may be a blessing in disguise though, because it’s not a great card for wagering purposes. There are a lot of heavy favorites dotting the card and some starters that have been extremely inconsistent. It’ll be a bit of a shorter look, but hopefully we can find some moneymakers on this evening’s slate.
That Indians game was insane. The oddsmakers priced me out and the line move really priced me out, but that was an incredible game. Speaking of incredible, it’s beautiful when a plan comes together and the Mets/Cubs game went exactly how we planned it. The Tigers were a nice, easy winner over the Rays. The Orioles did close a favorite and lost, so that wasn’t a surprise because something felt off about that game. As far as games from BangTheBook Radio, the Yankees were a tough loser to take as a chalky favorite and Texas kept defying regression for another day.
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.
Kansas City (-130) at Philadelphia; Total: 7.5
We’ll start in the early evening hours today, as the Kansas City Royals and Philadelphia Phillies continue their series. I probably need to reevaluate Danny Duffy. As a starter this season, Duffy owns a 3.33 ERA over 48.2 innings and has held opposing batters to a .219/.279/.438 slash with a 58/11 K/BB ratio. The left-hander has had a rough injury history, so maybe he’s just a bit of a late bloomer.
On the other hand, his inconsistency continues to be an issue. The stuff is showing great upside potential, but he’s still a guy with questionable command. The Phillies are the worst offense in baseball against lefties, so he can probably stave off those problems in this outing, but I’m not ready to buy in the way people are buying in.
I get why the Royals are a road favorite by the margin that they are, but Aaron Nola truly is a candidate for positive regression. Nola has a 4.45 ERA now with a 3.16 FIP and a 2.99 xFIP. A bad Phillies defense hasn’t helped and a 61.8 percent strand rate is the biggest reason for his 4.45 ERA. His BABIP is a little bit high, but he misses bats and gets ground balls, two things that you want out of any starter.
Nola is one of those guys that we’d be buying at rock bottom. He allowed 25 runs on 40 hits in 19 innings in the month of June and opposing hitters slashed .412/.495/.581 off of him. Eno Sarris did a deep dive on Nola on June 19 and found some really interesting things, namely, that his sinker doesn’t seem to be moving as much.
I like when problems are fixable. Discomfort, declining velocity, really terrible command, a shapeless release point graph, those are the things that I don’t like. That’s when you’re talking about an injury. For Nola, this is simply a command thing. Maybe he needs to adjust on the rubber or fix his grip. Maybe he needs to throw the pitch with more conviction.
I feel like the market’s going to come in on Kansas City, so if you want, you may get a few more cents of line value. I don’t believe in things like this, but maybe a new month is the mental break that Nola needs. I’d give him and the Phillies a look here today.
Pittsburgh at Oakland (-150); Total: 8.5
I’m not a big believer in Chad Kuhl, based on the minor league track record and the shallowness of his arsenal, but it can have some value before the league figures out what he’s all about. Kuhl was erratic in his debut, which isn’t his MO based on his minor league sample size. He’s been a decent control pitcher with average command in the minors. That’s the type of thing that will play in Oakland, especially if his velocity can help him miss barrels.
He’s just a three-pitch pitcher with a fastball, slider, and a very rare changeup. That’s not going to play as a big league starter for long, but it might be enough to push him through a handful of starts.
The big thing for me here is to fade Rich Hill against the Pirates. Hill returns to the rotation after just three innings in High-A to rehab a groin injury. People often look at arm injuries and assume that those are the only types that really affect a pitcher. The lower half is extremely important as well. Groins can be tricky, whether they’re the plant leg or the landing leg. With a guy like Hill, that has questionable control, but gets by on great command and movement, I think the Pirates are a bad matchup. Pittsburgh has a good BB% against lefties and has a .331 wOBA, which ties them for 10th. Their wRC+ against LHP is solidly in the top 10.
If you’re looking for a dog to fire on tonight, I really think Pittsburgh is the one you want to look at. The Pirates aren’t a great team, but they have some DH options against a lefty in an AL park and they have had some success in splits like these.
San Francisco at Arizona (-110); Total: 8.5
The race to fade Jeff Samardzija has gotten pretty crowded. Samardzija has given up six runs in each of his last two outings and people are jumping ship because they remember the Jeff Samardzija of last season. It honestly seems a little bit premature to me, but his strikeouts have dried up since late May and that is a problem.
To me, it just looks like a rough patch. I don’t see any injury situation here, as the velocity looks fine. He’s given up nine home runs in his last five starts, so that’s a consideration, but it looks like a lot of variance and some BABIP regression.
I’ve held a belief that the Giants are going to struggle against lefties without Hunter Pence, and they probably will on certain days, but they haven’t shown too many signs of it as of yet. They’re still 11th in wOBA and fifth in wRC+ against southpaws. Corbin really hasn’t thrown the ball well this season with a 4.99 ERA, a 4.88 FIP, and a 4.29 xFIP. His 4.51 SIERA doesn’t indicate a whole lot of positive regression, if that’s what people are betting on. As far as I can tell, I don’t see a reason to buy stock in Corbin right now.
With that, I’m going to have to stay away from this one. We’ll see if the Samardzija fade that turned this game into a flipped favorite situation works, but I do think he’s just experiencing simple variance.
New York (AL) at San Diego (-140); Total: 7
These types of games are tough. I know San Diego is bad. I know they’re facing a righty, albeit a replacement-level one. But Drew Pomeranz has so much upside against the Yankees that it’s almost justifiable to lay -140 here. The Padres are tied with the Braves for the worst wOBA in the league against right-handed pitching, but Ivan Nova is below average. In 55.1 innings as a starter this season, Nova has allowed opposing batters to hit .290/.340/.518 on the season.
I get it. I’d do it if I had to. Maybe there is value on the Padres, especially since this is that dreaded second game of a series played a long way from home. If you need late-night action, this isn’t a terrible spot.
Baltimore at Seattle (-150); Total: 8
The James Paxton train is picking up steam, even though he hasn’t been all that great over his last three starts. One of the things that worries me about guys like Paxton is that they have such extensive injury histories that when things start to tumble a little bit, my mind immediately goes to the worst case scenario of an injury. The velocity charts look fine for Paxton, who added quite a bit over the offseason, but he’s been living in the middle of the plate a bit too much recently.
The Orioles will make him pay for that if he does it tonight. Safeco Field is a safety net to an extent, but it’s also a place where the ball will leave the park on mistakes. With Tyler Wilson, a well below average starter, on the mound for the O’s, I think there’s the potential of runs here in this one. This total looks half a run low at 8, so I’d look over that number to end the night on a high note.