We’ve got a smaller card to consider for Thursday, with three games early and eight games late. Prices are all over the place here today and we’re starting to see a much higher frequency of line moves in the betting market. There’s not a whole lot going on for professionals and deep-pocketed action seekers, so they’re making waves in the baseball marketplace. We’ll sort through today’s slate and see where we can find some value to head into the weekend on a high note.
Glancing back at yesterday’s action, that tough play on the Chicago White Sox came through, so anybody that was willing to buy some discounted White Sox stock was a winner. Unfortunately, the Dodgers were a big time loser in Brock Stewart’s debut. Day game thoughts on Reds team total under, Cubs, Cubs -1, Cubs -1.5, and Tigers all hit. The Giants defense really failed them at night and the loss of Hunter Pence showed up against a lefty yet again.
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.
Texas at New York (AL) (-125); Total: 9
The betting market was unimpressed with the opening line that had Michael Pineda and the Yankees favored in the -140 range. AJ Griffin is taking the hill for the Rangers. I’d have some serious concerns about Griffin here. The big right-hander is making just his second start after a shoulder issue sidelined him for a month and a half. He threw the ball really well against Boston, scattering four hits over 4.1 innings with six strikeouts. As a fly ball guy, Yankee Stadium is worrisome, though, and it would be surprising if he hit all of his spots.
There are a lot of wagering angles at play in this game. Texas heads northwest to Minnesota after this one to continue their 10-game road trip. This has been a long series for both teams. Monday night’s game ended in the wee hours of the morning. Last night, the Rangers suffered a huge bullpen meltdown and lost 9-7. This is a really quick turnaround. The Yankees have a cross-country flight to San Diego following this game, which is something they won’t be excited about.
The Yankees bullpen is a little bit fresher than Texas’s, so maybe that will help the Bronx Bombers here. Some positive regression from Michael Pineda would help. Pineda has spectacular K/BB rates, but he has a 5.51 ERA because he can’t stop hitting barrels when contact is made. Pineda has allowed 98 hits and 14 HR. He has a 3.91 FIP and a 3.36 xFIP, but he’s nowhere close to those advanced metrics. It’s worth pointing out that Pineda’s HR problem may be a little bit overblown because seven of the 14 came over his first four starts, so he’s allowed seven in his last 11 outings. That’s not bad.
It seems like some positive variance has come his way. I understand why bettors weren’t ready to back the Yankees at -140, but I don’t like this spot very much for Texas. It’s not ideal for the Yankees either, but they do have a starting pitcher advantage here and also, as I’ll talk about on BangTheBook Radio today, the Rangers are not a team I’m buying.
Cleveland (-125) at Toronto; Total: 8.5
The white-hot Cleveland Indians have rattled off 12 straight, but now they face the best opponent they’ve seen in a while. The Toronto Blue Jays send RA Dickey to the hill against the Indians, who counter with Carlos Carrasco. The Indians got in very early this morning after finishing off win #12 on this streak down in Atlanta. The Blue Jays got back a few hours earlier after wrapping up a series in Colorado.
It’s pretty easy to see why the market is backing Cleveland. Carrasco looks like himself now after missing some time with a strained hamstring a few weeks back. Also, there’s zero confidence in RA Dickey. Dickey has a 4.23 ERA with a 5.22 FIP and a 4.67 xFIP on the season. He’s given up 17 HR in 95.2 innings of work and the Indians have shown some good power on this run that they’re on.
Carrasco’s high FIP may be a little bit concerning, but that’s more of a sample size issue than anything else. Like fellow rotation mate Danny Salazar, Carrasco’s LOB% is a little bit high. I’ll talk about the Indians on today’s edition of BangTheBook Radio as well. There are a lot of things to discuss.
As far as tonight’s game goes, there’s probably a little bit of value left on the Indians. But, what I’m looking at is tomorrow’s game. Friday’s day game to celebrate Canada Day is an excellent day to fade the Tribe. It’ll be their eighth game on this 10-game, three-city trip, and it’s a quick turnaround after getting in late tonight.
Truthfully, Saturday could be a decent day to fade the Tribe as well, since Toronto’s nightlife has a pretty good record of success and the Indians have all night to celebrate their recent successes.
Detroit (-110) at Tampa Bay; Total: 8
Regression has hit Jordan Zimmermann. One of the things that bettors need to keep in mind about pitcher regression is that sometimes it is a gradual process. Pitchers will give up four or five runs over four or five innings for a few starts and it will all regress. In Jordan Zimmermann’s case, he’s given up seven runs, six runs, one run, and seven runs over his last four starts. That’s how it goes. He now has a 3.81 ERA with a 3.62 FIP and a 4.50 xFIP. As long as it’s simply variance and not a major mechanical issue or an injury, you can usually bank on a return to normalcy pretty soon after a major wave of regression.
That’s probably the case here with Zimmermann. He was BABIP’d to death in three of those starts. The Rays are a good opportunity to get back on track. Tampa Bay is 25th in wOBA against right-handed pitching on the season and haven’t beaten a right-handed starter since June 15. They also did next to nothing of consequence offensively in that game, but won 3-2.
The Rays have all kinds of injury problems. Closer Alex Colome has joined former closer Brad Boxberger on the DL. The majority of the outfield is injured. Things are a mess in Tampa Bay and they’re simply hoping to hold on until the All-Star Break and walk away from the game for a few days.
Jake Odorizzi is on the hill here tonight. Odorizzi has a 3.93/4.43/4.29 pitcher slash on the season and has pretty decent K/BB peripherals. He’s actually a rarity in that he shows some pretty big reverse platoon splits. He’s got good secondary stuff, so he can keep lefties off-balance better than righties. That’s why righties are batting .266/.332/.489 and lefties are hitting .205/.255/.364. The splits weren’t quite as pronounced last season, but righties slugged .435 and lefties slugged .366.
Even without JD Martinez, the Tigers offense matches up okay against Odorizzi here. The Tigers bullpen is pretty bad, but Tampa Bay’s has taken some steps back with the injuries. I’d lean to the Detroit side here, as Zimmermann has a better matchup than his counterpart.
Chicago (NL) (-125) at New York (NL); Total: 7.5
It really bothers me to know that Steven Matz is pitching hurt and will be for a while. I will admit to being unsure of the exact circumstances, but Matz has a bone spur and so does Noah Syndergaard. A lot of pitchers do probably pitch through some discomfort, but this is an organization that turned a blind eye to Zack Wheeler’s UCL trouble and he will never be the same again. It’s pretty disheartening, to be honest.
Speaking of disheartening, the Mets were swept right out of D.C. by the Nationals in a series that I addressed in Monday’s article as being more of a rallying point for Washington. It came to fruition. This NLDS rematch doesn’t seem as big in my mind now, since the Mets are fighting for a wild card spot when all is said and done, but two major markets mean major ratings and it’ll be propped up as a huge series.
I’m not going to pretend that the Cubs suck, but they were 27-8 over their first 35 games and they are 24-18 since, so they have come back to earth a little bit. I don’t know if their line prices reflect that or not, but I am interested to see how this series is lined.
Anyway, Matz has been great in his 13 starts. He has a 3.29 ERA with a 2.94 FIP and a 3.20 xFIP. The Cubs are third in wOBA against lefties, which is no surprise because they’ve hit just about everybody. Matz’s recent results haven’t been great. He’s given up 13 of his 31 ones in his last three starts and he actually went 4.1 innings against the Braves last time out without striking out a batter. That’s a bad sign.
It’s time that we truly appreciate what John Lackey is doing. I fully expected a pretty decent amount of regression from him based off of last year’s 82.6 percent strand rate, but it hasn’t happened. Lackey has a 3.29/3.42/3.62 pitcher slash and has struck out over a batter per inning. He’s pounding the zone and has the best swinging strike rate of his career at 12.2 percent. These things aren’t supposed to happen in your late 30s with over 2,500 innings on your arm. But, here we are.
The Mets influenced a lot of opinions based on what they did last season in the second half offensively. They’re posting a 93 wRC+ against RHP with a .305 wOBA. They’re 27th in wOBA against LHP. This is not a good offensive ballclub at all.
I can’t back Matz given what I know and given how he’s looked in two of his last three starts. Small sample sizes become a bit more relevant when there’s an injury situation in play. I’m looking Cubs here in this one and I hope the price keeps dropping.
Tune in to Thursday’s BangTheBook Radio for analysis of tonight’s Baltimore vs. Seattle matchup and thoughts on the Rangers and Indians.