Getaway day Wednesday is in full swing this week with seven games during the day and eight games at night. The first half of the season is technically over, with so many teams past the 81-game mark, but the first half officially ends on Sunday when the All-Star Break begins. Motivation can be a big factor here this week, so keep that in mind when you’re putting together your card. As I’ve mentioned, it’s a good week to scale it back and look at the games with the biggest edges.
That’s what we attempted to do yesterday. Our top side came in on the Pittsburgh Pirates to cash a nice underdog winner. Unfortunately, our top total was a loser, as the Yankees scored one run too many. It’s all about being selective and holding on to those profits you’ve gained in the first half or making sure not to dig too deep of a hole. After the All-Star Break, the industry gives it about two weeks before the focus is fully on football.
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.
Baltimore at Los Angeles (NL) (-125); Total: 7.5
The early part of the day features a couple of interesting matchups, but the lead time of the article pushes us down the board a little bit to 3:10 p.m. ET for the matchup between the Orioles and Dodgers. Kevin Gausman takes on former Oriole Bud Norris in this getaway day matchup. This is the end of a nine-game road trip for the Orioles, which had to be built into the opening -140 number.
The Orioles have hit a little bit of a wall this week. They dropped five straight before picking up last night’s win. They had rattled off seven straight prior to the losing streak, so it seems to just be the ups and downs of the MLB season. Kevin Gausman has probably deserved a better fate this season. He has a 3.97 ERA with a 4.31 FIP and a 3.82 xFIP. The number that stands out is the 14 HR he’s allowed in 81.2 innings. He’s had to work out of a lot of trouble because he’s allowed a .294/.343/.505 slash from the wind-up. He’s done a good job with that trouble, with a high strand rate and a .224/.264/.374 slash against with men on base.
Gausman has some dramatic reverse platoon splits. Righties are batting .290/.345/.508 and lefties are batting just .227/.260/.371. Ten of his 14 HR have come off of right-handed bats. It’s a really strange situation because reverse platoon splits usually aren’t this big.
About 51.4 percent of the Dodgers’ plate appearances have been by left-handed batters. Dodgers righties are only batting .226/.293/.361 against right-handed pitching. Does that give Gausman an edge in this start? It certainly could.
Bud Norris made quite an impact in his Dodgers debut. He threw six shutout innings and struck out eight with just one walk. He scattered two hits. It was a big departure from his numbers with the Braves before a myriad of pitching injuries forced the Dodgers to make some moves. Nobody should believe in that one start sample size and this line was certainly inflated at the opening number.
There are too many conflicting things about this game to have any action. The getaway day factor really stands out, so maybe the under is possible, but it’s built into the line with a low total.
New York (AL) (-130) at Chicago (AL); Total: 8.5
Michael Pineda and the Yankees take on Miguel Gonzalez and the White Sox in one of the few games with a manageable line tonight. Pineda’s stat line is still one of the most interesting in baseball. He has a 5.24 ERA with a 3.84 FIP and a 3.27 xFIP. His K rate is among the best in the league, but his command just hasn’t been there. That’s what 15 home runs and 100 hits in 89.1 innings will do.
With two outs, opposing hitters are batting .363/.411/.719 with a .443 BABIP against Pineda, which is so far from his other numbers that it’s astonishing. He’s given up 33 of his 51 runs with two outs. It’s hard to tell why that’s the case. Perhaps it’s just variance. Maybe it’s nothing more than a mental thing. Theoretically, there should be regression in that. He’s only given up 12 runs over his last six starts, so maybe some of it has happened already.
Miguel Gonzalez is replacement-level roster fodder. In 11 starts and one relief appearance, he’s eaten 62.2 innings with a 4.88/4.48/4.90 pitcher slash. On May 13, the White Sox were 24-12. They’re 10 games under .500 since, but they are 10-5 over their last 15, so things have kind of evened out. Remember that everybody wins 60 and loses 60, so these periods of variance should be expected. If you can buy a team when they bottom out and sell a team when they peak, you’ll make money in MLB.
The Yankees have been pretty terrible overall offensively and rank 21st in wOBA against righties. There could be a little bit of positive regression coming there because of a .280 BABIP, which is 27th in MLB. It could also come against a guy like Miguel Gonzalez.
I think I’d have to lay this price with the Yankees. It’s a bit high, but we all know how good the bullpen is and Pineda’s been throwing the ball well. It seems like a lot of his bad performances can be attributed to sequencing variance and bad luck. There’s enough to like about him and the team here that the Yankees are worth a look.
San Diego at Arizona (-145); Total: 9.5
Today’s biggest mover is the matchup between the Padres and the Diamondbacks. Shelby Miller is getting some love as a right-handed pitcher against a lineup that can’t hit righties at all. This is probably a twofold line move because Colin Rea isn’t very good either.
We’ve seen this situation a little bit over the last couple of weeks. James Shields has pitched us to two winners and we also bought another pitcher at a low point over the last few days. Isolating these spots is important. Shelby Miller might lose. He might get rocked. But, this situation is as good as it gets for him and you have to respect that. The opening line did not and that’s why it has climbed 20 cents.
If the Diamondbacks had any kind of pitching, they could be right in the hunt. They’ve been a top-five offense against lefties most of the season and they are in the middle of the pack against righties. They’re also doing it without AJ Pollock, one of their top players. They’re also currently missing David Peralta, who mashes righties, so they could be a much better offensive team overall.
The movement on this game makes a lot of sense, even though Miller hasn’t performed very well this season. He has a 6.85 ERA with a 5.78 FIP and a 5.23 xFIP. The Padres have climbed over the Braves in wOBA, so they are now 29th, but they’re a far distance away from the Cincinnati Reds in 28th.
Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of line value lost and that’s disappointing.
Today’s card represents a great opportunity to pass. There will be others like that this week. The grind of the MLB season is exceptionally difficult to navigate and there are days when you just won’t find a play. Today, there are a lot of big underdogs. Some of them will win. Many of them probably won’t. Learning bankroll management and having willpower are two of the best assets that any handicapper can have. Those two topics are at the forefront of today’s MLB card and I hope you act accordingly.