When a Tuesday feels like a Monday, we all feel it, even if you had to spend the holiday weekend working. Fortunately, since we’re all walking zombies today, Major League Baseball has been kind enough to give us 14 night games and those pesky Cubs are playing the only day game, but they’re laying over two dollars again, so whatever. There are some intriguing wagering options here on this Tuesday night card, so we’ll dive in and see what we can find to bolster that bankroll.

A quick reminder before we get started. This is not a great week for betting baseball. In a general sense, you’re okay until Friday, but Saturday, and especially Sunday, are days to absolutely stay away. We will not have an article on Sunday of this week because it’s just an absolute crapshoot. Hopefully that will encourage you to do the smart thing and avoid Sunday’s card altogether.

Glancing back to yesterday’s ‘MURICA-filled slate, we won again by betting on James Shields, so it’s probably time to retire. It’s like being a 25 handicap and shooting an ace on a par 4. Jake Peavy’s LOB% regression did hit a bit, so the Giants were a winner on that lean. The Indians persevered through a long rain delay to stave off an upset loss against the Tigers. I was extremely surprised to see that number go up, but the Tribe won that 50/50 battle of the bullpens late, so kudos to them.

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.

 

Atlanta at Philadelphia (-140); Total: 8.5

No matter how bad a team is, there are always peaks and valleys during the season. The thing that separates good teams from bad teams is the length of those good times and those bad times. You probably haven’t noticed, and why would you(?), but the Phillies are the best offense by wOBA over the last 14 days and are second in fWAR. They are actually 8-3 over their last 11 games after losing 21 out of 25 games from May 27 to June 22.

There are bad teams every year. It’s important to remember that even the worst of the worst find a way to win 60 games and many of them win 65. This is why I’ve been preaching about taking starters or teams at their lowest points and fading them at their highest points. It’s not a foolproof system, but there’s so much short-term variance in baseball that teams are never as bad or as good as the streak would suggest.

In Tuesday’s game, the Braves send Mike Foltynewicz to the hill against Zach Eflin. We know that the Phillies are as hot as the Phillies can get and that the Braves are the Braves. We also know that Zach Eflin is making his fifth MLB start and has only managed nine strikeouts against 94 batters. Does this line look too high to you? It does to me.

I’m not a Mike Foltynewicz fan and the Phillies are playing well, but Zach Eflin is a Triple-A starter and the Braves should be able to do something with those, since they have a Triple-A lineup plus Freddie Freeman. Quietly, Foltynewicz has started to use his slider more and he’s actually been more effective. He still has premium velocity and I still think he’s a future bullpen arm, but his last three outings have been pretty decent overall.

I’m not about to lay -140 on a guy that can’t miss bats on a bad team, even against a bad team. If you bet numbers and not teams, the value is on the Braves. I’m not that guy, in most cases, but I’d certainly consider Atlanta if this number grows a bit.

 

Los Angeles (AL) at Tampa Bay (-155); Total: 8.5

Look, I like Jake Odorizzi and I think he’d be a really interesting addition for the Texas Rangers, as Jim Bowden reported yesterday. I don’t really like Tim Lincecum. But, the Rays are another seemingly overpriced favorite here tonight. On the other hand, the Angels are awful and getting worse, so maybe the oddsmakers are onto something. The Angels are 9-22 since the start of June, so perception is obviously way down on this team.

Lincecum was a Hail Mary effort to get somebody in the rotation with a working arm. With Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney down, depth got thin in a hurry. Lincecum impressed during a throwing session, but he’s made three starts and has only pitched well in one of them. He does draw a Rays lineup that been gradually dropping down the wOBA column against righties with just about every able-bodied outfielder on the DL. I know that the price indicates value on the Angels, but I can’t do it with Lincecum. The command profile isn’t there and he’s making his own problems by walking guys.

We’ll have to stay away, but I will be interested to see if Odorizzi’s trade market does perk up again. Texas, even with the Hamels trade last year, still has the minor league depth to pull some strings heading into the deadline.

 

Pittsburgh at St. Louis (-135); Total: 8.5

How bad is Mike Leake? Well, the Cardinals, who entered play yesterday with the most runs scored of any team in baseball, is not getting much respect from the markets against the Pittsburgh Pirates and MLB debutant Steven Brault. Brault actually seems to be a tough matchup for the Redbirds based on his scouting report. He throws left-handed, which is a good start, since St. Louis is 26th in wOBA against those guys. The Regis University product also has plus-plus command with just 319 hits and 11 HR allowed in 384 minor league innings.

The raw stuff isn’t there, which is why he doesn’t have the billing of a standard prospect, but he throws your standard four-pitch mix from a lefty and can command all of those pitches. Reports also suggest that there’s some deception in his delivery with a closed pitching motion. I’m starting to salivate a little bit here because this seems like an ideal spot to take advantage of a pitcher that oddsmakers don’t know anything about.

Quietly, the Pirates have won eight of their last 10. Mike Leake is basically an overpaid innings eater for the Cardinals, who were desperate to find one once Lance Lynn went down and with some of the other injury concerns in their starting staff. Leake has a 4.13 ERA with a 4.38 FIP and a 4.08 xFIP. The Cardinals were historically good at stranding runners last season, but it hasn’t carried over as much and Leake is finally finding out what life is like when you don’t strand an above average rate of baserunners.

Are the Pirates turning a corner? I’m not entirely sure. What I do know is that I love this game on paper and I’d jump on Pittsburgh before more line value is lost.

 

Oakland (-110) at Minnesota; Total: 9.5

Billy Beane will be adding 10 pounds to each side of the bar or turning the treadmill up to 8.5 for this matchup at Target Field. Sean Manaea takes on former Oakland A’s starter Tommy Milone, who fits that soft-tossing, pitch-to-contact, “hey, this guy’s cheap and semi-effective” mold that Beane and the A’s need to use in order to survive financially.

Manaea is a really tough handicap. He just returned from the DL and pitched well against the Giants, who couldn’t hit a lefty with a boat oar right now. He’s wildly inconsistent from a control and command standpoint, but you can see the raw stuff. To me, he’s a lot like Taijuan Walker when he first came up. The stuff can wow you, but it can also inexplicably flatten out in the middle of an at bat. That’s what you get with a young lefty trying to find his arm slot and his way. Just look at his MiLB K rates to see the potential.

The thing you want to remember about Manaea is that he gave up eight runs in 2.2 innings against Boston. Take away that start (which you can’t do) and he has a 4.87 ERA. Is that good? No, absolutely not, but it’s better than his 5.40 ERA. When sample sizes are small, epic meltdowns really skew the numbers. Considering he has a 4.50 FIP and a 4.55 xFIP, with that outing included, he’s probably somewhere around a 4.25 ERA/FIP/xFIP guy right now, with room to grow.

Is that enough for Oakland against a guy like Milone? It very well could be. Remember that a 4.50 ERA is technically three earned runs over six innings, which is viewed as a decent start. Milone has a 6.23/5.31/4.28 on the season in his 30.1 innings. He’s been great at Triple-A, though, so he’s your standard “tweener”, or Four-A player.

No one really notices because Oakland isn’t very good, but the A’s are a tick above league average against lefties. The Twins are also a terrible team. I’m not sure that there’s value on the A’s at this number, but this line does intrigue me and I think they are the side to take in this matchup.

 

New York (AL) (-115) at Chicago (AL); Total: 8.5

Alarm bells have been ringing in my head about Masahiro Tanaka for a little while now. From April 5 to May 15, Tanaka had 46 K in 51.1 innings of work with a 13.1 percent swinging strike rate. From May 21 to June 29, Tanaka had 36 K in 53.1 innings of work with a 10 percent swinging strike rate. He’s still inducing a decent amount of weak contact and not walking guys, but I’m concerned.

His sinker velocity is down a little bit overall this season, which probably isn’t anything to be overly concerned about, but it’s about looking at all of the evidence. His slider hasn’t been as effective. It doesn’t have anywhere near the horizontal movement it had when he first came to the big leagues. Subtly, the stuff seems to have minor declines across the board. His arm slot is also higher, so he’s getting less tilt on his pitches.

I’m not going to say that Tanaka is hurt, because he’s been pitching hurt with that UCL since he was signed. The raw stuff is still very good, so he can live with some of these problems. His numbers are actually better, in some instances, than last season, especially the home run rate. He’s traded strikeouts for ground balls in an effort to curtail that home run rate, so maybe that’s a reasonable trade-off to make. Perhaps we should just let a polished pitcher do his thing and not analyze so much.

Carlos Rodon is still trying to be efficient. One of the hardest things for young pitchers to do is learn to pitch to contact. Rodon’s high walk rate and high strikeout rate are reasons why he rarely works more than six innings in a game, but that’s plenty good enough in today’s specialized game. He’s given up some homers this season, but that’s what you get when you actively try to pitch to contact. He has a 4.24 ERA with a 4.23 FIP and a 3.99 xFIP.

What works in Rodon’s favor today is that the Yankees can’t hit lefties. They are 27th in wOBA at .297 and have an 81 wRC+. The next closest AL team in wOBA is the Indians art .307.

There are a lot of reasons to like the under here. Tanaka’s having his issues, but I think they’ll show up more against AL East competition that sees him a lot. His pitch mix, pitchability, and deception will work against teams that don’t see him very much. Rodon is drawing a lineup that can’t hit lefties. As far as totals go, the under in this one is a pretty strong play for me.