A busy Saturday in the big leagues is on tap and we’ll take a look at the top betting options to help you build that bankroll as July draws to a close. There are two days and 30 games left before the Major League Baseball Trade Deadline on Monday and there will be a lot of rumors and a lot of player movement. Stay up-to-date on the latest because we could see some lineup changes, a lack of bullpen availability, and maybe even a starter change or two. Stay vigilant.

Before diving into the Saturday card, we’ll see how things played out on Friday night. Baltimore’s under streak came to an end and the over was a suggested pick yesterday, so we got things started on a good note. The value side Tigers hammered the Astros if you rolled the dice on that one. The Yankees were a loser, but the Nationals pushed their team total at most shops. As for Bettor’s Box selections, there weren’t many, but those that did take the Twins in a great situational spot grabbed a winner.

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 Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Sundays when there are a lot of day games.

 

A quick note:

After mentioning yesterday that unders were +49 units since July 4 and +37 units since the All-Star Break, the under went 9-6 yesterday across 15 games. Keep an eye on this trend because some regression should be coming.

 

Washington at San Francisco (-125); Total: 8

We’ll head to the Bay Area for today’s first look. The Nationals send Reynaldo Lopez to the hill against Jake Peavy. There’s a chance that Lopez gets scratched from this start if the Nationals find a deal for some bullpen help, but that seems very unlikely at this point. Lopez flashed some serious upside in his first start, but the results weren’t there. Lopez struck out nine in 4.2 innings, but he gave up six runs on 10 hits. Command and poise are the two worst enemies for most young pitchers.

Lopez is in a bit of a precarious spot here from a betting standpoint because the Giants offense has been in a two-week slumber. At some point, the talent is going to win out because the Giants just have too many good hitters. On the other hand, Lopez has good raw stuff, capable of keeping the slide in tact. It’s a really tough spot as a handicapper.

Jake Peavy had been in a pretty decent groove for a while, but he’s given up five HR and 10 runs on seven hits in two starts since the All-Star Break. Peavy has pitched well in a lot of his outings, but the bad ones have been really bad and have buried his team early on. There’s been no rhyme or reason for the blow-ups. They’ve come at random times. He’s certainly not throwing the ball very well out of the layoff, which is surprising, because you’d figure an older pitcher with a lot of mileage would come out strong after the Break.

At this point, until the Giants start hitting, it’s Nationals or nothing. I prefer nothing, but I certainly don’t mind if you take a shot at the underdog here. It’s a decent price.

 

New York (AL) at Tampa Bay (-125); Total: 7.5

With last night’s loss to Tampa Bay, the Yankees are six out in the division and 4.5 out in the Wild Card. The top three teams in the East are separated by just 1.5 games. I’ve talked about how the Yankees need to sell and restock the farm system. This could be the money game for them in that regard. If they drop to seven back and 5.5 in the wild card, with several teams, including division opponents, in front of them, that may be it.

Nate Eovaldi is the guy in that spotlight. Eovaldi seemed to have it all together earlier this season and then the bottom completely fell out. From May 7 to May 29, Eovaldi made five starts and went 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA and a .204/.256/.292 slash against. Since then, Eovaldi has made eight starts and three relief appearances with a 6.12 ERA and a .294/.360/.552 slash against. That’s a really horrible set of numbers. He does, however, take on the Rays here in this spot and they are bad against right-handed pitching.

Unfortunately, don’t expect the Yankees to do much offensively either. Drew Smyly is a guy that seems to have gotten a bit unlucky this season. He has a 5.42 ERA with peripherals that are a run or more lower and he’s still struck out over a batter per inning. There’s a slight chance that Smyly gets dealt today, but he should make this start against the team that ranks 27th in wOBA against left-handed pitching.

It should raise alarm bells for you that there are two guys with high ERAs and the total is 7.5 runs. That should have caught your attention right away. It gives off the expectation that both offenses will struggle and that the bullpens will hold up their ends of the bargain. I’m not sure about the total, but I do trust Smyly more than Eovaldi, so I’d lay the short price with Tampa Bay if I had to. That’s probably the best lean here, with the under second.

 

Chicago (AL) at Minnesota (-125); Total: 9.5

This is a very interesting line move. There’s some perception bias in the market against Miguel Gonzalez. His overall numbers are not great this season with a 4.28 ERA, a 4.07 FIP, and a 4.51 xFIP in 15 starts and one relief appearance. But, when you consider that he has two really bad starts and a bunch of serviceable or better starts, the numbers are a little bit misleading. Gonzalez gave up seven to Detroit on June 14 and eight to Toronto on June 25. Take away 15 of his 42 earned runs from those two starts, which you obviously can’t do, but then Gonzalez has a 3.05 ERA. Those blow-up starts can really skew the ERA stat.

Tommy Milone is a guy. He eats some innings and doesn’t do it all that effectively. He has a 4.97 ERA with a 5.14 FIP and a 4.37 xFIP on the year. He doesn’t miss many bats and hasn’t pitched out of many jams. I understand what’s going on here. I talked about how yesterday was a letdown spot for the White Sox and they lost in walk-off fashion. There’s not much for them to play for. The Twins have been pretty decent over the last month or so.

Purely from a matchup standpoint, I like the White Sox here. Gonzalez has been much better than people realize and he’s actually become an asset for the White Sox. Minnesota is playing well and that’s influenced the market a little bit. I’d wait and see if this number goes up a bit more and then come back on Chicago.

 

Colorado at New York (NL) (-140); Total: 8

The best team since the All-Star Break? Just as we all expected, it’s the Colorado Rockies. The oddsmakers have taken notice, as this number is down a little bit lower than you would have anticipated. As mentioned on The Bettor’s Box, the Mets are without Juan Lagares, leaving them with a very tough situation in center field. Against a guy like Bartolo Colon, that may come into play a bit here.

I’m looking for regression from Colon. For one thing, he has a 3.35 ERA with a 79.3 percent LOB%. For another thing, he’s 43. In 2014, opposing hitters batted .281/.317/.420 in the second half and hung Colon with a 4.24 ERA. Last season, it was a .281/.315/.431 slash and he was fortunate to only allow a 3.81 mark. His K rate is down and his BB rate is up, so I think a lot of these numbers are ready to go up.

Jorge de la Rosa hasn’t been very good this season, with major command and control problems. He’s actually been worse on the road than at home, which is a rarity for Rockies pitchers. It’s entirely possible that he’s hurt again. He’s issued 13 walks against just 16 strikeouts this month and just doesn’t look right. He’s also been awful from the stretch with a .360/.435/.534 slash against.

Runs could be a possibility here. I don’t like the Mets against lefties very much, but JDLR has not been good in any of his splits this season and I’m looking for that Colon regression.

 

Kansas City at Texas (-120); Total: 9.5

I’m pretty surprised to see a significant line move on this game. The Royals are in complete disarray, but they’re getting the sharp love here in this battle between Ian Kennedy and Martin Perez. Kennedy has a great strikeout rate and a nice LOB%, but that’s because he’s allowed a lot of runners to score on dingers. Kennedy has given up 26 HR in 114.1 innings of work this season. Being an extreme fly ball pitcher with shoddy command at Globe Life Park rarely works out. That’s the case for Kennedy tonight.

I’m fine with the market fading Martin Perez, who has one of the lowest K% among qualified starters that we’ve seen in some time. His BABIP regression is a root cause of why the Rangers have been struggling so much lately. He stopped getting lucky on batted ball and the Rangers started getting into early holes. The interesting thing here is that Perez’s low K rate would help out a lot of teams because it eliminates strikeouts. The Royals don’t strike out anyway, so this isn’t much of a difference for them.

Because of that, I’m a little bit miffed by this line move. At this price, Texas is probably into value range. The Royals have the worst offense in the AL by runs scored this season. Texas’s park-adjusted metrics aren’t great, but they have a lot of guys capable of doing damage against Kennedy. I’m on the Rangers here.

 

Cincinnati (-125) at San Diego; Total: 8.5

Anthony DeSclafani ran into a little bit of regression last time out against the Giants. DeSclafani will have to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge regression for a little bit here if you believe the advanced metrics. He has a 3.09 ERA with a 3.93 FIP and a 4.12 xFIP. I’m not worried about the xFIP because I don’t see a league average HR/FB% for him. I’m also skeptical about his ability to carry an 80.7 percent strand rate for a prolonged period of time with his K rate.

That being said, we know that the Padres can’t hit righties and DeSclafani happens to throw right-handed.

Christian Friedrich is a pretty important part of the equation here. I like the raw stuff and I wonder what his development path would look like if he wasn’t drafted by the Rockies. He doesn’t have great numbers in his 13 starts with a 5.00 ERA, a 4.57 FIP, and a 4.87 xFIP. His walks are a problem because his command is also a problem. Free baserunners don’t work when you have a thin margin for error. He doesn’t miss a ton of bats. That being said, the Reds are bad against left-handed pitching.

This is a tricky handicap. If DeSclafani’s regression hits, the under is dead. This is Friedrich’s first home start since June 29. Not that he’s been better at home than on the road, but it’s a little bit of an interesting situation. It’s probably a stay away game. That said, both of these teams could look very different by first pitch if trades come across the wire.

 

Boston (-125) at Los Angeles (AL); Total: 8.5

I don’t get it. I like Drew Pomeranz a lot and I can’t stand Hector Santiago. I don’t know how he’s getting any trade buzz. Am I missing something because Boston has struggled a bit lately? Is it because Hector Santiago’s last five starts have blinded people to just how bad he is? He’s given up five earned runs in his last five starts and he still has a 4.28 ERA.

This is a clear example of recently bias. Santiago is 6-0 with a 2.40 ERA in his last eight starts. He’s gone back to inducing fly balls, so that’s a big reason why he has carried a .230 BABIP and has outpitched a 4.19 FIP, a 5.24 xFIP, and 23 BB in 48.2 innings. I’m not buying any of it. He has an 86.3 percent LOB% in his last eight starts. Maybe Boston is struggling and David Ortiz is not in the lineup, but Hector Santiago is a ticking time bomb of regression.