We’ve got more than a full slate of games today because the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals are playing a twin bill. That means we’ve got 16 games to consider for Tuesday. The first game of the traditional doubleheader starts around 4 p.m. ET and the rest of the slate will be in the evening hours, so we have plenty of time to break down these matchups. There are a lot of opportunities on today’s card, which is rather chalky in nature, so let’s see if we can find those favorites and dogs to back.
Before we do that, however, we’ll glance back at how yesterday went. We had some line value on that Cardinals/Mets matchup, but the game was rained out. The Tigers were a winner and the over was a loser, so hopefully you took the side or took both to turn a decent profit. The number on Texas did drop, as expected, and those that rolled the dice on the Rangers cashed a ticket. As far as The Bettor’s Box selections, the Yankees were a winner behind Michael Pineda in a game that we correctly called, but the Royals and Giants were both losers as favorites.
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.
Seattle at Pittsburgh (-110); Total: 7.5
Hmmm. Felix Hernandez returned from the disabled list and struggled in his first start back, while Francisco Liriano punched out 13 with no walks his last time out. This is a really fascinating line to try and handicap. The Mariners are definitely a much better offensive club against righties and they are down a hitter in this interleague contest. The Pirates are a team I expect to be on the rise here over the next few weeks.
At first glance, this line is too low. King Felix isn’t the pitcher he once was. His ERA is very good at 3.23 because he excels at inducing weak contact, but his 4.24 FIP and 4.28 xFIP are pretty concerning. This will be Hernandez’s fourth straight year with a HR/FB% in double digits. His walk rate is at an all-time high. His K% is at an all-time low. Everything is going in the wrong direction for him. That being said, the Mariners don’t se his stuff often and his secondary pitches are still really spectacular.
On the Pirates side, Liriano has been a disaster all season long. That 13-strikeout performance put him back over a strikeout per inning, but he’s walked 62 and owns a 4.96 ERA with a 4.91 FIP and a 4.47 xFIP. The Mariners haven’t seen his stuff in quite a while either, so could that be an advantage for the left-hander?
The Mariners are 22nd in wOBA against LHP and tied for 22nd in BB%. The way to beat Liriano is to draw walks. From the wind-up, Liriano has allowed a .385 SLG. From the stretch, it balloons to .448. Liriano has also been significantly better at PNC Park. Normally, I don’t put a ton of stock into home/road splits, but the exception is when the home park is a good pitcher’s park. The ball doesn’t carry all that well at PNC. Also, it seems like the familiarity of the mound helps Liriano.
I think Felix and the Mariners are overpriced here based on name recognition. It’s fair to point out that Liriano has far greater blow-up potential than Felix, but the Pirates seem underpriced tonight. I’d take a shot with them.
Philadelphia at Miami (-145); Total: 8
The Phillies send Jerad Eickhoff to the hill for this NL East showdown against the Miami Marlins. The Marlins will counter with Tom Koehler. A day after Jeremy Hellickson improved his draft stock by shutting down the Marlins, Eickhoff will try to do the same. On the year, Eickhoff has a 3.98 ERA with a 3.97 FIP and a 4.11 xFIP. There aren’t any clear signs of regression in his profile. He worked over 170 innings last season, so we’re not worried about any workload-related decline just yet.
When Eickhoff has been bad, he’s been really bad. He gave up eight runs in Colorado on July 9 and six runs in five innings to these Marlins last time out. For the most part, Eickhoff has given the lowly Phillies offense a chance. He’s given up three runs or less in 15 of his 20 starts.
Koehler has a 4.42 ERA with a 4.40 FIP and a 4.95 xFIP. It’s basically a status quo season for Koehler, who is just an innings eater for the Marlins. This season, his home/road splits aren’t as pronounced as they have been in the past. To be fair, Koehler has worked 22.2 more innings on the road than at home. Koehler has now worked 42.1 more road innings in his career than home innings. He has a 4.54 ERA on the road and a 3.72 ERA at home.
To me, it looks like there’s a little bit of value on the under. Eickhoff has generally been quite good and Koehler is usually a bit better at home than on the road. This is one mediocre offense and one bad offense. This has the makings of a 4-2 or 4-3 type of game.
Game 2: St. Louis at New York (NL) (-115); Total: 7.5
I’m really disappointed with the lost line value on yesterday’s Mets game. There won’t be any value on the day game with this -165 price, unless, of course, the lineups really stand out. The line on Game 2 will move around once we see who is in the lineup for both sides. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Cardinals flip to a favorite here because of their successes against right-handed pitching so far this season. They also got a severely-needed day off for the bullpen with yesterday’s rainout. Play it by ear based on what happens in Game 1, but my initial inclination is the Redbirds for Game 2.
Washington at Cleveland (-155); Total: 8
We’ve seen some movement on the Indians early this morning, due in large part to Gio Gonzalez’s recent struggles. Truthfully, his recent struggles are overblown and I think he’s in a great spot to go on a nice run. Gonzalez battles shoulder soreness annually and 10 days off probably helped him, as he fired six innings of three-hit ball against the Dodgers last week. He has a 4.53 ERA with a 3.99 FIP and a 3.89 xFIP. He’s just fine. I think this line is high and there are a lot of compelling reasons to take the dog, with Gonzalez being one of them.
The Indians offense has overachieved all season long, especially from a power standpoint. Against lefties, they rank 25th in wOBA at just .306 and are only slugging .393. They have a .316 OBP, despite a .322 BABIP. They’re really not performing well against lefties and Gio Gonzalez throws left-handed.
Danny Salazar is also a worry. The Indians came up with some arm soreness to give him a week off during the All-Star Break, but he shows some big-time signs of regression. He has a 2.75 ERA with a 3.24 FIP and a 3.62 xFIP. Fortunately for Indians fans (like me), his BABIP is climbing, but it has happened in a largely innocuous fashion. He’s given up eight hits in each of his last three starts, but he’s allowed three runs in two of them. Six in the other one, but that was coming.
He has excellent stuff and the Nationals haven’t seen it. That’s a big advantage for him in this one, but I’m also skeptical as to whether or not he’ll carry a 9.4 percent HR/FB% the rest of the way. As it is, he’s given up three HR in his last two starts after allowing six HR in his first 15 starts.
The Nationals have underdog value here for me and I’m content with throwing a few shekels on them. The Indians are back home now, where they have been really good, and they need to snap out of this recent 7-12 stretch, but I don’t know if it happens tonight.
Atlanta at Minnesota (-200); Total: 9
Matchup analysis aside, is anybody willing to lay $2 on the Twins? I know this line opened -180 and sharp players hit the Twins rather quickly, who have played better of late, but this is a huge line on a bad team. I’m not a Lucas Harrell supporter by any means, but I’m also not buying the recent performances of Ervin Santana.
This isn’t a play or an endorsement of Atlanta necessarily, but this line does look high.
Arizona at Milwaukee (-115); Total: 9.5
As I talked about on yesterday’s edition of The Bettor’s Box, I’ve needed to reevaluate my thoughts on the Diamondbacks. It seems as though a lot of people have. After another blowout loss yesterday, the Diamondbacks opened around a +115 dog against Matt Garza. That’s sad. That’s a pretty telling commentary on what to expect from Arizona going forward this season.
Patrick Corbin’s 16-start sample size from 2015 was apparently not indicative of anything. He’s posted a 5.23/5.18/4.41 this season, as dingers, walks, and way too much contact have turned him into a punching bag. Corbin has allowed 20 bombs in 115.1 innings of work on the season. He’s only struck out 86 with 46 walks.
Another underlying thing about Arizona is that they have reportedly had talks about firing Chip Hale, which isn’t going to sit well in the clubhouse. Not that the team will rebel, per se, but it’s a very uncomfortable situation there with absolutely no leadership.
That’s how you get a guy that is clearly done as a favorite. Matt Garza has a 5.94 ERA with a 4.60 FIP and a 4.96 xFIP in seven starts. He had a 5.63/4.94/4.50 in 25 starts and one relief appearance last season. He’s awful. Quite simply, he’s done. He doesn’t miss bats anymore, his command and control are lacking, and he hasn’t pitched out of leverage situations for three years now.
Yet, the lowly Brewers opened a favorite here. Hmm. Context clues are pretty important. I think we have some here.
Catch today’s edition of BangTheBook Radio for thoughts on the New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, and MLB Trade Deadline!