A full slate of games is lighting up the odds board this morning as we look ahead to another weekend of MLB betting activity. There are some really interesting lines out there in the marketplace and it’s always fun to take a deep dive into these numbers. As teams inch closer to the 100-game mark, it’s good time for you to reflect on how the season has gone. What have you learned? Do you feel like you’ve managed your bankroll properly?

I would assume that the largest part of the demographic of this and most articles at BangTheBook.com is geared towards the recreational handicapper that wants to get better at this. Some readers may be really serious players using this as a supplement and others may even be professionals. There’s been something for everyone in these write-ups throughout the year that benefit the novice handicappers and those that want to take things to the next level. It’s critical to adapt throughout the season and on a year-to-year basis, so hopefully I’ve helped with that this season.

Before looking ahead to Friday night, we’ll glance back at how yesterday went. It wasn’t a strong day of opinions, which is good, because things could have gone better. The Orioles and Yankees didn’t score runs and the Rays and Athletics scored too many. Leans on Miami and Detroit cashed in, but they weren’t plays with a whole lot of conviction.

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.

 

Cleveland (-115) at Baltimore; Total: 9

There are times when I feel like the market gets distracted by a shiny new toy. Dylan Bundy is that shiny new toy. After posting a 3.08 ERA in 38 relief innings, Bundy struggled through 3.1 innings in his first career start against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday. Bundy’s inclusion in the starting rotation is a smart thing for the Orioles, but starting is so much different than relieving.

There are a lot of reasons why. Starters have to pace themselves. They have to attack hitters differently. There are more mental elements of the game. When you come out of the pen, it’s mostly about going as hard as you can for an inning or two. There are a lot more fastballs and you can put away pitches that you don’t have a feel for. You can’t do that as a starter. You have to work at it with that third pitch. You have to hold back a little bit with the velocity. Bundy hasn’t tackled all of this at the big league level yet.

As an Indians fan, I’m wondering when the other shoe will drop with Trevor Bauer. Personal catcher Chris Gimenez has been a godsend for Bauer and the Indians and their relationship has been well-documented here of late. Are cracks starting to show for Bauer? It’s possible. He’s walked at least three in four of his last six appearances and his last two outings have been real struggles.

It’s hard to say whether or not the Orioles are a bad matchup for Bauer. They are really aggressive, which can help him because he throws a myriad of different pitches. On the other hand, they have a lot of power and can punish mistakes. On yet another hand (yes, there are three hands), Bauer is a guy that can outthink himself with a lineup like this and try to get too cute in terms of keeping guys off-balance. It’s pretty easy to forget that the 25-year-old hasn’t even worked 470 big league innings yet and he’s still developing.

The slight move on the Indians does, however, seem right today. The lineup is difficult for Bundy to face. There are a lot of guys at the top that work counts and can force Bundy into long innings. There’s a surprising amount of power. The Orioles have some similar tendencies, but I trust Bauer more than Bundy here. One thing I don’t necessarily trust is the Indians bullpen, so you might want to take the pens out of it and roll with a 1st 5 play on the Tribe.

 

San Francisco (-105) at New York (AL); Total: 7

This’ll be a fun one in the Bronx between Madison Bumgarner and Masahiro Tanaka. To be honest, I liked the opening line more than the current line. The Giants opened -120 for this matchup and I think that was a better price. Bumgarner is one of the game’s elite left-handers and the Yankees can’t hit lefties at all. They are 27th in wOBA against southpaws on the campaign and it hasn’t even been that good.

Bumgarner’s development process has been something special to watch. Since he started in 2010, his K/9 has gone up just about every season and his ability to set up hitters and put them away is among the best in the game. There are some minor signs of regression for Bumgarner, including a .259 BABIP and an 85.2 percent strand rate, but I don’t feel like the Yankees are the team to do that.

Every game is magnified for New York right now with the Trade Deadline looming. Thursday’s loss dropped them to seven back in the division and six back in the wild card. They need a good start from Tanaka tonight. I think they’ll get it, but I don’t think it will be on Bumgarner’s level. Tanaka has a 3.15/3.30/3.58 pitcher slash, but his strikeout rate is dropping and that’s not a development I’m in favor of because the Yankees aren’t a great defensive team. The trade-off for Tanaka in terms of strikeouts has been a much lower HR/FB%, so that’s a good thing.

I think the thought process here for the guys with influential money is that these two starters will cancel out and the bullpens will decide the game. In that respect, the Giants are at a pretty big disadvantage, just like almost every other team in baseball. I don’t think that the Big Three in the Yankees pen will have a lead to protect. I do like the Giants, though it’s easy to like the under a lot more. These are two guys with excellent stuff without a lot of exposure against these two lineups. That screams under.

 

Arizona at Cincinnati (-115); Total: 9.5

This couldn’t have been a fun line for the oddsmakers to set, but it’s important to realize just how much of a disappointment Arizona is this season. We look at their quality offensive numbers, where they are around the middle of the pack against righties and in the top five against lefties, and, yet, they’re nowhere close to being a factor in the NL West.

Pitching is a big reason why. Friday’s starter Archie Bradley hasn’t helped. It’s way too early to call the 23-year-old former first-rounder a bust, but he hasn’t shown much in his 105.2 Major League innings. The worst part about this for Bradley is that the Diamondbacks haven’t shown much in the way of developing pitching talent in the last decade or so. Bradley has racked up some strikeouts this season, but he has a 4.37 ERA with a 4.49 FIP and a 4.12 xFIP. Walks have been a problem for him.

The thing about Bradley is that the stuff is there. The consistency isn’t. That seems to be the story with a lot of Diamondbacks arms, like Patrick Corbin, Rubby de la Rosa, and others. Bradley does draw a really favorable matchup here, as the Reds rank 28th in wOBA and have one of the worst K/BB ratios against righties. That should play to Bradley’s favor.

Dan Straily has been a good story for the Reds this season, but his numbers may not lead to a happy ending. Straily has a 4.07 ERA with a 4.60 FIP and a 5.09 xFIP. He’s got below average K and BB rates and is an extreme fly ball pitcher. The extreme fly ball part is key because the advanced metrics like FIP, xFIP, and SIERA rarely look favorably at those guys.

The Diamondbacks have a .315 wOBA and a 90 wRC+ against righties, so they have been below average and the hitter-friendly environment of Chase Field has influenced some of their numbers. It’ll be hot and humid in Cincinnati tonight, so it’s likely that Great American Small Park will live up to its moniker.

I really don’t know how to go about this game, however. Neither pitcher inspires a lot of confidence, but these are two pretty poor ballclubs. At least the Reds have an excuse. They’re rebuilding. The Diamondbacks just have poor management. The AJ Pollock injury definitely hurt in a big way, but the player development staff and the front office are holding Arizona back. That’s not overly relevant in a one-game sample, but a nugget to keep in mind for next year.

 

New York (NL) at Miami (-145); Total: 8.5

Hmm. One more write-up for today, but you’ll hear about several games on today’s edition of The Bettor’s Box, so be sure to tune in for that (link to be added after the show). Logan Verrett takes the hill for the Mets in this one against Adam Conley for the Marlins. If you haven’t paid close attention this season, the Marlins appear pretty legit and the Mets have struggled. It’s weird to say that because these teams hit this series with pretty similar records. The Fish are up 1.5 games on the Mets.

That’s part of the allure of this series and the rest of this season. It almost feels like the Mets have dramatically underachieved while the Marlins are playing about as well as they can. Do we start to see a reversal of fortunes in this series? The Mets are 19th in wOBA against both lefties and righties. The Marlins are 17th against lefties and 12th against righties. The Mets clearly have a much stronger starting rotation, even with some of the injury concerns.

It really does feel like the Mets have been a disappointment and they’re six games over .500. Perhaps I haven’t dug deep enough on the Marlins and they’ve obviously gotten very little from Giancarlo Stanton for the majority of the season. It just feels like these two teams will go in opposite directions soon.

Verrett has made some decent spot starts for the Mets in his career. This will be his 12th start over the last two seasons. He has a 4.60 ERA and opposing hitters are batting .251/.347/.432. He has a 5.20 ERA as a starter this season, so things haven’t worked out all that well this year, but he was serviceable in his four starts last year. The move does make some sense here, as Verrett has shown an inability to give decent innings in his spot starts. A 23/20 K/BB ratio certainly hasn’t helped.

Adam Conley is a hard guy to back or fade. Conley has allowed four or more runs in six of his 19 starts and has allowed one or zero runs in eight of his 19 starts. He’s actually had a few more starts in the middle recently. Conley hasn’t faced this division rival since April 13. Considering all of these factors, the Marlins move is justifiable and it could continue to climb a little bit.

I will be watching this series and these two teams closely. I do feel like the Mets have a second gear in them and it’s not just because of last season. Last season’s uprising was influenced by trades. There aren’t as many moves to make this season, but the Mets do feel like a team lying in the weeds, waiting to strike. I’m just not sure if it will be today.

 

Tune into today’s edition of The Bettor’s Box for thoughts on Los Angeles vs. St. Louis, Texas vs. Kansas City, and Tampa Bay vs. Oakland.