Happy Hump Day. Five afternoon games are on the docket for the start of July, with Minnesota, Cincinnati, Boston, Toronto, Colorado, Oakland, Seattle, San Diego, the Yankees and the Angels all partaking in matinee baseball. The remaining 11 games will conclude under the lights. It was an interesting day on the diamond yesterday and more of the same will be expected today with some very interesting lines and pitching matchups.
My, how the mighty have fallen. Nick Martinez, who was outperforming his peripherals with the best of them, has not been viewed favorably by the betting market. The regression process got off to a vociferous start during his last outing against the Blue Jays. Martinez was touched up for nine runs, eight earned, on nine hits over six innings. For Martinez, regression has been on the horizon for a while with an xFIP more than two runs above his ERA. The betting market and the oddsmakers have been playing on the impending regression, but it finally hit last start. This line jumped from -175 to -190 at some shops.
Wei-Yin Chen’s metrics show some regression of their own. His 82.6 percent LOB% is certainly high for having a slightly above league average strikeout rate. The Orioles are a quality defensive team and most of the damage against Chen has been done by the long ball. The Indians hit a couple off of him last start, giving him 13 gopher balls on the season in just 87 innings of work. Oddsmakers have been pegging the Rangers for regression for a while with inflated lines and they’re starting to get validated now.
This line is probably too high, so if you want to fire on Martinez and the slumping Rangers, more power to you. I don’t, but there’s no line value on the Orioles.
This is a tough game with conflicting ideologies. A lot of people like to blindly bet a team looking to avoid a sweep. Other people will bet against New York because the Yankees are wrapping up a seven-game road trip to come home and host the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. It will also be tough on the betting market that both pitchers are in line for a bit of positive regression. Eovaldi owns a 4.81/3.76/3.83 pitcher slash, while Shoemaker has a 5.03/4.60/3.93.
So, who do you trust? I’d be inclined to trust Eovaldi in this one. Shoemaker doesn’t look right per scouts and per the stats. Eovaldi is just a guy that pitches to hard contact and gets unlucky more often than other pitchers. The .354 BABIP against is Eovaldi’s biggest problem. For Shoemaker, it’s the 15 home runs allowed in 78.2 innings pitched. Shoemaker has also had a velocity drop. If he struggles here, the Angels may consider a DL stint. With Eovaldi, the velo is good. Both pitchers have had fastball command issues.
Because of the shadows and the getaway day, it’s hard to take the over, but it’s certainly a possibility. The Yankees and the over are two very slight leans from me.
Kyle Lohse and his declining skill set will be called upon on Wednesday as the Brewers and Phillies continue their trainwreck. These are two really bad teams. Lohse’s command is basically non-existent this season, which is a problem because that’s what has made him a useful pitcher throughout his career. Now, that being said, his xFIP is basically in line with his career average, so there’s room for optimism in a statistical sense.
His sinker has been flat, and among the worst pitches in baseball this season. It’s hard to say whether it’s a mechanical problem or just age and decline. Whatever it is, he’s giving up a very high number of line drives and long balls. Can the Phillies take advantage?
They’ll have to hope for decent work from Aaron Harang. Harang, like Lohse, has made a living out of over-performing against his advanced metrics. This season has been no different with a 3.56/4.00/4.48. One stat of note for this start is that Harang has a 52/9 K/BB ratio against righties and a 20/17 K/BB ratio against lefties. The Brewers don’t have too many lefties capable of hurting him.
When the Phillies are priced this low, oddsmakers want money on the other team. By the context of this line, the Phillies are the play, but that’s a tough one to make at around even money. You’d like a better price to back the worst team in baseball.
If this line doesn’t smack you in the face, pick a new hobby. Alfredo Simon, who has been bet against damn near every start this season, is actually getting some steam from the market after opening in the -105/-110 range. Nobody trusts Simon and this is an odd spot to trust him. The Pirates saw Simon with the Cincinnati Reds over the last couple of seasons, so it’s not like American League teams that have no book on him.
I won’t have a play on this game, but I’ll lay out the information for you. Burnett really struggled when he was in the American League with a 4.39 ERA, compared to a 3.66 ERA in the NL. He is due for some regression with a 2.01/2.62/3.16, which has a lot to do with his high LOB% and excellent HR/FB%. The biggest thing is that I think market-moving money is recalling his AL days and they’re solely betting against that. If you look at this matchup, specifically, for Burnett, he has very strange reverse platoon splits with a .213/.296/.284 slash against lefties and a .292/.322/.366 against righties. The BABIP difference is staggering, 136 points higher against righties. His 20.8% K%-BB% against RHB is a very strong number.
Simon, on the other hand, shows the same mediocre performance across the board as he always seems to. He has a 3.57/3.91/4.23, which is why the betting market has often come in against him. Pitching in the AL has been a transition for him. His walk rate is up, but his strikeout rate is also up in the more patient league. Projection systems are not high on his rest of season performance. He’s inducing fewer ground balls, but the difference has not shown up in his home run rate.
I’m not a big believer in pitcher vs. team stats, but Simon had a 4.32 ERA with a 20/12 K/BB in 2014 as a starter against the Pirates. Current Pirates are batting just .211/.301/.306 against him. Once again, I don’t have a play, but you can do what you wish with that information.
For the second straight time out, Doug Fister and Matt Wisler will face each other. Let’s compare lines because that’s an interesting exercise here. The Nationals closed in the -130 range at home last Thursday. After an initial move on the Nationals, who opened at -155, the market came in heavy on the Braves. It was Wisler’s second career start. A week later, we see the line in a similar spot, but with Atlanta at home.
Fister hasn’t had a great season. Injuries have limited him to 52 innings and he has struggled with a 4.15/4.37/4.51. The Nationals poor defense is a contributing factor, as is an increase in fly balls as he struggles to get his command to the point he wants it at after missing time. He has reverse splits this season, but his career splits are nearly identical, except for a higher SLG from lefties. The Braves are still without Freddie Freeman, but most of the bats with any impact potential are left-handed.
Was Matt Wisler ready for the Majors? Maybe. The prep arm taken out of high school in 2011 made 34 starts in Triple-A before making his MLB debut and he had success at just about every level. The jump to the bigs is substantial and Wisler didn’t miss a ton of bats at the upper levels of the minors. The potential is there, but the stuff is still a little bit raw. Young pitchers lack pitchability, in most cases, and facing a team this quickly for a 22-year-old in his third Major League start is a very tough spot.
This one should be entertaining. Jon Lester’s bad luck has dominating the start of his Cubs career, with a 4.03 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 3.29 xFIP. He has had some sequencing issues and teams have been running at will on him, which has exacerbated the bad luck BABIP of .329. He is unquestionably better than his numbers suggest so far this season, but the stolen base thing is self-inflicted. Personal catcher David Ross is not a very good throwing catcher and his bat is a downgrade to Miguel Montero.
The Mets aren’t saying much, but there has to be a lot of worry about Bartolo Colon. Since posting a 3.31 ERA in April, Colon had a 6.00 in May and had a 5.40 in June. This is a trend that we have seen over the last couple of seasons, where the 42-year-old breaks down throughout the season. In June, hitters batted .303/.346/.459. His velocity was way down in his last start and he has given up 11 runs on 19 hits in his last 10.1 innings. It’s a small sample, but it’s concerning.
The Mets are right in the middle of the pack against lefties, but Lester will be in a good park to pitch in and should get some help from his offense in this one. The Cubs look like the play for Wednesday.