Everybody is back in action on Tuesday night with 15 games on the Major League Baseball schedule. There are a few very interesting pitching matchups, including Taylor Jungmann vs. Cole Hamels, Gerrit Cole vs. Justin Verlander, and Chris Sale vs. Lance Lynn. There are a handful of southpaws on the mound today, which means that we can expect line moves in those games depending on how the opposition fares against lefties. There are quite a few lines hovering in the -110 to -125 area, so there’s sure to be some value on June 30 to wrap up the month.
Cole Hamels should send Corey Kluber a gift basket. If it weren’t for Kluber, it would be Hamels with the league’s worst run support per nine innings. In run support per nine innings, Kluber has gotten 2.28 runs, while Hamels has gotten 2.45. In terms of aggregate runs scored, Hamels is second to Lance Lynn, and in a tie with Matt Garza, with 27 runs scored during his time on the mound. Lynn, of course, missed a few starts while on the DL.
Hamels is still getting respect in the betting market, despite his poor run support. The Phillies are only favored when Hamels pitches and blew a 4-1 lead on Monday as a juicy +150 dog. The right-handed heavy Brewers lineup now ranks 29th in wOBA against lefties and has the third-worst wRC+. In fairness, they have the league’s lowest BABIP against lefties by a long shot at .248. At this point, Hamels is just trying to stay healthy enough to get traded. He’s been strong, with his best strikeout since the 2006 season and a similar xFIP to what he has posted throughout his career.
Taylor Jungmann’s heavy sinker has been a good weapon so far and one of the bright spots for the Brewers this season. He has a 2.74 ERA with a 3.19 FIP, and a 3.71 xFIP, but small sample sizes are playing around with some of those numbers. He has shown better control in the big leagues than he did in the minor leagues over the last two seasons. Command has never really been an issue and his three-pitch mix has been serviceable enough so far. The Phillies aren’t skilled enough to take advantage of the lack of depth in his arsenal.
For this game, I’d look first 5 under and let the bullpens figure it out from there.
Some extended rest for Justin Verlander might be what he needs to go toe-to-toe with Gerrit Cole. Verlander was scratched from his last start for a back flare-up. Verlander’s contract extension looks horrible right now. The toll of eight straight seasons of 200+ IP seem to be taking their toll and Verlander has seen drops in both his velocity and command. His two MLB starts this season haven’t gone particularly well, though it’s a small sample. Right now, the Tigers are just hoping that Verlander can give them something more than what Kyle Lobstein and Shane Greene were providing.
There are no worries about Gerrit Cole. The 24-year-old is shoving on a regular basis. He’s 11-3 with a 2.16 ERA, 2.72 FIP, and 2.90 xFIP. Everything is working. In his second full season in The Show, Cole has increased his K rate, decreased his BB rate, increased his GB rate, and is sequencing better in key spots. Everything is progressing in a positive direction.
Unlike the line earlier this week, where oddsmakers were begging for Pirates money, this is a line influenced by perception. The Tigers are still a very public team. This isn’t a case where the oddsmakers are dying for money on one side or another. This is a case where the better team is favored on the road with the superior pitcher. Take advantage of the perception of the Tigers and take the Pirates as road chalk.
Did the Indians get back on track offensively after scoring seven runs on Monday night? I would say no. The Indians got two runs on Ronald Belisario wild pitches, including one on an intentional walk wild pitch. They got some hits, but failed with runners in scoring position again. Cody Anderson was brilliant, however, and the vastly improved infield defense was a big part of his success. The outfield defense is still in shambles, with injured left fielder Michael Brantley either playing center field or Mike Bourn baby giraffing his way through center field.
That could be an issue with Danny Salazar on the mound. Salazar is missing bats with the best of them with a terrific split-change and his mid-90s cheddar. Command can be an issue, and it has been throughout his MLB career. His home run rate has been the only real blemish, with a 4.06 ERA, but a 3.56 FIP, and a 2.81 xFIP. The Rays don’t hit a lot of home runs and Tropicana Field is not a great HR park. That’s a silver lining.
You can see the lack of respect that the Indians offense is getting given that Erasmo Ramirez is on the mound. Ramirez left his June 20 start in Cleveland after 10 batters with a groin injury. He hasn’t worked at the MLB level since. Prior to the injury, Ramirez had allowed three runs over 26.1 innings covering six starts (including the injury-shortened outing against Cleveland). He’s a risky play in this scenario, even with the Tribe’s offensive foibles. Ramirez has spotty control and command. He worked into a nice groove with his release point and then missed 10 days.
A very slight lean to the Indians on Tuesday. The bullpen is rested after Sunday’s doubleheader debacle and Salazar shows some positive regression in his HR rate, especially against a team that lacks power.
The Jon Niese fade is on once again. The Cubs have been steamed from a money line pick ‘em in the -110/-105 range to a -120 favorite on the overnight lines. The Cubs got a much needed day off on Monday to lick their wounds after a tough showing in St. Louis. The betting market expects them to bounce back in this one.
This could simply be one of those ERA/xFIP moves. Hendricks has a 4.46 ERA with a 3.71 FIP and a 3.59 xFIP. Some bad batted ball luck with men on base has hurt his traditional run prevention metrics. Perhaps Citi Field could be helpful to Hendricks’s 11.7 percent HR/FB%. He’s thrown the ball better than the traditional metrics suggest and he’s been a pitcher that I have spotlighted in the past, so you know I like him.
The Cubs are actually interested in Jon Niese, if the Mets decide to abandon their six-man rotation. Niese has had some control and command issues this season, with a lower strikeout rate and higher walk rate compared to the last three seasons. He’s battling occasional shoulder trouble, which I thought was flaring up earlier in the season. He’s still persevering through it, but the results aren’t very exciting. The one difference for Niese this season is that he has struggled more with men on base. His xFIP is right around his career range, but his ERA of 4.12 and FIP of 4.39 seem to be better gauges of how he has actually pitched.
The Mets are 27th in wOBA against righties and the Cubs are the third-best offense by wOBA against southpaws. All the signs point to taking the Cubs, though some of the value is gone from this line. At this price, it’s probably a stay away game for me, but the information is laid out for you to make your own decision.
Phil Hughes takes his home run problem and declining command to Cincinnati to face the Reds. The Reds dealt some of the regression that Mike Pelfrey had coming in yesterday’s big win. Hughes has a 4.20 ERA, 4.43 FIP, and 4.07 xFIP, which suggests that his 2014 was clearly an outlier. His command is back to where it was with the Yankees and things could be a lot worse. Hughes has a 77 percent strand rate, so he’s been rather fortunate in that regard.
Anthony DeSclafani has been teetering on the brink of regression for a little while now. After a good start to the season over his first trip around the league, he’s due for regression with a 3.35 ERA and a 4.52 xFIP. Now, the xFIP regression is almost exclusively because of his low HR/FB rate. It’s definitely possible, but he has been a guy that has managed to avoid home runs throughout his MiLB career as well. Some pitchers are able to outpitch their ERA because they manage to avoid the sweet spot for home runs. Is DeSclafani that guy? We don’t know because we don’t have a big enough sample.
Neither one of these guys look like an attractive play on Tuesday. Perhaps one less hitter in the lineup will help Hughes, but his ERA is a run higher away from Target Field for whatever reason, so it’s hard to be confident in him.
Jordan Zimmermann and Shelby Miller are both guys that I have pegged for regression. The difference is that Zimmermann has always shown good pitchability and good command throughout his career and Miller is a little bit more unproven. Zimmermann has made it work with a below average strikeout rate in the past and has always outpitched his xFIP. That’s why a guy like DeSclafani is possible. The Braves are still without Freddie Freeman, but their lefties could feast on Zimmermann with a .314/.364/.405 slash against. The Nationals’ pisspoor defense has a lot to do with this and some random sequencing has hurt him on the road with a 5.40 ERA compared to a 2.39 at home. Yay for variance!
Miller was outstanding last week in a low-scoring loss to the Nationals and continues to spit in the face of regression. Miller has a 1.94 ERA with a 3.18 FIP and a 3.89 xFIP. A stunningly low BABIP and home run rate are the reason why. The cutter has been a tremendous addition to Miller’s arsenal, a pitch that he began working on with the Cardinals. He has also moved away from a four-seamer, that he used over 70 percent of the time with the Cardinals, to a two-seamer that induces more ground balls. All of this looks sustainable, based on the arsenal changes. Now, that being said, a sub-2.00 ERA is not sustainable. A look at Miller’s game log also shows that he has largely avoided good lineups. That’s not his fault, but it’s worth considering.
In this one, I give a slight edge to the Braves, as bad as they’ve been offensively without Freeman. I believe in what Shelby Miller is doing and Zimmermann’s splits against lefties are a little concerning.
This is a rather interesting line. The Yankees send Ivan Nova to the hill for his second start in his return from Tommy John and the Angels trot out Andrew Heaney for his second start. Nova’s Triple-A rehab starts weren’t great, but it’s hard to take much out of rehab starts because we don’t know the context. Was a pitcher working solely on FB command? Did he throw more breaking balls just to get a feel for them? What we do know is that Nova BABIP’d his way to a great start against the Phillies last time out. His command wasn’t quite there, given a low ground ball rate, since one of his best attributes pre-surgery was inducing ground balls. That’s to be expected and fly balls aren’t a terrible thing in Anaheim.
Andrew Heaney projects as a solid middle of the rotation starter, but scouts do have some worries about his command at the big league level early on. He’s fortunate to find a soft landing spot in Anaheim, where he will also pitch in Oakland and Seattle as road parks. Heaney got called up despite a 4.71 ERA because he had allowed a .372 BABIP against, which means Anaheim’s Triple-A team can’t field or he was the victim of quite a bit of bad luck. He was good in his first MLB start against the Astros. The Yankees are cut from a similar cloth, just without the prolific right-handed power.
I feel like oddsmakers didn’t know how to line this game. At the same time, both pitchers carry a lot of uncertainty. This is a stay away game, but it’s worth paying attention to both pitchers to see how they perform and see if you can pick up anything for future games.
The San Diego Padres were supposed to be able to hit lefties with their contingent of right-handed sticks. They are a few ticks below league average against southpaws and that’s what they face on Tuesday in Mike Montgomery. The Mariners will take their cuts against Ian Kennedy. Montgomery’s five-start sample is skewed a bit by a dominating performance against his old team, Kansas City, last week, so we’ll try not to read too much into those numbers. What we do know about Montgomery is that he spent seven seasons bouncing around a couple of different organizations in the minors before getting his shot at 25. He was a prep arm that signed quickly and sometimes those guys take a circuitous route to the bigs.
Montgomery has the standard four-pitch mix with low 90s velo, so he’s basically your standard-issue lefty that mixes in a cutter/curve/change but predominantly lives on FB command. His FB command has flashed plus at the minor league level with low home runs rates. Hitters are making a lot of contact, so a bad start is possible any time, but he has some pitchability and keeps hitters off-balance.
Ian Kennedy is not putting himself in line for good free agent money this offseason. Poor command has really hurt, leading to a 5.09 ERA and a 5.17 FIP. His 21.7 percent HR/FB% will come down, but who knows when? Kennedy has also, like the rest of his rotation mates, been a victim of his team’s atrocious defense. It seems that the fear in this game with Montgomery is facing all of the right-handed bats. Kennedy does show positive regression, so oddsmakers are shading against the line move on pitchers with similar stat profiles.
The Mariners are not a great defensive team either, though not as bad as the Padres. This is a really tough game to pick, but the very slight lean would be to the Padres because they have a better bullpen than Seattle.