Monday brings a smaller card as teams around the league enjoy an off day. Off days are nice at this time of the season, especially with some of the long days due to weather, assorted doubleheaders, and heavy bullpen usage. There are still nine games on tap to kick off the work week, with only a few big favorites. Let’s examine today’s card and see what we can find.
The betting market tried to take advantage of inflated lines against the Phillies with the Nationals in town over the weekend. It will be interesting to see if the same thing happens with the Brewers in town. The Phillies are terrible, which everybody can agree on. However, the Brewers are a -150 favorite with a 14-22 road record, a 6-17 record against teams with losing records, and two teams have a lower road wOBA than the Brewers. Those teams are the Minnesota Twins and New York Mets.
Jimmy Nelson has probably deserved a better fate this season. After posting a 4.93 ERA over 69.1 innings last season, his peripherals suggested better fortunes moving forward. Nelson’s BB rate is slightly elevated, but home runs have been his problem. He has a 4.34/4.33/4.03 pitcher slash. The most stunning element of Nelson’s season is that he has a 3.97 ERA at home, with 10 of his 11 home runs allowed. But, hitters have a .215/.280/.429 slash, compared to a .277/.369/.355 slash on the road and a 4.74 ERA. That’s hard to explain and I can’t find an explanation.
Sean O’Sullivan is, well, a guy. He’s an innings eater for a bad team that is just waiting for Aaron Nola to show up. In 11 bad starts, O’Sullivan has a 5.34/6.28/5.09 pitcher slash and has allowed 14 home runs in just 60.2 innings. Speaking of home/road splits, O’Sullivan has a 3.48 with a .263/.329/.415 slash at home. He has a 7.67 with a .333/.394/.675 slash on the road. He allowed four home runs in starts at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.
Despite O’Sullivan’s terrible numbers, the Brewers as a -150 favorite on the road against anybody is a hard sell. O’Sullivan has been okay against RHB with a .262/.323/.404 slash. Lefties are hitting .343/.409/.718 (!!) this season. The Phillies may (gasp) have value on Monday.
The “Fade Texas” movement continues in the betting world, though it’s easier to get behind when Wandy Rodriguez is pitching. The Orioles swept the Indians over the weekend and seem to be hitting their stride as the Rangers come to town. Bettors seem uncertain what to make of Wandy’s last start, in which he gave up eight runs on 11 hits in four innings to the Rangers. It was his first loss since May 15 against the Indians. Up until that point, Wandy had pitched pretty well. What you see in his overall numbers now is about the best you can expect, a 4.06 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 4.21 xFIP. He’s always a guy on borrowed time with poor health, declining skills, and high CB usage.
Bud Norris hasn’t been very good this season either. Some injury problems have affected both his control and command, as 2014’s 3.65 ERA and 3.98 xFIP have not been replicated. Norris has always been a high BABIP guy because of spotty command and decent velocity. There’s not a whole lot to like about Norris. He predominantly throws 2.5 pitches with a couple of fastballs and a slider that has regressed this season.
Neither of these guys are worthy of your money. Perhaps the first 5 over is the way to go with this game.
Clay Buchholz has gotten a lot of respect in the betting market lately and he is for this start as well. The Red Sox have all sorts of offensive problems, so Buchholz has not gotten much support this season. The peripherals are impressive. Buchholz has a 3.68 ERA with a 2.71 FIP and a 3.15 xFIP. His .339 BABIP against is a byproduct of a high ground ball rate and a below average Red Sox defense. The K/BB numbers are there. The health seems to be there. He’s gone back to the changeup, which has been his best pitch.
This should be an interesting start for Buchholz. His four-seam/two-seam combo rates below average per Baseball Info Solutions, so it could be a steady diet of CT/CB/CH for the Blue Jays, who are the best fastball hitting team in baseball.
Blue Jays fans should be excited with RA Dickey’s last several stats. The margin for error is rather high with an offense like this. Dickey has allowed three runs of less in four of his last five starts, even though some of the peripherals aren’t exciting. The Blue Jays have a solid defensive team, which helps since Dickey’s declining velocity has hurt his strikeout ability.
To me, this game looks like a rare under in a Blue Jays game. Dickey can give them innings to hide their middle relief shortcomings and Buchholz should have enough in his arsenal to keep the Blue Jays off the fastball. Both bullpens are shaky, so a first 5 under could be a worthwhile bet.
This is a really bad spot for Cody Anderson. The rookie will make his second Major League start on additional rest after Saturday’s rainout and has to try and right the ship for a team that appears to be freefalling. Oh, and he’s facing the same team for the second straight time. That’s not a good thing for a rookie still trying to establish Major League caliber pitches. Anderson went almost exclusively with fastballs in the first inning of that start and then started to mix after that. He’ll need to adjust in this one against a patient, cerebral Rays lineup.
Nate Karns baffled the Indians two starts ago and followed it up with six strong innings against the Blue Jays. Even though his velocity is down a bit, his fastball/curve combo with a show pitch changeup has been really effective. With the way that the Indians lineup is struggling, this looks like a gift price on Tampa Bay. Generally we know what that means, but I can’t, in good conscience, suggest a play on this Indians team right now.