A lot of day games are on tap for Saturday, as Major League Baseball continues to play a lot of 4 p.m. ET first pitches this season. Only four night games will be played, so bettors will have to make their decisions early in the day. This will be a slightly shorter look around the league with a lot of day games. There are also a lot of big numbers and those are not worth a whole lot of attention. Let’s see what kind of value we can find for Saturday.
Masahiro Tanaka is a very small favorite at Houston, which is one of the more surprising lines of the day. With his elite swing-and-miss stuff, it seems like this line should be significantly higher. Tanaka had one of his worst starts as a professional his last time out against the Tigers, but one bad start should not have this kind of impact on the line. Tanaka has had a bit of a home run problem this season, though a lot of that comes from his most recent start. Injury concerns are always there with Tanaka, but he has averaged more than a strikeout per inning.
As for the Astros, they send Brett Oberholtzer to the mound. The Yankees are in the top 10 in wOBA against southpaws, due in large part to their .330 OBP. Oberholtzer is a pitch-to-contact guy with an elevated walk rate this season. He’s made some arsenal changes that have led to more ground balls, but he has also has problems controlling his fastball.
This line makes no sense to me. Tanaka is an elite pitcher, even with questionable health, as he has proven on numerous occasions since he made the jump to MLB. The Yankees should be able to snag this game.
Wade Miley, who had been getting lots of love from the betting market and the oddsmakers, has been bet against in this start against Matt Andriese. The switch to the American League hasn’t changed Miley’s numbers from his 2014 season, even though he has allowed more contact. For now, Miley’s low HR/FB percentage, which is three percent below his career rate, is the standout statistic. Miley has a 4.50 ERA with a 3.98 FIP and a 4.46 xFIP. The Rays don’t hit for a lot of power, so maybe that number won’t play a role on Saturday.
There’s not a whole lot of excitement in Andriese as a starter. The arsenal lacks depth, as hitters have posted a .319/.365/.529 slash with a .380 wOBA over 21.2 innings of work. Kevin Cash has been meticulous about the management of his starting rotation, as they rarely go through the middle of a batting order more than twice. In Andriese’s case, that’s a good way to handle him, but he has struggled anyway.
Some runs could be scored in this game. The Red Sox offense has been very disappointing, but the Rays are ninth in wOBA with a .316 mark and tied for fourth in wRC+ at 107. Because of the lack of depth in Andriese’s stuff, both of these teams have some offensive upside on Saturday.
Cody Anderson will make his second Major League start against a tricky lineup as the Indians face Chris Tillman. Anderson was excellent against Tampa Bay last Sunday, but the Orioles are a different sort of lineup. They are a much more aggressive group, which could hurt Anderson, because he didn’t mix his pitches much in the early going. He was amped up for his last start, sitting 95-96 in the first inning, when he usually sits 92-93 with his sinker. His changeup is the go-to offspeed offering, which he may heavily rely on against the Orioles. The Indians defense has improved around the infield, so they should be a better fit for Anderson.
Chris Tillman has been awful this season. Nothing has worked for him. He has a 6.22 ERA with a 5.10 FIP and a 5.08 xFIP. His home run rate jumped up once again, along with a huge spike in walks. Over the last two seasons, hitters have basically stopped chasing Tillman’s stuff outside of the zone. The Indians, for all of their offensive warts, are a patient team. They will make Tillman work.
This number is too high. The unknown about Anderson is in play, as well as Cleveland’s offensive struggles. They only scored on three solo home runs on Friday night. The Indians are definitely worth a look at this price, because there’s nothing that suggests positive regression for Tillman in this one.
The Diamondbacks and Padres are expected to struggle offensively in this battle between Jeremy Hellickson and Andrew Cashner. Jeremy Hellickson is, at best, a league average pitcher. He has average K/BB stats and lacks command. This season, Hellickson has allowed 12 home runs in 78.1 innings of work. Chase Field has not been a good park to Hellickson, as his road splits are definitely better. Also, lefties have crushed him with a .318/.400/.532 slash. He has a 21/17 K/BB ratio against lefties, but a 41/7 K/BB ratio against righties. The Padres, as you already know, are very right-handed heavy.
On the other side, Andrew Cashner has been a victim of San Diego’s terrible defense. Cashner has a 4.35 ERA with a 3.72 xFIP. Like rotation mate James Shields, Cashner has seen a big spike in his home run rate because he’s trying to do what he can to eliminate the defense from the equation. Cashner has already allowed 19 unearned runs this season and 13 home runs over 89 innings of work. The Diamondbacks certainly have some power, so this could be a bit of a tough spot for Cashner.
As much as I don’t like Hellickson, the Diamondbacks appear to be the value side in this start. The Padres are hard to trust right now, especially behind Cashner, and the low total suggests that Hellickson might actually pitch pretty well.