Yesterday was a nice day on the diamond with a winner on the podcast free pick with the Chicago Cubs and then a couple of solid picks from the article. Baseball is a grind and you have to stay consistent with your process, as long as it’s a process that produces results. Adapting is important, but so is not overreacting. One of the best ways to have success betting on sports is to properly respond to overreactions in the betting market and not fall into those traps. Hopefully we can stay on the right path into Tuesday, as all 30 teams are back in action.
The betting market came alive overnight to back the Cardinals on the road against the Marlins. The matchup in question features Carlos Martinez against Jose Urena. Martinez is developing into a very good starting pitcher for the Redbirds. That’s not a surprise, because he always had high upside. The only concern with Martinez is his durability with a relatively small frame for a hard-throwing right-hander.
This move should come as no surprise. Martinez has a 2.80 ERA with a 3.67 FIP and a 3.24 xFIP. His walk rate is a little bit high, but he’s missing bats and has a great defense behind him when he does allow runners. His HR/FB% is a little bit high, but that’s not a concern in Marlins Park. The Marlins have one of the league’s top offenses against lefties. They are 27th in wOBA against righties.
Urena rose quickly through the Marlins farm system as a guy that could keep the ball away from the barrel with a fastball in the mid-90s and adequate offspeed stuff. So far, he’s had a bit of a tough go in the bigs with a 4.18 ERA and 4.62 FIP in 32.1 innings. None of his stats are particularly out of whack. It’s just that he throws a variation of a fastball 66 percent of the time per PITCHf/x. He doesn’t have a whole lot to keep hitters off-balance. A .381 BABIP with RISP has really hurt his run prevention statistics. That has a lot to do with a lack of depth in his arsenal. That won’t magically go away in this start.
The Cardinals are the right side to take here, but I’m always hesitant to go over -140, especially with a road team. That’s just a personal preference, so it’s up to you how you want to play it.
This is a line that I simply don’t understand. The Indians are now 14-34 against the Tigers over the last three seasons and David Price threw a Maddux, a complete game shutout with less than 100 pitches, against them in his last start. The Indians are averaging 2.73 runs per game in June. The Tigers own them, even though the Tigers are below .500 against the rest of the league. The Tigers have scored 6.2 runs per game in the season series.
The narrative about the Indians being unable to hit left-handed pitching has clearly died given this line. Oddsmakers continue to get burned on the Indians with the expectation that they will turn their season around at any time. Price has seen a small drop-off in strikeouts and a slight increase in walks, but he’s still one of the game’s elites with a 2.50 ERA, 2.94 FIP, and 3.55 xFIP. He’s backed off on his cutter and curveball usage, perhaps to make sure that he cashes in with a lucrative free agent deal after the season. His fastball command is among the game’s best and the Indians offense is really struggling right now.
Danny Salazar is another power arm in the Indians rotation with great stuff. This year, he’s showcased a curveball that flashes a tad above average, but is mainly a show pitch. It’s just something to keep hitters off-stride, with one of the games top split-changeups. Fastball command can be an issue, hence the home run rate, but Salazar actively works up in the zone with mid-90s gas.
Both teams used their bullpens extensively on Monday night. Trevor Bauer couldn’t make it out of the third inning and Kyle Ryan exited in the fourth. That would seem to favor Detroit, since Price is known as more of a workhorse. I don’t get this line and that scares me. Oddsmakers have been too high on the Indians on a nightly basis most of the season, which means that Detroit is probably the value side.
Hello, Chris Archer recency bias. Archer has been dynamite this season and deserves all the respect in the world…when he’s not facing Toronto. You can make a case that Chris Archer is the best pitcher in all of baseball right now, with a K/BB ratio of better than 5/1, and a 2.18/2.14/2.35 pitcher slash. The signs were there last season and the 26-year-old has put it all together this season. His splits are nearly identical, as lefties hit .208/.250/.269 and righties bat .206/.272/.285.
The fact that he has dominated Toronto twice this season – 14 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 18 K – is impacting this line. Also impacting this line is the presence of RA Dickey, who has a 4.96 ERA with a 5.27 FIP and a 4.67 xFIP. He is coming off of the bereavement list following the death of his father, so there’s an emotional angle to this game as well. Dickey has lost some velocity this season in his age-40 campaign and that has really affected his ability to get swings and misses. Since moving to the AL, his knuckleball and fastball have rated below average every season.
This line looks too high given Toronto’s offensive prowess, but it’s designed to be that way. Stay away.
Ubaldo Jimenez and Joe Kelly is the pitching matchup at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. When Jimenez left for the Orioles after Mickey Callaway resurrected his career in Cleveland, early impressions were not good. Jimenez has returned to being a very effective starter in Year Two, with a good K/BB ratio and a 3.27/3.43/3.32 pitcher slash. He’s gotten back to inducing ground balls and his two-seamer has gone back to being effective. In fact, per pitch type linear weights via PITCHf/x, all of his pitches rate average or slightly better. He’s throwing strike one at the best rate of his career and that makes a big difference.
Joe Kelly is due for some positive regression with a 5.32 ERA but a 4.02 FIP and a 4.08 xFIP. His strikeout increase seems legit, but his sequencing luck hasn’t complied. He is only stranding 64.4 percent of baserunners. League average is around 72 percent. A lack of control from the stretch is a major contributing factor, as he has an eight percent BB rate with the bases empty and it climbs to 10.8 with men on base and 13.9 with RISP. Kelly is strange in that he’s a sinkerball guy with reverse splits this season. Out of 157 PA against lefties, the opposition is hitting .221/.280/.322. Righties, in 158 PA, are batting .293/.373/.464.
This is another line that raises eyebrows. It seems like Baltimore should be the right side given how Jimenez has pitched. Oddsmakers are always skeptical of somebody like Jimenez, so maybe they’re just being cautious. The Red Sox offense is bad, there’s dysfunction in the clubhouse, and the Orioles are slowly coming around. I’ll take Baltimore here and ignore the worries about Jimenez.
For the Chicago White Sox to be a road favorite without Chris Sale on the mound, it takes a lot. Mike Pelfrey is due for a lot of regression and oddsmakers are going to set lines with that in mind for the foreseeable future. The Twins right-hander has a 2.97 ERA with a 4.14 FIP and a 4.49 xFIP. His 79 percent strand rate is accompanied by an 11.4 percent K%. So unsustainable. And yet, Pelfrey has allowed one earned run or less in five of his last six starts. He allowed eight runs on 11 hits against Texas two starts ago, but bounced back against a good St. Louis team. The White Sox have a terrible offense.
Jeff Samardzija hasn’t enjoyed being back in the American League and will probably look to go back to the NL after the season. He could be an attractive pitcher on the trade market over the next few weeks. His strong K/BB hasn’t yielded results due to a .334 BABIP against that has created a 4.67 ERA. His 3.66 FIP and 3.76 xFIP suggest better things are coming, but it may take getting away from the White Sox for that to happen. The White Sox are terrible defensively and it shows in several starters’ statistics.
It’s very telling that the White Sox are road chalk here. It’s simply a play against Mike Pelfrey from the oddsmakers. All of the data is out there. You can decide if Pelfrey’s regression is coming because I have unsuccessfully expected it on several different occasions. I’m done trying to figure out when it will come because my head hurts from hitting it against the wall so many times.
Will this be Jon Niese’s last start for the Mets? Steven Matz is expected to join the ballclub soon and Niese would appear to be the odd man out. Niese was really fortunate against the Blue Jays last week, as he allowed 11 baserunners over seven innings, but only gave up three runs. His 4.21 ERA and 4.42 FIP certainly don’t fit in the Mets rotation. Niese has gotten back on track some after a four-start stint in mid-May in which he allowed 23 runs, but he has not held the opposition to less than three runs since he faced Philadelphia on May 9. Making his second straight start against a right-handed heavy lineup, Niese’s .287/.350/.477 slash against RHB will be put to the test yet again.
Mike Fiers has been a favorite of sharp bettors for a while now. His unassuming arsenal with a fastball that tops out at 90-91 manages to produce a lot of swings and misses. Fiers’s season has gone a lot like Anibal Sanchez’s, in that his command is all-or-nothing. He’s struck out 24.6 percent of batters, but has a .368 BABIP against and has allowed nine home runs in 74 innings. Home runs don’t count towards BABIP. The Mets offense hasn’t been very good this season, so Fiers has a good matchup.
Despite all the concerns about the Mets and Niese, I think this line is a few cents too high. It’s not off enough to take the Mets, however.
My boy Chase Anderson takes the hill in Colorado against Kyle Kendrick. Anderson has a 2.84 ERA with a 3.18 FIP and a 4.03 xFIP. While I think Anderson has been undervalued often this season, this looks like a spot where he may struggle. A big increase in contact across the board has made him BABIP-dependent. He’s very fortunate to have a .248 BA against and a .291 BABIP. He’s also fortunate to be stranding nearly 78 percent of opposing baserunners. Anderson makes some sequencing changes from the stretch that have led to low BABIPs against, but I’m not sure how sustainable that is. His 44 percent LOB% ranks 18th out of 106 qualified pitchers and his K% is the 13th-lowest of that group.
Kyle Kendrick has been awful this season. He has a 5.95 ERA with a 6.11 FIP and a 5.18 xFIP. At Coors Field this season, Kendrick has allowed a .292/.367/.596 slash, which all adds up to a 6.81 ERA. For some reason, however, there’s something sneaky about this line. The Rockies have been a poor offensive team when adjusted for park factor and Anderson has been pretty good this season, despite the strikeout drop. Even though Anderson looks like an obvious play, I don’t think that’s the case. I would actually lean over 11 on this huge number. Anderson allows a lot of contact and that’s dangerous at Coors. Kendrick is bad no matter where he pitches.
I’m still a believer in Collin McHugh. The problem for McHugh is that his 2014 set ridiculously high expectations. A .259 BABIP and 2.73 ERA were not sustainable. Similarly, a 5.04 ERA this season is not sustainable either. The Astros aren’t a great defensive team, as McHugh has found out, but it’s the high home run rate that is causing the most damage. McHugh has allowed 13 home runs in 85.2 innings. He allowed 13 home runs in 154.2 innings last season.
The pitches that got popped up last season are leaving the yard this season. A slight velo drop and a major drop in slider command have been a problem for him. The more I dig into his stat profile, the more there could be an underlying injury there, even though he is throwing his slider at a higher frequency. I don’t normally want you to click away from something at BangTheBook, but this write-up on McHugh from Eno Sarris at Fangraphs is outstanding.
On the other side, CJ Wilson has bounced back nicely from last season’s debacle. Wilson saw a major drop in control and command and posted a 5.451 ERA, the worst of his career as a starter. He’s back to being effective with a 3.39/3.51/3.78 pitcher slash this season. He’s mixing his pitches well this season and inducing more swings and bad contact. The 34-year-old’s velocity is down a tick, but if that means better control, then it’s a worthwhile trade-off for a lefty with a bit of deception in his delivery.
I expect this one to be a low-scoring game. McHugh’s home run problem isn’t as big of an issue at night at Angel Stadium. The perception of the Astros offense has this total lined about a half-run too high.