Just seven games are on the docket in Major League Baseball on Monday as 16 teams enjoy a day off. It’s been a grind this month for both teams and handicappers as oddsmakers pay closer attention to MLB lines with the other pro sports in the offseason. Also, teams have given some half-hearted efforts as the dog days of summer approach and teams play long stretches without days off. Monday’s card presents some interesting lines and some tricky pitching matchups.
The discussion of this game can be heard on Monday’s edition of The Bettor’s Box, along with plenty of other MLB betting insights from host Adam Burke.
The Indians have been rather hapless offensively over the last week, but they are still a heavy favorite as the Detroit Tigers come to town on Monday night. The Tigers have owned the Indians over the last three seasons with a 33-14 record when these two teams meet. Kyle Ryan is on the hill for the Tigers against Trevor Bauer for the Indians.
The narrative about the Indians not hitting left-handed pitching is clearly gone. The Indians are 10th in wOBA at .316 against lefties and have the league’s second-best walk rate. Their 104 wRC+ is tied with the Reds and Yankees for sixth. The Tigers have the third-best wRC+ against lefties, but they have the eighth-ranked wOBA and ninth-ranked wRC+ against righties.
Ryan is a guy that shows major regression potential in the near future. As a starter, Ryan has allowed a .170/.208/.457 slash, with a double and four home runs out of his eight hits. In a very small sample size, he has reverse platoon splits with lefties hitting .304/.360/.522 and righties hitting .188/.255/.404. There’s not much to take from these because they are so small, but he lacks breaking balls in his arsenal, so that’s why hitting are hitting for such good power.
As for Bauer, this is a huge start for him. There’s some regression in his profile with a 3.22 ERA, 3.61 FIP, and 4.16 xFIP, but hitters are batting for a low average against him because of his sequencing and weak fly ball contact. The FIP metric hates his 11 percent walk rate, but the fact that nearly 37 percent of plate appearances are ending in a strikeout or walk has helped him out. He’s also making hitters use the big part of the park, which has helped tremendously.
This line is too high to take Bauer, but runs could be scored in this game, even though the Indians offense has really scuffled.
We’ve seen a big move on the Blue Jays this morning with Drew Hutchison against Matt Andriese. The Jays offense is going to get a boost against just about every marginal pitcher that they face. Andriese has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen and doesn’t miss a whole lot of bats. He’s a ground ball guy, with decent control, but he doesn’t throw his secondaries much. Nobody punishes fastballs better than the Blue Jays.
Hutchison has been impossible to nail down this season. He’s 6-1 this season with a 5.33 ERA, 4.02 FIP, and a 3.84 xFIP. Over his last six starts, he has allowed 4, 0, 4, 1, 8, and 0 runs. You never know what you’re going to get. Surprisingly, this is his first start of the season against Tampa Bay. He has good K/BB rates and some signs of positive regression.
At this price, the value is basically gone from Toronto, but the idea of Andriese and a bunch of relievers against the Blue Jays offense still makes them an attractive play.
It’s a day ending in –y, so John Danks is getting faded. The market bets against John Danks even when he isn’t pitching. Normally I’m fully on board, but this line may be getting too high. Everybody wants to point to Minnesota’s record against southpaws, but they are just 17th in wOBA against lefties and 18th in wRC+. Just because a team has a good record in a certain split doesn’t mean that they have played well. It may just be a sequencing thing.
There are reasons to believe and reasons not to believe with Danks. You can believe because his sequencing luck has been poor and his K/BB ratio has improved from last season, when he had a 4.74 ERA, compared to this season’s 5.04. You can choose not to believe because those numbers are bad no matter what his best pitch, the changeup, has been the worst of his career. He throws it over 30 percent of the time and it has been worth 7.8 runs below average.
As for Tommy Milone, he’s a lot like John Danks but younger. Milone shows regression with a 3.67 ERA, but a 5.29 FIP and 4.60 xFIP. He’s bounced around a bit because his fly ball tendencies only fit in certain parks and with certain teams. Of course, he draws a White Sox lineup here that is historically bad against lefties. The White Sox have a 45 wRC+, which means that they are 55 percent below league average against lefties. Their .240 wOBA is laughably bad and their .536 OPS is 83 points worse than any other team.
Regardless, Danks may have a little bit of value, but I wouldn’t race to play it.
Brett Oberholtzer takes on regression candidate Hector Santiago in this one. Angel Stadium should be a good park for Oberholtzer and the Angels haven’t done much of anything offensively for the bulk of the season. Oberholtzer has made a few interesting arsenal changes. He’s mixed a slider/cutter in this season and has thrown fewer curveballs. His increased two-seamer usage has led to a spike in ground balls. That’s a good thing at Minute Maid Park, though maybe not a good thing overall with Houston’s defense.
Santiago is even more of a fly ball pitcher now, but an increase in strikeouts has been beneficial. Santiago has a 2.77 ERA with a 4.40 FIP and a 4.52 xFIP. His 88 percent strand rate will come down, but this is a good park for him to pitch in with a fly ball split. He has mixed his pitches better and has pitched from ahead more, which are all important elements for a pitcher. Perhaps it’s sustainable. I’m not sure.