Five day games and 10 night games are on the interleague slate for Thursday. Thursday does mean a new edition of The Bettor’s Box, so you can hear a lot of great baseball betting analysis on that show today. It also means that this breakdown of games will be a little be shorter, especially with the day games. After some good calls throughout the week, we’ll look to keep the momentum going into Thursday and then start to look ahead to new series beginning on Friday.
The Diamondbacks have been rolling right along, but they could run into a wall on Thursday with Allen Webster on the mound. The offseason strategy for the Diamondbacks was to acquire as many starting pitchers as possible and see which ones could stick. It seems to have worked with Rubby de la Rosa, but Webster hasn’t had the same fate. He made his Diamondbacks debut last start and all the same problems that have plagued him in the past. He has no control and iffy command. The raw stuff is good, but Major League hitters don’t chase the way minor leaguers do.
With Webster, you get some good raw stuff and a good swing-and-miss rate. You also get a lot of pitches and not much length. As it is, no bullpen has thrown more innings than the Diamondbacks this year. Webster only gave up two runs in his first start, but his velocity was down and the stuff wasn’t sharp.
On the other hand, CJ Wilson has benefited from a .260 BABIP against en route to a 3.60 ERA with a 3.76 FIP and a 3.92 xFIP. There are some things to like about Wilson’s season, though. He has lowered his walk rate substantially and some arsenal changes are the reason why. Wilson has gone from curveballs to changeups, which are certainly easier to spot.
To me, this line seems high because of Anaheim’s season-long offensive problems and the recent play of the Diamondbacks. Which is exactly the reason why it’s Anaheim or bust on a side. Oddsmakers are giving you some pretty big context clues in this one.
The overnight money on CC Sabathia to drive this line into the -145 range is a little bit surprising. The Marlins are comfortably in the top-five in wOBA against left-handed pitching and will have an extra hitter in the lineup. Even if that hitter is bad, the Marlins are still top-five against southpaws with a pitcher in the lineup more often than not. Sabathia has had command issues in each of the last two seasons with a high home run rate and an ugly BABIP against. The Yankees are bad defensively, but Sabathia is hitting a lot of barrels.
Mat Latos and Yankee Stadium don’t appear to be a great match. With a 5.44 ERA, but a 3.08 FIP and a 3.65 xFIP, Latos does show signs of positive regression. But, he has very pedestrian plate discipline stats and a fly ball rate that doesn’t scream optimism about his chances in the Bronx. Regardless, at this price, Latos and the Marlins offense are worth taking a look at. The Marlins have a shaky bullpen, which is a detriment to them in a game like this, so I don’t recommend this as a play, but the Fish are the value side.
This is certainly an interesting game to handicap. Chris Archer, who has been phenomenal this season, opposes Doug Fister, who is returning from a disabled list stint. Frankly, it’s a little bit surprising that the line is this low, but perception of the Nationals is still high and oddsmakers don’t appear ready to buy into the Rays just yet. There are no smoke and mirrors about Archer’s performance this season. The raw stuff is there, the slider is one of the most polished in the big leagues, and the swinging strike rate is elite. Against a Nationals lineup that really hasn’t done much since Bryce Harper returned to planet Earth, he looks to be in line for another gem.
On the flip side, Doug Fister is an unknown in this start. Fister is a reliable ground ball guy that usually manages to work deep into games because he doesn’t walk people. Prior to the DL stint for the forearm issue, Fister had struggled a little bit with his command. He has been limited to seven starts and 39.2 innings this season with a major decline in velocity. I wouldn’t buy-in right now. He has also thrown a lot of fastballs to reduce strain on the elbow by throwing sliders. I feel like he’s just trying to cobble something together this season and I’m skeptical about it working out.
The Rays are certainly worth a look on Thursday, even as this road favorite price.
Boston (-115) at Atlanta; Total: 7.5
This is an example of oddsmakers knowing where money will come in. Clay Buchholz has a 4.22 ERA, 2.79 FIP, and 3.15 xFIP. Shelby Miller has a 2.02 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 4.01 xFIP. As I’ve said, money comes in without hesitation on pitchers with big ERA/xFIP + SIERA discrepancies. Another element of this line is that Freddie Freeman is out and that the Braves lineup is horrible without him.
Buchholz seems healthy now, as the sharpness of his secondaries is back and his fastball velocity has ticked back up a tad. The rises in chase rate and swinging strike rate are great developments for a guy that has good raw stuff, but has lacked the necessary health to throw all of his pitches. There’s a lot to believe in here with Buchholz, especially against a subpar lineup.
On the other side, Shelby Miller has some regression in his profile, but who’s to say that it will be the Red Sox that delivers it? Miller’s newfound cutter has been his top weapon and it has led to an increase in ground balls and better control. One of the things that has always been intriguing about Miller is that he makes hitters use the big part of the park. His batted ball splits to center and the opposite field are among the best in the league.
I don’t see the Red Sox doing much in this game. I’d look to play the 1st 5 under and take the Braves bullpen out of the equation. With what projects to be a close game, I’m not sure either side has value.
Make sure to tune into today’s recording of The Bettor’s Box for more MLB analysis.