Another week of Major League Baseball begins on Monday and everybody is engaged in interleague play. A handful of these interleague series are two-game home-and-home sets, which is certainly an interesting way to do it so both teams are able to get the home-field advantage of the pitcher hitting and the designated hitter. We often see American League teams steamed in interleague play because it is viewed as the superior league, especially at home where AL teams have a designated DH and National League teams scramble to find somebody that can perform at a league-average level with the bat.
Because this is a Monday edition, the picks and analysis segment will be a little bit shorter. Why? Because you have a new episode of The Bettor’s Box to listen to! The latest installment was filled with the same great insight and information that you have come to expect from BangTheBook and from Adam Burke, our resident MLB expert.
With that, let’s get into Monday’s action.
The National League team has gotten steamed in two games based on Monday’s overnight lines. This is one of them. The White Sox were just swept in Tampa and the Pirates took care of business against the awful Phillies. I think this line is getting out of control. The Pirates scored six runs in three games against the awful Phillies starting rotation and won all three games by one run. That means that there has been some significant bullpen usage of late for the Pirates.
That doesn’t bode well for this start. The Pirates are 22nd in the league in BB% and that’s really the worst part of Carlos Rodon’s game. Rodon shows signs of regression with a 2.66 ERA, 3.30 FIP, and 4.22 xFIP, but Rodon has been a lot better as a starter. He has held opponents to a .233/.340/.307 slash. His FIP as a starter is 3.22 and his xFIP is 3.94. The Pirates have the ninth-highest swing-and-miss rate and Rodon has tremendous stuff.
Francisco Liriano has been good, but he’s also been a little lucky. He has a .242 BABIP against, 38 points below last season’s .280 mark. His strikeout rate is the highest it has been since 2006 and the White Sox are an undisciplined offensive team. But, in a battle that will eventually come down to the bullpens, the White Sox may actually have an advantage given the workload for the Pirates during their stretch of good play.
This line is too high and nobody should be surprised if the White Sox win a 2-1 or 3-2 game.
Will Noah Syndergaard be the latest victim of the offensive juggernaut of the Toronto Blue Jays? I’m not so sure. The Blue Jays are coming off of an emotional sweep of the Boston Red Sox and have rattled off 11 straight wins. The Mets took two of three from the Braves and are starting to emerge as the best team in the NL East given all of Washington’s issues.
Supposedly the Mets are considering stunting the development and presumably screwing up the arm of Noah Syndergaard by putting him in the bullpen and calling up Steven Matz. A better idea is to put Dillon Gee or Jon Niese on the trade market or in the bullpen and letting the youngsters pick. Syndergaard has been a victim of bad batted ball luck with a .358 BABIP against. His K/BB ratio is spectacular. This is an interesting start because Syndergaard faces the organization that drafted him – and could certainly use his services right about now.
Mark Buehrle is what he is and what he has always been - a starter with peripherals at or above 4.00 that can eat a lot of innings. Buehrle forces opponents to put the ball in play, which is really his best asset. A high home run rate can be somewhat mitigated at Citi Field. You probably don’t know this, but the Mets have the sixth-best wOBA against left-handed pitching and fourth-best wRC+. Nothing seems particularly out of the ordinary statistically, so this is apparently a good matchup for the Mets.
Wait out the Toronto steam from the public bettors and fire on Syndergaard and the Mets at a plus-money price later today. Against his former team and with his job seemingly on the line, expect a big start from Syndergaard, even against the top offensive team in baseball.
This line seems suspiciously low. The Dodgers have not been great with a 15-15 record over their last 30 games, but they are far more equipped to use a DH with the presence of Alex Guerrero that will allow Don Mattingly to move a lesser fielder into a batting-only role in Texas. One has to wonder about the viability of Carlos Frias in the premium hitting conditions in Arlington. He’s a pitch-to-contact guy as a starter with a huge ground ball split. The infield in Arlington is hard and fast by being baked in the sun all day long in the Texas heat. Will that hurt his 58.4 percent ground ball split?
For the answer to that question, I refer you to Yovani Gallardo, who has a 49.6 percent ground ball split at home with a 2.65 ERA. Gallardo’s higher pop up percentage at home suggests some usage changes with his pitch types at home compared to on the road. Is that an adjustment that Carlos Frias can make in his first start in Arlington?
I feel like this is a tough game to handicap. A lot of ground balls could lead to value on the under, but that’s a dangerous game to play because ground balls do find holes and that leads to big innings in Texas. The line seems small when oddsmakers have been banking on Texas regression for a couple weeks now. On stuff alone, Frias gets the nod, but I can’t fire on either side. This is just an interesting line to dissect.
These games are grouped together because both lines are too high, but who wants to go against the St. Louis Cardinals or Houston Astros with these two opponents? Chad Bettis and Trevor May are both guys whose statistical profiles and developing arsenals look legit. But, the Rockies are one of the worst offensive teams in baseball against lefties and oddsmakers have been waiting for regression from the Twins for a while now. Don’t be surprised if one of these two teams pulls a big upset, though I’m not sure I could bet on either one.
This is my favorite pitching matchup of the night. Jesse Hahn faces his former team in a pitcher’s park in which he has had a lot of success and Tyson Ross faces a lineup with good platoon splits that will make him find the strike zone. Hahn has fought with command at various points throughout the season, but he is holding right-handed batters to a .179/.236/.254 slash and a .223 wOBA. As we all know, the Padres have a lot of those.
On the other side, Tyson Ross is the much sexier pitcher of these two. He misses bats, throws his slider a ton, and has exciting advanced metrics. Like Hahn, he faces his former team in this start. Ross has a .367 BABIP against with a 62.3 percent ground ball split. Basically, he has been the biggest victim of the horrible Padres defense. As a result, he has tried to settle more plate appearances on his own, which is why 36 percent of his plate appearances end in a strikeout or a walk.
The right side in this one appears to be the Athletics. This line is rather low for Ross, a pitcher that sharp money has backed over the last two years. The A’s lose Billy Butler’s DH services, but Ross would be a tough matchup for him anyway. The Padres have the better bullpen and the better starter, yet the line is right here and the market is siding with Oakland? Context clues mean a lot.