A full slate of Major League Baseball matchups are on tap tonight. It was a mixed set of results from the first installment of our daily MLB picks and previews as the totals fared significantly better than the sides. As mentioned on Monday’s edition of The Bettor’s Box, there weren’t any sides that jumped out for Monday, but that isn’t the case for Tuesday. With all 30 teams in action there is sure to be some value somewhere.
In this new feature at BangTheBook, Adam Burke, host of The Bettor’s Box, our MLB betting podcast, will take a look at the MLB schedule and give some extended thoughts and insights on some of the games on the schedule. Listeners of the show have asked for more analysis on non-show days and this look around Major League Baseball will dig a little bit deeper for those days. On show days, please listen to The Bettor’s Box for additional thoughts, but use this look at the games as you see fit.
Lines will be listed as a general price taking into account most of the sportsbooks. Shop around for the best prices.
What a juicy pitching matchup this one is. The overnight line moved in favor of Tanaka, up as high as 10 cents at some books. In a game like this, you have to focus more on handicapping the offenses because these two studs are likely to get locked into a pitcher’s duel. It’s fair to point out that there are some minor signs of regression present with Scherzer, due to a .273 BABIP, 31 points lower than his career average, and an 81.8 percent strand rate. But, high strikeout pitchers can strand a higher-than-average number of runners. The high career BABIP is from having the Detroit Tigers and their awful defense behind him most of his career.
Tanaka was great in his return and takes on a Nationals offense that doesn’t impress me much. With Harper hitting at a more reasonable pace, the Nationals have scored 18 runs in seven games this month. For that reason, the Yankees look like the right side, even though some of the line value is gone. Adding an extra bat with the game at Yankee Stadium won’t have much of an impact for the Nationals given some of their injuries, specifically the one to Jayson Werth.
This is certainly an interesting line. Eduardo Rodriguez has been dynamite in his first two starts, posting a 0.61 ERA. He has only allowed nine baserunners in 14.2 innings of work and has a 3.5 K/BB ratio. He sits mid-90s with a three-pitch mix and hitters have helped him out by chasing nearly 41 percent of pitches outside of the zone. The free-swinging Orioles rank fourth in chasing pitches outside the zone. Not only that, but the Orioles rank 27th in making contact with said pitches.
Miguel Gonzalez has an interesting stat line this season. He’s induced more ground balls, but his home run rate has increased, leading to a 4.65 FIP. His ERA is 3.54, with a 3.95 xFIP and a 3.95 SIERA. The SIERA would be a career-best for the righty. Increased slider usage has led to an increase in swings and misses, specifically on pitches outside of the zone. Unlike the Orioles, the Red Sox are 27th in chasing and fourth in making contact on pitches outside the zone. That may be a factor in this one.
This game is truly a toss-up and I have no concrete opinion on a side or the total.
A lot of experience is on the mound on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre with Dan Haren against Mark Buehrle. Haren threw his 2,300th inning in his last start and Buehrle has 3,157 career MLB innings. Buehrle is coming off of a Maddux, which is a complete game shutout with less than 100 pitches. Haren has actually pitched pretty well when he has kept the ball in the ballpark.
This is not a good matchup for either starter. Haren doesn’t issue walks, but his cutter and splitter keep flattening out and get hit a long way. He has also dropped in velocity for the third straight season. Buehrle has not been able to replicate last season’s success with a 4.35 ERA and a 4.52 FIP. His 4.48 xFIP and 4.77 SIERA are not pretty. The Marlins aren’t a very good offensive team, but it should come as no surprise that they are 7-4 against left-handed starters this season. They have a predominantly right-handed lineup with some guys that have good platoon splits.
The play on this game would be the over, with a very, very slight lean to Buehrle. The thing about both of these pitchers is that batted ball luck is a big deal and that’s impossible to predict. If balls find holes, Buehrle could get shelled. If Haren works up at Rogers Centre, he won’t last long. There are better games to put your money on from a side perspective, but a high-scoring shootout shouldn’t surprise anybody.
The Jon Lester fade is on again as the overnight money came in on Anibal Sanchez, who has really struggled. These two have had very interesting seasons to date. We’ll start with Sanchez because his tale of 2015 is more interesting. The strikeouts are still there. After 304 strikeouts over 308 innings in 2013 and 2014, Sanchez has 69 in 74.1 innings in 2015. The big difference is that Sanchez allowed 13 home runs over those 308 innings in ’13-’14. This season? Sanchez has given up 13 home runs already, leading to a 5.69 ERA.
Sequencing and batted ball luck has hurt Lester all season. His K/BB rates are good and his advanced metrics suggest that he has pitched well with a 3.26 xFIP and a 3.42 SIERA. He has traded pop ups for home runs, which is not good. After a 13.6 percent infield fly ball rate (IFFB%) in 2014 and a 7.2 percent HR/FB%, those two numbers have more than flipped to a 5.1 percent IFFB% and a 15.3 percent HR/FB%.
Home run regression should be coming for both of these guys in the near future. Another odd thing is that both guys have been hurt by arm-side hitters more than usual. Sanchez has allowed a .282/.317/.540 slash to righties and Lester, in a much smaller sample, has allowed a .339/.371/.525 to lefties. Seventy-nine percent of Lester’s plate appearances have come against righties, so there’s some sample size bias in there.
The market may be right on this one. I don’t have a strong play either way. The Tigers offense has been bad of late, but the Cubs have a tough matchup against a guy that is normally tough on righties. The Cubs are certainly playing better than the Tigers lately, but consistency has been an issue for both of these pitchers.
No play or thoughts on this game except to point out that this opening line was essentially a -105 money line pick ‘em when these two faced off in Philadelphia last week. Now, DeSclafani is a -140 favorite. The market steamed DeSclafani into the -125 range where the number closed. Did oddsmakers overadjust the line? Tough to say, but I don’t think Harang money throughout the day should come as a surprise, even though I wouldn’t advocate that play.
Three of Chris Heston’s last four starts have not been good. He has allowed five or more runs in three of them and has not made it into the sixth in those three starts. Noah Syndergaard has been dealing over his first five Major League starts with a 3.77 ERA, but a 2.42 FIP and a 2.93 xFIP. He was tagged by the Padres in his last start, a very strange one. He went just four innings, but struck out 10 and gave up seven runs on 10 hits.
I actually love the Mets in this one. Syndergaard had some of his numbers thrown out of whack due to that start, which inflated his ERA and BABIP. It was just one of those nights when balls found holes. I don’t buy into small sample sizes, but Heston’s 5.79 ERA away from home has a lot to do with the four additional home runs he has allowed. At home, Heston has a 3.16 and has allowed one home run. Citi Field plays a little below average offensively, but Heston has some sharp splits, both home/road and also L/R. He has also had mechanical problems from the stretch. With the bases empty, hitters are batting .233/.273/.393. With men on, the slash improves to .330/.402/.438.
The Giants have also cooled off after a hot May, which is still influencing their lines. Take the Mets here and expect this line to climb.
After correctly pointing out on Monday’s edition of The Bettor’s Box that this line was too high, the Padres were winners as an underdog in a line that trickled down throughout the day. This line seems to be pretty accurate. Shields has seen a major bump in strikeouts since moving to the National league and his changeup is the necessary weapon to keep the Atlanta lefties at bay.
Mike Foltynewicz still has iffy command and is basically out there as a one-pitch pitcher on a regular basis. The Braves are in a position where they can let guys like him learn on the job. He has been good against righties with a 26/6 K/BB and a .222/.292/.354 slash against. The Padres are very right-handed in the lineup and Folty was good against the Brewers three starts ago, a similarly-constructed lineup. There’s no value on this line, however the Padres should win the game.
No thoughts on this game as I can’t advocate either side, but can we appreciate the fact that the bias against the Indians vs. left-handed pitchers is over? The Indians opened in the -175 range and have shot up. Kluber is part of the reason, but it’s also because they have been above average offensively against southpaws.
This line is hovering around the money line pick ‘em, as I like to call it. That’s reasonable, even though the Angels can’t hit and the Rays are coming off of a west coast road trip. This is the best pitching matchup of the day in terms of breaking it down. Shoemaker has an extraordinarily high HR/FB, which is going to regress. Karns has been pretty good after some rocky starts early on. A low BABIP of .227 has helped him, but it’s because he has had better command of knuckle-curve, which is far and away his best pitch.
Shoemaker’s velo drop and command shortcomings are a concern, but they could be mitigated in a place where the ball doesn’t carry particularly well. Both guys appear due for good starts. I like the under here, despite some of the bullpen issues of both sides in middle relief.
Houston at Chicago (AL)