Twenty teams will be between the lines in Major League Baseball tonight on this Monday evening. We’re coming out of a very interesting weekend of games and heading right into what looks like a bit of a tough slate tonight. There are a lot of back-end of the rotation types on the mound and some guys that have really struggled to be consistent. Regardless, it’s important to look at all of the angles to try and gain an edge and produce winners here tonight.

Taking a quick look back at yesterday’s results, it was a mixed bag, as most Sundays are with the lineup uncertainty and some of the effort levels. The Tigers were an early winner for us and the Rangers and Diamondbacks also came in later in the day. Julio Urias was better for the Dodgers, but they failed to score against Jake Peavy and the Giants.

Our focus, as it always is, will be on the games that provide a lot of line value and those that give us the opportunity to dig deep and find the wagering angles and betting tips that will produce winners.

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Per usual, the games with big lines will be overlooked, unless there is something particularly noteworthy about them or a play on the underdog is a possibility. Also, day games are usually skipped due to the lead time of the article. That will not be the case on Thursdays or Sundays when there are a lot of day games.

 

Chicago (NL) at Washington (-125); Total: 7

This should be a good one in D.C to kick things off tonight. Kyle Hendricks is a really underrated arm. As an owner of Hendricks in my salary cap fantasy league, Joe Maddon’s distrust of him the third time through the lineup is “Maddoning”, but it is what it is. That could be the reason why Hendricks is sporting a 2.90/3.04/3.38 pitcher slash with strong K/BB peripherals. He’s being protected from that third, and especially fourth, time through the lineup.

Hendricks hasn’t given up more than four runs in any of his 11 starts this season. It’ll be interesting to see how much margin for error he has against Max Scherzer. Scherzer’s season has been really strange. He has a 3.57 ERA with a 3.96 FIP and a 3.40 xFIP in his 88.1 innings. He’s given up 16 home runs. He gave up 18 home runs in 220.1 innings in 2014. He’s become even more of a fly ball pitcher, but strikeouts and weak aerial contact have led to a .259 BABIP against and an 82.6 percent strand rate.

Scherzer gave up four of those 16 home runs the last time he faced the Cubs, but it was a day with the wind blowing out at Wrigley. That was, by far, his worst start of the season. The potential is always there for Scherzer to shut down an elite lineup. That’s what makes it so hard with guys like him, Chris Archer, and Corey Kluber this season.

After the initial move on the Cubs to bump this number down, I think the Nationals are the value side here, especially because Scherzer will probably outlast Hendricks and that means more bullpen innings for the Cubs.

 

Cincinnati at Atlanta (-110); Total: 9

The line move on this game tonight makes a lot of sense. The Braves opened a -125 favorite with Aaron Blair and the market has bet the number on the Reds. Daniel Wright is on the hill for the Reds. He’s a non-prospect 25-year-old out there to eat up innings. This was Alfredo Simon’s turn in the rotation, but he’s been horrible this season, so the nod goes to Wright. Wright hasn’t fared well in three appearances this season, with one start back on May 24 and then two relief appearances.

He’ll be on a pitch count here, in all likelihood, with no appearances since June 5, and he only faced nine batters. That means the Bullpen From Hell enters the game early for the Reds. Buyer beware in that regard.

Aaron Blair is 35.1 innings into his big league career and he’s walked more hitters than he has struck out. He’s allowed 68 baserunners in those 35.1 innings of work and owns a 7.13 ERA with a 5.49 FIP and a 5.91 xFIP. The Reds have a pretty decent offensive ballclub here or late, which explains the move on this game.

Most people will stay away. That’s probably the thing to do now that this line has moved 15 cents and could keep moving.

 

Detroit at Chicago (AL) (-110); Total: 9.5

Does this line stand out to you? It stands out to me. James Shields isn’t even favored over Matt Boyd at home. I realize that Shields isn’t facing Boyd, he’s facing the Tigers offense, but still. Context certainly helps here. The White Sox, since going 17-8 in April, are 14-24 since. Regression hit like a ton of bricks for them, as I told you it would, so hopefully you’ve been going against the White Sox. They are 6-0 against Minnesota and 4-14 against everybody else in the AL Central.

The Tigers are hoping for some good things from Matt Boyd. One of the pieces in the David Price deal, Boyd looks a lot more comfortable this time around in the big leagues. That’s not to say that his numbers will be eye-popping or overly impressive, but he has reliable innings eater upside. Like most fly ball pitchers, the advanced metrics don’t really like him, with a 3.38 ERA, a 4.61 FIP, and a 4.70 xFIP. The way to survive as a fly ball pitcher is to force hitters to use the area from the pull-side gap to the opposite field line. On the season, 64.5 percent of balls in play have been hit to the big part of the park or the opposite field. We’ll have to watch that trend going forward.

James Shields is allowing a lot more pull-side contact than Boyd and his numbers certainly reflect the damage done. Shields has a 5.06 ERA, a 4.96 FIP, and a 4.24 xFIP on the year. The idea behind acquiring him was to get Don Cooper working on that changeup, which has lost its luster. Shields gave up seven runs on eight hits in two innings in his White Sox debut. I have to think he’ll be better today, but how much better is anybody’s guess.

I’m staying away here.

 

Cleveland (-130) at Kansas City; Total: 8

People are buying stock in the Cleveland Indians. People are selling stock in the Kansas City Royals. The Indians just swept the Royals in four games at home about 10 days ago, so that’s probably fresh in everybody’s mind. I think that this is a tough spot for Cleveland, however. Carlos Carrasco is still working his way back from a strained hamstring and this is just his third start since his return from the disabled list. The Indians also made the trek from Anaheim to Kansas City after yesterday’s semi-getaway day game. The Indians lost two hours on the flight, so they probably got to Kansas City around midnight or so.

The Royals picked up a much-needed win to improve to 3-8 in June. They’ve only scored 26 runs in 11 games this month. They’ve scored 18 runs in seven games against the Indians. Edinson Volquez gets the ball today and he has regressed a little bit from last season because more balls are finding holes. He has a 4.25 ERA with a 3.95 FIP and a 4.17 xFIP. Volquez has increased his strikeout rate and last season’s velocity gains have stuck around.

I think the under is in play more than a side here. I’d expect some fatigued Indians for this one and the Royals haven’t been scoring against anybody. My one worry with the under is the spacious conditions at Kauffman Stadium and the Indians have some outfield defense issues, but Carrasco has induced 25 ground ball outs in his last two games, so he’s been working down in the zone with effectiveness.

 

Minnesota at Los Angeles (AL) (-125); Total: 9

This is your classic ‘play on the high ERA, low xFIP guy’ line move. The Angels opened about 20 cents higher with Jered Weaver on the mound against Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco has a 5.17 ERA, but a 3.57 FIP and a 3.95 xFIP. His 59 percent strand rate is the culprit here and that should probably regress soon. Nolasco has good K/BB peripherals on the season and with men on base. But, he has a .349/.383/.480 slash against with men on base. He’s up to a .424 BABIP now with men on. Now, it could simply be really terrible command. The K/BB ratio makes me believe that there’s an element of bad luck in there. He is giving up a 39.1 percent hard-contact rate in this split, so it’s a combination of both.

It will regress, but we have no idea how much. Angel Stadium is a pretty forgiving environment for pitchers, which is why Jered Weaver is still alive and kickin’. Weaver has a 5.56 ERA with a 5.80 FIP, a 5.44 xFIP, and an 83 mph fastball. He’s been roughed up a lot this season, even at home, which used to be his safe haven. He’s given up 16 home runs on the year. Lefties have a .585 SLG against him and it’s a .614 SLG at home. The problem for the Twins here is that they don’t get a lot of production from LHB.

I get the move on Nolasco. I understand the desire to fade Weaver. I’m not seeing as much value in this number as others have. I’m staying away. It’s not a good day for betting baseball, to be honest.

 

Miami (-120) at San Diego; Total: 7.5

Well, this is a move that caught my eye. Wei-Yin Chen and the Marlins are getting some love against the San Diego Padres on Monday night. I’ve been high on Chen, as you know, but he hasn’t been able to validate my excitement. Chen is now up to a 4.56 ERA with a 4.24 FIP and a 4.09 xFIP after he got battered by the Twins. I really don’t get this. The Marlins are an average defensive team. Chen pitches in a home park that should be great for him. He used pop ups as an extension of strikeouts. He was facing one less hitter per game with the pitcher batting. And, yet, he’s been terrible.

The odd thing about this move is that if the Padres are going to beat anybody, it’s going to be a lefty. They are 10th in wOBA against lefties and also have a 105 wRC+. Those numbers have been dropping a little bit and they did nothing against Tyler Anderson yesterday at a really good price. Chen’s giving up a ton of hard contact and hasn’t had that same gift for inducing pop ups this season. After four straight seasons above 10 percent, he’s at 3.7 percent this season. If you consider his pop ups as easy outs, his .290 BABIP from last season should have been a sign. Maybe I simply misread him.

Colin Rea is replacement-level on the year with a 4.74 ERA, 4.39 FIP, and a 4.71 xFIP. There’s nothing to get excited about in his profile with a below average K rate, a poor walk rate, and uninspiring peripherals across the board. That’s probably why the market has hit Chen.

Continuing with today’s theme, there’s no edge here in this game. It’s a bad card. Limit your plays or take today off altogether.