There are nine games on 6/9, which makes for a nice day in Major League Baseball because we can narrow our focus and really isolate the games that have the most profit potential. We have one of our best situational spots of the year today, so that should be a game that readers can take advantage of on Thursday. All of the games have reasonable odds, so we’ll cover all of today’s games in some capacity in this picks and analysis piece.
Checking in on yesterday’s results, it wasn’t a strong day of opinions, which is good, because not many things went in our favor. The Jays/Tigers total pushed, while the Rays/Diamondbacks went over by half a run. Leans on Minnesota and Boston/San Francisco under came through. The closest thing to a concrete pick was the Indians, who couldn’t solve Taijuan Cy Young Walker. We’re hoping for better results and stronger opinions today.
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.
Houston (-120) at Texas; Total: 9.5
The Astros finally beat the Rangers last night in a game we touched on briefly on BangTheBook Radio yesterday. Now, Collin McHugh has been the recipient of some overnight money. McHugh is in line for some regression with a 4.97 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 4.04 xFIP, and 3.97 SIERA. He’s given up some hard contact and some homers, but the strikeout rate is coming back around. Command has been a problem.
Martin Perez has the opposite kind of regression coming with a 3.24 ERA, 4.47 FIP, 4.68 xFIP, and 5.01 SIERA. That’s why we have the line that we do in this game after the betting market pounced. Righties are batting .269/.350/.410 against Perez and the Astros have the ability to stack a lot of those. Perez has allowed a .269/.337/.404 slash with the bases empty and a .212/.328/.306 with men on base. He has a .245 BABIP against with men on, which is unsustainably low with his 60.4 percent ground ball split.
I like the move on Houston here. I’m not sure how long Perez can keep this up and the Astros still feel like a team on the verge of shooting up the standings to me.
Pittsburgh at Colorado (-110); Total: 11.5
This is one of the best situational spots you will ever find in MLB. The Pirates played extra innings last night against the New York Mets the day after playing a doubleheader. After the game, they boarded a plane for Denver to play a standalone road game makeup game against the Rockies. Colorado is in a bad spot too, coming back from Los Angeles and a late game, but it’s not nearly as awful of a spot for them.
Pittsburgh plays St. Louis AT HOME on Friday night in a key division series, so this is a tough game for them to focus on. I’d expect a watered-down lineup from Clint Hurdle to give some guys a blow and I entered the season as a Chad Bettis fan. This is a spot where Jeff Locke, if he struggles, may be hung out to dry with Pittsburgh’s bullpen usage of late.
Colorado is one of the best spot plays we’ve had all season and this line could move quickly as people realize it.
Los Angeles (AL) at New York (AL) (-145); Total: 9
Lots of love for the Yankees, who are looking to finish off the rare four-game sweep of the Angels in this one. Jhoulys Chacin takes the ball for the Angels against Ivan Nova. Chacin has made home starts at Turner Field, a decent pitcher’s park early in the season, and Angel Stadium. On the road, in 39 innings, he’s allowed a .453 SLG against, with all seven of his home runs and eight additional extra-base hits allowed. Yankee Stadium is not a good pitcher’s park.
Ivan Nova has six starts and six relief appearances. We’ll focus on the starts, which have been a mixed bag. He’s got a 4.11 ERA in 35 innings of work, but opposing hitters are slugging .474. Nova has been very fortunate with men on base. He’s allowed a .295/.328/.525 slash with seven of his eight home runs with the bases empty. With men on, he’s allowed a .222/.273/.352 slash. There could be some regression there.
I don’t have a play on this game, but pay attention to how it goes. The Angels have a couple of back-end of the bullpen injuries that have weakened their depth and they make the cross-country flight home to take on the Indians tomorrow night. That is a bad situational spot for the Angels and heavy bullpen usage or a long game might have a major impact on that spot.
Baltimore at Toronto
No line or total were out for this game at time of writing. Tyler Wilson battles Marcus Stroman in this AL East clash. Wilson continues to be a JAG for the Orioles, eating up innings at the back of the rotation without killing the team too much. He has a 4.39/4.54/4.62 pitcher slash with a high ground ball rate. His LOB% is a little bit, but it balances out his low BABIP against.
Marcus Stroman has run into some issues in his first full season. The strikeout rate is down and the sequencing luck hasn’t been there in big spots. Stroman has a 4.82 ERA with a 3.73 FIP and a 3.88 xFIP. With the bases empty, Stroman has a .233/.278/.358 slash against. With men on base, a .311/.388/.479 slash against. Those are some very sharp splits. It has to be a command/mechanics thing because Russell Martin is a savvy game-caller. Stroman’s 3.6 K/BB ratio with the bases empty becomes a 1.27 with men on. He’s working from behind and hitters are capitalizing.
For that reason, I’d probably lean Baltimore here on a number that will likely come out a little bit too high.
St. Louis (-160) at Cincinnati; Total: 9.5
You know what the worst thing is about a bad bullpen? It keeps you from taking an underdog when the line is too high. This line is too high. Adam Wainwright has kept his team in games, for the most part, but he has a 5.40 ERA, a 4.17 FIP, and a 4.43 xFIP. Brandon Finnegan has a 3.89 ERA with a 5.23 FIP and a 5.05 xFIP. His biggest problem is that he’s erratic and works from behind, which, in turn, allows hitters to zone in on fastballs and tee off. His fastball is a well below average pitch this season.
The Reds are the value side here, but their bullpen is abhorrent. Therefore, I can’t do it. We should talk about the Cincinnati offense, though, which is fifth in SLG over the last 30 days. There’s some upside with that group. When Anthony DeSclafani comes back and hopefully Raisel Iglesias rejoins the rotation, there might be some value here. Unfortunately, talk is that Iglesias will go out to the pen to help that group. Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed might be coming up, either to push starters to the pen or fill rotation spots. Cincinnati could be interesting at that point.
New York (NL) at Milwaukee (-115); Total: 8.5
The wrong team might be favored here. I’ve been perplexed by the oddsmakers’ views on Jimmy Nelson all season long. This is another one of those games. The Mets offense is right around league average against righties. Bartolo Colon is a very useful pitcher early in the season before the strain of innings on his 43-year-old arm starts to build up. He has a 3.27/3.74/4.15 pitcher slash on the season. Only his LOB% is out of whack, but he’s inducing more fly balls this season, so he’s been able to improve his BABIP a little bit. Miller Park isn’t great for fly ball guys, but Colon doesn’t hurt himself with walks, so solo home runs are okay.
Jimmy Nelson shows some big regression signs. He has a 3.43/4.88/4.40 pitcher slash. He’s been lucky with a .254 BABIP and a 79.2 percent strand rate. The BABIP is a little bit lower because of his HR total, with 11 in 76 innings, so he’s only given up 52 hits on balls in play, which is low for a guy with his stuff.
The Mets are coming off of a long series and that’s a little bit problematic, but I think the wrong team is favored here and I disagree with the initial line move on the Brewers. Going against line moves isn’t always +EV, but I think it has value here.
Miami at Minnesota (-140); Total: 9.5
About 20 cents worth of line movement hit the market on the overnight and morning lines for the Marlins/Twins matchup. My best guess is that some influential people saw Tom Koehler’s road splits and auto-faded the right-hander. This year, he’s added more walks to his replacement-level resume, which is never a good thing for a guy that doesn’t strike out many batters.
I’m not very interested in this game. I’m not laying -140 with Ervin Santana and his subpar command, but I’m not backing Koehler either.
Washington (-130) at Chicago (AL); Total: 9
In a battle of Gonzalezes, it’ll be Gio for the Nats and Miguel for the White Sox. Gio obviously has the higher ceiling, but this number opened a bit lofty at -150. The market has pushed it down into a more manageable price range. I talked about Gio a couple weeks ago and discussed the signs of regression in his statistical profile and how he was going to struggle. Over his last three starts, Gio has allowed 18 runs on 25 hits in 15.2 innings of work. He now has a 3.94 ERA, 3.73FIP, and a 3.71 xFIP, so everything seems about normal for the left-hander. Notice that in two of those starts, he had seven strikeouts and eight strikeouts with zero walks. He didn’t hurt himself. He got BABIP’d and made some mistake pitches.
It’s probably a minor mechanical/command hiccup. We do have to watch Gio for shoulder discomfort, since he’s generally made all of his starts, but has pitched through pain in the past. His velocities have been the best all season in these last four starts, so I’m not worried about that at all. They are still down a bit from last season, so we’ll have to watch that. Overall, though, I don’t mind Gio in this spot.
Miguel Gonzalez is another JAG-type starter. “Just A Guy”. There are a lot of those today. He’s gotten more swings and misses this season with a refined changeup, which is a Don Cooper trait. Maybe that’s sustainable. Odds are that it’s not. But, he’s really increased the use of that changeup and it has been his most effective pitch. He’s also throwing more sliders. Arsenal changes are good, at least until hitters adjust. Washington hasn’t seen him yet and they don’t see him much, so there’s not much to adjust to.
I’d look under here in this one. I think Washington will be content with what they’ve done on this road trip with a 6-2 record and will be looking forward to getting home. The White Sox aren’t a great offense and I expect Gio to adjust.
Cleveland at Seattle (-130); Total: 8
We’re seeing a pretty significant move on Nate Karns here as the Mariners look to take three of four from the Indians. Karns is showing some signs of positive regression after getting shelled last start by Texas. He has a 4.23 ERA, a 3.64 FIP, and a 3.96 xFIP. He’s been really strong at home, holding opposing batters to a .285 wOBA, which is why he’s getting love here in this one.
Josh Tomlin is a guy showing some negative regression with a 3.54 ERA, a 4.30 FIP, and a 4.21 xFIP. I’m not so sure I agree with blindly expecting it. Tomlin gives up a lot of home runs, hence the high FIP, but they’re mostly solo home runs because he doesn’t walk anybody. His .262 BABIP could probably go up a little bit and create more traffic on the basepaths.
I’m okay with the line movement and Seattle’s bullpen has been strong. I’d lean Seattle in this one, especially because Cleveland’s outfield defense is a little bit shaky when Tyler Naquin plays center.