The ups and downs of the MLB season can be maddening, but if you have more ups than downs, you should be very thankful. Right now, our daily picks from this article are having more ups than downs over the last few days. Short-term streaks generally aren’t something to be celebrated, but the volatile nature of baseball makes any run of success feel a lot better. The daily grind continues into another day, as we pore over a Hump Day slate that does feature four afternoon games.
Checking in on our Tuesday results, it was an okay day overall. We picked up some line value and a winner on the Kansas City Royals. The Blue Jays collapse really cost us in terms of having a really strong day. That one hurt, as John Gibbons pushed Aaron Sanchez a little bit too far and it cost him. Jon Niese’s BABIP luck gave the Pirates a winner in Game 1 with a strange line and some odd circumstances. The under in the Houston/Texas game came through and the slight lean to Texas was a winner. Boston wrapped up the night with a solid winner. It was a roller coaster of a day, but we handicapped that Toronto game correctly, for the most part.
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.
Toronto at Detroit (-130); Total: 9
This series has been tough on us so far, with one winner and one really tough-luck loser, but we’ll take a look at a getaway day game in the Motor City. We rarely see games with a total of 9 being played during the day on Wednesday or Thursday, but that’s the case here. I would expect that people will play the percentages and look for a low-scoring game. I certainly think that’s a reasonable approach, although there are some red flags with both of these starters.
We know about RA Dickey’s struggles with his 4.21 ERA, 4.54 FIP, and 4.52 xFIP. I am interested to see how this right-handed-heavy Tigers lineup handles the knuckleball. Dickey has held righties to a .293 wOBA on the season, even though he’s generally been more effective against lefties in his career. Switch hitter Omar Vizquel used to bat right-handed against knuckleballers like Steve Sparks and Tim Wakefield because he felt he could pick the ball up better from the same side. Will that be beneficial for the Tigers today? It very well could be.
On the Detroit side, Jordan Zimmermann is making his second start back off of the DL. Zimmermann is your traditional regression candidate with a 2.58 ERA, a 3.59 FIP, and a 4.40 xFIP. He also has a 4.42 SIERA because he’s not missing many bats. He has a 79.9 percent strand rate and a .274 BABIP against. His career rates are 75.1 percent and .292. He was supposed to take a step back in the AL, but it hasn’t happened yet.
He actually has reverse platoon splits on the season. Righties have a .301 wOBA while lefties have a .251 wOBA. Lefties are being held down by a .230 BABIP, though. Righties have a .315 BABIP.
I feel like the potential for runs is here, but it goes against a lot of commonly-held, and statistically-supported, beliefs about overs in getaway day games. I’m going to stay away and hope I don’t regret it.
Tampa Bay (-105) at Arizona; Total: 8.5
It’s a sad state of affairs when Tampa Bay isn’t favored over a guy like Archie Bradley. Sure, some books have the Rays as a small favorite, but a lot of them are unsure of where to put this number and will let the market bat it around a little. Jake Odorizzi is a guy that has regression signs present in his statistical profile, but you have to remember that FIP and xFIP never look favorably on fly ball guys with average strikeout rates. Odorizzi has done a good job of stranding runners this season, hence the 3.33 ERA, despite FIP and xFIP marks above 4.00.
Quietly, the Diamondbacks have crept up into the top 10 in wOBA against right-handed pitching. If they were getting any starting pitching this season, Arizona might actually be a factor. Odorizzi is a guy that they haven’t seen much, so maybe that helps him, but he has been hitting the barrel a little bit too often this season. He’s been fortunate to have the luck that he has had.
Archie Bradley seems to have made some tweaks after throwing a decent game in Colorado. Over his last two starts, the former top prospect and seventh overall pick has given up four runs on eight hits in 13.1 innings of work with 19 strikeouts and four walks. The Rays are 19th in wOBA against righties, although they are only three percent below league average in wRC+, which is park-adjusted.
This game wraps up a 10-game road trip for the Rays, who are 4-5 on that trip so far. That trip has taken them to Kansas City, Minnesota, and Phoenix, with no days off. They haven’t had a day off since May 19. This may be a spot where Tampa Bay has some trouble getting off the deck. Arizona gets its first day off since May 23. I’d look for the under here in this one, from a situational standpoint and also because these are two pitchers that can have success in this matchup.
New York (NL) (-135) at Pittsburgh; Total: 7
The time has finally come for Jameson Taillon. With Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Pirates needed a starter for tonight’s game and Taillon is the guy that lined up. It’s kind of remarkable that Taillon is ready just as the Super Two deadline passes, but, hey, whatever. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.
In any event, Taillon draws a tough first assignment. The Mets are being held down by a .271 BABIP against right-handed pitching, which is one of the worst in the league, but they have fared better in this split over the last two seasons. Taillon also has to go up against Noah Syndergaard, who is one of the game’s elites.
Taillon, the former second overall pick, missed a large portion of his development in 2014 and 2015 while recovering from Tommy John surgery and also a hernia procedure. He’s a power arm that has shown impeccable control this season. In 61.2 innings at Triple-A Indianapolis, he struck out 61 and walked six. Taillon has a workhorse-like frame at 6’5”, 240, so he has a high arm slot and a lot of drive from his stocky lower half. His command has also been outstanding at the minor league level, posting low BABIPs and reasonable home run rates. He’s a good one.
Like most young arms, he’ll probably overthrow a little here in this first start and could be uncharacteristically erratic. The margin for error isn’t very high against Noah Syndergaard, who would have a legitimate shot at the Cy Young if not for Clayton Kershaw. Syndergaard has a 1.91/1.78/2.03 pitcher slash with a 9/1 K/BB ratio in 70.2 innings. He’s struck out 32.9 percent of opposing batters. He’s improved everything from his rookie season and has learned how to sequence. All of his numbers, ground ball rate, swinging strike rate, chase rate, zone-contact rate, walk rate, home run rate, etc, etc. have improved from last season.
The value side is the Mets here. Taillon is a more polished product than Julio Urias was last week against the Mets and I don’t really like laying -135 on the road, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Taillon struggles. I think the better value is the first five under because I think both guys can have a lot of success. Taillon may run into trouble the third time through and the Pirates bullpen is awful, so I’d be wary of the full game.
Miami at Minnesota (-110); Total: 9
I agree with the line move that we’ve seen at several books to make Minnesota a favorite here, even though I am one of a handful of supporters on the Wei-Yin Chen bandwagon. Ricky Nolasco was really strong against Tampa Bay last time out, which is what we anticipated because there were a lot of signs of positive regression in his stat line.
Nolasco has a 4.93 ERA with a 3.67 FIP and a 3.80 xFIP. His 3.71 SIERA is the best he’s had since 2013. His K/BB ratio is the best it has been in his career. Maybe this isn’t sustainable, but for now, we’re looking at a guy that should see some positive growth in that 59.1 percent strand rate. Nolasco has a .229/.264/.458 slash with the bases empty and a .320/.353/.467 slash with men on. He’s had to contend with a .392 BABIP against with men on and a .408 BABIP with RISP. There should be some normalization in those numbers soon.
Wei-Yin Chen’s last two starts have been solid. He hasn’t really killed the Marlins in any start this year, but he has a 4.25 ERA with a 3.81 FIP and a 4.01 xFIP. All of his BABIP regression came in the span of two starts, with one hit allowed over 15 balls in play in his last start and two hits allowed over 13 balls in play in his previous start. The Twins are a tough team to gauge, but I would give them the nod over the Marlins here in this one.
Cleveland (-110) at Seattle; Total: 7.5
The Indians have had a lot of trouble with Taijuan Walker in his career, but this number is at least 10 to 15 cents too low. In Walker’s last start, he was a +135 dog to the Texas Rangers on the road against Yu Darvish making just his third start back from Tommy John surgery. In this one, Walker goes up against Carlos Carrasco, who looked a little rusty in his return from a Grade-2 hamstring strain.
Walker has faced the Indians three times in his career. In 20 innings, he has allowed one earned run on 13 hits with 20 strikeouts and two walks. He was dominant against them in Cleveland earlier this season. But, we were on the Rangers last week, despite that lofty price, because Walker has not been himself over his last five starts. Since leaving his May 6 start against Houston with a neck problem, Walker has posted a 6.26 ERA with a 7.14 FIP and a 5.01 xFIP over 27.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 23, but he’s walked 12. His command is gone with nine home runs allowed in that span. He hasn’t been facing great lineups either. He’s faced Texas, Minnesota, Oakland, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay. He’s given up at least four runs in all five starts.
He’s coming off of his worst start of the bunch. I think this number is off. Carrasco did struggle in his return against Kansas City, allowing three runs on nine hits in five innings, but that was to be expected. Lefties only hit .214/.269/.370 against him last season after hitting .192/.255/.261 the season before. This is a decent matchup for him and the Indians won’t get a better chance to break the trend against Walker. I do like the Indians tonight.
Boston at San Francisco (-115); Total: 6.5
Lots of talent will be on display in this late game between the Red Sox and the Giants. There has been a move on David Price here, which is no surprise. For the third time this week, I will point out how much the Giants have struggled without Hunter Pence in the middle of that lineup. He’s also a solid defender in right field. The Giants were 50-60 without Pence last season and they are just 5-5 without him this season.
David Price shows some really strong signs of positive regression and he’s been fulfilling that statistical prophecy of late. Some sequencing luck hurt Price early on, which is why he has a 4.88 ERA with a 3.34 FIP and a 3.37 xFIP. He’s made some mechanical changes and has worked at least 6.1 innings with three or fewer runs allowed in each of his last five starts. The Giants offense isn’t what it was last season, as some guys have failed to follow up career years. Buster Posey’s workload has also been closely monitored.
The Red Sox will get a look at Madison Bumgarner tonight. He’s been phenomenal this year with a 1.91 ERA, a 2.76 FIP, and a 3.39 xFIP. You see those numbers and think regression, but two earned over eight innings is a 2.25 ERA, so that, technically, would be “regression” with numbers like this. Bumgarner’s experiencing the highest K% of his career. His high strand rate of 83.3 percent will come down throughout the year, though it may not happen with the Red Sox in town because they don’t see him much.
I’m avoiding this one. The under, of course, has value in a late game at AT&T Park with two elite left-handers, but I don’t see enough reason to go against Bumgarner to take Boston as a short dog.