A new day is here on the diamond and a new set of betting opportunities has been presented to us. It’s a smaller schedule with a handful of teams enjoying a respite from the daily grind, as we’ve come to expect from most Thursdays. Days off are few and far between from now until the All-Star Break, so teams better make the most of them.
It’d be nice if we could start making the most of the spots presented to us, but yesterday wound up being extremely frustrating. The two top totals won, but the two top sides lost, as the Yankees were blown out thanks to a massive bullpen meltdown and Chris Archer’s problems continued. The under between Detroit and Anaheim was an easy winner, as that shadows at Angel Stadium angle continues to be extremely profitable. The Indians and Rangers needed a Cody Allen blown save to get over the total, but we deserved a break.
On a personal level, it’s been a very frustrating period over the last couple of weeks. Adjustments are being made and more research is being done in an effort to give you as many winners as possible. Hopefully we’ll hit a groove here soon and start rattling off a lot of solid days in a row.
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.
Los Angeles (NL) at Chicago (NL) (-155)
I just want to touch briefly on this game because of the intrigue surrounding Julio Urias’s second Major League start. Whether it was nerves or simply the unpolished stuff of a 19-year-old that got in the way in his debut against the Mets last week, Urias is going to be an elite-level starter down the line at some point. This isn’t an ideal matchup for him, though it is interesting to see Kyle Hendricks favored by a relatively small price.
I didn’t get a chance to watch Urias’s debut, though I will watch today. He threw a first-pitch strike to just four of the 17 batters he faced. That makes it hard on any pitcher, let alone a kid making his first MLB start. If he works from ahead, his stuff might be able to carry him through. If he doesn’t, he’ll get blasted. No play here, but just wanted to provide a little insight into the teenager prior to this outing.
Milwaukee at Philadelphia (-110); Total: 8
This line move got my attention very, very quickly. You won’t find a much better matchup for Jerad Eickhoff, who draws the lineup that has the highest percentage of strikeouts against right-handed pitching this season. Eickhoff shows modest signs of regression with a 4.07 ERA, a 3.89 FIP, and a 3.79 xFIP. His 3.87 SIERA suggests that some better fortunes may come his way. And yet, this line has dropped about 20 cents since it opened.
This may be that outright Phillies fade I’ve been talking about. This is a team due for some pretty big regression, with a great record in one-run games and a 26-27 record, but a 20-33 Pythagorean win-loss record. They’ve also dropped six straight and probably shouldn’t have been laying -130 against anybody. While Pythagorean win-loss is a decent barometer, you have to realize that the Phillies lose badly when they do lose. They’ve lost nine games by five or more runs and they’ve only won one game in blowout fashion. That’ll really kill a Pyth W-L record.
Chase Anderson has been throwing the ball pretty well since he was rocked by the Reds on May 5. He’s given up three runs or less in each of his four starts and the Brewers actually have a serviceable bullpen this season. Maybe that’s the logic behind the big move. I haven’t had a lot of success going against line moves here recently, so it does give me some pause to do it today, but this is a really good matchup for Eickhoff and this isn’t a good park for Anderson. Anderson gave up a dinger in each of his previous seven starts prior to his last one and had given up two or more in four of them.
I’ve gotta look Phillies at this updated price. I know they’re in a tailspin and Milwaukee’s playing a lot better, but I like this matchup too much for Eickhoff, even if he struggled last time against them. That’s, by far, his only awful start of the season.
Pittsburgh at Miami (-125); Total: 8
You know that I’ve been on the Wei-Yin Chen bandwagon this season, but I’m still surprised to see the southpaw favored by this much against Pittsburgh. The market has piled on Chen today, bumping this line up about 10 cents. I actually don’t mind what I’ve seen from Juan Nicasio this season. He’s racked up a strikeout per inning and his command, while not great, hasn’t been overly detrimental. He has a 4.79 ERA but a 3.97 xFIP and a 4.01 SIERA, so things should get a little bit better for him if his home run rate normalizes. As we know, Marlins Park isn’t a great yard for hitters.
I really like Chen long-term and I’m not sure what the issues have been this season. He hasn’t been able to overachieve with his strand rate, so maybe that’s why his 4.37 ERA stands out so much. He has a 3.84 FIP, a 3.82 xFIP, and a 3.93 SIERA, so better fortunes are in his future. That being said, he’s given up a lot of hard contact and line drives. One of his best assets was inducing pop ups and that skill, if it is one, has not been present this season. I fully expected Chen to be better moving over to the NL, but, so far, that hasn’t been the case.
The Pirates bring a top-five offense in wOBA against lefties to the table in this game, which is why I’m surprised by the line move here. More often than not, Chen has kept his team in the game, with only two starts with five runs allowed and one start with four runs allowed. That may play a role.
My hope is that Marlins Park suppresses some of that home run issue for Nicasio. Other than the home run problem, he’s gotten a fair amount of weak contact, so his .302 BABIP seems a little bit unfortunate. One thing I did notice in my research of this game is that the Pirates pen hasn’t been nearly as good as it has been in past seasons, so I probably need to reevaluate my stance on them in close games.
I’m leaning Pirates here, albeit slightly, defying another line move. It may not be smart, but I do think that the Pirates will get some decent swings against Chen and Nicasio can keep them in the game.
New York (AL) (-115) at Detroit; Total: 9
Michael Pineda, we meet again. The Yankees right-hander with the glowing peripherals and the disastrous ERA gets another crack, this time against the Detroit Tigers. This is a makeup game from an earlier rainout, which can create some interesting wagering angles. The Tigers were supposed to have today off after a California swing through Anaheim and Oakland, but instead, they have to play today. We’ll see if that affects them. I don’t see the Tigers as a high-character team and Brad Ausmus is a lame-duck manager, so we’ll have to see.
In any event Pineda and his horrible, awful, no good command draws the Tigers, who are sixth in SLG against right-handed pitching on the season. Pineda’s up to a 6.92 ERA with a 4.66 FIP and a 3.69 xFIP, but we know that he’s not coming close to that xFIP any time soon with his command woes. He also has a .390 BABIP against because he can’t locate well in the zone. A 23.1 percent line drive rate and a 31.8 percent hard-contact rate support that assessment.
It’s not even really a home run issue anymore for Pineda. Seven of his 11 HR allowed came in two starts. He’s given up one home run per start in four of his last six. He’s just not locating. He’s given up 73 hits in 53.1 innings of work and he’s been horrendous from the stretch. Opposing hitters are batting .343/.374/.640 with men on base.
On the Tigers side, they’re sending out Matt Boyd, who looked okay against Oakland last time out. He gave up three runs on six hits over five innings, but he did strike out seven. There’s not a lot of faith in him in the investment community based on what he’s done over the course of his MLB career. There are quite a few people in the scouting community that keep going to bat for Boyd, so it’s way too early to write him off.
Because Pineda’s command has been so bad, I’m willing to consider Detroit at home. The situational spot with the lack of a day off is bothersome to me, as the Tigers may not be up for this game. As a result, I’ll stay away from this one, but I can’t fault anybody for taking the Tigers or their team total over. The Yankees bullpen is so elite that it always creates reason for concern because coming back against them is hard.
Seattle (-130) at San Diego; Total: 7.5
We’ve seen this line fall about 15 cents since it opened, so the market has been very active overnight and this morning. That’s not all that surprising because the Padres draw Wade Miley here in this one. The Padres are among the worst offensive teams against right-handed pitching, but they are in the middle of the pack against lefties and have actually hit for a decent amount of power.
Miley hasn’t fared very well this season, owning a 4.95/5.10/4.35 through 10 starts. Home runs have been his biggest problem, allowing 12 of them in 60 innings. He’s given up eight home runs over his last five starts and he’s had some occasional control problems. I do wonder if Miley is dealing with an injury of some type given that he had just six walks over his first five starts.
Colin Rea is a five-and-fly guy that doesn’t really kill his team, but doesn’t do a whole lot to help them either. In nine starts, he’s given up three runs over five innings four times and four runs over five innings once. If that holds true again today, the Padres probably need to score some runs off of Miley. My thought process here would be that people that like the Padres would also have to like the over. Since I’m not ready to take Rea and the Padres, the over makes some sense.
The Mariners are third in wOBA now against right-handed pitching and Petco Park isn’t the pitcher’s haven it used to be. We may get some runs here in this one.