A full MLB card is on tap for the Memorial Day holiday. There are 15 games on the docket with start times spread throughout the day. We’re reaching the middle portion of the season, when days off are few and far between, so make sure that you’re aware of the important situational betting spots before you wager on the games. Teams only have about two scheduled days off per month now, with the All-Star Break representing a nice chunk of the remaining off days. That means pitchers working on regular rest and key players sitting out day games after night games.
Before taking a look ahead, we take a look back. Yesterday’s write-up was a little bit different in that every game got some press. It was a strong day on the diamond overall. The top side play on the Orioles was a winner, while suggested picks on Boston, New York/Tampa Bay over, and St. Louis/Washington over came through. The Mariners and Pirates were losers, but it was a good day for MLB bettors.
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 (AL) (-120) at New York (NL); Total: 7
This is a really interesting spot for both teams. The White Sox are really in a funk right now and Chris Sale and the bullpen couldn’t top a watered-down Royals lineup on Sunday. Jose Quintana gets the ball here in this one against the New York Mets, who have a very quick turnaround. The Mets were in action on Sunday Night Baseball, so they’ll be playing about 14 hours after yesterday’s game ended. Fortunately there’s no travel. Matt Harvey goes for the Mets.
With Quintana’s great performance to date and Harvey’s awful performance to date, it’s not a big surprise to see the White Sox open road favorites here. Quintana has a 2.22/2.11/3.43 pitcher slash on the season and, as we’ve talked about here recently, the Mets are not a good offense against left-handed pitching. Harvey has been dealing with mechanical issues throughout the season, particularly from the stretch, which have lowered his velocity and his strikeout rate.
There has to be some hope about Harvey facing a lineup that he never really faces. Maybe that will be enough to get him back on track, but he’s impossible to back at this stage of the game. There’s some regression coming for Quintana, particularly in his HR/FB%, but the Mets aren’t good enough against LHP and this spot prevents me from going that route.
I’ll stay off of this early one, but it’s an interesting game for a lot of reasons.
Boston at Baltimore (-105); Total: 9
Steven Wright and Tyler Wilson are the starters at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for this one. The Red Sox knuckleballer has been really good this season with a 2.52/3.16/4.07 pitcher slash on the year. Knuckleballers are kind of a mystery and it’s tough to evaluate their performance because they are so unique. His xFIP shows regression, but I’m not so sure we should believe that. Knuckleballers generally can’t carry 2.50 ERAs, so in that respect, there’s some regression, but not the traditional that we see from pitchers with slash lines like that.
Tyler Wilson is a guy. He has luck-boxed his way to a 3.80 ERA with a 4.68 FIP and a 4.61 xFIP. He’s a low-strikeout pitcher with unsustainable peripherals, like a .232 BABIP against with his 47 percent strand rate. His 4.71 SIERA is in agreement. Against a tremendous lineup like Boston’s, he could be in a bit of trouble here today. We’ll have to see what the Red Sox lineup looks like, since David Ortiz and Travis Shaw have been dealing with some things.
I understand the line here and the Orioles are playing well, but I’d have to look Red Sox here. They have the clear pitching matchup advantage and have one of the best lineups in baseball against right-handed pitching.
Cincinnati at Colorado (-140); Total: 11
We have a lay it and play it scenario here between the Cincinnati Reds and the Colorado Rockies on Monday. I’m not enamored with the Rockies as a whole, but this is a good spot for them. Dan Straily takes the mound for the Reds in this one. He’s been a godsend for this rotation with the injuries and ineffectiveness, but his luck may be on the verge of running out.
Straily has a 2.98 ERA with a 4.23 FIP and a 4.32 xFIP on the campaign. As a starter, Straily has been fortunate to put together a .244 BABIP against and an 84 percent strand rate. With signs of regression this clear, it’s really tough not to expect it in Coors Field. Straily has never made a start at Coors Field and it presents a set of challenges that pitchers aren’t accustomed to. Add in the terrible Reds bullpen and we’ve got the recipe for a Rockies win.
Colorado is sending Chad Bettis to the bump and I’m a fan of the Rockies right-hander. Bettis has a 4.90 ERA, but his peripherals show some positive regression. A 66 percent strand rate is the biggest culprit here. His xFIP shows regression with a league average HR/FB% against, so we’re not viewing that as a misleading stat.
Look for ways to play the Rockies today. Whether it’s the straight ML or a -1, they should come through for us here.
Los Angeles (NL) at Chicago (NL) (-130)
This is a pretty interesting game and the line movement has been just as interesting. The Dodgers played late last night in New York City and are playing an early evening affair in Chicago. This will be a series that will get a lot of buzz between two of the league’s more high-profile teams.
We’ve got Alex Wood up against Jason Hammel here and we’ve seen about a 20-cent line move on the road team, despite what appears to be a pretty bad situational spot. It’s especially interesting because Wood’s start was pushed back a few days. That’s why Julio Urias made his debut on Friday. Wood is battling some triceps soreness. He shows some signs of positive regression, though, with a 4.03/3.34/3.23 pitcher slash and Hammel shows the opposite. That’s why we’re seeing the action.
I’ve mentioned this before that if you want to go against the Cubs, Hammel is the guy to fade right now. He has a 2.17 ERA with a 3.37 FIP and a 4.18 xFIP. I’ve talked about HR/FB% league averages and how they’re a little bit higher this season, but they’re actually right around Hammel’s career average, so I’m expecting that regression. So far, he’s thrown the ball extremely well. But, his strikeout rate is down from last season and his walk rate is up. Couple that with the HR/FB% regression and things should sour for him shortly.
The thing is, I’m not sure if it happens here. The Dodgers have that potential, but this isn’t an ideal spot. I agree with the money on the Dodgers and would be okay with a play on them at a slightly lower price, but that spot is tough to overlook.
Pittsburgh (-130) at Miami; Total: 9
There are a few things that stand out about this game. One is a total of 9 at Marlins Park. Another is Jeff Locke laying -130 on the road. That’s what happens when you get Justin Nicolino in the game for the Marlins. Nicolino, as we’ve talked about, has one of the league’s lowest strikeout rates, so his success is wholly contingent on balls getting hit at people. It is exceptionally hard to rely on pitchers like that. It doesn’t help that the Pirates are a top-five offense in wOBA against LHP.
Jeff Locke is terrible, though, and the Marlins have had more success against lefties than righties over the last few years. Locke has a 5.08/5.35/4.97 pitcher slash and his time in the rotation will come to a close here in a couple of weeks once the Super Two deadline passes to add an extra year of arbitration for young players. Either Tyler Glasnow or Jameson Taillon will get the call. The Marlins are second in batting average and seventh in wOBA against LHP on the season. There will be a lot of balls in play in this game. Of course I’ll have to lean to the over, but oddsmakers are making you pay for it.
Tampa Bay at Kansas City (-110); Total: 8
Through four starts, Matt Andriese has been pretty good. He has a 2.63/3.11/4.33 pitcher slash, so there are some sample size things and signs of regression in there. In terms of the signs of regression, a .225 BABIP against is a pretty good start. Andriese doesn’t miss a lot of bats, but he doesn’t issue many walks either. His 4.36 SIERA isn’t too impressed with his early-season accomplishments, however.
The Royals are dealing with a ton of injuries, but this is probably what they needed to continue their devil magic. The Royals have run better than any team we’ve ever seen in a three-year span, winning a World Series with a bad rotation and a formula that nobody expected to have success. With Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, and Salvador Perez all hurt, the Royals just keep hitting and keep winning with guys like Whit Merrifield, Brett Eibner, and Cheslor Cuthbert.
Ian Kennedy is on the bump today for the Royals and he, like Andriese, is a regression candidate. Kennedy has a 3.38/4.37/4.33 pitcher slash on the season. His 84.2 percent strand rate is not sustainable. His low BABIP might be, but he’s going to have some sequencing issues here in the new future where he stops having so much success in high-leverage spots.
These are two solid bullpens, so anybody interested in playing the over should probably look at the first five over. As far as a side goes, I’d lean Kansas City because the Rays have some pretty sharp platoon splits as a team, where they are much better against left-handed pitching than they are against right-handed pitching.
Detroit (-125) at Los Angeles (AL); Total: 8
The latest game on the card is between the Tigers and Angels with Justin Verlander up against Jhoulys Chacin. This should be a big park for Verlander, who has become a fly ball pitcher with more than a strikeout per inning. His peripherals are a little bit better than his traditional metrics, so that’s something to hang your hat on.
This will be Chacin’s fourth start with the Angels and he, predictably, has struggled in the DH league with a 4.67/4.49/3.92 pitcher slash. His home run rate has been well above average all season long, so there are some minor signs of regression with that, but he doesn’t miss a lot of bats and doesn’t have a particularly deep arsenal. That makes it pretty easy for him to give up home runs.
Detroit opened about 10 cents higher in this one and I think that line was a pretty bit hefty. It makes more sense at this price and this is a game that I will be avoiding. I don’t see a lot of value in the Angels against a guy that fits the park really well and I don’t think that there’s a lot of reason to trust Chacin against the Tigers lineup. At the same time, the Tigers can be a bit of a tough team to gauge, particularly staying out west and continuing this trip.