It’s a new day on the diamond and the sun always seems brighter and the air seems fresher after putting together a good night. The dedication it takes to handicap baseball on a nightly basis is a really impressive attribute, so I give credit to all of you out there partaking in the grind. The swings can be maddening, and the downs always seem higher than the ups, but we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love it. Because we love it, we’re ready to attack another day, with nine day games and six night games on this Saturday May 28 card.
Looking back to last night, the Mets and Yankees were victorious in two plays that were discussed here and also on BangTheBook Radio. If you’re not tuning in for that every weekday, please try to make it part of your handicapping research. The over in the Indians/Orioles game was a nice lean that cashed. Other leans weren’t able to come through, but the strongest of the opinions did and that’s what we like to see.
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) (-110) at Kansas City; Total: 8
I actually isolated this game yesterday in a chat with my good buddy @MLBdreampicks, who has been on the radio show before. Yordano Ventura opened in the -123 range at BetOnline and that was a horrible number. We’ve seen the market correct, even after Chicago had a massive bullpen blow-up last night. The Royals are trotting out some rookies and bench players due to injuries and this is a great spot for Carlos Rodon, who has a lot of swing and miss stuff.
Rodon is one of those guys where xFIP matters because he’s not going to post a 17 percent HR/FB% the rest of the far. His 3.71 xFIP does show positive signs when compared to his 4.47 ERA and 4.27 FIP. He hasn’t sacrificed his strikeout rate while cutting down his walk rate and he’s inducing more ground balls. These are all good developments for which he hasn’t been rewarded yet. I’d expect Rodon to rattle off a string of solid starts here soon.
On the other side, you’ve got Yordano Ventura, who might hit the broad side of a barn with five out of 10 pitches. Ventura has 34 strikeouts in his 48.2 innings of work, but he’s also issued 33 walks. He’s been very fortunate to only have a 4.81 ERA because of a 74.7 percent strand rate and a .253 BABIP against. The White Sox aren’t the most patient team, but they’re right around league average in BB% against RHP.
This line was off and I think it’s still off. We’re seeing some White Sox regression, which I’ve talked about here in this article in the past, so maybe that influenced the opening line a little bit. Nevertheless, the White Sox are a good look here today as far as I’m concerned.
Detroit at Oakland (-115); Total: 8.5
I’m a little surprised that Oakland isn’t a bigger favorite here, truth be told. Matt Boyd is taking the pill for his first MLB start of 2016. Boyd’s previous MLB appearances have not gone well. He has a 6.97 ERA, a 6.40 FIP, and a 5.20 xFIP in 62 innings of work. For the Tigers to be a small dog here, either there are some big believers in the offense or in the matchup. Boyd has had a lot of Triple-A success, though it didn’t really translate to the big leagues last season. This season, he’s got one long relief appearance.
Boyd is one of a handful of guys that train at Driveline Baseball, including pitchers like Trevor Bauer, Dan Straily, Caleb Cotham, and other minor leaguers. The hope here is that Boyd can be a little bit more consistent. Straily has been better and Bauer’s pure stuff has improved. I’m not sure that I’m buying it yet with Boyd, but this line is interesting.
Jesse Hahn is a guy that should have success with this lineup and in this park. Over his 191 inning MLB career, righties are batting .197/.290/.270 with a 74/40 K/BB ratio. Lefties are batting .266/.322/.405. We know that the Tigers are right-handed-heavy, so this lineup does work to Hahn’s split. One thing that keeps giving me pause with Hahn is his high ground ball rate with this A’s defense. Hahn is a 56.5 percent GB guy this season and 52.4 percent for his career.
I like the stuff and I like the ability to change speeds and mix pitches. I like the ballpark for the occasional mistake or the easy foul pop out. I don’t like the A’s infield defense. It makes it hard to back Hahn. With the big splits here, however, I think there’s some value on the A’s hurler. The line may be set in a way that is looking for Detroit money and I’m not so sure I want to give that to the books. A lean to Hahn and the A’s here.
New York (AL) at Tampa Bay (-105); Total: 7.5
I’m a little bit tormented with this game. I’ve talked about going against Michael Pineda and his terrible command on multiple occasions this season. The unfortunate thing is that the Rays are a markedly better offense against left-handed pitching. Tampa Bay is actually 22nd in wOBA against righties with an awful .296 OBP. They are still hitting for a little bit of power with a .405 SLG, which ranks 16th. That’s not bad considering the awful batting average.
Bettors will be conflicted here as well. Pineda shows signs of positive regression in the numbers with a 6.34 ERA and a 3.54 xFIP. On the other hand, he gave up four home runs in his lone start against Tampa Bay this season, and we know that casual, public bettors overreact to small sample sizes like that. Pineda has allowed 64 hits in 49.2 innings of work, to further drive home the point about bad command.
On the other side, you’ve got Matt Moore, who is having similar problems. He has solid K/BB peripherals and a big ERA-xFIP discrepancy. Moore has a 5.47 ERA with a 3.90 xFIP. He’s also giving up a ton of hard contact. He looked a lot sharper earlier in the season. Maybe there’s a bit of a fatigue period with starting on a regular turn after coming back from Tommy John last season. He’s allowed 18 runs over his last four starts on 32 hits.
Also, like Tampa Bay, the Yankees struggle in this split. They are 26th in wOBA against LHP with a .352 SLG. We’ve got so many things going against each other in this game that it’s probably best to simply stay away. On the other hand, we have two pitchers with bad command, so runs could be a possibility. If I had to go one way or another, I’d consider the first five over with a low total and see if the bullpens can shut it down late. A slight lean to the Rays, mostly because they’ve at least hit for power against this split.
St. Louis at Washington (-135); Total: 7.5
It’s tough to tell when, or if, Adam Wainwright will come around this season. He shown flashes, but there’s just too much hard contact and too little command right now. It’s almost a guessing game as to whether or not enough balls will get hit at people. He’s keeping his team in the game more often than not, which is good with an offense like the Cardinals.
Gio Gonzalez hit a patch of regression last time out against the Mets, one that we got burned by, actually. Some of it is still present, with a 2.87 ERA, a 3.63 FIP, and a 3.83 xFIP. It’s still a possibility because his strikeout rate is down and his walk rate seems unsustainably low given his career averages. He also has a 77.7 percent strand rate with a lower strikeout rate.
This isn’t a great matchup for the Cardinals, who are in the middle of the pack against LHP. It’s likely that the Mets’ familiarity with Gio helped them last time out, which is a luxury that the Cardinals don’t have. Gio will do that from time to time, though, where nothing works for him. He’s one of those guys where regression hits in one big swing, as opposed to gradually. There’s still some possibility for it, but I’m not sure I’d be betting on it to happen today.
That being said, this total does seem a little bit low, since Wainwright has basically allowed three runs or more every time out this season. If the Cardinals can scratch out a few, the bullpens might help us over. There’s a lot of batted ball volatility in this game, though, so I’m not sure I’m ready to take either side or the total.
Pittsburgh at Texas (-125); Total: 9
The return of Yu Darvish is a special occasion, but it’s pretty clear that oddsmakers were expecting too much. An avalanche of Pirates money has driven this number down about 25 cents since it opened. Juan Nicasio is the guy on the other side. This will be Darvish’s first MLB start since August 9, 2014. He’ll be on a pitch count of 85 to 90 pitches. He’s made five rehab starts, covering 20 innings, and he’s struck out 21 batters with six walks and just nine hits allowed.
Guys returning from TJS are always difficult to peg. Velocity is usually there, but command isn’t. Even control is usually there, but locating pitches on the edges is the last thing to come back. It’s no surprise that people have loaded up on the Pirates, who are a really good lineup. I’m not sure I’m running to back Nicasio on the road in a good hitting environment, but the Rangers aren’t that great of a team. They were overpriced last night with Hamels and have some injuries and other problems in the lineup right now.
I’m staying off of this game, but I wanted to mention the line move.