A very busy night of baseball is on the horizon and handicappers everywhere are looking forward to having a big day on the diamond. With one NBA playoff game and one NHL playoff game, a lot of focus will be paid to tonight’s baseball card, so it’s best to have all of the information so that you can make an informed wager. There are a lot of games that present some very interesting wagering angles and matchups, so you’ve come to the right place.
Yesterday’s results could not have gone better. The Yankees were an easy winner over the Royals and the Cardinals and Angels nearly tripled the total for their game, with 22 runs on an over of 8.5, that was actually bet down to 8. James Shields and the Padres blanked the Brewers to turn in a 3-0 night for us on solid plays. Hopefully we can keep the good vibes going 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.
Pittsburgh at Chicago (NL) (-145); Total: N/A
Real briefly, if the Cubs are going to lose, it will probably come with Jason Hammel on the mound. Hammel owns a 1.85 ERA with a 3.24 FIP and a 4.38 xFIP. This isn’t his first go-round with a great first half, as he’s down the same thing the last two seasons. But, there’s definitely regression potential there with a high walk rate, a low K rate, a .258 BABIP against, and an 85.9 percent strand rate. His HR/FB% is 3.0 percent, well below his 11.1 percent career average.
I don’t think it’s a bad idea to go against Hammel today and in future starts until some of these numbers regress to the mean. I’d probably wait and see if the market drives this number up a bit because the Cubs just lost two to the Padres and every public bettor will expect a bounce back effort.
Chicago (AL) (-150) at New York (AL); Total: 7
Recently, some things have been written about how Chris Sale is pitching to contact more. So far, it seems to be working. There are some signs of regression there, with a 1.79/2.78/3.56 slash and a .206 BABIP against. His fastball velocity has dropped a bit and his swinging strike rate is almost five percent lower than last season’s. Sale wants to do this, although I’m not sure that it’s in his best interest. There’s going to be some regression in there because the White Sox are overachieving a little bit defensively and Sale has had a lot of good luck on line drives this season.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of value in Luis Severino right now. He struck out nine last start, but he still gave up three home runs, so the command profile still isn’t there. It was nice to see him rack up some strikeouts, but he’s still throwing too many good pitches to hit. It’s amazing to think that he still has a .340 BABIP against, even though his last two starts have had BABIPs of .158 and .167.
I want to fire on the over here, but these are two pretty solid bullpens and Sale is one of the few pitchers that can make a drastic ideological change and spit in the face of regression. I’m passing, but I’ll still be watching Severino because this isn’t a lineup like Boston or Baltimore.
Miami at Washington (-160); Total: 8
I don’t play a lot of totals, but I do like the over here in this one and we’ve been seeing totals pretty well of late. Tom Koehler faces off against Gio Gonzalez here in this one. Koehler is a guy with very extreme home/road splits. Koehler’s home ERA is 3.65 and it’s 4.70 on the road in 17.2 more innings. Home runs are a big reason why. He’s allowed 22 HR in 273.1 home innings and 37 HR in 291 road innings. His home FIP is 3.77 and his road FIP is 4.72.
Even if Koehler walks Bryce Harper every time up, he’s not a good enough pitcher to keep working around it.
Gio Gonzalez is due for some regression. He owns a 2.19 ERA with a 3.18 FIP and a 4.29 xFIP. Gonzalez has usually been a really consistent guy with around a strikeout per inning, a high walk rate he can work around, and FIP and xFIPs in the 3.50 range. This season, he’s gotten fortunate with balls in play to the tune of a .243 BABIP against, 50 points below his career average. His strikeout rate is down four percent from last season. His velocity is down considerably.
I’m looking for runs here in this one.
Cincinnati at Philadelphia (-120); Total: 8.5
Brandon Finnegan takes a 4.15 ERA, a 5.86 FIP, and a 4.88 xFIP into this start. He’s been a rather interesting pitcher statistically this season. His K/BB ratio is terrible and he’s allowed eight home runs in 39 innings, but he has induced a lot of weak in-play contact. His .214 BABIP against has allowed him to keep a 4.15 ERA despite advanced metrics that tell a different story. Another weird thing is that he has allowed six unearned runs, so his ERA could be a lot worse. Add it all up and Brandon Finnegan hasn’t been a good pitcher this season.
Jeremy Hellickson isn’t a good pitcher either, but this line does look a little bit short. Perhaps it’s short for a reason (trap), but I’d trust Hellickson a little bit more in this start. He is striking out over a batter per inning and continues to throw strikes. The problem for him is that 22 percent of his fly balls have left the ballpark. There’s a reasonable expectation that his HR/FB% will regress towards the mean. He has a 4.91 ERA but a 3.81 xFIP. The command has never been good for Hellickson, with a hard-contact rate of 33.3 percent or higher in each of the last four seasons, but balls don’t usually leave the park at this rate. I’d expect that to gradually come down and I’d expect the Phillies to win today.
New York (NL) (-120) at Colorado; Total: 10
There haven’t been a lot of movers this morning, but this line has gone down between 10-15 cents. There’s not a lot of confidence in Matt Harvey in the business community and a start at Coors Field isn’t going to get anybody excited about his prospects. I’m having a tough time with Harvey. I know the stuff is still pretty good and he does have a 21/5 K/BB ratio over his last three starts. The command hasn’t been spectacular, as his .347 BABIP against confirms, but a lot of this seems a little bit overblown to me.
One thing I will point out is that his command from the stretch has been terrible. Harvey has a .238/.312/.333 slash against from the wind-up and a .342/.392/.528 slash from the stretch. Scott Spratt at Rotographs did an excellent job breaking it all down last week. It mirrors, albeit on a much greater scale, some of the problems Harvey has experienced in that split throughout his career, though, a big reason why the split is that big is because of this season.
The thing is, you’re going to deal with runners on base in Coors Field. It simply happens. The conditions make throwing pitches so difficult. Harvey has already seen a drop in fastball velocity and the Coors effect on spin rates won’t help.
People ran to the counter, tripping over each other, to back Jon Gray today. Gray falls into that category that I’ve talked about before. He has a 5.40 ERA with a 2.54 FIP and a 2.14 xFIP. Having 28 strikeouts in 21.2 innings will do that, especially with just six walks. It’s worth pointing out that Gray gave up 11 of his 13 runs, 16 of his 21 hits, and both of his home runs in the two starts he has made at Coors Field this season. His numbers are inflated a bit by some great road numbers with 16 K in 13 IP and two runs allowed on five hits.
I like Jon Gray. In this rotation, he’s like a small cut of Delmonico covered by chuck steak. But I’m not falling over old people at the penny slots to get to the window to fire on this play. I don’t think the line move is misguided, necessarily, I just don’t think I’m writing off Matt Harvey nor am I buying Jon Gray’s suggested regression.
Los Angeles (AL) at Seattle (-155); Total: 8
The last thing a struggling offense wants to do is score 10 runs and still lose. It’s been a steady stream of kicks to the gonads for the Angels over the last week. One of this season’s few potential bright spots is on the bump tonight in Nick Tropeano. As Hector Santiago shows signs of injury and Jered Weaver starts throwing underhand for the deception, Tropeano has a 3.69 ERA with a 25.2 percent strikeout rate. He now has a 22 percent K rate in his 91 career MLB innings. He’s an extreme fly ball guy, which means he’s like Chris Young, but more talented, and we know that can play in certain environments. Angel Stadium is one. Safeco Field should be one.
The thing for Tropeano is that he’s gotten rather unlucky. His career ground ball rate is just 36 percent, but his career BABIP against is .327. If you threw his batted ball distribution into an xBABIP calculator, my best guess is that his BABIP against would be projected more in the .280 range. Perhaps there are some command issues there that we are dealing with, but I still feel like there’s a lot to like about this kid.
Nate Karns is a guy that I like as well. He’s also quietly getting strikeouts at an excellent clip, over a strikeout per inning in his 205.2 career frames. I don’t see any clear signs of regression here, except for a strand rate that is a few ticks too high. It should bump his 3.38 ERA into the 3.67 range like it was last season.
Unfortunately, there’s no value on the Angels as a dog here. They played late into the night on Thursday and used six different relievers. The Mariners had a day off to rest their gassed bullpen. There may be some value on the under, but I think that under comes with like a 4-1 or 5-1 Mariners win. I rarely suggest run lines and I don’t think I’ve suggested one yet this season, but I think there’s some good value to this one.
St. Louis at Los Angeles (NL) (-120); Total: 7.5
The line shifted dramatically for this one after St. Louis played deep into the night in Anaheim. That’s pretty telling, because the market has been skeptical of Ross Stripling ever since his MLB debut, when he flirted with a no-hitter. The idea here is that Clayton Kershaw threw a CG SHO for the Dodgers and the Cardinals bullpen got a workout once again.
There’s a lot of pressure on Michael Wacha here tonight to give the Cardinals length. So far, he’s averaging more than six innings per outing and there are no signs of regression in his profile. His BABIP may actually go down a little bit, but everything seems pretty standard in his 3.12/3.58/3.75 pitcher slash. Outside of his first start of the season, he’s been pretty good.
Ross Stripling has been better than you would expect as well. Stripling has a 3.82 ERA with a 2.88 FIP and a 3.77 xFIP. The FIP is low because he hasn’t given up many home runs and that was a hallmark of his career in the low minors. I still think that number comes up here in short order and maybe it happens against a really good Cardinals offense. Stripling is giving up quite a bit of hard contact. His line drive rate is 24.5 percent and his hard-contact rate is 33 percent. His 4.11 SIERA may be a pretty good indicator of true talent since he’s gotten fortunate with balls in play. His BABIP of .271 should be higher with a batted ball distribution like his.
This is a really unfortunate situation for St. Louis. I would like them in this spot and like their offense if not for the really late softball game last night. They used five relievers and Trevor Rosenthal and Kevin Siegrist would have to work three straight days. There are too many concerns right now for me to play the Cardinals, but I do think that they’re worth a look if this number does climb into the -135 or even -140 range. I don’t see that being the case, unfortunately.