It’s a busy night of baseball with 15 games and 30 teams to choose from. There are only a handful of really big numbers out there as well, so there seems to be plenty of value on the board. Some numbers have already been hit overnight and early this morning, but that’s just fine. It doesn’t take much to move an initial baseball line 10 cents. My philosophy is that getting the best number isn’t the most important thing because it’s not your job. It’s not your livelihood. It’s a supplement or a hobby. So, with that in mind, focus on getting the best number that you can get. A very small percentage of the handicapping population can get that “best number”. Get the best one that you can and be happy with that.
To recap yesterday’s results, it wasn’t a busy card for us. The two strongest total plays, under in WAS/KC and SEA/OAK hit, and the lean post-line movement on San Diego hit. Hopefully today’s card presents some more opportunities with five more games to pick from.
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.
Detroit at Cleveland (-120); Total: 8
I don’t understand the respect Cleveland keeps getting day after day and this is coming from an Indians fan. They’re not looking the part right now. I subscribe to the sabermetric idea that strikeouts don’t matter a whole lot more than other types of outs, but it is pretty disconcerting to see just how much the Indians are striking out. Strikeouts are up league-wide and this is a growing trend. We’re basically a three true outcomes league this season with HR, K, and BB ruling the baseball landscape. Only seven teams are batting .270 or higher and one of them is Colorado, so we take that with a grain of salt.
In any event, the Indians get another crack at Justin Verlander, who threw the best game I’ve seen him pitch in two or three years last time he faced the Tribe. The Indians will counter with Josh Tomlin. I’m a little bit worried about Tomlin here, since the Tigers saw his new look and altered approach back on April 22. Tomlin was excellent in that start, but the depth of his arsenal is still a worry for me because there’s nothing overpowering. A .231 BABIP isn’t here to stay with a 38.9 percent hard-contact rate. Advanced metrics definitely aren’t on board with a 4.09 SIERA and a 4.11 xFIP. But, we know that SIERA and xFIP rely heavily on strikeouts and that’s not really Tomlin’s thing.
The Indians bullpen is a bit of a mess right now as well. I think the only way to go about this game is Detroit or stay away. The Indians needed Monday’s off day and several players spent the night at the Cavs game. Several Tigers took in the Cavs game as well. Perhaps it was a late night for some of them? Who knows.
New York (AL) at Baltimore (-115); Total: 8.5
Obvious line move is obvious. Remember how I’ve said in the past that bettors will auto bet any game where one pitcher has a high ERA and a low xFIP and the other pitcher has a low ERA and a high xFIP. Welcome to this game.
Luis Severino has a 6.86 ERA with a 3.63 FIP and a 3.16 xFIP. He has a .417 BABIP against and a 62.1 percent LOB%. Chris Tillman has a 3.24 ERA with a 2.75 FIP and a 4.07 xFIP. This is the biggest mover of the day so far, as some books opened the Birds as a -135 favorite.
I’m all for betting on regression and it’s a big part of my handicapping. But, assuming that it’s cut and dry is the wrong way to go about it. Luis Severino has a high BABIP against and a high ERA because his pitches haven’t been located well. He has a 32.4 percent line drive rate and a 31.1 percent hard-contact rate through 19.2 innings of work. He’s also only recorded 12 strikeouts. His swinging strike rate is way down and his zone-contact rate is way up. He’s given up 32 hits in 19.2 innings of work.
To me, this looks like a pitcher that was rushed. The Yankees were dying for a good rotation arm during last season’s playoff push and sent Severino up the ladder after 61 innings in Triple-A. He probably needs more time in the minors to refine his pitches. As hitters have seen him and have better scouting reports, he hasn’t been able to adjust. The raw stuff is special. The application of that stuff isn’t quite there yet.
As for Tillman, his velocity increase and usage change to go with more sliders has certainly caught my attention. There are some signs of regression, namely in his HR/FB% and his strikeout rate, but I’d try to enjoy this while it lasts. Tillman has enjoyed a 14.1 percent drop in zone-contact. That’s not sustainable at all. He’ll turn back into a pumpkin soon enough. I’m not sure if it will happen here. This will be his first start against the Yankees with the new arsenal, so maybe he can get by here.
At this price, Tillman certainly has some value.
Arizona at Miami (-110); Total: 8
It’s not going well for Patrick Corbin this season. For whatever reason, he cut back on his slider usage and has been throwing more changeups. His changeup has easily rated as his worst pitch throughout his career and it hasn’t helped him at all this season. Corbin went from a 37.7 percent chase rate last season to a 29.6 percent chase rate this season. As you would expect, his swinging strike rate is down three percent. He’s allowed a ton of hard contact and seven home runs in 31.1 innings.
I don’t think Corbin is worth your money until he figures this command thing out. He actually scrapped the changeup last start and pitched worse than he had in any other start. His slider usage has been under 19 percent in each of his last two starts. I don’t understand it. Of course, his velocity was down as well, so we may have to watch this going forward. His zone% was also down. I’m worried. This may be some signs of injury.
Justin Nicolino has excellent command, so he’s been able to work his way up the MiLB ladder while not being able to strike out anybody. As a general rule, I don’t like pitchers that can’t get strikeouts. Nicolino has 25 in 81.1 career MLB innings. There are very few wrinkles here. He’s a fastball/cutter/curve/change guy that has no margin for error. Every pitch has to be spotted perfectly.
This wouldn’t be a play on Nicolino. This would solely be a fade on Corbin. I like the Marlins tonight because I truly think there’s something wrong with Corbin right now. It may simply be mechanical, and hopefully that’s the case, but the Diamondbacks haven’t exactly shown a whole lot of pitching awareness and IQ lately, so I’d be surprised to see it fixed quickly.
Also, the Marlins lead all of baseball in batting average against LHP and rank fourth in wOBA. That helps. The Diamondbacks are third, in case the over interests you more than the side.
Los Angeles (NL) at Tampa Bay (-125); Total: 7.5
Things got a little bit better for Scott Kazmir last time out when he scatted seven hits over six innings against the Marlins. Kazmir told LA media that he has been dealing with a thumb issue that dates back to Spring Training. He got an extra day between starts here, so maybe that will help him out a little bit. He hasn’t been very efficient with his pitches so far this season and that’s something we’re used to seeing from Kazmir. He allows a lot of foul ball contact.
He’ll face an extra hitter here as the slumping Dodgers hit the road to battle the Rays. Matt Moore continues to throw the ball well. Moore has 35 K in 32 innings and he has been able to sustain his velocity. The occasional home run has bothered him, but that’s about it. He has been pitching from behind a little bit too much with a 52.7 percent first-pitch strike rate.
The Dodgers get to add an extra hitter to the lineup here, but I like the Rays. The unfamiliar lefty angle comes into play here with Moore and the Dodgers. Kazmir’s been around long enough to know what he’s about. The Dodgers are 24th in wOBA against LHP. There’s some positive regression coming there because they have a .258 BABIP as a team, but I’d be surprised if it comes here. Moore does allow some hard contact, but the Dodgers are going to need a time or two through the lineup to get it all figured out.
I also like Tampa Bay’s bullpen a lot more right now than Los Angeles’s. The Dodgers don’t have many reliable guys to get the ball to Kenley Jansen.
Seattle at Oakland (-120); Total: 7
This line surprises me a little bit. It felt like oddsmakers couldn’t give Sonny Gray enough respect last season, when the A’s were terrible. The A’s are okay this season and Gray seems to be underpriced on a regular basis. The Dodgers were probably on to something when they backed out of Hisashi Iwakuma’s free agent deal. Kuma’s velocity has been down this season and the breaking balls haven’t had the same effect so far. His swinging strike rate is down quite a bit. He’s also working behind in the count more often.
There are some weird things about his stats. Even though he has a 20 percent IFFB%, his BABIP is still .330. Pop ups are automatic outs 99.9 percent of the time. He’s had no batted ball luck. I’m not sure if that’s a command thing or not. It looks to me like it’s simply bad luck because his hard-hit rate is about the same as last season. The Mariners are a lot better defensively overall, but Iwakuma hasn’t been a benefactor yet.
BABIP luck is never an issue for Sonny Gray. He induces so much weak contact that he’ll always have success with that. This season, Gray’s trying to strike more hitters out and the negative byproduct is that his walk rate has ballooned. He’s not getting as many chases and has used the slider less this season. Hitters are swinging less overall, so he must be having some sequencing issues.
He’s had a strange start to the season, though. He missed the start of the year with food poisoning and then fought with his control for a couple of starts. Now he’s back to doing the same thing.
I’m not sure what to make of either one of these pitchers right now. I think Gray will be okay in the long run. I’m not sure about Iwakuma.
As far as the offenses go, they should both excel against RHP and neither one has. The Mariners have a 109 wRC+, which is good, but a .319 wOBA, which is 13th. The A’s have a .294 wOBA, as they are trying to copycat the Royals and get away from walking as much as they used to. I wanted to look under here because I like both bullpens, but these offenses should see some gains against RHP soon.