Last Updated: 2019-08-18
Well, friends, we’ve made it to the end of the MLB picks & tips article for 2019. If you missed Friday’s announcement, I’ve made the tough, but reasonable decision to put all of my efforts on football and our daily editions of BangTheBook Radio instead of digging a deeper hole with the baseball season.
Whether it was the home run explosion or every bullpen becoming bad or just my way of handicapping not working out this season, it was a miserable and frustrating MLB season and I needed to cut this article off and focus on football with a clear head. It didn’t seem like baseball was going to get any better and the daily and weekly grind was taking a serious toll on both my mental health and my preparations for other sports.
September is typically my worst month anyway, with a lot of minor league call-ups and a lot of extremely heavy chalk holding serve with inflated prices for those in playoff chases. It’s a good time to cut the article off. It will also allow me to get back into baseball earlier in the winter, since burnout won’t be an issue.
I will be back on the baseball side with playoff series previews and such and The Bettor’s Box will be on BangTheBook Radio the next three Mondays before my weekly segment with Kyle Hunter.
Thank you to those that read these ramblings every day and a special thank you to those that sent positive words and thoughts, despite the sad sack of a season.
951/952 San Diego at Philadelphia (-118, 10.5)
Joey Lucchesi and Jason Vargas meet in a battle of lefties at Citizens Bank Park. A Saturday setback for the Phillies against Dinelson Lamet puts a little bit more emphasis on this one for the home team.
Lucchesi has really impressed me this season. It may not be visible in his 4.25 ERA, but his command profile has been much better. His HR/FB% is down from 20.4% to 13.6%, even with a higher GB%. Usually we see guys with HR problems post higher HR/FB% marks when they induce fewer fly balls simply because of sample size. Not Lucchesi. His K% is down a bit, but the command upgrades stand out to me in a big way. I don’t know what they mean in a vacuum for today, but Lucchesi will be high on my list next season.
His K% is down, but his SwStr% is up. His chase rate is up. His F-Strike% is up. His fastball command is up and his changeup is clearly his best pitch. If he can cultivate a legit third pitch this winter, he could be a breakout star next season.
I’ve talked about Vargas before and how not enough people realize what he has done since his horrendous start to the season. A 4.04/4.82/5.44 pitcher slash won’t move the needle for anybody, but Vargas had a 5.75 ERA and a .379 wOBA against over his first 20.1 innings. He’s not a workhorse by any means, but his wOBA against by month has been .283, .239, .310, .313 over the last four months.
Righties only have a .299 wOBA against him in 367 PA this season. He’s actually fared much better against righties than lefties.
This one looks like a lower-scoring affair to me.
953/954 St. Louis (-171, 9) at Cincinnati
Jack Flaherty is getting the love he deserves today. He opened in the mid -150s and is now up into the -170s against Alex Wood and the Reds. Since July 7, a span of seven starts, Flaherty has a 56/11 K/BB ratio, an 0.79/2.18/3.45 pitcher slash, and hasn’t allowed a run in his last 23 innings.
955/956 LA Dodgers at Atlanta (-133, 10)
Tony Gonsolin gets another crack today for the Dodgers against the Braves. It will be southpaw Max Fried for Atlanta. The Dodgers just keep finding arms, man. I generally don’t worry too much about PCL numbers, so Gonsolin’s 4.35 ERA in 13 starts isn’t all that problematic to me. I like the 50 K in 41.1 innings and only four homers allowed.
This will be his fourth MLB appearance and he has a 13/1 K/BB ratio and has allowed five earned runs on 11 hits in 14 innings of work. I would venture a guess that he’ll be fine today. Maybe not dominant, but I can’t see him getting shelled either.
The Braves have to be happy with Max Fried. It sure seemed like he was tiring out as the All-Star Break approached, as he allowed a 5.68 ERA in June over 31.2 innings with a .353 wOBA against. Since the All-Star Break, he’s limited the opposition to a .288 wOBA in 27.2 innings of work. He’s got a 29/9 K/BB ratio and has only allowed two homers.
This should be a good one, maybe the best of the day, but I don’t see many betting angles worth exploiting. Money has come in heavy on the Braves, though.
957/958 Milwaukee at Washington (-108, 11)
Chase Anderson has been Milwaukee’s best starter. Erick Fedde has been passable for the Nationals, but he isn’t great by any means. These two teams played a marathon slugfest yesterday and there should be some residual hangover for both teams. Yesterday’s starters only went four innings for both sides. That means that the two pens combined to throw 20 innings after Josh Hader blew another save. That was after Sean Doolittle blew a save in epic fashion.
I have no idea where to go with this one. Anderson is better than Fedde, so that’s probably your starting point. Both bullpens wore one yesterday and are on pretty equal footing from a fatigue standpoint. The Nationals have the better lineup, but yesterday was a long day at the yard for both teams. We’ll see which team comes out with more fire.
961/962 San Francisco (-106, 9) at Arizona
Here’s a line move I don’t quite understand. Madison Bumgarner goes up against Merrill Kelly. I haven’t been a big Kelly fan all year, but this line is coming down against Bumgarner.
This is a head-scratcher for me. I also figured the Diamondbacks would play a little better than they have in this series. I really have no idea about this one. The Giants offense also goes in spurts. Overall, it’s a pretty bad group, but they have these runs when they look really good. It’s a little bit strange to me and it was a source of great frustration throughout the season.
963/964 Cubs (-156, 10) at Pittsburgh
Doesn’t this game being chosen for Sunday Night Baseball violate something in the Geneva Convention? Indians/Yankees, Dodgers/Braves, Astros/A’s and this is the game ESPN has. Gross.
Maybe Mitch Keller will pitch well again. Jose Quintana struck out 14 in his most recent effort. Meh.
967/968 Cleveland (-115, 10) at NY Yankees
CC Sabathia comes off of the IL to make this start for the Yankees against his former team. It will be CC’s first start since July 27 against Boston. He allowed nine home runs in his last four starts before the IL stint and the long ball has been a major problem all year with 24 of them.
The Indians have looked a bit sluggish since Thursday’s offensive blowout. They’ve lost some close games and missed out on big hits. We’ll see if they can get them today in support of Mike Clevinger. I will say this. It may be a little bit narrative-based from me, but Clevinger does seem to dominate bad teams and struggle against above average to elite offenses. That isn’t a knock. That happens to most pitchers. But, I feel like that has been the case for him. He didn’t excel against Boston last time out and his two most recent starts have been big step-ups in class.
I wouldn’t be invested in this one today, though I would understand the desire to fade CC off the IL with his HR issue.
969/970 Seattle at Toronto (-158, 10)
Yusei Kikuchi has now allowed 31 home runs in 126.1 innings of work. The Mariners are talking about shutting him down or pitching him out of the bullpen in what is now a lost season. Kikuchi has been victimized by AL West lineups to the tune of an ERA over 8, but he’s been in the 3.75 range against non-AL West teams. He gets an AL East team today.
Wilmer Font opens today for the Jays and it looks like that Thomas Pannone will bulk. The guessing game on some of these bulk relievers is not much fun.
973/974 Minnesota at Texas (-135, 10.5)
A fun one here. Martin Perez against his former team and Lance Lynn trying to keep his career year going. The Rangers do not hit lefties well at all and Perez has a little extra emphasis on this start. Lynn has a 3.54 ERA with a 3.00 FIP and a 3.69 xFIP. This start looks a little bit dicey for me in terms of the opponent. The Twins are really good and really balanced. It isn’t as much of a surprise when Lynn shuts down Houston or Boston or somebody because of a lot of right-handed bats.
The Twins have a lot of bats from both sides. If Perez was exhibiting any sort of command, I’d consider the Twins pretty hard today. But he has allowed 11 HR in his last 33 innings with a .314/.371/.606 slash and a .401 wOBA since the All-Star Break. Maybe this one is an over candidate?
975/976 to 979/980
Big numbers at the bottom of the board:
White Sox at Angels – Griffin Canning and Dylan Cease. I’m actually surprised this number isn’t higher. Canning has been pretty good in his rookie year and Cease has not.
Astros at A’s – Zack Greinke is a big road favorite against the A’s and Brett Anderson. On paper, this does look like an ideal matchup for Houston, with a dominant righty in Greinke against a right-handed-heavy lineup and then a lefty in Anderson against a righty-dominant Astros lineup.
The Astros should have a bullpen advantage as well. Yusmeiro Petit and Blake Treinen have each worked four of the last five days. Lou Trivino and Joakim Soria both had 40+ pitch appearances on Friday. The Astros look like a decent bet today.
Mets at Royals – Zack Wheeler is a big road price against Glenn Sparkman. That makes a ton of sense.
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