It’s been a hellacious week for Adam Burke, the author of our picks and analysis piece and the host of BangTheBook Radio. After a couple of days off from writing, he’s back at it on the new site layout with some thoughts for Sunday. It’ll be a little bit shorter of a look around the Major Leagues with so many day games and some lingering elements of sickness, but the hope is that things will start turning soon.
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 Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Sundays when there are a lot of day games.
San Francisco (-115) at Washington; Total: 7.5
One of today’s more interesting line moves came overnight or early this morning for the Madison Bumgarner vs. Tanner Roark matchup in D.C. Truthfully, it seemed like a pretty fair price at the open, though it does look like oddsmakers were content to let the market bat this number around a little bit by opening right around a money line pick ‘em. The market has definitely spoken.
The Nationals are a top-five offense against lefties this season with a .341 wOBA. Not all lefties are created like Madison Bumgarner, though. Bumgarner has a 2.25 ERA with a 3.13 FIP and a 3.41 xFIP. He’s coming off of his worst start of the season last time out, so maybe the betting market is looking to play against some recency bias. If that’s the case, you certainly can’t fault them for that.
Tanner Roark’s improved changeup is a serious weapon in negating the platoon split, so his 3.02/3.52/3.89 pitcher slash is pretty legitimate, or so it would seem. Roark’s peripherals are improved across the board from last season. Perhaps there’s some slight regression in the LOB%, but Roark’s stranded runners at an above average clip throughout his MLB career and he’ll never post the HR/FB% necessary to post an ERA similar to his xFIP.
I understand the dynamics of this line and the reasons for the move. I’ll stay away from a side, but I do think the under has some value on a getaway day with a great pitcher’s matchup.
Texas (-125) at Houston; Total: 8
No game in August is a must-win, but this is about as close as it gets for Houston if they want a shot at the division. Scoring Game 1 with Dallas Keuchel on the mound was huge, but not being able to beat Lucas Harrell yesterday was disappointing. Now, the Astros have to face Yu Darvish and they’re sending Joe Musgrove out against him.
Everybody knows about Darvish, his strengths, his weaknesses, etc. It’s Joe Musgrove that draws the intrigue today. In his MLB debut, he worked 4.1 relief innings and struck out eight. He takes Lance McCullers’s spot in the rotation. Musgrove is a command guy with average velocity in the 92 range. He’s been working hard on a changeup and we’ll have to see if he falls in love with it as a starter.
Musgrove seems to have a lot of ability with some outstanding K/BB rates in the upper minors. Is it enough to beat Darvish? We’ll have to see. I’d definitely lean Darvish and the Rangers, who are better equipped to keep overachieving based on some of these dealings at the deadline.
Miami at Colorado (-130); Total: 10.5
Adam Conley has quietly been a really good Robin to Jose Fernandez as Batman for the Marlins this season. Conley owns a 3.41/3.88/4.74 pitcher slash on the season. Conley’s xFIP is elevated because of a high walk rate and a HR/FB% so far below league average. He has a solid strikeout rate and has done a good job limiting hard contact. Can he sustain those things at Coors Field, though? I’m not certain about that.
Jon Gray is used to the Coors Field grind and has still managed a 3.77/3.72/3.62 pitcher slash this year with over a strikeout per inning. Gray’s season has gone under the radar and has been really underappreciated. You need to appreciate it here. Conley has some signs of regression that might come out in this park and that’s not a problem of Gray’s.
Boston at Los Angeles (NL) (-110); Total: 7.5
We’ll wrap up this shortened look around MLB with tonight’s Sunday Night Baseball contest. David Price has deserved a better fate more often than not. Price has struck out over a batter per inning, yet he still has a 4.30 ERA with a 3.29 FIP and a 3.19 xFIP. Everything for Price is pointing up this year, except for his actual stats. His K and BB rates are up from last year and his GB% is the highest it has been since 2012. Yet, he has a .334 BABIP against.
Brandon McCarthy has a 2.76/3.07/3.65 in 29.1 innings of work since he came back from Tommy John surgery. McCarthy has only worked seven innings over his last two starts and has allowed six runs on seven hits with seven walks. The Red Sox probably weren’t going to be road favorites in this situation, but it’s fair to consider that they should be. Boston would seem to have a decent starting pitching advantage here in this one that has to be built into the line, but this line is a head-scratcher.
At that point, Boston has to be the initial lean, but this is also the conclusion of a long trip for Boston and they have to be ready to be back at home. If you need action, look up the Red Sox. If not, this line is tricky and should be approached as such.