A shortened schedule awaits on Monday, as we have nine games to consider. By this point in the season, oddsmakers have a pretty good idea about teams and prices for pitchers. Even though they don’t dig as deep into the advanced metrics or the statistics, they have a lot of data on their own regarding betting patterns, opening and closing numbers, handle percentages, and a whole lot more that goes into the setting of a number. That’s what we’re up against on a daily basis when betting baseball and it can be hard to overcome.
It’s been a rough week for your author, who has battled a serious illness and still isn’t over it. The article was dark Friday and Saturday, but returned on Sunday with a reduced number of game breakdowns. The under hit nicely in San Francisco/Washington and readers also snagged a small road chalk winner on Texas. Regression did hit for Adam Conley, but Jon Gray was hit harder. Boston was a loser in a strange handicap to wrap up the night. All in all, it wasn’t a bad day to get back on the horse.
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.
Tampa Bay at Toronto (-145); Total: 9
Bright spots have been fairly few and far between for the Rays this season, but Jake Odorizzi is one of them again this season. In his third full season as a big leaguer, Odorizzi has upped his strikeout rate and has done pretty well across the board. His elevated home run rate is the main culprit of his run spikes in ERA and FIP. Odorizzi was a pretty popular trade target last month, but nothing got done.
The Rays are well off the pace in the division and they’re looking ahead to the end of the season. Toronto, on the other hand, leads the wild card and is one game back in the division. They certainly have a lot to play for right about now. Is that built into the line? Probably, when you consider that RA Dickey is on the mound for the Jays. Dickey has a 4.49 ERA, a 5.30 FIP, and a 4.65 xFIP on the season.
In this one, the Jays are a little bit out of range, but they have to be the side. The Rays and Jays are in two very different places and Dickey is keeping this line low. One thing to remember about the Blue Jays is that they are now rolling out a six-man rotation to keep Aaron Sanchez’s innings down. Remember that when you think about starters bouncing back or their routines being altered.
San Francisco at Miami (-140); Total: 6.5
Johnny Cueto and Jose Fernandez. That’ll be a fun pitching matchup at Marlins Park. Cueto has a 2.73 ERA with a 2.87 FIP and a 3.41 xFIP as he continues to do all the things that have given him success throughout his career. He has a well above average LOB% and that’s how he maintains a low ERA. He’s so good at inducing weak contact and he’s even been able to carry a low ERA without the aid of the low BABIPs that he used to sport.
Jose Fernandez has struggled in his last two starts, as much as Jose Fernandez can struggle. He’s given up eight runs on 14 hits in 11 innings in starts against St. Louis and the Cubs. Normally, he’s a guy that you can just pencil in for seven innings with one or two runs allowed. This is probably nothing more than facing a couple of good lineups. Money has come in on Cueto for this one, which does make some sense, since he’s almost never this big of an underdog.
In matchups like this, low total or not, I’m almost always going to assume that both pitchers will hold up their respective ends of the bargain. I’d look for a very low-scoring affair in this one.
Texas (-110) at Colorado; Total: 10.5
Cole Hamels is having an excellent season for the Rangers, who seem like they’re going to be able to spit in the face of the advanced standings metrics after another series win over the Astros. Hamels and the Rangers now head to Colorado for some interleague action. Hamels had a bit of a long ball problem earlier in the season, but that’s basically gone now. Since June 17, Hamels has only allowed two home runs in 57.1 innings. The home runs were the only black mark on Hamels’s stat line this season and those are pretty much in the past. Coors Field could bring them back, but we’ll have to see. The biggest thing about Coors is not issuing walks. Hamels has had periodic walk issues this season.
Tyler Anderson has been terrific this season for the Rockies and has all the tools you’d want in a Colorado starter. He doesn’t walk people and he keeps the ball on the ground. Anderson has a 3.25 ERA with a 3.13 FIP and a 3.29 xFIP. My best guess is that people are going to see the short line with Hamels against Colorado and some guy they’ve never heard of and hit the Rangers.
There are some questions as to whether or not trap lines do exist. I certainly believe oddsmakers want to influence action in certain situations. Is this an example of that? It might be. Hamels has the stuff to shut down the Rockies at Coors Field. Coming off of that big series win over Houston, maybe oddsmakers are a little bit concerned about a letdown. With all the context, it seems like Colorado might be the pick here.
Detroit at Seattle (-120); Total: 7.5
Here’s another line that’s sure to surprise you. Michael Fulmer is a short dog at Seattle against Hisashi Iwakuma. The Tigers are rolling right now, with their best starter on the mound, and they’re underdogs against a Mariners team that has hovered around .500 for a while, though they have won five of six.
Brad Ausmus talked about finding a way to limit Fulmer’s innings the rest of the way by pushing him back behind off days to give him a couple extra days of rest here and there. In a playoff hunt, we’ll have to see how tightly they stick to that plan. Fulmer’s showing some big signs of regression. He has a 2.42 ERA with a 3.76 FIP and a 3.86 xFIP. He has allowed a .250 BABIP and has stranded 83.7 percent of baserunners. His strikeout rate isn’t at some elite level, so the LOB% is due to come down a bit. Oddsmakers generally don’t dig too deep into the stats like that, but if the market has been showing signs of fading Fulmer, alarm bells have to be going off.
What makes this line even more interesting is that Iwakuma hasn’t been very good this season. He has a 3.99 ERA with a 4.29 FIP and a 4.45 xFIP. He has gotten better over his last five starts, but BABIP luck is a big deal for him this year with a declining strikeout rate. Kuma is not the type of guy I’d run to back, especially as a favorite against the hottest team in baseball.
This is a stay away game, but definitely a very interesting line.