All in all, it’s a pretty terrible day to bet baseball on August 14. There are a lot of subpar starters and there are some extremely big lines. We’ll still do our due diligence to find those betting opportunities that can be profitable for you, but it will be a small card and a shorter article here today. Sometimes those days are going to happen, especially on Sundays with getaway day games and key players getting a day of rest.
Before we look to Sunday, we’ll look back at Saturday. The Reds were a really strong winner for us as Zach Davies’s regression did hit in a big way. That was our best play of the day, but the Giants gave us another late winner. We’ve been seeing them a little bit better here at the tail end of the week, so hopefully you’ve been able to hop on and profit right alongside.
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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.
Kansas City at Minnesota (-125); Total: 9
Sometimes there are pitchers or teams that you just can’t figure out. Edinson Volquez and Hector Santiago have given me fits throughout my handicapping career. Volquez because he shouldn’t have been as good as he was and Santiago because I never know what to expect from him. This year, Volquez has regressed to the levels I expected. He has a 5.03 ERA with a 4.37 FIP and a 4.42 xFIP. Two years of magic from the Royals has left the tank empty and the team has run out of pixie dust. Volquez has similar K/BB peripherals, but he’s giving up more dingers and more hits overall. The Twins, as I mentioned yesterday, entered Saturday’s action third in wRC+ since the All-Star Break.
Hector Santiago is still an awful pitcher and I stand by that claim. He has a 4.47 ERA with a 5.13 FIP and a 5.07 xFIP on the year. This season, he’s allowed more baserunners and more home runs, so his ERA is up nearly a run from last season. The thing about this matchup is that the Royals offense is terrible. They have scored 15 fewer runs than any other AL team. When you consider that, the situations for both teams, and the pitching matchup, this price seems like a pretty nice gift on the Twins. I’m not sure if it’s perception bias about the Royals or what, but this is a game that should be more like -140 or -145 in my mind, even with how bad Santiago is.
Cincinnati at Milwaukee (-120); Total: 9.5
This is a really interesting handicap, even though the series doesn’t really matter at all. Cody Reed takes on Wily Peralta in a matchup of two pitchers with vastly different outlooks. Reed has shown some good swing and miss stuff and an excellent ground ball rate in his first 46.2 innings of big league ball, but he’s posted a 6.36 ERA with a 5.62 FIP. He has 42 K in 46.2 innings, but he’s also allowed 11 HR.
Wily Peralta was recalled for his first start since June 11 and threw the ball really well. He worked six quality innings and had the best velocity of his career. Peralta has a 6.38 ERA with a 5.34 FIP and a 4.66 xFIP on the season. His velocity gains are pretty interesting and we’ll have to see if it’s sustainable or if he was just fired up to return to the bigs. It’s entirely possible that the Brewers worked on a mechanical fix while he was down.
In this spot, unfortunately, it’s hard to back either guy. If the velocity gains are legit for Peralta, he could be a much more compelling arm. Reed has had some blow-ups and some good starts, but he’s volatile. Our goal in handicapping every MLB game is to take as much of the volatility out of the equation as we can. There’s not much to take out of this game.
Detroit at Texas (-110); Total: 9.5
The rubber match in Arlington features AJ Griffin as a short favorite over Michael Fulmer. This line will probably catch some people by surprise. Fulmer is legitimately in the AL Cy Young conversation, although he doesn’t have the strikeouts and won’t reach the necessary innings threshold to stay in that conversation. I’m looking for regression from Fulmer and soon. He has a 2.43 ERA with a 3.64 FIP and a 3.82 xFIP. He’s thriving on a .252 BABIP against and an 82.7 percent LOB%. Those are numbers that should regress as we move forward here this season and that’s probably part of the reason why the line is shaded like it is. The market hasn’t been backing Fulmer with the same vigor recently.
AJ Griffin has a 4.38 ERA with a 5.15 FIP and a 5.03 xFIP. Oddsmakers don’t set “trap lines” intentionally, per se, but this one definitely has that type of feel. Griffin hasn’t thrown the ball very well since his return from the DL. The Rangers are a team that the market soured on for a long stretch because they were outperforming so many traditional metrics. Here they are as a slight home favorite in a series-deciding game with a clear disadvantage in the pitching matchup? The Rangers look like the side here, don’t they?
Seattle (-110) at Oakland; Total: 9
The A’s will send Zach Neal out to the mound against Wade LeBlanc and the Mariners. This is another interesting line. Neal is making just his third start of the year and has a 4.60 ERA with a 4.70 FIP and a 4.13 xFIP. Neal has one of the lowest strikeout rates in baseball this season among guys with at least 25 innings pitched, so don’t expect him to miss a whole lot of bats against a Mariners team that has been surging of late.
Wade LeBlanc’s shine is wearing off for the Mariners. He has a 4.71 ERA with a 5.64 FIP and a 4.98 xFIP in his 36.1 innings of work. Oddsmakers clearly don’t think much of LeBlanc, as evidenced by this line, but I don’t think much of Neal or Oakland. Seattle needs all of these games and they have to be engaged on a regular basis as they look to make up ground on the wild card teams.
This is one of those games where I don’t have to think much about it. It might lose, but the Mariners are unquestionably the side to take here.
St. Louis at Chicago (NL) (-175); Total: 9
Mike Leake and John Lackey get together here for Sunday Night Baseball. Unfortunately, there’s not much to say about this game. The Cubs should win and both teams are off on Monday, so there aren’t going to be any good wagering angles to come out of this one, even if it runs late.
Keep it simple today. That’s the best advice I can give.