Congratulations on making it to another weekend. We only have seven weekends left of the Major League Baseball season, many of which will be completely overshadowed by football. There’s a full slate of night games to contemplate here on August 19, as we try to keep building up that bankroll. There are a lot of numbers that are a little bit higher than the range that we like to play, so it could be an interesting day of underdogs or alternative betting options like team totals. Let’s see what Friday night has in store.
It took some late-inning heroics, but the Tigers did win yesterday in the awful situational spot for the Red Sox. The Red Sox showed a lot in that spot. It’ll be interesting to see if they bring that intensity tonight, in a game we will discuss. We got anything but a low-scoring affair in Baltimore, so the under was a big loser there. The Twins got smoked, so that was also a poor decision. Seattle also fell to the Angels. It was a bad day for us. No excuses. Back to the grind today.
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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.
Houston at Baltimore (-110); Total: 9
There are a lot of things I don’t like about this game. I haven’t been a fan of Wade Miley at any point in his career, though I appreciate his ability to eat innings. Collin McHugh’s ongoing command problems are a major worry against a Baltimore offense that does a lot of damage on balls in play. I think we see how little the oddsmakers think of Miley with the price on this line.
Personally, I like Baltimore here. McHugh certainly has more upside than Miley and has been about a strikeout-per-inning pitcher on the season. On the other hand, McHugh has allowed 160 hits and 18 home runs in his 134 innings of work. Hitters from both sides of the plate are doing damage. His K rate is a good asset, but the ultra-aggressive Orioles do a decent job of putting the ball in play. Baltimore is the second-ranked offense in wOBA against right-handed pitching.
Houston is in the middle of the pack against lefties. My biases against Miley would rate them a little bit higher in this particular matchup, but I still feel like Baltimore’s going to put up some runs here that Houston may not be able to keep up with. A repeat of yesterday’s 13-5 might be a stretch, but McHugh’s command issues are really worrisome here and Baltimore clearly has the better bullpen.
Toronto at Cleveland (-125); Total: 9.5
Truthfully, I was a little bit surprised to see Cleveland this big of a favorite. I expected this number to open in the -115 or -118 range. Trevor Bauer has really struggled here of late. The Blue Jays may not be an awful matchup for him because of his success against right-handed hitters, but Bauer has a 6.50 ERA with a 5.87 FIP and a 5.25 xFIP over his last seven starts. He has 28 K against 20 BB and he’s allowed seven home runs. He’s really struggling right now and I don’t think that confidence was high on him in the marketplace anyway.
Confidence clearly isn’t high in Francisco Liriano either. The Indians have been surging up the wOBA charts against lefties here of late, so Liriano will have to work hard to get through this lineup. He has a 5.46/5.27/4.55 pitcher slash for the year and a 5.40/5.12/4.61 in his two starts with the Blue Jays. He’s going to lose some strikeouts in the AL and his already lofty walk rate is unlikely to improve.
I can’t make any plays in this game. The over obviously makes some sense and Progressive Field has played fairly small at times this year. I do feel like Liriano has bigger blow-up potential than Bauer, who can usually find a way to hang around and get outs long enough to keep things manageable. That’s not a ringing endorsement, by any means, but it’s something.
Boston at Detroit (-105); Total: 8.5
We’ve seen the oddsmakers take a very skeptical approach to Michael Fulmer of late and a lot of people believe he’s been underpriced over his last few starts. There’s a lot to unpack for this game. What’s the status of the Red Sox? Boston played a random day game on Thursday for their fourth game in 99 hours. They gave it their all, but lost in heartbreaking fashion. Things get back to normal and they have a day to rest and relax in Motown before tonight’s matchup. Will there be any residual hangover?
We’ve talked about this before, and it hasn’t hit yet, but Michael Fulmer is due for regression. Fulmer’s ERA is now down to 2.25 with a 3.47 FIP and a 3.71 xFIP. He has a .248 BABIP against and an 83.3 percent strand rate. These really aren’t sustainable numbers. Perhaps he bucks the trends and sustains them, but he has reached a new career high in innings pitched, so fatigue may start to become a factor. Also, his K rate is a little better than league average, which, generally, isn’t conducive to carrying a strand rate that high.
There’s also the angle of Rick Porcello returning to face the team that drafted him. It’s his second year with Boston, so it’s not like this will be an odd feeling, but it’s always an interesting storyline. Porcello has been terrific this season with a 3.30 ERA, a 3.70 FIP, and a 3.98 xFIP. He’s been a real savior for the Red Sox rotation while David Price has struggled and the team has been in a state of flux after Porcello.
I feel like I have to stay consistent here and bank on Fulmer regression. Boston is certainly the type of offense capable of delivering it. These are two iffy bullpens right now, so if the starters cancel out, there’s no real edge late in the game. I do trust Porcello to pitch very well here. The Tigers are extremely right-handed-heavy and righties only have a .286 OBP against Porcello.
Hopefully Boston will be ready to go because I think they’re the side tonight.
Chicago (NL) (-150) at Colorado; Total: 11
In terms of upset potential, I feel there’s a good bit of value here on the Rockies. The prolific Cubs offense at Coors Field is probably going to look like an auto play for public bettors throughout the weekend. Kyle Hendricks takes the hill for the best team in baseball against Tyler Anderson for the Rockies.
I love Kyle Hendricks. I have all season. There are some worries here. Hendricks has a 2.19 ERA with a 3.39 FIP and a 3.63 xFIP. Hendricks is a master at inducing weak contact, so we’ll have to see if he can carry that over to Coors Field, where pitches move differently. He has a .249 BABIP against and an 80.8 percent strand rate. There’s definitely some regression potential here. The Cubs are a great defensive team and that has helped, but there are some minor worries, largely due to the park factor on Friday night.
Tyler Anderson was ejected from his last start. As a rookie, that’s something that you want to atone for in your next outing. His teammates and manager probably had no issues with it, but there’s some extra incentive to perform in that following start. Anderson has an arsenal that can work at Coors Field. He doesn’t walk guys and he gets a lot of ground balls. Now, you can argue that this is hypocritical because Hendricks is a similar type of starter, but Anderson has more experience with these conditions.
Obviously, there’s a lot working against Colorado here. Probably the lesser of the two starters. The weaker bullpen. But, at a +140 price that could potentially grow throughout the day, they’re one of the more attractive underdog picks of Friday night’s card.
New York (AL) (-140) at Los Angeles (AL); Total: 8
Here’s a similar situation to what I was talking about earlier in the week. Kansas City, of course, blew out the Twins on Thursday night to ignore this situational angle, but I wonder what the incentive is for the Angels to come and play the visiting Yankees tonight. The Yankees are an attendance draw anywhere they go, so maybe there will be a good crowd at Angel Stadium tonight. But, this game means nothing to them. It’s just another day at the ballpark. At least with games against the Mariners, the Angels are dictating the playoff race.
You can make a case that the Yankees aren’t that far out of the postseason. I believe they are, but there’s a division rivalry angle in play with Seattle that isn’t there with New York. The Yankees are sending Masahiro Tanaka to the hill tonight. It will be interesting to see how they handle Tanaka the rest of the way, particularly if the playoffs get farther away. With this start, Tanaka will set a career high in Major League innings pitched in a season. His strikeout rate has bounced back in recent outings, but he’s also given up 16 runs over his last four outings.
Tanaka’s velocity ratings have been good, in fact, he’s had some of his highest average fastball velocities and the smallest ranges, so his arm health would seem to be okay by that metric. It’s probably just some variance, particularly on defense, where the Yankees don’t really excel. I really like Tanaka in a park that suppresses mistakes. Angel Stadium really knocks down fly balls and the cooler conditions lead to a softer infield at night. That should help Tanaka.
Jered Weaver is bad everywhere. He’s given up 84 runs in 164 hits and only has 67 strikeouts this season. He’s allowed 26 home runs, 12 of them at home. Usually, Weaver can survive at Angel Stadium. That’s not the case this year. He’s given up four or more runs in 14 of his 23 starts this season. If Tanaka and the Yankees pen is given four runs, is that going to be enough? I would say yes. As a result, I’d look to back the Yankees here, even if this price is a little bit lofty.
New York (NL) at San Francisco (-145); Total: 7
The Giants deserved a price adjustment. They’ve been terrible since the All-Star Break. Remember, though, that we find a lot of value in playing against extremes. We all know that the Giants are a much better team than they’ve played. It helps to have Johnny Cueto on the hill here tonight. After getting back on track a little bit offensively last night to bail out Madison Bumgarner and the bullpen, the Giants get to take some hacks against spot starter Seth Lugo. Lugo’s been good in nine relief appearances, but this is a different animal.
Cueto owns a 2.97 ERA with a 3.01 FIP and a 3.48 xFIP on the season in 166.2 innings of work. At AT&T Park, Cueto has held opposing batters to a .240/.280/.301 slash. I understand the lower price on the Giants, but given that I’m not big on the Mets and the Giants are mispriced because of their recent struggles, this line should be at least -160 in my mind.
If you want to limit risk and take the -1 play, go right ahead. I think the Giants are in a great spot tonight. Sometimes all it takes is one offensive explosion to right the ship and to do it against a good pitcher in Jacob deGrom and an above average bullpen, that’s a big step for the Giants. They’re a great look tonight in my opinion.