In a general sense, I can’t stand the MLB schedule makers. Today, I love them. All 15 games start at 4:05 p.m. ET or later, so it’s a great day for handicappers to take care of morning and early afternoon errands before settling in for another day on the diamond. The only outlier on the schedule is the Mets and Giants, who play that 4:05 matchup. The other teams all play at 6:10 or later for the East Coasters. That gives us plenty of time to do those weekend things and still give the matchups the time that they deserve. Let’s see what we’ve got to work with today.
After we look back at yesterday. It was Houston that outscored Baltimore on Friday night. Those that played the over cashed it in the second inning. Those that played Baltimore lost. Francisco Liriano and Trevor Bauer were both excellent, as the Jays and Indians failed to score many runs. Regression hit for Michael Fulmer and the Red Sox rolled. Colorado walked-off an underdog winner. The Yankees scored a touchdown and an extra point to shut out the Angels. The Giants rolled for straight ML players, -1 players, and -1.5 players. It was a solid day for us overall.
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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.
Texas at Tampa Bay (-105); Total: 8
We’ve got a money line pick ‘em scenario in Tampa Bay between the Rangers and the Rays. AJ Griffin goes for the Rangers against Jake Odorizzi for the Rays. I’ve talked a lot about the Rangers this season and their obvious signs of regression. They have the better win percentage ever in one-run games right now and just keep on winning. The Rays are a team I think has some value as we move forward here, particularly against other AL East competition. But, do they have value today?
Griffin owns a 4.68 ERA with a 5.31 FIP and a 4.92 xFIP. Since returning from the DL on June 25, Griffin has a 5.82 ERA with a 6.50 FIP and a 5.01 xFIP. But, in his 10 starts, Griffin has allowed three runs or less in six of them, so he has been competent at times. It’s all a matter of which guy shows up. I don’t like starters like this with a lot of variance, but Tropicana Field isn’t the worst place for a fly ball pitcher, as seen by Griffin’s opponent.
Jake Odorizzi has a 3.72 ERA with a 4.13 FIP and a 4.36 xFIP on the year. He’s got solid K/BB peripherals, but he has given up some home runs this year. Odorizzi does have a 3.18 ERA at home with a .223/.275/.372 slash. He’s given up more doubles at home, but three fewer home runs. The ball doesn’t carry all that well at Tropicana Field, so that can be a benefit for both of these starters in this matchup. The All-Star Break seems to have helped Odorizzi and the end of the trade rumors may be part of that improvement as well. Odorizzi has some huge reverse splits. He has allowed a .281/.334/.484 slash to righties and has held lefties to a .190/.250/.321 slash. Does that help him against the Rangers? We’ll have to see, as the Rangers are fairly balanced L/R.
There are a lot of variables in this game, so it looks like a stay away matchup. If you have to play anything, perhaps the under works for these two, as Tropicana could play a little bit big.
Miami at Pittsburgh (-120); Total: 8
I find the line move in this game pretty interesting. The Marlins have dropped about 10 cents. Miami scratched out a win against Gerrit Cole on Friday to set the tone properly for the series, which is a big one for both teams. Phelps has already made 53 appearances, though only three of them have been starts. He’s been a very valuable part of this team. In his three starts, he’s allowed three runs on 12 hits with a 17/5 K/BB ratio. He’s not working all that deep into games as of yet, but this is his fourth start, so Don Mattingly may let him go a little longer tonight.
Chad Kuhl goes for the Pirates in this one. Kuhl has a 3.73 ERA with a 3.94 FIP and a 4.84 xFIP in his 31.1 innings of work. The K/BB ratio isn’t all that impressive and he’s allowed some hard contact this season. Kuhl is predominantly a three-pitch pitcher with a sinker, slider, and a straight fastball. He’ll mix in a changeup, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Marlins adjust after one trip through the lineup.
It’s tough to tell if Phelps can maintain his pace as a starter with so many relief appearances under his belt. The Pirates have some gifted offensive pieces, but they haven’t been able to put it all together this year. Perhaps I’m underrating Miami and overvaluing Pittsburgh. I liked Pittsburgh for the series, but they needed last night’s game with Cole on the hill.
The line movement may be right here in this instance.
Boston (-125) at Detroit; Total: 9
The Red Sox are a road favorite here for this matchup with Drew Pomeranz on the hill against Daniel Norris. The Red Sox have gotten back to some normalcy with the schedule after a rough start to the week. Also, with last night’s blowout, they were able to put it in cruise control and make some substitutions. Pomeranz has thrown the ball pretty well for the Red Sox. His K/BB issues are worrisome, but he has allowed two runs or less in four of his six starts.
The Tigers are an interesting matchup for Pomeranz. They have a lot of good right-handed hitters, but Pomeranz has held righties to a .198/.278/.351 slash with a .275 wOBA. He’s really done well to neutralize righties. You’d usually picture a lefty struggling in that split, but Pomeranz has done anything but. His 117/39 K/BB ratio is spectacular against righties. That could really hurt Detroit in this matchup.
The Tigers are sending out Daniel Norris, who has a lot of promise, but consistency is still a work in progress. Norris has a 3.47 ERA with a 4.26 FIP and a 4.75 xFIP. His K/BB ratios are okay, but he has some interesting numbers. His .360 BABIP is problematic, but likely due for regression. His 83.3 percent LOB% is likely to regress. The Red Sox are third in wOBA against lefties. There’s a lot more upside to Boston in this spot, but you do have to wonder about their -125 price tag.
The Tigers are now seven out in the Central. The Red Sox have to win every game with the collection of teams atop the East. It’s hard to bet against Boston here, given Pomeranz’s performance against righties and the fact that he’s getting more comfortable with the AL and with Boston. Norris is still too much of a wild card to consider, so the Red Sox look like the side.
Toronto (-115) at Cleveland; Total: 8.5
The Indians are a home dog. Josh Tomlin was a home dog on Monday against Drew Pomeranz and Boston and the Indians lost that game by one run. That was a unique situation with a standalone makeup game. June 17 is the last time the Indians were a home dog with a traditional situation. Trevor Bauer went toe-to-toe with Jose Quintana and the Indians won.
We’re actually seeing some people coming in on the Indians. That’s a tough sell for me. Josh Tomlin is back off of the family emergency list. We don’t know why he was on it, but it seems like it could be a tough spot for a guy coming off of some kind of personal issue. Tomlin has a 5.17 ERA with a 5.57 FIP and a 4.07 xFIP in his last 62.2 innings. He’s given up 16 HR in that span and 40 runs on 68 hits. Four of them are unearned, so he hasn’t gotten as much defensive help as you would like, but he’s been nearly impossible to back.
Aaron Sanchez has a 2.84 ERA with a 3.30 FIP and a 3.55 xFIP. Sanchez has an extreme ground ball rate and a .278 BABIP against. There’s some room for regression there as he keeps setting new career bars in innings pitched. One really underrated element about the Indians is that they go first-to-third as good as anybody in the league and they also steal bases at a high efficiency rate. Against a ground ball guy, these are interesting elements. Ground ball singles mean first-to-third and stolen bases mean opportunities to stay out of double plays.
I’d probably look at the over here in this spot. Last night seemed like an anomaly. Tonight looks like a great chance for some runs.
Arizona (-130) at San Diego; Total: 8.5
Robbie Ray and Clayton Richard both throw left-handed, so that plays right into the strengths of their respective opponents. The Diamondbacks have the league’s top offense by wOBA against left-handed pitching and the highest slugging percentage by a wide margin. The Padres are seventh in wOBA against lefties, although they have dropped a couple of spots in recent weeks.
Ray has a 4.47 ERA with a 3.63 FIP and a 3.40 xFIP. He’s struck out nearly 11 batters per nine innings, but his .359 BABIP and his high HR/FB% has kept him from reaching his full potential. He’s given up a ton of hard contact and that’s definitely hurt his ERA. Clayton Richard is making just his second start of the year and he’s been pretty bad in his 27 relief appearances. Richard has a 5.75 ERA with a 5.21 FIP and a 5.17 xFIP. Righties have posted a .311/.426/.545 slash in 54 plate appearances against Richard. He’ll be on a pitch count, so who know how long the Diamondbacks will actually face a lefty, but they could jump out to an early lead.
The Diamondbacks are not a team that I’m high on. But, Ray has more potential than Richard and a collection of bullpen arms, so the only way to look here is the road chalk.
It’s not a great day with a lot of replacement-level or below pitchers on the mound, so keep it simple today.