Another day on the diamond begins early with a 12:35 p.m. ET first pitch in the Steel City to wrap up the interleague series between the Astros and the Pirates. In all, five day games are on the docket for Hump Day, with 10 more contests to focus on this evening. All day baseball can be a good thing, especially for those that need a distraction to follow along with at work, but it can also make for a difficult handicapping day. Fortunately, we’re on top of things here at BangTheBook with a look at today’s MLB betting options.
Tuesday night was interesting for a variety of reasons. The Astros lost as road chalk as Joe Musgrove dug a 4-0 hole very quickly. The Royals won again and their bullpen’s scoreless innings streak went up to 34. Look for that balloon to burst real soon. Chris Archer was good, but the Rays bats were not, as they lost 2-1. The over lost in Cincinnati as Dan Straily twirled a gem and the Reds couldn’t hit Derek Holland and the Rangers pen. The over and the A’s hit and the Dodgers were a winner, so we salvaged some of the early losses on the late games.
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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.
Colorado at Milwaukee (-125); Total: 8.5
This is a pretty interesting line move. The host Brewers have bumped up about 20 cents across the marketplace for getaway day baseball against the Colorado Rockies. Milwaukee sends Zach Davies to the mound against Tyler Anderson for the road team. Davies was blasted last time out by the Cubs, but the sharper players in the market aren’t concerned about that last start. I understand the reasons why, but it is fair to point out that Davies is in his first big league season and will set a new career high in innings pitched over his next two starts. Was that start a blip on the radar against an elite offense or a sign of things to come?
That’s back-to-back bad starts for Davies. Also, since June 30, he hasn’t struck out more than five batters in a start. That puts a lot of pressure on the defense and a lot of pressure on Davies to work out of jams. For the most part, he’s pitched well this season and has been a bright spot for the Brewers. I feel like this is more of a situational look at Milwaukee than anything else.
It could also be the market selling Tyler Anderson stock. Anderson has put together a couple of poor starts in a row. He gave up five over seven innings to the Cubs and was ejected after giving up four runs in three innings to the Phillies. I do want to point out that Anderson set a career high with eight strikeouts in that start against the Cubs, so it’s entirely plausible that the stuff was good, but the batted ball luck was not. He gave up a .353 BABIP in that start and still gave up two home runs.
Both sides concern me, but the total does not. I like the under. I think we have two pitchers in bounce back situations with a total that opened at 9 and came down to 8.5. It might still be half-a-run too high. Davies has set an MLB career high in innings, but he’s worked over 140 innings twice during his development, so I’m confident that he has a few more left in him. Anderson’s stats are defense-dependent with his ground ball rate, but I don’t expect two teams without playoff prospects to be all that engaged today.
New York (AL) at Seattle (-115); Total: 7
Masahiro Tanaka and Hisashi Iwakuma get together on Wednesday and there should be a little bit of friendly competition here between these two hurlers. These are two of the better Japanese pitchers to work at the Major League level, so there’s probably a little bit of a bump for both of them in this game. Tanaka has been brilliant this season. So far, he’s been able to stave off the effects of a damaged UCL and he’s posted a 3.24 ERA with a 3.28 FIP and a 3.52 xFIP. He’s pitching to more contact this season, so he’s lost some strikeouts, but he’s also given up fewer home runs. He’s made good adjustments and he’s having the best season of his career by numerous metrics.
Tanaka is a guy that I’d watch closely the rest of the way, however. He’s set a career high for innings pitched in North America with 161. We all know that he’s had some arm troubles throughout his MLB career with a couple of long DL stints. So far, he’s avoided those. I don’t see any injury indicators in his velocities, release points, or control statistics, but that can change pretty quickly. It’s definitely something to monitor.
Things were dicey for a bit with Hisashi Iwakuma. He’s settled in nicely now and he’s really been able to cut back his home run rate. Iwakuma has only allowed five home runs since June 28, with 17 home runs prior to that. As long as Kuma is keeping the ball in the park, he’s a very effective starter, even with low strikeout rates. He pitches to a lot of weak contact and doesn’t allow free runners from walks.
In this spot, the side doesn’t excite me, but, once again, I like the under. It’s a getaway day game with an early start and two pitchers that have pretty promising prospects for today. Iwakuma got an extra day of rest prior to this outing, so he should be a little bit fresher and he’s always pitched pretty well at Safeco Field. Tanaka is a tough matchup anywhere. Look for a low-scoring affair in this one.
Detroit at Minnesota (-105); Total: 9.5
Oddsmakers seem unsure about this game. Who can blame them? I’ve been a Tyler Duffey supporter for a while now, but I’m thinking about jumping off of the wagon before it goes up in flames. It’s tough because Duffey has good K/BB rates, but he’s hit the barrel too many times. He’s got a .330 BABIP against, even though he has a 19.2 percent HR/FB%. That’s a complete lack of command. He has a 5.93 ERA with a 3.91 xFIP, so the possibility of positive regression is there, but that reasonable level of command is not. In good conscience, I can’t back Duffey right now. Righties are absolutely killing him with a .312/.367/.579 slash line and 14 of the 20 home runs that he has allowed. That plays right into Detroit’s strengths, since they are a right-handed-heavy lineup.
Matt Boyd is showing some signs of development. Since his recall on July 9, Boyd has quietly posted a 2.06 ERA. His 4.45 FIP and 4.60 xFIP obviously point to some impending regression, but 36 K in 39.1 innings of work is impressive. It’s the .223 BABIP and the 92.7 percent LOB% that are driving the regression bus. The Twins have been one of the better offenses in baseball since the All-Star Break, so I do worry a little bit about the regression, but I still like Detroit in this spot. The Tigers are playing pretty well here and Boyd has been a big part of it. He’s induced a lot of weak contact in this stretch. Not that I expect the low BABIP or the high strand rate to continue, but his regression may be more gradual because of the contact quality.
Duffey’s reverse splits worry me a lot and the Twins just aren’t a very good ballclub overall. The Tigers have a lot to play for and Boyd is hoping to secure a rotation spot for next season, so every start is big for him.
Philadelphia at Chicago (AL) (-110); Total: 9.5
How far have impressions of James Shields fallen? Well, he’s a money line pick ‘em at home against the Philadelphia Phillies. Things for Shields were supposed to get better once he got out of a situation he didn’t like in San Diego, but they haven’t. I don’t know why they were supposed to get better since he was going to a better offensive league, but whatever. Anyway, Shields has a 7.62 ERA with a 7.46 FIP and a 6.38 xFIP in his 14 starts with the Pale Hose. He’s toxic and untouchable at this point. I know we picked off a couple spots earlier in the season, but this is just atrocious.
Does that mean that Jerad Eickhoff and the Phillies are the side? Well…probably not. Eickhoff may be hitting the wall. The 26-year-old has given up 12 runs on 22 hits, including six home runs, over his last three starts. There’s a decent chance that he’s starting to hit the wall. Eickhoff worked 154.1 innings in 2013 and over 170 innings last season, so it’s not like he’s hitting uncharted territory from an innings standpoint. It’s just that Major League innings are so much more stressful. He gave up 14 HR in 109 innings in the first half and has allowed seven in just 40.2 IP in the second half. Contact quality is going up here in that small sample size in the second half.
I’m going to pass on this one. There are better options on the board.
New York (NL) at St. Louis (-125); Total: 7.5
Jacob deGrom and Carlos Martinez should make for a fun one tonight at Busch Stadium. deGrom hit a rare bump in the road last time out when he got blasted by the Giants to the tune of eight runs on 13 hits over five innings. To put that into perspective, deGrom allowed 20 runs in his previous 92.1 innings of work. Starts like that happen for a pitcher and there’s not a whole lot that you can do about it. deGrom’s had two of them over the last four months. He had one on July 23 when he allowed 10 hits and five runs in 3.2 innings. He bounced back with 14 scoreless innings after that last one. His stuff is great and the only worry for him right now is that Mets outfield defense. He’s struck out over a batter per inning since he settled in from a rough start to the season. His control stats are great. He’s been really good.
Carlos Martinez intrigues me. He’s pitched really well with a ton of pressure on his shoulders. Lance Lynn and Michael Wacha have been hurt. Adam Wainwright struggled early. The 24-year-old was forced to be the anchor of this staff and he’s done a very admirable job. I’m growing concerned, though. Martinez is still missing bats at a solid rate, but he’s allowed 75 baserunners over his last 55 innings of work. A 77.8 percent LOB% has kept his ERA relatively low at 3.60, but he’s playing with fire more often than not. He was terrific in his last start and the Mets offense is pretty average, but there are some worries in my mind.
I trust Jacob deGrom more than Carlos Martinez, but I also like the Cardinals offense more than the Mets. The Mets may have a slight bullpen edge, although Terry Collins has made some questionable relief decisions of late. Remember my goal. Try to take as much variance out of the game as I can. I don’t think there’s a wide range of outcomes here, but the possible outcomes all make some sense, so I’m going to leave this one alone.
San Francisco at Los Angeles (NL) (-130); Total: 7
I wouldn’t say I’m surprised to see this line where it is, but there’s a lot of uncertainty with Rich Hill at this stage of the game. It’s incredible that the Dodgers are in first place with all of the pitching issues they’ve had. We can point to their enormous payroll and willingness to throw money at problems, but they’re missing the best pitcher on the planet and basically everybody has gotten hurt at some point.
Barring a bullpen blister issue, Rich Hill is expected to make his Dodgers debut tonight. When he’s been able to pitch, he’s been magnificent this season with a 2.25 ERA, a 2.54 FIP, and a 3.57 xFIP. He’s struck out 90 with 28 walks in 76 innings and he’s only allowed two home runs. He’s a very difficult plate appearance for opposing hitters. The worries about Hill here are very obvious. He hasn’t made a start since July 17, so rust is going to be a factor. The blister could pop up again and force the Dodgers into the bullpen early. On the other hand, he’s been so dominant that he could shut down a light-hitting Giants lineup anyway.
Johnny Cueto has been tremendous this season. He’s been everything that the Giants could have wanted and then some. He has a 2.90 ERA with a 3.06 FIP and a 3.51 xFIP. AT&T Park is great for him and so is the National League. He’s back to his usual K/BB rates and he’s back to inducing ground balls. His BABIP is a little bit elevated compared to his career marks, but he pitches right around it.
Cueto is the surer bet in this spot because you have no idea what’s coming from Rich Hill. Unfortunately, you have no idea what’s coming from the Giants offense whether Hill makes the start and works deep or not. Cueto has gotten run support, which is merely coincidental.
I’ll stay off of this game as well, but the Dodgers certainly need Hill to be healthy. He doesn’t have to pitch great here, but making it through this start would be big.