We’re getting you Saturday’s picks and analysis before the overnight line moves really start happening, so it will be interesting to see what happens to the odds for these games. It’s not a good day for betting baseball, unfortunately, with a lot of chalky lines. We’re at that point in the season when you will start to see some bigger favorites based on pitching changes, call-ups, spot starts, and the natural inflation of good teams come crunch time. In any event, we’ll take a look at the Saturday slate and see what we can find.
At time of writing, Friday’s games were still going on, so no recap for now on those matchups.
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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.
Baltimore at New York (AL) (-110); Total: 9
As mentioned on Friday’s BangTheBook Radio, Dylan Bundy is effectively the ace of the Baltimore staff now that Chris Tillman is sidelined. That makes this a pretty big start for the youngster at Yankee Stadium against a fellow spring chicken in Chad Green. It’ll be fascinating to see where this line goes, since it’s safe to say that a daytime game between well-known AL East teams will entice some action.
I really like Dylan Bundy, but this may be an overwhelming spot for the 23-year-old. Even with 30 appearances this year, this is his first at Yankee Stadium. He’s faced the Yankees twice, but both appearances were at home. The worry that I have about Bundy is his home run rate in this bandbox of a park. In a general sense, Bundy’s been good as a starter, but he has given up nine home runs in 43 innings of work. That being said, long balls have been his only issue and because he’s only allowed 48 baserunners, those home runs haven’t been too crippling.
This will be Chad Green’s fourth straight start and he’s been pretty impressive in his last two outings, racking up a 16/1 K/BB ratio in 12 innings of work. He had great numbers in Triple-A before his recall and after he was sent back down. Green’s home run rate is a bit out of whack, but he gave up two in his MLB debut and four in one start against the Indians. He’s only allowed one home run over his last six appearances. Baltimore will test that number, but Green’s shown some pretty good command of late and it was his claim to fame in the minors.
I have to look at the Yankees here. I actually trust Green a little bit more than Bundy given the strengths of both pitchers and the situation. Bundy is definitely a higher-upside guy going forward, but in a vacuum, in a one-game sample size like this one, I’ll side with the home starter and the home team.
Seattle at Chicago (AL) (-145); Total: 8.5
This is a tough game to handicap, like a handful of others on the card. Seattle is very clearly the better team, but Ariel Miranda has had a lot of issues at the big league level and Jose Quintana is having a tremendous season. A large part of my handicapping is about breaking down the starters and there’s no question that Quintana is significantly better than Miranda. The issue here about this line is that the White Sox probably shouldn’t be laying this price against any playoff contender, regardless of starting pitcher. I know Chris Sale is great. So is Quintana. Unfortunately, the White Sox are a bad, bad team.
The question then becomes, can Ariel Miranda be good enough to cash an underdog ticket here? In 19.2 big league innings, he has a 5.49 ERA with a 4.32 FIP and a 4.63 xFIP. I wonder if the Orioles would rather have him instead of Wade Miley. In any event, Miranda’s numbers are skewed by a bad relief appearance in his MLB debut. Take that away and he’s allowed nine runs in 17.2 innings of work. Is a 4.58 ERA good? No, not really, but, a 4.50 ERA is a “quality start” per the definition of the statistic. He’s actually kept his team in the game in all three of his starts and that’s all you’re asking for. If he gives up a couple of runs over five or six innings, Seattle has a bullpen advantage once Quintana exits the game.
Also, there’s a perception bias about Seattle against lefties because of guys like Rob Cano and Kyle Seager. This is a team that entered play on Friday with a 103 wRC+ against lefties. That’s a park-adjusted metric where 100 is average. So, they’ve been an above average offense against lefties. Not all lefties are Jose Quintana, but the Mariners probably win this game more than 42.55 percent of the time, so I feel like there’s value on them as a dog.
Kansas City at Boston (-150); Total: 8
This is quite a line. You’ve got David Price, a pitcher with a large track of success, up against the hottest team and one of the hottest starters in baseball. The Red Sox have been one of the league’s top offenses against lefties, but not all lefties perform the way that Danny Duffy has this season. I’m as skeptical about the Royals as anybody (and I’ve been burned as much as anybody), so I wanted to take a deeper dive into this price.
Since June 1, Duffy has made 16 starts and he owns a 2.50 ERA with a 3.28 FIP and a 3.76 xFIP. He’s struck out 113 in 108 innings of work and hasn’t allowed more than four runs in a start, which he only did once. He’s pitching to a .267 BABIP, which isn’t that ridiculous, especially with a low 34.5 percent ground ball rate. A lot of this looks sustainable for Duffy. Duffy has only picked up 21 strikeouts in his last four starts covering 30 innings of work, so maybe he is starting to wear down a little bit or he’s making a shift to pitch to some more contact. Really, that feels like grasping at straws because this breakout came out of nowhere.
Since the All-Star Break, David Price has a 3.21 ERA, even though his batting average and on-base percentage against are both higher than they were in the first half. He’s experiencing some of the luck regression that was coming given his LOB%. It’s at 76.2 percent here in the second half. His strikeout rate is also down significantly here in the second half. I’m not sure what that’s all about, but it’s a major concern. His K% is down almost 10 percent from the first half. His velocity has also been down in his last two starts.
I’m seeing some concerning things from Price. Does that make the Royals a value side here? Perhaps it does. I wouldn’t play it, but I wouldn’t lay it with the favorite either.
Cleveland (-135) at Texas; Total: 9.5
Oddsmakers are content to make the Indians a clear road favorite here with Carlos Carrasco on the hill against AJ Griffin. This is the only right-handed starter the Tribe will face in this series and they’ve killed righties this season, so maybe it makes sense. This is a similar price to Friday’s Corey Kluber vs. Martin Perez matchup, which probably means something, though I don’t know what.
Slowly but surely, Carlos Carrasco is returning to Carlos Carrasco form. He’s struck out 28 batters without a walk over his last three starts and 37 against two walks in his last four starts. His command has still been a little bit spotty, but it’s clear that the stuff is very good right now. The long ball has hurt Carrasco this season, but when hitters have put it in play, the Indians have generated a lot of outs. That home run problem is manageable with his walk rate and his low rate of line drive contact.
AJ Griffin has had a strange season. He’s one of those guys that generally keeps his team in the game, but he has a handful of starts with five or six runs allowed. He hasn’t made a start without allowing a home run since May 7, which is the start the put him on the disabled list.
I feel like the Indians are almost too obvious of a play here. That doesn’t mean that there’s value on the Rangers, but something about this game looks fishy to me, so I’m leaving it alone.
Cincinnati at Arizona (-105); Total: 9.5
Oddsmakers have no idea where to put this game, so they’ll let the market beat it around. We know that Arizona has been a steady fade in the market over the last couple of weeks. Against lefties, they’re a really good offensive ballclub. Against righties, they’re not, even with hitter-friendly conditions at Chase Field. Anthony DeSclafani throws right-handed, so there’s a lot to figure out here about this one.
DeSclafani has been terrific in his 14 starts with a 3.27 ERA, a 3.72 FIP, and a 3.98 xFIP. His season got off to a late start because of an oblique injury, but he’s been really strong. He’s got an excellent arsenal and changes speeds really effectively, so he doesn’t allow a whole lot of good contact. There’s a little bit of regression in his stat profile because of a 78.7 percent LOB%, so that’s a worry, but I’m not sure that the Diamondbacks will be the ones to deliver it. I’d rather look to fade DeSclafani against teams that see him regularly.
Zack Godley hasn’t fared well at the big league level this season in eight starts and seven relief appearances with a 5.53 ERA, a 4.60 FIP, and a 4.40 xFIP. Godley isn’t missing bats the way he did last season and he’s hitting far too many barrels. The worry for me here in this spot is that I really don’t think either of these teams is engaged. The Reds have very little to care about and the Diamondbacks are looking at another front office and coaching staff rebuild, so there’s not a whole lot to play for in terms of next season.
I’d probably lean slightly to Cincinnati, given that their bullpen has been significantly better over the last couple of months and DeSclafani is clearly the better starter, but it’s not a strong look at all.