We’ve got a full night of baseball on tap, but many of these games have some pretty big lines. It’s that time of year. The favorites are going to be lopsided and you’re going to have to hope and pray on some big underdogs that will be experimenting with new players or different roles from now until October 2. The focus will be on football for many handicappers anyway, but we’ll keep giving you baseball insight and analysis now and through the playoffs. Let’s see if there’s anything to wager on for Tuesday night.
Right after we look back at Monday night. Marco Estrada was actually pretty decent for the Blue Jays last night, so a sigh of relief for those fans, as the Blue Jays won 5-1. St. Louis held on for a 6-5 triumph in a game that saw a wave of line movement in the morning. We didn’t have any plan on it, however. The Rockies rolled over the Dodgers in our top play of the night, so it was a night of observation and one good winner.
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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.
Miami at New York (NL) (-115); Total: 8
This is a tricky one for me because I like the pitching matchup and hate everything else for the Mets. Terry Collins keeps digging his job security hole deeper and deeper after he burned his only two remaining bench players in yesterday’s game to counteract a pitching change. The Mets eventually won in extras, but it seems like a pretty odd dynamic there at Citi Field with Collins, his bullpen management, and the cloud that is hanging over his future.
You’re also fully aware of my thoughts on the Mets outfield situation. But, here, they may have some value with Seth Lugo on the hill against Tom Koehler. I’ve talked about Tom Koehler’s home/road splits in the past and they are quite significant. Citi Field is an okay pitcher’s park, but it’s certainly not on the level of Marlins Park. So, there are some worries about Koehler in that regard.
Lugo left his last start with a cramp that ended his night with five shutout innings against the Cardinals. His minor league numbers aren’t particularly impressive, so I’m not sure what to make of his MLB prospects, but I can tell you that his 55.5 percent strand rate in Triple-A that led to a 6.50 ERA was a statistical anomaly. There’s a good amount of hope that his MLB fortunes will be different. In two starts, Lugo has allowed three runs in 11.2 innings. The Marlins are a solid, but average lineup, so this isn’t a bad matchup for him.
I’ll take the Mets at this small price, even though the initial money hit Miami in the marketplace overnight and this morning. I think there’s a little bit of upside in Lugo and Koehler is subpar on the road.
Minnesota at Cleveland (-225); Total: 9.5
I’m not going to go too in-depth on this game, but this line is incredible. Josh Tomlin has been pretty much awful since early June and the Twins have been awful as a season and they can’t stop losing games of late. For whatever reason, the Twins give the Indians fits. Andrew Albers is making his first MLB start since 2013. I don’t know what to make of all of this, but seeing Tomlin at this price, when he’s been a dog several times since June, is kind of stunning.
Pittsburgh at Chicago (NL) (-230)
If I had to pick a long shot dog tonight, which is basically required with this card, this is the game I’m looking at. I’m a big fan of Kyle Hendricks and his ability to induce weak contact, but I do worry about the long-term sustainability of his .247 BABIP and his 81 percent LOB%. Those are both big jumps from last season. He was due for some positive regression with a 3.95 ERA, a 3.36 FIP, and a 3.25 xFIP off of last season, but he has a 2.19 ERA, a 3.37 FIP, and a 3.68 xFIP.
His first half slash against was .204/.271/.319. It’s .205/.256/.333 in the second half and his ERA is 1.52. His K% is up, but his LOB% is 95.6 percent. That’s not going to continue for a long period of time. I have to expect regression and the Pirates offense is coming around a bit. Andrew McCutchen is starting to hit and the recall of Josh Bell adds some intrigue to the lineup.
You have to hope Chad Kuhl and the bullpen can navigate this excellent Cubs lineup, but the Pirates are probably today’s top Hail Mary play.
New York (AL) (-135) at Kansas City; Total: 7.5
Edinson Volquez will pitch a no-hitter and Masahiro Tanaka will give up 12 runs in two innings tonight when the Yankees take on the Royals. Kansas City’s torrid pace continued as Michael Pineda’s awful command also continued on Monday. Tanaka has now set a career high in innings pitched, but I don’t see any major injury indicators from the right-hander with the damaged UCL. In fact, he may getting better as the season goes along. This is certainly his best season with the Yankees and he’s been a big reason why they’ve been able to hang around in this race.
Tanaka has some pretty extreme home/road splits this season. He’s given up 12 of his 16 home runs at Yankee Stadium, which isn’t a big surprise given the park dimensions, but it is rare to see a pitcher excel so much more on the road. It’s really all related to the power numbers, so that’s something to factor in with road starts for Tanaka.
Surprisingly, the horseshoe hasn’t found its way back up Edinson Volquez’s ass like it has for other Royals starters. He worked a solid road outing in Miami last time out to snap a string of five straight starts with at least four runs allowed. He’s regressed in a pretty big way this season because of batted ball luck and sequencing. The series of injuries for the Royals this season has hurt Volquez more than any other starter. Theoretically, the Yankees should be able to have success against him, but who knows.
Lately, Volquez has added giving up home runs to his bingo card. He’s allowed seven over his last 45.1 innings after giving up 11 in his first 111.1 innings. His SLG against has ballooned by nearly 100 points in the second half. Maybe it continues.
Take the Yankees. You’re betting against some sort of witchcraft devil magic, but they should win.
Los Angeles (NL) (-130) at Colorado; Total: 10.5
If we had a better card, I wouldn’t even look at this game. Unfortunately, there’s a not a whole lot to sort through today. Rich Hill makes his second start for the Dodgers and it comes at Coors Field, where the conditions could do some weird things to his arsenal. There’s a definite learning curve to pitching at Coors Field, but there’s also a learning curve to hitting Hill’s incredible arsenal as a starter. Current Rockies have exactly zero plate appearances against Rich Hill. Zero.
So, there’s that. He’s a hard-to-handle lefty with plenty of deception and not a single Rockies hitter has faced him. Unfortunately, the elephant in the room with Hill is whether he’ll even make the start or last more than a couple of innings. No pregame warmup is more important than his because of the blister issues. If it pops up during the game, he’ll be rendered useless and your bet could be dead in the water.
I talked about this series yesterday and how terrible of a spot it is for the Dodgers. It’s a standalone road series in the altitude in Colorado. Tyler Anderson isn’t a very fun pitcher to face because you have to string together hits to score off of him and his high ground ball rate can diffuse rallies in a hurry. He has a 3.69/3.65/3.40 on the season and he’s been pretty good at Coors Field.
If we can get Rich Hill to stick around, I love the under tonight. I don’t think the Dodgers are all that invested in this series. They scored one run last night and could have a similarly low output tonight. I’m thinking this one comfortably stays under.