All 30 teams take the field on this Labor Day holiday. Action is spread out throughout the day, but most of the action will start at 4:05 p.m. ET or before, so bettors will have to be on the ball to get the day started off on the right foot. We’re seeing quite a few line moves out there in the marketplace today and we’ve seen some really interesting line adjustments from the oddsmakers. There’s a lot to cover today, so let’s dive right in.
After a look at yesterday’s results. The Giants lost a close one as a small lean based on price, as both Johnny Cueto and John Lackey looked good in their starts. The Red Sox also lost a one-run decision as they had no batted ball luck against Oakland. It wasn’t a great Sunday.
If you don’t already have an account at BetDSI, head on over there and take advantage of the exclusive 200 percent deposit bonus by using the promo code ‘BANG300’. Consider making an account for our forums and chat with like-minded sports betting enthusiasts. Compare picks, compare notes, lament losses, and celebrate wins with other handicappers all in one fun and friendly environment.
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.
New York (NL) (-125) at Cincinnati; Total: 9
This is a pretty interesting situational angle that I teased in yesterday’s write-up. The Mets played Sunday Night Baseball against the rival Washington Nationals and then hopped on a plane for Cincinnati. The Reds are really just playing out the string on this season and have absolutely nothing to play for. That’s a direct contrast to what the Mets are hoping to achieve.
The thing here is that the Reds are in a much better spot. This could be considered a letdown spot for the Mets and it doesn’t hurt that Bartolo Colon is on the mound and I’m expecting some September regression from the old man. Colon’s slash against pretty much mirrors his last three second halves, during which he posted ERA marks of 4.24, 3.81, and he currently has a 3.45 this season. His SLG is actually the highest in the last three seasons. I’ve been waiting for him to struggle and maybe it happens here when we least expect it.
Robert Stephenson hasn’t shown much at either the Triple-A or MLB levels this season, but he was Cincinnati’s top pitching prospect for a while before last season’s flurry of trades. He’s never had great control, so he’s a risky look here today. If the Reds had a different pitcher on the mound that could be more effective, I’d really love this game. Unfortunately, with the unproven Stephenson, I can’t fire on this good situational spot. Maybe the under is in play with some tired Mets bats, but I’m not fully on board with that either. I was hoping for an extra-inning game that went deeper into the night.
Philadelphia at Miami (-125); Total: 8
Today in betting lines that I don’t understand, we head to the NL East for the Phillies vs. the Marlins. I’m finding that I either undervalue home field advantage or oddsmakers make too big of a deal about it. I obviously know the parks where teams have a big HFA, but some parks, like Miami, really help both pitchers and hurt both offenses. Anyway, this game jumped out to me in a pretty big way.
The Phillies don’t really have anything to play for, but they can play spoiler here in this series and that seems like it would be somewhat exciting for them. Jerad Eickhoff is one of those young arms that I’m not worried about from an innings standpoint. He’s worked 161.2 innings, but he threw well over that total last season, so he should still be just fine. He draws a Marlins lineup that is still missing Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna. The Marlins also suffered a backbreaking loss on Sunday in Cleveland, so good feelings are few and far between.
Jake Esch made his MLB debut last Wednesday and only lasted 4.1 innings with some major command and control problems. He had a 4.03 ERA and a 3.87 FIP in 118.1 innings with Double-A and a 5.70 ERA with a 4.90 FIP in Triple-A before getting the call. The Marlins are apparently running low on arms. Esch doesn’t miss a whole lot of bats, but has shown good command for the most part in the minors. Even still, I don’t like this spot for Miami. Returning home is good and that may be helpful, but they’re in a rut and there’s additional pressure to beat teams like this. That’s the last thing Miami needs right now. I think the Phillies are worth a small look today.
Kansas City (-125) at Minnesota; Total: 9.5
I’m really surprised to see this line moving the direction that it is. Jose Berrios put together some solid Triple-A numbers, but he’s been unbelievably bad at the MLB level this season. Ian Kennedy has given up a lot of home runs, but he’s been good otherwise. I guess the reason behind this line move is that the Royals suffered some tough losses against Detroit. They put so much effort into getting back into the race and now they have to try and regroup to stay in it.
Kansas City has dominated Minnesota this season, so that could play into their minds and build some confidence, but the marketplace doesn’t believe that angle either. I can’t back Berrios until he shows me that he’s not just an MLB punching bag, so I won’t be following this line move, but I do need to see how Kansas City reacts to losing a really big series at home.
Los Angeles (AL) at Oakland (-130); Total: 9
Well, this is interesting. We’ve seen almost a quarter in line movement on the Oakland A’s as they host the Angels. Jered Weaver is on the bump for the Angels and Raul Alcantara makes his MLB debut for the Athletics. When I get these games with new starters, I try to give you some thoughts on them so that you know a little bit about what you’re dealing with.
We already know about Weaver and it’s pretty easy to see why the market is against him. As far as Alcantara goes, Dan Farnsworth at Fangraphs raved about his fastball/changeup combination before the season, but stressed worries about his durability. Alcantara throws a lot of strikes and forces hitters to put the ball in play. That could be a problem with Oakland’s defense, but it can also help him because hitters are forced to swing at pitches that they haven’t seen very much. He had a 1.18 ERA and a 2.80 FIP at the Triple-A level after struggling a little bit at Double-A this season.
Obviously there’s no line value left on this game, but seeing the market fade Weaver will probably be a regular thing the rest of the year.
Detroit at Chicago (AL) (-108); Total: 7.5
Regular reader Manitoba Money reached out on Twitter and asked me about this game last night. His question was about the flipped favorite situation from last week’s daytime matchup between Justin Verlander and Chris Sale. These two faced off last Wednesday in The D and Verlander opened in the -135 range. The number closed in the -115 to -120, which, in my mind, would imply that Sale would be a slight favorite in a neutral park and that he’d be favored at home per the betting market. I’m still unclear how much home field advantage is worth in MLB. It’s pretty clear in football, but I don’t know how they quantify it for baseball. I hate to admit that, but they seem to just slap a generic value on it and then inflate it for really good teams.
Manitoba Money’s question raises a really important point. This is something that Sports Cheetah mentioned last week on one of our BangTheBook Radio segments. The closing number is more of a true number. Oddsmakers put up a number, but it’s the market’s reaction and the line movement that indicates what the real number is. So, the fact that Sale closed +105 to +110 last week at Comerica is why the number shifted about 25 cents, which I’m guessing is the generic HFA price. Any time there’s movement on a pitcher or a side, the books remember it for the next time. With this game so close in proximity, it had to be a factor.
As far as today’s line movement, the White Sox used seven relievers yesterday and all of them threw at least 12 pitches. They worked four relievers the day before. The White Sox pen did a lot of work in the Twins series after blowing leads in all three games against the Tigers last week. I’m guessing that’s the main driving force behind this line move. Also, the Tigers picked up that huge series win over Kansas City.
Both Sale and Verlander were solid in that last start, though Sale had some control and command problems that he was able to pitch around. I don’t have any strong thoughts on this game, but I loved Manitoba Money’s question and encourage any other readers with questions to reach out on Twitter to @SkatingTripods.
San Francisco (-115) at Colorado; Total: 12
Some smart people expected Matt Moore to struggle last start after his near no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He only made it through 5.1 innings, but he worked effectively against an Arizona lineup that hits lefties extremely well. I don’t see anything to be overly worried about from that last start and the recent workload. Moore worked the zone well and his velocity was just fine, so there hasn’t been a hangover yet. It seems like the change of scenery to the NL and to San Francisco has been helpful, aside from the walk rate. Colorado is a much different animal for a pitcher that hasn’t worked much at Coors Field, so we’ll have to see how Moore fares here.
What I do know is that Moore’s going to be in trouble if he’s allowing free baserunners. He’s had a knack for doing that since he joined the Giants and he’s never been a guy with a pristine BB%. The way that guys get in trouble in Colorado is that they make it even easier for the Rockies by walking people. It really wouldn’t surprise me if Moore has a pretty big setback here in this game.
Chad Bettis has had a bit of a disappointing season, since he hasn’t been able to maintain last season’s strikeout gains. He has, however, kept the ball on the ground more, so some better sequencing luck would have helped. That’s why he has a 5.17 ERA with a 4.15 xFIP. Interestingly, Bettis has allowed 15 of his 20 home runs away from Coors Field, yet his SLG against is higher at home. He has made some solid adjustments in the second half, as his .301/.350/.464 slash against is .246/.339/.436, but a lot of that is just batted ball luck. His BABIP against is 73 points lower in the second half. So, if you look at it from that standpoint, there’s actually some regression in his profile the rest of the way.
There’s way too much variance here in this one to recommend a play. Today is a really unfortunate day, since there are a lot of lines in the range I like to play, but there’s a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace.
Tune into today’s BangTheBook Radio for thoughts on the Texas vs. Seattle game and also the Houston vs. Cleveland game, along with some other MLB betting analysis!