Two football games remain for Week 1 and Monday Night Football always draws a ton of attention. Unfortunately, it will take away from a huge night on the diamond. It’s a rare Monday in that all 30 teams will take the field today and all of them will do so under the lights. This current round of series lacks the punch that the weekend did, as there are a lot of contenders facing bad teams, but there’s still plenty to consider as we open up a new round of games.
Sunday was a good day for us. It started in disappointing fashion, as the Rangers couldn’t hit Jered Weaver, but we finished strong. The Giants won as a short road dog in a close game. The Rockies won as road chalk with a one-run decision. The over came in nicely on the Cubs/Astros Sunday Night Baseball contest to wrap up the week with a 3-1 night. With so much going on right now, every sport can feel like a grind, but these nights on the plus side certainly help.
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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.
Los Angeles (NL) (-125) at New York (AL); Total: 8.5
Jose De Leon makes his second career start for the Dodgers against Bryan Mitchell and the Yankees. The Dodgers had an offensive outage on Sunday against the Miami Marlins in a spot where we really should have looked at the Fish. That whole situation with Rich Hill was pretty emotionally tiring for the Dodgers on Saturday night. It created a great situational spot and a missed opportunity.
Anyway, we turn the page and look at the present. The Yankees are still only two back in the Wild Card, so they have plenty to play for. The same can be said for the Dodgers, who are three up on the Giants in the NL West. In De Leon’s first start, he showed a lot of that promise and potential by striking out nine over six innings at home against the Padres. The Yankees aren’t a great lineup by any means and they’ve struggled a lot with left-handed pitchers, but this is a much bigger test for De Leon. The bright lights of Yankee Stadium can be intimidating to young pitchers as well. De Leon struggled when he got into jams, stranding only 43.5 percent of his runners.
That’s an incredibly small sample size and it’s hard to take anything meaningful from it, but it is a trend that we see with promising young pitchers. When the pulse rate goes up, the command goes down. I have to think that an AL ballpark and a better lineup can have some measure of success against JDL here in this game. Is it going to be enough to back Bryan Mitchell, though?
That’s a hard call to make. Mitchell primarily worked in relief at the big league level last season with two starts and 18 bullpen appearances. He’s made seven starts spread over five levels during an injury-filled 2016 campaign. Prior to the 2015 season, Kiley McDaniel had some good thoughts at Fangraphs with regards to his fastball/curveball combination, but he’s too inconsistent with command and control. Without a lot of data and no visual observations, I really don’t know what to expect from Mitchell here.
As a result, even though I think De Leon has a hard time with the park factor and the designated hitter, I still can’t fire here. Some really respected people have been firing at will on the Dodgers, however. This line moved again as I was writing.
Miami at Atlanta (-120); Total: 8.5
Did Andrew Cashner have a start to build off of or did he simply get lucky? Cashner threw 5.1 really good innings last time out with nine strikeouts. It was easily his best start with the Marlins and it came against the Phillies. Cashner draws another good assignment here in the Atlanta Braves. Cashner has tremendous raw stuff, but something has always gone wrong for him. He’s had a ton of injuries and didn’t pitch with a good defense for years in San Diego. He has the defense now, but he’s has sequencing problems and other issues. The big thing about Cashner is that he’s only given up two home runs since he joined the Marlins. His two awful starts have been in Colorado and at Cleveland, so there was an extra hitter in the lineup and he walked six.
With that, I think there’s definite value on Cashner tonight and the Marlins at a plus-money price. Cashner really hasn’t been as bad as the numbers would indicate for the Marlins if you’re willing to apply some caveats to some of his performances. Cashner will be working in a decent pitcher’s park tonight and against a lineup that doesn’t have much to offer.
The Marlins offense has been awful in recent weeks and they’re still not back to full strength, but I’ve never been high on Mike Foltynewicz. He has respectable numbers this season with a 4.16 ERA, a 4.41 FIP, and a 4.23 xFIP, but I just don’t think there’s enough depth to the arsenal. His first and second half splits are fun. He posted a 3.67 ERA in the first half even though he allowed a .258/.310/.497 slash. In the second half, he has a 4.52 ERA with a .247/.313/.412 slash. He’s had very little luck in the second half.
In this spot, I think Cashner can outpitch Foltynewicz or, at the very least, match him, which makes this a battle of the bullpens. Miami has an advantage there. This is a reasonable price on Miami, especially where you can buy low on Cashner, who has been better than his numbers.
Texas at Houston (-125); Total: 9
It’s my arch nemesis Martin Perez. Perez and Doug Fister certainly make for an interesting set of starters for the next installment of this extremely lopsided series. The Rangers have hammered the Astros this season and hold a 9.5-game lead over Houston in the AL West. Houston and Seattle are tied at 3.5 games back in the Wild Card race. The Rangers are 13-3 with a +24 run differential in this season series.
The volatility of a game like this is so high that it’s a remarkably difficult game to handicap. Both pitchers are going to allow a lot of balls in play. The bigger difference for me here is that Perez induces a lot more ground balls than Fister, so it’s theoretically more difficult for him to give up runs. That hasn’t been the case overall this season, but Fister allows more home runs and extra-base hits. On the other hand, Fister has more strikeouts and fewer walks.
I think you know what I’m getting at here. There’s no reason to play this game.
Cleveland (-170) at Chicago (AL); Total: 8.5
The Indians are laying a big price here, but I’m going after the under once again. As I talked about when Miguel Gonzalez faced Detroit, he’s given up 20 of his 46 earned runs in just three of his 19 starts. In his other 16 starts, he has a 2.50 ERA. Carlos Carrasco is back in the swing of things after some injuries and other issues earlier this season. This total is too high. Take the under and don’t look back.
Chicago (NL) (-145) at St. Louis; Total: 8
Mike Leake is making just his second start since August 21 after missing time with an illness. His return wasn’t great, as he gave up three runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings against the Pirates. It’s really tough to back Leake because he shows signs of positive regression, but he keeps having issues in leverage spots with men on base. Really, the difference between a good pitcher and a bad one, more often than not, is how they fare with men on base. Sure, the guys that allow fewer baserunners will have more success, but stranding runners is the biggest key. Leake hasn’t done that enough.
On the other side, Kyle Hendricks has done that a lot. Hendricks has an 82.5 percent LOB%, which is among the league’s best. He has a .245 BABIP against because of the amount of weak contact that he has generated. If Leake wasn’t coming off of that DL stint, I’d be extremely tempted to play him with how the seasons have played out for both guys. As we know, predicting regression in a one-game sample size is stunningly difficult.
Because the Cubs do so much damage when they put balls in play, this is a worrisome spot with St. Louis. If I had to play anything, though, I’d side with the home dog here. Since July 15, Kyle Hendricks has stranded 97.1 percent of his runners. That’s simply not sustainable at all. He has a 1.36 ERA with a 3.26 FIP and a 3.51 xFIP. The Cardinals are a good enough offense to do some work here. I’d have to look at St. Louis, though it’s not a strong play.
Colorado (-115) at Arizona; Total: 9.5
I’m not sure I understand the move on Shelby Miller here. The Rockies are sending Tyler Anderson to the mound and Arizona has hit lefties well overall this season, so maybe that’s it, but Miller has been terrible this year. I don’t know if it’s a splits thing with Anderson, who has a 4.21 ERA on the road, but he’s worked 71 innings at home and only 25.2 innings on the road. He has held batters to a .211/.267/.383 on the road. The fact that Anderson has good numbers with all of those home innings is mind-boggling.
Miller has a 6.89 ERA with a 5.28 FIP and a 5.08 xFIP. In two starts back with the Diamondbacks, he has allowed seven runs on 19 hits in 10.1 innings. He’s only struck out five. There’s nothing remotely promising about those numbers.
Give me the Rockies. I guess this is a play on Arizona’s ability to hit lefties, but I don’t see them being all that engaged right now.