We’re gearing up for a new day with new opportunities to make money betting on baseball. It’s a Tuesday night, which means that there is no competition for handicapping dollars, as everybody’s focus is on the guys hitting a white ball with a wooden stick. There are less than 20 days left in the MLB regular season. It feels like the season began an eternity ago, but we’re going to attempt to finish this thing out strong and hopefully roll into the postseason with some positive momentum and a bigger number in the bankroll.
Looking back to yesterday’s action, it wasn’t pretty. I was way off on Andrew Cashner, who was rocked by the Braves in a lopsided 12-7 loss. It was a bad baseball game with a ton of relievers. The Indians/White Sox under was doomed from the start as a blown strike three call opened the scoring, the White Sox let a pop up fall for a double, and a lot of bad baseball was played in Chicago last night. Kyle Hendricks nearly no-hit the Cardinals for a loser on that lean. The Rockies lost and so did the Brewers to round out a perfect zero for the day. It was the most frustrating day of the season with a lot of bad calls. I humbly apologize to all the readers.
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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.
New York (NL) (-140) at Washington; Total: 7
I’ve been befuddled by Noah Syndergaard in the second half. He’s had starts with velocity drops and the reports about his bone spur sounded pretty concerning. Since June 27, Syndergaard has a 2.96 ERA with a 2.87 FIP and a 3.30 xFIP. He’s had some starts that have been a little bit shaky, but he’s still racked up 85 K in 76 IP. His velocity charts have had peaks and valleys, but nothing overly concerning. He still seems to be the same guy, aside from those couple of games where he lost his velo in the middle innings.
His walk rate has been up a little bit recently, but his strikeout ability and ground ball rate are more than enough to compensate. The Mets have to be very happy with the adjustments he’s made and how sustainable this performance has been. He’ll be worth more than six wins above replacement player when it’s all said and done this season.
AJ Cole takes the hill for the Nationals. He’s got good stuff and was a promising second fiddle type of prospect to Lucas Giolito, but he’s had some difficulties this season. He’s a pretty extreme fly ball guy, so he gave up some home runs in Triple-A and posted a 4.26 ERA and a 3.96 FIP. In his four starts at the big league level, he’s already given up six home runs. On the bright side, he does have 25 K in 23.2 innings of work, but the long ball has been his downfall. He’s given up at least one in every start, but he’s only given up 17 hits in his starts because he’s got that fly ball gameplan and fly balls go for hits less often than ground balls.
I’m actually looking towards the under here in this spot. Because Cole’s home runs should mostly be of the solo or two-run variety, we’ve got a little bit of cushion and Noah Syndergaard should be his usual dominant self. The bullpens may come into play and give you a scare, but this should be one of those close, tight games of importance that we see come September with two teams that are in the hunt.
Cleveland at Chicago (AL) (-115); Total: 8
We’re seeing a little bit of money come in on the road team for tonight’s matchup in the Windy City. The Indians will send Trevor Bauer to the mound against Jose Quintana for the White Sox. Bauer is a little bit unpredictable and Quintana has been anything but this season, so let’s take a deeper look at this one.
Oddly enough, Bauer has made some pretty significant adjustments to his arsenal. As a staunch believer in the fact that ground balls go for hits more than fly balls, Bauer used to tilt towards being a fly ball pitcher. This season, Bauer is a ground ball guy, with a 48 percent GB%. Personally, knowing how cerebral Bauer is, my guess is that he made some arsenal changes to pitch to the strength of the defense, which is unquestionably the infield. He’s throwing fewer four-seam fastballs, but more two-seamers, cutters, and curveballs this season. By mixing his pitches and changing speeds more often, hitters are putting more balls on the ground. He’s also throwing everything a little bit harder across the board, which is an interesting thing to study. He also seems more comfortable than ever before. Bauer is considered by many to be abrasive or arrogant. He’s one of the first guys out to celebrate wins and he’s been a lot more demonstrative on the mound. It’s been a big season for his growth as a pitcher and as a player/teammate. Watch out for a breakout next season!
It looked like this was Jose Quintana’s big breakout season, but he’s run into some trouble here recently. His 3.13 ERA is still a career best, but his 3.41 FIP is higher than the last two seasons. There seems to be something mechanically wrong with Quintana or he’s just tiring. He’s given up three home runs and 11 runs on 15 hits over his last 11.2 innings of work. He had given up 12 runs over his previous eight starts. The odd thing is that he’s still struck out 15 in those two starts, so maybe we’re just looking at simple variance and everything will be fine.
Quintana’s been good in three starts against the Indians and I see no reason to believe that he’ll be any different in this one. One growing concern I have about the Indians is that they are tired. Terry Francona hasn’t used his bench effectively enough, particularly with the infielders, so guys like Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, Jose Ramirez, and Mike Napoli all look fatigued. Bats are dragging through the zone. Defense has dropped off a little bit. All four are on pace for career highs in games played. The hope is probably that they lock up the division and get these guys a break, but they’re also invested in home field advantage, which they probably won’t get. Long-term is better than short-term for the Tribe, so watch this going forward.
Anyways, I’d either look at the under or the White Sox here. Or both.
Chicago (NL) (-115) at St. Louis; Total: 8.5
A big fade of Jason Hammel is going on in the betting market right now. This number opened 10 cents higher and it’s a few cents lower at other shops. Hammel has been a regression candidate most of the season, as I have discussed in the past. Sometimes regression is gradual. Sometimes it’s what Jason Hammel has going on. Hammel has been a guy that flames out in the second half, but he’s given up 23 runs, 18 earned, over his last 17.1 innings of work with 31 hits allowed and five home runs. To be fair, one of those starts was in Colorado, but he just gave up nine runs on 13 hits to Milwaukee.
Hammel’s second half ERA is still only 3.58, but he has a 5.00 career mark in the second half. The last two seasons, he has posted 5.10 and 4.31 ERAs. He’s starting to trend up towards those numbers and the market has taken notice. It’s definitely understandable why money is coming in against the Cubs here in this spot.
Unfortunately, Jaime Garcia has had issues of his own. The Cardinals left-hander has a 4.58 ERA with a 4.30 FIP and a 3.79 xFIP. This season, the long ball has really gotten to him, as he’s worked 163 innings. He hasn’t worked that many innings in a season since 2011 and has a medical file the size of War and Peace. He’s really fallen off in the second half with a .280/.340/.529 slash against and a 5.52 ERA.
The best way to play this game would be the over, since both teams have a great shot of success against these respective pitchers.
Seattle (-120) at Los Angeles (AL); Total: 9
According to the Seattle Times, Taijuan Walker changed his mechanics prior to his last start. The results weren’t really any different than his previous starts, but it is a little bit concerning that Walker is trying mechanical overhauls with a team in the wild card hunt. Based on the reports in the article, Walker “hit rock bottom” and had been closed off to teammates and the media. This isn’t a good situation in my mind. Walker’s mechanical changes may help, but repeating them and not losing them over the course of the start is a much different animal.
The way that Walker is handling his struggles is understandable, but he didn’t see instant results in his last start from the changes and it’s going to be hard for a guy like that to maintain these adjustments. As far as I can tell, Walker is a guy that you can only fade or stay away from right now. It’d be great if he was taking on a different team and a different opposing starter, but that’s the way everything lined up.
In two starts and a relief appearance, Alex Meyer has not looked good. He’s struck out 10, but has walked eight in seven innings. I know this is an extremely high total for a game at Angel Stadium, but the over has to be the only way to consider this one. The Mariners are swinging it well and even the Angels can take advantage of a guy in Walker’s situation. There’s some value to taking a shot on this high number.