A lot of day baseball is on tap for Thursday, which makes it a little bit tough to write up this article and the daily fantasy article because of the timeframe. Nevertheless, you’ve come to expect baseball betting insight on a daily basis at BangTheBook and that’s what we will provide. Make sure that you tune into the Thursday edition of The Bettor’s Box as Adam Burke spoke about what’s going on in Major League Baseball right now. With that, let’s get into some picks and thoughts for Thursday:
For thoughts on this game, make sure to tune into The Bettor’s Box.
After throwing the ball pretty over his first 12 starts, Miguel Gonzalez’s season hit a speed bump with a groin injury. He returns for his first start since June 9, ironically, against Boston, for this Thursday matinee at Fenway. Gonzalez is certainly due for some regression with a 3.33 ERA, a 4.60 FIP, and a 4.08 xFIP. The thing is, this is the fourth straight season that Gonzalez has outpitched his advanced metrics. Perhaps he’s just one of those rare guys that will do it. His K/BB rates are about average, though his HR/FB rate is certainly elevated this season. For the second straight season, Gonzalez’s LOB% is a major outlier in the American League at 82.2 percent.
Eduardo Rodriguez has four great starts and one bad one. He has allowed two runs over 27 innings in starts 1, 2, 3, and 5, but his fourth start was a nine-run shellacking by the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays decimate left-handed pitching, so you’d like to give Rodriguez a pass for that one. This will be the first time that Rodriguez is facing a team for the second time. With a standard three-pitch mix, it’s fair to wonder whether or not he can make enough adjustments to shut down the Orioles bats.
This line seems fairly telling to me. Gonzalez is making his first start back, though he did throw a rehab outing at Double-A. Rodriguez has been dominant in four of his first five starts, and yet he’s only in the -115 range at some places. The Red Sox aren’t a good offensive team and the Orioles have been piecing it together little by little. The Orioles may actually be worth a look here.
Sonny Gray showed that he, like all of us, is human the last time he pitched. He gave up six runs against the Angels and his ERA nearly went above 2.00. He’s improved his splits against lefties this season, which has been a separator for him, and he lowered he his home run and walk rates. Judging by the spike in pop ups and drop in contact on pitches in the zone, either Gray’s secondaries have become more polished or he’s sequencing better. Well, or both. He actually has a lower ERA and lower SLG against away from O.co Coliseum this season. That’s how good he has been.
On the other hand, Colby Lewis has been so much better than anybody could have expected. His injury history is brutal and he’s given the Rangers some strong innings this season. The 4.08 ERA comes with the territory of being a pitch-to-contact pitcher with an average defense in a great hitting environment. His 3.46 FIP illustrates how important a low walk rate is. Bad mechanics from a hip injury turned his fastball into one of the worst in baseball last season. Seemingly healthy, Lewis has become a respectable starter again.
With the injuries at the top of the Rangers order and Lewis forcing the Athletics to put the ball in play, a getaway day under looks like a good lean for this one.
The Mets need a dominant outing from Jacob deGrom. The Mets have scored 3.22 runs per game this month and have posted an 8-14 record. They are just 21-29 since a strong month of April. They may get it from deGrom. The right-handed heavy Brewers lineup is taking on a pitcher that has held righties to a .177/.237/.244 slash this season. deGrom has fared a lot better at home and Miller Park is certainly friendly to hitters. Regardless, deGrom should have a good matchup here.
On the other side is Taylor Jungmann, who bobbed and weaved his way to a win in Colorado in his last start. He’s thrown the ball well with a 3.50 ERA and 3.27 FIP in his first three big league outings. Jungmann has good enough secondaries to keep hitters uncomfortable in the box and his sinker has led to a 60 percent ground ball rate. Some growing pains in development may have skewed his overall numbers. He was long thought to have middle of the rotation upside and could be flashing a glimpse of the future right now.
As good as deGrom is against righties, it’s hard to ask the Mets to score runs against any decent pitcher. The total of 7 is a bit concerning, so the Brewers appear to be the value side here.
I am stunned, STUNNED, I tell you, to find out that Bud Black wasn’t the problem in San Diego. The exceptionally-flawed San Diego Padres still can’t get out of their own way. With too many right-handed bats and a horrible defense, the Padres continue to struggle. Since Black was canned, the Padres are 3-6. The collective approach from the starting pitchers to do anything within their means to remove the defense from the equation is going about as well as it can. James Shields has tried to do that. He has the best strikeout rate and the highest walk rate of his career. He’s also given up 16 home runs. Even with that high home run rate, Shields still has to endure a .319 BABIP against.
Chris Heston continues to exceed the expectations that I had for him, as some unfortunate sequencing have his ERA 0.5 runs higher than his FIP and xFIP. The sinker works and has some incredible movement. The curveball is pretty good, too. Like most sinkerballers, platoon splits are an issue. Lefties are hitting .306/.365/.483, while righties are batting .216/.279/.303. Fortunately, the Padres don’t have any left-handed bats capable of doing damage.
Take the Giants here. The loss of Aoki at the top of the order is a problem, but the environment for Padres pitchers isn’t great with the firing of confidant Bud Black and the awful defense that is like death by paper cuts.
Lance Lynn returns from the DL to face Dan Haren. The Cardinals are a suspiciously-small favorite in this game. Lynn is one of the best in the game at getting out right-handed batters and the Marlins have few lefties of consequence. Lynn was having a tremendous season before his elbow acted up and effectively killed his velocity in his last start prior to the DL stint. I’m a believer in Lynn and what he can do. His BABIP is a little high because of a sample size issue with a high K/low HR profile. He can post above average strand rates because of the defense behind him and his strikeouts. The only fear about Lynn at this price is that it is his first start back.
Dan Haren continues to get outs with declining velocity because his pitchability is off the charts. Marlins Park helps, as a yard that suppresses homers. Haren has a 2.32 ERA at home and a 4.03 ERA on the road. He has held opposing batters to a .277 wOBA at home. Lefties, however, are slugging .474 on the season against Haren and the Cardinals have gotten some good contributions of late from guys like Jason Heyward.
This line is too low for a Marlins team against a quality right-hander. The Fish are 22-35 against righties. They’re just 8-8 against lefties, but own the league’s second-best wOBA against southpaws. The Cardinals may have a pitch count on Lynn, but their bullpen has been good anyway.