The NHL Finals are done and there are a maximum of two games left in the NBA Finals. Baseball is going to be the only thing wager on nightly for a little while, as we all start preparing for football season. Those that listened to Monday’s edition of The Bettor’s Box were treated to a nice win on the Atlanta Braves. Those that read yesterday’s article caught nice winners on the New York Mets and Oakland Athletics, though none of the big upsets came through. I was genuinely surprised by the market moving in on the Mets. I really figured that they would be plus money by the closing line, but some fortunate late heroics gave us a win regardless.
Looking ahead to Tuesday’s card, there are some day games with these brief two-game interleague series to contend with. Weather was an issue yesterday and could be an issue again today as summer thunderstorms are popping up in various areas of the country. It doesn’t have a major impact on the betting market, with the exception of rain delays taking starting pitchers out of the game, but it could have a bigger impact on daily fantasy, so be aware of that.
Let’s look at today’s games, with quite a few big numbers out there:
This is one of those “money line pick ‘em” games, as I like to call them. You’ll never get even money on both sides, but this is as close as it gets. So far, the betting market has sided with Scott Kazmir and the road team. The San Diego Padres fired manager Bud Black on Monday and responded with a blowout loss. Andrew Cashner is on the bump for the Fathers.
I’ve made it a point to talk about the right-handed heavy Padres lineup, which is down Wil Myers yet again, and that I will look to fade them against any righty with a pulse and decent stuff. In a league that seems to be driven by platoon advantages, the Padres only have a .302 wOBA against lefties, which ranks 19th. Only the Rockies, Pirates, Cardinals, and White Sox strike out more against southpaws. Scott Kazmir is averaging just shy of a strikeout per inning. He doesn’t have the same K/BB rate against righties as he does against lefties, but righties are only batting .212/.311/.339 with a .292 wOBA.
Like rotation mate Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner has varied his plan of attack to try and mitigate the negative effects of the horrible Padres defense. Cashner’s strikeout rate and walk rate have both risen this season, along with unwanted rises in his home run rate and BABIP against. Cashner has a 4.16 ERA with a 4.15 FIP and a 3.59 xFIP, so positive regression is there, but the .338 BABIP against is something Cashner may have to live with.
Cashner has also been trucked by lefties. In 163 plate appearances, lefties are hitting .285/.370/.549 for a .394 wOBA. He has a 33/19 K/BB vs. LHB and a 42/5 K/BB vs. RHB. The A’s, as we all know, heavily rely on platoon advantages. Cashner has already allowed 13 unearned runs this season that aren’t part of that 4.16 ERA.
The market has put this line where it should have opened, but there could still be some value on Oakland. Kazmir is throwing the ball well and Cashner’s problems with lefties are exacerbated by one of the league’s worst defenses.
Is this not one of the strangest numbers of the season? The Boston Red Sox have dropped what seems like 40 games in a row and struggled mightily with Williams Perez on Monday night. They nearly scratched out a comeback against the awful Atlanta bullpen, but the Braves held on.
If we dig a little deeper, we can see part of the reason this line is so out of whack. The Braves have a team wOBA of .277 against lefties this season and a 72 wRC+, which ranks 27th. They have a .300 BABIP against lefties, so this isn’t just a bad luck thing. It’s a “they can’t hit lefties” thing. Wade Miley isn’t a great lefty, by any means. He has a 5.07 ERA, 4.22 FIP, and 4.50 xFIP with a very pedestrian strikeout rate. Normally we can expect an decrease in production with pitchers moving from the NL to the AL and that has been the case with Miley.
It has been a weird season for Julio Teheran. The Braves de facto ace has a 4.78 ERA, 5.08 FIP, and 4.22 xFIP. His home run rate is way out of whack given the fact that he has induced the highest rate of ground balls of his career this season. An increase in home runs, BABIP, and walks has been a perfect storm of awful for Teheran. It could be as simple as the 4.4 percent drop in first-pitch strikes, since hitters are swinging less and chasing less.
I don’t have an opinion on this game, but I wrote about it because the instinct will be to auto-bet the Braves at this price, but the line is this high for a reason, even though both pitchers are struggling.
This game won’t draw big headlines, but it is an interesting matchup. The Yankees are sending former Marlin Nate Eovaldi to the mound, while the Marlins counter with former Yankee David Phelps. Eovaldi is such a mystery. He sits in the mid-90s with a decent slider and a fringe curveball. PITCHf/x and Baseball Info Solutions debate whether or not Eovaldi throws a splitter or a changeup. PITCHf/x classifies it as a splitter, so we’ll go with that. Whatever it is, he’s throwing it more frequently this season. Eovaldi has not seen a major drop-off in production switching leagues and the elevated home run rate is probably going to regress a bit, though facing an extra hitter and a huge park factor change from Marlins Park to Yankee Stadium will probably keep it a little bit on the high side.
Eovaldi has been wrecked by lefties in his career, especially this season. In 142 plate appearances against lefties, they hold a .380/.437/.535 slash and a .425 wOBA. For context, Miguel Cabrera has a .438 wOBA and Anthony Rizzo has a .419 wOBA.
Phelps has a similar set of stats to Eovaldi, while pitching in an easier league and a better park. Even in the NL, however, he’s not fooling many batters. Hitters are making contact 89.4 percent of the time. Only Phil Hughes and Mark Buehrle allow more contact among qualified pitchers. Phelps’s 4.4 percent whiff rate is the lowest in the league.
Because the Marlins are so right-handed heavy, Eovaldi looks like a good value in this start. Marlins Park will negate some of the Yankees’ power, but Eovaldi is a clear upgrade over Phelps.
After throwing a lot of quality innings last season, Tanner Roark has fought with his command this season. The control is still there, but a drop in first-pitch strike percentage has forced him to pitch from behind more often and his stuff isn’t good enough to do that. Really, it’s the lack of a third pitch that hurts Roark. The two-seamer and slider combination is good enough a time or two through the order, but hitters start picking out mistakes. Roark is an anomaly, in that his batting average against is higher than his BABIP against. The reason is a ghastly 17.3 HR/FB%.
Alex Colome has similar problems to Roark. Colome throws a little bit harder, but an unpolished third pitch has made him very hittable. Fastball command has been the biggest problem for Colome. He has a .313/.364/.491 slash against with his fastball. He has only thrown 130 breaking balls this season, with good results, but he’s not comfortable with those pitches yet. The Nationals have been one of the best fastball-hitting teams this season, over 24 runs above average against the heat.
This game looks like an over. The Rays may not have the offensive results, but the process is good with a lot of patient hitters and they will have a platoon advantage over Roark, which is always made worse by the lack of a third pitch. Colome has some command troubles and the Nationals will have an extra stick in the lineup. This total should probably be 8, so we get a half-run gift in this one.
This is a big start for Matt Harvey. Harvey is reportedly healthy, but command has been a major concern. Over his last four starts, Harvey has allowed eight home runs en route to a 7.20 ERA and a 1-3 record. The strikeouts are still there with 26 in 25 innings, so it is a command problem, not a control problem. His recent problems have gotten a lot of attention and oddsmakers still felt comfortable enough to line him in this range. He still has a fine 3.62 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 3.05 xFIP, and a strong 2.98 SIERA. Judging by the usage percentages of his secondaries over the last few starts, he can’t consistently command any of them. He abandoned his slider in favor of curveballs last start, along with his highest changeup usage in his last six starts. He’s a pitcher trying to figure out what is working and it’s scary to lay -140 on that.
Scott Copeland is a pitch-to-contact right-hander and guys like that don’t seem to have a whole lot of Major League success. Nothing jumps out about his minor league profile, with below average K%-BB% rates and a lot of reliance on his defense. Not just his fielders, but also his catcher, as Copeland has three minor league seasons with 11 or more wild pitches. Fortunately for him, the Blue Jays are pretty good defensively, with 26 defensive runs saved.
This is a stay away game, but it won’t be surprising to see money come in on the Blue Jays given their offensive dominance and Harvey’s recent command issues.
Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez is not getting a whole lot of love in the betting market, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. After eight Triple-A starts, Gonzalez got the call to the show. He has dazzled with a 0.42 ERA, but he’s clearly hitting 15 against a 10 and drawing a six in just every about start. He has walked more batters than he has struck out and has been fortunate to strand 96 percent of his runners. A .197 BABIP isn’t going to continue.
Outside of breaking down this game, it’s just nice to see Brett Anderson healthy and effective. He has some tremendous stuff, but injuries have limited him to 32 starts over the past four seasons. He has already made 12 starts this season with a 3.57 ERA, 3.71 FIP, and 3.44 xFIP. The biggest surprise in his statistical profile is a 67 percent ground ball rate, which is incredible. Hitters are making a lot of contact on bad pitches, which suggests to me that his sequencing has been excellent. Inducing weak contact is big and Anderson has done a lot of that this season.
There’s no value on either side at this point with the line move, but I think Brett Anderson is legit and should be on your radar in future outings.
This total is fascinating. Fly ball pitcher Chris Young at Miller Park against the declining skill set of Matt Garza and the total is sitting at 7.5. Chris Young has made a career out of laughing in the face of sabermetrics. He doesn’t miss bats. He induces fly balls, which are generally bad, and he consistently performs better than his xFIP and SIERA. This season is a prime example with a 2.25 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 4.97 xFIP, and 5.24 SIERA. As a student of saber, it’s hard for me to believe in Chris Young at any point, but he is good at what he does. It has worked for him again this season.
As mentioned before, Matt Garza is a shell of his former self. His strikeout rate has dropped for the fifth straight season and his walk rate is the highest it has been since 2008, when he struck out more batters and could get by with a high walk rate. Garza has a 4.80 ERA with a 4.72 FIP and a 4.13 xFIP, but I don’t see him as a guy due for positive regression. Both the control and command are failing. All of his classified pitches grade below average. A higher rate of contact outside of the zone suggests declining secondary command.
I’m fading Garza every chance I get, even in a scary situation with fly ball Chris Young at Miller Park. I see no reason to be optimistic about Garza. Righties are batting .134/.174/.268 with a .195 wOBA against Young and the Brewers lineup is full of righties. Take the Royals.