MLB Picks & Analysis August 26, 2017


Last Updated: 2017-08-26

mlb picks analysis august 26 2017We’re really fortunate to have baseball because there’s nothing else going on in the sports world today, right? Seriously, though, today is jampacked with NFL Preseason action, the start of college football, the Mayweather/McGregor fight, and the Travers on the horse racing side, so we have a ton of things to look at for today’s card, including some Major League Baseball.

Here are the picks and analyses for August 26, 2017:

Texas (-110) at Oakland; Total: 9

Games start early with a couple of 1 p.m.matchups, but there isn’t a whole lot of value on those. Instead, we start during the 4 p.m. hour with an AL West tilt between the Rangers and the A’s. Manaea will get the nod going on some extra rest in this one, as he has really struggled of late. Hamels has some clear signs of regression, so I would expect to see the market pile in on the A’s as we get closer to gametime. Early this morning, there are other considerations than baseball for the influential handicappers that are out there.

Hamels has a 3.42 ERA with a 4.45 FIP and a 4.78 xFIP. He’s got a terrible strikeout rate in his 105.1 innings of work, but he’s limited hard contact really well. With a 51 percent GB%, Hamels has a .230 BABIP against, which seems extremely unsustainable, especially since he has a career .284 mark with a 44.9 percent GB%. I’ll be looking for regression from him in certain starts this year, but I’m not sure that this will be one of them. The A’s aren’t very good, for one thing, and they also like to live on launch angle. The A’s are also 27th in wOBA against LHP. It has been a contact quality issue because they have a solid walk rate at 9.1 percent, but rank near the bottom in SLG.

The Rangers also don’t fare very well with lefties, but Sean Manaea is going in the wrong direction. The Oakland southpaw has a 4.58 ERA with a 4.14 FIP and a 4.43 xFIP in his 125.2 innings of work. Since July 22, Manaea has allowed 28 runs, 23 earned, on 44 hits in just 25.1 innings of work. That’s an 8.17 ERA with a 6.92 FIP and a 6.15 xFIP. He’s not missing bats anymore either. He has just 13 strikeouts in that span after averaging over a strikeout per inning prior to that. It seems like Manaea, who has a pretty extensive injury history, has simply hit a wall.

Wait this one out and see if Oakland money does come in because of the Hamels ERA/xFIP discrepancy. If it does, play back on Texas.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (-130); Total: 8.5

Gerrit Cole and Luis Castillo dial it up in the Queen City with a 6:40 p.m. ET start time. The Pirates are no longer a consideration for the playoffs, as they sit eight games behind the Cubs in the NL Central. Between injuries, bad bullpen management, and regression from some starters, things have taken a turn for the worse.

Cole is one of those guys that has fallen off of the pace. He has a 4.16 ERA with a 4.30 FIP and a 3.92 xFIP. He’s worked 160 innings this season, 36 more than last year when he battled some injuries, so I do wonder if workload will be a factor from here on out. He did throw 208 innings in 2015, so he is accustomed to the grind, but it will be something to monitor. Cole had a string in which he allowed two or fewer runs over five straight starts. Fortunes have reversed, as he has allowed 15 runs over his last four starts. The strikeout-to-walk ratio looks pretty decent, so we can maybe just chalk it up to sequencing and batted ball luck, but Cole has allowed at least one homer in five straight starts. His command has been a bit iffy throughout the season and that is generally his best weapon.

Luis Castillo is definitely a guy to watch. Expect the Reds to start slowing him down as he works over 150 innings in a season for the first time in his career. The hard-throwing right-hander has a 3.45 ERA with a 4.09 FIP and a 3.86 xFIP in his 70.1 innings at the big league level. He hasn’t allowed more than four runs in any start thus far, so he’s pretty good at keeping his team in the game. The stuff still seems to have life with 15 strikeouts in his last 10 innings of work.

Still, I won’t be laying 30 cents with the Reds here. Cole is still a solid pitcher, despite some concerns, and my concerns about Castillo were mentioned already. I have no play here.

Detroit at Chicago (AL) (-140); Total: 9

Why would anybody want to lay 40 cents with the White Sox? I made a bit of a situational call on the White Sox yesterday and it worked out in our favor as they won a close game. Today, Buck Farmer gets recalled from Triple-A Toledo to take on Carlos Rodon. I think this game illustrates how difficult the Tigers are to line right now. This is a team that has had a lot of success against left-handed pitching on the season, but isn’t getting any respect in the markets.

It’s tough to find a better matchup for Buck Farmer to come back to than this one. Farmer has a 6.62 ERA with a 5.17 FIP and a 3.42 xFIP in his 17.2 innings of work. Overall, as a big leaguer, Farmer has an ugly 6.80 ERA with a 5.87 FIP and a 4.95 xFIP in 96.2 innings of work. He’s not getting a whole lot of love in this one and it’s pretty easy to see why.

It’s a shame that Carlos Rodon missed such a big chunk of the season. His potential is on display again with a 3.88/4.42/3.78 pitcher slash. He has 68 strikeouts in 60.1 innings of work. It’s hard to believe, but Rodon is only 24, so this may be the tip of the iceberg as far as his upside goes. He’s still issuing quite a few walks and his HR/FB% is too high, but the swing-and-miss element in his arsenal is really big.

I think the under is a consideration today. The total is half a run too high because of Farmer’s MLB track record. He’s thrown the ball pretty well this season between Triple-A and the bigs and the Chicago offense isn’t very exciting. The Tigers are just a bad team.

Colorado at Atlanta (-115); Total: 9

Kyle Freeland and Sean Newcomb duel in a battle of left-handers down in Atlanta. Freeland has been viewed as a regression candidate for a large chunk of the season and deservedly so because we don’t see that contact-oriented profile have a lot of success more often than not. Freeland has a 3.71 ERA with a 4.78 FIP and a 4.71 xFIP. He’s got a 78.5 percent LOB%, which is where the main area of regression lies. I’m a bit surprised that we haven’t seen it come down, but Freeland has mixed in some more strikeouts as the season has gone along.

He missed 10 days with an injury and has had some control problems since returning. He has limited the opposition to six runs on eight hits in 11.2 innings of work, but he has a 12/7 K/BB ratio. The Braves are getting their second look at him in two weeks, which may help with their ability to create some offensive chances. Still, the profile of Freeland is a tough one to handicap. With a 55 percent GB% and subpar peripherals, the advanced metrics don’t like him, but he carries some pretty good practical value.

Sean Newcomb has a 4.13 ERA with a 4.79 FIP and xFIP in his first 69.2 innings of work at the MLB level. He has 71 strikeouts, which is good, and 42 walks, which is very bad. Newcomb actually had a start earlier this month in which he walked seven and struck out seven, so it is a very interesting profile to say the least. It’s also a profile that has worked at the minor league level, but it has been a challenge at the MLB level.

Both teams have had success against lefties this season. The Rockies have a Coors-inflated .344 wOBA and the Braves have a .331 wOBA, which is quite solid given their park factor. Perhaps we see runs here. Certainly I would be expecting more offense from the Rockies, with Newcomb’s wildness, so a slight lean to them.

San Francisco at Arizona (-120); Total: 9

Madison Bumgarner and Taijuan Walker meet in the desert for this NL West battle between a bottom feeder and a Wild Card leader. I fully understand that the Giants are a bad team, but Madison Bumgarner looks like the same pitcher that we have come to expect. He has a 2.87 ERA with a 3.34 FIP and a 3.89 xFIP in his 78.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 74 and walked 14. He hasn’t walked more than two batters in any start this season and he’s providing a lot of innings for the Giants now that he is back in regular form.

Taijuan Walker has a 3.66 ERA with a 4.11 FIP and a 4.43 xFIP on the year. He’s pitched really well for his first taste of the NL and his first taste of Chase Field. That being said, let’s dig a bit deeper. He’s actually pitched slightly worse at Chase Field than on the road. He’s got a lower batting average against, but a higher OBP against and a higher SLG against. He’s pitched well when adjusted for Chase Field, so that’s a solid element in his profile. All in all, you have to like what you’ve seen from Walker and it’s a big reason why the Diamondbacks are in the position that they are in.

Still, I have a hard time stepping in front of Bumgarner. With the line movement we’ve seen thus far, my lean would be to the Giants, but the under may certainly be a better way to go here. The Giants offense is terrible. Bumgarner has allowed one run or less in four of his last six starts and allowed two in one and four in the other, so he’s been in a pretty good groove. I would look under here.

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