Last Updated: 2017-08-27
All of us are dragging a little bit this morning with the late Mayweather/McGregor fight and the fact that it’s a Sunday and tomorrow is Monday and that’s not good for a lot of people. Anyway, we’ve got Major League Baseball early and often today, as all 30 teams take the field. A few games don’t have lines early this morning, but there are a lot of games with reasonable lines today. Only two Sundays remain without the NFL, so we’ll take a look at today’s schedule.
Here are the picks and analyses for August 27, 2017:
Pittsburgh (-110) at Cincinnati; Total: 9.5
How far has the Jameson Taillon stock fallen? He’s a money line pick ‘em in Sunday’s early start in Cincinnati against a guy making his Major League debut. To be fair, Taillon isn’t pitching like a guy that you would want to back right now. He has a 4.85 ERA with a 3.54 FIP and a 3.75 xFIP, so he has some clear signs of positive regression, but he has really been scuffling of late. Taillon allowed 18 runs on 20 hits in 6.2 innings over his July 25 and August 1 starts. Since then, he’s made two good starts, one mediocre one, and one bad one.
Taillon has allowed nine runs on 12 hits over his last 10 innings. Last time out, he only struck out one batter and walked five over five innings, which is not a Taillon type of start. In his three previous starts, he had a 22/6 K/BB ratio. That was certainly not the case in this one. Taillon has a .362 BABIP against and his recent run has driven his LOB% down to 69.9 percent, which is everything but nice. It has been a rough year for Taillon that included a cancer diagnosis. I still want to believe in him, but the inconsistency of his recent results is a lot to overlook.
Tyler Mahle is the guy making his MLB debut for the Reds. Mahle started the year in Double-A and posted a 1.59/2.52/2.75 pitcher slash in his 85 innings of work with more than a strikeout per inning. At the Triple-A level, he continued to have success with a 2.73/3.26/3.61 pitcher slash. Mahle throws three pitches average or better and showcases good command and a good feel for pitching at just 22. He also has a good frame at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, so he’s the rare prospect that has been pushed towards 150+ innings in each of the last three seasons. The Reds may have something here in this kid, who has low HR/FB% marks in the minors and really low walk rates.
It’s tough to pick a side when you have two guys that could do absolutely anything in this start and it wouldn’t be a big surprise. For me, I’m leaning towards the Reds. They have a little bit of a buzz right now with a kid making his debut and the Pirates are turning to Taillon, whose problems are a lot to overlook right now.
Colorado (-125) at Atlanta; Total: 9
I fully agree with the line move for the game between the Rockies and the Braves on Sunday afternoon. It will be Jon Gray for the Rockies against Mike Foltynewicz for the Braves. Gray is a guy with some positive regression in his metrics, with a 4.54 ERA, a 3.45 FIP, and a 3.58 xFIP. He’s got a solid K/BB ratio, but his BABIP and LOB% are both outside of the normal range. That’s how you get a high ERA. Gray’s season hasn’t been what he planned, with just 13 starts at the MLB level, but I think he’s a candidate to finish really strong. The underlying metrics show it and I really like the increased percentage of ground balls. Not enough of them have been hit at people, but keeping the ball on the ground is the way to succeed nowadays.
Mike Foltynewicz just hasn’t impressed me at the MLB level. He has a 4.95 ERA with a 4.48 FIP and a 4.63 xFIP, which is more or less in line with his career numbers. There isn’t a whole lot to get excited about with something like that. This season, his command has dropped a bit and his walk rate has gone up. Lately, Folty has really struggled, with 20 runs allowed over his last 11.2 innings of work.
I’m still on the Rockies at this price. I would probably play Colorado up to -135, so get in on this one quickly because I don’t think it’s done moving.
Detroit at Chicago (AL) (-105); Total: 10.5
A money line pick ‘em scenario comes our way in the Windy City as the Tigers and White Sox wrap up their weekend set. Matt Boyd goes for the Tigers and Lucas Giolito goes for the White Sox. Brad Ausmus needs to be fired. Not only was his display against the Yankees embarrassing the other day, but he’s clearly in over his head. In so many words after Boyd’s last start, he criticized the left-hander and mentioned that he’ll only stay in the rotation because the Tigers are out of the playoffs. That has no value.
Boyd, who pitched well in eight starts in Triple-A this season, has a 6.24 ERA with a 4.77 FIP and a 5.24 xFIP. He’s got a pretty low K rate with a high BB rate. He’s given up a few home runs, but it’s a matter of command with a .361 BABIP against. That should regress positively, same as his 67.2 percent LOB%, but I’m not so sure that will be the case. He’s just one of those guys that can’t seem to make the leap. His Double-A and Triple-A numbers are strong, but his 5.87/5.19/5.03 pitcher slash in 247 MLB innings speaks for itself.
So, do you back the guy you know is no good or do you back the guy with upside, but a ton of questions of his own. Lucas Giolito wasn’t great in 128.2 innings at Triple-A this season with a 4.48/4.45/3.86 pitcher slash. He did strike out quite a few guys, but he also walked quite a few guys. In his White Sox debut, Giolito allowed four runs on six hits, including three dingers, with four strikeouts. The ceiling for Giolito has been adjusted a few times over within the last three seasons and projections are getting lower and lower on him.
I got burned by this angle on Thursday, but I am looking to fade the Tigers in getaway day games. With nothing to play for, I just don’t see a lot of urgency from this team in those throwaway spots. There is a lot of incentive for Giolito to push forward and for some of the other young White Sox to keep going to the park and giving an effort.
I’d take the White Sox here. Boyd probably won’t be very good. Giolito has the stuff to be good. He may not be, but I’d lean to the Chicago side more than 51 percent of the time, so this is a reasonable play.