MLB schedule today has 15 games
With the Ohio show to record and another edition of the VSiN Daily Baseball Bets podcast, I was hoping to work ahead on the MLB card yesterday, but I had no internet for more than eight hours. It felt like living in the stone age, which is the “first-worldest” of first-world problems, but it means that I’ve got a lot of ground to cover here on Friday morning.
It’s a full dance card with one day game in Chicago between the Reds and Cubs and we’ve got a lot of pitchers, a lot of games, and only two really big favorites, so it should be a good day of baseball to kick off the holiday weekend.
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Here are some thoughts on the May 26 card (odds from DraftKings):
The return of Kyle Hendricks was cause for celebration, but the Cubs left their own party early in a blowout loss at the hands of the Mets last night. Now they welcome in the Reds with a quality pitching matchup between Hunter Greene and Justin Steele. The Reds are back on the road where they’ve scored 3.86 R/G compared to 4.71 R/G at home.
Between the starting pitchers, the Reds offense on the road, and the wind blowing in from left center, we get a total of 7 on this game. I won’t spend too much time on it with the limited lead time. Steele has a 2.20 ERA with a 2.95 FIP and a 4.04 xFIP. He’s only give up two homers on the season and both came in his April 14 start against the Dodgers. His LOB% had a big correction two starts ago against the Astros when he allowed five runs on five hits in six innings, so a lot of his numbers look pretty reasonable now with a .267 BABIP and a 77.5% LOB%. I still think he’ll give up a few more homers going forward and the BABIP could climb, but he’s a quality arm.
Greene is something of a positive regression candidate with a 4.68 ERA and a 3.98 FIP in his 50 innings of work. He’s got a .379 BABIP and his home run problem has crept back into the picture with seven long balls allowed in his last five starts. In that span, he’s allowed 17 runs on 26 hits in 22 innings. We’ll see if he gets back on track today.
Neither Aaron Nola nor Dylan Dodd fared well last night, as the ball was jumping out of Truist Park. That wouldn’t seem to bode well for tonight’s starters, Taijuan Walker and Jared Shuster. At first glance, I have to say that this looks pretty lofty for Shuster, who has a 5.49 ERA with a 5.06 FIP in his 19.2 innings of work. He has only allowed four runs on four hits in 11 innings since getting recalled on May 16. He allowed eight runs on 12 hits in his first two starts way back in early April.
So, maybe Shuster has figured it out to some degree. He allowed a lot of hard-hit contact in his last two starts, though only 11 of 26 batted balls hit the “hard-hit” threshold of 95+ mph. He allowed average exit velocities of 94.6 and 93.2 mph, so some of the batted balls must have just missed. However, he has pounded the strike zone early in the count and has posted SwStr% marks of 10.6% (Rangers) and 16.5% (Mariners). The Phillies hit Dodd last night, but they are still 23rd in wOBA at .304 and 26th in wRC+ at 88 against lefties.
Walker has a 5.79 ERA with a 5.12 FIP in his 46.2 innings of work. He worked 5.1 shutout innings against the Cubs last time out, but that came after not being able to get through the first inning against the Giants on May 17. He actually came back on short rest after the short start and pitched pretty well, but he did walk three for the fourth time this season.
Walker has also allowed a 49.2% Hard Hit% in his five May starts. He was said to leave his April 26 start early due to injury, although he also hadn’t pitched well. Since then, he’s had a couple decent results, but has also allowed all that hard contact. We’ll see if the Braves take advantage, but I’m not totally sold on Shuster to lay this big price.
The Brewers draw a lefty today in Alex Wood and that may not be great for them. Their 70 wRC+ against southpaws is better than only the 68 for the Rockies, who are punished severely in park-adjusted metrics because of Coors Field. The Brewers are 30th in wOBA against lefties and have struck out in 30.9% of their plate appearances.
It’s been a weird season for Wood, who hasn’t completed five innings to this point. He’s only made six appearances at the MLB level after missing about a month from April 18 to May 12. He allowed four runs on six hits to the Marlins last time out, but had only allowed five earned runs in his previous five appearances combined. Since returning from the IL for that May 12 appearance, Wood has allowed seven runs on 13 hits with a 10/2 K/BB ratio, but he’s suddenly become an extreme ground ball guy with a 54.5% mark. I’m not totally sure what to think of that, but the Giants do try to encourage a lot of ground balls from their pitchers and he’s really ramped up his changeup usage in those three outings.
Freddy Peralta gets the call for the Crew today, as he brings a 4.15 ERA and a 4.08 FIP into action. Peralta has allowed nine runs on 11 hits in his last 11.1 innings of work with just eight strikeouts and eight walks. He’s only allowed a 32.6% Hard Hit% on the season, but he’s given up seven barrels in his last four starts after allowing just four in his first five starts. It’s been tough to know what to expect from him on a start to start basis and I won’t claim to know what I’m getting here.
Also, against a left-handed-heavy lineup, it’s worth noting that he has allowed a .297 wOBA to lefties in 121 PA and a .336 wOBA to righties in 101 PA. He’s also given up five of his six homers on the road where he has a 6.45 ERA compared to a 2.43 mark at home. The sample sizes are small, so take with many grains of salt.
Tough to make a play on this one. Alex Wood’s K prop is 5.5, which seems reasonable when you think about Milwaukee’s contact problem against lefties, but remember, Wood hasn’t gotten more than 14 outs in any appearance yet.
It will be Max Scherzer and Connor Seabold in this one. Scherzer has 2,715.2 innings of MLB work to his name and this will be his 429th start. Seabold has 53 and this will be his 11th MLB start.
We’ll see what we get from Scherzer here, as he comes off of six shutout innings against the hapless Guardians offense last time out. He allowed one run on two hits to the Nationals in his return from yet another extended layoff. He’s only made seven starts this season with a 4.01 ERA and a 5.00 FIP. He’s struck out 31 and walked 13 in 33.2 innings with six homers allowed, though four of them came in his first two starts. I genuinely don’t know what I’m going to get from him in Coors Field or as we go forward, but if he’s healthy, it shouldn’t take long for his numbers to improve.
Seabold has made four starts this season and allowed 15 runs on 23 hits in 18 innings of work. Only 13 runs are earned for a 6.50 ERA, but he’s got a 7.05 FIP and a 39.7% Hard Hit% after allowing a 63.6% mark to the Rangers last time out. His first two starts were okay, but his last two starts have not been with 11 runs allowed in his last eight innings pitched. That’s probably not a profile that you want to bet on.
I assume we’ll see some Mets run line stuff today, especially after their offensive outburst on Thursday against the Cubs, but I won’t be holding that ticket.
Last night was another example of coming to a fork in the road and picking the wrong direction. Rather than take the Tigers, who I thought had some equity with Alex Faedo in a good pitching matchup, I rolled with the under. Faedo and the Tigers pitching staff did their part (and hopefully you played Faedo’s K prop, as he more than doubled it!), but Lucas Giolito did not, as he walked seven batters in just 3.2 innings of work. That was, of course, after I was Giolito’s hype man yesterday about not issuing walks. Pretty frustrating.
I am decidedly less excited about Joey Wentz going up against the White Sox. Not only is he left-handed, but he owns a 7.45 ERA with a 5.79 FIP in his 38.2 innings of work. He just allowed six runs on 10 hits to the Nationals over two innings and allowed three runs on six hits in 2.2 innings to the Mariners the game prior to that. Seattle is awful against left-handed pitching, so that’s one that stands out a bit.
Wentz has a 31/14 K/BB ratio, so he doesn’t have the swing and miss in his back pocket. He’s also allowed nine homers to this point and a 42% Hard Hit%. The White Sox have a 105 wRC+ against lefties that ranks 16th and a .322 wOBA that ranks 18th. Those aren’t the types of numbers that we’re used to seeing from them and they’ve tried to achieve a more balanced lineup this season, but it still doesn’t get me excited about Wentz’s chances.
Similarly, I’m not eager to back Lance Lynn., especially not at this price. He’s had a couple of decent outings in a row against the Guardians and Royals, but he had allowed 24 runs over his previous five starts. He has a 6.28 ERA with a 4.71 FIP and a 3.69 xFIP, so there are some positive regression signs in the numbers. His .344 BABIP with a 19.7% HR/FB% seems high and his 63% LOB% is definitely low.
His Hard Hit% isn’t that bad at 41% and his 9.0% Barrel% is high, but not terribly outlandish. Still, it’s not a profile I love and not one I’d lay a number like this on.
Jon Gray and Grayson Rodriguez are the listed starters as these two teams fire up a weekend set at Oriole Park. It has been a struggle this season for Rodriguez, who has a 6.21 ERA with a 5.28 FIP and a 3.82 xFIP in his 42 innings of work. Based on that big ERA-FIP-xFIP split, the long ball has obviously been the major issue and he has allowed 10 of those, including eight over his last four starts.
Rodriguez has allowed a ton of hard contact this season, not only leading to a 23.3% HR/FB%, but also a .363 BABIP and a 52% Hard Hit%. He’s allowed a 10.6% Barrel% and 10 of his 13 barrels have come in his last four starts against the Royals, Rays, Angels, and Blue Jays. What especially concerns me is that Rodriguez, who does have a 26.2% K%, has posted single-digit SwStr% marks in four straight starts and five of the last six.
Over his last four starts, he has less than a strikeout per inning pace with 16 in 17.2 innings. His HH% in that span is 58.7% and he has a 15.9% Barrel%. That’s a lot of hard contact and those are some hard numbers to ignore, especially with the decrease in K% that absolutely hurts a guy with suspect command.
Gray has a 3.02 ERA with a 4.82 FIP and a 4.79 xFIP, so the numbers suggest that he’s gotten rather fortunate. He does have a low .243 BABIP and a high 84.3% LOB%, so those are the two numbers in question here. He’s only struck out 38 against 18 walks in 50.2 innings of work. However, Gray is on a nice, little burst over his last three outings. He’s allowed two runs on 12 hits in 20 innings of work with 19 strikeouts against four walks and a 37.3% Hard Hit%. Those starts have been against Seattle, Oakland, and Colorado, though, so this is a noteworthy step up in class.
Gray’s 10.8% SwStr% hasn’t exactly been consistent, but between that and a 69.9% F-Strike%, he should definitely have some more strikeouts. Also, his Hard Hit% is just 34.7%, so he’s done an excellent job of staying away from a lot of hard-hit contact.
I’ll take a shot with the Rangers at a dog price here. Rodriguez just has no command right now and the Rangers are a top-five offense against righties, even if they aren’t quite as good on the road in that split as they are against lefties. The Orioles are just 13th in wOBA against righties, as they’ve really put up impressive numbers against lefties. Texas has hit both.
As is always part of my handicap with the Orioles, Yennier Cano pitched last night and has thrown 47 pitches over the last two days. Felix Bautista worked back-to-back days on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hopefully the Rangers have a lead and their situation is irrelevant, but it’s always part of my cap. Meanwhile, the Rangers pen is in excellent shape.
Pick: Rangers +105
I’m still marveling at the season for Kevin Gausman. He’s allowed 22 earned runs in 10 starts, with 15 of them in two starts and seven in the other eight starts. All in all, he has a 3.14 ERA with a 2.47 FIP. There is really no rhyme or reason as to why he’s had two huge blow-ups, but they’ve come at Fenway Park and against the Astros. Getting bashed by the Red Sox in Boston seems pretty excusable, but that was a horrible start with eight runs allowed on 10 hits in 3.1 innings of work.
Since then, Gausman has allowed four earned runs in three starts with 23 strikeouts against just four walks. He has 81 strikeouts in 63 innings of work and has only issued 11 walks. Much like last season, he’s allowing a ton of hard contact and has found ways to work around it. He’s got a 45.1% Hard Hit% and a .327 BABIP, but all of those strikeouts wind up allowing him to limit the damage.
The Twins are 16th in wOBA and have a 104 wRC+ against righties, so it seems unlikely that he’ll have a big blow-up here, but the Astros are only 23rd in wOBA at .300 with a 90 wRC+, so I guess you never really know. Minnesota has struck out 25.6% of the time against righties, so this could actually be a good matchup for Gausman.
Toronto, meanwhile, will take their hacks against Louie Varland. He has a 4.18 ERA with a 4.60 xERA and a 5.17 FIP over 28 innings of work. He’s got a 4.00 ERA and a 4.75 FIP in 54 total MLB innings after making five starts last season. He’s added velocity this season and looks like a decent arm for the future in this Twins rotation. He’s given up 13 runs on 28 hits, but does have more than a strikeout per inning. He’s given up seven homers, but only four in four starts since joining the rotation full-time on May 3. He’s allowed at least one barrel in every start, but has a 44.3% Hard Hit% overall and a 46% mark in four starts since his recall.
I don’t really see much of an edge here in this game. The Twins have a lowered offensive projection with their high strikeout rate and the Blue Jays have the chance to make some hard contact off of Varland.
The Astros are overwhelming road favorites here for the matchup between Hunter Brown and James Kaprielian. The fact that this isn’t JP Sears might save me some money because I probably would have tried to run Sears back in this matchup after having him the last time he and Brown faced off.
Speaking of Sears, he was pulled yesterday after 59 pitches to avoid facing the lineup for the third time which is remarkably stupid. The A’s aren’t playing for anything and these are important reps for young arms. I don’t know why Mark Kotsay is overmanaging with a team that is 32 games under .500 before Memorial Day, but it was embarrassing. I searched JP Sears on Twitter today and saw a bunch of fantasy baseballers buying the recent performances. If Kotsay is going to pull him early to go to the worst bullpen on the planet, I’m not going to be happy.
Kaprielian has been a tweener for a while and he isn’t doing anything to move the needle this season. He started the year with the A’s and allowed 18 runs on 18 hits in three starts covering 13.1 innings of work before getting moved to the pen and then eventually getting sent down. Since his recall, he’s allowed four runs on nine hits in 12 innings with 12 strikeouts against five walks. He’s facing Houston for the second straight time, so I can’t say I’m excited about his chances.
The A’s have scored all of 3.28 R/G at home this season. Compare that with 3.74 R/G on the road, but that number was a lot better before they scored 10 runs in seven games against the Astros and Mariners on this most recent roadie. Brown should be in good shape here. He’s got a 3.20 ERA with a 3.08 FIP in his 50.2 innings of work. He does have a .341 BABIP with a 53% GB% and a 44.7% Hard Hit%. Hard-hit contact is way more palatable on the ground, but it is worth noting that Brown has some reverse Cluster Luck. He’s allowed a .293 wOBA with the bases empty, a .330 with men on base, and a .473 with men in scoring position. Given how bad he’s been with RISP, his 3.20 ERA stands out because it could be even better.
Anyway, no play here, but the A’s are pretty disengaged at home playing in front of dozens of people, so it wouldn’t be a big shocker if the Astros roll over them all weekend.
Noah Syndergaard gets the start today for the Dodgers and this could be really, really interesting. The Rays stole seven bases last night and, along with leading the league in homers, lead the league in steals. Syndergaard is one of the worst pitchers in baseball at holding runners, so the Rays may have the opportunity to run wild if they are able to get some dudes on base. Thor has allowed 181 stolen bases in his career and only 22 runners have been caught with eight additional pickoffs. Base stealers are 12-for-13 this season. They were 30-for-33 last season and 42-for-45 back in 2019.
Syndergaard has a 5.88 ERA with a 4.44 FIP over 41.1 innings of work. The goal will obviously be to limit baserunners and he’s done a good job with walks, only allowing six of those. He’s also allowed just six home runs. His last two starts have been reasonably effective with five runs allowed on nine hits in nine innings of work with nine strikeouts against one walk versus the Twins and Cardinals.
The big gap between ERA and FIP has to do with a 63.2% LOB% and he’s given up a lot of hits thanks to a .326 BABIP. Even though his last two starts have had decent results, his Hard Hit% has been higher than his season average of 38.4%, so I’m not really buying in all that much, especially going into a start against the Rays.
The problem here is that I do not like the idea of Cooper Criswell in a bulk role against the Dodgers. Beeks is left-handed, which maybe gives him a better shot, but he has a 4.68 ERA with a 3.07 xERA and a 4.64 FIP in 25 innings of work. For the most part, he’s been good, as he’s had one appearance with five runs allowed and another with three, both against the White Sox. Otherwise, he’s been useful.
But Criswell has not. He’s given up 10 runs on 15 hits in 11.1 innings of work with a 13/3 K/BB ratio. He’s given up three homers and a 42.9% Hard Hit%. He was just recalled to face the Brewers as the bulk guy on May 21 and allowed five runs on eight hits. In six minor league starts, he’s got a 3.37 ERA, so he’s a tweener kind of dude at best, but I don’t think he’s in a great spot against the Dodgers today. They are second in wOBA vs. RHP at .340, trailing only the Rays.
A total of 9.5 at the Trop is very, very rare and I think that’s why we saw a move down to 9. I think we could get over that, especially with the Rays bullpen woes of late. I can’t help but lean towards the Dodgers, but I’m not sure I trust Syndergaard enough. Really interesting handicap. Lots of angles. Just no bets from me.
Randy Vasquez will make his MLB debut for the Yankees as they host the Padres to kick off an interleague weekend set. Vasquez has a 4.85 ERA with a 4.67 FIP over 42.2 innings at the Triple-A level this season after posting some decent Double-A numbers in 2022. He was named the 11th-ranked prospect in the Yankees system per FanGraphs coming into the season with more of a reliever profile as a small-statured righty with a great curveball and velocity that could play up in a pen role.
He struggled early on in Triple-A this season, allowing 18 of his 23 earned runs over his first five starts, but he’s given up five earned runs over his last 21 innings. There are a lot of nerdy things to like about Vasquez, like his spin rates and a low arm slot, but how that works turning over Major League lineups remains to be seen.
Joe Musgrove hasn’t had a fun 2023 season. It started late because of a fractured toe and he’s got a 6.75 ERA with a 5.82 FIP over five starts to this point. He was blasted in Mexico City, so we can draw a line through his April 29 start, but he’s allowed eight runs on 14 hits in his last two starts with 11 strikeouts against five walks. He just hasn’t looked sharp or comfortable to this point. He’s allowed a 40.8% Hard Hit% and a 10.5% Barrel%, but three of those barrels came in Mexico City where the high elevation did a number on pitch movement.
That said, he’s allowed five barrels in his last two starts. I’m not really sure what we get from him or his team here. The Padres continue to struggle offensively, especially in higher-leverage situations and I don’t know what they’ll do against a guy they’ve never seen before in Vasquez.
It’ll be a clear evening in Cleveland, but the breeze will be blowing in a bit, so we’ve seen this total move down a full run at some places. Matthew Liberatore gets the start for the Cardinals and Shane Bieber goes for the Guardians. St. Louis’s handling of Liberatore (and pretty much everything else) has been a head-scratcher this season, but he draws an excellent matchup against Cleveland tonight.
The 23-year-old southpaw worked five shutout innings in his May 17 start against the Brewers and then got inexplicably used for an inning in relief against the Dodgers on May 21. He’s back starting here against the Guardians and draws a lineup that ranks 29th in wOBA at .278 and 28th in wRC+ at 75 against southpaws. The Guardians generally don’t strike out a ton, but they make a lot of really weak contact and Liberatore is a lefty that they’ve never seen before.
Liberatore had a 3.13 ERA with a 3.67 FIP in Triple-A with 56 strikeouts in 46 innings pitched, so he definitely has some swing and miss upside in the arsenal. He’s also added a bit of velo this season and that’s never a bad thing. Overall, Cleveland is 30th in wOBA at .280, 12 points lower than any other team in baseball and their 76 wRC+ is the worst by four points (Rockies). Somehow, they’ve gotten even worse in May with a .264 wOBA and a 65 wRC+. But, I’m sure it’s still just the cold weather in Cleveland.
Bieber has a 3.08 ERA with a 3.98 FIP in his 64.1 innings of work, but I still hate just about everything I see in his profile. His Hard Hit% is now up to 50.2% and it’s going in the wrong direction. He’s allowed a 50% HH% or higher in eight of his 10 starts and his most recent start against the Mets came in at 48%. He’s allowed 17 barrels and an 8.5% Barrel%. His K% is down to 17.8%, yet his 80.9% LOB% doesn’t really reflect how bad he’s been.
For those keeping score at home, that is a 7.3% increase in HH%, a 1.3% increase in Barrel%, a 7.2% decrease in K%, and his LOB is somehow 5.1% higher this season than it was last season. The Cardinals are sixth in wOBA against righties and have a 111 wRC+ that ranks fifth.
Cleveland’s bullpen is also in shambles right now, as Emmanuel Clase has not been nearly as effective. James Karinchak can’t be used in any leverage situation and Trevor Stephan has had a velocity drop and a decrease in his overall performance.
So, yes, I’m on the Cardinals tonight.
Pick: Cardinals -105
There are some sportsbooks that have Jordan Lyles favored against Patrick Corbin tonight. Lyles is 0-8 in 10 starts and the Royals have lost all 10 of them. He has a 7.15 ERA with a 5.36 xERA and a 6.08 FIP over 56.2 innings of work. He has given up at least four runs in each of his last nine starts. He’s given up 14 home runs to this point and has actually allowed 50 runs in 56.2 innings, but five are unearned. He’s struck out 43 and walked 20.
As I’ve talked about a million times over, the Nationals are a top-10 offense against lefties, but they are 25th in wOBA at .297 against righties and Lyles is right-handed. What’s crazy is that Lyles has only allowed a 35.9% Hard Hit% on the season, but he has allowed 22 barrels and his 12% Barrel% has certainly hurt him. He just had his first start of the season without allowing a barrel against the White Sox.
Lyles had a 47% LOB%, so he’s going to improve at some point. I think. When you talk about Cluster Luck, look at this cat. He’s allowed a .314 wOBA with the bases empty, a .432 with men on, and a .533 wOBA with RISP. He’s given up a .419/.462/.884 slash in 52 PA with RISP. I won’t sit here and pretend like I’m expecting Lyles to be good at any point, but holy ish, that’s a lot of bad luck.
Believers are few and far between in Corbin, who has a 4.47 ERA with a 6.09 xERA and a 4.45 FIP in his 56.1 innings of work. But, the dude’s been useful for a while now. He has not allowed more than three earned runs in a start since April 10. In that span, he has a 3.40 ERA and a 3.91 FIP across 42.1 innings. He only has 25 strikeouts, but he’s also only issued four walks. He does have a 43.8% Hard Hit% and a .277 BABIP, so that’s an area where I’d be concerned.
I can’t bet this dumpster fire of a game, but let’s see if Corbin can keep it going.
The Marlins and Angels square off here with our only battle of lefties on the card. It will be Jesus Luzardo for the Fish and Reid Detmers for the Halos. This is a really interesting game and one where we’ve seen the total tick down a half run. There is a lot to unpack with this game as well.
The Marlins lost two one-run games against the Rockies, so hopefully their record regression in one-run games has started because it sickens me to be on this season win total under and have them at 25-26 when Pythagorean Win-Loss and BaseRuns have them several games worse than this.
Out of 10 starts, Luzardo has made six at home and four on the road. He has a 3.83 ERA and a 3.90 FIP overall in 56.1 innings of work, but he’s allowed 11 runs in 35 innings at home and 14 runs in 211 innings on the road. His wOBA is 106 points higher on the road and his SLG against is 205 points higher, as he’s allowed five homers compared to three in 13.2 fewer innings. Righties have peppered Luzardo to the tune of a .279/.346/.506 slash and a .363 wOBA and he draws an Angels lineup that is sixth in wOBA against lefties at .346 with a 120 wRC+.
Detmers comes into this start with a 4.87 ERA and a 4.06 xERA over 40.2 innings of work. His 3.42 FIP is quite good and he does have 53 strikeouts in his eight starts against just 17 walks. He’s also only allowed four home runs. However, he’s running a .366 BABIP and a 61.4% LOB%, so all those strikeouts haven’t paid as many dividends as you would expect due to some bad luck and shoddy defense.
He’s allowed a 43.8% Hard Hit%, so he’s made some of his own problems. He’s also got a 50% Hard Hit% in his last three starts, though he’s only allowed one barrel. One of the issues for Detmers has been not working all that deep into games because he runs up his pitch count with the strikeouts and some deep counts. He’s also had a major third time through the order penalty, as he’s allowed a .248 wOBA the first time through, a .292 the second time through, and then a .562 wOBA the third time through.
The Marlins also post a top-10 offense against lefties with a .341 wOBA and a 115 wRC+. However, their successes are contingent on a .344 BABIP, as they’ve only walked 5.9% of the time. They’ve been better in this split than they probably should be. That being said, it looks like a decent night to hit at Angel Stadium with the wind blowing out and these are two shaky bullpens. The Angels are 22nd in ERA and 26th in FIP over the last 14 days. The Marlins are 16th in ERA and sixth in FIP, however, they rank 17th in ERA and 21st in FIP on the road as a bullpen for the season.
The Angels could run out as many as eight righties against Luzardo and Miami has a top-10 K% against lefties, so they could put more balls in play against Detmers than most. However, these are two guys that rack up a lot of strikeouts. That’s how to get out of jams and limit offensive opportunities. Also, I need to start shying away from totals more. Based on my tracking sheet, I’m 9-17-2 on full-game totals for -9.8 units. Not my strong suit.
I’m sure this game will end 7-6 or something now, but I need to play more to my strengths.
Chris Sale and Brandon Pfaadt square off down in the desert in what is a pretty interesting battle with a really interesting line. Given how these two guys have pitched, I think some would have expected Sale and the Sox to be a bigger favorite in this matchup. Sale has a 5.01 ERA, but that hardly tells the story with a 4.01 FIP and a 3.50 xFIP in his 50.1 innings of work. He’s got 62 strikeouts against just 13 walks and gave up 15 of his 28 earned runs in his first three starts.
In six starts since, Sale has a 3.05 ERA with a 2.91 FIP in 38.1 innings. He gave up five runs to a really good Baltimore offense against lefties, but he’s allowed just eight runs in his other five starts against the Twins, Guardians, Phillies, Cardinals, and Padres. The Diamondbacks are exactly league average by wRC+ against lefties and have a .323 wOBA that ranks 17th. They don’t walk in this split with a 6.1% BB% and a 22.9% K%.
In his last six starts, Sale has only allowed a 30.2% Hard Hit%. A lot of that runs counter to what we’ve seen from Pfaadt, who has been better in his last two starts after two really rough outings to start his MLB career. He’s allowed four runs on seven hits in his last 10.1 innings after giving up 13 runs on 16 hits in his first 9.2 frames. Credit to him for hanging in there and making adjustments, but he still only has an 8/5 K/BB ratio in his last two starts and he’s a guy who racked up huge strikeout numbers in the minors.
To this point, he only has a 24.2% GB%, so he will be susceptible to giving up the long ball and giving up some loud aerial contact. We’ll see how he fares against a really good Boston lineup here. As usual, the caveat with the Red Sox is how great they are at home and how their offensive numbers will look a bit different on the road.
No bet here, but I think it’s interesting to see where this line is sitting.
The best pitching matchup of the night is in Seattle, where George Kirby and the host Mariners take on Mitch Keller and the visiting Pirates. Kirby and Keller have both been outstanding this season and it’s hard to expect anything different in a great pitching environment.
Kirby has a 2.62 ERA with a 2.69 FIP in his 58.1 innings of work. My lone concern about him was his K%, but that’s starting to climb a little bit with 21 strikeouts in his last 20.2 innings of work. He’s got a 47/5 K/BB ratio and has only allowed three home runs this season. He’s allowed just a 33% Hard Hit% and has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last eight starts.
Keller has been on a similarly strong run. He’s got 77 K in his 62.2 innings of work and has only allowed five homers, with one in his last six starts. He, too, allowed four runs in his first start and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs since. In fact, he’s only allowed three runs once in that stretch and has allowed a total of three earned over his last four starts.
I will say that I’m not a huge believer in Keller’s big K% spike with just a 10% SwStr%, but he’s absolutely pounding the zone and shaving edges to the point where he’s gotten a lot of called strikes. He has the fifth-highest CStr% (called strike percentage) among qualified pitchers. Kirby is 18th, but his SwStr% is 1.2% lower than Keller’s.
I think you can justify a Pirates play at this kind of price. The Mariners strike out more and Keller has a much higher K%, so there’s a working theory here that the Pirates put more balls in play, thus giving them a better chance to score runs. Seattle’s bullpen is a little better and the offensive ceiling for the Mariners is higher, but this type of run-scoring environment and these two pitchers should make this game more of a coin flip than the line implies. I’m okay with taking the gamble that the Pirates put more balls in play and scratch something out easier than the Mariners do.
Pick: Pirates +135