We have another Saturday full of action. With 11 games in play tonight, there are plenty of spots to bet on. Here are my favorite lines for the night slate:
MIAMI MARLINS VS. ARIZONA DIAMONBACKS
OVER 8 TOTAL RUNS (+102)
Even though neither of these offenses are great, the starting pitchers are both looking at some extreme regression. Starting for the Diamondbacks, Alex Young’s 2.38 ERA looks amazing although it’s hard to overstate how lucky he’s been. Young’s BABIP is .109 in the big leagues. This number is impossibly low for a couple of reasons. First off, he doesn’t generate much weak contact. Young has a 12.1% soft contact rate compared to a 39.7% hard contact rate. In addition, he has a .373 BABIP in his 20 AAA appearances. In AAA, Young has a 6.09 ERA. It doesn’t make much sense for him to struggle in the minor leagues and then find success in the MLB against better competition.
Jordan Yamamoto is likely a better prospect than Young. With that said, he’s also seen his fair share of luck. Despite a 2.91 ERA, he has a 4.89 xFIP. With homers up around the league, Yamamoto is allowing a 5.1% HR/FB rate. This is likely going to creep up as the season progresses since he is allowing a 48.4% hard contact rate. Control has been an issue and he walks 4.50 hitters per nine innings. Putting guys on base is going to lead to more runs since the hard contact Yamamoto is allowing figures to create more homers.
MILWAUKEE BREWERS VS. CHICAGO CUBS
BREWERS MONEYLINE (-125)
Chicago’s bullpen is in rough shape entering tonight. In a close game last night, Chicago only got five innings out of Kyle Hendricks. As a result, the Cubs had to burn through their bullpen in a game they ultimately ended up losing. Five different relievers had to enter the game and it was most of the guys that get used in high-leverage situations. Jon Lester has pitched seven innings twice all season, so it seems unlikely the Cubs get a long outing out of him. At some point, they are likely going to have to turn to their depleted bullpen.
Starting for the Brewers, Chase Anderson is in the middle of his best stretch of the season. For July, he has a 2.77 ERA and he’s allowed two or fewer runs in six consecutive starts. Unlike the Cubs, the Brewers only had to use two relievers to win last night’s game because of a solid outing from Gio Gonzalez.
CINCINNATI REDS VS. COLORADO ROCKIES
REDS OVER 5.5 TOTAL RUNS (-103)
Desperate for pitching, Chi Chi Gonzalez is taking the mound for the Rockies. In three starts this season, he has a 5.14 ERA. Some of this can be chalked up to Coors Field although his track record of struggling predates his recent stint with the Rockies. In the minor leagues, Gonzalez made 15 starts and had a 6.10 ERA. Prior to this season, he hadn’t pitched in the big leagues 2016, when he had an 8.71 ERA with the Rangers. There isn’t any data to suggest that Gonzalez is capable of getting hitters out at any level with consistency. Even though it isn’t Coors Field, Great American Ball Park is a hitter-friendly environment and Gonzalez figures to continue struggling.
NEW YORK METS VS. PITTSBURGH PIRATES
OVER 9 TOTAL RUNS (-117)
This season has been a struggle for both of the starting pitchers. Steven Matz struggled enough for the Mets that he was taken out of the rotation and moved into a bullpen role. He’s starting again and put together a couple of decent outings in a row, but this doesn’t make me forget how much he struggled in June. For the month, Matz had a 7.36 ERA and it’s hard to think time in the bullpen was enough for a complete turnaround. A once-promising prospect, he’s now 28 years old and his average sinker velocity is down to a career-low 93.3 mph. The injuries have taken a toll on his body and he doesn’t have the same stuff as when he broke into the big leagues.
For Trevor Williams, things haven’t been any better than they are for Matz. Williams has a 4.96 ERA and his recent form is not good. He’s given up at least four runs in four of his last five starts, including games where he allowed seven and eight runs. Even though the Mets’ season has gone wayward, the offense has been solid. Their 102 wRC+ ranks fourth in the National League. The issues for the Mets come from their starting pitching and bullpen, more reason to like the over for today’s game.
PARLAY OF THE DAY
CLE/HOU MONEYLINES (+125)
For a parlay, I am looking at the two best starting pitchers on the slate. In the American League, Gerrit Cole (+200) has moved into the lead as the betting favorite to win the Cy Young award. He’s been on fire lately, allowing one or fewer runs in six of his last seven starts. With homers up across the league, Cole hasn’t been impacted since he’s striking out 13.5 hitters per nine innings. He doesn’t allow the ball to be put into play. If not for an early-season injury, Mike Clevinger might be right up there with Cole in the Cy Young race. After working off some rust returning from the IL, he’s back in good form. Clevinger has allowed a total of five runs across his last four starts and he didn’t allow any runs the last time he started against the Royals.
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