MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Monday, August 14th

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MLB schedule today has 9 games

Nine games are on the Monday card as we get back to work on the baseball betting board. With football on the brain and plenty of preparation going into our remaining preseason content here at VSiN, it can be tough to stay focused on the diamond, but there are still some betting opportunities in that market as the pennant races really take shape and the dog days of August take hold.

 

Quick update on last week’s numbers:

Season: .248/.320/.413, .318 wOBA, .297 BABIP, 22.7% K%, 8.6% BB%, 12.6% HR/FB%

2nd Half: .249/.320/.422, .321 wOBA, .295 BABIP, 22.9% K%, 8.5% BB%, 13.6% HR/FB%

Last week: .248/.316/.412, .316 wOBA, .297 BABIP, 22.8% K%, 8.0% BB%, 12.8% HR/FB%

After a few weeks with some HR/FB% on the high side, we saw a correction this past week to wind up closer to the season average. A lot of these small sample size stats are subject to variance based on a number of factors, including who plays who and which parks host games. But, I did think it was interesting to see the decrease in BB% and also slugging percentage. I’m not sure there’s anything to really read into with those numbers, but the balls don’t seem juiced. Just probably a little different.

It is frustrating to have the endless lack of consistency with how the balls are produced and how they don’t seem to exactly be standardized year in and year out, but it’s just something we have to keep rolling with as MLB bettors and handicappers.

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Here are some thoughts on the August 14 card (odds from DraftKings):

Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Mets (-135, 10.5)

The Pirates had not named a starter as of this morning. The Mets will roll with Carlos Carrasco after salvaging Sunday Night Baseball against the Braves with a 7-6 win. The Mets lost Saturday’s doubleheader by a combined score of 27-3, so I have to give them credit for rallying on Sunday, especially in their situation with nothing to play for. I especially give them credit after falling behind 3-0 in the first inning.

It is supposed to be Quinn Priester’s day in the rotation, so I’m not entirely sure what the question is here. Perhaps the Pirates have considered using an opener in front of Priester and we’ll see that a fair amount with young pitchers going forward as teams try to monitor their innings. He has cracked 100 innings for the first time in his pro career. His MLB returns aren’t great either, as he has an 8.75 ERA with a 5.78 xERA and a 6.35 FIP in 23.2 innings of work, so it’s not like the Pirates have to worry about a special season or anything like other rookies have.

Carrasco isn’t having a very good season either with a 6.42 ERA, 6.53 xERA, and a 5.94 FIP in 81.1 innings of work. He was solid against the Cubs last time out with two runs allowed on three hits over five innings, but he had allowed 23 runs over his previous four starts, so I’m not exactly ready to do backflips after one decent outing. 

I vaguely remember seeing something about Carrasco making some mechanical adjustments, but I couldn’t find it this morning. Either way, I’m not really invested in this game, especially with the Pirates not ready to commit to Priester.

Arizona Diamondbacks (-218, 11.5) at Colorado Rockies

The Diamondbacks are the other team that had not yet named a starter for Monday. Chris Flexen gets the call for the Rockies, so Arizona will be a significant favorite almost regardless of who starts. It is Merrill Kelly’s day in the rotation and he was removed from his last start due to a cramp, so it will likely be him and the D-Backs will indeed be a big favorite.

Kelly has a 3.05 ERA with a 4.34 xERA and a 3.89 FIP this season over 118 innings. Kelly had thrown six shutout innings against the Dodgers on 83 pitches, so his night was pretty close to over anyway, but the cramp popped up and he left with his best start of the season against LA. Since returning from the IL, Kelly has allowed six runs on 23 hits in 23 innings with a 22/7 K/BB ratio against the Cardinals, Mariners, Twins, and Dodgers. 

Flexen has made three starts for the Rockies since being acquired from the Mariners. He’s allowed 14 runs on 22 hits in 13.2 innings. This will be his second start at Coors Field. He walked six and gave up six runs on four hits to the A’s in that first outing, which was also his Rockies debut. It is his worst start of the stretch and all three have stunk. Flexen has also allowed six homers in his three starts.

This looks like a good spot for Arizona, but the Snakes are just 7-20 in the second half. They are 6-1 against Colorado this season and the only other team they are more than two games over .500 against is the Nationals. Nothing to really add here, as this is a huge road number, but Flexen is really bad, so it is warranted.

Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers (-180, 8.5)

Patrick Sandoval and Max Scherzer get the AL slate going, as we only have two games in the Junior Circuit today. This will be Scherzer’s third start as a member of the Rangers. He’s allowed four runs on 10 hits in 13 innings of work with 15 strikeouts against four walks. Scherzer hasn’t really done anything different with his pitch usage, except for a few more changeups in his last start against Oakland. 

Mad Max has only allowed nine hard-hit balls in 33 batted ball events and a couple of barrels while facing the aforementioned A’s and also the White Sox. The Angels are something of a step up in class, as they are 14th in wOBA at .319 and have a 102 wRC+ in the second half. They are 15th with a .315 wOBA against righties and have a 100 wRC+.

Sandoval has a 3.86 ERA with a 4.34 xERA and a 4.02 FIP in his 109.2 innings of work this season. Nothing is really new about his profile from what I’ve talked about all season long. He has a 50% GB%, a SwStr% that would suggest a higher K%, and has been subject to batted ball and sequencing variance. However, he’s run good in those two departments lately with five earned runs allowed on 14 hits in 24 innings across four second-half starts. His 4.31 FIP suggests a lot of negative regression because he has issued 10 walks against 22 strikeouts, but it is nice to see him get rewarded. I’ve been saying all year he’s pitched better than his metrics would suggest, but now he’s in line for some regression.

The Rangers are 10th in wOBA against lefties at .339 in the second half and have a 117 wRC+ in that split. The Angels have hit lefties well in the second half also, but have those league-average numbers against righties. I actually looked at this line and thought it was light at first glance. The Angels have lost 9 of 12 in August and the Rangers are back to playing at a really high level with a 10-2 mark this month. They’ve only allowed 27 runs in 12 games.

Texas is also crushing it at home with a .369 wOBA and a 137 wRC+ in the second half. The Angels have been outscored by 32 runs this month and have scored just 3.5 runs per game. With the way the Texas offense looks, plus the return of Jonah Heim yesterday, I think Texas is in really good shape here to win and do so by margin. It is a gamble given that Texas may only bat eight times, but I really like the matchup.

Pick: Rangers -1.5 Run Line (+114)

Seattle Mariners (-148, 8.5) at Kansas City Royals

Logan Gilbert and Brady Singer are the listed hurlers here, as Singer’s recent uptick in performance can be seen in this line. With the Mariners playing at a very high level in the second half, I think many would have expected this line to be bigger. After all, the Royals have only won 38 games. Seattle has nearly half as many wins (18) in the second half.

Gilbert comes into this start with a 3.66 ERA, 3.59 xERA, and a 3.43 FIP in his 137.2 innings of work. He has over a strikeout per inning with an outstanding walk rate and has finally started to run on the right side of variance so that his ERA better reflects how he has pitched. He’s allowed 13 runs on 38 hits in seven starts since the beginning of July and just struck out 12 over seven one-hit innings against the Padres.

Gilbert has allowed a 48.8% Hard Hit% in that span, though, so regression may be coming. He’s allowed a 43% HH% and a 9.3% Barrel% for the season. Oddly, he’s been better on the road, where he’s held the opposition to a .257 wOBA and has a 3.22 ERA. At home, he has a 4.15 ERA and a .293 wOBA against. Given the contact management numbers, I would’ve expected him to be better at pitcher-friendly T-Mobile Park, but that isn’t the case.

Singer’s season from hell has started to take a turn, as he’s down to a 5.05 ERA and a 4.00 FIP over 128.1 innings pitched. He’s allowed seven runs on 17 hits in his last four starts. He did have 19 strikeouts over 11 innings in the first two starts of that sample size, but has only struck out eight of the last 53 batters he has faced, so that concerns me a bit. He’s allowed a 50.1% Hard Hit% on the season and it has been a struggle to lower that number.

Singer also has just a 9.3% SwStr%, though he did have a streak of four games of 11% or higher coming out of the All-Star Break before struggling to generate whiffs last time out against Boston with just a 7.3% SwStr%.

The Royals have enjoyed the sweltering heat of summer at home, as they are 12th in wOBA at .337 and have a 109 wRC+ at home since the Break and that’s with a league-worst 4.6% BB%. They’ve had a ton of success on batted balls and have been very aggressive, so we’ll see if Gilbert can locate properly.

There is no such thing as a “trap line” in betting, but this line does look suspiciously low and I’ll be curious to see how this game plays out.

Houston Astros (-148, 8) at Miami Marlins

The only game with two left-handed starters today is this one down in Miami, as the Astros send ace Framber Valdez to the mound and the Marlins counter with Braxton Garrett. The Marlins have good full-season numbers against lefties, but are 15th in wOBA at .315 and have a 100 wRC+ in the second half in that split. The Astros are third with a .374 wOBA and a 142 wRC+ since the Break.

This will be a good test for Garrett, who has gotten back on track in his last three starts. He had a real rough patch with 16 runs allowed over four starts from July 3-21, but he’s allowed five earned runs on 17 hits in his last 17 innings pitched. For the season, Garrett has a 4.08 ERA with a 3.49 FIP in 117 innings, so he’s largely been solid, even though he has allowed a lot of hard contact.

It looks like the Marlins and Garrett recommitted to inducing a lot of ground balls. During that four-start stretch where he struggled, Garrett’s GB% dropped to 37.7%. In three starts since, he hasn’t allowed a homer and has a 64.7% GB%. Garrett has thrown more pitches classified as four-seam fastballs lately than he did earlier in the season, so we’ll see if the improvements hold against Houston.

Valdez threw a no-hitter against the Guardians on August 1. In three starts prior to that, he allowed 15 runs on 21 hits. In his first start after the historic performance, he allowed six runs on eight nits over seven innings and only struck out three. Valdez has a 6.10 ERA with a 5.04 FIP in five starts since the Break and threw a no-hitter in one of them. That’s an insane stat. 

So, we’ll see if he can bounce back against Miami here. Valdez has battled a smattering of injuries over the last six weeks or so, which may be affecting him more than he’s physically letting on. I did give some thought to the Over 8 here with Valdez’s recent returns and I recalled the struggles of Garrett, but he has righted the ship a bit. I’ll stay away.

New York Yankees at Atlanta Braves (-218, 9)

Clarke Schmidt and Max Fried are listed here, as we’ll see how Schmidt’s pitch-to-contact strategy fares against a team that you’ll do anything to keep from making contact. Schmidt has a 4.23 ERA with a 4.08 xERA and a 4.32 FIP in 115 innings of work. As I’ve mentioned countless times before, it’s been a tale of two seasons, as Schmidt had a 6.00 ERA over his first 10 starts and a 3.09 ERA over his last 13.

He had a lot more strikeouts early in the year, but has been way better about limiting hard contact and homers during this stretch. In fact, he hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his last 13 starts. He did that four times in his first 10 starts. But, this will be a test against Atlanta, as they seem to basically crush every pitcher put in their path. Schmidt has only allowed 11 runs on 21 hits in 27 innings since the Break, but there is no offense like Atlanta’s.

Fried has a 2.50 ERA with a 2.04 xERA and a 2.60 FIP in 36 innings of work. He’s made two starts since returning from the IL and has allowed four runs on nine hits in 10 innings. He has 12 strikeouts against one walk and allowed all four runs in his last start against the Pirates, but he didn’t give up a ton of hard contact and no batted balls higher than 99.6 mph, so it was just one of those days where the BABIP gods are asleep at the wheel.

The Yankees haven’t done much right on offense this season, but they do have a .346 wOBA and a 123 wRC+ against lefties in the second half. I think the move towards the over is the right one, as we’ve got -115 juice on that side across most of the market. I’m just not sure how much the Yankees help the cause and there’s a chance that Schmidt is enough of a changed man to keep Atlanta at bay.

Oakland Athletics at St. Louis Cardinals (-218, 9)

The A’s were a major disappointment in the weekend series against the Nationals and head to St. Louis after getting swept in D.C. thanks to an epic collapse in the ninth inning yesterday. Washington scored six runs to erase a 7-2 deficit, so it was not a happy flight to STL. 

The Cardinals own a .353 wOBA and a 126 wRC+ in the second half against lefties and get one today in JP Sears, who has a 4.23 ERA with a 4.59 xERA and a 5.02 FIP in 125.2 innings of work. The fly-ball left-hander actually has better numbers on the road than he does at home, which is quite surprising if you know anything about Oakland’s ballpark and atmospheric conditions. Sears has allowed a .308 wOBA on the road and has a 3.82 ERA in 70.2 innings compared to a .335 wOBA and a 4.75 ERA in 55 innings at home.

That said, Sears has allowed 15 runs on 31 hits in 26 innings in the second half. He’s given up six homers, which all came in his first three starts. He’s allowed 12 barrels in that span, so perhaps the Cardinals will be able to keep the bats going.

Miles Mikolas gets the call for St. Louis here with a 4.20 ERA, 4.87 xERA, and a 3.76 FIP in 141.1 innings of work. He’s allowed four earned runs on 14 hits in his last 14 innings and just is what he is. He’s subject to batted ball variance because he doesn’t induce a lot of strikeouts. He also doesn’t walk many batters. He’s a guy who has allowed a higher Hard Hit% than usual this season, but the Cardinals are a pretty good defensive team.

I just don’t really have much to say about this one. Oakland has been a below average offense on the road in the second half, but has a 107 wRC+ against righties on the road. This game could feature some runs and it will be hot in St. Louis again, but I’m not rushing to bet this total.

Baltimore Orioles at San Diego Padres (-142, 8)

More interleague action here with the Orioles and Padres, as it will be Grayson Rodriguez for the O’s and Yu Darvish for the Friars. Rodriguez should really only be judged on what he’s done since getting recalled on July 17. In those five starts, he has a 3.45 ERA with a 2.74 FIP in 28.2 innings of work. He’s only struck out 24 against 10 walks, but he hasn’t allowed a homer, has a 57.1% GB%, and has held the opposition to a 35.9% Hard Hit% with a 3.8% Barrel%.

Rodriguez has faced the Dodgers, Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Astros in that span, so lineups that rank 3rd, 12th, 23rd, 19th, and 10th in wOBA against righties in the second half. The Padres are 13th, but their 9.5% BB% is doing a lot of the heavy lifting for them. If Rodriguez is able to throw strikes and stay ahead in counts, it will be tougher for the Padres to be able to put together rallies.

The O’s are a bottom-five offense against righties in the second half as they draw Darvish, who has allowed two earned runs on 14 hits in his last 19 innings. He was rocked by the Pirates on July 24, but has really performed well against the Rangers, Dodgers, and Mariners in his last three efforts. 

The Baltimore bullpen is up against it a little bit from a fatigue standpoint, mostly with Yennier Cano, who worked three of the last four games. However, just about everybody else should be available, including closer Felix Bautista and yesterday’s fill-in closer, Shintaro Fujinami. The Padres pen is really well-rested, so most of their arms are good to go for today.

I like the 1st 5 Under 4.5 as well, but DraftKings had taken it down while I was posting and didn’t put it back up for a while. I can’t wait around for it to go back up and need to get this posted, so Under 8 it is. 

Pick: Under 8 (-105)

Tampa Bay Rays (-135, 7.5) at San Francisco Giants

Tyler Glasnow and Ryan Walker are the listed starters here, but the Giants will use Walker as the opener and then turn it over to their bevy of bulk options. The Rays will not have Wander Franco for this trip, as some really concerning social media reports came out about an inappropriate relationship with a minor. Franco has a .281/.344/.475 slash with a .349 wOBA and a 129 wRC+. He’s also one of the game’s top defensive shortstops by the metrics, so that’s a notable loss while the team sorts out a serious matter.

Sean Manaea and Tristan Beck have not pitched since Wednesday, so both guys are available. The Giants need a bulker tomorrow as well, so they will be able to take their pick today. The Rays have a .255 wOBA and a 64 wRC+ against lefties in the second half, so I’m guessing Manaea will be the preferred option by virtue of being a southpaw, but Beck is the better pitcher this season.

Glasnow has a 3.15 ERA with a 4.08 xERA and a 3.18 FIP in 12 starts over 68.2 innings of work. He hasn’t pitched since July 31 when he allowed a run on three hits against the Yankees. He’s been dealing with a back issue and has gone two weeks without making a start, so I have no idea what to expect in this one. He had allowed a total of five earned runs on 17 hits in 27 innings after the Break with 32 strikeouts against six walks. But, the extended layoff is never an easy thing to handicap.

The Giants offense has gone in the tank in a big way in the second half, so this could be a good return outing for Glasnow. The Giants have scored 100 runs in 28 games since the Break and just 37 runs in 11 August games. They’ve also only allowed 42, so the under has been the play in their games with an average of 7.2 runs per game.

Nothing from me in this one to round out the card.

TL;DR Recap

Rangers -1.5 (+114)
BAL/SD Under 8 (-105)