MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Saturday, July 1st

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MLB schedule today has 16 games

The month of July begins with a full card in Major League Baseball plus one game, as the Yankees and Cardinals will play two at Busch Stadium after last night’s rainout. We’ve got a trio of early starts at 3:07 p.m. ET or sooner, but most of the card starts at 4:05 p.m., as has been the case the last few Saturdays.

 

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Weather is a huge factor today. Nine games, including both in St. Louis, are threatened by some sort of chance of showers and thunderstorms. It’s simply that time of year, but there is a lot of instability around the country with high temps, humidity, and high dewpoints, so it’s just a thing we have to deal with, especially with day and evening games.

I’ve got plenty of games to get to, so let’s get to the action.

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Here are some thoughts on the July 1 card (odds from DraftKings):

San Diego Padres (-165, 12) at Cincinnati Reds

The Reds storybook season saw another chapter written last night, as Spencer Steer walked it off in extras and Cincinnati took sole possession of first place in the NL Central. They’ll get back at it early today with Brandon Williamson on the bump against Michael Wacha. It’s another big line for the Padres, who have dropped six in a row and the last two have been in heartbreaking fashion.

Williamson carries a 5.82 ERA with a 6.76 xERA and a 5.86 FIP into this one on 38.2 innings of work. He’s got a 17% K% and a 9.9% BB%, so the K and BB ratios aren’t great, coupled with a 64.1% LOB% and a 46% Hard Hit% against. The Redlegs will need some pitching help if they want to sustain this run because Williamson doesn’t look to be MLB-ready at this point. He’s also allowed a 12.9% Barrel% and given up eight homers in eight starts.

He only lasted two innings and 12 batters last time out against the Orioles, which is all part of the reason why this line is so big. The other reason is that Wacha is in the midst of a terrific season with a 2.90 ERA, 4.04 xERA, and a 3.79 FIP over 80.2 frames. He’s carrying a .245 BABIP and an 80.5% LOB%, so there are clear regression signs in the profile for him. But, he hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a start since April 26 and has a 1.14 ERA in his last nine starts over 55.1 innings pitched. He hasn’t made a start since June 19, though, as he battled some shoulder soreness.

We’ll see if the Reds can take advantage. Despite the attractive plus-money price, it’s really hard to back Williamson, since his floor is really low and his ceiling is not particularly high.

Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies (-205, 8.5)

MacKenzie Gore and Zack Wheeler square off in Philly for this one, as the home team looks to bounce back from getting shut down by Josiah Gray yesterday. Gray had eight strikeouts over six excellent innings and the bullpen shut it down for the 2-1 win. It was a frustrating loss for the Phillies, who actually started the month 25-30 and exited it 43-38, so they got themselves back in the Wild Card hunt, but the loss snapped a four-game winning streak.

Wheeler’s start comes at a good time, as the Phillies send their ace to the hill with a lot of positive regression signs. He has a 3.86 ERA, but a 3.31 xERA and a 2.77 FIP over 93.1 innings across 16 starts. Wheeler has a solid 26.8% K%, which is right in line with last season, and a strong 5.6% BB%, which is identical to last season. He had a 2.82 ERA last year, though. Why the difference? A 9% drop in LOB% is a big culprit, along with a 35-point increase in BABIP. Wheeler’s FIP is actually .12 runs lower this season compared to last, but sequencing and batted ball luck has evaded him.

Last time out, he allowed five runs on nine hits, even though he struck out eight over 5.1 innings. His Hard Hit% for the season is 36.4% and his Barrel% is 5.4%, though he did allow three barrels in that start against the Mets. 

Gore, meanwhile, has some signs of going the other way, as he comes in with a 3.89 ERA, 4.80 xERA, and a 4.08 FIP in 85.2 innings. He has a big K% at 28.5%, but also a high BB% at 9.9%, a .340 BABIP, and he’s allowed 13 homers on the season. Even with the HR that don’t count towards BABIP, he still has a really high number in that department, so he’s actually been lucky to have an 81.7% LOB%. The high K% helps a lot, especially because he goes from 27.6% with the bases empty to 29.8% with men on base to 34.7% with RISP.

No play here in this one, as Wheeler is deservedly a high favorite and Philly’s primary relievers are rested.

Milwaukee Brewers (-140, 8) at Pittsburgh Pirates

It has been said that momentum is today’s starting pitcher. After last night’s thrilling walk-off win on a missile into the Allegheny from Carlos Santana, the Pirates might have a tough time sustaining their winning ways as they run into Corbin Burnes. They’ll counter with Johan Oviedo, who has pitched quite well over the last six weeks.

Burnes is up to a 4.10 ERA with a 3.64 xERA and a 4.33 FIP, as this season has been a really rough one by his lofty standards. His K% is down to 22.6%, which is nearly an 8% drop from last season. His BB% is up 2% from last year. He’s running the same BABIP at .259, but his LOB% is down 6.6% from last season and easily the lowest of his career as a full-time starter.

That said, Burnes has a 32.8% Hard Hit% against and just a 6.7% Barrel%, so that’s why his xERA sits where it does and he’s definitely had some bad luck this year. He’s also allowed 13 homers with a low Barrel%, so he’s gotten quite unlucky on that front. He’s given up 14 runs on 23 hits in his last 16.2 innings pitched against the Guardians, Diamondbacks, and Twins. He’s only struck out six of his last 52 batters faced. His velo looks fine, but there has been a little dip in his spin rates relative to his previous few outings, but nothing like what we saw in late April that raised red flags.

Oviedo is only 3-8 from a win-loss standpoint, but he’s having a nice season with a 4.06 ERA and a 3.85 FIP in 88.2 innings pitched. He’s allowed more than three runs just once over his last nine starts with a 2.96 ERA and a 3.92 FIP in 51.2 innings of work. His peripherals across the board all seem pretty reasonable for the season, so I don’t see any signs one way or the other of improvement or a drop-off. He’s maybe gotten a little lucky on batted balls with a BABIP in the .260s in that nine-start sample, but he keeps the ball on the ground and has a reasonable Hard Hit%.

The Brewers still have those same bullpen concerns as yesterday. They aren’t quite as pronounced, but Matt Bush was unable to lock down the save last night with Devin Williams unavailable. This would still be his fifth appearance in seven days if he is called upon, while it would be the sixth in eight days for Elvis Peguero and Hoby Milner. I would tread very, very lightly if interested in the full game for Milwaukee, as they have those fatigue concerns, along with Peter Strzelecki’s recent demotion.

San Francisco Giants at New York Mets (-145, 8.5)

Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Verlander meet in the second game of this three-game weekend set. The Giants came back off the Mets bullpen yesterday and then held on for a 5-4 decision, as it was a disappointing, yet fitting, end to the month of June for New York. The Mets did not win a single series in the month and fell to 10 games under .500 with the 7-19 showing in June.

There are a lot of places to point fingers and one is in Verlander’s direction, as he has been very pedestrian over his 10 starts with a 4.11 ERA, 3.72 xERA, and a 4.22 FIP. His K% is up to 20.6%, but that’s still the lowest one he’s had since 2014. His 6.3% BB% is just fine, but the highest he’s had since 2017. His .285 BABIP is the highest since 2014. His .248 BA against is also a high mark dating back to 2014. And he’s given up eight homers in 57 innings after allowing 12 homers in 175 innings last season.

He’s coming off of five shutout innings against the Brewers, which follows the pattern that he’s had pretty much all season. By start, he’s allowed 2, 1, 6, 1, 6, 1, 5, 1, 4, 0 runs, so every other start has been a clunker. Today would fall under “every other start”, so we’ll see if that holds. Despite five shutout innings last time out, he allowed a 53.3% Hard Hit% and is up to 45.1% for the season.

It should be a good day for hitting fly balls with temps in the 80s and a summer breeze blowing out to LF. That would concern me with a fly ball guy like Verlander, though it is worth noting that that lefties only have a .294 wOBA against him in 92 PA, as righties have done more damage with a .320 PA and six of the eight homers he has allowed. Also, he’s allowed a .277 wOBA at home with a 2.70 ERA in 30 innings compared to a .343 wOBA and a 5.67 ERA in 27 road innings.

DeSclafani has a 4.28 ERA with a 4.54 xERA and a 3.74 FIP in his 90.1 innings of work. He’s got a low K% at 18.4% and a high Hard Hit% at 44%, so xERA really isn’t a fan of his work. He is running a 64% LOB%, so he’s been a bit unlucky in higher-leverage spots, but also, you need strikeouts to strand runners and he has not provided those. After a solid start to the season in April and a good first start in May, Disco has allowed 38 runs in his last 52.1 innings and sports a 5.85 ERA with a 4.06 FIP. He’s got a .339 BABIP and a 57.5% LOB% in that span.

There are some positive regression signs in the profile, but the lack of strikeouts and the hard contact don’t make me think he’ll find too much of it. Obviously the Giants look fairly attractive at this sort of underdog price against the bumbling Mets bunch, but Tony Disco’s numbers scare me, even if Verlander’s inconsistency is a big consideration.

Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves (-165, 9)

Eury Perez is set to face the Braves for the first time, as the rookie right-hander looks to continue his assault on the Major Leagues. Perez comes in with a stellar 1.34 ERA in nine starts over 57 innings. He’s got a 3.04 FIP and a 3.17 xERA, so some modest regression is to be expected, but nothing too outlandish. He won’t run a 94.1% LOB% all season long. There’s just no chance of that happening. However, he’s struck out over 29% of opposing batters with a good walk rate and he’s mostly limited the barrels that he has allowed.

This will be a fascinating test because Perez is a fly ball guy who has allowed a 41.4% Hard Hit% for the season and a 50% HH% in his last three starts, including four barrels. It will be an absurdly warm day in Atlanta with temps in the mid-90s and dewpoints in the 70s, so we’re talking about that uber-thick Southern air in the summertime. That should be really conducive to offense and will help fly balls carry a bit farther. 

Perez owns a .245 wOBA and a 1.01 ERA in 26.2 innings at home and a .267 wOBA with a 1.77 ERA in 20.1 innings on the road. His road starts have been in Colorado, Anaheim, Chicago (White Sox), and Seattle, so he’s faced three bad offenses and been in a couple of good pitching environments. If a bad start is coming, I think it’ll be today. Even though Perez has all the strikeouts and a terrific 14% SwStr%, this is the best lineup he’s seen to date and it’s not really close.

Charlie Morton is 39 and is making his 338th start against this young whippersnapper in Perez. He’s having a solid season with a 3.81 ERA, 4.83 xERA, and a 3.85 FIP in 85 innings across 15 starts. His K% is solid at 26.3%, but his BB% is up at 10.3%, marking the first time it has been in double digits since 2016. He has a 37.3% Hard Hit% with a 9.3% Barrel%, so he’s located pretty well, but nine of his 22 barrels allowed have come in his last four starts.

In that span, he’s allowed 12 runs on 20 hits in 20.1 innings of work with a 28/13 K/BB ratio. He’s given up three homers and had some bumps in the road against the Mets, Tigers, Rockies (at home), and Reds. He’s not exactly locked in right now. I have to say, it makes me think about the Over, but Perez has been unhittable and Morton does generate a lot of swings and misses. The other thing is that the Marlins are way better against lefties than righties.

The weather looks ripe for a high-scoring affair and I do think there’s a decent chance that this is Perez’s big blow-up outing, but I don’t really like the side or total odds here.

Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays (-165, 9)

I guess I should have believed James Paxton when he said he was fine. He came back from the knee discomfort and shoved with 7.2 stellar innings and 110 pitches, which was the most he had thrown in a start since April 16, 2019 when he also threw 110 times. His velo was back up to 96.3 mph, so it looks like whatever ailed him in his last start is no longer a concern.

Moving on to today’s game, it will be Kutter Crawford and Yusei Kikuchi. Kikuchi is having one of the weirdest seasons I can remember from a statistical standpoint. He has given up 20 homers in 84 innings, but he has only allowed 36 runs. He has 85 strikeouts against 25 walks and has a 89.5% LOB% leading to a 3.75 ERA with a 4.61 xERA and a 5.28 FIP.

Kikuchi, who hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his last six starts, has given up 14 solo homers and has a .380 wOBA against with the bases empty. That drops to .244 with men on base and sits at .248 with RISP. He has a .324 BABIP against with the bases empty, but just a .171 BABIP with men on base. His K% also spikes to 35.7% with RISP. So, it is a complex set of statistics.

Also, Kikuchi has limited the opposition to a .301 wOBA and has a 3.13 ERA at home in 37.1 innings compared to a .352 wOBA and a 4.24 ERA on the road, where he has allowed 12 of his 20 homers over 46.2 innings. He does have a 4.88 FIP at home and a 5.59 FIP on the road.

Crawford, who, coincidently, does throw a cutter about 30% of the time has a 4.01 ERA with a 3.34 xERA and a 3.99 FIP in his 51.2 innings of work. The right-hander has several relief appearances to go along with seven starts. This will be his sixth start in a row and he has a 4.71 ERA with a 3.33 FIP over those 21 innings pitched. He’s gotten unlucky with a .361 BABIP and a 64.9% LOB%. His Hard Hit% is only 39.7%, so right around league average, and his Barrel% is just 7.9%. He’s even made three of the five starts on the road, so we can’t blame Fenway Park for much.

He even has 20 strikeouts against just four walks with a solid 11.2% SwStr% in that span. So, he’s definitely a positive regression candidate in a lot of respects. He’s also induced a lot of pop ups this season, which are effectively strikeouts, so it’s extra weird that his BABIP is so high. Guess we’ll see if today is the day his numbers normalize, but I don’t have a bet in this one. I do lean Under given how Rogers Centre just continues to be a tough spot for hitters this season.

Houston Astros at Texas Rangers (-140, 8)

Nathan Eovaldi seems to be broken. He comes into this start with a 2.82 ERA, 3.34 xERA, and a 3.09 FIP in his 105.1 innings pitched, but red flags are everywhere with him. In his last four starts, Eovaldi has allowed 13 runs on 21 hits in 25 innings for a 4.68 ERA and a 5.16 FIP. He’s given up five homers in that span and walked nine against 24 strikeouts.

Up until his June 10 start, Eovaldi had only allowed three homers and only walked 14 batters in 80.1 innings over 12 starts. He had a 41% Hard Hit% and a 4.7% Barrel%. He has a 51.5% Hard Hit% and a 14.7% Barrel% in his last four starts. But, maybe the largest red flag of all is that Eovaldi’s fastball velocity has cratered. For the season, he’s averaged 95.5 mph and didn’t have a start under 94.8 up until his start in Chicago two outings ago when he sat 93.8. He was 94.4 last time out against the Yankees.

As the recent results show, especially with the command profile, something is amiss. His spin rates have been down a bit in his last two starts. Eovaldi got hurt in June last year and then never really got better when he came back. He hit a major rough patch in June in 2021, despite having a strong season overall. I’m not totally surprised to see this, as he was ridden hard by Bruce Bochy earlier this season. From April 29 to May 23, Eovadi made five starts and went 41.2 innings. In those starts, he threw at least 105 pitches four times. With a precarious health history, maybe he’s reached a tipping point.

Hunter Brown gets the call for the Astros today, as he comes in with a 3.62 ERA, 3.54 xERA, and a 3.56 FIP over his 87 innings pitched. Brown has a lot of positives to his profile, as he has a 27.4% K% with an 8.5% BB% and he’s running a GB% over 57%. It’s tough to score against guys like that who can generate lots of swings and misses, but also burn up a lot of grass with their batted balls.

Brown bounced back quite nicely from a rough outing against the Mets two starts ago with one run on three hits against the Dodgers. He has allowed a 43.9% Hard Hit%, but much like rotation mate Framber Valdez, a lot of that contact is on the ground, so you can deal with it. He’s only allowed three barrels in his last five starts.

The big boppers in the Houston lineup have been swinging it well lately, as Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, and even Jose Abreu have combined for seven homers and 31 RBI over the last week. With what’s happening to Eovaldi and Brown on the bump, I like the Astros to take care of business in this one.

Pick: Astros +120

Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles (-150, 8.5)

Bailey Ober and Kyle Bradish make up this starting pitching matchup at Oriole Park, as Minnesota looks to ride the wave of yesterday’s resounding 8-1 victory. Pablo Lopez definitely experienced some of that positive regression that I talked about and Dean Kremer was quite bad over his three innings with seven runs allowed.

Ober is having a really solid season with a 2.97 ERA, 3.93 xERA, and a 3.61 FIP in his 69.2 innings pitched. He’s made 12 starts with a strong 24.2% K% and a 5.5% BB%. As I’ve mentioned a lot before, he’s 6-foot-9, so I think he’s a tough guy to see for the first time and only see once in a while. He’s held the opposition to a 33.7% Hard Hit%, though he has allowed a 10.5% Barrel% as a fly ball guy. But, he also gets a lot of chases outside the zone and has a 12.7% SwStr% on the year.

Ober has only allowed more than three earned runs once in a start this season and that came against the Giants in a game where he only allowed three hits over five innings and his second-lowest average exit velocity of the season, so it was just one of those days. Otherwise, he’s been very reliable.

Bradish has been quite solid recently himself. He’s down to a 3.75 ERA with a 4.33 xERA and a 3.68 FIP in 72 innings pitched. He’s allowed just five runs on 10 hits in his last 19 innings pitched and has only allowed more than three runs once since April 25. His season started off a little strange with a quick trip to the IL and a couple rocky outings after returning, but he’s been consistently good since the middle of May.

He’s allowed a 43.7% Hard Hit% for the season, so that’s been a bit of an issue, but he’s also been outstanding at home with a .254 wOBA against and a 3.03 ERA in 35.2 innings pitched. With the way these two guys are throwing, and Ober’s rarely seen high arm slot, the Under makes sense. But, it’s going to be in the mid-80s with humid conditions and rain hovering around the ballpark. Good hitting weather, but also the chance for in-game delays, which could erase the two starters and bring in long relievers, who are usually the worst guys in the pen.

Chicago White Sox (-210, 8.5) at Oakland Athletics

Funky cold Luis Medina worked around five walks yesterday to throw five good innings, as the A’s beat the White Sox by a 7-4 score. Like I mentioned, a few A’s pitchers have really improved as the season has gone along and Medina has been one of them, at least in the HR department. Hogan Harris, JP Sears, and James Kaprielian have been others. Now it’s time to see if Kyle Muller has improved.

Muller has been recalled for this start after posting a 6.59 ERA and a 5.80 FIP in six starts across 28.2 innings in Las Vegas. Pitching here in Vegas genuinely sucks because the ball carries like it was shot out of a cannon and pitching in the PCL is no picnic in general, so we’ll see how it goes, but Muller was awful over 10 MLB starts with an 8.04 ERA and a 6.02 FIP in 47 innings pitched. When he was sent down, he had allowed 22 runs in a four-start stretch over 18.1 innings of work. 

Muller gave up 10 runs in his first Triple-A start and 18 over the next five, but he walked 14 batters and actually walked eight over his last two starts against just seven strikeouts. I can’t really say I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen from the minor league starts, but, as I mentioned on yesterday’s podcast, the minors are weird this season. There have been more than a few guys that have come up and had better control numbers than what they had in Triple-A. We’ll see if Muller is one of them.

Dylan Cease has a 4.04 ERA with a 4.30 xERA and a 3.88 FIP over 91.1 innings, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He’s been fixed by pitching coach Ethan Katz, as he has allowed just seven runs over his last five starts and he’s gotten his strikeout swagger back. After only recording 31 strikeouts in 32.1 innings in May, Cease had 42 strikeouts in 28.2 innings in June and held the opposition to a .262 wOBA.

I would fully anticipate Cease to have a big day in the strikeout department today, as the A’s swing and miss as much as anybody in the league. Cease also had a 2.20 ERA with a 2.75 FIP in June after posting a 5.57 ERA with a 4.76 FIP in May. Cease Over 7.5 strikeouts isn’t a bad bet at plus money in my opinion.

Something to watch here is that the White Sox only had a .274 wOBA with a 72 wRC+ against lefties in the month of June. They’re below league average by wRC+ for the season now, even though they’ve been really good against lefties the last few seasons. Let’s see if they jump on a bad one in Muller.

No play overall, but that K prop might be something of interest.

Tampa Bay Rays (-115, 7) at Seattle Mariners

Yesterday’s Shane McClanahan vs. Bryce Miller matchup wound up being a mess, as both starters were yanked early due to injury. Miller suffered a blister on his middle finger and McClanahan had a back problem, though he wasn’t effective anyway with four runs allowed on five hits and three walks over his three innings. It’s the second straight start for Mac with a back problem, so that will be something worth watching as we go forward.

The Rays ultimately won 15-4, as the Mariners needed six relievers and all but one gave up at least a run. Today’s game has another good pitching matchup on paper, so let’s see if it lives up to the hype. It will be Tyler Glasnow for Tampa and George Kirby for Seattle, as the Mariners had a players-only meeting prior to yesterday’s game.

Kirby has a 3.26 ERA with a 3.80 xERA and a 3.27 FIP over 94 innings of work. He’s done an unbelievable job of limiting walks, which has allowed him to have a fine season despite a noticeable drop in K%. Kirby’s K% is down 3.5% from last season, but he’s issued all of seven walks in 15 starts. He’s given up 10 homers, but his BABIP and LOB% are in normal ranges, so everything looks pretty solid. 

He’s also pitching at home here, where he has a 3.25 ERA in 113.2 innings with a .297 wOBA against. He’s been even better at home this season with a 3.19 ERA in 42.1 innings and just a .277 wOBA against. But, the pitcher-friendly conditions should help Glasnow as well, as he comes in with a 4.45 ERA, 5.26 xERA, and a 3.84 FIP. His 2.90 xFIP is indicative of how the long ball has hurt him, as he’s allowed five in just 30.1 innings.

Glasnow has given up a ton of hard contact thus far, as he’s allowed a 17.4% Barrel% and a 47.8% Hard Hit%, hence the sky high xERA. He’s also struck out 35.2% of opposing batters and walked 10.9% of them, so he’s been boom or bust from plate appearance to plate appearance. The Mariners do strike out a lot, but also walk a lot, so this will be an interesting one.

I don’t have a bet here. Seattle isn’t trustworthy enough and I’m not sure how many balls they’ll put in play, even if Glasnow’s contact management metrics scare me a lot.

New York Yankees at St. Louis Cardinals (-140, 9) Game 1

New York Yankees at St. Louis Cardinals Game 2

It appears that it will be Luis Severino vs. Jack Flaherty in Game 1 and then a bullpen game vs. Matthew Liberatore in Game 2. This is a bit of a split doubleheader, as Game 1 goes off at 1:15 local time and Game 2 goes at 6:15 local time. Doubleheaders are always tough to get a feel for and weather is a factor again today, so we’ll have to wait and see how everything plays out.

Here’s what I wrote about Severino (G1) and Liberatore (G2) yesterday:

Liberatore comes in with a 5.60 ERA, a ghastly 7.24 xERA, and a 4.78 FIP in his 27.1 innings of work. He’s got some ugly K/BB rates and has allowed an 11% Barrel% with a 41.8% Hard Hit%. He’s not generating many swings and misses, with just a 7.8% SwStr% and a single-digit mark in each of his last six appearances. This will be his first start on the traditional fifth day, which will be interesting to see, especially since minor leaguers go every sixth day with the Monday off day.

Severino has a 5.25 ERA with a 6.51 xERA and a 5.80 FIP in his 36 innings of work. The Yankees went out to Oakland and got right offensively in the last two games, so maybe Severino will get some run support. He certainly needs it, as he allowed 21 runs in a four-start stretch before throwing six shutout frames against the Rangers on the 24th. He may have held Texas in check, but he allowed a 61.1% Hard Hit% and two barrels in that start, but the BABIP gods were very much on his side. He’s actually allowed a 47% HH% and a 12.2% Barrel% on the season.

Righties are actually pummeling him with a .300/.367/.538 slash and a .386 wOBA in 91 plate appearances. That would seem to be a bad match against the Cardinals and all of their right-handed sticks.

The Yankees, for all of their offensive warts sans Aaron Judge, are up to seventh in wOBA against lefties in the month of June. A lot of that had to do with beating around Hogan Harris on Thursday and JP Sears the day before. Liberatore isn’t exactly pitching any better than those guys.

So, that’s my quick cap on those two, who are no longer facing each other. Flaherty comes in with a 4.95 ERA, 4.76 xERA, and a 4.20 FIP in 80 innings pitched. He’s issued a lot of walks and had a lot of bad batted ball luck, as he has a .356 BABIP against with a 35.6% Hard Hit%. He’s allowed 128 batters to reach base via hit or walk in just 80 innings. He’s allowed six runs in back-to-back starts and hasn’t pitched since June 19 while dealing with some hip pain. No rehab starts, just sim games and side sessions.

It’ll be a long day at the yard for both teams. I’m not betting either game, as this is a pretty messy set of handicaps.

Cleveland Guardians at Chicago Cubs (-135, 8)

The money that poured in on the Cubs was definitely right, as Cal Quantrill got shellacked and Justin Steele pitched well against Cleveland’s paltry offense. Today’s game should be more competitive, as we’ll see Tanner Bibee get the call for the Guardians and Marcus Stroman for the Cubs.

Stroman left his last start with a blister, so I’ll be curious to see how he does today. He’s got a 2.47 ERA with a 3.80 xERA and a 3.37 FIP in 102 innings and is a huge negative regression candidate in my eyes. He’s got a 59.3% GB% with a .250 BABIP. His 8.3% HR/FB% is the lowest of his career since 2014. He’s never really given up a lot of homers, but with all the ground balls, he tends to carry a fairly high HR/FB%. That is not the case this season. I think that should change in the heat of summer.

I’ve mentioned this before and it just hasn’t changed with Stroman, but you don’t see guys with a .250 BABIP and a ground ball rate that high. Dating back to 2001 (first season with GB% at FanGraphs), there have been 41 seasons with a GB% of 59% or higher among qualified starters. Only Derek Lowe in 2002 and Tim Hudson in 2010 had a BABIP of .250 or lower. Those are the only ones in the top 50 seasons in GB% in that span.

So, this is pretty rare air for Stroman and I would anticipate regression in that department, especially with a 40.4% Hard Hit%. Again, hard ground ball contact isn’t that bad, but it also doesn’t normally yield a BABIP this low.

Bibee has a 3.79 ERA with a 3.64 xERA and a 3.85 FIP in his 59.1 innings of work. He did a better job of generating swings and misses last time out with a 12.4% SwStr% after having single-digit marks in four straight starts and five of his last six, but he did walk four Brewers. Milwaukee just couldn’t get a big hit and wound up with just two runs, only one of them earned. Bibee had allowed nine runs on 15 hits in nine innings over his previous two starts. 

He also limited hard contact, which was something he hadn’t really done prior to that st