MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Thursday, July 6th

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MLB schedule today has 13 games

With the All-Star Break looming, we’ve got one of our busiest Thursdays of the season. We also got a game tacked on because Mother Nature didn’t want to see Jose Berrios vs. Lance Lynn last night, so it will take place this afternoon instead. We went from a dozen to a baker’s dozen on the Thursday card with the postponement and this is the last travel day prior to the Break, so teams were told to suck it up and either wrap up their series or move onto the next one.

 

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Even with a big Thursday card, only three of the games are early, so I’ll try to get this out before those go off, but at least we’ve got a lot to choose from otherwise.

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Here are some thoughts on the July 6 card (odds from DraftKings):

Cincinnati Reds at Washington Nationals (-130, 9.5)

This game has already started, but a few thoughts.

I’m surprised to see MacKenzie Gore making this start for the Nationals, as he left his last start prematurely due to a blister. Well, he was reaching the end of his rope anyway with seven runs allowed on six hits in 2.2 innings pitched anyway, as it seems like the blister was clearly bugging him. He’ll try to get back on track here against the Reds.

Gore is up to a 4.48 ERA with a 4.29 FIP in his 88.1 innings pitched and he’s allowed at least five runs in three of his last five starts. In fact, after a good month of April, Gore has a 5.14 ERA with a 4.66 FIP in 61.1 innings across his last 12 starts. If we narrow it down even more, he has a 6.66 ERA with a 5.22 FIP in his last five starts. Most notably, he has a 55.7% Hard Hit% and a 17.1% Barrel% in those last five outings.

If we once again extend the sample, he has a 50% HH% over those last 12 starts dating back to May 1, so he’s definitely been having command concerns for a while now. As a guy with a 37% GB%, the warmer months are likely to hurt him as the ball carries better and that’s what we’ve been seeing, along with his bad location.

Brandon Williamson gets the nod for the Reds and his numbers are pretty suspect at best. He has a 5.56 ERA with a 6.15 xERA and a 5.42 FIP in 43.2 innings of work. He has not allowed more than three runs in any of his last four outings, though he only went two innings in one and has not gone more than five innings in any of them. Over his last three starts, he’s done better to limit hard contact, but has allowed a 45.6% HH% in nine starts.

Despite all of that, I’d lean towards the Reds today. There is this lingering perception about the Nationals being really good against lefties, but that isn’t the case anymore. While they are still fourth in BA and eighth in wOBA for the season, they are ninth in BA at just .249 and 20th in wOBA at .302 since June 1.

But, it’s an early game with no lead time, so I can’t, in good conscience, recommend anything and subsequently track it.

Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers (-110, 7.5)

Speaking of blisters, Marcus Stroman recently had one. He didn’t miss any starts, but he has allowed 11 runs on 13 hits in his last nine innings. Only eight of the runs are earned, but the regression that has been building throughout the season has finally taken a bit and he’s up to a 2.76 ERA with a 3.30 FIP. There’s still more to go, as he’s running a .254 BABIP with that near 60% GB%. He still hasn’t allowed a homer since May 23, something I think will change soon.

He didn’t allow much hard contact against Cleveland last time out, but well-placed, well-timed hits did him in. That’s probably the type of regression that we’ll see from Stroman. He’s just run too well in the variance department up to this point. I think he’ll continue to struggle for a bit, and maybe even have a huge blow-up at some point. Over his last four starts, Stroman has had four of his six lowest O-Swing marks this season, a sign to me that the stuff isn’t quite as good or winding up where he wants it to.

Freddy Peralta checks in with a 4.67 ERA, 4.08 xERA, and a 4.65 FIP in his 86.2 innings of work. Peralta has surpassed his innings total from last season and this start will match the number he made in 2022. He has struggled a bit lately as well, as his command has been on the fritz.

He allowed 10 runs (four earned) back on May 26. Since then, he’s got a 4.73 ERA with a 4.99 FIP in six starts over 32.1 innings. While he hasn’t been terrible in any of them, he’s gone less than six innings in four of them and has allowed at least three runs in four of them. He’s still giving his team a chance to win, but he has allowed a 48.1% Hard Hit% and an 11.4% Barrel%, so he’s actually fortunate to have the numbers that he does.

Early game, so no play here, and all three of these games have had some late shenanigans and bullpen issues, so it’s been a tough series to peg as it is.

St. Louis Cardinals at Miami Marlins (-125, 8)

By now, just about everybody has seen the manner in which the Cardinals lost yesterday. It was just another game in a string of remarkably disappointing performances from the Redbirds this season. Not only that, but they erased a 4-0 first-inning deficit after Matthew Liberatore was inexplicably thrown out there on short rest when a rested Steven Matz or a recently-recalled Dakota Hudson were sitting right there.

They are truly setting this kid up to fail. Maybe he’s just not very good. I’ll reserve that judgment because he’s only 23, but he gave up four runs on five hits and a walk in just 21 pitches before giving way to Hudson and subsequently Matz. Just so many head-scratching decisions from this Cardinals crew this season. I’m not sure how Oliver Marmol still has a job.

Miami has scored 30 runs in the three games of this series so far. Tonight, they’ll take their swings against Jack Flaherty, who comes in with a 4.60 ERA, 4.74 xERA, and a 4.13 FIP over his 86 innings of work. Flaherty’s high BB% stems from a lot of control issues early in the season, but he’s certainly had some bad outings and some major clunkers.

Before throwing six shutout against the Yankees last time out, Flaherty had allowed 12 runs on 20 hits in 10.2 innings against the Giants and Nationals. Flaherty was then skipped for hip tightness and went 12 days between starts, but he seemed fine against the Yankees. I have no idea what to expect here. Up until the two six-run outbursts, Flaherty had allowed eight total earned runs in his previous six starts. He also has a start on his resume with 10 runs allowed in 2.1 innings. So, who knows what we’re going to get here.

The Marlins will counter with big right-hander Eury Perez, who was blasted by the Braves last time out. I gave out a cautionary tale on Perez, who was significantly outperforming his metrics and seemed to be building towards that kind of start. I do think there’s something to be said about facing Perez for the first time, since he is 6-foot-8 with elite stuff and excellent velocity, but the Braves scored six runs on seven hits in eight batters faced with two home runs in their first look at him.

Perez had allowed 19 hard-hit balls in 38 batted ball events over the previous three games, so he was having some command issues and they came to a head against Atlanta. I’m honestly not that upset because he only threw 35 pitches against the Braves. While it isn’t the most optimal way to get a breather, he’s in the big leagues for the first time at 20 years old and sometimes the game speeds up a bit.

Will we get a bounce back effort today? I don’t know. The Cardinals keep hitting, but the pitching keeps letting them down. I think it’s a difficult spot for St. Louis coming off of such a devastating loss, but this Marlins team is 21-5 in one-run games and picked up another win via one run last night. At some point, those things need to turn a little.

New York Mets at Arizona Diamondbacks (-140, 10)

We seem to be seeing regression happening in real-time for the Mets and Diamondbacks. The Mets have won four in a row and the first two in this series, while the Diamondbacks have dropped three straight and five of their last seven. I mentioned recently how there were some negative regression signs for Arizona in the contact department, as they were outperforming their expectations on 95+ mph batted balls. That might be part of it.

But they could be in line for a good offensive night against Carlos Carrasco, who comes in with a 5.94 ERA, 6.51 xERA, and a 6.46 FIP. Carrasco has allowed two runs in three of his last four starts, but he’s not working deep into games. His last start against the Giants was his first since June 6 with five complete innings. He’s been very inefficient with his pitches and allowed a ton of hard contact.

In his last four starts, Carrasco has allowed a 59.3% Hard Hit%. He’s given up five homers and has a .327 BABIP against over 16.2 innings, but he also has an 80% LOB%, so he’s found ways to strand runners in spite of all the hard contact. He also has 16 strikeouts against 11 walks, so his control problem isn’t very inspiring either. To me, this is the opposite of the Senga start yesterday, where Kodai racked up 12 strikeouts. He used Arizona’s aggressiveness against them with the ghost fork and then snuck upper 90s gas by them. Carrasco’s stuff is not at all explosive anymore and you can jump all over him early in the count.

Carrasco has allowed the fifth-highest rate of pull-side contact in the league (min 50 IP) and also has the league’s highest HR/FB% at 21.4%. Arizona is eighth in home wOBA and sixth in home SLG, so this looks like a really good fit for their offense.

Ryne Nelson gets the call for Arizona today, as he comes in with a 4.67 ERA, 4.86 xERA, and a 4.45 FIP in 90.2 innings of work. He’s another one of the pitch-to-contact starters in the D-Backs rotation with just a 16.5% K%. Nelson has found a lot of success in his last two outings against the Giants and Angels with increased changeup usage. He’s allowed two runs on six hits in his last 14.1 innings pitched with a 12/3 K/BB ratio. Also, as a guy with a 42.5% Hard Hit% on the season and a 10.5% Barrel%, he’s allowed a 31.6% and 36.8% HH% in these last two starts.

In four starts prior to that, Nelson had allowed a 54.4% HH%. It makes no sense to me why we haven’t seen more changeups, seeing as how Nelson’s fastball has yielded a .292 BA with a .484 SLG and his cutter has yielded a .286 BA with a .492 SLG. His changeup results are a .171 BA with a .341 SLG, but he basically only throws it to lefties with 204 on the season and 198 to LHB.

Interestingly, lefties own a .366 wOBA against Nelson with a .273/.356/.497 slash and a .274/.296/.425 slash and a .308 wOBA for righties. So even then, Nelson doesn’t leverage that pitch well enough. Perhaps that will change and pitching coach Brent Strom will make a concerted effort to get him to throw it more.

Now that I’ve written an entire novel on this game, it’s time to make a decision. Ultimately, my decision is to stay away. The Mets finally have some good vibes going, but I’m glad I uncovered that note about Nelson. If he pitches well here and sustains the heightened CH usage, I’ll have to look at him differently moving forward.

Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Dodgers (-215, 8.5)

Julio Urias’s return to the big leagues was not a pleasant one on Saturday. I wrote about how I wanted to take Kansas City, but put my tail between my legs and didn’t do it. Urias only lasted three innings and allowed five runs on six hits over 17 batters faced. He hit a couple of guys and only struck out two to go along with two walks. 

It took him 68 pitches to get nine outs, so it was a struggle in every way, shape, and form. Urias is back at it today against the Pirates and a lot of people seem to be penciling him in for around 75-80 pitches. The Dodgers got the bad Dustin May news a couple days ago and Clayton Kershaw is on the IL after receiving a cortisone injection, so it is in their best interest to play the long game with Urias and not stretch him out too much.

While the line score was ugly against KC, he did only allow two hard-hit balls in 12 batted ball events and his velocity looked fine. The stuff wasn’t super crisp and he missed very few bats, but it’s not like he got rocked. He did only make one rehab start and struck out eight over four innings, but that was in A-ball.

So, I think it’s fair to not be sure what to expect from him tonight. It’s perfectly reasonable to assume he’ll be out pretty early and the Dodgers pen will have to shoulder the bulk of the game. That group has been used a hell of a lot, though. Evan Phillips pitched three straight days Sunday-Tuesday. Caleb Ferguson has thrown three straight days now. Phil Bickford has pitched B2B days. Daniel Hudson has worked two of the last three. It looks like recent call-up Bryan Hudson will need to get some work in today.

On the Pittsburgh side, Johan Oviedo takes the ball. He’s got a 4.61 ERA with a 4.49 xERA and a 4.05 FIP in his 17 starts over 93.2 innings pitched. He just gave up eight runs to the Brewers in his last start and it was his second straight with a Hard Hit% over 52%. In the other one, he allowed one run on six hits because baseball. For the season, he has a 40.1% Hard Hit% with a good Barrel% of 7.4%, but he’s allowed seven barrels in his last three starts and 10 over his last five.

I couldn’t lay the big price on Urias today and the total isn’t even that interesting to me either.

Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers (-180, 9)

This game has already started, but a few thoughts.

Early baseball at Comerica Park features the final game in this series. The A’s are looking for a sweep of the Tigers, as they won 1-0 on Tuesday and then spoiled Eduardo Rodriguez’s return with a resounding 12-3 win on Wednesday. Austin Pruitt got nine outs on just 34 pitches in front of Ken Waldichuk, who wasn’t terribly sharp, but was staked to a nice lead.and didn’t allow a run until his fifth inning of relief work.

The A’s will send out Hogan Harris as a straight starter in this one rather than use an opener. It’s an early game, so I don’t have much to really say here, but Harris has hit the skids after a nice, little run. Harris made five appearances after getting recalled on May 27 and allowed just eight runs on 18 hits over 28 innings with 21 strikeouts against four walks. He kept the barrels to a minimum and did pretty well with hard contact.

In his last two starts, however, he has allowed nine runs on 14 hits in 10 innings against the Yankees and Blue Jays. So, we’ll see what he does against a Tigers lineup that has been about a league average group against lefties since the start of June.

Michael Lorenzen, who is Detroit’s lone All-Star, has a 4.28 ERA with a 4.70 xERA and a 4.33 FIP in 82 innings pitched. I mentioned this before his start in Colorado and I got the bad version of Lorenzen, but he’s either been bad or good with no in between. Lorenzen has allowed five or more runs six times in 14 starts and two or fewer runs in eight starts. He’s actually had six starts with one or no runs allowed.

I guess we’ll see what kind of start today brings with storms lingering around the Motor City.

Baltimore Orioles (-135, 8.5) at New York Yankees

Kyle Bradish and Luis Severino wrap this series up in the Bronx, as Baltimore is favored to escape with a split. Bradish enters with a 3.58 ERA, 4.49 xERA, and a 3.69 FIP over 78 innings pitched. He has allowed just six earned runs on 17 hits in his last 25 innings of work, as he’s really locked into a groove right now. In fact, dating back to May 28, Bradish has not allowed more than three runs in a start and has a 2.88 ERA with a 2.92 FIP.

He also has 42 strikeouts against eight walks in that span and has only allowed three home runs with an 8.3% Barrel%. He does have a 41.7% Hard Hit%, but he’s also running a 47.2% GB%, so he’s really been able to effectively mitigate the effects of the hard contact that he has allowed.

Righties only have a .284 wOBA against Bradish, so that could be a strong feather in his cap for this one, though he does have some lopsided home/road splits, as his wOBA against is 70 points higher on the road and his ERA is 1.65 runs higher in 5.1 fewer innings. What’s crazy about that is that Bradish allowed seven runs in 2.1 innings at home to the Red Sox on April 25, but he has been so good otherwise that he’s overcome that bad outing.

Severino checks in with a 6.30 ERA, 6.94 xERA, and a 6.34 FIP in his 40 innings of work. He’s only made eight starts and several of them have been poor. He actually started with just two earned runs allowed in his first 11.1 innings pitched. Over his last 28.2 innings of work covering six starts, he’s got an 8.16 ERA with a 7.37 FIP. He even has six shutout innings against the Rangers in there, but he allowed 11 hard-hit balls and a 61.1% Hard Hit%, so that was all about luck.

Severino has allowed four or more runs in all but one of his last seven starts, so this should set up well for the Orioles, who have gotten even stronger offensively with recent call-ups. We’ve seen a line move here on the O’s to drive this price up a bit around the market. Both Felix Bautista and Yennier Cano worked yesterday. It would be a 3-in-4 for Cano, but Bautista had two days off prior.

I think Bradish and Baltimore are the right side, but -135 is a little bit out of my price range here. The O’s are just a league average offense against righties since June 1. Maybe they crush Severino like everybody else has, but I’m not terribly confident in this one with Bradish’s road numbers.

Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Guardians (-215, 9)

Jordan Lyles and Tanner Bibee fire up this four-game set that is way more important to Cleveland than it is to Kansas City. The Guardians only took two of three from the Royals last week, while the Twins swept KC in three games at Target Field by a combined score of 22-7. It is critical that Cleveland play well this weekend and Bibee is the guy capable of setting the tone.

Bibee has a 3.46 ERA with a 3.41 xERA and a 3.63 FIP in his 65 innings pitched across 12 starts. He’s struck out 67 and walked 23 with six homers allowed and a lot of reasonable peripherals that don’t suggest regression signs of any kind. He has 22 strikeouts in his last 16.2 innings and it has been nice to see a K bump return after a couple of starts on the low end against the Padres and Red Sox.

Perhaps most importantly, Bibee, who had a 50.6% Hard Hit% against in a five-start stretch from May 27 to June 18, has only allowed four hard-hit balls in his last two starts over 25 batted ball events. He’s had a SwStr% boost in those two outings and induced more soft contact with better fastball command.

For whatever reason, Bibee has a .245 wOBA against at home and a .348 wOBA against on the road, with his worst start at pitcher-friendly Petco Park in San Diego. He has a 2.38 ERA with a 2.76 FIP at home in 34 innings across 136 batters faced and a 4.65 ERA with a 4.58 FIP on the road in 31 innings over 139 batters faced. It will be humid in Cleveland tonight, but temps are only in the upper 70s.

The Royals are 1-15 in Jordan Lyles starts this season. Lyles has a 6.68 ERA with a 4.96 xERA and a 5.60 FIP in 91.2 innings pitched. He was the winning pitcher last time out against the Rays with four runs allowed on eight hits in six innings of work. It seems only fitting that Lyles would somehow beat the team that had the best record in baseball. But, that was his last start. Lyles has been sidelined with an illness and got skipped last time through the rotation.

He has allowed 19 home runs in his 91.2 innings and allowed at least four runs in 13 of his 16 starts. The crazy and insane thing about this season for Lyles is that his Hard Hit% against is just 34.2%. His 11.1% Barrel% is clearly bad, but he’s actually allowed a lot of soft contact. He has a 50.3% LOB% and a .251 BABIP against, though home runs don’t count towards BABIP and you certainly have to factor those into the equation.

Cleveland, though, doesn’t hit home runs. Lyles has allowed 12 solos and seven with men on base. He’s allowed a .418 wOBA with men on base and a .565 wOBA with RISP, allowing a .317 BABIP with men on and a .400 BABIP with RISP. There are a lot of unsustainable things to how bad he has actually been. 

The Guardians have hit 56 homers. That’s 13 fewer than anybody else. They’ve hit 23 home runs since June 1. The Royals have only hit 20. It is entirely possible that Lyles is awful tonight, as he’s been a good amount this season, but there are some positive regression signs to his profile. I generally don’t like backing guys off of long layoffs, but he may very well have needed one.

Cleveland has scored four or fewer runs in 58 of 86 games and Kansas City has scored four or fewer in 62 of 87 games. They’ve also scored one or zero runs in 23 of those games. These are two iffy bullpens, but these are also two iffy offenses.

Thoughts and prayers because I’m taking the Under in a Jordan Lyles start.

Pick: Under 9 (-110)

Texas Rangers (-140, 10) at Boston Red Sox

The Brayan Bello train rolled on and Boston provided just enough offense for a 4-2 win yesterday, so that was nice to see. It will be Kutter Crawford tonight for Boston in a home underdog role against Nathan Eovaldi. I faded Eovaldi last time out because of his disappearing velocity and his decreasing spin rates and he shoved it where the sun don’t shine with a strong effort over seven innings with just two hits allowed.

He also saw a velo bounce back up to 96.1 mph, which is actually above his season average. He had been at 94.4 and 93.8 mph in his previous two starts with a season average of 95.6 mph. So, I guess the injury concerns are curtailed for now. He had allowed a ton of hard contact in his previous four starts and there were some signs that maybe he was running into a similar injury timeline to what we saw in 2022 and 2019, but maybe that’s not the case. I guess time will tell.

If Eovaldi is healthy and his velocity is there, he has a 2.64 ERA with a 3.27 xERA and a 3.13 FIP in his 112.1 innings of work. He has allowed three or fewer runs in 13 of his 17 starts. This one will mean a little more at Fenway Park against his former teammates. It is worth mentioning that three of his four starts with four or more runs allowed have come on the road and two have come in the last month.

Crawford has a 3.92 ERA with a 3.34 xERA and a 4.32 FIP in his 57.1 innings of work. The 27-year-old right-hander has made eight starts and eight relief appearances. This will be his sixth straight start and he’s allowed 13 runs on 25 hits in 23.2 innings in that span. He has a 22/6 K/BB ratio and has actually gotten a bit unlucky with a 39.1% Hard Hit% and an 8.7% Barrel% in that span. His .323 BABIP looks to be on the high side to me. He’s given up four homers in his last two starts, though, and hasn’t induced as many ground balls, so that’s worrisome.

It’s a pretty easy stay-away game for me here. I’m not entirely sold that Eovaldi is in tip-top shape and Crawford doesn’t seem like the best matchup against the Rangers.

Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros

George Kirby is confirmed to go for Seattle, but there were a lot of questions about who the Astros would send out. Framber Valdez was pushed back and skipped due to an ankle issue, so he’ll pitch on Saturday in between Hunter Brown and Brandon Bielak. Cristian Javier won’t make another start until after the All-Star Break after throwing 88 pitches on Monday.

That left Ronel Blanco as the first option, so he’ll be recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land for this start. He has a 4.73 ERA with a 5.51 xERA and a 6.32 FIP in his 40 innings at the MLB level on the season. He’s made five starts and nine relief appearances. In those five starts, he’s allowed a .351 wOBA against and has a 4.82 ERA with nine homers allowed. He also has just a 23/15 K/BB ratio.

Kirby comes in with a 3.21 ERA with a 3.69 xERA and a 3.33 FIP over his 101 innings pitched. He’s got a 21.4% K% and a 2.2% BB%, so you have to hit your way on base against him, which has been tough with a .246 BA and a .290 BABIP. Kirby has allowed 11 homers on the season and four of them came in one start against the Pirates. Since then, he’s allowed four homers total in six starts.

Recently, Kirby has been really good with seven earned runs allowed on just 19 hits in his last 26.1 innings of work. That being said, he has allowed a 51.7% Hard Hit% over his last three starts and seven barrels. Jose Altuve has been out the last two days for the Astros, so Kirby may catch a break today.

It’s just a weird handicap I think. Blanco has a 16% SwStr% at the MLB level this season, so he can get guys to swing and miss. He also has a 12.5% BB%, which helps a Seattle lineup that will be patient and draw walks. Pretty easy game to avoid.

Toronto Blue Jays (-125, 9) at Chicago White Sox Game 1

Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago White Sox Game 2

The Game 1 matchup is intact here, so here’s what I wrote yesterday about Jose Berrios vs. Lance Lynn:

It will be the 18th start of the season for Berrios, who has a 3.74 ERA with a 4.10 FIP and a 4.73 xERA. He comes into this start struggling a bit, as he’s allowed 12 runs in his last 16 innings on 19 hits, including five home runs. He’s struck out 20 and walked three in that span, but just had his worst start of the season by Hard Hit% and exit velocity.

Bad command Berrios might be back, which is what we saw from him all of last season when he had a 5.23 ERA with a 5.11 xERA and a 4.55 FIP. His xERA isn’t that far off, but he’s been able to be better than expected. If his fortunes are turning, that would be a real big problem for the Blue Jays going forward.

Speaking bad command, Lynn has had that pretty much all season. He has a 6.47 ERA with a 4.76 xERA and a 5.11 FIP in 96 innings pitched. He has allowed 22 home runs, just five short of a career year and we aren’t even to the All-Star Break yet. The crazy thing about Lynn is that he has 116 K in his 96 IP, but still has a 63.1% LOB% and a .339 BABIP against. Remember that BABIP doesn’t count homers or strikeouts, so he hasn’t had much luck on balls that stay in the yard either.

Over his last three starts, he’s been a bit better about allowing hard contact, but you just never know what you’re going to get from him. With the command profiles of these two guys, a total of 9 probably seems a little low, but the White Sox are really bad against righties and Lynn at least has the strikeout upside, though the Blue Jays don’t strike out all that much.

The Blue Jays mildly interest me today, but Berrios has been much worse on the road compared to at home this season. That’s enough for me to stay away in a high-variance game.

I still find this to be a really high-variance game, made even more of one by the fact that it’s now a doubleheader.

For Game 2, it will be Yusei Kikuchi for the Jays and a combination of Tanner Banks and Jesse Scholtens for the White Sox in all likelihood. Kikuchi has a 4.08 ERA with a 4.70 xERA and a 5.25 FIP. As I talked about prior to his last start, he’s allowed 21 homers in 88.1 innings, but also has 92 strikeouts and has only allowed 64 hits on balls in play. Nothing on the doubleheader here.

Philadelphia Phillies at Tampa Bay Rays (-130, 9)

Left-hander Cristopher Sanchez gets the call for the Phillies today and Shawn Armstrong will open for the Rays. The Rays have recently-recalled Ryan Thompson on the roster, but he’s maxed out at 2.1 innings at any level this season. Kevin Kelly could be another option to swallow some innings. Unless Cooper Criswell is recalled before the game, this will be a full-fledged bullpen game for the Rays.

Armstrong has been very effective with two runs allowed on 12 hits in 15.2 innings with a 15/4 K/BB ratio. Kelly has also been effective in 38.2 innings with a 2.79 ERA and a 2.98 FIP. Thompson has a 5.94 ERA with a 5.15 FIP in 16.2 innings at the MLB level and a 5.73 ERA in 11 innings at Triple-A. The only guy truly unavailable is Zack Littell, who threw 37 pitches while opening for Yonny Chirinos yesterday.

This will be the fifth MLB start for Sanchez, who has allowed seven earned runs on 18 hits in 19.1 innings with 20 strikeouts against four walks. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in an outing, but has faced the Rockies, A’s, Mets, and Nationals, so this is a bit of a step up. He has only allowed a 37% Hard Hit% and just four barrels. He’s thrown the ball quite well this season, except for a couple of rough starts in Triple-A on April 30 and May 11. 

I’m willing to give the Phillies a look today. The Rays are 29th in wOBA with a .275 mark and just a 77 wRC+ against lefties since June 1. They’ve dropped four in a row and it seems like there are a lot of guys coming back to earth from their hot early starts. It’s the opposite for the Phillies, who have seen a noticeable offensive uptick over the last few weeks.

By adding on late yesterday, the Phillies were able to avoid Craig Kimbrel and Jose Alvarado, so everybody in the pen is available today. The Phillies are n