MLB Best Bets Today July 9:

After a light day on the diamond with more than half of the league’s teams idle, we were supposed to run the full gamut today with all 30 teams in action. However, Royals/Cardinals has already been postponed. 

Remember, we only have six days worth of games now before the All-Star Break. I do think that veteran teams sometimes perform better on these weeks with a distraction, so that may be an angle to think a little more about.


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Here are the MLB best bets today for July 9:

New York Yankees (-120, 8) at Tampa Bay Rays

6:50 p.m. ET

It will sound like a Yankees home game at Tropicana Field as the Bronx Bombers head to Tampa to take on the Rays. Carlos Rodon and Ryan Pepiot are the listed starters here. We’ll see if it’s a good thing for the Yankees to play in front of fans who will just be happy to have the chance to see them as opposed to the tough crowds they’ve had at home during this recent swoon.

Speaking of a swoon, Rodon has been pretty bad over his last four starts. He’s got a 4.45 ERA with a 4.49 xERA and a 4.63 FIP for the season, but he owns a 10.89 ERA with a 6.80 FIP in his last 19 innings. He’s allowed 24 runs on 31 hits and given up seven home runs. He’s still got the swing-and-miss stuff with 26 strikeouts, but his contact management profile is quite ugly with a 45.9% Hard Hit% and a 16.4% Barrel%. He’s allowed 10 Barrels in that span. He’s allowed 30 Barrels for the season with a 10.5% Barrel%. Only Bryce Miller, Patrick Corbin, Kevin Gausman, and Dylan Cease have allowed more among qualified pitchers.

Not only is Rodon struggling in that way, but righties have hit 16 of the 18 homers he has allowed and have a .472 SLG with a .342 wOBA for the season. Tampa Bay has been very right-handed-heavy this season due to injury and they rank sixth over the last 30 days in wOBA against LHP at .348. By wRC+, they are fifth at 131 when adjusted for park factor.

The Yankees have had their issues lately, but I have a lot of concerns about Pepiot. He’s got a 4.40 ERA with a 4.00 xERA and a 4.09 FIP, but we’re looking at a prolonged stretch of subpar pitching. He has a 5.49 ERA with a 4.73 FIP over his last nine starts. What really concerns me here are two things. First, he’s walked 12 guys over his last four starts. The Yankees, for all of their flaws, remain a pretty patient lineup and they have the chance to get free passes off of Pepiot. That could also bring a pretty inconsistent Rays bullpen into the equation earlier. Pepiot has only completed five innings once in his last four starts.

The other thing is that Pepiot, like so many Rays pitchers, works up in the zone with fastballs. And he throws a lot of them. New York is eighth in BA in Attack Zones 1, 2, 3, 11, 12, 13, 21, 22, 23 in the following graphic. They are 10th in SLG and eighth in wOBA. So, this is an above average offense against a pitch that Pepiot has been throwing about 52% of the time.

Both bullpens are in the bottom third in ERA over the last 14 days, with the Yankees 23rd at 5.21 and the Rays 27th at 5.79. The Yankees (4.80) actually have a worse FIP (4.67) in that span.

I think we get some runs tonight at the Trop.

Pick: Yankees/Rays Over 8 (-118)

Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers (-180, 8.5)

8:10 p.m. ET

This line has been running all morning since it was announced that Josh Fleming will get the start for the Pirates. It will be Colin Rea for the Brewers in this battle of NL Central rivals. The Pirates won 8-2 yesterday afternoon over the Mets, while the Brewers enjoyed a day off.

This is a one-sided handicap for me and a player prop look at Rea. The right-hander has been really good this season over 94.1 innings with a 3.34 ERA, but he is a massive regression candidate. He has a 5.17 xERA and a 4.61 FIP, so those are two areas that suggest tough times ahead. As a guy with an awful 16.8% K%, it is going to be extremely hard to maintain an 81.2% LOB%.

The Pirates are swinging it well here in July and seem to be hellbent on forcing ownership to actually spending a bit to improve the roster at the Trade Deadline. Pittsburgh is sixth in July with a .344 wOBA. They have a .468 SLG, which is especially important against Rea, who is running a Barrel% over 9%. Over his last three starts, Rea has allowed 25 hard-hit balls for a 49% Hard Hit%.

I think that negative regression might be leaking into the picture sooner rather than later. There are a couple of ways to try and attack this. The 1st 5 Over 1.5 is -125 for Pittsburgh, but I’m going in a different direction and that is to take Under 17.5 Outs Recorded at +115.

Six innings is a pretty tall task nowadays and Rea is a guy that I’m looking to fade because I think his performance is going to drop off. He’s gone at least six innings in seven of his 15 starts, but I have those red flags, plus, the Brewers bullpen is very rested and the Cardinals are charging hard, so I think manager Pat Murphy will be more willing to pull the plug early if need be.

Pick: Colin Rea Under 17.5 Outs Recorded (+115)

Toronto Blue Jays at San Francisco Giants (-120, 7)

9:45 p.m. ET

The West Coast road swing continues for the Blue Jays as they head to beautiful Oracle Park to take on the Giants. It will be Yusei Kikuchi and Blake Snell in this one. I genuinely have no idea what we’ll get from Snell, whose prep for the season was rapidly accelerated and he’s had two IL stints as a result. He’ll make his first MLB start since June 2 after making three rehab starts with five runs allowed on seven hits over 9.2 innings. He actually threw five no-hit innings with nine strikeouts in his final tune-up.

But, I am looking at the Giants offense against Kikuchi here. The 33-year-old trade candidate was good last time out against the Astros with two runs allowed over 5.2 innings of work, but he got away with a lot of hard contact and allowed three Barrels, so the results don’t mirror what actually happened.

Prior to that, Kikuchi had allowed 13 runs over his previous 11 innings and also had two ugly starts on May 26 and June 1. For the season, he owns a 4.12 ERA with a 3.61 FIP, but he has a 6.50 ERA with a 5.19 FIP over his last 36 innings of work. In that span, he’s allowed a 50% Hard Hit% and a 14.7% Barrel%.

Over the last 30 days, the Giants own a .338 wOBA and a 124 wRC+ against lefties. They have a .327 wOBA and a 116 wRC+ for the season. With the low total of 7, we get a 1.5 on the Giants 1st 5 Team Total and I think the -130 price is worth it.

The other thing is that Kikuchi has allowed a .329 wOBA to righties with a .278/.320/.437 slash and he’s also allowed a .305/.356/.444 slash and a .350 wOBA on the road in 36 innings. He’s going to get seven or eight righties in the lineup today and that’s a good start.

Pick: Giants 1st 5 Team Total Over 1.5 (-130)