Saturday brings a full day of baseball with games from 1:05 p.m. ET all the way until 9:10 p.m. ET. The card also brings us an extra game with a double dip between the Mets and Phillies in a day-night twin bill that features the nightcap on Fox. FS1 will also have the Brewers/Cubs game, so even if you don’t have the MLB package, you’ll still be able to catch some games.
No article tomorrow, but you can catch me with Brady Kannon on The Run Line from 8-10 p.m. ET for what will be my final show of the season. There is one more episode after this, as football takes over on Sunday nights beginning September 4, but I’ll be out for that one. Thanks to everybody for listening. I feel like the show has had a very successful first season thanks to the hard work of the crew and the open-mindedness of our listeners. I appreciate everybody that has tuned in.
We’ve got some good pitching matchups and some good betting angles today, so there should be some rooting interest. Let’s see what’s in store for Saturday.
Brewers/Cubs: The weather certainly helped in Chicago’s 8-7 win on Friday afternoon, as the teams combined for five home runs and 19 hits. Neither Aaron Ashby nor Keegan Thompson had a good start, but the Cubs scored two in the sixth to come away with a one-run win. Tough loss for the Brewers, who lost another game in the NL Central standings with the Cardinals’ win. Tough outings for a couple of young guys that are reaching some new innings heights as well. The weather was a big part, but I do wonder if Thompson may see an innings limit imposed soon.
Reds/Pirates: The Pirates were scoreless through five and trailed 3-0 going into the sixth, but walked off the Reds with two runs in the ninth for a 5-4 decision. Bryse Wilson turned in another solid effort for the Buccos, who are really doing a nice job with their starting pitchers this season. Wilson was virtually unusable in Atlanta, where the Braves have mixed results with their SP. Pittsburgh is getting good innings out of Wilson. The Reds got good work from Graham Ashcraft as well and he’s a pitcher firmly on my radar for 2023.
Mets/Phillies: The Mets showed some resilience and bounced back from the tough Braves series to topple the Phillies 7-2. Aaron Nola had 16 whiffs and nine strikeouts in his five innings, but also allowed five runs on eight hits. The Mets had 16 AB with RISP compared to just seven for the Phillies, as Chris Bassitt scattered seven hits in six innings with no walks. Nola gave up four hits on batted balls of 91 mph or lower and those can be particularly hurtful.
Giants/Rockies: We had context clues yesterday. I wrote about them. I couldn’t back Jose Urena at Coors, but it was pretty clear that the Giants had a low offensive projection with the total of 11 given how bad Urena is and the fact that the Rockies were getting a lefty at home. As it turns out, all the contextual signs were right and the Rockies won 7-4. It wasn’t an easy bet to make, but it felt like the right one. Of course I didn’t do it, but I’ve talked about trusting those context clues and some of the line moves that don’t happen. It’s kind of a tough thing to wrap your head around sometimes and even a tougher thing to follow through, but there were signs pointing to the Rockies. Sometimes, a handicap can be just about picking up on those things.
Cardinals/Diamondbacks: This was a really good ballgame before the Cardinals erupted for four runs in the seventh to take a 5-0 lead. Tommy Henry gave up one run on six hits in 5.1 innings with 15 whiffs on 47 swings against a Cardinals lineup that has hit lefties very well throughout the season. Miles Mikolas was excellent over eight innings for the Redbirds, whose lead is out to four games in the NL Central.
Nationals/Padres: The Padres fell to the Nationals yet again, this time in a battle between Paolo Espino and Blake Snell. It was a 3-3 game heading to the ninth when Josh Hader came in and gave up a walk, an infield single with an error and then a two-run homer. Understandably, there is a lot of focus on Hader and how bad he has been, but the Padres rank 14th in wOBA since August 3 when Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury made their debuts. San Diego has a 102 wRC %plussign% in that span, so they’ve been just a little above league average. Hader’s been bad. Sean Manaea’s been bad. Others have struggled. But this offense has not lived up to the hype at all.
Marlins/Dodgers: Tyler Anderson and Jesus Luzardo put on pitching displays. Anderson worked seven innings of one-run ball with six strikeouts against three walks. Luzardo pitched 6.1 innings of one-run ball with four hits to go with seven strikeouts. Anderson had 18 whiffs on 46 swings, while Luzardo had 17 on 52 swings. That’s how you end up with a 2-1 game. It doesn’t hurt that Miami continued their run of cashing team total unders by scoring three or fewer runs.
Red Sox/Orioles: There were 24 runs by the end of the fifth innings at Camden Yards, including 10 combined in the fifth inning. Then, there was one run the rest of the way as the O’s came away with a 15-10 win. Jordan Lyles gave up four runs on nine hits in his four innings of work. Keegan Akin gave up five unearned runs in 0.2 innings. Kutter Crawford gave up nine runs in his 3.2 innings. There was plenty of offense to go around and plenty of bad pitching to go around. Combined, there were 37 hard-hit balls, but the Orioles had all four barrels in the game.
Blue Jays/Yankees: The Yankees lost again and got shut out in the process, as Toronto won 4-0 behind seven excellent innings from Kevin Gausman. He struck out seven and only gave up four hits. Jameson Taillon only went five innings with three runs on six hits and 10 of the 13 hard-hit balls the Blue Jays had. Another concern for the Yankees remains the bullpen. Aroldis Chapman gave up a hit and two walks in the ninth. He can’t be used in any leverage situation. Others are hit or miss. The Yankees have a lot going wrong right now and can’t seem to fix any of the major areas. But, I’ll take it because Blue Jays ML cashed nicely.
Angels/Tigers: The handicap on Patrick Sandoval against the Tigers was correct as well. He threw a complete game shutout in under 100 pitches with 26 swinging strikes on 59 swings. It was a dominant effort from Sandoval, who had zero walks and nine strikeouts. Matt Manning was also tremendous with a solo homer in the second and nothing after that, as he struck out six and only allowed three hits. This was as easy as an under can get, even with Mike Trout’s return to the lineup.
Royals/Rays: Brady Singer added to his stellar season by going toe-to-toe Shane McClanahan in the Royals’ 3-2 win over the Rays. McClanahan had the better line with eight strikeouts and just two hits allowed over seven innings, but Singer held his own with six innings of two-run ball. He allowed more hard contact and walked four, but he was impressive again. The Royals scored their ghost runner and the Rays did not, so that’s how the game ended.
White Sox/Guardians: Many have called Cleveland the “Guardiac Kids”, an homage to the 1980 Browns, who never seemed to be out of a game and played a lot of thrillers. The Guardians came back off of the White Sox bullpen in the seventh in support of Triston McKenzie, who struck out a career-high 14 over seven masterful innings. He had 26 swings and misses in that start against zero walks.
As a side note, Tony La Russa intentionally walked Oscar Gonzalez with a 1-2 count and two outs after a double steal. I cannot believe this guy is still employed.
Rangers/Twins: Martin Perez and Dylan Bundy were both really good in this 2-1 game, as the Twins bullpen turned in 3.2 solid innings of relief to secure the one-run win. Minnesota scored both runs in the first and barely threatened after that. Dylan Bundy got pulled at 71 pitches with his first signs of trouble in the sixth. I appreciate being proactive, but this bullpen has really been worked hard. Tyler Mahle’s MRI came back clean, so he seems to be on track to make his next start, but Minnesota’s reliance on the bullpen remains a big story. And a big worry.
Mariners/Athletics: Marco Gonzales stepped down in class and had better results, though he still only had one strikeout in his 5.2 innings. The bigger story was that Cole Irvin struggled at home, allowing six runs on six hits in six innings. He had been nails at home, but had a hiccup yesterday that bumped his ERA out to 3.33 for the season. I still have big concerns about the Seattle rotation, but like all of the other parts of the team.
Astros/Braves: Atlanta rode the momentum of the series against the Mets into a 6-2 win over the Astros. The Braves got six solid innings from Kyle Wright, but the big story here was Yordan Alvarez leaving the game and being transported to the hospital after experiencing shortness of breath. He was stable and hopefully everything will be just fine. The Astros will probably give him a few days, as they have a very safe lead in the AL West and for one of the byes. I would expect Houston to be rotating some guys in and out and I’d expect some call-ups in September to give regulars a day off. They might be a tough team to bet on going forward.
Weather: A lot of games run varying risk of rain today. The highest chances look to be in Colorado, Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit. Other chances are in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. If Brewers/Cubs does get going, winds are blowing out again at Wrigley, but it isn’t as warm. Winds are blowing out at Coors today.
Reds at Pirates (-140, 8.5): Wow. You don’t see the Pirates with a price like this often, but they have it with Tyler Beede on the mound against Justin Dunn. Dunn has allowed eight runs on 12 hits in two appearances this season and has a 4.30 ERA with a 5.92 FIP in his 111 career MLB innings. I guess that’s enough to make the Pirates an uncomfortably large favorite with a 20-25 cent move.
Cardinals (-145, 9) at Diamondbacks: Remember, I’ve talked a lot about the moves that don’t happen that say a lot. There are line moves that happen that do speak volumes, too. Dakota Hudson is one of the least trusted pitchers in baseball according to the investment community. In this start, however, he’s taking money against Madison Bumgarner and the Diamondbacks. Any time I see Hudson garnering favor in the markets, it sticks out in a huge way. This move sticks out in a huge way with a 10-15 cent move on St. Louis.
Nationals at Padres (-300, 7.5): It only takes a whack or two to move down a number this big, but Josiah Gray has taken a little bit of interest in this game. It comes as no surprise, given that his lines have moved in most of his starts. Also, the Padres aren’t playing up to their lofty favorite roles. But, it’s happened and we’ll see if that underdog money is right.
Royals at Rays (-195, 7): Really interesting handicap here. Kris Bubic has been a lot better of late and this line has moved down, but Drew Rasmussen is the story here. He threw 8.1 innings last time out and took a perfect game into the ninth. In his start prior to that, he only threw 33 pitches and was pulled without injury. Will he make a short start here coming off of a long one? I haven’t found any indication from scouring social media, but it is very possible. The Royals have taken some money in this one.
White Sox at Guardians (-180, 7.5): Big move here on Shane Bieber and I agree with it. Bieber’s velocity has been better recently and Cueto is a massive negative regression candidate with an xERA over a run higher than his actual ERA and a FIP over a run higher as well. It’s a big number for two teams that are seemingly pretty equal given the standings, but I agree wholeheartedly with the move.
Rangers at Twins (-170, 8.5): The trend with Texas is to bet on them against lefties and bet against them versus righties. That is the case today with Glenn Otto and Chris Archer. Otto also has a very high walk rate and the Twins do draw a fair number of walks, so I think that factors in as well. The market fades guys with high walk rates with regularity.
What I’ll Be Watching
Kyle Bradish: The full-season numbers for Bradish don’t inspire a ton of confidence, as he has a 6.38 ERA with a 5.25 FIP. He’s allowed 14 homers in just 66.1 innings and has a BABIP of .371, so we’re talking about some serious command shortcomings here. On the other hand, he’s struck out over a batter per inning and has allowed nine runs on 19 hits in 20 innings since returning to the team on July 29. I’ve talked about this at length with the Orioles and teams like them that pitching is the first area of the team to improve. Bradish has walked nine in those 20 innings, but has struck out 21 and has only allowed three barrels. I’ll be watching to see if his improvements look legit or if this is just some small sample size variance. He has given up 18 hard-hit balls in his last two starts against Toronto and the Red Sox lead MLB in Hard Hit% in August.
Cristian Javier: We’ve had a line move on Spencer Strider and the Braves down in Atlanta, but I think that’s more about Yordan Alvarez likely missing the game. Javier matches up well with Atlanta because he’s a guy that can generate a lot of swings and misses and strikeouts. He has allowed two or fewer earned runs in nine of his last 11 starts with a 2.77 ERA and a 3.58 FIP. In that span, he has 82 strikeouts in 61.2 innings of work with a 14.1% SwStr%. For the season, he’s struck out over 32% of batters and only has a Hard Hit% of 34.3%. He’s a bona fide ace from the numbers and he seems to be getting better. This should be a pretty good start for him I would think.
Saturday Best Bets
Shop around for the best lines! I’m using a market consensus number that should be widely available to most, but every cent matters, so do the best you can to get the best line possible.
Cardinals (-145) over Diamondbacks: This is a little chalky and the run line at %plussign% 110 or thereabouts may be the way you want to go, but Dakota Hudson certainly comes with his fair share of red flags. He’s got an ugly K/BB ratio and has had issues working deep into games since he rejoined the rotation on July 30. He’s worked 13.1 innings with seven runs allowed on 15 hits.
However, the Cardinals face a left-hander in Madison Bumgarner today. He has a 4.37 ERA with a 4.51 FIP, but it could be a lot worse given his 43.4% Hard Hit% against and 5.13 xERA. Righties are slashing .285/.340/.491 against him with a .360 wOBA, so St. Louis’s big bats look to have an extremely favorable matchup in this one. He has allowed 21 runs over his last four starts on 34 hits, so he’s also coming into this game struggling quite a bit. If I had more confidence in Hudson, this definitely looks like a run line scenario.
However, even if Hudson struggles, the Cardinals bullpen is in excellent shape. Primary relievers Giovanny Gallegos and Ryan Helsley are both on multiple days of rest. Andre Pallante is also rested if they opt to go that route with some sort of piggyback situation. The Cardinals should absolutely win this game. It might be by one run. It might be by 12 runs. But, I feel a little safer laying the -145 price as opposed to hoping for a run line when Hudson may struggle a bit.
Bumgarner has allowed a .384 wOBA with 12 of his 17 home runs the first time through the order. If he gets through that, he does settle in a bit. So, it may also come down to St. Louis’s bullpen advantage, but I’m confident in that as well. So, to err on the side of caution, it’s -145, but I do think the Cardinals win this game more than 60% of the time, which is -150 in terms of implied probability, so it’s worth laying the moneyline price.
Astros/Braves Under 7.5 (-120): Cristian Javier and Spencer Strider come together for the top pitching matchup of the day down in Atlanta. These are also two solid bullpens as well, so a low-scoring environment makes a lot of sense in this interleague tilt.
I mentioned Javier’s accolades above and why he should be a good fit against Atlanta. He has a 32.2% K% with a 13.4% SwStr%, but the whiff rate has gotten better as the season has gone along. His BB% is a touch elevated, but Atlanta hasn’t walked a lot in the second half. I also really like Javier’s low Hard Hit%, particularly against a Braves lineup that makes a lot of hard contact.
Strider is having a dominant season in his own right with a 3.04 ERA, 2.61 xERA and a stellar 1.98 FIP. He has only allowed five home runs in 94.2 innings and likely draws an Astros lineup missing Yordan Alvarez. Jose Altuve also doesn’t look right, as he’s battled some injuries as well. While Strider is facing an Astros lineup that strikes out at a lower rate than most, the guy still has a 37.2% K% on the season and Houston has never seen him. His Hard Hit% is 36.9%, so he, too, does a good job of staying off the barrel.
I’ll trust these two bullpens to perform well in relief of a couple of starters that should succeed against these respective lineups and lay the 20 cents on the Under 7.5.
I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.