MLB betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Thursday 7/28


While the subject of this article is baseball, it’s really a college football day for us at VSiN. The College Football Betting Guide is out and the season begins in just 30 days. We’ve got team previews for all 131 teams, including the 49 that I wrote for the SEC, Big 12, Conference USA and Sun Belt.

If you’re already a subscriber, you can access everything we’ve written for the Guide. If you’re not, make today that day by checking out our subscription offers.


Now, let’s get to the MLB card.


Yesterday’s Recap

Braves/Phillies: Bettors on the 1st 5 under got burned by a five-run fifth inning for the host Phillies, who only had five hard-hit balls in the game. The Braves only had five as well, so the contact quality imitated a getaway day game, but the 7-2 score pushed the full-game total. Kyle Gibson pitched well except for one sixth-inning mistake that Matt Olson hit into the stratosphere.

This was a big series win for the Phillies in the rubber match after getting swept by the Cubs to start the second half. Eight of the next 10 games are against the Pirates and Nationals, so if you like the Phillies to make the playoffs, I’d probably bet that before today’s game because the line may move over the next two weeks.

Nationals/Dodgers: Los Angeles scored six against Patrick Corbin in the first and then cruised to a 7-1 win. Andrew Heaney only allowed one hard-hit ball in four innings, but did have three walks in his return. The velo and spin rates looked good and he had 12 whiffs in 30 swings while throwing only fastballs and sliders. He’ll be a nice add if healthy.

Giants/Diamondbacks: The Giants have now lost seven in a row after yesterday’s 5-3 loss to the Diamondbacks. Logan Webb lost it in the seventh and the bullpen couldn’t provide any relief. The Giants also mustered just three runs and only seven hard-hit balls against Zac Gallen and the Snakes pen. This Giants team looks like a seller right now, which is crazy to think about after 107 wins last year.

Marlins/Reds: Somehow the full game stayed under, but my pick was the 1st 5 and Braxton Garrett gave up four runs in the first to cook that bet. Garrett only gave up three hits the rest of the way, but the damage was already done. Luis Castillo threw seven strong innings in his likely last start as a Red with a couple solo homers against and eight strikeouts. The Reds actually struck out 15 times against Marlins pitching, so it wasn’t a bad handicap, but the full game was the way to go.

Angels/Royals: Janson Junk struck out eight over five innings and the Angels came away with a 4-0 win to leave Kansas City on a high note. The Royals traded Andrew Benintendi after the game and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Whit Merrifield dealt soon as well. The team that lost was shut out in every game in this series, which is rather odd. With the win, the Angels have won consecutive games for the first time in over a month and just the second time since June 19. Their next 14 games are against the AL West (TEX, OAK, @SEA, @ OAK).


Astros/Athletics: Oakland swept Houston. Let me repeat that. The A’s swept the Astros. Cole Irvin shined at home once again as the A’s won by two runs for the third straight game and completed the sweep. Houston looked really disinterested in this series after sweeping the Mariners and it sort of feels like they’re taking a NBA-esque approach by getting up for the games they care about. I presume they’ll care again with Seattle coming to town for four games beginning tonight.

Rangers/Mariners: It wasn’t a one-run loss, but the Rangers led 2-1 after six and gave up three in the seventh, as Seattle won another dramatic game at home. The third time through the order caught up with Jon Gray and Marco Gonzales continued to defy all of his regression indicators with two runs allowed on four hits over seven innings.

Texas went 5-for-27 with RISP in this series. What’s odd about that is the Rangers are 13th in wOBA, but fifth in batting average in that split. Joe Posnanski wrote a great piece about how the Rangers are the unluckiest team ever in one-run games.

Rays/Orioles: My handicap on Tyler Wells yesterday was right, but I couldn’t trust the Rays offense to hold up its end of the bargain. Wells allowed four runs on six hits in just 4.1 innings and gave up a couple of homers as Tampa outlasted Baltimore 6-4 in 10 innings. Wells also had a noticeable velocity drop and spin rate drop on his slider, which got just one whiff on 11 swings.

Days like yesterday are especially hurtful for the O’s. They used all their primary relievers, but failed to come out on top. That can have an effect in future games. Cedric Mullins and Adley Rutschmann are not in the lineup today.

Guardians/Red Sox: Cleveland prevailed 7-6 in a back-and-forth affair that flew over the total with Cal Quantrill and Nate Eovaldi. Eovaldi’s velo was low once again, including a 1.5 mph difference between his average fastball and his fastball in this start. It still seems like he’s not very healthy, but the Red Sox don’t have many options. Cleveland scored seven runs on 12 hits with Andres Gimenez getting a night off and Jose Ramirez going 0-for-5, so that was a bit of a stunner.

Padres/Tigers: The Padres continue to have relief issues, specifically with closer Taylor Rogers. Yu Darvish was excellent and the Padres wasted that start by not doing more against Tarik Skubal. Skubal only had two strikeouts and just four whiffs over six innings, but managed to limit the Padres to three hits. His velocity was down and I didn’t really love the way his stuff looked in that start. I’ll be watching him closely moving forward.

Back to Rogers for a second, he has allowed runs in three straight games and eight of his last 11 appearances. Teams don’t like to make hasty decisions with closers because it’s hard to find a new role for them to get right, but San Diego may not have a choice.

Twins/Brewers: Minnesota’s need for starting pitching was evident again on Wednesday with Chris Archer’s six-walk effort over three innings against Milwaukee. He gave up only three hits, but allowed six runs. Corbin Burnes had a rocky inning, but struck out 11 otherwise in six frames. The Twins really aren’t that good of a team, but that division is a lifeboat for them.

White Sox/Rockies: Kendall Graveman did not retire a batter in the ninth yesterday, as he walked three and gave up a hit with a blown save in the 6-5 loss to the Rockies. Liam Hendriks had worked three of the last four days, so Tony La Russa’s backup plan was to use Graveman for the fourth time in five days. This clown needs to be fired.

With Graveman on fumes and Hendriks in case of emergency only, Jimmy Lambert threw one pitch in the eighth inning and induced a pop up. Graveman walked the first three guys on 16 pitches and then gave up the walk-off single.

Cardinals/Blue Jays: Adam Wainwright put his home/road splits away to help his team to victory with seven strong innings against the Blue Jays. Wainwright struck out eight and allowed just one run on five hits, as Kevin Gausman was not sharp for Toronto. St. Louis actually had five of the seven hardest-hit balls, which hasn’t happened to the Blue Jays much this season. I cannot express how impressive of a start this was for Waino.

Yankees/Mets: The Mets swept the quick two-game Subway Series from the Yankees, who are still without Giancarlo Stanton and are shifting a lot of pieces around in the bullpen. They did add Benintendi in yesterday’s trade, so he’s a solid bat that will further limit the plate appearances of Joey Gallo. I’m not reading too much into this for the Yankees. Injuries are an issue and natural variance was coming for a team that was on a 120-win pace. It is what it is.

After playing the Royals for four this weekend, the schedule is very tough through August 23. The only teams left with losing records are the Royals, Red Sox, A’s, Angels, Pirates and Rangers, so they’ll be in a lot of tight games.

Thursday Resources

Weather: Midwest. East Coast. Lather, rinse, repeat. Thunderstorm chances are present in New York, Boston and Baltimore, as well as Cincinnati. It may be a wet playing surface at Coors Field, but Dodgers/Rockies should be fine to go, possibly with a late start.

Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. This is also a good resource at FanGraphs (sort by date) HERE.

Line Moves

Royals at Yankees (-225, 8.5): Seeing a little bit of Yankees investment as the market adjusts the Royals lineup without Andrew Benintendi. The Royals have a .303 wOBA and a 94 wRC %plussign% for the season, with Benintendi the leader in both categories with a .349 wOBA and a 126 wRC %plussign%. His loss very much lowers the projection of this offense.

Tigers at Blue Jays (-210, 9.5): This total has jumped up from 8.5 or 9 to a clear 9.5 across the board with Tyler Alexander and Yusei Kikuchi. The only Tiger missing this series due to Canada’s vaccination policy is reliever Andrew Chafin, who is also a sought-after trade piece.

Mariners at Astros (-135, 8.5): Jose Urquidy and Logan Gilbert are the listed starters here. Even though Gilbert is a negative regression candidate with a 2.77 ERA and a 4.12 xERA, he’s still the pitcher taking money with Houston off of that embarrassing series against the A’s. Urquidy has a 3.93 ERA with a 4.79 xERA himself. The total is fairly high for a Minute Maid Park game.

What I’ll Be Watching

Justin Steele: There hasn’t been a lot to get excited about this season for the Cubs, but Steele has been one of the bright spots. He’s an extreme ground ball lefty with a 4.02 ERA and a 3.64 FIP in his 87.1 innings of work. The one consistent bugaboo has been a high walk rate with 41 BB over 18 starts. His 10.7% BB% could be an even more glaring problem against the Giants, who are third in BB% at 9.7%. Steele does an excellent job of limiting hard contact and has one of the best Barrel% among starting pitchers, so he’s been able to pitch around the walks. Can he do so again today?

Triston McKenzie: I’m on record as not being a huge McKenzie guy, but he’s got a 3.11 ERA this season with a 3.98 xERA and a 4.15 FIP. He’s running an 83.3% LOB%, which is a little high, but a .223 BABIP has helped. He’s run a low BABIP every season in the big leagues, so I’m not looking for regression there. Since allowing 13 runs in back-to-back starts against the Twins on June 22 and 27, he’s allowed just one earned run on 13 hits in his last four starts against the Yankees, Royals, Tigers and White Sox.

This matchup depends on your view of Boston with a banged-up J.D. Martinez and an injured Rafael Devers. I tend to not like his fly ball stylings in a small park, but he’s really cut down on the walks this season and that has made him a more effective pitcher.

Thursday 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.


Cubs (%plussign% 120) over Giants: The Cubs have ripped off six in a row and their ace takes the mound here in Justin Steele. The Giants, meanwhile, have lost seven in a row and there are a lot of questions about where this team stands going forward. Uncertainty approaching the Trade Deadline is worse than knowing what is going to transpire. We saw the Ian Happ/Willson Contreras dugout hug at Wrigley Field after Tuesday’s game and the Cubs had an off day to spend together in San Francisco while the Giants were suffering another frustrating loss.

Steele does have the walk rate concerns that I mentioned above, but he’s so stingy on balls in play and limits extra-base hits so well that he’s been able to pitch around them. He’s posted at Hard Hit% of 34% this season and just a 3.5% Barrel%. By limiting hard contact as effectively as he has, he’s been able to hold the opposition to three or fewer runs in 13 of his 18 starts.

Alex Wood is an interesting guy for the Giants because of his enormous third time through the order penalty. He’s allowed a .351/.383/.544 slash and a .401 wOBA in 60 plate appearances the third time through. As a result, the Giants pull him early. He’s allowed a .286 wOBA the first time through and a .292 wOBA the second time through. By being proactive with Wood, the Giants limit his exposure to turning over the lineup, but the problem is that the Giants have a 5.67 ERA as a bullpen over the last 30 days with far and away the highest walk rate in baseball.

The Cubs, meanwhile, have fixed a lot of their bullpen woes and rank 10th in fWAR and fifth in ERA in that 30-day span. In this game, we have a team trying to enjoy playing together before trades move some guys around and another team that just can’t get moving in the right direction as frustration settles in. We also have a Giants bullpen that has given up 22 runs in just 18.2 innings since the All-Star Break expected to do a lot of heavy lifting.

I don’t see much on the card that I like tonight, but the underdog Cubs, who are a positive regression candidate in the second half based on their RISP struggles, do have enough value to take at plus money. I see %plussign% 125 or higher out there, so shop around as always.

I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.