July 27th Betting: MLB Picks
Atlanta Braves (Alex Wood) @ Baltimore Orioles (Kevin Gausman)
I’m a fan of both of these pitchers long-term and I generally believe that the Orioles have the brighter future of these two teams, but for the here-and-now, give me the visitors to emerge victorious tonight. Of the 18 teams in action today, Baltimore has the second worst contact rate, and that’s a major flaw to have against a pitcher in Wood who is a sabermatrician’s dream. The Braves 24-year-old has seen his GB% increase while his FB% and HR/FB% have both dipped from last season, trends that hint at strong improvement that would be more evident in his raw counting numbers if not for the fourth highest BABIP among all pitchers in baseball. The O’s rely heavily on Adam Jones when it comes to producing runs, but Wood has been nothing short of phenomenal at shutting down the opponents top hitter (number three hitters are slashing a mere .115/.193/.231 this season).
I don’t blame you if you are leery of backing the Braves anemic offense (second fewest runs scored in July), but with Freddie Freeman back in the lineup against a young pitcher in Gausman that has struggled (albeit in a small sample size) against left-handed bats, there is a reason to believe that Atlanta can score a handful of runs in a hitter-friendly park.
Chicago White Sox (John Danks) @ Boston Red Sox (Joe Kelly)
I like Kelly more than most, and I’m not apologizing for it. That said, my love isn’t completely irrational. He’s been able to find success via the ground ball when he isn’t busy giving up homers, but with the White Sox ranking 29th in ISO and 30th in wOBA, I have my doubts about them being able to capitalize on Kelly’s mistakes. On the other side, the Red Sox ability to make consistent contact (second lowest K% in the MLB) should be enough for them to overcome their season long struggles against southpaws. Yes, I know they are really bad against lefties, but let’s not forget that John Danks isn’t exactly a good pitcher. Right-handed hitters are killing him this season (.315/.359/.520), giving the promising young tandem of Xander Boegarts and Mookie Betts the potential to break this game open. It also doesn’t hurt that we saw signs of life from David Ortiz last night with a career-high seven RBI, potentially giving this BoSox order the depth that they have lacked during this disappointing season.
Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez) @ Cleveland Indians (Cody Anderson)
The Royals have been the best team in the American League this season, and with the addition of Johnny Cueto, they are the strong favorite to represent the Senior Circuit in the World Series. All of that is well and good, but it doesn’t mean a thing to bettors looking to profit tonight. The Indians own the top BB% in all of baseball, a statistic that could decide this game as Volquez has documented control issues at times. In fact, over the last 14 months, he has just one start in which he hasn’t issued a free pass. No team in baseball this season has a higher Contact% and Hard% than Cleveland, another trend that is even more influential with Volquez on the bump when you consider that he’s allowing his highest percentage of hard contact since 2006.
I believe it’s fair to assume that the Indians can scratch across some runs, and they may not need a whole lot with Anderson on the bump. His long weakness in 33 innings this season has been his tendency to give up the long ball (57.1 percent of his runs allowed have scored via the homer), but the Royals are working on their fourth consecutive season in which they finish in the bottom quarter of the league in home runs. Statistically speaking, the Royals are unlikely to generate much power, and if that is in fact the case, counting on them winning tonight is a shaky proposition at best.
Detroit Tigers (Anibal Sanchez) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Nathan Karns)
New York Yankees (Ivan Nova) @ Texas Rangers (Matt Harrison)
The Alex Rodriguez vs Prince Fielder debate for Comeback Player of the Year is an interesting one, and while I believe the Rangers first baseman should win that award, I don’t think he wins this game. While he has been great this season and the Rangers offense is coming around, their offensive metrics still rank behind those of the Bronx Bombers. The advantage at the plate isn’t great, but it is an advantage nonetheless, and that’s enough with the very iffy Matt Harrison on the bump for the home team.
38 innings, 47 hits, 23 walks, and 24 earned runs
Those are Harrison’s numbers in the eight starts he has made over the last three seasons. How can you justify putting your hard earned money on a pitcher with those numbers that is pitching in front of a bullpen that has the second highest ERA and the highest FIP in all of baseball? You can’t.
Baseball is a game of matchups, and theYanks offense has been more productive than that of the Rangers, only making them a heavier favorite to start this week with a victory. They’ve got the advantage on the hill (and that’s coming from someone who isn’t really a fan of Nova) and have been more productive all season with the stick … doesn’t that mean they should win? What should happen and what does happen are sometimes two different things, but over the course of time, betting on what should happen will win you money. Stay true to the course and take the Yanks.
Colorado Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa) @ Chicago Cubs (Kyle Hendricks)
Under. Take the under. Vegas hasn’t even released a number yet, but the general public is going to bet the over/under up. Don’t get fooled.
Both De La Rosa (4-2 with a 1.93 ERA and a .192 batting average against on the road this season) and Hendricks (0.35 ERA and seven strikeouts per walk issued in the three weeks prior to his last start) are vastly underrated, and with this game being played in Chicago and not Coors, the pitchers are going to have more success than you assume. If I’m picking a winner, it’s De La Rosa facing an offense that ranks 29th in contact rate, but I think two seemingly average pitchers have success against a pair of high upside offenses.
Cincinnati Reds (Raisel Iglesias) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Lance Lynn)
Welcome to The Show kid … now shut down the best team in baseball. The Cardinals are not a flawless team, but their major flaw is that they cannot hit left-handed pitching, so unless Iglesias learns to throw with his opposite hand in the next few hours, he will be unable to exploit this weakness. Against righties, St. Louis battles as hard as any team, using their patience at the dish and their depth of talent to wear down opponents and consistently provide their elite staff with runs (Top 5 OBP against RHP). Allowing three runs would have to be seen as a victory for the Reds youngster, but that is unlikely to be enough to earn more than a moral victory in this one. Lynn has allowed more than two earned runs just once in the last two months, and considering that the home team has a bullpen that ranks second in ERA, it is hard to imagine the Reds generating enough offense to win this game.
Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray) @ Seattle Mariners (Mike Montgomery)
Montgomery had a cute three game run that included back-to-back complete games and a 0.38 ERA, but he has come crashing back to earth as teams have gained a book on him (2.12 WHIP and 9.22 ERA in his last three outings). Based on the betting odds for this game, it appears that the betting public is still chasing the upside that we saw during that initial strong run: take advantage.
The Diamondbacks may not have the best offense in baseball, but considering that they lead the league in Hard% and have one of the best players in all of baseball in the center of their lineup, they have what it takes to support the quietly effective Ray. The 23-year-old has a 2.72 ERA in 10 starts this season, production that has flown under the radar for the most part. He hasn’t been perfect, but his struggles have come against overly aggressive offenses (opponents hitting at least .300 against him in 0-0, 1-0, 0-1, and 1-1 counts this season) and that simply isn’t how the Mariners, a Bottom 10 team in Swing%, do business. I still think the Mariners have a playoff push in them, but it doesn’t start tonight.
Milwaukee Brewers (Kyle Lohse) @ San Francisco Giants (Chris Heston)
We all know that Heston threw a no-hitter against the Mets this season, but that is all most people know about him. He’s been good, really good, since that point in time, a run that somehow isn’t being highlighted as a potential difference-maker in the second half. How many home runs do you think he has allowed over the last three months in starts not made at Coors Field?
Uno … and even that came in a complete game, 2-hitter against the Astros. Why do I bring that up? Heston has had an amazing run of weak hitting matchups (the Marlins have been his statistically most difficult matchup over the last five weeks), and the Brewers rank only slightly ahead of those opponents as a result of their edge in power. Without that edge, they aren’t any than the Mets, Phillies, Padres, or Marlins, teams that have produced all of six runs against Heston in 34.1 innings since June 25th.
The knock on the Giants is that they don’t have enough firepower outside of Buster Posey, but I’m not sure that’s actually the case. No offense in baseball has a higher wRC+ and Contact% than the reigning champs and Lohse isn’t the type of elite talent that is a good bet to reverse those trends. San Francisco is the second most favored team this evening (the Cardinals are the heaviest favorite), but I’m assuming your goal is to win bets and siding with the home team is a good way to do that.
Photo via Getty
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