MLB Gambling: Monday’s Picks
New York Mets (Matt Harvey) @ Washington Nationals (Gio Gonzalez)
Harvey is every bit the ace he is hyped up to be, but the difference between he and Gonzalez isn’t enough to offset the skill difference in the other dugout. The fightin’ Bryce Harper’s rank at or above league average in all hitting metrics this season against righties while the Mets … well, they can’t say the same when opposing southpaws. The visitors are tied for the second lowest batting average against LHP’s this season, a trend I’m betting against when you consider that Gonzalez has 0.90 ERA over the last month (fun fact: his only runs allowed over that stretch have come as a result of a Adam Jones or Buster Posey home run). It also doesn’t hurt the Nationals case that the Mets played an unscheduled double header yesterday and figure to be a bit fatigued to say the least.
Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Moore) @ Philadelphia Phillies (David Buchanan)
The more things are different, the more they are the same. In contrast to the Mets/Nationals game, the pitchers are not the selling point, but they are similarly talented and should roughly negate (for better or for worse) one another. That means that this matchup is likely to be decided at the dish, and while neither offense has been hanging crooked numbers with any sort of consistency this season, the home team holds a decided advantage in this one. Believe it or not, the Phillies (the third lowest scoring team in baseball) actually grade out as an average offense against left-handed pitchers this season. I like Moore as a pitcher, but he is still knocking off the rust and is far from midseason form. On the flip side, no team had a lower batting average and a lower slugging percentage against righties in first half of the season than the Rays. Buchanan is winless this season, but three of his last four starts have been effective and I’ll take the underdog odds that he can continue that against one of the worst offenses in baseball. On a side note, I also don’t mind taking the under eight runs in this one.
Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker) @ Detroit Tigers (Alfredo Simon)
Talent level is an interesting thing: my eye tells me that Simon isn’t as good as his raw numbers over the last two seasons indicate and that Walker is teetering on a breakout, but that train of thought has yet to win you money. Until now. The merry-go-round has been in full effect against Simon this year when talking about left-handed dominate team (lefties are slashing .320/.375/.539 this season) and the M’s are not only capable of loading the middle of their lineup with lefties, they can load it with lefties who are beginning to heat up. On the flip side, Walker’s batting average against has fallen each month this season and, even though J.D. Martinez has filled in admirably, Detroit is still lacking Miguel Cabrera. Walker has allowed one or fewer runs in five of his last nine outings, upside that is worth chasing against a team he has already seen in July.
Los Angeles Dodgers (Brandon Beachy) @ Atlanta Braves (Matt Wisler)
The difference in this matchup is significant, and it’s not where you might first suspect. Sure, the edge in offensive talent is certainly nice to have, but in a game that could potentially feature starting pitchers who don’t sniff the sixth inning, I’m putting my money on the superior ‘pen of the Dodgers. Kenley Jansen is the face of a group of relievers that ranks fourth in baseball in WAR, a metric that has the Braves sitting at 25th. I’m not going to pretend that either one of these pitchers (11 combined professional starts since the beginning of 2013) has a track record that can be used with confidence, but the fact that the Dodgers are considerably better on offense and in relief pitching, you should still feel good about picking the White and Blue despite not having a ton of faith in Beachy.
Chicago Cubs (Clayton Richard) @ Cincinnati Reds (Michael Lorenzen)
Give me the over. If I have to pick a winner, it’d be the Reds based on the strong two month run from the beginning of May to the end of June from Lorenzen, but I prefer to forecast a high scoring game (over/under 8.5 runs) in this one. Lorenzen has had his issues with opposite handed hitters, something I expect to see from Richard as well. Now, this is nothing new, but the fact that the top talents on the opposing rosters are opposite handed players that take full advantage of that split has me thinking that the Cincinnati fans continue to be entertained. Look for Anthony Rizzo and Todd Frazier to show their all star form, thus allowing their teammates to step into favorable run-producing spots against pitchers that have yet to have success in the big leagues.
Pittsburgh Pirates (A.J. Burnett) @ Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura)
I’m done betting against Burnett. He doesn’t have the highest ceiling or a flawless track record but he’s been winning you money all season long and while the Royals boast a very solid team, I expect Burnett backers to continue the money printing tonight. Let’s look past the fact that what has made the Royals so potent offensively (their ability to hit with runners in scoring position) is exactly where Burnett has thrived this year (.162/.244/.238 slash against) and just focus on outcomes: the Pirates win with their veteran righty on the bump and the Royals struggle when the fiery Ventura takes the ball. By all measures, Burnett has pitched poorly in a Pittsburgh loss exactly once this season, while Kansas City has lost seven of Ventura’s last nine starts. Take into account that the Royals starter has made just one appearance over the last month and this matchup of playoff teams slants in favor of the Bucco’s.
Texas Rangers (Wandy Rodriguez) @ Colorado Rockies (Chris Rusin)
I don’t expect you to believe that Rusin is great, but all he has to be is better than Rodriguez tonight and I think he can do that much. He has looked good in July (1.93 ERA) and has yet to be phased by the thin air at Coors Field (3.00 home ERA in his limited action this season), trends that I believe will hold up tonight against a team whose high BABIP is the only reason their team batting average doesn’t rank among the worst in baseball. In addition to a reasonable level of success expected from Rusin, the Rockies offense should be able to capitalize on a pitcher in Rodriguez who is allowing more fly balls than he had in the previous six seasons. A fly ball tendency is a dangerous way to live against a team that ranks in the top quarter of the league in home home runs and tops the charts in batting average in front of their faithful fans. This game has the potential to be a high scoring one, but I feel more confident in the Rockies matchup and believe that they can strike early and hold on for the victory.
Miami Marlins (Mat Latos) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Rubby De La Rosa)
Boston Red Sox (Eduardo Rodriguez) @ Los Angeles Angles (Hector Santiago)
The Angles are the better team, but I’d rather take my chances with Rodriguez than Santiago in the first game of this double dip. In my honest opinion, Santiago is a ticking time bomb that is on borrowed time as far as success is concerned while Rodriguez is on the up-and-up with a matchup the sounds scarier than it is. The Angels rank as an average offense against left-handed pitching and with their big bats being right-handed, I’ll gladly roll the dice with a pitcher who has held righties to a .221/.293/.322 slash this season. Santiago will give up his fair share of hits (six outings in which he has allowed at least seven knocks this season) when he is failing to get the strikeout, and with Boston ranking among the best contact teams against LHP this season, I fear that those hits will eventually do enough damage to cost him this game. Angel fans, however, will not have to deal with a double header sweep though …
Boston Red Sox (Steven Wright) @ Los Angeles Angles (Andrew Heaney)
I love what I have seen out of Heaney this season, and while it is a tiny sample size, he has more recent experience as a starter than his opposition tonight. The experience isn’t much, but considering that Wright has been used out of the bullpen for the most part this season, the stretched out arm of Heaney (even if you view them as equal talents) is a huge plus on the back end of a double header where the bullpens are typically shorthanded. I mentioned that the Angels have more talent, something I expect to become evident in a double header, and if this turns into a bullpen contest, I’ll take my chances with a LA ‘pen that ranks in the top half of the league in FIP over a BoSox crew that has the third highest. A split when playing two games in the most probable outcome, and I see that being the case here with talent winning out the deeper into the night we go.
San Francisco Giants (Tim Hudson) @ San Diego Padres (Ian Kennedy)
Photo via Getty
Be the first to know
Want FREE Fantasy and Gaming Advice and Savings Delivered to your Inbox? Sign up for our Newsletter.