Even if there are blue skies on a glorious summer Sunday, MLB’s schedule is shaping up to be a Gray day.
Out in Los Angeles, Jon Gray will audition for contenders seeking rotation help before the July 30 trade deadline. That includes the opposing Dodgers, who will send rookie Josiah Gray to the mound for his first career start. Meanwhile, the sun will shine brighter in the afternoon when Sonny Gray takes the hill against the Cardinals.
Why does this matter? Well, I guess it doesn’t. It’s just fun, and I couldn’t think of a better introduction for today’s best bets.
Tigers at Royals: Moneyline
While there are no certainties in betting, it’s safe to say few ever envisioned a scenario where it’d make sense to support the Tigers, even though they’re road favorites. Although they opened at -105 on DraftKings and -110 on FanDuel, early action gravitated toward Detroit taking Sunday’s series finale.
As long as that trend doesn’t continue Sunday morning, let’s embrace the weirdness.
The Tigers came out of the All-Star break swinging, winning seven straight before dropping two at Kansas City. Following Saturday’s 9-8 bullpen collapse at Kauffman Stadium, they’ll look to get back on track against Daniel Lynch. He very much was not The Man in his short-lived debut, surrendering 18 hits, five walks, and 15 runs (14 earned) in just eight innings. Lynch gave up four runs to the Tigers on May 13 in his last big-league outing. Heck, he even coughed up eight runs against Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate on July 8. He had a 5.84 ERA before getting re-called from the minors.
Tarik Subal isn’t necessarily in peak form either. Along with surrendering five runs in consecutive outings to start July, he has 15 strikeouts in 17 innings this month after posting 76 punchouts in 55.2 frames from May through June. Trusting a starter with a 4.83 FIP is far from foolproof, especially when backed by a bleak bullpen. However, it’s not all bad news. The 24-year-old bounced back from two rough starts with six innings of one-run ball against Texas. He didn’t issue a single free pass, which wasn’t a coincidence. No team has a lower walk rate against lefties than the Rangers. Yet the Royals (6.8%) come awfully close.
Far pluckier than anticipated, the Tigers have flaunted enough offensive firepower to light up Lynch and avoid the sweep.
Pick: Tigers (-115 on DraftKings, -116 on FanDuel)
Blue Jays at Mets: O/U 9 Runs
After allowing six runs against Boston on May 19, Ross Stripling turned the corner with a 2.77 ERA in eight ensuing starts. He’s since allowed 10 runs in four innings, including another six runs at Boston’s hand to begin the week. He served up five home runs in those two disastrous turns, and that’s not a new problem. Stripling has now allowed at least one long ball in seven consecutive outings. A 46.0% fly-ball rate is by far the highest clip of his career.
Getting away from the Red Sox may not be enough of a solution. Although they recently lost Francisco Lindor just as he was heating up, the Mets’ lineup has otherwise returned to full strength. As of Saturday, they lead the NL in wRC+ this month (125), trailing only the White Sox atop the MLB leaderboard. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to see them flourishing with better health, as the Mets also ranked second in wRC+ last season. Among the few who have managed to avoid the IL, Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith have busted out of slumps with eight and five home runs in July, respectively.
Two days after getting from Tampa Bay, Rich Hill is scheduled to make his Mets debut. Talk about bad timing. Instead of escaping the AL East, he’ll face a loaded Blue Jays lineup that just exploded for 15 hits in Saturday night’s 10-3 victory. Since compiling 13 strikeouts on May 25, Hill has 33 strikeouts to 19 walks in nine starts. It’s not quite inspiring that the contending Rays unloaded him right after gearing up for a playoff push by acquiring fellow 41-year-old Nelson Cruz.
Perhaps Tampa Bay thinks Hill is over the … well, you know. Not helping matters, his struggles have aligned with MLB’s crackdown on foreign substances. As noted by NBC Sports Edge’ D.J. Short, Hill’s spin rate has dropped from earlier this season:
Rich Hill has struggled recently. Here’s his spin rates by month pic.twitter.com/fxzJ2Kh0GK
— D.J. Short (@djshort) July 23, 2021
It still made sense for the Mets to acquire the veteran southpaw for rotation depth, but expect an ugly first impression in a slugfest between two well-equipped offenses.
Pick: Over (+100 on DraftKings)
White Sox at Brewers: Moneyline
Sunday Night Baseball presents a battle of playoff-bound teams sending aces to the mound. The White Sox are running away with the AL Central, and the Brewers have a commanding lead in the NL Central. Lance Lynn is awesome. So is Brandon Woodruff.
It’s a great matchup with no clear favorite on paper. And yet, both sportsbooks are substantially siding with the Brew Crew.
Maybe it’s just a matter of home-field advantage. After all, the White Sox are 23-23 on the road. Or perhaps it’s the simple matter of Chicago dropping the first two games at Milwaukee. Those matchups also boasted star pitching power; Freddy Peralta faced Lucas Giolito on Friday, and Corbin Burnes outlasted an ineffective Carlos Rodón on Saturday.
This is all about pivoting to a favorable line. As of this writing, the White Sox are +120 on FanDuel and DraftKings. Similar records aside, they boast a much more formidable run differential (plus-113) than the Brewers (plus-67). Their aforementioned MLB-lead in wRC+ merely slides to a fourth-place rank against righties. The Brewers are 21st.
Rather than overreact to recent results, back a top-tier squad to prevail.
Pick: White Sox (+120 on DraftKings, -110 on FanDuel)
Andrew Gould Overall Record: 26-25
Net Money (Assuming all wagers are $100): +$267.02
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)