Any dads underwhelmed by the new socks they got for Father’s Day can take matters into their own hands with another full Sunday afternoon of baseball. It’s not the best slate in terms of probable pitchers, but that creates some opportunities when sifting through the matchups. Runs could be as bountiful as the spiked seltzers infiltrating barbeques across the country, and some favorites are far more vulnerable than the betting lines suggest.
Athletics at Yankees: Moneyline
Is this a trap? It feels like Vegas knows something we don’t, as the 44-28 Athletics are underdogs against the 37-33 Yankees. Well, win-loss records in June aren’t a perfect gauge of a team’s prowess. Yes, but the Yankees are actually fortunate to be four games over .500 with a minus-one run differential. Recent form can also play a part in … the A’s have won 13 of their last 16 games. But what about home-field advantage? Oakland is 19-10 on the road this season.
The pitching matchup doesn’t present an advantage to the Bronx Bombers either. Sean Manaea has allowed three combined runs in his last five starts, lowering his 2021 ERA to 2.99 with a 3.27 FIP. He’s faced the Angels three times during that stretch, so maybe he just has their number. Facing a righty-heavy lineup at Yankee Stadium is a dangerous spot that could spark sudden regression, but it hasn’t lived up to that reputation thus far. The Yankees are actually slightly below-average against southpaws (98 wRC+) this season.
On the other end, Jordan Montgomery has permitted three or more earned runs in each of his last four turns. He had as many walks as strikeouts (four) in his last outing and opposes an A’s lineup boasting a superior 114 wRC+ versus lefties. Even Matt Olson is demolishing fellow lefties (165 wRC+) during a breakout campaign that’s seen his strikeout percentage slide to 16.2. While playing at home certainly counts for something, the Yankees are only favored because they’re the Yankees. Even with the AL’s best record and Ramón Laureano back in the lineup, Oakland remains overlooked headed into the rubber match of this three-game series. Chase the soft line.
Pick: A’s (+120 on FanDuel, +115 on DraftKings)
Astros Run Line: O/U 4.5
The Astros will look to close out the sweep against a familiar face. For the first time since leaving via free agency, Dallas Keuchel will pitch against his former team. He’ll do so in the midst of a hot streak. After a rocky beginning, Keuchel has posted a 1.42 ERA and .239 opposing wOBA in three June starts. Although this stretch has repaired his ERA to a solid 3.75, a 4.40 FIP and 4.48 SIERA are less forgiving. Those middling marks are admirable compared to an atrocious 5.83 xERA. He’s already yielded as many barrels (24) as he did in 34 more innings in 2019, and Zach Davies is the only qualified pitcher with a lower strikeout rate than Keuchel’s 14.1%.
Only Keuchel’s new club has a better wRC+ against lefties than the Astros, who have the lowest K rate (17.5%) against them by a substantial margin. Even with Alex Bregman sidelined, Houston is a dangerous matchup. Led by nine home runs from José Altuve, the Astros are averaging 6.3 runs per game in June. Despite his power tear, Altuve’s 143 wRC+ this season still trails teammates Yuli Gurriel, Carlos Correa, Michael Brantley, and Yordan Álvarez. All five of those sizzling starters are slugging over .500.
The White Sox are no slouches at the plate either. They’re fifth in wRC+ despite missing key pieces and may be getting Lance McCullers Jr. at the right time. In his first start back from the IL, the 27-year-old righty allowed three hits and walks apiece with as many strikeouts over 4.1 innings. His fastball velocity, which has averaged 93.4 mph this season with a previous game-low of 92.9, dipped to 91.9. He generated just five swinging strikes en route to a 22.1% CSW. On FanDuel, it’s worth wagering over 8.5 runs at -102. On DraftKings, stick to Houston’s team line in case McCullers just needed a start to work off the rust.
Pick: Over (+106 on DraftKings)
Tigers at Angels: Moneyline
Have you seen Dylan Bundy lately? Following a transformative 2020, the maddening righty has gotten lambasted to a 6.98 ERA in 12 horrendous starts. He’s allowed nine home runs in his last five turns, tallying 15 strikeouts to seven walks in 20 dreadful innings. When last taking the mound Monday at Oakland, his average fastball velocity — which opened 2021 at 92.0 mph — dipped below 90 mph (89.7) for the first time this season. Per Baseball Savant, Bundy has served up hard hits on half of his batted balls in his last two starts.
If ever there was an opportunity for redemption, it’d come against the Tigers. After sweeping the Royals, they’re in jeopardy of suffering the same fate to the Angels. Given their overall futility, it’s actually surprising that they rank as high as 20th in wRC+ against righties. Regardless of the opposing pitcher, a team this bad shouldn’t be road favorites. But a +140 underdog against a pitcher who just surrendered seven runs for the second time this season?
Casey Mize, meanwhile, has delivered a quality start in eight of his last nine outings. He allowed one run in five innings during the outlier against the Yankees. The 6’3″, 220-pound righty’s ability to work deep into games is a major selling point, as only Cincinnati has a worse bullpen ERA than Detroit. Mize can limit their exposure with another quality start against an Angels lineup sans Mike Trout. The potential payout is too tantalizing to forgo in a highly winnable matchup.
Pick: Tigers (+140 on FanDuel, +138 on DraftKings)
Andrew Gould Overall Record: 19-17
Net Money (Assuming all wagers are $100): +$316.22
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)