Welcome to the Bets of the Day column for Tuesday. It has been a couple of weeks since I last wrote this article. May was a great month with a 13-2 record. The first half of June was not so hot with a 2-4 record. However, last Tuesday went very well with a 3-0 day with the picks I had in mind (KC-LAA Over, SD-ARI Under, and SEA -1.5 run line). Only thing is that I never published those picks as I was on vacation so you will have to take my word for it! Another 3-0 day would bring the June record to 8-4 which is very respectable.
So what does the analysis like for today? As usual, I will highlight three picks. Let’s get to it!
Oakland Athletics – New York Yankees Under 8.5 runs (-120)
Initially, the under was looking good last night until the A’s exploded for five runs in the 3rd inning. It was a lucky bases-clearing double by Elvis Andrus with two outs which probably should not have happened if Sean Murphy was not hit by a pitch before Andrus’s plate appearance. Then the Yankees popped off six runs in the bottom of the 7th inning. By that time both starters had left the game and the bullpen for the A’s faltered.
So why am I confident that the under will hit today? I still don’t believe the A’s can hit the ball all that well. We are near the halfway mark for the regular season and the A’s 25-50 record (worst in all of baseball) is mainly attributable to a weak offense. They rank dead last in BA and OPS and 2nd to last in runs scored and HRs. The A’s offense is also top 10 in strikeouts. Just look at some of the names in the lineup for today: Jonah Bride, Nick Allen, and Cristian Pache. Who are these guys?
Enough with the putrid A’s offense. The pitcher they will face today won’t make matters any better for them. JP Sears is only making his 2nd MLB start but he has been impressive in AAA ball with a 2.75 ERA, 50 Ks, and 6 BBs in just 39.1 IP (10 games played and starting 8 of them). His numbers were equally impressive last year at both the AA and AAA levels with a combined 3.72 ERA, 136 Ks, and 29 BBs in 104 IP. The one start Sears had this season in the big leagues was strong: 5 IP, 5 Ks, 2 BBs, and 2-0 victory against Baltimore at Yankee Stadium. Sears threw 84 pitches in that game with 57 strikes. He should have no problem repeating such success tonight in the Bronx. It also doesn’t hurt to have one of the best bullpens helping you out.
Meanwhile, Frankie Montas is putting together another very nice season for Oakland. The 3-7 record may not show it but his 3.21 ERA with 92 Ks and 22 BBs over 89.2 IP does. Keep in mind that Montas has started 15 games so he is averaging close to 6 IP per start. A quality start typically consists of at least 6 IP and not giving up more than 3 ERs. Montas has pitched at least 6 innings 11 times this season and in nine of those instances Montas gave up two or fewer ERs. Even though the A’s bullpen is mediocre at best, I don’t think we need to worry about them all that much facing the Yankees lineup as long as Montas gets us 7 solid innings. After all, the Yankees bats may not be needed for the bottom of the 9th inning.
8 or 8.5 runs seems too high to me. Take the under and expect the Yankees to win this game 4-2.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Washington Nationals Over 8.5 runs (-110)
It’s never easy taking the over with two teams that have a combined record of 57-92 and run differential of -210. Only the A’s have a worse run differential than either the Pirates or Nationals and I already discussed how awful the A’s offense has been this season. However, this over play is all about the poor pitching we will see tonight from Jose Quintana and Patrick Corbin.
Let’s start with Corbin since he has struggled this season. He has allowed a barrel rate of 8.2 plate appearances per barrel and 44.4% hard-hit contact % so don’t be surprised if he gives up 2-3 HRs tonight. His current ERA is 6.60 and according to Statcast his expected ERA is 6.47 so he should continue to have trouble on the mound. He is allowing a wOBA of 0.391 which is already high and Statcast has his expected wOBA at 0.403 so he is still due for more negative regression. Just to make matters worse, lefties are hitting him harder than righties and the Pirates have a nice blend of both righties and lefties in their lineup this evening.
Here is the kicker: except for Corbin’s last start which was a 6 inning rain-shortened game against Baltimore, Corbin’s previous five starts have each exceeded 8.5 total runs. That would have happened in his last start since Baltimore won 7-0. Corbin could wind up giving us the over all on his own!
So how about Quintana? On the surface, he has pitched well this season with a 3.60 ERA and averaging 5 IP per start. Also, he has decent control with 61 Ks and 23 BBs over 70 IP. This is where you need to use Statcast to get a better idea of what to expect from Quintana. His expected ERA is 4.64. If we get another five innings from Quintana tonight and if he reaches his expected ERA as well, then he is due to give up 10 ERs. While I don’t think that will happen, I could see him giving 4-5 runs today and we already know Corbin is a garbage pitcher. I could see the over happening by the 3rd or 4th inning. Expect an 8-6 score tonight and who cares who wins. Both teams are not going anywhere!
Los Angeles Dodgers -1.5 run line (-145)
I have to say that I am very perplexed that the Dodgers were shut out last night in the first game in their series in Colorado. They have been one of the best offenses in baseball this season and their run differential of +128 (good for 2nd overall) is nothing to blink at. They also have the 2nd best record in the NL and are tied for the 3rd best record in all of baseball with the Houston Astros. On the road, the Dodgers have done well with a 25-15 record with 24 of those 25 victories exceeding the -1.5 run line. The pitching matchup heavily favors LA so if we expect LA to win, they have a 96% chance of winning by at least two runs.
The Vegas sportsbooks seem concerned about the run line since LA’s money line is -210 but the run line is -145. Whenever the delta between the money line and the run line is that small, the run line is a good bet. Otherwise, Vegas would bait you by making the run line around +100 or higher.
Finally, Kyle Freeland has had his struggles against LA. In his first start this season, he gave 5 earned runs over 3.2 IP. Colorado lost 5-3 and that was the home opener in Colorado. Freeland saw LA two times last season in Colorado and both times the Rockies lost by at least two runs. Freeland pitched against the Dodgers once in 2020 and once in 2019. Both times the Rockies lost by at least two runs.
I am noticing a trend here! Freeland is simply overmatched by a team that has been a perennial World Series contender for as long as Freeland has been in the big leagues. To make matters worse, the Dodgers have the offense to take full advantage of the thin air in Colorado and have a pitcher tonight in Clayton Kershaw who can hold his own against a mediocre Rockies offense. Oh, it will be close to 90 degrees today in Denver. Fire up the Dodgers bats!
There you have it. Trust the data and let’s end the month of June on a high note. Good luck!
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)