Rangers/Royals OVER 10.5 (-115) = WIN (+1.0 units)
Indians Team Total Over 5.5 Runs (-105) = WIN (+1.0 units)
What we learned on Thursday…
…that simply targeting bad pitching can be profitable. After going 0-3 on Wednesday, I declared yesterday “Redemption Day” at FTBW and the Rangers and Indians delivered. The Rangers obliterated Homer Bailey and a terrible KC bullpen for 17 runs and the Indians’ team total (5.5) cashed by the bottom of the fourth inning.
While I always take a deep dive into the analytics to ensure the surface-level numbers match the metrics, simply targeting bad pitching can be profitable. And if you’ve noticed, I’ve played more overs this year than I did in August and September a year ago. Maybe things will change throughout the MLB season, but we’ve gotten into a nice groove over the past week by focusing on potential blow-up spots for pitchers.
Friday’s 5/17/19 Picks:
919 Oakland A’s at 920 Detroit Tigers, 6:10 p.m. CT
On the surface, Daniel Norris has pitched well since the Tigers shifted him into their starting rotation. He picked up the win against the Twins last Sunday after allowing two runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. He’s also worked five innings in each of his previous four starts, allowing no more than three runs on five hits in three of those outings.
That said, when you take a deeper dive, Norris’ 4.80 xFIP (which is a park and league adjusted version of ERA) doesn’t support his 3.63 ERA. With a current strikeout rate of only 17.8%, a ground ball rate of 34.9% and a hard-hit rate of 34.5%, his ERA will climb at some point. If you’re not missing bats and you’re allowing plenty of hard-hit fly-balls, at some point you’ll be giving up plenty of home runs as well.
Norris’ matchup with the A’s isn’t great either. Oakland’s projected lineup owns an average ISO of .204 against left-handed pitching. In other words, they slug against lefties. The A’s are fly-ball hitting team facing a fly-ball pitcher that isn’t striking many batters out this season. They scored 17 runs yesterday in Detroit, which included 11 runs off of the Tigers’ horrendous bullpen. Even if Norris can keep the A’s bats relatively quiet, eventually Detroit will hand the ball over to a struggling pen that had to work five innings yesterday.
One thing that I will caution is that fly-ball offenses can produce a lot of fly-ball outs, too. But with the A’s team total sitting at a reasonable 4.5 runs, if one or two of those fly balls go over the wall then we should eventually hit the over.
The Pick: A’s Team Total Over 4.5 Runs -140 (Risking 1.40 units to win 1.0 units)
929 St. Louis Cardinals at 930 Texas Rangers, 7:05 p.m. CT
The Cardinal offense has been maddeningly inconsistent. Seventeen one night, one the next. Fourteen runs in Atlanta on Monday night, shutout on Tuesday. That said, I do love the Cards’ team over tonight. Jose Leclerc started the season as the Rangers’ closer but after his ERA climbed to over 6.0, Texas has decided to try him as an “opener.” Adrian Sampson will pitch the bulk of the innings tonight for the Ranger and he checks all the boxes for us when it comes to targeting bad pitching. Sampson is a low-strikeout (14.4%) pitching allowing plenty of hard contact (47.5%) and fly balls.
Yes, the Cardinals have been feast or famine. Still, their lineup has a hard-hit rate of over 40% against right-handers this season and Sampson is prone to surrendering home runs (he has a fly-ball rate of 41.5%, coupled with a low strikeout percentage). Keep in mind that the Cards will also have a DH tonight with the game in Arlington, which is a great hitter’s environment. We’re also guaranteed ninth inning at bats with the Cards playing on the road. Let’s hope for one of those 17-run games from them and they make it easy on us.
The Pick: Cardinals Team Total Over 6.5 +105 (Risking 1.0 units to win 1.05 units)
2019 Betting Results:
MLB: 27-19-4 (+7.30 units)