Yankees/Rays Under 8 +100 = LOSS (-1.00 units)
Astros Team Total Over 5.5 Runs -105 = WIN (+1.00 units)
Nationals/Dodgers UNDER 7 -110 = PUSH (+0.00 units)
What we learned on Saturday…
…that even when you have a total capped correctly from a starting pitching standpoint, bullpens can still ruin things. Through seven innings last night in L.A., the Nationals and Dodgers combined to score just two runs. Then disaster struck for both the Dodgers and under bettors in the top of the eighth when the Nationals scored five runs in their half-inning. The big blow came off the bat of Gerardo Parra, who hit a grand slam in the Nats’ eventual 5-2 win. (Parra had been a National for all of three days, signed to a one-year deal on Thursday after he was released by the Giants.)
Fortunately, the Nationals’ pen held the Dodgers scoreless in the final two innings so at least we pushed. Still, that was a bad beat and a reminder that the state of teams’ bullpens is just as big a factor as the starting pitching matchup when it comes to handicapping MLB games. The Rays also scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Yankees to ruin my under in Tampa, but that hardly qualifies as a bad beat. Thankfully the Astros’ bats came alive after a sluggish start in Houston, scoring 11 runs from the bottom of the fourth to the bottom of the eighth to cash their team total of over 5.5 runs.
Sunday’s 5/12/19 Picks:
969 Chicago White Sox at 970 Toronto Blue Jays, 12:07 p.m. CT
Man, the Blue Jays are struggling. They’ve lost eight of their last 10 games while averaging 2.0 runs per contest over that span. Even when they receive strong outings from their starters (as they did on Saturday from Marcus Stroman), their bullpen has turned close games into laughers (as the Jays’ relievers did yesterday). Chicago starter Lucas Giolito struggled mightily a year ago but now boasts a strikeout rate of 29.2% and is coming off an eight-K performance against the Indians. Today, Giolito faces a Toronto lineup that ranks first in strikeout rate against right-handed pitching at 27.2% and is among the bottom seven in the league in team ISO, wOBA and wRC+ according to Allan Lem of Rotogrinders.com.
The White Sox are 8-3 in Giolito’s last 11 road starts and while their offense is an impatient bunch that strikes out a lot, they’ll face a starter in Aaron Sanchez today that is not a strikeout pitcher. In fact, Sanchez’s strikeout (19.1%), walk (13.7%) and hard-hit (35.0%) rates are all troublesome, while his current xFIP of 5.11 and 3.21 ERA is an indication that regression is coming at some point.
Backing a streaky, inconsistent White Sox team that also owns a bottom-10 bullpen gives me an ulcer, but this is one of the only games on Sunday’s MLB slate that offers bettors good value.
The Pick: White Sox Moneyline +105 (1.00 units to win 1.05 units)
973 Detroit Tigers at 974 Minnesota Twins, 1:10 p.m. CT
Where the hell did this version of Martin Perez come from? Since joining the starting rotation on April 15, Perez has won four of his five starts while allowing a total of six runs over his 33 innings of work. Granted, today Perez will face a Tigers lineup that is heavy on right-handers, so Detroit’s hitters will mostly have a platoon advantage. That said, the Tigers also own a 27.6% strikeout rate against lefties and the rest of their offensive profile against southpaws is average at best. (Detroit also lacks power up and down its lineup.)
While Perez’s matchup with the Tigers is excellent, the Twins’ matchup with Detroit starter Daniel Norris is even better. Norris is 1-1 on the year with a 3.81 ERA, but a deeper dive shows trouble awaits. His xFIP is up to 4.91, his strikeout rate is down to 17.5% and he’s allowing hard contact of a rate of 33.3%. Minnesota’s projected lineup mashes left-handed pitching and even if Norris gives the Tigers a quality start, at some point they’ll have to turn the game over to a bullpen that owns a xFIP of 4.76, which is second-worst in all of baseball to only Atlanta (4.83). The Tigers’ pen is also fatigued after these two teams played a double-header yesterday, when Detroit relievers were forced to throw 7 1/3 innings. The blow-up potential is high here.
At -175, I’ll bypass the Twins’ moneyline price and grab them at -1.5 (+100) on the runline.
The Pick: Twins -1.5 Runline +100 (1.0 units to win 1.0 units)
955 San Diego Padres at 956 Colorado Rockies, 2:10 p.m. CT
It’s a bit “chalky” to take the over in a game at Coors, but this matchup has the potential of your typical high-scoring game in Denver. The Padres will send Nick Margevicius to the mound after he walked 11 batters and struck out just seven in his last 16 1/3 innings.
With the total sitting at 12, we’ll need Margevicius’ command to be at its worse, as well as a big fly or two from Colorado’s power hitters. The Rockies managed only three runs last night but were facing a much better pitcher in Joey Lucchesi. Most of the damage the Rockies create will have to come off Margevicius because San Diego has a surprisingly effective pen this year, but that shouldn’t be a problem.
On the other side is Antonio Senzatela, who looks to rebound after allowing seven runs and eight hits over 4 2/3 innings in Tuesday’s 14-4 loss to the Giants. If weak-hitting San Francisco is able to generate seven runs off Senzatela, there’s no excuse for Manny Machado, Franmil Reyes, Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer to not post similar production. Plus, unlike the Padres, the Rockies’ bullpen checks in with a 4.41 xFIP, which currently ranks 22nd in baseball. The over is 4-0 in Senzatela’s last four starts and is 8-1 in the Rockies’ last nine games.
The Pick: Padres/Rockies Over 12 -105 (1.05 units to win 1.0 units)
2019 Betting Results
MLB: 18-15-4 (+2.15 units)