Season Results: It has not been a good week. After posting a 1-2 night on Monday, I got my ass handed to me on Tuesday, going nothing for three. The Cards’ bats cooled off in D.C. and the Phillies scored four runs against the Tigers when I needed five to cover their team total. The must gut-wrenching loss came in Arlington, however, where the Pirates and Rangers combined for only three runs through the first eight innings of play. Pittsburgh then rallied to score three runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game, then added six more runs in the top of the 10th. While Joey Gallo added a solo home run in the bottom of the 10th to push the combined score to 10 runs on the night, I fell one run shy of pushing on the 11-run total. Ouch.
The o’fer night on Tuesday dropped my MLB record to 11-8 (+1.50 units) on the season. I didn’t play anything Wednesday, Thursday or Friday as I reevaluated my handicapping strategy for the new MLB season. Let’s see if we can’t get back on track on Saturday.
969 Kansas City Royals at 970 Detroit Tigers, 3:10 p.m. CT
Neither of these teams are offensive juggernauts but oddsmakers have set the total for this game at 9 runs. Why? Because Homer Bailey is facing Tyson Ross in the pitching matchup. Ross doesn’t generate a lot of strikeouts and he’s allowing hard contact at a rate of 37.9-percent. That’s bad, but not as bad as Bailey’s 41.8-percent hard-hit rate. If these two starters don’t help us cash the over in the first 5-6 innings, then Kansas City and Detroit’s bullpens should do the trick late in the game. The Tigers have the worst bullpen xFIP of any team in baseball at 4.94, while the Royals’ mark of 4.62 isn’t much better. Finally, the over is a perfect 4-0 in Quinn Wolcott’s last four games behind home plate. Guess who is behind the dish today in Detroit?
The Pick: Royals/Tigers OVER 9 (1.10 units to win 1.0 units)
967 Seattle Mariners at 968 Cleveland Indians, 3:10 p.m. ET
Sometimes you just have to eat chalk when there’s a potential blowout on the board. The Indians have one of the highest implied team totals on Saturday’s slate, which means Vegas loves Cleveland to pound Seattle starter Mike Leake. The former Cardinal relies on keeping the ball on the ground but when hitters do get wood on his pitches, he’s allowing a ton of hard contact. The Indians will also benefit from facing a Seattle bullpen that currently owns a 4.51 xFIP, which ranks in the bottom-10 of the league. Meanwhile, don’t be fooled by Carlos Carrasco’s 5.86 ERA. He’s been victimized by a .420 BABIP in the early going. His strikeout rate (34-percent) is still elite and his SIERA sits at 2.98, which suggests positive regression is coming. Playing big moneyline favorites in any sport is dangerous and Cleveland’s odds are -210, which is expensive. I’ll roll the dice on their runline instead, as I’m getting plus odds (+105) by laying 1.5 runs.
The Pick: Indians -1.5 Runline +105 (1.00 units to win 1.05 units)
959 San Francisco Giants at 960 Cincinnati Reds, 6:10 p.m. ET
As the title indicates, I like two overs on Saturday’s MLB slate. The second over comes with just as much risk as the Kansas City-Detroit over because neither San Francisco nor Cincinnati have potent offenses. That said, these two clubs combined for 21 runs on Friday night and the over is 9-4-2 in the last 15 meetings between these two clubs at the Great American Smallpark. Giants starter Derek Rodriguez doesn’t hand out a lot of free passes but he allows hard contact and has a fly ball lean, which is not good in this ballpark. Meanwhile, Roark’s hard contact is up to 41-percent this year and being able to limit hard contact used to be one of his strengths. The Reds do not have a good bullpen (4.50 xFIP) and they used the few quality relievers they do have last night. On the other side, the Giants have an underrated pen but they had to burn through seven arms last night because starter Tyler Beede only last 2 1/3 innings. Perhaps these two teams punched themselves out last night and I’m being set up for a 3-2 game with loads of disappointment. That said, given the situation, the ballpark and the recent trends of these two teams, this has game has sneaky over potential.
The Pick: Giants/Reds OVER 8.5 (1.10 units to win 1.0 units)
MLB: 11-8 (+1.50 units)