MLB Betting Notes: Apparently Kris Medlen Pitches for the Diamondbacks Now
It’s Kentucky Derby weekend, everyone. And luckily, the Action Network employs one of the best former Major Leaguers turned horse racing analysts in the game.
But before we all pretend like we know what we’re talking about with the ponies on Saturday, we need to focus on a Friday baseball card that has some funk to it.
Not only do we have CC Sabathia and his 1.71 ERA taking on Josh Tomlin and his 9.16 ERA, but Kris Medlen apparently returns for a start with Arizona. It’s a tough first assignment for the former Brave, as he draws the white hot Gerrit Cole (pictured above) and the defending World Series champions. Them’s the breaks.
In today’s MLB preview, we will dive deep into the following three matchups on the diamond.
- Indians (Tomlin) at Yankees (Sabathia) -210 | O/U: 9.5 | 7:10 p.m. ET
- Cubs (Quintana) at Cardinals (Mikolas) -110 | O/U: 8.5 | 8:15 p.m. ET
- Astros (Cole) at Diamondbacks (Medlen) +174 | O/U: 8 | 9:40 p.m. ET
Cleveland Indians (+188) at New York Yankees (-210) | O/U: 9.5
Josh Tomlin (0-4, 9.16 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (2-0, 1.71 ERA)
7:10 p.m. ET
Don’t Count on CC: Is there anybody who’s looked better, physically, in pinstripes than CC Sabathia? The big lefty makes the Yankee uniform look darn good. Anyway, Sabathia has been pretty effective since rebranding himself as a dependable back-of-the-rotation pitcher a couple of seasons back. As good as the 37-year-old has pitched, his sparkling numbers aren’t long for this world. Since the beginning of last season, Sabathia has the eighth-worst ERA-FIP (the difference between ERA and Fielding Independent Pitching, a barometer for luck) among Major League pitchers. Regression is the elephant in the room here. — Michael Leboff
Is there anyone who’s looked worse, physically, in any baseball uniform ever? The big lefty makes the Yankee uniform look worse than it does on someone of average build, as difficult as that may be. CC’s 1.71 ERA is better than early A.L. Cy Young frontrunner Gerrit Cole’s, but his xFIP of 4.72 is far, far worse. Sabathia will go up against a hot Indians offense in weather conditions favorable for hitting. His luck may come to an end tonight. — Mark Gallant
Crooked Numbers: Josh Tomlin is 0-4 with a 9.16 ERA. Opponents have scored 32 runs in the 18.2 innings he has pitched this season. Oddsmakers expect a high-scoring game and opened the total at 9.5. The over does look enticing, but a word of caution: Since 2005, if one of the starting pitchers in a game has an ERA of 9.00 or higher and the total is set at 9.5 or greater, the over is just 224-300-19 (42.7%). — John Ewing
As John referenced, Josh Tomlin has struggled mightily this season, so much so that the Indians are currently priced at +188 on the road against the Yankees. This will mark just the second time over the past three seasons that the Tribe have been priced above +165. The other instance occurred in 2016 when they faced Justin Verlander and the Tigers as +240 underdogs. Cleveland lost that game, 12-0.
Oddly enough, Tomlin is 8-7 as an underdog with the Indians and is actually the second-most profitable Cleveland starter at plus money. — Evan Abrams
Birds of a Feather: Tomlin has an 0-3 record in four starts and took a loss in his one inning out of the pen. In the four starts, he owns a 9.68 ERA — tied with Alex Cobb for worst among all starters with at least 15 innings pitched. Take a look at their season starting splits.
Cobb and Tomlin should have a beer together and drown their early-season struggles away.
Tomlin has been especially victimized by the long ball, as he’s allowed a league-high 10 home runs in just 18.2 innings. That’s really bad. For comparison, three starters have allowed nine homers, but they’ve all pitched at least 32 innings.
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB2) April 29, 2018
Batters have hit everything in the air against Tomlin — his .53 GB/FB ratio ranks as the fifth lowest among all starters (min. 10 IP). And when those balls are hit in the air? They get hit hard (45.8%) and far. Tomlin’s 27.8% HR per FB ratio over his four starts tops all starters (tied with Lance Lynn). If he doesn’t fix something tomorrow, Bombers gon’ bomb. — Stuckey
Pen Peek: The Indians bullpen has a 5.00 ERA, which ranks as the fifth highest in the league. Pretty shocking when you consider how dominant their pen has performed the past few years. However, it makes sense when you take a deeper look, as they currently don’t have the services of two of their top three relievers from last season. Bryan Shaw now plays for the Rockies and more importantly, Andrew Miller sits on the Disabled List. That spells trouble if Tomlin can’t give the Tribe length, especially considering they played a double-header on Thursday night.
While the Yankees have also dealt with bullpen injuries (Tommy Kahnle, Luis Cessa and Adam Warren), their pen comes into this game red hot. Their relievers rank an impressive sixth overall in ERA, but have been even more dominant recently. During New York’s current 12-1 stretch, its relievers have only given up four total earned runs over 39.2 total innings for a ridiculously stingy 0.91 ERA. If neither starter can go long, the boys from the Bronx will have a major advantage. — Stuckey
Chicago Cubs (-110) at St. Louis Cardinals (-110) | O/U: 8.5
Jose Quintana (3-1, 5.74 ERA) vs. Miles Mikolas (3-0, 3.27 ERA)
8:15 p.m. ET
The Lizard King: Miles Mikolas is doing something rather interesting and pretty impressive in his return to MLB. He leads all qualified pitchers in swing percentage outside of the strike zone. Basically, hitters are chasing against him more than anyone else. He’s also in the bottom 25% of pitchers in swing percentage at pitches in the zone. I think this is why he leads the league with a minuscule 0.55 BB/9 rate. Despite all of this good stuff, pitchers like Mikolas have been very poor choices on DraftKings. His salary has risen $1,200 this year, and hurlers whose salaries have increased that much and strike out fewer than eight batters per nine innings have only exceeded salary-based expectations when they’re large favorites. Using Fantasy Labs’ plus/minus tool, here is how they’ve done by moneyline range. — Mark Gallant
Mikolas comes into this one sporting an ERA almost a full 2.5 runs lower than Quintana. One of the primary reasons why? Free passes. While Mikolas leads all qualified starters with a 0.55 BB/9 rate, Quintana has a much worse BB/9 ratio of 4.1. That’s 11th highest among qualified starters.
The good news for the southpaw Quintana? The Cards have hit just .213 vs. left-handed pitching in 2018 — third worst in MLB. Quintana has also enjoyed past success against St. Louis: 3-0 in four career starts with a 3.3 ERA. — Stuckey
Bouncebackability: Chicago got smoked 11-2 by Colorado on Wednesday. Since 2015, the Cubbies are 21-9 following a loss by six or more runs, winning by an average of 2.8 runs. — John Ewing
Did You Know? The Cubs have scored just 16 runs over their last eight games and haven’t scored more than three runs in any game over that span. Over the past three seasons, the Cubs are 17-6 after a streak of three consecutive games scoring three or fewer runs. However, they have lost their last two in this spot. — Evan Abrams
Houston Astros (-194) at Arizona Diamondbacks (+174) | O/U: 8
Gerrit Cole (2-1, 1.73 ERA) vs. Kris Medlen (0-0, -.– ERA)
9:40 p.m. ET
Welcome Back: Kris Medlen makes his return to the bigs after spending all of 2017 in the Braves’ minor league system. After great seasons in 2012 and 2013, his career unraveled following his second Tommy John surgery — which forced him to miss the entire 2014 campaign. In nearly 100 innings in Triple-A last year, Medlen posted an underwhelming 5.42 ERA. And in 18 Triple-A innings this year, he’s at an even worse 6.00. Expect the Houston bats to be very chalky in DFS as large road favorites. — Mark Gallant
It will be almost two years to the day that Medlen made his last start in the Majors: May 10, 2016 for the Royals against the Yankees. During the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Medlen made 14 starts with an ERA of 5.66 and allowed 18 earned runs in his last four starts. — Evan Abrams
Pen Prowess: Arizona’s bullpen doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves. Its pen currently rank first in the following categories:
- ERA (2.16)
- Opponent Average (.192)
- WHIP (1.02)
While the Astros still struggle to find consistency in the closer role — or at least in finding someone who doesn’t punch themselves in the face — their pen has performed fairly well this year. In fact, these two bullpens have the two lowest on-base percentages in all of baseball. — Stuckey
— Scott Smith (@ScottSmithFOX13) May 2, 2018
Scorching Snakes: The Diamondbacks are off to a scorching start this season with the best record in the NL, but they’ll face one of the best pitchers of 2018 so far, Gerrit Cole. Since 2005, home underdogs with a winning percentage above 60% have won just 43.2% of their games, losing bettors 32.7 units. When the game is played in May or earlier, they’ve won just 44% for a net loss of -21.4 units. — Evan Abrams
At Odds: At the current number, the market is suggesting that the Diamondbacks have a ~36.5% chance of winning this game. That certainly is something, considering they play at home and have the best record in the National League. Of course, this is a gigantic pitching mismatch on paper, but it is definitely worth noting. — Michael Leboff