MLB Betting Notes: Mariners’ Outlook Without Cano vs. Tigers

MLB Betting Notes: Mariners’ Outlook Without Cano vs. Tigers article feature image

Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano (22) drops to his knee after getting hit by a pitch in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After Robinson Cano recently received an 80-game suspension for violating the MLB drug policy, Seattle has to lead the majors in current players who have served suspensions for PED use (Nelson Cruz, Dee Gordon).

Not seeing Cano in the lineup every day will take awhile for die-hard baseball fans to get used to, while Mariners fans might never get comfortable with his missing presence. One of his most underrated traits was his durability. Since his debut season in 2005, Cano has played in more games than any other player in baseball.

Seattle will try to fill his void with former 2008 first-round draft pick Gordon Beckham, whom the Mariners signed from Triple-A Tacoma. While Beckham was having a decent year in the minors, he’s a career .239 hitter. The right-hander hasn’t even hit lefties well over the course of his career; he also has a .239 average against them.

While the Mariners have lost Cano for an extended period, they still find themselves in the hunt — for now. Let’s take a closer betting and fantasy look at their game tonight at Safeco Field.

Detroit Tigers (+149) at Seattle Mariners (-165)

Matt Boyd (2-3, 3.21 ERA) vs. Marco Gonzales (3-3, 5.31 ERA)
10:10 p.m. ET

Lefty Lobbers: Fans of velocity may want to avoid this game, as neither starting pitcher lights up the radar gun. This season, Boyd and Gonzales average 90.3 and 91.1 mph on their heaters, respectively.

While these two soft-tossing lefties may seem similar on the surface, Lady Luck has treated Gonzales like he kicked her dog, while she has smiled on Boyd to this point. The Mariners starter actually has better peripherals, but his ERA sits over two points higher than Boyd’s.

That’s because of Gonzales’ mind-boggling BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) of .405, especially compared to Boyd’s fortunate .242. You can expect to see BABIP regression on both ends as the season progresses. That’s good news for Marco, but not for Matt. — Michael Leboff

Southpaw Scouting: The Mariners have had the third-most plate appearances vs. lefties in the league. They also own the third-highest wRC+ (weighted runs created plus; league average is 100) at 122 — just a few points behind the mighty Braves.

The Mariners don’t have an individual batter who dominates left-handers, but they have a balanced lineup of capable hitters. Just take a look at the nine Seattle players who’ve had at least 20 at-bats vs. lefties in 2018.

Cano was hitting everybody before his suspension, but his loss will hurt much worse against righties. Don’t forget he only had a .259 OBP (on-base percentage) vs. southpaws in 2017. Ryon Healy and Mitch Haniger aren’t household names, but they’ve averaged a plus/minus of +2.8 DraftKings points this season, per Fantasy Labs.

The fourth-best team in wRC+ against southpaws? That would be the Tigers, who recently benefited from the return of Nick Castellanos, who leads the club with a 242 wRC+ vs. left-handed pitching. He averaged a DraftKings plus/minus of +1.4 points vs. lefties last year and has boosted that up to +4.8 in eight starts vs. lefties in 2018. — Mark Gallant

No Nelson? Thanks to a pitch that hit him on his foot, Nelson Cruz probably won’t suit up tonight. While he’s struggled against lefties so far this season, the Mariners will still miss his presence against the left-hander Boyd. Thanks to a .247 BABIP, Cruz (a .291 career hitter vs. lefties) shockingly only hit .229 vs. southpaws in 2017, but still had value in the lineup. Cruz finished last season with an impressive 1.0 BB/K ratio against lefties and had the third-highest BB% (20.3%) vs. them — trailing only Aaron Judge and Mike Trout. — Stuckey

Road Gage: Boyd has a 10-19 career record as a starter on the road, losing bettors 6.1 units for the Tigers. Since Boyd’s first start in 2015, he’s been Detroit’s second-least profitable road starter, ahead of only Anibal Sanchez. When Boyd pitches away from the East Coast, Detroit is just 7-14, losing by an average of 2.2 runs per game. Oddly enough, this will mark his latest career start, as he has never made one after 9 p.m. ET. — Evan Abrams

Stats via Baseball Reference and FanGraphs