MLB Betting Notes: deGrom vs. Strasburg Sets the Stage On Thursday
A win in April counts just as much in the standings as a win in September.
Both the Mets and Nationals are off to good starts and – yes it’s really, really early – they could be fighting for the division, especially if the Amazin’s pitching holds up.
Okay, maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Onto today’s baseball.
New York Mets (+126) @ Washington Nationals (-140) | O/U: 7
1:05 p.m. ET
Jacob deGrom (1-0, 1.59 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (1-0, 1.42 ERA)
Rivals: While many pitchers tend to perform better against non-division opponents vs. hitters they rarely see, both Strasburg and deGrom have thrived within their division. Since 2014, Strasburg has the fourth-best cumulative DraftKings +/- against divisional opponents and deGrom has the ninth-best. DeGrom has averaged 1.35 more points per game vs. NL East teams while Strasburg is a tick away from 2 points more per game. Expect the pitcher’s duel to live up to the hype. – Mark Gallant
Weird, But True: As a favorite against the Mets, Strasburg is 9-0 straight-up in May-September starts but 2-3 in April. – John Ewing
Stopper: Strasburg is 5-0 on the moneyline (+3.3 units) dating back to last season when starting for the Nationals after a team loss during the regular season. – Evan Abrams
Seattle Mariners (-116) @ Minnesota Twins (+105) | O/U: 8
4:10 p.m. ET
James Paxton (0-1, 11.57 ERA) vs. Kyle Gibson (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Big Maple: It seems like every year is supposed to be James Paxton’s breakout season. The 29-year-old has nasty stuff. Last year, the Canadian southpaw posted a 28.3 K% against just a 6.7 BB% in 136 innings. The last part of that sentence is the key. Once again, Paxton missed a chunk of time, and his durability has been the only thing keeping him from stardom.
Even though his first start was an unmitigated disaster, he surrendered six runs on six hits, including a pair of dingers, and four walks in 4.2 innings, Paxton still notched four punchouts. There was no big velocity drop or anything overly alarming about the start, so let’s just chalk it up to first-start jitters and pray that a second consecutive weird outing isn’t in the cards.
Gibby: Who the hell even knows with pitchers? Last year, Gibson was so bad in the first half of the season that the Twins sent the former first-round pick to Triple-A Rochester in the middle of the year. It was the first time Gibson, who was almost 30 at the time of his demotion, pitched at Triple-A – outside of a rehab assignment – since 2013. Humble pie, as it were.
But something happened in Western New York. Gibson returned to Minnesota a new man for the stretch run, going 6-0 with a 2.92 ERA over his last eight starts in 2017. In his final 58 innings pitched, Gibson averaged 8.5 K/9 and 2 BB/9. In his first start this year, Gibson tossed six innings of no-hit ball, although he issued five free passes, and struck out six. Compare all of that to the 6.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 that Gibson was working with before his Rochester Renaissance and you’re left to wonder, who the hell is Kyle Gibson?
Let’s find out together. – Michael Leboff
Going Streaking: The Twins have won Gibson’s last nine starts dating back to August of last season. Over that span, he and Arizona’s Robbie Ray (also starting tonight) have the most moneyline wins without a loss for their respective teams in the regular season (9). – Evan Abrams
Baltimore Orioles (+218) @ New York Yankees (-245) | O/U: 9
6:35 p.m. ET
Andrew Cashner (0-1, 7.20 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Straight Cash Homie: Andrew Cashner is an odd duck. The former reliever once had the ability to touch 104 on the gun when he was a Padre. That heater sat in the low-mid 90s last year with the Rangers, but he was not blowing it by hitters whatsoever. His 4.64 K/9 was the second-worst in the majors, and while his ERA of 3.40 was impressive, it is unsustainable. He somehow managed to have MLB’s 15th-best ERA, but its second-worst xFIP. In a year when balls flew out of the yard at a historic pace, Cashner managed to have the lowest HR/FB% at just 8.6%. That luck has already turned itself around, as he allowed three bombs in his Orioles debut. Expect his K/9 to bump back up to the 6-7 range this season, but everything else to regress back to the mean. – Mark Gallant
Trends To Know: Road underdogs of +125 or greater, such as the O’s, have gone 851-1275 (40%) against division opponents with a better record. Despite the losing record, a $100 bettor would be up $16,999 betting the underdog since 2005. – John Ewing
In Tanaka’s career, the under is 30-22-2 in his 54 home starts. But, against the Orioles, the over is 4-1 in his five starts in the Bronx, going over the total by an average of 1.8 runs per game. – Evan Abrams
Arizona Diamondbacks (+111) @ St. Louis Cardinals (-122) | O/U: 8
7:15 p.m. ET
Robbie Ray (1-0, 10.80 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (0-0, -.–ERA)
Waitin’ On A Robbie Ray: The Arizona lefty got plenty of Ks in his first outing, but still struggled mightily. He walked three batters, which has always been a weakness of his, but also allowed three dingers, something that has never been an issue. Luckily for Ray, this start against the Cardinals is in St. Louis. Since joining the D-backs in 2015, he’s posted an average +/- of +4.5 DraftKings points on the road, compared to just +0.5 at home. – Mark Gallant
Did You Know? This is St. Louis’ home opener; the Cardinals have won three of their last four home openers but had lost six of seven before that stretch. Per Baseball-Almanac.com, St. Louis has never faced the Arizona Diamondbacks in a home opener. – John Ewing
Since the beginning of last season, the D-backs are 21-8 on the moneyline (+9.5 units) when Ray starts in the regular season, winning by 3.1 runs per game, making the southpaw the fourth-most profitable starter in baseball. Which isn’t too far off considering he is 16-5, with a 3.13 ERA over that span. –Evan Abrams
Chicago Cubs (-116) @ Milwaukee Brewers (+105) | O/U: 9
8:10 p.m. ET
Jon Lester (0-0, 8.10 ERA) vs. Brent Suter (1-0, 5.40 ERA)
Panic Button: For anyone hoping Lester’s poor 2017 season was an outlier, his 2018 debut was not what you wanted to see. Perhaps he’s still shaking off some offseason rust, but the 34-year-old’s fastball was about one MPH slower than last year’s … which was about 1.5 mph slower than it was in 2016. There’s not much else you can gather from other metrics from just one start, but allowing 10 hits+walks in 3.1 innings to a Marlins lineup that may not be better than some AAA squads is certainly a red flag. If Lester keeps struggling to reach much higher than 90-91 mph, he’ll need to start adjusting his approach. – Mark Gallant
One-Run Rebound: Chicago fell to Cincinnati, 1-0, in its last game. Over the last three seasons, the Cubbies have the best record in baseball following a one-run loss: 40-22 (64.5%). – John Ewing
Did You Know? The Cubs are 4-0 on the moneyline against the Brewers when Jon Lester starts. The Braves are the only other opponent Lester is undefeated against since joining the Cubs (minimum two starts). – Evan Abrams
Photo: Brad Penner, USA Today Sports