MLB Betting Notes: Kershaw, Sale and Verlander In Action
We’re in a peculiar spot in the baseball schedule. Because of some off days during opening week, some teams are back at the top of their rotation, while others are trotting out their fifth starter, creating some interesting lines for Tuesday night.
But this is baseball, and that means weird stuff is bound to happen.
Let’s get funky.
Boston Red Sox (-257) @ Miami Marlins (+232) | O/U: 7.5
6:10 p.m. ET
Probable Pitchers: Chris Sale (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Jose Urena (0-1, 11.25 ERA)
Unfamiliar Foe: Chris Sale is a nice little pitcher. I think we can all agree on that point. However, he has been especially dominant when facing teams who aren’t familiar with him. Per Fantasy Labs, he has a +/- of +2.6 against divisional opponents since 2014 to go along with a 61% consistency and 3% upside. Not too bad. However, against nondivision opponents, his +/- jumps up to +6.1, consistency goes up to 74% and upside up to 17%. And to boot, his ownership has actually dropped a hair in these nondivision spots. Might want to think twice about fading him and his high price tag. – Mark Gallant
To Mark’s point, Sale’s teams have gone 47-43 (51%) straight-up against division opponents when he starts but 56-35 (62%) vs. nondivision teams. – John Ewing
Out of Control: Last year, Jose Urena — he of the incredibly lucky 3.82 ERA — had the 12th-highest BB/9 among qualified pitchers at 3.39. The hope was that the 26-year-old could work on his command and be at least a viable option for the Marlins. Well, things didn’t go according to plan for Urena on Opening Day. In four innings, Urena allowed four walks, hit three batters and allowed a pair of dingers. Not good. – Michael Leboff
Big Dogs: Since 2005, home underdogs of +200 or greater in the months of April and May are 3-16 on the moneyline for -9.9 units. In that span, home dogs of +200 or greater are 0-6 in April, losing by 3.3 runs per game. – Evan Abrams
Chicago Cubs (-170) @ Cincinnati Reds (+160) | O/U: 8.5
6:40 p.m. ET
Probable Pitchers: Jon Lester (0-0, 8.10 ERA) vs. Cody Reed (0-0, -.– ERA)
Panic Button: For anyone hoping Jon Lester’s poor 2017 season was an outlier, his 2018 debut was not what you wanted to see. Perhaps he’s still shaking some offseason rust off, but the 34-year-old’s fastball was about one mph less than last year’s … which was about 1.5 mph less than 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 Triple-A squads is certainly a red flag. If Lester continues to fail to pitch much higher than 90-91 mph, he’ll need to start adjusting his approach. – Mark Gallant
Fading the Public: At the time of publication less than 30% of money bets are on the Reds. It has been profitable to bet underdogs in divisional games getting little public support: 709-835 (46%) on the moneyline since 2005, a $100 bettor would be up $16,785. – John Ewing
Seeing Reds: As a member of the Cubs, Jon Lester is 11-2 on the moneyline against the Reds (his most profitable opponent), winning by 3.1 runs per game. However, Lester is just 3-2 in his last five starts. – Evan Abrams
Baltimore Orioles (+218) @ Houston Astros (-245) | O/U: 9
8:10 p.m. ET
Probable Pitchers: Mike Wright Jr. (0-0, -.–ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
The Wright Stuff: We already know who Justin Verlander is and what he does well — you know, the whole pitching thing. But what do we know about Mike Wright Jr.? Last year, Wright pitched 25 innings — all in relief — for the O’s. He posted a 5.76 ERA, but his 3.83 xFIP suggests he was a bit unlucky. The 28-year-old showed a penchant for strikeouts in 2017, averaging 10.08 K/9, although he never really was a strikeout pitcher before that, as his career 6.48 K/9 suggests. So what do we know about Mike Wright Jr.? Not much at all. – Michael Leboff
Wright hasn’t started a game since June 17, 2016. How’d he do in that one? Well, he only allowed three homers and eight earned runs in 3.2 innings, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Astros are the second-biggest American League favorite to date this season (behind only Boston tonight). – Danny Donahue
Houston, We Don’t Have A Problem: Houston has never lost a regular-season game that Verlander has pitched. The Astros are 6-0 and have won on average by 4.2 runs when Verlander is on the mound. – John Ewing
So far with the Astros (including the playoffs), Verlander has pitched 36 innings at home, with an ERA of 1.00, including one HR allowed and a 5.7 K/BB ratio. – Evan Abrams
Los Angeles Dodgers (-165) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (+155) | O/U: 7.5
9:40 p.m. ET
Probable Pitchers: Clayton Kershaw (0-1, 1.50 ERA) vs. Zack Godley (0-0, -.– ERA)
Godley and the Goat: All eyes will be on Clayton Kershaw, but Zack Godley is no slouch himself.
Of 134 pitchers with 100+ innings logged last year, Godley was 14th in xFIP, one of the best catch-all analytics for pitchers. The 27-year-old’s performance sort of came out of nowhere, but I believe you can attribute his breakout season to his curveball. Since making his debut in 2015, his curveball usage has gone from 11.8% to 25.4% to 35.6% last year. According to Fangraphs’ linear weights by pitch type, Godley’s curveball was the second-most productive in the league behind a fella named Corey Kluber. Keep tossing that deuce, kid. – Mark Gallant
One of the things that made Godley so successful last year was his ability to induce weak contact and groundballs. His 55.3% groundball rate ranked fourth among pitchers who logged at least 150 innings last year. – Michael Leboff
Did You Know?: Since 2014, the Dodgers have been shut out in Kershaw starts five times, including his Opening Day loss to the Giants. Only two of the previous four subsequent starts occurred in the regular season, and the Dodgers won both of those games by a combined score of 15-3. – Evan Abrams