Friday MLB Betting Notes: Can Brewers Keep it Rolling in Minnesota?
Teammates throw confetti on Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich (22) in the dugout. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Brewers have been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season so far. Not many who follow baseball expected Milwaukee to sit at eight games over .500 on May 18. They will try to keep it going in Minneapolis against a Twins team that has had a very inconsistent start to its season. Let’s take a closer look at this Friday night Interleague matchup of Midwest clubs from both a betting and fantasy perspective.
Milwaukee Brewers at Minnesota Twins (-138) | O/U: 9
Brent Suter (2-3, 5.14 ERA) vs. Kyle Gibson (1-1, 3.43 ERA)
8:10 p.m. ET
Pen Prowess: Frankly, Milwaukee’s offense hasn’t been great to start the year. The Brew Crew surprisingly haven’t hit lefties at all (29th in average, on-base percentage and slugging) and have been just mediocre against right-handed pitching. Also, their starting rotation has pitched at a pretty average level, as their 4.10 aggregate ERA ranks 13th in MLB.
So how has a team with an average rotation and an offense that ranks in the bottom third in overall average, OBP and slugging against southpaws had so much success? Their bullpen has dominated from top to bottom. The Brewers’ relief corps owns MLB’s second-lowest ERA at 2.60 — trailing only the Diamondbacks.
Can they keep up this level all season? Doubtful. They’ve benefited from the good fortune of a .276 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) — the fourth-lowest in the league. They also own the second highest LOB (left on-base) rate at an unsustainable 80.8%. (Although they did finish with the fourth-highest LOB% in 2017 at 76.4%.)
The Brew pen should regress a bit, but not significantly. Milwaukee still possesses one of the strongest set of relievers in all of baseball. It has plenty of strikeout arms, as evidenced by a top three K-rate of 27.8%. Plus, they’ve done most of their work without the services of All-Star closer Corey Knebel, who recently came off the DL after missing more than a month with a knee injury. Once he gets it rolling again, their pen will have even more filth and more importantly — elite depth.
Bottom line: the pen will continue to perform at a high level, but the Brewers will need their staff and/or offense to pick it up if they want to make the postseason. With all of their power right-handed bats, expect them to start hitting lefties at a much higher clip. Although Ryan Braun’s recent trip to the DL doesn’t help. — Stuckey
Beer Runs: Kyle Gibson has distinctly different career splits against teams with winning and losing records. Let’s just say the Twins haven’t had much success with Gibson on the mound against teams above .500. Since his first season in 2013, he has been the least profitable Twins starter against winning teams. Meanwhile, he’s actually the most profitable pitcher in baseball over that span against opponents below .500. That doesn’t bode well against the 26-18 Milwaukee Brewers.
In Gibson’s 13 career starts at Target Field with wind projections of 10 mph or higher, the over has gone 8-5. But more importantly, the over has hit by an average of 2.5 runs per game, and the first five innings over has hit by 1.8. — Evan Abrams
National Uprising: The American League has owned the National League in interleague play over the last decade-plus. Since 2005, the AL has a record of 1,950-1,623 (55%) against the NL and hasn’t had a losing season since 2003. However, that streak could be in jeopardy, as the NL has started 37-20 against its counterpart this season. The Brewers have helped contribute to that turnaround, as they’ve won three of four in interleague play in 2018 thus far. — John Ewing
Fantasy Focus: Brent Suter has had trouble keeping the ball in the yard lately. As a result, he’s failed to reach his salary-based expectation on DraftKings in five straight starts. Suter has allowed fly balls on 42% of his batted balls over the past 15 days — about 10% higher than his career mark. That spells trouble against the Twins, who have the highest fly-ball rate in the majors. Excluding Joe Mauer, who rarely hits fly balls, almost all of the Twins’ starters have above average fly-ball rates.
That includes Max Kepler, who has recently hit the urine out of the ball. Per Fantasy Labs’ batted ball data, he has better batted-ball distance, exit velocity and hard-hit percentage over the past 15 days than over the past year. He actually fits nine pro trends for this matchup. At $3,300, he looks like a solid option for a cheap bat — despite the left-on-left matchup. — Mark Gallant
Stats via Baseball Reference and FanGraphs