MLB Betting Notes: Ohtani Takes on the Red Sox, Plus Two Divisional Matchups
We saw three more postponed games Monday, bringing the total to 24 in 2018. That’s an MLB record for the first month of the season — and we still have two weeks left! On the bright side, the weather pushed Shohei Ohtani’s projected Sunday start against the Royals to Tuesday against the red-hot Red Sox, which I think everyone would prefer to watch.
In today’s baseball betting preview, we will take a look at the following three matchups that shouldn’t have any weather issues (jinx?):
- Phillies (Pivetta) at Braves (Foltynewicz) -105 | O/U: 8.5 | 7:35 p.m. ET
- Cardinals (Wainwright) at Cubs (Chatwood) -128 | O/U: 8.5 | 8:05 p.m. ET
- Red Sox (Price) at Angels (Ohtani) -154 | O/U: 7.5 | 10:07 p.m. ET
Let’s dive deeper into those three matchups on the diamond.
Philadelphia Phillies (-103) at Atlanta Braves (-105) O/U: 8.5
Nick Pivetta (1-0, 2.70 ERA) vs. Mike Foltynewicz (1-1, 2.93 ERA)
7:35 p.m. ET
Changing It Up: Foltynewicz has always had good enough “stuff” in his four-pitch arsenal, but the 26-year-old has had a penchant for making mistakes in the past. However, Folty has done a decent job limiting those bad pitches so far this year. As a result, his 2.93 ERA doesn’t look all that out of place from his 3.46 xFIP (a regressed version of Fielding Independent Pitching). The right-hander seems to be using his change-up more often in the early part of the season.
Last year, Foltynewicz only threw his change-up 5.7% of the time, but generated an 18.5% whiff rate with his change-up — the best rate of any of his pitches. This year, he has increased the use of that pitch to 11.3%. His overall numbers show that may be a formula for success for the enigmatic right-hander.
After a rough first start, Foltynewicz has looked solid — although he hasn’t gone terribly deep in his past two outings. It’ll take a larger sample size of consistent performances to trust him, but it looks like Folty figured some things out in the offseason. — Michael Leboff
Bullpen Oddities: Despite allowing a league-low one home run, the Braves’ bullpen secured its first save of the season in a 2-1 win over the Phillies on Monday. The Atlanta pen has allowed the second-lowest BAA (batting average against), but has more blown saves (two) than saves (one). It’s very odd to see a group lead baseball in walks (40) but rank in the top 10 in ERA — despite allowing 10 earned runs in 2.1 innings against the Cubs over the weekend. Gotta love the small-sample-size variance in April. — Stuckey
Under The Radar: While the baseball world has seemingly waited for decades for Foltynewicz to break out, the same can’t be said of Nick Pivetta. The Phillies’ right-hander came into this season with a little bit of sleeper hype thanks to great strikeout numbers and poor luck in his first season in the bigs. It hasn’t taken long for him to make his believers look good.
After a tough first outing, Pivetta has found his rhythm over his last two starts. In a combined 12.2 innings, the Canadian has struck out 16 batters without issuing a single walk. Of course, those two starts came against the Reds and the Marlins, but impressive nonetheless. Even more encouraging is that Pivetta has performed well without the aid of lady luck. His 2.70 ERA is twice as high as his 1.32 FIP. You can also expect to see his .326 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) come down. — Michael Leboff
A Rare Occurrence: The Phillies and Braves had records over .500 when they faced off Monday, their first meeting with winning records since 2011. Philadelphia hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011, while Atlanta last got there in 2013. They will still both have winning records in meetings Tuesday and Wednesday. — John Ewing
Nice Weather For A Change: The Atlanta forecast calls for 70 degrees, with winds blowing from right to left at less than 10 mph. In what looks like one of the warmest games on the East Coast tonight, we should see one of the better hitting environments on the slate. — Mark Gallant
St. Louis Cardinals (+118) at Chicago Cubs (-128) | O/U: 8.5
Adam Wainwright (0-2, 5.06 ERA) vs. Tyler Chatwood (0-2, 4.91 ERA)
8:05 p.m. ET
Wrigley Winds: The current forecast calls for winds blowing in from center at 6 mph. Since 2005, the under has gone 768-618-76 (55%) when the wind blows in from center at 5 mph or stronger. In Cubs home games, that record improves to 75-50-8 (60%). However, since the wind projections could drastically change, make sure to check in throughout the day before making a weather-based total bet. — John Ewing
Bad Bounces: After being labeled a “shrewd signing” over the offseason, Chatwood hasn’t started fast in Chicago. However, Cubs fans shouldn’t worry too much about the ground-ball specialist. While he has a solid 50% ground-ball rate to start the year, it’s still below his 54.7% career mark. Chatwood also has a very unlucky BABIP of .364 — 62 basis points above his career .302 mark. Plus, he’s only pitched 11 innings over two starts. Expect those numbers to normalize over the long run.
The 28-year-old’s lack of control is a legitimate worry, though, as he has always struggled with free passes. For his career, the former Rockie averages a less-than-stellar 4.19 BB/9 (walks per 9 innings.) That number has ballooned to 5.73 so far this season. — Michael Leboff
Speaking of 11 innings, Chatwood has also only pitched 11 career innings against the Cardinals in one start and three relief appearances. He hasn’t performed well over that small sample size. Chatwood owns an 0-2 record against St. Louis, with a 7.36 ERA, 1.91 WHIP and .319 BAA. Even tonight’s opposing starter, Adam Wainwright, is 2-for-2 with two RBIs against the newly acquired Cubs pitcher. — Stuckey
Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks: I look at the 2018 version of Wainwright as an old dog getting close to the end. I hate to be a cynic, but Cardinals fans are probably nodding in agreement.
Wainwright finished in the top three in NL Cy Young voting in 2013 and 2014. During those two seasons, he averaged 91-92 mph and 87-89 on his sinker and cutter, respectively. So far this season, the sinker has dropped to an average of 90 and the cutter to 84. Just take a look at the results in the three seasons before and after his Achilles injury in 2015:
On the bright side, Waino has averaged a DraftKings plus/minus of +2.1 in five starts against the Cubs since 2016. In 52 starts against all other teams over that span, he has only averaged -1.2. Of the expected Chicago Cubs starters today, only Addison Russell (1.038) has an OPS of over 1.000 vs. Wainwright (minimum 10 at-bats.) — Mark Gallant
Boston Red Sox (+142) at Los Angeles Angels (-154) | O/U: 7.5
David Price (1-1, 2.40 ERA) vs. Shohei Ohtani (2-0, 2.08 ERA)
10:07 p.m. ET
Shoh-Time: Ohtani became the first pitcher in the past 20 years to go 7+ shutout innings with at least 12 strikeouts in one of his first two career starts. Oh, and did I also mention that Ohtani leads all of baseball with a .767 slugging percentage (minimum 30 at-bats). To put that into perspective, only Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds have ever finished a season with a slugging percentage higher than .767. Speaking of Ruth, Ohtani became the first player since the Babe in 1921 to record a win as a pitcher and then homer in his next game as a nonpitcher. — Stuckey
Ohtani’s start at both ends of the ball has been electric, but let’s see if we can punch some holes in his pitching stats. Through two starts, Ohtani has posted a sparkling 2.08 ERA and 0.46 WHIP across 13 innings of work. Those numbers actually understate how well he has pitched when you take a look under the hood. The 23-year-old’s 1.87 xFIP (a regressed version of Fielding Independent Pitching), 12.46 strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9) and 9.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio all suggest Ohtani’s head-turning performance on the mound thus far is no fluke. — Michael Leboff
Is the Price Right?: All eyes will be on Ohtani, but David Price isn’t half bad himself. Well, he pitched exceptionally poorly in his last start, but he’s struggled against the Yankees since coming to Boston. He’s kind of a basket case.
He faces perhaps an even taller task Tuesday, though, as the Angels feature the league’s best offense so far this season. However, this game falls right into his wheelhouse historically. Since 2014, Price has posted an average DraftKings plus/minus of +3.3 in nondivision games, compared to just +1.3 within the division.
One player that can’t seem to figure out the Boston southpaw? Mike Trout. The Angels center fielder is just 3-for-21 against Price, with three singles and 10 strikeouts. — Mark Gallant
Potential Fireworks: Speaking of that Angels offense, they lead all of baseball in the following categories:
- Average (.291)
- Slugging (.482)
- OBP (.825)
- HRs (26)
- RBIs (97)
- Hits (174)
- Runs (103)
While the Angels’ offense has played lights out, the Red Sox have also raked all season. Boston leads MLB in OBP (on-base percentage) at .348 and ranks second behind only the Angels in average, OBP, hits and runs. The Sox do trail significantly in home runs, as they only have 13 on the season, which ranks 24th in MLB.
The pitching matchup might get all of the press, but offense might steal the show. I’d take a long look at the over 7.5 runs. — Stuckey
An April Treat: This will be just the 11th meeting since 2005 between two teams with a winning percentage of .800 or greater. In the previous 10 games, the team getting a majority of moneyline bets went 7-3. — John Ewing