Zerillo’s MLB Daily Betting Model, Aug. 18: How to Play Astros-Athletics
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve
- Sean Zerillo's MLB model helps you find edges when betting moneylines and over/unders for the full game and first five (F5) innings.
- He analyzes Sunday's slate of games, including how to bet Cardinals-Reds (1:05 p.m. ET) and Astros-Athletics (4:07 p.m. ET).
- Plug in your odds to the spreadsheet at the bottom of this article to see where you might have an edge.
On Saturday, the Brewers and Nationals played one of the most exciting games of the 2019 season.
Per The Action Network App, both teams had multiple instances when they had an 85%+ chance to win as a result of major situational changes throughout the Brewers 15-14 win:
- Top 3rd, Brewers lead 5-0 (94% chance to win)
- Bottom 6th, Brewers lead 8-5 (86% chance to win)
- Bottom 7th, Nationals lead 11-8 (99% chance to win)
- Bottom 9th, Brewers lead 12-11 (85% chance to win)
- Bottom 9th, tied 12-12 (Nationals 95% chance to win)
- Bottom 14th, Brewers lead 15-13 (94% chance to win)
- Bottom 14th, Brewers lead 15-14 (66% chance to win)
In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Nationals had the winning run on third base with no outs and struck out three times.
In the bottom of the 15th inning, the Nationals had the tying run on second base and the winning run on first base, but couldn’t get the hit that they needed to knot the game up again.
The game was so good, Jack White and the Racounteurs came to see it twice:
Recapping Yesterday’s MLB Model
At writing yesterday, the model would have gone 0-3 against full-game moneylines and 0-1 against moneylines for the first five innings (F5).
My plays went 1-4-1 and I finished down 1.49 units for the day.
It was a slightly negative day in terms of generating Closing Line Value (CLV).
I lost 11 cents on the three sides that I played, but of the three totals that I played, two moved in my direction. The Yankees under dropped by a full run, from 11 to 10, while the Athletics under dropped by a half run, from 10.5 to 10.
MLB Betting Model for Sunday, August 18
Today, the model recommends four full-game moneylines and two moneylines for the first five innings (F5).
As of writing, the 3.5% trigger threshold officially marked the Cubs, Marlins, Orioles, and Reds as full-game plays. The model also likes the Giants and Orioles as F5 plays.
A bet on the Reds involves betting on southpaw starter Alex Wood, who was acquired by Cincinnati in the Yasiel Puig with the Dodgers last December.
Wood, a pending free agent, was an All-Star as recently as 2017 when he went 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA (3.32 FIP, 3.34 xFIP), and he backed that up with a strong 2018 season (3.53 FIP, 3.72 xFIP), but dealt with recurring injuries and was moved to the bullpen late last season.
It’s pretty clear that, as Wood’s sinker velocity started to decline, so too has his performance:
He dealt with a recurring back injury earlier this year, limiting him to just four starts thus far, but not all is bad under the hood.
Wood’s first-pitch strike rate (71.1%) is elite, and his 10.1% swinging-strike rate is passable, especially given his career 49.3% groundball rate.
Wood has increased his groundball rate in each of his four starts this year, from 13.3% to 33.3%, 57.1%, and 62.5%.
He has maintained a similar velocity and pitch mix (roughly 45% sinker, 30% changeup, 25% slider) as in 2018, and I see every reason to believe that, after four turns through the rotation, we should see Wood close to that form today.
Alex Wood, 90mph Fastball (called strike) and 85mph Changeup (swinging K), Overlay. pic.twitter.com/b6fDcgQAPZ
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 15, 2018
Wood’s 2018 metrics place him in comparable territory to Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty, who owns a 3.43 ERA, 3.90 FIP, and 3.72 xFIP since the beginning of the 2018 season.
As a result, I view the Reds fair odds closer to +120 than +150 for today.
I also wagered the Astros game spread for today, despite the odds opening at a fair price on either side.
This play is about the Astros and their offense, which, as I have mentioned before, is one of the best offenses against left-handed pitching of all time.
Houston has maintained a 136 wRC+ against lefty pitchers in 2019, easily the best mark of any team dating back to 2002 (Dodgers, 128 wRC+).
Since July 1, Houston ranks second against lefties with a higher mark (147 wRC+), behind only the Yankees (164 wRC+).
Certainly, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and George Springer are all name brand All-Stars, but you would be amazed at what Yuli Gurriel has done since June 23: .382/.422/.809 triple-slash line (1.231 OPS) over 187 plate appearances, with 14 doubles, 20 HR, and 53 RBI.
After making a slight tweak to his stance, Gurriel is hitting the ball harder than ever before:
We are also running out of superlatives for rookie slugger Yordan Alvarez, who has a 202 wRC+ and six home runs against lefties.
Yordan Alvarez has 55 RBI through his 1st 52 career games.
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) August 17, 2019
The 22-year-old Cuban is already an upper-tier MLB hitter, and reminds me of David Ortiz.
Alvarez ranks third in barrels per batted ball event (12.1%), behind Nelson Cruz and Gary Sanchez but ahead of Mike Trout and Joey Gallo, and should run away with the AL Rookie of the Year award.
It’s a relatively small sample, but Astros hitters are 30-for-67 with eight doubles and four homers against Brett Anderson, and I don’t think that the pitcher with the lowest strikeout rate in MLB (12.2%) is a good match for this Astros offense.
Bets (So Far) for August 18
- Chicago Cubs (-148) Game Moneyline
- Cincinnati Reds (+149) Game Moneyline
- Houston Astros, -1.5 (-110) Game Spread
- Under 10.5 (-112), Padres at Phillies
- Under 10.5 (-110), Dodgers at Braves
Zerillo’s Full MLB Model, 8/18
Download the Excel doc with my projections to input odds from your sportsbook. These projections cover the full game and First 5 moneylines and over/unders. A sample of one of the sheets is below.