Zerillo’s MLB Daily Betting Model, Aug. 16: Bet With the House on Houser vs. Nationals?

Zerillo’s MLB Daily Betting Model, Aug. 16: Bet With the House on Houser vs. Nationals? article feature image

Benny Sieu, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Adrian Houser

  • 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 Friday's slate of games, including how to bet Brewers-Nationals (7:05 p.m. ET) and Indians-Yankees (7:05 p.m. ET).
  • Plug in your odds to the spreadsheet at the bottom of this article to see where you might have an edge.

Following Thursday’s dramatic victory, with Bryce Harper drilling a walk-off grand slam into the upper atmosphere, the Phillies (63-58) will need to regroup for a series against the Brewers (63-58).

The two teams are tied for third place in the NL Wild Card standings, each sitting a game behind the Cubs and 2.5 games off of the Nationals.

Can the Phillies continue their “Charlie Manuel Magic” into the weekend, or will the Brewers upend a team coming off of an emotional win?

Recapping Yesterday’s MLB Model

At writing yesterday, the model would have gone 2-0 against full-game moneylines and 1-0 against moneylines for the first five innings (F5).

My plays went 2-2-1, and I finished up 0.26 units for the day.

It was a mixed day in terms of generating Closing Line Value (CLV).

I gained six cents against the two sides that I played but lost five cents against the three totals that I played.

MLB Betting Model for Friday, August 16

All odds as of Friday morning (view live MLB odds). Stay tuned on Twitter or follow me in The Action Network App for my entire betting card for Friday.

Today, the model recommends three full-game moneylines and three moneylines for the first five innings (F5).

As of writing, the 3.5% trigger threshold officially marked the Brewers, Marlins, and Orioles as full-game plays. The model also likes the same teams as F5 plays.

However, I was able to lock in Cleveland and San Diego at prices where they showed some value, so I’ll comment briefly as to why I did so.

Aaron Civale is the latest achievement in Cleveland’s pitching development pipeline.

He doesn’t profile as a high-strikeout pitcher, but he has slowly increased his velocity and command throughout his time in the minor leagues, and his wicked two-seam fastball certainly plays at the MLB level:

He also relies on a cutter/slider hybrid which is becoming more frequent these days, and a big 12-6 curveball which, like his fastball, has a very high spin rate.

Civale primarily lives up in the zone – leaving him vulnerable to the home run ball if he misses his target.

Though he might ultimately profile as little more than a back-end starter – Civale is certainly more talented than yesterday’s starter, Adam Plutko.

As for Chris Paddack and the Padres, the rookie started out hot but has seemingly regressed as the season has gone on:

Even still, Paddack’s 4.10 FIP and 4.13 xFIP places him ahead of Vince Velasquez, who was thrust into the Phillies rotation on June 13 (5.04 FIP, 4.58 xFIP since).

Both offenses rank in the bottom half of the league both for the season and over the past two months, with the Padres (94 wRC+) grading out slightly ahead of the Phillies (91 wRC+) since July 1.

Per FIP, the Padres have had a top-five bullpen this season, while the Phillies rank 25th. Since July 1, they rank third and 20th respectively.

I don’t see an area, other than Charlie Manuel’s presence, where the Phillies have the edge in Friday’s game. I show the Padres as a 51% favorite and would continue to take them at plus-money.

Now that we’ve covered those teams, let’s discuss Adrian Houser and the Brewers – who I bet in both halves tonight against Patrick Corbin and the Nationals.

Houser was electric as a relief pitcher earlier in the 2019 season, serving as the bridge to Josh Hader. But Houser was so effective that the team gave him a few cracks in the rotation, and his most recent start against Texas was his best yet (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 10 K):

As you can see, all but one of those strikeouts came by way of the fastball – either of the four-seam or two-seam variety.

Houser throws his fastballs a combined 66.4% of the time; 33.2% for either – so exact that it has to be intentional, right?

The pitch value on the sinker (+8.4) grades out much better than the four-seam fastball (+0.9), but each of his changeup, curveball, and slider have returned a negative value.

Scouting reports are pretty accurate, then. His fastball was graded as a 60, or a plus-pitch, while his changeup was the only other offering to receive even an average rating.

What I really like about Houser is his ground-ball rate (54.5%) and Statcast metrics (.286 xwOBA, 86.1 mph exit velocity), which places him ahead of Patrick Corbin (.299 xwOBA, 89.7 mph exit velocity).

I’m not saying that Houser is a better pitcher than Corbin by any means, nor do I think that he will ever reach Corbin’s level.

But he is extremely effective, and at his best can go toe for toe with the Nationals $140 million signing.

Of deeper concern for me actually is the Nationals bullpen, as Josh Hader is in the biggest rut of his career. The lefty has allowed four home runs in his last six appearances.

Hader’s fastball is an anomaly because there isn’t anything particularly noteworthy about his fastball behind the scenes.

For whatever reason, batters swing through the pitch at an alarming rate, chasing it up and out of the zone at a tremendous frequency, even though they know that it’s coming.

That fastball velocity has dipped of late, and as you can see, the frequency at which batters chase Hader’s fastball outside of the zone tracks decently well with the fastball velocity:

The hypothesis is that Hader’s funky release point creates the inherent, unquantifiable deceptiveness which allows the pitch to blow away hitters:

So if Hader’s release point is different, but the pitch maintains its below-average spin rate and slightly above average velocity, it would probably affect his performance, right?

Well, I see some concerning signs with regards to Hader’s horizontal release point, which is 0.7 feet below it’s peak in 2018; not only with regards to his future performance, but it could also portend an injury in his future:

I certainly hope not, but it’s nevertheless a trend worth watching.

Bets (So Far) for August 16

  • Cleveland Indians (+142) Game Moneyline
  • Milwaukee Brewers (+143) F5 Moneyline
  • Milwaukee Brewers (+139) Game Moneyline
  • San Diego Padres (+114) Game Moneyline
  • Under 10 (-110), Dodgers at Braves
  • Under 9 (-110), Astros at Athletics
  • Over 4.5 (-125), Minnesota Twins Team Total

Stay tuned on Twitter or follow me in The Action Network App for my entire betting card for Friday, August 16.

Zerillo’s Full MLB Model, 8/16

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.

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