Zerillo’s MLB Daily Betting Model, Sept. 13: Can Indians Inch Closer to Twins in AL Central?
Richard Mackson, USA Today Sports.
- 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 the Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians (7:10 p.m. ET).
- Plug in your odds to the spreadsheet at the bottom of this article to see where you might have an edge.
As of Friday morning, the Cleveland Indians (86-61) are just 3.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins (89-57) for the AL Central lead; with a chance to erase that deficit with a home sweep in this weekend series.
The Twins are limping to the finish line, losing Byron Buxton for the season to injury and Michael Pineda due to a PED suspension, and starters Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez have been out of form for a couple of months.
The Twins are 6-5 in September with a -6 run differential. Meanwhile, the Indians are 7-4, with a +15 differential, and have a 9-7 record in the head to head (67-63 on runs) against the Twins this year.
FanGraphs gives the Indians a 6% chance of storming back to win the AL Central with 15 games to go. FiveThirtyEight places those odds at 11%.
Can they win their fourth consecutive division title, or will the Twins hold onto their lead, and win the Central for the first time since 2010?
Recapping Yesterday’s MLB Model
At writing yesterday, the model would have gone 0-4 against full-game moneylines and 0-4-1 against moneylines for the first five innings (F5).
My plays went 2-7, and I finished down 2.65 units for the day.
MLB Betting Model for Friday, Sept. 13
Today, the model recommends six full-game moneylines and eight moneylines for the first five innings (F5).
As of writing, the 3.5% trigger threshold officially marked the Blue Jays, Indians, Padres, Pirates, Rangers and Royals as full-game plays. The model also likes the same teams, in addition to the Marlins and Mariners as F5 plays.
I went against my projected line value on the Rangers, playing the Oakland Athletics on the moneyline against yet another left-handed starter.
Their updated 2019 trends:
- Moneyline vs. LHP: 27-12 (69.2%, +$1,195)
- F5 Moneyline vs. LHP: 25-10-4 (71.4%, +$1,163)
- F5 Spread vs. LHP: 27-10 (73%, +$1,331)
Go back to July 1, 2018, and the Athletics are 46-21 (68.6%, +$1,993) on the full-game moneyline against left-handed starters and 41-19-7 (68.3%, +$1,778) on the F5 moneyline.
Oakland opened as a -155 favorite and has been bet up to -180; the same price in both halves.
I don’t typically lay more than -160 on any MLB bet; so I would note that they have also excelled against lefties on the F5 spread: 44-21 (67.6%, +1,739) starting in July of last season.
Their team wRC+ against lefties is 116 over that span – 3rd in MLB (behind the Astros and Yankees).
Another interesting trend for Friday? The Braves are a late-season underdog traveling west to east:
This trend has been stagnant for a few seasons (21-35, 37.5% from 2015-2018) but has rebounded with a 7-0 record so far this season.
If anything, I see some line value on Scherzer and the Nationals, and this isn’t a trend that I would blindly play; but it’s certainly something worth watching.
Amongst the recommended plays, I selected each of the Blue Jays, Indians, Mariners, Padres and Pirates.
Masahiro Tanaka will face Toronto. On September 8, I discussed his declining fastball velocity, swinging-strike rate, and strikeout-minus-walk rate.
Anthony Kay, the Mets 2016 first-round pick and one of two pieces included in the Marcus Stroman trade, will take the mound for the Blue Jays.
The lefty projects as a mid-rotation starter, with a high-spin fastball that touches the mid-90s, a plus curveball, and a solid changeup.
The curveball has become his better secondary offering in professional baseball, but the changeup was considered his best pitch in college (UCONN) and it generated four swinging strikes in his first start against the Rays.
As of writing, just 22% of the moneyline tickets are behind the Blue Jays on Friday night, but more than 54% of the cash is on the underdog. Kay looks like a surefire sleeper, heading a new-look Blue Jays rotation into 2019.
I fired on them at two different prices, one of the two bets that I liked the most on Friday.
The other bet is on the Indians, who I’m siding with the public on. As of writing, 36% of the tickets and 48% of the cash is behind the Twins in what amounts to a pick’em.
Cleveland opened as a -115 favorite and was bet down to plus-money before the line settled at its current level. My fair odds suggest that they should be lined around -120 for Friday.
At first glance, Aaron Civale’s stat line screams regression, with a .267 BABIP, 78.4% strand rate, and a HR/9 rate of 0.39. However, Civale allowed very few home runs in the minor leagues, and his batted ball data at the MLB level is elite:
Civale has allowed one barrel (and two home runs) on the year. While his strikeout rate is subpar, he ranks in the 86th percentile or higher in fastball and curveball spin rates, exit velocity, expected wOBA, expected slugging and hard-hit rate.
He has excellent command over his arsenal, and the high spin rates allow his below-average pitch velocity to play up.
On September 7, I showed how Civale tunnels his cutter (29.6%) and sinker (36.6%) together. The two-seam fastball has serious movement,but the changeup has the highest swinging strike rate (41%) amongst his offerings:
Civale’s ERA is obviously due to regress from its current sub 2.00 mark, but his batted ball data and spin rates suggest that he is exactly the type of pitcher who can defy standard advanced metrics.
He doesn’t beat himself by walking batters, and the contact that he allows is significantly weaker than you would expect.
Bets (so far) for Sept. 13
- Cleveland Indians (+105) Game Moneyline (1 unit)
- Oakland Athletics (-160) Game Moneyline
- Pittsburgh Pirates (+163) Game Moneyline
- San Diego Padres (-116) Game Moneyline
- Seattle Mariners (-137) F5 Moneyline
- Toronto Blue Jays (+178) and (+192) Game Moneyline (1 unit total)
- Over 9.5 (-110), Baltimore at Detroit
- Under 8 (-120), LA Dodgers at NY Mets
Zerillo’s Full MLB Model, 9/13
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.