Zerillo’s MLB Daily Betting Model, Aug. 21: Will J.A. Happ Tame Oakland’s Lineup?

Zerillo’s MLB Daily Betting Model, Aug. 21: Will J.A. Happ Tame Oakland’s Lineup? article feature image

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New York Yankees pitcher J.A. Happ (34).

  • 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 Wednesday's slate of games, including how to bet White Sox-Twins (1:10 p.m. ET) and Brewers-Cardinals (7:45 p.m. ET).
  • Plug in your odds to the spreadsheet at the bottom of this article to see where you might have an edge.

By traditional stats, Lucas Giolito (13-6, 3.41 ERA) and Jake Odorizzi (13-5, 3.50 ERA) are having comparable seasons for two AL Central clubs at different stages of contention.

The Twins (77-49) lead the AL Central by three games over Cleveland, while the White Sox (56-69) were above .500 through May (and are 10-9 in August) but are pacing for fewer wins (73) than Minnesota has currently.

If you dig a little deeper into the two starters, you’ll see that the White Sox have a big edge in the pitching matchup this afternoon — which is why I’ll be backing Giolito and the South Siders for the third consecutive day.

On Tuesday, the Twins were gifted some help in the form of a rally squirrel, who launched a vicious attack on the White Sox dugout:

Good to see Jeff McNeil's rehab going so well. pic.twitter.com/BpyiHweG6c

— Cut4 (@Cut4) August 21, 2019

Thankfully, Statcast was able to give us a scouting report on the little guy, and we learned that he has 80-grade speed:

His route efficiency could stand to improve with some coaching.

Could “Rally T. Squirrel” (I’m calling him that) become the next social media star to sign a contract with an MLB team?

Your move, Twins.

Recapping Yesterday’s MLB Model

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

My plays went 4-5-1, and I finished down 0.77 units for the day.

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

I gained 19 cents overall against the sides that I played and saw both totals move in my direction by one half of a run.

MLB Betting Model for Wednesday, August 21

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

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


As of writing, the 3.5% trigger threshold officially marked the Diamondbacks, Indians, Mariners, Marlins and White Sox as full-game plays. The model also likes the Brewers and White Sox as F5 plays.

Let’s jump right back into this Giolito vs. Odorizzi matchup:

One data point I left off is xwOBA on contact, where Giolito has the slightest of edges (.367 vs. .373). When you combine this fact with their nearly identical exit velocity and hard contact rates, and account for the fact that Giolito had an identical xwOBA on contact in 2018, it paints a more complete picture.

Both pitchers have improved their control over the strike zone this season; Giolito has just reached a higher point after starting at a greater deficit.

Odorizzi is having a career year, achieving his personal best strikeout-minus-walk rate (up 3.4% from 2018), swinging-strike rate (up 2% from 2018) and fastball velocity (93.1 mph, up 1.8 mph from 2018).

For Giolito, the former No. 1 overall pitching prospect in MLB, the gains have been even more substantial.

He was one of the worst pitchers in baseball in 2018 (5.56 FIP, 5.46 xFIP in 173.1 IP) but has made strides across his entire profile this year.

And, like Odorizzi, his average fastball velocity is up nearly two mph to a career-high of 94.5 mph, lining up with the increase in strikeout rate.

The double-helix formed by Giolito’s swinging-strike and walk rates shows you just how frustrating his development has been — but at the age of 25, he finally appears to have broken out.

I also like how he’s attacking left-handed hitters, increasing his changeup usage against lefties by 10% over 2018, while reducing his combined breaking ball usage against them by 7%.

Lucas Giolito's changeup turned Cody into Jellinger. #AllStarGame pic.twitter.com/fI6B5VFVtZ

— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) July 10, 2019

As an aside, it’s interesting to me that Giolito’s changeup and slider have maintained the same velocity from the 2017 and 2018 seasons as he gets significantly more out of his fastball.

I like the price on the White Sox for Wednesday and played them both on the F5 and full-game moneyline.

As a bonus, they fit a few profitable Bet Labs systems for Wednesday, including one of my favorites:

The above system is 51-51 in 2019, generating a profit of nearly 25 units.

As for the Brewers F5 line, I discussed Adrian Houser on August 16, and he didn’t disappoint, leaving the game tied at 1-1 after battling Patrick Corbin and the Nationals for seven innings:

Adrian Houser, Filthy 94mph Back Door Two Seamer. 🤮 pic.twitter.com/4adasJMFFW

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 17, 2019

I also featured Josh Hader in that article, and he gave up two walks and another run in his only appearance since then.

The Brewers have also allowed 45 runs in their five games beginning on August 16, and their bullpen has been overworked, throwing 22.2 innings in those five games. I’ll just stick with Houser in the first half of the game.

The Indians were flagged as a model play for Wednesday, but I think that this is a particularly bad environment for Adam Plutko and his 47.5% flyball rate, with double-digit wind speeds blowing straight out at Citi Field.

Plutko has allowed 41 home runs in his first 151.2 MLB innings (2.43 HR/9) — one of the only four pitchers (Dylan Bundy, David Hess and Dan Straily) to average more than two home runs per nine innings since the beginning of 2018.

Marcus Stroman, with his career 59% groundball rate, is the type of pitcher who should remain unbothered with the wind blowing out.

Bets (so far) for August 21

  • Arizona Diamondbacks (-102) Game Moneyline
  • Chicago White Sox (+155) F5 Moneyline
  • Chicago White Sox (+162) Game Moneyline
  • Milwaukee Brewers (+100) F5 Moneyline
  • Oakland Athletics (-112) Game Moneyline
  • Under 8.5 (-120), Mariners at Rays
  • Over 9 (-118), Marlins at Braves

Stay tuned on Twitter or follow me in The Action Network App for my entire betting card for Wednesday, August 21.

Zerillo’s Full MLB Model, 8/21

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.

How would you rate this article?