Baseball returns for a fully loaded slate on Sunday with an insane 17-game schedule. All 30 MLB teams are in action to close the week, with four different teams gathering for some fun double header action.
Bad weather and odd decision-making (we’re looking at you, Orioles vs. Nats) derailed a few games earlier this week, and we’re getting those games made up before Monday rolls around. There is obviously a ton of action to keep tabs on with so many games and the schedule fires off early, with the first game blasting away at 1:07 pm ET in Toronto.
On top of the volume, we get some serious quality on this slate, with stud aces lie Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Jake Arrieta all hunting for wins. Let’s gauge how they all might fare while we also take a look at which games offer the most MLB betting value:
The Mariners and Jays meet up again in Toronto on Sunday, as Ariel Miranda and Aaron Sanchez both seek wins. Sanchez will be aiming for his first victory of the season, while Ariel Miranda will hope to find steadier ground after a brutal showing in his last game.
Miranda was not on point in his last contest, where the Phillies had their way (8 runs) against the 28-year old southpaw. Miranda has had some solid moments this year, however, but has not enjoyed much luck on the road (8.10 ERA across four starts). Things could even out in Toronto, as the Jays are still without key players and haven’t exhibited much reliable power (24th in home runs) against left-handed pitching.
On the other side we get the 24-year old Sanchez, who has delivered mixed results through three starts. Sanchez’s last trip to the mound was shortened due to a finger ailment, but he should be ready to rock against a Seattle offense he contained in 2016 (1.50 ERA) in six frames. He might not have that much luck again when we consider the Mariners’ power, or the fact that they shred righties (2nd in the majors).
There is not a safe spot to roll here, but the offense we trust more is Seattle’s. The pitching is passable, though, so we’ll go with the Mariners and take the Under.
Fans can expect some fireworks in this Indians/Twins rivalry series, as we get some potentially shaky pitching on the mound in Hector Santiago and Trevor Bauer. Santiago has actually kept things together pretty well in 2017, but gives up a ton of hard contact that could be problematic against a powerful Indians offense. Bauer, meanwhile, has been shaky for most of the year and could be in just as much trouble.
We can’t say for sure Santiago won’t contain Cleveland in this spot, as Cleveland (24th) has been one of the worst offenses against southpaws this year. Santiago was not great against The Tribe a year ago (0-2, 4.58 ERA), but their struggles against left-handed pitching and his ability to contain games to this point could give him a chance to earn his fifth win of the young season.
Bauer projects as an even more volatile arm, simply because he hasn’t done a good job managing games like Santiago has. Minnesota has not been great against righties this year, but has plenty of power to take over any matchup. Bauer did handle these Twins earlier this year (2.84 ERA), but a nasty 8.18 ERA at home makes him a troubling arm to get behind.
This one could go either way, and while the matchup isn’t ideal for the Twins, we just don’t trust Bauer. The value the Twins provide makes them a solid try and the offensive upside promotes the Over.
R.A. Dickey hopes to burn the Marlins with his knuckleball on Sunday, while Dan Straily aims to pick up where he left off in his last start. Dickey enters this matchup as purely an innings eater, as he’s been extremely prone to give up the long ball (8 homers allowed already) and has given up 2+ runs in every single start this year.
There isn’t much hope for Dickey to turn back the clock and let a gem rip, as Miami brings a ton of power to the table (13th in dongs versus righties). The only good news is Miami isn’t a great spot for deep balls and Dickey has done a much better job containing home runs (1) on the road.
On the other side we get Straily, who looked solid against the Cardinals (3 hits, 1 earned run) in his last outing. Straily has been solid in some spots this year, but has been getting away with a lot of hard contact lately. He’ll have the comfort of his home stadium (2.38 ERA in Miami) and a winnable matchup in front of him, while he did just fine (2 runs in 5 innings) against Atlanta earlier this year.
The Braves tend to rely on their long ball to produce runs and I’m not sure this road tilt versus Straily is the spot to trust they’ll get hot. Dickey isn’t a locked in starter you can rely on, either, so the best bet seems to be the Marlins.
The Rays hope to have better luck at Fenway Park on Sunday than they did against Chris Sale on Saturday. They could get their wish with Drew Pomeranz toeing the rubber for the Red Sox.
Pomeranz imploded on the road against the Milwaukee Brewers in his last start (6 runs on 7 hits), but he’s been better at home all year and faces a Tampa Bay offense that strikes out quite a bit. They missed plenty against Pomeranz earlier this year, but the hittable southpaw still allowed 5 runs on five hits. If he’s not careful, he could see a repeat of that performance.
Tampa Bay is probably a little more stable on the other side, as Matt Andriese isn’t elite but continues to churn out solid performances. Andriese has quite the assignment in a talented Boston offense in a hitter’s park, especially considering the Bo Sox worked him over pretty good (5.79 ERA) across 18 frames in 2016.
Boston hasn’t provided quite as much power to this point this year, but Andriese is in an undeniably difficult spot. He’s actually sported a better ERA on the road, but this isn’t the time to back him or get cute. Pomeranz remains volatile and will likely give up some runs, but his offense should be up to the task to support him. We’ll back the Sox and chase the Over.
The Phillis and Nats get together again after facing several times already this year. Jeremy “Hellboy” Hellickson will look to keep the long ball in check (5 homers allowed in last two starts) and fare better than he did in his last start, a no-decision versus these Nats.
Hellboy wasn’t terrible against one of the best offenses in the league, but he still gave up two homers and three runs in just four innings. He’s had better luck managing games this year, but much of his success has come at home. He’ll be on the road in this one, where he’s posted a weak 5.06 ERA through 16 innings this year.
We know Washington can get a hold of Hellickson, but they look like an ever safer bet with this matchup going down at home and with the stable Gio Gonzalez toeing the rubber. Gonzalez actually fell apart in his last start (3 homers, 6 runs allowed versus Orioles), but had been managing games at a high level prior to that implosion.
That could set Gio up for a nice bounce back spot, as he’s been pretty unstoppable (1.42 ERA) at home and handled the Phils fairly well (5 hits, 2 runs across 7 innings) earlier this year. The Phillies do have some power we need to worry about, but the pitching matchup lies with the Nats and they tend to be tough at home. We can safely back Washington here and target the Over.
Houston takes on the Yankees for the third time in their current series, as Mike Fiers and Luis Severino prepare to battle after having their Saturday start moved back a day. Fiers is in an undeniably horrible spot, as the 31-year old gas can has been getting slapped around all year and will be on the road against a beastly offense in a hitter’s park.
This is about as bad as it gets, as Fiers has allowed an astonishing 14 dongs in just six starts, and will be facing a Yankees lineup that ranks inside the top five in both homers and batting average against right-handed pitching.
As bad as this looks for Houston on the mound, they might not have a terrible situation for their offense. Luis Severino toes the rubber for the Yanks and carries serious strikeout upside, but the 23-year old righty has proven to be volatile in his young career. He will be facing a dangerous Astros offense that literally ranks #1 against righties on the year.
Houston has a chance here if their bats get hot, but I don’t see a way we can comfortably back Fiers. New York’s bats should wake up after sleeping over the last two games and we expect a New York win. Given the offensive upside and Fiers hitting the mound, the Over will be very much in play.
The Padres and White Sox continue their series in Chicago, as veteran pitcher Jered Weaver tries not to let a soft-hitting White Sox squad abuse him with the long ball. This really isn’t a spot to go against Weaver in an over the top fashion, but the 34-year old righty is notorious for giving up the long ball and has allowed 14 jacks already in 2017.
Chicago could take the lid off of their offense in this one, and we may not even have to try to sell Jose Quintana that hard. San Diego isn’t a world beater offense, to begin with, but Quintana is usually a pretty stable arm and the Padres are terrible (29th) at connecting against southpaws.
Weaver is an easy reason to go against the Padres, but Quintana being on the other side makes this pick beyond obvious. Back the Sox at home and with Weaver on the mound, we can chase the Over without any reluctance.
The Mets and Brewers will go to battle yet again at Miller Park, with the Brew Crew trying to keep their positive momentum rolling after taking down Matt Harvey. Their success could hit the skids, however, as New York forces elite arm Jacob deGrom onto the mound. On the other side we have the at times barely passable Peralta, who has managed games fairly well at times in 2017, but could easily implode against a hard-hitting Mets lineup.
There isn’t much analysis needed for deGrom, who brings major K upside to the table against a team that strikes out as much as anyone. There is some power to deal with when it comes to the Brewers, especially considering they rank tops in the majors in homers versus right-handed pitching.
While Milwaukee is not the easiest assignment, deGrom has the swing-and-miss stuff to win this matchup and he won’t be going up against an elite arm in Peralta. The 28-year old righty has been surprisingly stable this year, but he’s been getting bailed out by an improved offense.
Peralta has not been where the Brewers need him to be, as he’s coughed up 4+ runs in three of his last four starts and is having issues with the long ball. That’s bad news going into this matchup, as the Mets rank 10th in dongs against righties.
Milwaukee could threaten at home, but the pitching matchup favors the Mets and the offensive splits don’t hurt them, either. This park and these offenses put the Over in play, but the safe bet is backing New York.
Opening day starter Kevin Gausman has largely been awful this season for the Orioles, but he showed signs of possibly turning things around in his most recent start. He stifled a potent Nationals lineup to the tune of just two runs on five hits in seven innings in a 6-4 victory. The eight strikeouts were also encouraging considering he hadn’t whiffed more than four hitters in any of his previous starts this year. He’s in a great spot today to keep the good times rolling today against a Royals lineup that isn’t scaring anybody. Kansas City is last in the league in runs scored, and Kauffman Stadium favors pitchers.
Chris Young has been forced into the rotation, and he made his first start of the year last week in Tampa. The veteran made it just three innings and coughed up four runs on seven hits with another four walks. He’s a soft tosser that gives up lots of fly balls and doesn’t miss many bats. Kauffman isn’t an ideal setting for hitters, but the Orioles’ bats are in a prime spot against a vulnerable pitcher today.
We’ll take the O’s and hope Gausman can build off of his most recent solid outing.
Jake Arrieta sure doesn’t look like a guy that won a Cy Young Award two years ago. Since a stellar outing against these Cardinals in his first game of 2017, Arrieta has given up at least three earned runs in every start. He lasted just 3.2 innings and gave up five runs on nine hits last time out against the Rockies. The Cardinals’ offense has improved tremendously since the last time they saw Arrieta. He’s historically been an excellent ground ball pitcher, but his GB% so far this season is way down to 38.9%. Last season, it was 52.6%.
Speaking of struggling aces, Adam Wainwright is clearly well beyond the prime of his career. The 35-year-old has given up four earned runs in three consecutive outings and hasn’t pitched beyond the seventh inning one time this year. He’s had plenty of bad luck (.422 BABIP allowed), but we know he’s not a very good pitcher at this stage of his career. Fortunately for him, the Cubs’ lineup is incredibly banged-up right now. Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist all sat out Saturday’s game.
We’re going to need to see Arrieta flash some form before backing him. We certainly don’t trust Wainwright in the least, either, but at least he’ll get the chance to work against what may be a watered-down lineup in an extreme pitcher’s environment. The Cards as a home ‘dog look solid.
Kendall Graveman throws exactly one pitch, but if it works, why throw anything else? He’s relied almost exclusively on his sinker so far this season, and for the most part it’s been incredibly successful. Graveman stifled the Angels in his last start, holding the Halos to just a pair of runs on seven hits in seven innings. Aside from one poor outing against the Twins, Graveman hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any start. That includes his second outing of the season that came at Globe Life Park against these Rangers. That night, he allowed just a run on two hits in seven innings.
Texas will counter with former Athletic AJ Griffin. Griffin has four wins and the Rangers have won all five of his starts, but look at his run support. Texas has scored 46 runs in Griffin’s five starts, which certainly helps inflate that record. Really, he’s not that good a pitcher. He did throw a complete game shutout in San Diego last time out, but he’s been pitching way over his head so far. The 38% hard contact rate is atrocious, and the .197 wOBA against righties can’t stay that low all year long. The BABIP against him of .200 will also rise before long.
We like the Athletics here. Texas is favored, but we think Griffin is fool’s gold. Graveman will turn in another outstanding effort.
A pair of promising young arms take the mound today in downtown Denver. Julio Urias, fresh off his no-hit bid last week against the Pirates, will take the ball for the Dodgers opposite impressive rookie Antonio Senzatela for the Rockies.
LA has been extremely careful with Urias so far, and it’s understandable. He’s still only 20, and they don’t want his arm to fall off due to an overly ambitious workload by the time he’s 25. He had been on a pretty strict 90-pitch limit, but Dave Roberts let him throw 95 in 6.1 innings against the Pirates. As a result of the pitch count, we can’t reasonably expect him to pitch very deep into games. His lone appearance at Coors Field last year didn’t go well, as he lasted just three innings while surrendering six runs.
Antonio Senzatela just keeps going out there every fifth day and getting the job done. He’s not exactly blowing teams away with insane strikeout stuff, but he keeps the ball on the ground and the 23.7% hard contact rate he’s allowed is incredibly low. The .237 BABIP against him figures to come up a bit, but Senzatela has done a fabulous job of keeping hitters off-balance. The Dodgers hit right-handers well as a team, and their several lefty bats could give Senzatela some issues.
These pitchers may both have bright futures, but we aren’t in the future. We’re in the now. Urias is the better of the two, though, so we’ll give the Dodgers the slight edge in what should be another Coors Field shootout.
Now that the Tigers lineup is mostly healthy, Angels right-hander Alex Meyer could be in store for a tough afternoon. He’s looked like a solid strikeout arm in the minors, but he’s had issues missing bats thus far at the next level. He failed to get past four innings in each of his first two starts of the season, and last time out against Oakland Meyer surrendered a pair of homers to Yonder Alonso. The 18.8% walk rate has gotten him into tons of trouble so far, as well. In 13 innings so far, Meyer has already walked 12.
The Angel bats will have to turn around and deal with Justin Verlander. It hasn’t been the smoothest start to 2017 for the Tigers’ ace, but he eats innings and typically doesn’t give up a whole lot. Aside from one disastrous start in Cleveland in mid-April, last year’s AL Cy Young runner-up has given up more than three earned runs just once. His strikeouts are down and his walks are up, but we can expect both numbers to go in opposite directions before long. If he can work his way around Mike Trout, there’s no reason to expect Verlander won’t enjoy a solid afternoon.
The pitching matchup here favors Detroit in a big way. Side with the Tigers.
Most tend to think of Tim Adleman as just a guy, but he may be one of the better starters on the Reds’ staff. That’s not really saying a lot, of course, as Cincy’s staff isn’t particularly good, but Adleman is decent enough. He’ll usually give up a handful of runs along the way, but the righty is a solid strikeout arm and he’ll benefit from pitching in the friendly confines of AT&T Park today.
Samardzija put a couple of strong starts together before getting lambasted last time out in New York. The Mets blasted The Shark for six runs on 10 hits in seven innings of work. He did strike out nine, but it was a discouraging outing for the most part. He’s always been a decent strikeout arm, but the 28.7% K-rate he’s flashed so far in 2017 is due for some regression. Samardzija will be facing a Reds lineup that doesn’t strike out much against righties. Their 20.4% strikeout rate as a team vs. RHP is 8th-best in baseball.
As is usually the case with a game at AT&T Park, we’re not expecting runs to come across in bunches here. The Reds make for a very interesting road underdog play in this spot. The game is essentially a toss-up.
Ivan Nova just keeps giving the Pirates solid start after solid start. He wound up taking a no-decision last time out against the Dodgers, but he held LA to just two runs on seven hits in 6.1 innings of work. Nova is a guy that pitches to contact and relies on inducing weak grounders. Strikeouts aren’t really his thing, but his command has been excellent to start the season. In fact, Nova’s two walks against the Dodgers were just the second and third free passes he’s handed out all year. Chase Field is a tough setting in which to pitch, however. If he can keep the ball on the ground he should be in fine shape.
If Robbie Ray can start harnessing his stuff he’s going to be an incredibly tough pitcher to hit. For now, though, he’s a guy that racks up tons of strikeouts but also walks people like crazy. Ray walked five Tigers in his last start, which was the sixth time in seven starts he’s walked multiple hitters. Having strikeout stuff clearly helps him limit major damage, but he adds plenty of unnecessary stress for himself by putting so many runners on base. Fortunately, the Pirates lineup he’ll be facing this afternoon has been awful this season. The Bucs have a few bats that can hit lefties, but Ray shouldn’t have much trouble mowing them down.
The implied total for games in this ballpark is always high, though it wouldn’t be too surprising to see both teams struggle to string much offense together here. We’re still going to side with the more potent Diamondbacks at home, but we aren’t expecting an offensive explosion.
Velasquez was originally slated to start Saturday, but the Phils pushed him back to Sunday and threw Nick Pivetta yesterday. Things didn’t go very smoothly for Vince Velasquez when he faced the Nationals last week. Sure he struck out eight, but he also coughed up six runs on seven, hits, including a pair of dongs to Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon. This Washington lineup is incredibly tough to navigate considering all the power bats they have, though Velasquez should benefit a bit from pitching in a better pitcher’s park here tonight. Against the Nats, though, that may not even matter.
The Phillies bats will have to deal with Mad Max. Scherzer faced Philadelphia back in his first start of the year when he struck out seven over 6.2 innings and allowed two runs along the way. He’s now whiffed 11 hitters in back-to-back outings against the Diamondbacks and Orioles, so it’s safe to say the defending NL Cy Young winner is rounding into form nicely.
With Scherzer taking the mound, the Nats are one of the biggest favorites on the board. No reason to get cute here. Take Washington.
The Yankees and Astros will conclude their weekend series and Sunday doubleheader on Sunday Night Baseball. The resurgent Charlie Morton will take the mound for Houston opposite Yanks opening day starter Masa Tanaka.
Morton has been a real find thus far for the Astros. He’s always been one of baseball’s best ground ball pitchers, but so far this year he’s also had the strikeout pitch working. His velocity has been up a couple of ticks, which has really taken him to the next level. Outside of a rough start in Tampa in late April, Morton has given the Astros some very solid innings. Over his last three outings against the Braves, Rangers and A’s, the 33-year-old has racked up 25 strikeouts and surrendered just six earned runs.
Tanaka’s 2017 got off to a ragged start but he’s pitched better overall over the last few weeks. He was knocked around a bit last time out in Cincinnati, but he still allowed just three earned runs despite yielding 10 hits, including a homer. After posting a strikeout rate north of 20% in each of his first three big league seasons, Tanaka’s K-rate is down to 17.4% so far this year. On the bright side, his ground ball rate is way up and he’s not giving up a ton of hard contact.
This could be a pitcher’s duel tonight. We’ll give the slight edge to Morton here, simply because he seems to profile better against a relatively inexperienced Yankees lineup than Tanaka does against a deep and powerful Astros group. Don’t expect tons of runs here, though.
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