This article is part of our MLB Betting series.
Previous day: 1-2, -2.71 RWBucks
Season: 61-80-1, -27.31 RWBucks
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Whoops, sorry about that. You know, writers need pine tar, too. Keyboards get slippery.
You've probably heard that starting next week, MLB will be checking pitchers for grip-enhancement substances – I just can't bring myself to say "sticky stuff" – many times a game. It's stop-and-frisk brought to baseball.
My position is that the use of these substances has likely held back offense a little bit, but far less than the current paranoia would have you believe. I have said a few times that it's probably worth 1-2 points of wOBA league-wide, with the effect on the game likely to show up in walk rates as much as anything else. This is particularly likely since MLB seems determined to police the entire range of substances, down to the sunscreen/rosin combination that was common and is considered fairly benign.
What we've been seeing a lot in the last few weeks is overreactions to small sample sizes. "Smith's spin rate is down 88 rpm on his fastball! Burn the witch!" As someone who is a B student when it comes to Statcast data, I have tried to be careful to avoid leaping to conclusions based on these changes, and I haven't integrated any of this into my picks here. I think we are about to learn a lot about the global effects of these substances, but at the individual level, the data will be noisy. There's an expression I use a lot..."variance swamps everything"...that will be important to remember over the next month. Some guys will stop using stuff and see their spin rates change. Some guys never used and will see their spin rates change. Some guys will stop and see their spin rates stay mostly the same.
On to tonight's picks.
There have been at least nine runs scored in every one of Matt Harvey's last five starts, and eight of his 13 starts overall this year. On the flip side, Cal Quantrill has been shaky in two starts so far, giving up hard contact and lasting just five innings total in the pair. This is going against the grain a little, with both of these teams in the bottom five in the AL at hitting right-handers. 1 RWBuck.
The Rays took the first game between these AL leaders last night even after Tyler Glasnow left his start early with an arm problem. The Rays are the rare team that has so much pitching depth that they can get five innings of relief from the good part of its pen and still have me go back to them the day after. This is mostly about fading Dallas Keuchel, though, whose strikeout rate has fallen through the floor over the last two seasons, and who comes into tonight with a 4.60 FIP. Injuries and regression are catching up to this Sox offense as well. 1 RWBuck.
With so many pitchers having big years, Trevor Rogers's performance is getting lost a bit. He has a 2.02 ERA (2.56 FIP) with a 30% strikeout rate. He's emerged as the ace of a Marlins rotation that is pretty strong, and will almost certainly be the team's All-Star in Denver next month. This is also a chance to fade the Cardinals' bullpen, especially with Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes both pitching last night. The only thing keeping me from going bigger is the Cards being first in the NL in hitting lefties. 1 RWBuck.
This is a matchup of two starters who have been around for a while without ever fully launching, due to injuries and, in Montas's case, an 80-game suspension for PED use. Both have settled in as #3s or so over the last few years, and given this is a night game in Oakland, the under 8.5 is also a possible play. Instead, I'll take the better team with the better bullpen – neither of these starters typically works deep – at home at a short price. 1 RWBuck.