This article is part of our MLB Betting series.
Previous day: 1-1, -0.12 RWBucks (one rainout)
Season: 77-95-4, -27.91 RWBucks
Bucking conventional wisdom is both a vocation and an avocation for me. I'm a contrarian by nature, and if you tell me something just is, because everyone believes it just is, my impulse is to dig into the data to prove you wrong. Sometimes, maybe most of the time in baseball, it is wrong: Smallball doesn't win games, intentional walks are bad strategy, there's no huge store of wins hidden behind the "chemistry" door.
Sometimes, though, the old guys still have it. The most notable example is probably the importance of pitch framing. The old chestnut that catchers could influence umpires in a way that was valuable was proven true through newly available data a decade ago, and it's driven the training and selection of catchers ever since. (I'm of the opinion that all it did was quantify how bad home-plate umpires actually are, but that's a fight for another day.)
Another bit of conventional wisdom that has proven out is that warm weather is better for offense than cold weather. Back in 2014, Scott Lindholm did the math and found that every ten degrees of warmth added hits, added powers, added home runs to the game. More recently, Derek Carty wrote, "So when the ball comes off the bat in hot air, the air is less dense, there are fewer molecules colliding with the baseball, there is less friction applied to the ball to slow it down, and it winds up traveling farther than it would have in denser air."
Now, the bookmakers know this, and they'll adjust the lines accordingly. Even with the humidor in place in Coors Field, designed to temper ball flight, they posted some of the highest totals of the year, 12 and 12 1/2, last week during the Rockies' homestand as temperatures in Denver pushed towards 100 degrees. Even with the Royals' bad offense and the Reds throwing Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray, the books have had the Reds/Royals series lined at 9 1/2 runs the last two days. Still, what warm weather, and better still, warm humid weather does, is push up the range of potential outcomes. It increases the value of balls in play, especially fly balls. Contact pitchers on hot, muggy nights can and should be targeted even with slightly higher lines.
We've got a spread schedule today, and a few of the night games in domes, but there is at least one golden opportunity for some runs to be scored.
Tonight it's going to be 90 degrees at gametime in Baltimore, with 49% humidity, the latter figure ticking up as the game goes on. Higher humidity lowers the air density and helps balls fly farther. The conditions are great for a high-scoring game. You also have Matt Harvey, a regular mention in this column; Harvey starts have reached 11 runs in eight of his 17 games pitched this year. Hyun-Jin Ryu is the Jays' ace; he's also putting more balls in the air this year, and tonight he faces an Orioles' team that has been the third-best in all of baseball at hitting lefties. Everything points to a slugfest, so this becomes the biggest pick of the year. It's time to get even. 28 RWBu...no, I'm kidding...3 RWBucks.
Just going back to the well with the Killing Machine at the nice number of 4.5 instead of 5.5. Passing on them last night – a little too much belief in the Chris Bassitt story – stings more than a little bit. 1 RWBucks.
So you have the worst team in baseball at home against what is on pace to be the worst road team in memory. Choose your fighter. Humberto Castellanos has mostly been a reliever since 2016, though he did make five starts for Reno this spring. This is just a fade of the Rockies at a good price. 1.5 RWBucks.