By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh
* 2019 MLB Record: 93-76-4 (55%) *
[7:05 p.m. EST] Atlanta Braves (1.5-run line: -102) at Pittsburgh Pirates
ATL: Max Fried – L (7-3, 3.19 ERA/1.21 WHIP)
PIT: Steven Brault – L (2-1, 5.87 ERA/1.60 WHIP)
Any time the Braves are going against a lefty, they’re getting immediate consideration from me. Steven Brault may have pitched well in each of his last two starts, but I’m not fooled by who this guy really is. In fact, his control issues are truly scary, allowing 14 free passes over his last 22 innings of work – yikes!!!
Not to mention, Atlanta is absolutely hammering lefties over the last 14 days with a .372 xwOBA (metric for quality contact) and .255 ISO (metric for power) – both numbers are in elite territory. If Brault’s control issues continue to be a problem, Atlanta will make him pay for all of those extra baserunners.
Brault typically doesn’t go too deep into games, but that’s still fine for Braves’ bats. Over the last 14 days, the Pirates’ bullpen ranks in the bottom five of MLB in most advanced metrics.
When we talk about the Pirates’ bats against left-handed pitching it’s the exact opposite, as they rank third-worst in wOBA (weighted on-base average) at .282. While Pittsburgh isn’t striking out much over the last 14 days against lefties, a good portion of its lineup isn’t making much quality contact either.
Max Fried doesn’t strike a ton of batters out, but his 55% ground-ball rate should play well against the Pirates. It also helps that PNC Park is one of the worst hitting/power parks for right-handed batters, playing right into Fried’s strengths.
The Braves’ moneyline increase (-130 to -166) is the third-highest on tonight’s full slate of games. I don’t mind taking the 1.5-run line here, considering 15 of the Pirates’ 16 losses since the start of May have come by two runs or more.
* Final Score Prediction: Atlanta Braves: 6 – Pittsburgh Pirates: 3 *
[7:10 p.m. EST] Under 8.5 (-104) – Tampa Bay Rays at Detroit Tigers
TB: Blake Snell – L (3-4, 3.06 ERA/1.04 WHIP)
DET: Ryan Carpenter – L (0-2, 7.58 ERA/1.47 WHIP)
We’ve got two lefties going toe-to-toe at Comerica Park tonight, and I like the total to go under 8.5 runs. But, of course, we’re looking for Blake Snell to be the one that carries us there.
Snell has been fantastic, allowing two runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 outings. While the Tigers have been a bit more pesky of late, Snell is in a totally different category. He hasn’t had all of these 10-plus strikeout games that we’ve been accustomed to, but he is keeping runs off the scoreboard.
Ryan Carpenter has been much better over his last two starts, allowing two runs each time out. The key here is Tampa Bay against lefties, who own the highest K-rate (30%) in that split this season. Not to mention, the numbers have really shown their struggles against lefties over the last 14 days, as the Rays own a putrid .285 xwOBA, .150 ISO and 26% K-rate.
The Rays are much better on the road, so I’ll give them the nudge there. Especially having Snell on the mound will help too.
* Final Score Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays: 4 – Detroit Tigers: 2 *
[8:15 p.m. EST] Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs (1.5-run line: -130)
COL: Jeff Hoffman – R (1-1, 7.20 ERA/1.60 WHIP)
CHC: Kyle Hendricks – R (5-4, 3.09 ERA/1.11 WHIP)
The Rockies come off a fantastic 9-1 homestand, but let’s simmer it down a bit. They did face the Orioles and Blue Jays for six of those games. And sure, the four-game sweep of the D-Backs was impressive, even though three of the wins came by one run.
I think they get a good dose of reality tonight at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs really need to get rolling. Not to mention, there’s a little bit of revenge factor here as the Rockies defeated the Cubs in the Wild Card game last season.
We know who Jeff Hoffman is. The righty’s abysmal numbers in three starts this season are right on par with what he’s done over his career. While Hoffman has been much better away from Coors Field, the conditions in Chicago will make it feel somewhat similar, as the winds will be blowing out to left-center field at about 10-12 mph tonight.
On the other hand, Kyle Hendricks is well-equipped to deal with these friendly hitting conditions. I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it, but Hendricks is a homeless man’s Greg Maddux. The veteran righty hits his spots and it has been incredible to see him get more strikeouts than ever. While the Rockies’ numbers are a bit inflated from their recent homestand, they do tend to have their fair share of swings and misses.
Given the higher total than usual for Wrigley Field, the Cubs have the highest moneyline increase (-180 to -225) of the night and +0.4 IRT increase, let’s fly the W flag – on the 1.5-run line here as well.
* Final Score Prediction: Chicago Cubs: 8 – Colorado Rockies: 3 *