It’s been a grind and not a fun one this season. I keep waiting for something to change, but the losses continue to pile up. We had another 0-3 day yesterday after the Guardians blew a three-run lead in the 8th inning, we lost a total by one run, and neither the Mets nor Dodgers got their bats going.
It’s been tough sledding, but this same process has been incredibly profitable over the last two and a half years, and we are still consistently beating the closing line. I gotta continue to grind this out and hope for a ball to bounce our way moving forward.
I keep repeating myself now, but it’s all I can do. Just giving you my best shot day in and day out, and we’ll see where the chips fall.
2023 Straight Plays Record: 106-113 (-6.62 U)
I’m using BetMGM lines only this year. Here’s a link to get started with a risk-free $1000 bet.
All prop entries will be on PrizePicks: Here’s a link to get a 100% deposit match.
All Bullpen Screenshots are courtesy of Rotowire.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers @ 8:05 PM EST
Pitching Matchup: Shane McClanahan vs. Dane Dunning
Shane McClanahan returns from the IL today after recovering from a back injury. We haven’t seen him since June 30th, and his last two starts were well below what we normally see from McClanahan.
Fading a pitcher making his first start off an injury has been profitable, and sometimes we’ve been on the wrong side of it. Before the All-Star break, we tailed Alex Faedo, who was recovering from a fingernail injury which I didn’t put any stock into. That was a mistake, as he allowed a crooked number, and we got crushed. Shane was already showing signs of slowing down, and this is one of the worst matchups to return to.
Every single ERA estimator tells us that McClahanan is due for major regression. My favorites, xERA and SIERA, put him at 3.98 and 4.13, respectively. FIP and xFIP put him at 3.86 and 3.89. There are a few reasons why these numbers tell us that his 2.53 ERA is not sustainable.
For one, his Hard-Hit rate has risen from 32.6% to 40% this year, now sitting at a below-average mark among all qualified starting pitchers. He could get away with this if he were still rocking his 50.6% ground-ball rate from last year, but he hasn’t. It’s fallen to 44%, just above the major league average. His strikeout rate has fallen by 4%, and his walk rate has nearly doubled to 9.8%.
He has major red flags in his data, and he’s making his first start off a back injury against a Rangers team that didn’t have to travel. Not only that, but they destroy left-handed pitching. The Rangers rank number one in baseball when they are facing a left-handed pitcher at home with a 146 wRC+. The Rangers are slashing .312/.376/.513 in these spots with an .889 OPS. Even the big and bad Braves are a touch below them with a 140 wRC+.
The Rays have gotten a lot of their production playing at Tropicana Field. They are 35-15 at home this season but only a few games above .500 on the road, sitting at 25-21. At home against right-handed pitching, they have a 126 wRC+. On the road, it drops to 118. They are still a great team, that’s why they have 60 wins, but they aren’t better than the Rangers when playing on the road.
The Rangers hit the ball hard, so for McClanahan to be effective, he must rack up the strikeouts. The Rangers rank in the bottom six teams in strikeout rate, sitting at just 19.7%. I don’t see him being effective today, especially after the Rangers have seen him already. They saw him at home, where he allowed three runs in seven innings. That’s where he has a 1.89 ERA; let’s see how he does on the road, where he hits with a 3.17 ERA.
Dane Dunning is not a pitcher I particularly want to tail in the second half due to his 4.73 xERA and well below-average strikeout rate. However, he’s always been able to perform best while pitching at home. In his career, he has a 3.81 FIP and 3.77 xFIP at Globe Life Field and a 4.49 FIP and 4.55 xFIP everywhere else.
The Rangers also own this game’s bullpen and defensive advantages. The Rangers rank third in OAA (Outs Above Average), while the Rays rank ninth. In the bullpen, the Rays have the 24th-ranked SIERA and 22nd-ranked FIP, while the Rangers have the 11th-ranked SIERA and 10th-ranked FIP.
I think the Rangers should be the slight favorites in this game, even with McClahanan on the mound. The model makes them -121 favorites, so the Rangers should be a play at a full unit as long as they are plus money. There is always the chance that the Rays crush Dunning to the point where there is nothing the Rangers can do, but I don’t see them out-hitting them.
The Pick: Rangers ML (+105) 1 U to win 1.05 U
First Leg: Shane McClahanan Under 5.5 Strikeouts
The Rangers don’t strike out against left-handed pitching. McClanahan is returning from a back injury, so I don’t expect him to look like his regular self. He faced the Rangers at home back on June 11th, where his strikeout rate is much higher, and he only finished with five. This is one of those lines that he doesn’t deserve, similar to Ashcraft against the Brewers. Ashcraft ended up pitching well but didn’t reach his strikeout number. I’m only comparing the two because they are in similar circumstances. Lines that the pitchers don’t deserve in matchups that aren’t in their favor. He is -125 to go under this, so we see good value on PrizePicks.
Second Leg: Stone Garrett Over 1.5 Hits/Runs/RBI
You want to attack Stone Garrett’s props this season when he’s facing a left-handed pitcher on the road. He has some severe splits. Against left-handed pitching overall, Garrett is slashing .258/.327/.483 with a .810 OPS versus a .633 OPS against right-handed pitching. In road games this season, he’s slashing .325/.382/.550 with a .932 OPS compared to a .533 OPS. On the road against a left-hander is by far his best matchup this season.
He will face Drew Smyly, a left-hander who will feed him a heavy dose of curveballs, cutters, and sinkers. He primarily relies on his sinker and cutter against right-handed bats. Garrett is hitting .370 against sinkers this year and has a .250 AVG with a 3 RV against cutters. Smyly could decide to only throw his curveball against Garrett, which could end up putting him in trouble, but it’s gambling. Garrett crushes two of the three pitches he will see, which is the matchup for him to shine.