We took a small step back yesterday. A 1-2 day is never fun, but we move on. I could bitch and moan about the White Sox leaving plenty of runners in scoring position, but I knew who the White Sox were coming into the game. They don’t surprise me anymore.
I’m not a big fan of the board today, but I do have one game pick and a PrizePicks entry to start up another heater.
2023 Straight Plays Record: 71-55 (+10.78 U)
PrizePicks Record: -2.2 U
I’m using BetMGM lines only this year. Here’s a link to get started with a risk-free $1000 bet. You can also use code “JBFANS” if you’re betting on MLB. Wager $10 on any MLB moneyline and receive $100 once the bet is settled.
All prop entries will be on PrizePicks: Here’s a link to get a 100% deposit match.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays @ 6:40 PM EST
Pitching Matchup: Yusei Kikuchi vs. Shane McClanahan
I should have bet the over yesterday. I didn’t because I felt it was too good to be true. It clearly wasn’t, as yesterday’s game ended 20-1. This game won’t end up with 21 runs scored, but it should exceed the posted total of 8.
Shane McClanahan is putting together a CY Young-type season from a production standpoint, but not only has he struggled against Toronto, but his peripherals are also a tad concerning. His 2.05 ERA is fantastic but has a 3.58 xERA, 3.58 FIP, and 3.64 xFIP. To put that in perspective, Tanner Houck and Andrew Heaney have a 3.60 xERA. Shane is clearly better than them, but the point is, he’s due for some regression.
Don’t let the Blue Jays get hot. 20 runs won’t happen again, but I do think last night’s game was a breath of fresh air for this electric offense. He faced Toronto twice last season. One start was solid; the other one was far below average. In his lone start in Toronto, he threw five shutout innings with five strikeouts. When he threw against them in Tampa last season, he allowed four runs in five innings. Through 96 PA against the Blue Jays’ current roster, he’s rocking a .347 xwOBA and a .444 xSLG.
The top of the Blue Jays lineup, George Springer, Bo Bichette, and Vladdy Jr, are a combined 15-49 (.306 BA) with three home runs and three doubles. While the Blue Jays have been a league-average offense against left-handed starters this season, they know McClanahan well, and he’s due for regression.
Following McClanahan will be a Rays bullpen that isn’t pulling its weight with the rest of the team. They rank 24th in ERA and have one of the highest SIERAs of any bullpen. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt because it’s the Rays, but they haven’t been a good unit.
On the flip side, Yusei Kikuchi shouldn’t fare well today. The Rays are the best team in baseball against left-handed pitching this season, sitting with a 159 wRC+. 59% better than the league average offense against southpaws. In May, they have a 162 wRC+. This is a scary offense to face as a left-handed pitcher.
Kikuchi is also due to regress. His 4.07 ERA is fine, but his 5.06 xERA and a 5.63 FIP tell me he’s been getting pretty lucky. He’s allowing an incredible amount of loud contact, ranking in the tenth percentile in Hard-Hit rate and sixth percentile in average exit velocity. The Rays rank eighth in Hard-Hit rate this season and third in May against left-handers.
The Blue Jays bullpen projects well by SIERA, but by most statistics, they’ve been a league-average bullpen this season. They rank 14th in ERA and 12th in WHIP. They are a solid squad, but not a unit I’m concerned about against this Rays offense.
The model thinks the total should be at 9 (-120) or 9.5 (+100). We are even seeing value on 8.5 if the total gets there. It’s a bit square after the Blue Jays scored 20 yesterday, but I think the Rays bounce back in a big way, and the Blue Jays do their part towards hitting this over.
The Pick: Blue Jays vs. Rays Over 8 (-115) 1.15 U to win 1 U
PrizePicks Entry $25 Entry
First Leg: Austin Nola Over 0.5 Bases
Why is he on the PrizePicks board? He hasn’t recorded a hit since May 15th, hitless in his last five games. I think anyone who came across a .140 hitter who hasn’t had a hit in five games would immediately fade him. I can see a world where he gets a hit today off Trevor Williams. Williams relies on his sinker and slider when facing right-handed batters. Nola hit .310 off sinkers last season and .241 against sliders. The slider is still his favorite pitch to hit this season, hitting .263 against it. The problem this season is he’s hitting .111 against sinkers. His xBA against that pitch is .213 with a .374 xwOBA. I think he breaks his hitless streak today.
Second Leg: Joe Ryan Over 5.5 Strikeouts (PrizePicks Discount)
The model has him at 8.6 strikeouts, the highest of the day. They are not nearly as high on Shane McClanahan or Sandy Alcantara, but at least one of these discounts has to hit. That should easily be Joe Ryan, who is facing a Giants team that is top five in strikeout rate against righties. Ryan’s fastball grades out as the best in baseball, and his splitter and sweeper are devasting secondary offerings. I planned to play over seven strikeouts, so I’ll gladly take 5.5.