This article is part of our MLB Betting series.
Previous day: 0-2, -2.5 RWBucks
Season: 52-71, -26.38 RWBucks
Almost hard to believe I gave out a White Sox over in which the teams went 3-18 RISP. Truly unusual. Hard to fathom, really.
Today's Newsletter is a look at the grip-enhancement controversy roiling MLB. Without going too deep into it here, the interesting part to me is that MLB is going to effectively change the rules on the ground in the middle of the season. After tacitly endorsing the use of substances, MLB will now authorize the umpires to inspect pitchers eight to ten times a game in an effort to root out the use of pine tar, Spider Tack, and various other concoctions designed to improve grip and spin rate.
In theory, this should raise offense. I don't know that I buy it; the drop in offense this year isn't about strikeouts, but rather a new ball that doesn't fly as far. I've estimated that the impact of this rule reinforcement will be on the order of 1-2 points of wOBA leaguewide.
What interests me is the idea of conditions changing midseason. Go back to 2015, when MLB changed the baseballs at midseason. The first-half numbers look like the stats from 2014, and the second-half ones, with slugging up 20 points, like the stats from 2016. In-season, slugging jumped from .399 in June to .417 in August and .415 in September.
At the time, of course, we only saw the outputs, and it took a few years to suss out what had happened. Now, though, we're being told upfront – baseball is trying to eliminate the use of substances that help pitchers miss bats. I don't know yet if that is actionable for us, but figuring out whether it is could be a big part of betting over the next month or so. It's something to watch, both on the field and in the lines.
The Orioles are 24th in MLB in wOBA against righties. In 21 starts since missing most of two seasons, right-hander Taijuan Walker has a 2.43 ERA and 3.81 FIP, 2.17 and 3.07 this year with the Mets. The wretched condition of the Mets' roster – Billy McKinney? Mason Williams?!? – is keeping this line down, but the pitching matchup, and Walker being backed by a well-rested good half of the Mets' pen, provides a great opportunity. 1.5 RWBucks.
Add the under 9.5 (-110) for 1 RWBuck
Braxton Garrett, the seventh pick in the 2016 draft, makes his MLB debut tonight. Per Dave Cokin, that's been a fade spot this year: teams are 3-11 behind a pitcher's MLB debut this season. Me, I look at the Rockies' 4-23 road mark, their 68 wRC+ against RHPs (worst in MLB), and Garrett's strong pedigree, and see a great spot for the Fish. 1 RWBuck.
So here's an early test of the sticky-stuff theory. In his first start after MLB announced its plans, Gerrit Cole's spin rate was down considerably in a start in which he allowed five runs in five innings, his second-worst start of the season. Then again, Cole allowed five runs in five innings three weeks ago to the Rangers. Did he just have a bad day last Thursday, or was he less effective because he put away the grip enhancers? My pick here is, truly, silent on the matter; this is me continuing to stubbornly back the Twins in spots where I'm getting a big number to do so. 1 RWBuck.