This article is part of our MLB Betting series.
Previous day: 2-3, -0.05 RWBucks
Season: 32-48, -20.46 RWBucks
I don't talk about it much, but you should know that on weekends this year I am 39-2 and plus 53 units. Honest.
Kidding aside, one of the challenges I've faced in the past and one that is playing out in this space is balancing baseball betting, the type of analysis it requires and the time it requires, with my day job as a general baseball columnist. The former feeds the latter to some extent, because of my stathead bent, but not always and surely not to the level of detail required.
I'm thinking about this today because of one of Friday's losses, on the over in the Angels/Red Sox game. It landed 4-3, with the AL leader in walks, Nick Pivetta, issuing not a single one in six innings. In-game, I saw that Ron Kulpa had the plate, and smacked my head. Kulpa is a pitchers' umpire, with 15 of 22 games with him at the plate falling to the under the last two years, and a 3.5 K/BB in games he's called.
I have not generally used umpire analysis in my betting, though at the extremes I'll think about it. For this column I haven't used it at all, owing mostly to timing. Umpire assignments aren't official until after I file most days, and while you can project them using an expected rotation, that's mostly helpful intra-series; even at that, getting it wrong one time can erase the edge in getting it right a number of times.
Mostly, though, it's about time. Remember the premise here: Can a nominal baseball expert, someone who has watched baseball for 45 years and analyzed it for 25, step in without using models, just his knowledge of the game, and beat the books in this new legal environment? Early indications are that it's hard, and one reason is time. As much time as I put into baseball, put into these picks, this column, there's always a chance I'll miss something. I've handed out fewer picks than I expected to, and one reason is I want to limit my picks to games in which I have the best information.
I'm not going to stop writing about baseball, something I love doing, so this is at the moment an intractable problem. Someone like John Laghezza or Bart Parry is both using a model and putting in more time specifically on betting than I am, while I'm out here doing a deep dive on why my AL Central pick is so bad or writing about the A's ballpark situation.
These aren't excuses – I'm whiffing 60% of the time right now and that's entirely on me. As I say, this affects the volume of picks I give out more than the specific ones I'm making. Maybe I should have pulled back on that Fenway over because of Kulpa, and maybe I need to at least try to suss out who has the plate – something that is available on the Rotowire lineups page closer to game time – when I land on a game.
Mostly, though, I think in this challenge I'm a lot like you reading this: Trying to figure out how to collect and synthesize information to make winning bets, within the context of everything else I do with my 24 hours.
Let's see how that works out today.
The control hasn't quite been there this year for Sonny Gray, who has walked about 10% of the batters he's faced. Even with that, he's run a 3.55 ERA and a 3.37 FIP, and he draws a Giants' squad that has done more of its damage against lefties (.323 wOBA) than righties (.309), and is down Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria tonight. Keeping it light only because the Reds are coming down from the mountain after four grinding games at altitude. 1 RWBuck.
This is a rematch of a game I got wrong last week, fading Keuchel correctly but losing to a barrage of White Sox hits. The White Sox have been obliterating left-handed pitchers, with a .369 wOBA that's 17 points better than anyone else's. They're 22-2 since the start of last season against left-handed starters. I want to fade Keuchel again; this is the safer way to do it. 1.5 RWBucks.
A Yankees lineup that has already thinned out is now down Giancarlo Stanton, so the bottom of that order is now...unimpressive. The average number of runs in Cole's starts this year is six, with five of seven falling under eight. I'm just asking to lose 7-1 on a solo shot off Lucas Luetge in the ninth, but we'll take a swing. 1 RWBuck.