Rick’s July 4th MLB Plays

Chicago Cubs @ Milwaukee Brewers (4:10 ET)

Favorite: Brewers -145

Total: 9

Pitchers: Justin Steele (4.39 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) vs. Eric Lauer (4.02 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)

There is no starker a difference in home vs. Away splits than Eric Lauer’s. He has top tier 2.25 ERA in Milwaukee, but a woeful 5.24 outside away. He’s struggled with consistency when traveling and it’s been no more clear than the month of June. He’s allowed 15 runs In 15 innings on the road, but only 6 runs in 12 at home (not particularly great either). His WHIP and ERA have both steadily increased with each month this year, and he’s getting barreled with consistency. What Brewers’ pitching typically doesn’t have is run support to help them when struggling. That has not been the case over the past month with the Brewers finally finding their bats and bringing in runs with the best of the league. They’re 7th in OPS against lefties like Justin Steele and are hoping to continue that trend at home in Milwaukee.

The Cubs are coming off of a home series win against the red hot Boston Red Sox and are looking to build on some gritty, close victories to make their way back to a .500 mark. Their offense has been better lately, but better is still bad. In June, they’re only 19th in OPS against lefties like Lauer, and aren’t getting free bases often at all. They’re hoping to lean on a red-hot Justin Steele who posted a 3.03 ERA in June, even though his WHIP was rather high at 1.36. He’s in the top echelon of barrel percentage at just 2.9% of all contact, and is in the top third in most categories. As Aforementioned, he’s facing a team that has been annihilating lefties lately so it will be a stark test, and I don’t think him combined with their bats will succeed.

Pick: Brewers ML -145 (1u)

Brace Hemmelgarn - Getty Images

Seattle Mariners @ San Diego Padres (6:40 ET)

Favorite: Padres -175

Total: 7.5

Pitchers: Chris Flexen (4.32 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) vs. Sean Manaea (3.92 ERA, 1.14 WHIP)

Chris Flexen is not the value pitcher he was last year at all anymore. He was consistently getting F5 +0.5 numbers and hitting them with consistency, but this year he’s fallen off of a cliff this year. His ERA looks respectable, but his advanced numbers just show how bad he’s been. He’s in the bottom 15% of all pitchers in every advanced category except hard hit percentage (23%). Expect Flexen to allow a handful of runs on the road today and possibly see an early exit.

Sean Manaea has been solid this year, but has been poor lately allowing 3+ runs in 5 of his last 8 outings. He’s had struggles with giving free baserunners, walking 12 in his last 5 starts and limiting those will go a long ways in bringing those runs back down. Luckily for him he’s facing a struggling offense in the Mariners still missing some key players from their brawl with the Angels recently. He‘s at home behind an offense that has gotten it’s feet back under them and just brought Manny Machado back into the lineup so expect more offensive explosions from them.

Pick: o7.5 -120 (1u)

Gregory Bull - AP

Toronto Blue Jays @ Oakland A’s (9:10 ET)

Favorite: Blue Jays -250

Total: 7.5

Pitchers: Alek Manoah (2.09 ERA, 0.96 WHIP) vs. Cole Irvin (3.58 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)

We don’t need to visit just how good Alek Manoah is. If you’re not aware of who he is yet, you’ll probably see him holding the AL Cy Young at the end of the year. He is the embodiment of the college he played for in West Virginia: Big, burly, powerful, and determined. He’s going to throw lead at you and dare you to hit it, so he keeps his pitch count low in the process allowing him to go late, dominating opponents deep into games. It’s helpful today that he’s facing the worst offense in baseball in Oakland, so expect a dominant 7 outings today from the big man.

Cole Irvin is an enigma this year. He’s posted a very solid ERA but his advanced stats are right there with Chris Flexen’s. He’s been poor as of late, allowing 3+ runs in 3 of his last 4 starts and I expect that trend to continue especially against an offense that is this good against lefties. We all know just how dominant the Blue Jays are with Bichette, Guerrero, and Kirk, and they’re even better when facing lefties. Expect them to get on the board early and often and coast to an easy win on the west coast this evening.

Pick: Blue Jays TT o4.5 -110 (1u) & Blue Jays -1.5 -145 (1u)

Vaughn Ridley - Getty Images

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