L.A. Angels under 51.5%
L.A. Angels under 51.5% -101

Pinnacle u51.5% -101 BET365 u51.5% -115 SportsInteraction o83½ -116 Bookmaker u51.5% +107

Posted March 15

L.A. Angels

Season Win posted number is 51.5% = 83.33 wins. 

The Angels would need to go 84-78 to cash the overs and 83-79 to cash the unders

Key Additions (2021 Projected WARP): José Quintana (1.9), José Iglesias (1.2), Raisel Iglesias (1.0), Alex Cobb (0.8), Dexter Fowler (0.6), Alex Claudio (0.6), Aaron Slegers (0.3), Kurt Suzuki (0.3)

Key Subtractions: Andrelton Simmons (1.5), Julio Teheran (0.0), Keynan Middleton (0.2), Justin Anderson (0.1), Hansel Robles (0.4)

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Nothing bums me out more than writing about the Angels. If we wanted to watch a promising young man waste his prime as the light slowly leaves his eyes we’d scroll through our Facebook photos backwards.

If you’ve perused any Angels preview over the past five-or-so years, you’ve essentially already read this one. The plan is somehow STILL to provide Mike Trout with a good running mate, build a pitching staff by sorting ERA leaderboards from three seasons ago, and pretend the bullpen doesn’t exist. Sure, some of the characters have been recast, but the costumes, plot, and outcome will remain the same. It’s like an Avengers movie, but instead of a classic hero’s arc we have to watch Captain America slowly bleed out for 90 minutes as Thanos uses the Time Stone to re-sign failed Orioles “aces” over and over again. Alex Cobb, guys? Really? Really.

Angels Lineup

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: the 2021 Angels have a bloated and depressing lineup propped up entirely by two or three superstars.Trout is still here and still thriving: a little thicker in the “neck,” a quarter-step slower, and a bit too into the weather—he is a dad now, after all—but still one of the three-or-so best players in the sport. He has a lot of great baseball left in front of him, but he’ll turn 30 this August. To put that into context for Baseball Twitter, by the time Fernando Tatis Jr.’s new contract runs out, Trout will be 44. You just add by 14, you see. That’s the whole trick.

Anyway, Trout posted a Deserved Runs Created (DRC+) of 151 last season (side note: dear lord he’s good), and his new sidekick Anthony Rendon also crushed the ball to the tune of a 144 DRC+. Thanks largely to their efforts the 2020 Angels finished ninth in the majors in runs per game, yet still managed just a .433 winning percentage. That’s because the rest of this team offers as much depth as a Bachelorette contestant.

Returning members of the 2020 Angels who posted a DRC+ of league-average or better include: acceptable second baseman David Fletcher, 27-year-old first baseman Matt Thaiss “Jared Walsh,” post-post-hype catcher Max Stassi, and a walking reminder of our collective mortality, Justin Upton, who ekes his way into this group with a DRC+ of 100 flat. Let’s be generous and say half that group will repeat over a full season.

They’ll be propped up by a collection of has-beens and never-weres that rivals Fuller House. Andrelton Simmons has been replaced at shortstop by José Iglesias, which is like going from 2-percent to skim milk: you tell yourself you won’t notice the difference, but you absolutely will. Dexter Fowler has arrived via salary dump: He’s perfect for this team in that his last good season came in 2017. Albert Pujols finally seemed ready to admit he’s been unofficially retired for the better part of a decade, but later clarified he intends to stay an active member of this roster until his deal expires in 3030.

If the Angels are going to get any more out of this group than they did a year ago it’s going to have to come from two of the more interesting and at times infuriating young talents in the game: Shohei Ohtani and Jo Adell. Ohtani frustrates through no fault of his own: he just keeps getting hurt. We’ve been told to believe that Ohtani now is a “full go” both as a hitter and a pitcher, and we’ve seen brief glimpses of his ability to dazzle in both capacities. But at this point it’s fair to want to see Ohtani stay upright and productive for a full season before falling for the hype again.

Speaking of hype, there are a few people who are juuuuuust a bit too high on Adell. The dream is still very much alive—he’s just 21 but it’s not great when your rookie season is essentially a tribute to late-career Mark Reynolds. Adell still teems with upside, but seems unlikely to take the league by storm the way the way the media had hoped.

Angels Starters

Every year, there is hope the Angels will finally address their starting rotation in order to give Trout and co. a fighting chance. It never happens. Honestly, what could prompt a pitching-needy team to keep seeking out Orioles castoffs. Dylan Bundy went out and had his first good season, well, ever across 11 starts last year. New GM and potential Craig Goldstein cosplayer Perry Minasian thinks he can get lucky twice, shipping former prospect of note Jahmai Jones to the Orioles in exchange for Alex Cobb. Cobb was fine-ish in 10 starts for Baltimore last season but has otherwise been unplayable since 2017. This doesn’t end in a feel-good redemption arc: it ends with a June DFA and some bad tweets.

Had the Angels simply added Cobb as depth or an insurance policy, that’d be one thing. But it appears as though L.A. is banking on Cobb as a key contributor, as the only other starter of note they added this winter is José Quintana. To be fair, he represents an upgrade over failed fixer-upper Julio Teheran, but Q is an Angel now, so he’ll likely end up condemned all the same. Dude has been in a steady decline for three years so of course he’s an Angel now. These sad new arms join sad old arms like Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning, and perhaps Ohtani as starting candidates. It’s an unspeakably dark truth that Heaney is the most durable among this group because he’s made 30 starts … over the last two seasons combined. If this collection of pending and past UCL implosions involved any more fallen Angels we’d have to get Gerard Butler involved.

Angels Bullpen

To be fair, getting Raisel Iglesias for the low, low cost of one Noé Ramirez was a savvy move. Plus, it means the Angels acquired two Iglesiases (Iglesiai?) this winter, and that’s just good branding. Otherwise, Minasian appears to be counting on repeat performances from Felix Peña and Mike Mayers, PLUS a return to form from either Alex Claudio or Ty Buttrey, to get this group all the way up to average. What do we think Trout did in a past life to deserve this? And my god, we haven’t even really gotten to Joe Maddon yet! You know what, that’s for the best. The only good thing about Trout being mired in mediocrity for all time is it gives us less reason to focus on his faux-hipster manager and his stupid themed roadtrips. The less time spent on Maddon, the better. Dude is “Robert De Niro left in the dryer for too long” but trust us when we tell you, he’s the reason the Cubbies almost didn’t win and not the reason they did. 

Over or under 51.5%? UNDER!

How is it going to end for the Angels? A frowny face? A slap upside the head? A number that somehow conveys the slow but inevitable march of time, or promise unfulfilled, or abject disappointment? This is going to end how it always ends: with an otherworldly performance from Trout, a below .500 record and DonnyDog63566 tweeting that if the best baseball player most of us has ever seen was actually all that, he’d at least have as many rings as John Elway has Super Bowls. One can only imagine how Trout feels, if he still feels anything at all. The Angels play in a weak division but it’s not going to matter. Oakland and Houston will beat them enough times and so will Seattle. They also play the NL West teams (Dodgers/San Fran/Arizona/Padres/Rockies) in their interleague portion of the schedule is perhaps the best division in all of baseball. Assuming nobody gets injured (which is absurd), the Halos would have a very tough time playing .500 ball. We cannot envision any scenario in which this team wins more games than they lose. (Risking 3.03 units to win 3)

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L.A. Angels under 51.5% -101 (Risking 3.03 units - To Win: 3.00)

Miami over 45%
Miami over 45% +108

Pinnacle o45% +108 BET365 o44.5% -115 SportsInteraction o72½ -120 Bookmaker o45% +107

Posted March 16

Miami Marlins

Season win % over/under = 44.5% or 45%

If total is 44.5%:

44.5% of 162 games is 72.09. The Marlins would need to go 73-89 to cash the overs and 72-90 to cash the unders.

45% of 162 games is 72.90. The Marlins would need to go 73-89 to cash the overs and 72-90 to cash the unders.

Key Additions (projected 2021 WARP): Adam Duvall, (2.0), Anthony Bass (0.8), Adam Cimber, Dylan Floro, John Curtiss

Key Subtractions: Brandon Kintzler (0.3), José Ureña

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Marlins

2020 Record: 31-29, 2nd in NL East

The 2020 season was chock-full of surprises, but perhaps none were more startling than the Miami Marlins not only making it to, but advancing in, the postseason. Yes, they were helped by the expanded playoff format, and yes, they suffered their fair share of embarrassments along the way, but at the end of the day, you are what your record says you are, and by that standard the 2020 Marlins were among the top-half of the teams in the league. Better yet, there’s relatively little reason to think the Marlins were a one-year wonder: short-season variance aside, they are young, talented, and should only get better, especially under the stewardship of new GM Kim Ng. 

The Marlins have good young pitching, an elite farm system, a lineup that’s already proven it can exceed expectations, and a payroll with plenty of room for growth. The only catch? They’re still the Marlins. Well, that, and they don’t play in the NL Central.

Miami’s Lineup

The Marlins added Adam Duvall to a group that scored just 4.23 runs per game last season, tied for 22nd in the league. That ought to do it. Ok, I guess we can dive a bit deeper here, even if that means we’ll be putting more work into this squad than the Marlins did this offseason. Seriously, we haven’t seen such disappointment in a Duvall-related offseason since the Jaguars re-upped Blake Bortles. 

To be fair, there’s some reason to believe Don Mattingly’s lineup will produce modestly better results than it did a year ago. For one, they’ll get a full year of Starling Marte, who is probably their best overall player at present. Also, Duvall is here now, and uh, I guess that really might kind of be it? 

Even if we give the benefit of the double to Role 55-ish dudes like Brian Anderson and Corey Dickerson, this lineup has as much room for regression as it does improvement. When he wasn’t busy encouraging his teammates to play through positive COVID-19 tests, Miguel Rojas put up a career year at the plate, posting as many WARP in 40 games as he had in any regular-length season since 2018. We’ll bet the under on a repeat. Jesús Aguilar had a nice bounce-back year, but is still just one season removed from being unplayable. Garrett Cooper has strung together about a full season’s worth of solid performance now, but he’s hardly a safe bet to produce either.

In short, the only way the 2021 Marlins will hit better than a year ago is if one or more of their high-risk, high-upside bats clicks. Maybe Isan Díaz is finally ready for a breakout. Maybe exquisitely named shortstop prospect Jazz Chisholm spent the offseason learning to make contact. Perhaps J.J. Bleday will reach the majors sooner than we think. Or maybe they’ll all go the way of Lewis Brinson, Jorge Alfaro, Monte Harrison, and the rest of the last crop of Marlins prospects: belly-up. 

Sure, if Rojas, Dickerson, and Anderson all perform up to their potential, and if one of Chisholm, Bleday, or Jesús Sánchez breaks out, and if Díaz, Brinson, or Alfaro proves to be a late-bloomer, this could be a halfway-decent group and crush this number. Chances are, however, that it falls somewhere in the middle and that’s perfect from our objective. 

The Starters

The 2021 Marlins might not score many runs, but there’s a chance they won’t allow many, either. Miami is loaded with talented young arms that could form the backbone of a contending team for a half-decade … or in a traditional Marlins contention cycle, about 18 months. Here’s how their rotation could shark out by Opening Day: 

Sandy Alcantara: A 25-year-old right-hander who’s already made an All-Star game and who looks ready to pitch at the middle-front of a first-division rotation for quite a while. Provides extra value in that his success makes the Cardinals look bad. 

Sixto Sánchez: One of the best pitching prospects in the game who’s already experienced a measure of success and who earns Pedro comps based not only on his statue, but on his stuff, too. Incredible nickname potential. 

Pablo López: Another 25-year-old righty who quietly had the best year among Marlins starters last season. Essentially the platonic ideal of a No. 3/4 starter.

Trevor Rogers: A 23-year-old southpaw prospect who more than held his own in seven major-league starts last season. Back-end floor with mid-rotation upside, and ready to help right now. 

Elieser Hernandez: Admittedly not as interesting as the rest of the names in this group, but can provide plenty of value as a cost-controlled innings-eater. Seems destined to one day be a Pirate and/or Athletic.

Would it have been nice to see the Marlins supplement this group with a veteran or two to take some of the pressure off so many relatively unproven arms? Sure. But I get it: once you shell out that Duvall money, there’s not much left to go around. 

The Bullpen

The Marlins don’t just have a deep rotation; they’ve built a bullpen flush with intriguing arms as well. Yimi García, James Hoyt, and Richard Bleier were quietly excellent last season and return to form a solid core. To support them, Ng and co. acquired an eclectic group of relievers who’ll give Mattingly plenty of late-game options to mismanage. 

Adam Cimber, Dylan Floro, and John Curtiss were acquired from Cleveland, the Dodgers, and the Rays, respectively. Though they saw mixed success in 2020, all have previous track records of serving as average-to-good major-league relievers. At worst, they more than make up for the departures of older outgoing options Brandon Kintzler, Brad Boxberger, and José Ureña, who is now mercifully out of the same division as Ronald Acuña, Jr. 

The probable closer here is the Marlins’ next biggest free-agent addition of the offseason: Anthony Bass, who signed a two-year, $5 million deal after pitching quite well for the Blue Jays last season. Bass is a fine pitcher but an infuriating choice to be the first fish-named player of note to play for this franchise. It’s a brutal look to whiff on Mike Trout, Tim Salmon, or even Mike Carp and settle for Bass, though we suppose he’s a superior option to Derek Fisher. 

Name quality aside, this is the sort of group that’ll win ball games while teams with expensive ‘pens full of famous ex-closers like, uh, every other one in the division, will see their firemen flop. That could be a huge point of differentiation for the Marlins and if their offense to just be middle of the pack or even a bit worse, they should soar over thuis number. 

Over or Under 44%? OVER! 

We have no idea if the Marlins end up sneaking above .500 again but we do know this number is too low. It is rare to get a pitching staff of this caliber with a season win total this low. 90% or more GM’s in this league would kill to have this pitching staff. 

The 2020 version had a below-average offense, and although they did add Adam Duvall, very few of Miami’s hitters project to repeat their 2020 performance. That’s enough to slide them from a couple games above .500 to a couple games below and if that’s the case, we’ll still cash this ticket. However, at the high end of the projections, the metrics see good things for Miami’s top three starters, albeit perhaps not the three pitchers you’d guess. Sixto Sánchez, Elieser Hernandez, and Pablo López are all slated to be about 20 percent better than average on the bump. Given the trio’s lack of pro reps—and the shortened 2020 season—the algorithm only sees about 400 innings from the group. If that ends up closer to 500, Miami might see their win total bump into the 80s, keeping them on the fringes of a wild card spot once again. We rarely play overs in MLB or any sport in season win totals but this one has such great value that it must be played (Risking 3 units to win 3.24 units).

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Our Pick

Miami over 45% +108 (Risking 3 units - To Win: 3.24)

Cleveland under 50.5%
Cleveland under 50.5% -115

Pinnacle 49% -130 BET365 u50.5% -115 SportsInteraction u81.5½ -108 Bookmaker u49% +122

Posted March 23

Cleveland Indians

Season win % over/under = 50.5% or 49%

Option 1 

50.5% of 162 games is 81.81

Th3 Indians would need 82 wins or more (82-80) to cash the overs and 81 wins or less (81-81) to cash the unders.

Option 2

49% of 162 games is 79.38

The Indians would need 80 wins or more (80-82) to cash the overs and 78 wins or less (78-82) to cash the unders.

======================================================

Cleveland Indians

With all due respect to the Rockies and Pirates, it’s safe to say Cleveland had the worst offseason of any franchise. For those who remain blissfully unaware, we think it’s important to know what you may be potentially betting on so here’s a non-exhaustive list of what’s transpired with this team since last October:

They traded Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the Mets for 13 bad shortstops

They finally agreed to drop their racist team name … but not completely until 2022

Their manager was embroiled in the Mickey Callaway scandal and was publicly disavowed by his own son

They cut (not traded: cut) their very good closer to save $9 million

They watched one former franchise icon sign with the Yankees and another sign with the Royals

The White Sox and said Royals got significantly better while the Twins held serve, meaning the AL Central is no longer poised to be the two-team race it once wa

At least Mrs. Lincoln seemed to enjoy the rest of the play.

Cleveland’s lineup

Despite their strong record, Cleveland’s 2020 squad was propped up entirely by its stellar pitching staff: their lineup finished just 25th in runs scored per game. To address that issue, Mike Chernoff traded his second-best hitter (and best overall player) and let his third-best hitter walk in free agency. Problem solved. 

With Lindor flashing his trademark smile in New York and Carlos Santana now a division rival, this team is down to Jose Ramirez and only Jose Ramirez when it comes to 2020 Clevelanders who produced a Deserved Runs Created (DRC+) above 100. In the interest of fairness, Franmil Reyes and Jordan Luplow got close (98 each), but we’re 100 words into the meat of the article and already making excuses for this roster.

Chernoff did make a shrewd move in signing Eddie Rosario to a one-year, $8 million pact, but that alone ain’t gonna cut it, and it’s hard to see where Cleveland expects more help to come from. Cesar Hernandez is a fine player but might hit first or second in this lineup. Oscar Mercado’s sophomore season was as discouraging as his rookie season was promising. Jake Bauers and Josh Naylor have yet to prove they can hit major-league pitching but look like they’ll have to assume near-everyday roles. The catchers are literally Austin Hedges and Roberto Perez. It’s dark, friends. It’s dark.

Perhaps you think one of the shortstops this team grabbed from the Mets can provide a spark but Andres Gimenez is more about floor than ceiling and Amed Rosario has a .302 OBP 1,500 PA into his career? Playing him in center field (side note: yikes) won’t change that. Banking on either of these two as a savior requires a level of delusion that even the average Browns fan may struggle to reach.

Maybe this is the year Cleveland will finally get something out of Bradley Zimmer (lol). Maybe one of Daniel Johnson, or Yu Chang, or **squints** Harold Ramirez will break out. Perhaps Nolan Jones will progress quicker than we think and save the day. But it’s more likely that this is going to be a bottom-10 offense once more, and it very well could find itself in the bottom-5.

Cleveland Starters

As always, the rotation looks to be Cleveland’s saving grace, though unlike most of us, it’s thinner than a year ago. Shane Bieber can lay credible claim to the mantle of “best pitcher in baseball” and does not turn 26 until May. Let us all hope he continues his march toward becoming the Most Relevant Bieber. Zach Plesac is a solid mid-rotation piece. Aaron Civale has routinely outperformed his peripherals. There’s a good base here.

That being said, Cleveland will need at least one of its young arms like Cal Quantrill, Triston McKenzie, or Logan Allen to excel or it could be a long season of “opener days” and a lot of Orioles Mascot Body-Double Adam Plutko. I’m not going to question this org’s track record when it comes to pitching—they’ll probably be fine—but Bieber aside, there’s a real chance this group is closer to above-average than special. That could be a problem seeing as the lineup figures to score four runs a series.

Bullpen

Sure, James Karinchak did a solid “what if Josh Hader but right-handed?” impression as a rookie, and he figures to get the first crack at saving the eight games Cleveland will lead this year. But there are a whole lot of question marks behind him. Phil Maton was lights out in 2020 but doesn’t have much of a track record. Nick Wittgren and Cam Hill were mediocre at best. The re-signed Oliver Perez is now 53 years old. Adam Cimber is now a Marlin. There’s very, very little depth here. You can bank on Corey Kluber trade consolation prize Emmanuel Clase saving the day if you want, but you’d think a nominally competing team might want to add an established option or two to a group like this. They didn’t. 

Over or under 50.5%

Cleveland perfectly represents where the sport is heading. In a five-year span Cleveland developed three of the 30 best players in the game, and they have a proven history of maximizing pitching talent: they should’ve been a friggin’ dynasty, or at worst an ever-competive also-ran. Instead, they’ve sold off the most important part of their core in order to get cheaper, just like we’ve seen the Rays, Red Sox, Rockies, Pirates, Orioles, Marlins, and others do over the past two or three years. This approach isn’t innovative or resourceful or inspiring but baseball is becoming a filler sport until football starts in September and now owners are instructing GM’s to save money and be competitive, ala Moneyball. 

Maybe Cleveland will prove so good at conjuring aces out of thin air that they can get away with this model for longer than most, but ask yourself, if the Tribe (no disrespect to anyone) can’t get it done with Lindor, Ramirez, and Corey Kluber, why would we trust them without that trio? 

The organization’s odd eagerness to give playing time to washed up veterans that may still have a little left in the tank and Quad-A guys who are fringe major leaguers on their best day during the late 2010s is the reason for the long list of names the team must sift through during the upcoming season. Cleveland is already in the middle of a 40-man roster crunch that will only get worse this year as more interesting individuals in the farm system become eligible to be selected during the Rule 5 Draft. The confinement of a limited number of prospects to an alternate training site that quickly became laden with redundancy last year was especially detrimental for Cleveland because it relies so heavily on prospect evaluation and development in order to maintain a steady flow of young, cheap, and controllable talent to create tangible contention windows. A majority of Cleveland’s top prospects have not reached the upper minors and have now gone over a calendar year without playing organized baseball. Ownership’s reluctance to spend money has alienated fans, and the front office’s flaws are equally responsible as its strengths for the optimistically mediocre position of the major league ball club in Year 1 of the post-Lindor era. There is a mountain of chips on the table for the 2021 season, and the Cleveland Baseball Team is Edward Norton in Rounders. Is there an ace up the team’s sleeve that can swing the odds in its favor? No chance...okay, slim chance this team plays .500 ball when the pitchers are going to have to hold the opposition to three runs or less more often than not.  This is an absolutely great value bet, as the Indians have a two-decade track record of being very good but the gig is over and we get a great number to go under (Risking 3.45 units to win 3).

Note: If you cannot get 50.5, we still like under 49% and if you have an account at SIA, you get a great number at 81½ with a small takeback.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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We’re offering a better and cheaper alternative to cable TV. You will literally save thousands of dollars. If you’re sick of paying a fortune for programming that you don’t even want or need, this is for you. All pro sports -- EVERY GAME, tons of college football and basketball games and tons of regular programming (non-sports). Over 2500 channels all in HD for a mere $20 per month. You have to be nuts not to get it.

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Our Pick

Cleveland under 50.5% -115 (Risking 3.45 units - To Win: 3.00)