By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh
[7:10 p.m. EST] Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets (-1.5, +122)
CIN: Tanner Roark – R (1-1, 3.24 ERA)
NYM: Zack Wheeler – R (2-2, 4.85 ERA)
The key to success for Zack Wheeler this season has been simple – don’t face the Nationals.
* WSH (twice): allowed 10 hits, 8 walks and 11 runs with 9 Ks over 9 2/3 innings
* PHI (twice)/ATL: allowed 16 hits, 6 walks and 5 runs with 24 Ks over 20 innings
Wheeler registered a quality start in each of the last three outings. His most impressive effort came in that last outing against the Phillies, throwing seven innings of a shutout ball while striking out 11 – a season high. Tonight, the Reds’ -0.4 IRT (implied run total) decrease is the largest on the board, and that’s just a further indicator that Wheeler is locked and loaded for his matchup.
Tanner Roark will face a familiar opponent, just doing in a different jersey this time around. The former Nationals pitcher has an 8-4 record with a 3.07 ERA in 22 appearances (16 starts) against the Mets lifetime. In fact, Roark has pitched very well in his last three starts, allowing only earned run in each of those.
Unlike the game you’ll read about below, I have more confidence in the Mets -1.5 run-line because of the recent performance of these respective bullpens. In terms of those fancy advanced metrics we all hate/love so much, the Mets’ bullpen ranks first in xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching) and second in SIERA (skill-interactive earned run average) over the last seven days – The Reds rank ninth-worst in xFIP and fifth-worst in SIERA over the same span.
* Final Score Prediction: New York Mets: 5 – Cincinnati Reds: 1 *
[7:20 p.m. EST] San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves (-164)
SD: Nick Margevicius – L (2-2, 3.60 ERA)
ATL: Mike Soroka – R (1-1, 1.69 ERA)
Lots of good trends for the Braves in this game, so let’s get a tomahawk chant going! The trends that stood out above all:
* Braves moneyline increase from -140 to -164 – highest on the slate
* Braves have the highest wOBA [weighted on-base average]: (.391) vs left-handed pitching
* Padres have the third-highest K-rate (27%) vs right-handed pitching
Mike Soroka takes the hill for Atlanta, and he has been fantastic in each of those two starts this season. The young righty has allowed only two runs over 10 2/3 innings while fanning 13 batters in the process.
Nick Margevicius goes for San Diego, and he is also another talented young hurler. However, his 1.08 WHIP looks a lot prettier due to two matchups against the Giants. In fact, Margevicius has come back down to Earth over the last two starts (vs. SEA, vs. COL), allowing 11 hits, six walks and seven runs over his last nine innings.
I would love to go with the Braves on the -1.5 run-line, but their bullpen is an absolute disaster right now. Without boring the non-traditional baseball fan to death, one of the best metrics (SIERRA) ranks Atlanta’s bullpen as the second-worst in MLB. For that reason, we’ll keep it simple with the ATL moneyline.
* Final Score Prediction: Atlanta Braves: 5 – San Diego Padres: 4 *
[7:40 p.m. EST] Houston Astros (-1.5, -108) at Minnesota Twins
HOU: Justin Verlander – R (4-0, 2.61 ERA)
MIN: Jake Odorizzi – R (2-2, 4.37 ERA)
Sure, the Twins lead MLB in homers per game (1.96) but they’ve had six matchups against Orioles’ pitching to thank for that. Tonight, Minnesota will face one of the best pitchers in baseball who has absolutely owned this current lineup.
Justin Verlander has held the Twins’ current roster to a combined .167 batting average, .210 on-base percentage, .325 slugging percentage and .535 OBP – yikes! In fact, the veteran righty just held Minnesota to one run while striking out eight batters over eight innings in his last outing. Verlander has allowed four or fewer hits in four of his six starts, including each of the last three. Not to mention, if Verlander slips in the slightest, the Astros’ bullpen ranks first in SIERA and xFIP this season.
All in all, this is just a flat-out mismatch of talent between the two starting pitchers this evening. Granted, Odorizzi did get the win in his last outing against these same Astros, but he did allow eight hits and found himself in trouble for most of the evening. I expect Houston to make him pay for those misfortunes this time around.
I’m going with the -1.5 run-line in this game because of that mismatch of starting pitchers, and the Astros have won by two runs or more in four of Verlander’s six starts this season.
* Final Score Prediction: Houston Astros: 6 – Minnesota Twins: 2 *
[9:45 p.m. EST] Over 8 – Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants
LAD: Kenta Maeda – R (3-2, 5.20 ERA)
SF: Jeff Samardzija – R (2-1, 3.00 ERA)
Giants’ pitching was absolutely ripped in the three-game series against the Yankees over the weekend, allowing 24 runs, and life won’t get any easier with the Dodgers coming to town. Oracle Park is one of the worst venues for offense in all of MLB, hence why we’ve only seen one eight-run total there this season. The eight-run total in this game is quite interesting, considering it never got any higher than 7.5 in the three-game series at Dodger Stadium at the beginning of the month, but there is some solid reasoning to think we’ll see the fourth straight total go over the mark at Oracle Park.
The Dodgers do have the second-best wOBA (.356) vs right-handed pitching this season and three of the last four games that Jeff Samardzija has pitched in produced a double-digit number of runs.
On the flip side, the Giants have four batters with a .294 lifetime average or better against Kenta Maeda. Just like Samardzija, Maeda’s starts have been producing a lot of runs, with four of the five surrendering nine runs or more.
* Final Score Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers: 6 – San Francisco Giants: 5 *