MLB Betting Picks: April 15, 2019
The early returns are in for the 2019 baseball season and the results seem to be the same, but more… Slugging percentage (.419), ISO (.175), walk rate (9.1%) and strikeout rate (23.4%) have all continued to climb for a fifth consecutive season. The league ERA is at 4.37 which is the highest run environment we’ve seen in over a decade.
As we move ever closer to the game being completely swallowed by the Three True Outcomes, the long ball becomes the most powerful driver of offense by a magnitude so the best place to look for regression to the mean may become home run to flyball ratio rather than BABIP.
Tonight’s nine game slate doesn’t offer a lot of clear value as all the good pitchers are facing good offenses and the bad pitchers are facing bad offenses, but let’s dig into the numbers and see if anything sticks out.
Money Line: NYM +105, PHI -115
Run Line: NYM +1.5, PHI -1.5
This game provides a hell of an illustratration of he changes in the game as Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Nola, two of the best pitchers on the planet, carry uncharacteristically high earned run averages of 4.74 and 6.46 into tonight’s contest.
The underlying performance indicates that Syndergaard is still an ace. His 4.74 ERA pairs with a 2.89 FIP and 3.07 xFIP. His strikeout, walk and whiff rates are all better this season than the last two despite the unlucky results and his determination to pound the zone should work well tonight against an offense whose early season success has been built upon the highest walk rate in the Major Leagues at 13.4%.
Things look a bit less rosy for Aaron Nola whose 7.26 FIP and 4.83 xFIP indicate that his 6.46 ERA is less of a fluke than Thor’s inflated line. Nola’s home run to flyball ratio is absurdly, unsustainably high at 33.3%, but his walk rate over three starts is the highest of his career while his strikeout and swinging strike rates are the lowest of his career. I not necessarily panicked by three bad outings, but I’m not putting my money on Nola until he gives me reason for optimism.
Peter Alonso has absolutely vindicated the Mets choice to include him on the opening day roster as he’s led a surprisingly good New York offense that’s tied for the 5th best wRC+ at 117. This is a stay away for me as I’m not in the business of betting against Nola at home, but if you’re placing bets on this game that will take place with winds gusting over 20mph the Mets are the way to go.
For daily fantasy folks who like to chase BvP, Rhys Hoskins is 4-9 with two doubles, two home runs and four walks against Syndergaard.
Money Line: CHC -135, MIA +125
Run Line: CHC -1.5, MIA +1.5
This game would seem to tell us a lot about Yu Darvish moving forward. He looked like his old self in spring training and the narrative that he’d been trying too hard and got domed up in his first season as a Cub looked to have some validity, but he’s been absolutely horrible to start the season. His struggles may be reasonably chalked up to battling blisters and bad weather in his early starts, but if he flops against a terrible Marlins offense in Miami… That’s what Sterling Archer would eagerly remind us is the danger zone.
Miami is starting Trevor Richards who’s a reverse splits righty thanks to an elite changeup. His 2.00 ERA is a big of fools gold driven by a ridiculously high strand rate. The Cubs are a top five offense thus far and should start Richards’ regression to the mean tonight. Chicago’s the bet even if you’re skeptical that Darvish can be effective.
Money Line: TOR +127, MIN -137
Run Line: TOR +1.5, MIN -1.5
Matt Shoemaker has been fantastic to start the year in Toronto, but he’s facing a Twins offense that puts the ball in play as well as anyone baseball with just a 7.7% walk rate and 19.5% strikeout rate. Minnesota should be able to put at least a few runs on the board tonight and that may be all that Martin Perez requires as Toronto has been downright dreadful against southpaws on the season.
Minnesota’s the better side, but like most of the games on tonight’s slate it’s by a thin margin.
Money Line STL +122 MIL -132
Run Line STL +1.5 MIL -1.5
Dakota Hudson’s 2.79 ERA is masking a dreadful start to the season as he’s walking 6.52 per nine innings and has a 7.29 FIP thanks to an absurd 100% strand rate over this first three starts. Milwaukee’s powerful offense is returning to Miller Park from a west coast swing and should absolutely punish the Cardinals’ young fireballer who has a fantastic fastball, but little else of note in his arsenal.
Speaking of pitchers who rely on their fastball, the Brewers are sending Freddy Peralta to the hill who basically just throws a few different varieties of fastball. Peralta found a fair amount of success last season, but it seems the league has adjusted with a winter of tape study and it’s not clear that Peralta has a counter until he develops a better off-speed offering. The clear-eyed view is that Peralta’s future is likely as a reliever.
There should be a fair amount of runs tonight, but Milwaukee’s at home with a better bullpen and slightly better offense so — by another thin margin — the Brewers are the better play tonight.
Money Line: LAA -125. TEX +115
Run Line: LAA -1.5, TEX +1.5
Mike Trout returns to an otherwise toothless Angels offense as the Halos head into Arlington to take their cuts against human gas can Shelby Miller. Miller’s been one of the big leagues’ favorite batting practice pitchers since departing Atlanta a few years ago and can be counted on to surrender runs tonight.
Angels opening day pitcher Trevor Cahill has a 3.50 ERA on the year and is a league average starter who is facing a Rangers offense with a massive 26.7% strikeout rate. The Angels are the call here.
Money Line: KC +115, CWS -125
Run Line: KC +1.5, CWS -1.5
The Royals get a massive ballpark upgrade for an offense that has been surprisingly effective to this point. The speed and aggression on the basepaths were to be expected for a lineup that includes Whit Merrifield, Alberto Mondesi, Terrance Gore and Billy Hamilton. They’ll be facing the earthly remains of Ervin Santana.
The White Sox are coming off a series victory in the Bronx and will be taking their cuts against Heath Fillmyer and a bad Royals bullpen. The only thing preventing runs in this game might be mother nature as the tempreature should be close to freezing.
Money Line: CLE -110, SEA +100
Run Line: CLE -1.5, SEA +1.5
Trevor Bauer is perhaps the only pitcher in baseball we can still trust to be dominant this season which is… weird. He’s facing a Mariners’ offense that has been the best in baseball this year to the surprise of literally everyone. Seattle has the best wRC+ at 139, second best wOBA at .365 and the MLB’s best ISO at .249. This matchup is strength on strength.
Japanese-import Yusei Kikuchi has been perfectly okay for Seattle and will be facing a dreadful Indians offense who will at least be getting Jason Kipnis back for this game.
This is a very good pitcher against a good offense that’s playing a bit over their heads. And a league-average pitcher at home against a bad offense… Take the under.
Money Line: COL +150, SD -160
Run Line: COL +1.5, SD -1.5
Antonio Senzatela will be making his season debut tonight against a league-average Padres offense. The Rockies bullpen is well-rested after German Marquez threw a gem in San Francisco yesterday and they may be called upon for extended innings.
The Friars are sending lefty Joey Lucchesi to the hill. Lucchesi is a league average pitcher facing a Rockies offense that has been absolutely dreadful on the season. They have the worst wRC+ at 36, second worst wOBA at .250, only walk 6.9% of the time and strikeout at a 26.4% clip.
It’s genuinely odd to say, but San Diego may be the safest bet on the board tonight.
Money Line: CIN +146, LAD -115
Run Line :CIN +1.5, LAD -1.5
The opposition hasn’t been overwhelming, but Luis Castillo has been dominant to begin the season and it looks like the flamethrowing right hander has finally put it all together. Castillo will need to bring his best stuff as the Dodgers lineup has punishing been righties to the tune of a league-best 144 wRC+ and .386 wOBA.
Clayton Kershaw will be making his first start of the season for the Dodgers. Kershaw’s at a crossroads, topping out in the low 90s at a time when velocity has become more important than ever. Last year he compensated with upped slider usage and pitching backwards off the multitude of curveballs in his arenseal, but he’s either going to reinvent himself with the kind of success Frank Tanana had or follow Felix Hernandez down the path of mediocrity.
It’s hard to be confident about this game as we’re not sure what we’ll get out of Kershaw, but the Dodgers have a quick hook and talented bullpen if the southpaw gets in trouble so if forced to take a side I’ll go with the Dodgers.
Has a late scratch sent you scrambling for answers? Looking for a sharp GPP pivot or want to debate a matchup? Reach me on Twitter (@TheHyperCritic) for the advice you need to be profitable.
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