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Rick’s Early Afternoon MLB Plays 6/22

New York Mets @ Houston Astros (2:10 ET)

Favorite: Astros -135

Total: 8.5

Pitchers: Carlos Carrasco (3.96 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) vs. Luis Garcia (3.41 ERA, 1.03 WHIP)

The Astros absolutely manhandled Trevor Williams and co. last night to the tune of an 8-2 win and are looking to take both games of this brief two game series. Houston’s bats have been hot as of late, putting up 8+ runs in 3 of their last 5 and are sitting at 5th in OPS in the month of May. They’re only striking out at a 17% rate and are getting production from everyone in the lineup. Today they are throwing Luis Garcia, who has shockingly been much worse at home than he is on the road. Posting a 5.14 ERA in Houston, he looks to steady the ship after allowing 5 runs to the Marlins in his last home outing.

The Mets are throwing the 35-year old Carlos Carrasco, who has been almost equally bad away from home as Garcia has been at home. He’s logging a 5.18 ERA away, but a 3.22 ERA in day games with a solid sample size. He’s a very average pitcher and his last three performances exemplify that. In 18 innings he’s allowed 10 runs on 25 hits/walks, but has struck out 24 batters. He gets batters to chase but when he hangs up his changeup or slider it costs him dearly. Unfortunately for him, the Mets’ offense is in somewhat of a slump. Only posting a June OPS good for 17th in the league, they’re far off pace from their season long ranking of 6th. Their homestand recently allowed them to get back on track even against some quality pitchers from the Brewers and Marlins, and expect them to get back to normal sooner rather than later. I’m taking the value on the Mets as dogs today to keep this game tight in the early stages.

Pick: Mets F5 +0.5 -125 (1u)

Christopher Pasatieri / Getty Images

Toronto Blue Jays @ Chicago White Sox (2:10 ET)

Favorite: Blue Jays -125

Total: 9

Pitchers: Ross Stripling (3.28 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) vs. Lucas Giolito (4.78 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)

Boy has Lucas Giolito not performed to the expectations he has set for everyone so far this year. For the past three years he’s hovered around a 3.5 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, so these numbers this year are foreign to him. Why is he so much worse though? The answer lies in the movement he’s getting from his fastball and change-up. They are not breaking vertically or horizontally like they have in previous years, and the spin-rate on his fastball is down from being in the 73rd percentile of pitchers to the 30th. Something is wrong with Giolito and we just don’t know about it. He’s getting barreled consistently and in his last game against the Blue Jays he only lasted 4.2 innings, allowing 6 earned runs on 8 hits.

Ross Stripling has offered the Blue Jays wonderful work from the beginning of games compared to his usual reliever role. In the month of June he’s posting a 1.04 ERA and 0.69 WHIP. His offense is doing what we are used to as well, with an OPS ranking 2nd in June (3rd for the season). Expect these Blue Jays batters to get to Giolito, especially having had success against him recently. I don’t want to get into the bullpens with these teams given how this series has gone, so I’ll take the Blue Jays in the first five innings.

Pick: Blue Jays F5 ML -130 (1u)

Wendell Cruz / USA Today

Philadelphia Phillies @ Texas Rangers (4:05 ET)

Favorite: Phillies -135

Total: 8

Pitchers: Zack Wheeler (2.69 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) vs. Jon Gray (4.27 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)

Zack Wheeler has been a man on a mission since April where he logged a 5.79 ERA. Since then he’s posted around a 1.50 ERA. He’s allowed less walks (5) than he has earned runs (6) over his last 6 starts and is dominating behind soft contact and a dominant strikeout rate of 27.8%. The Rangers offense continues to be just below the middle of the pack, sitting around 20th in most categories, so even though they put up 7 in their shutout victory yesterday, I don’t expect that to happen against Wheeler, as most of those runs came against the poor Phillies bullpen.

Jon Gray has been quietly solid this year. He’s above average in all advanced metrics and has allowed 1 ER or less in 3 of his last 4 games. Behind his filthy slider he’s struckout 31 batters in his last 25 innings. The issue today is he’s up against a Phillies lineup desperate to get one back after being shutout, and should see the return of Bryce Harper. He developed an infection from a blister on his hand and the Phillies were hoping to get him back yesterday, but today seems the likely return of one of the best players in baseball. Expect a phenomenal showing from Wheeler and the Phillies to pick up a run or two to win the first five innings.

Pick: Phillies F5 ML -140 (1u)

Dustin Bradford / Getty Images

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