Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:00 AM EST
1:10 PM EST. Jameson Taillon has overcome several health issues already throughout his young career, including a big one this year. Diagnosed in early May with testicular cancer, he missed just over a month before returning to the Pittsburgh rotation. In 102 innings, Taillon has walked 37 while striking out 99. The K-rate is solid and his groundball rate is elite at 50% but we’re seeing serious signs of fatigue that show up everywhere in Taillon’s profile. Over his last five starts, Taillon’s groundball rate has dipped to 44%, which has led to a high line-drive rate of 29%. He’s also walked 4.2 batters per nine innings which has led to a disturbing 1.77 WHIP. Lastly, his swinging strike rate has dipped dramatically and that could be the result of fatigue or MLB hitters getting to know him better or both. Taillon’s swing strike rate is 9% overall, 6% in his last start and 8% over his last five starts. None of that supports the 99 K’s in 102 frames and when you throw in an xERA of 5.56 since the beginning of July, the picture becomes clearer. Jameson Taillon is a big risk in a park like this because batters are squaring up and have been teeing off on him for well over a month.
The Reds will recall 22-year-old Tyler Mahle to make his major league debut here. Mahle, who threw a perfect game on only 88 pitches in April of this season, was elevated from Double-A to Triple-A in late June. His advanced pitchability and knack for keeping hitters off-guard by changing speeds have made him difficult to hit. Mahle commands and controls his 89-95 mph fastball extremely well and is able to spot it impeccably to both sides of the plate. He can pitch up and down, left and right, all the while adding and subtracting from his velocity. He’ll operate with three secondary pitches, including a hard slider, curveball and solid-average change-up. Outside of his fastball, there is no plus offering in his arsenal, though he sequences well and gets ahead of hitters. Not all prospect gems are found in the first few rounds of the draft. Mahle was selected in the seventh round of the 2013 draft out of a California high school and has seen his prospect value increase with each season. Mahle has done a nice job of registering strikeouts in the minors (138 in 144.1 frames with just 30 walks issued) but there is a question as to whether that can continue in the big leagues, as he doesn’t have a true wipeout pitch and his two breaking balls remain inconsistent. Despite his cross-fire delivery, he’s remained quite durable and can hold his velocity deep into games because he works fast and efficiently. With above average athleticism, Mahle can consistently repeat his delivery, which allows him to exhibit his plus command. For his career, he has a 2.85 ERA, 1.9 BB’s/9 and 8.3 K’s/9 over 558 minor-league innings. At Triple-A Louisville this season, Mahle’s BAA was .233 and his ERA/xERA split was 2.73/3.41 over 10 starts covering 59 frames. No matter where he's pitched or at what level, Mahle has dominated. He’s confident, he works fast and he’s very good. He also has an unusual delivery that may take MLB hitters some time to adjust to. All told, he and the Reds are absolutely worth a bet here.
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CINCINNATI +109 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.18)