Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:30 AM EST.
4:00 PM EST. Sal Romano (RHP) entered spring training as the favorite for the open fifth rotation spot after his strong August-September for Cincinnati following his mid-season 2017 call-up from Triple-A. Groundballer Romano showed control/command gains in 2017's closing months, with 50 K's/20 BB's in his 65 IP in his final 11 starts, spanning August and September. His spring focus has been on developing a changeup to complement his heavy fastball/slider combination. In 15 spring innings, Romano struck out 18 batters and walked just two. Throwing strikes, even if it was just spring is not a bad place to start. 16 games started last year at this level is also a plus. Romano went 5-8 with a 4.45 ERA over those starts but he was featuring just two pitches and has now expanded his arsenal this season. For a guy whose fastball can touch 100 mph and who induced a 50% groundball rate over those 16 starts (had a big groundball history in minors as well), Romano is at least worth a look.
The Nationals are indeed a dangerous team but after facing Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg to open the season, the Reds decent looking lineup gets a break by facing Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez (LHP) used to be a pitcher who could produce an ERA in the low-3s with regularity. That was more than five years ago though, at least until last season (2.96 ERA, 1.18 WHIP). Before you think that he has resurrected that profile, note that his overall skills were below-average in 2017 nd his annual xERA trend paints a much more ominous picture: 3.41, 3.81, 4.02, 4.47 xERA. Lady Luck paid him back a little bit last year, as his hit%/strand% swings drove down ERA, and offset his backslide in control. His fly-ball % is also trending in the wrong direction Last year was his second year with a velocity drop, which sent his swing and miss rate and K-rate falling to its lowest levels since 2010. The gap between Gonzalez’s 2017's ace surface stats and mid-rotation skills means many are gonna overpay to get behind him for at least the first four weeks of the season. Don’t be one of those many.
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CINCINNATI +126 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.52)