Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:45 AM EST.
8:05 PM EST. It’s a great time of year to be betting baseball because what we see very early in the year is a lot of skewed numbers that the market will react to. Case in point is the N.Y. Mets and Matt Harvey (RHP). The Mets are 6-1 and one of those victories came in Philadelphia where Matt Harvey held the Phillies to one hit across five scoreless innings. Put no emphasis on that one Harvey start, as he showed substantially diminished velocity (91.6 mph average fastball) during his 2018 debut. Holding a scuffling Philadelphia lineup (prior to yesterday) was all fool’s gold. We saw nothing but trouble in Harvey’s under the hood numbers in his season debut, most notably a 44% first-pitch strike rate and a 33% groundball rate. Harvey’s future is now an open question and it is advised to stay far away until his skills have been reestablished. That day may not come.
Longtime readers know that we have been highly skeptical of Tanner Roark (RHP) over the years, as he has never posted a full-season of great skills. While his overall 2017 numbers aren’t impressive (4.67 ERA in 181 IP), his second half performance caught our attention (3.76 xERA, 9.2 K’s/9). Is it possible that Roark has unlocked another level? The first thing that jumps out is the significant jump in K-rate and accompanying uptick in swing and misses seen in the second half. He dominated right-handed batters, notching a 29% K% in 167 second half plate appearances. Roark has typically done a pretty good job of keeping the ball on the ground, which has helped him with the long ball. It’s worth noting that his groundball % also rose to a career high mark last year. Roark’s second half surge is particularly interesting because it coincided with a change in pitch mix. His sinker usage decreased by 15% compared to 2016 and the first half of 2017, as he utilized three of his other pitches more often (four-seam: +8%, curve: +4% change-up: +3%). It’s also notable that his best swing-and-miss offerings—the curve and change-up—also improved (curve swing and miss 2016/2017: 12%/17%; change-up swing and miss 2016/2017: 15%/20%). In his first start, Roark threw 71% first-pitch strikes, had a 56% groundball rate, walked one and whiffed six in seven full. Seems like watching Strasburg, Scherzer, et all every day has taught him something and we trust we’re getting Roark and the Nats today at a real bargain spotting the runs.
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WASHINGTON -1½ +144 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.88)