Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:15 PM EST.
7:10 PM EST. Coming off of a big year in 2018, Trevor Bauer (RHP - CLE) was expected to contend for the Cy Young this year but he’s been a disappointment so far with an ERA approaching 4.00 and skills that indicate Bauer has reaped what he has sown (xERA of 4.52 over his last five starts).
Bauer still has the goods to deliver great results, but his results to date are not a fluke. Poor control is the most glaring wart in his 2019 skill set, as he has walked 40 batters in 92 frames. His stuff is still inducing plenty of swings-and-misses to support a double-digit strikeout rate and his fastball velocity continues to ascend. However, left-handed batters have an .804 OPS against Bauer in large part due to his failure to command the strike zone against them. Though Bauer's primary out-pitch, the slider, is still missing a lot of bats (21% swing % miss rate), he may be struggling with command of it and it is likely one of the main reasons for the career-worst rate of hard contact he has permitted so far. Batters have been able to elevate Bauer's stuff more effectively in 2019, and again the slider is one of the main culprits. It induced grounders 47% of the time in 2018, but that rate has dropped to 22% in 2019. Bauer has not been as sharp as he was in 2018, and the skills show that he deserves the mediocre results he has received so far. He’ll now face a Reds’ team that has the worst road OPS (.644) in the league but the Reds have greatly underachieved and therefore a likely correction to the good is forthcoming to Cinci’s bats.
Luis Castillo (RHP - CIN) continues to flash some of the most intriguing skills of any starting pitcher in the game. His approach in May featured tons of swings and misses (15.4%), which helped him rack up strikeouts at an elite rate (10.9 K’s/9). He also posted the highest groundball rate in the game that month (71%). The exit velocity he is allowing is one of the lowest in the game, and his ability to induce groundballs is reflected in the paltry 1.1 degree launch angle generated by his opponents. In addition, he continues to have one of the best change-ups around, and even his sinker became a whiff pitch for him in May. The missing piece is his wobbly control, which was hampered by a 53% first-pitch strike rate and 40% ball% in May. Those control sub-indicators soared in the second half of 2018, so do not consider them a chronic problem. Castillo also has the best batted ball profile in the game with 61% grounders, a sick 14% line-drive rate and a 25% fly-ball rate. Castillo remains a premium investment that must be played when he’s offered a price.
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Cincinnati +115 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.30)