Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:00 PM EST.
HOUSTON -1½ +107 over Cleveland
8:10 PM EST. Luis Garcia (RHP - HOU) has looked like an upper-tier arm during his home starts (2.50 ERA, 0.99 WHIP in 50.1 IP). His skills have been excellent too: 28% K%, 6% BB%, 23% K-BB%, 38% GB%, 3.11 xERA. He’ll now face a Baseball Teams’ nine that scares nobody. That said, this wager is more a fade on Cleveland’s lanky starter.
Our skepticism over Triston McKenzie’s (RHP - CLE) ability to hold up as a starter has been mentioned on these pages before. There’s no questioning the stuff, but his rapid deterioration in stamina both between and within starts constantly threatens to send him to the bullpen. While he showed signs of maintaining his velocity more effectively in his excellent July 9 start, his checkered injury history, slight frame, and significant workload increase could mean that there aren’t many major-league starts left to come this year, even if his performance from his last start continues. Cleveland’s mediocre season also threatens to leave them on the outside of the playoff picture. McKenzie has thrown 49 innings this year over 11 starts and one relief appearance. In other words, he’s barely averaging four innings per start.
Going back to his MLB debut, McKenzie punched out 10, while allowing a single run over six frames. The velocity, a huge unknown before he stepped on the field, was in the mid-90s. It ran up to 97. He missed plenty of bats with his fastball, while also mixing in a curveball, slider, and changeup. Subsequent starts went well from the strikeout perspective, with McKenzie whiffing 33 batters in 25.1 innings. Elsewhere, things weren’t so good. He struggled with homers, allowing six in that span. Efficiency also became a problem. By his sixth start, it took McKenzie 79 pitches to get through four frames. The impressive velocity disappeared, as McKenzie lost heat at an alarming rate.
By his sixth start, McKenzie was barely sitting 90 with his fastball. The subsequent bump came from a move to the bullpen. While the transition could have been painted as mere preparation for the playoffs, it was clearly designed to address McKenzie’s fading stamina. McKenzie has answered many questions simply by getting on a major-league mound and impressing for any stretch of time. However, the righty has never physically filled out to improve his durability, as hoped. Now we have to wonder if he could not sustain his velocity through six starts, how is he going to be able to hold up much longer? He’ll now face an Astros’ nine that works pitchers better than any team in the business.
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HOUSTON -1½ +107 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.14)