Today's Free Picks for
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Posted at 12:30 PM EST.
Detroit +155 over Tampa Bay
1:10 PM EST. Back before the season started, we hinted at a new strategy that we started employing on May 10. We’re going to be targeting teams to either fade or get behind and we’re going to play those teams every day for a specified amount of time, whether it’s one week (minimum) or 4 weeks (there is no maximum). We’ll assess that team after the allotted time and decide whether to abort or continue based on value, performance and other factors.
With baseball being a game of streaks, as well as peaks and valleys, we’re going to try and establish teams in line for regression or improvement. We’re going to try and get these undervalued teams at the right time. This strategy will allow us to cash in on games when a team is warming up and/or the starting pitching heavily favors the chalk but the underdog wins.
For 17 straight games and ending with a three-game set against Minnesota on June 2, we’ll be playing the Tigers daily. Detroit will be an underdog all three games in Tampa, then it’s 15 straight games against both Minnesota and Cleveland where the Tigers will be a dog in most of them and only a slight favorite at home in the others. This is game 3 of 17 in anticipation of Detroit winning more games than they lose over that span.
Here are today’s starters:
In just his second season in the majors a year ago, Drew Rasmussen (RHP - TAM) delivered surprisingly good value, posting a 2.84 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 76 innings as a starter and reliever. In seven starts this year, he hasn’t missed a beat with a 2.67 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP but we see plenty of reasons to be leary of his success.
Rasmussen's ERA gets a sizable boost from low hit and HR/F rates, and a high strand rate, leaving his xERA almost 1½ runs higher than his surface ERA. Likewise, his WHIP was also helped by the low hit rate—his xWHIP clocked in at 1.26. That puts him at risk for regression.
When we separate the two roles out (starter/reliever) over his MLB career, it's clear he hasn't been the same pitcher in each job. While he does have a better ERA as a starter, (1.93) than a reliever(4.56), some of that can be traced to hit rate (20% as an SP, 34% as an RP). His skills have been stronger out of the bullpen: a 30% K% and 17% K-BB, compared to an 18% K% and 14% K-BB%. His 2021 swing & miss rate from April-July, when he worked mostly as a reliever, was 13.0%, a match for his mark from 2020, when he worked exclusively out of the pen; in Aug-Sept of 2021, when he worked primarily as a starter, his swing and miss rate dropped to 9.5% and it’s at the same rate this year, which tracks the differences we see in his K%. Fewer Ks would likely mean a higher ERA.
His hidden flaws as a starter are not platoon-based, but rather stem from his lack of an effective third pitch. He’s throwing his four-seamer 64.6% of the time and his slider 30.1%; he uses his curveball just 2.7%, and his change-up just 2.6%, and neither was a good strikeout pitch: 6.3% swing and miss rate for the change-up and 3.0% for the curve. And when he does start, he never throws more than 5 innings, suggesting that the Rays have time-through-the-order concerns with him. Spotting -210 with Rasmussen is very risky business.
Eduardo Rodriguez (LHP - DET) is absolutely one of the most undervalued starters in the game right now. A pitcher of his quality should not be taking back this price so let’s hope we can make the books pay.
Rodriguez’s results last year didn't show it, but it was his best season yet. As his swing and miss rate kept inching upward, his foundation is there to push his K rate up even further this year and that’s precisely what we’re seeing. E-Rod has a very good BB/K split of 15/34 in 39 innings. He’s pitching deeper into games. With a 70% first pitch strike rate, one can expect even fewer walks. In seven starts this year, four have been of the quality variety and not many starters can make that same claim because in order to record a quality start, one must last five full innings. Eduardo Rodriguez’s two-year reduction in ball rate, validates his K-BB% spike. Profit plays don't get much better than this one.
Detroit +155 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.10)