Today's Free Picks for
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Arizona +120 over Chicago
2:20 PM EST. Last year, Arizona allowed an NL-high 5.51 runs per game. As of Wednesday, May 18, they’ve trimmed that to an even four runs per game, the league’s sixth-lowest mark. A significant share of the credit goes to pitching coach Brent Strom, who parted ways with the Astros last November after an eight-season run (2014-21) that included six trips to the playoffs, three pennants, a championship, and a pair of Cy Young award winners (Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander).
Through Wednesday, Arizona’s starters ranked second in the league in ERA (2.59) behind only the Dodgers, second in home runs per nine (0.70) behind only the Giants, and fifth in xERA (3.54) despite ranking just 10th in both strikeout and walk rates (19.9% and 7.6%, respectively). That -0.95 ERA-xERA gap owes plenty to the rotation’s ability to generate soft contact. The unit’s .240 BABIP is 17 points lower than any other NL team, with its 87.4 mph average exit velocity, 34.2% hard-hit rate, and 6.8% barrel rate all third, the last in a virtual tie with the Phillies and Marlins. When a team can pitch like this, or prevent runs like this, they’re going to win some games and it’s for that reason that we’ll put Arizona on our radar for the next 20 games starting today and ending on June 12 after a three game set in Philadelphia. After snapping a six-game losing streak yesterday (4 losses by one run), the D-Backs are extremely playable daily, thus, this will be Game 1 of 20 of getting behind them daily. After targeting the next 20 games, we’ll reassess.
Here are today’s starters:
Fifth starter Humberto Castellanos (RHP - ARI), a 24-year-old righty sinkerballer whom Strom worked with in Houston (the Diamondbacks acquired him off waivers in January 2021), began the year in the bullpen but has managed a 3.95 ERA and 4.14 xERA as a starter. He’s almost completely ditched his four-seamer (which he threw 22.3% of the time last year, down to 12.6% this year) in favor of a much-improved slider (from 6.5% to 20%), and so far batters have not had much success against it. Castellanos throws strikes, he doesn’t walk batters and his groundball rate is progressively improving with each passing start (56% last game).
After eight starts, Kyle Hendricks (RHP - CHC) is 2-2 with a 4.03/4.80 ERA/xERA split. A glance at his skills doesn't give much reason for hope, as he once again is out-pitching his x-indicators. luck is his M.O. Cue up a career-worst skills season last year, where of course results matched xERA/xWHIP. We're tempted to call it his "track record," as BB%/K% drops are within standard variance. This is the way Hendricks pitches. Not much has changed. He’s not old, but has a unique set of skills. This could go either way --- every start.
Arizona +120 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.40)