Today's Free Picks for
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Arizona +120 over Chicago
2:20 PM EST. Significant credit for Arizona’s early success 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 20 games in succession.
That backing started on May 20th and will end on June 12 after a three game set in Philadelphia. Thus far, we are 1-0, making this Game 2 of 20.
Here are today’s starters:
Shoulder inflammation cost Madison Bumgarner (LHP - ARI) six weeks in June/July of last year. His 2nd half ERA/WHIP would have you believe he spent that IL stint finding what he left in San Francisco. After eight starts this year, it’s still looking like he found what he left in San Francisco, as he comes in with a 2.29 ERA and 1.19. Truth be told, all MadBum has found is a hit-rate/strand rate fortune, when what we were looking for was his former velocity/swing & miss rate//K%. Alas, those are still lost in the Bay Area. Dude has 21 K’s in 35 innings with a swing and miss rate of 7.9%. If we weren’t backing Arizona daily, this version of MadBum would be hard to get behind because his luck can’t last.
Justin Steele (RHP - CHC) is 1-4 with a 4.50 ERA after seven starts. He’s only pitched 28 innings over those starts so durable he is not. He has a BB/K split of 15/29 with a very shaky first-pitch strike rate of 50%. Steele is a reliever that is starting games and it’s not working out. After some relief work last year, he returned as starter and his skills nosedived. While all samples are small, a 25% K-BB% as a reliever vs. 9% as a starter provides a pretty good hint at where any potential value lies. He’s a good fade.
Arizona +120 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.40)