I rolled out two MLB Series Picks over the weekend and went 2-0 and reeled in some nice profits in the process.
The big winner was the Yankees taking down the Rays in their three-game set from Tampa Bay. Domingo German was once again excellent in Friday night’s game while the Yankees caught a break, although not one they hoped for, when the Rays’ Tyler Glasnow has to leave the game and will now miss 4-6 weeks with a forearm strain.
After winning Friday, the Yankees dropped a 7-2 decision on Saturday, but came back Sunday to win the rubber match as Masahiro Tanaka out-dueled Blake Snell en route to a 7-1 win.
Our second win of the weekend was in the books by Saturday as the Reds took the first two games from the Giants in San Francisco being dropping the series finale on Sunday. Cincinnati’s offense stayed hot, scoring at least five runs in every game.
It was certainly nice to see both weekend picks hit, and I am back to deliver a MLB Series Pick on Tuesday night as the Mets and Nationals get together in a pivotal NL East series from Washington, D.C.
Let’s first break down the series odds, courtesy of MyBookie.
Mets vs. Nationals MLB Series Pick
Now, let’s lay out the probable pitchers for the three-game set, courtesy of MLB.com.
- Tuesday: Syndergaard (NYM) vs. Hellickson (WSH)
- Wednesday: Font (NYM) vs. Corbin (WSH)
- Thursday: Wheeler (NYM) vs. Sanchez (WSH)
Let’s break down each of these pitching matchups and see if there is an advantage to be had before touching on some final notes and making my pick for this important intra-division series.
Tuesday: Noah Syndergaard (2-3, 5.14 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (2-1, 5.52 ERA)
As evidenced by his high ERA, Syndergaard hasn’t exactly been the reliable ace-type pitcher the Mets appeared to be getting earlier in his career. However, if the ERA indicators mean anything, positive regression should be on its way in a hurry.
Despite an elevated ERA, Syndergaard is also the owner of a much-improved 3.56 ERA and 3.41 xFIP. His strikeouts numbers remain right in line with his career average (9.92 K/9 this season vs. 9.95 K/9 career), but Syndergaard has been unlucky in the form of a .348 BABIP against compared to his .317 career mark while his strand rate of 62.3% is well under his 74% career mark and should even out as we move along.
It was disappointing to see Syndergaard allow four earned runs and two home runs in a favorable matchup at San Diego in a pitcher’s park after hurling a complete game shutout over the Reds in his previous outing.
That said, Syndergaard could take advantage of a struggling Nationals offense in Tuesday night’s matchup as Washington is projected to score just 3.7 runs in Tuesday night’s game as per Fantasylabs.
Hellickson continues to be a subpar pitcher and could be on a short leash in terms of his spot in the rotation moving forward.
Similar to Syndergaard, Hellickson owns a high ERA at 5.52. Unlike Syndergaard, however, the peripheral numbers are just as ugly as he also owns a 5.62 FIP and 5.15 xFIP while allowing home runs at a high 2.03 HR/9 clip.
Hellickson lasted just four innings in his most recent start after allowing two homers and three walks while he allowed five runs over just three innings with two more homers in just third-to-last start. All told, he’s allowed 15 earned runs over his last 17.1 innings with six homers in that span to boot.
I would expect the Mets will get to Hellickson in Tuesday night’s contest.
Wednesday: Wilmer Font (1-0, 5.50 ERA) vs. Patrick Corbin (3-1, 3.20 ERA)
Font was a part of the introduction to the opener last season in Tampa Bay, however he was moved to the Mets a couple weeks ago and has taken over the rotation spot of the injured Steven Matz as well.
Font did fine in his first outing as a Met, which also happened to be his first start of the season, as he pitched four innings and allowed two earned runs, but did not walk a batter. He should be stretched out to go a little deeper in this one tonight if he can keep the Nats’ bats at bay, but I would expect the Mets bullpen to be a big factor in this one as I wouldn’t expect to see him go much further than five innings.
Font hasn’t been great overall this year with a 5.50 ERA, but also a much-improved 4.00 FIP and 4.10 xFIP. However, he pitched to a brutal 5.93 ERA and 6.23 FIP in five starts and 19 appearances last season, so I’m not so sure we should expect much of anything from the right-hander on Saturday.
Corbin has been a little more hittable this season than he was last, but the numbers are still there. He owns a 3.20 ERA. but has slightly outpitched his ERA indicators in the form of a 3.48 FIP and 3.83 xFIP. That said, he’s racking up the punchouts at a 10.30 K/9 rate but will look to reel in the walks as his 3.02 BB/9 clip is much higher than the 2.16 mark he posted heading into his walk year last year with Arizona.
Still, there’s not much debate as to who the advantage goes to here. Corbin hurled seven shutout innings while allowing just three hits and racked up eight strikeouts on the road against a very good Dodgers offense. He did walk four in the outing and he’s walked 11 over his last three starts and 18 innings, but Corbin should be able to keep the Mets at bat on Saturday.
Thursday: Zack Wheeler (3-2, 4.35 ERA) vs. Anibal Sanchez (0-6, 5.27 ERA)
Wheeler has endured a season very much akin to Syndergaard’s so far as his ERA isn’t telling the true story of his performance to this point.
While the 4.35 ERA leaves plenty to be desired, Wheeler has also turned in a stout 2.70 FIP and 3.34 xFIP while he’s racked up strikeouts to the tune of a 10.51 K/9 rate on the season and has been keeping the ball in the yard at an elite 0.54 HR/9 rate.
Wheeler has racked up double-digit strikeouts in each of his last two starts while allowing just four earned runs over his last 14 innings with 21 strikeouts to boot. He’s walked only two in that time as well.
One thing to note with Wheeler is that he has already faced this Nationals team twice this season – his first two starts of the season – and yielded 11 earned runs on 10 hits and a whopping eight walks – seven in one game – across 9.2 frames. He’s since been electric, however, and looks like the pitcher that turned in a 1.68 ERA in the second half of 2018, the second-best mark in all of baseball.
Sanchez, like Hellickson, could be pitching for his rotation spot when his turn rolls around on Thursday.
His career looked as if it was winding down after a tough final couple of years in Detroit, but Sanchez bounced back with a 2.83 ERA across 24 starts last season with the Braves.
However, things once against look gloomy for the veteran right-hander as he’s posted a 5.27 ERA< 4.86 FIP and 5.36 xFIP to go along with a massive 5.27 BB/9 rate in 2019. He’s generating strikeouts at a solid 8.56 K/9 rate, but also allowing homers at an elevated 1.32 HR/9 clip. The 35-year-old is coming off a tough start in Los Angeles on Friday night, allowing two homers and three runs in just 4.1 innings. He’s walked six over his last nine frames. Again, there is a clear advantage in this one and it does not go to the home side.
Mets vs. Nationals MLB Series Pick
Offensively, there hasn’t been a tangible difference between these two clubs this season.
The Mets rank 18th in baseball with a .317 wOBA while the Nationals check in at 21st with a .305 wOBA.
Since five of the six starters in this series are of the right-handed variety, I decided to look at each offense against right-handed pitching. However, there isn’t much of a difference here either as the Mets once again hold a slight advantage with their .312 wOBA, good for 19th, whereas the Nationals check in at 24th with a .294 mark.
Neither team has hit for much power this year while Washington’s speed element is more of a presence than the Mets’.
I’m essentially not swayed one way or the other when it comes to these offenses, both of which have disappointed this season.
Even the bullpens aren’t separated by much.
Yes, the Nationals enter this one with baseball’s worst bullpen in terms of ERA with a mark of 6.34, which is actually the worst mark by a large amount over the Orioles’ 29th-ranked 5.86 mark.
Still, the Mets are just 24th with a 4.78 bullpen ERA and the gap narrows further when we look at some peripherals.
The Mets’ 4.53 FIP ranks 20th while the Nationals’ 4.75 mark ranks 24th. The Mets’ 4.82 xFIP ranks 26th while the Nationals’ 5.16 mark is once again 30th.
I’d like to say the Mets have a notable advantage against the worst bullpen in baseball, but there’s hasn’t been much better, so once again I am not swayed either direction here.
I don’t have much choice but to look at the starting pitching matchups to make my pick. The Mets have a clear advantage with the Syndergaard and Wheeler matchups while the Nationals should, by all means, win Wednesday’s game behind Corbin versus a subpar Font and a subpar Mets bullpen.
Syndergaard and Wheeler are both not pitchers any team wants to face as both sit in the upper 90s with their fastball and both will likely each touch 100 mph on the radar gun this week. Hellickson and Sanchez have both been hit so hard this year that it’s tough to like Washington’s chances in either of those games, especially when we factor in the weak offense and league-worst bullpen.
As a result, there’s no second-guessing for me on this one as I am all over the Mets to win this three-game set from D.C. this week.