I have one MLB Series Pick win under my belt already this week as the Cleveland Indians have already won their three-game set over the rival Twins by taking the first two of three with the finale going on Thursday afternoon.
Game one was a roaring success as expected with Shane Bieber staying hot and throwing seven innings of two-run ball while Devin Smeltzer struggled with five earned runs against in his 6.1 innings of work. Cleveland won the opener by a 5-2 count.
Things took a turn for the worse before game two got underway when it was announced that expected Indians starter Carlos Carrasco was taking an indefinite leave the treat a blood condition. Therefore, game two became a bullpen day for the Indians and the powerful Twins took advantage early and led 6-2 after three innings. However, the Cleveland bats woke up late and scored six runs from the fifth innings on and hit three late home runs to complete the comeback and win the game 9-7 and thus hitting our Indians pick at -125 odds.
They’ll go for the sweep behind Trevor Bauer Thursday afternoon.
I have another pick to be determined as the Reds and Cardinals finish up a three-game set Thursday afternoon. I have the Reds to win at +105, and they did win game one behind a strong effort from Luis Castillo, however, game two was rained out on Wednesday night. As a result, it becomes a two-game series and the Reds can earn us another win with a victory in St. Louis on Thursday.
Very nice to get those early wins, and wins in general, as I make my third pick of the week between the Nationals and Padres kicking off Thursday night from Petco Park in San Diego.
Let’s take a look at the odds for this four-game set, courtesy of BetOnline.
Nationals vs. Padres MLB Series Odds
Now, let’s take a look at the probable starting pitchers for the series, courtesy of MLB.com.
- Thursday: Corbin (WSH) vs. Lucchesi (SD)
- Friday: Fedde (WSH) vs. Margevicius (SD)
- Saturday: Scherzer (WSH) vs. TBD
- Sunday: Strasburg (WSH) vs. TBD
Let’s break down these pitching matchups before getting into the offenses and bullpens and finally my pick to win this four-game set.
Thursday: Patrick Corbin (5-3, 3.46 ERA) vs. Joey Lucchesi (4-3, 3.96 ERA)
Corbin enters his Thursday night start coming off his worst outing of the season as he was torched for six earned runs in just 2.2 innings at Cincinnati last week.
The start came after Corbin threw a complete-game shutout over the Miami Marlins, but that start came at home where he’s been much better this season. Corbin has pitched to a 2.32 ERA and a 2.43 FIP at home this season compared to a 4.96 ERA and a 4.81 FIP on the road. His 0.42 HR/9 mark at home is elite, but his 1.93 HR/9 mark on the road very much needs some work.
That said, Corbin gets a very favorable venue to turn those home run issues around at Petco Park in San Diego. Aside from perhaps Oracle Park in San Francisco, the confines at Petco Park in San Diego are the most pitcher-friendly in baseball.
After spending his entire career with the NL West Arizona Diamondbacks prior to this season, Corbin has seen a lot of Petco Park in his career and has pitched to a 3.97 ERA there across seven starts and 10 appearances.
On the season, the left-hander owns a very solid 3.46 ERA, an identical 3.46 FIP, and a 3.75 xFIP. He’s generating strikeouts at a high 9.92 K/9 clip while he’s once again keeping walks down with a 2.63 BB/9 clip as well.
The road issues have really been over his last two starts as he allowed a combined 10 earned runs to the Reds and Mets across just 7.2 innings of work. Prior to that, he posted a 2.88 ERA in his previous four road starts at the Mets, Dodgers, Phillies, and Rockies – three of which sport very formidable offenses.
Fellow left-hander Joey Lucchesi will get the nod for the Padres in the series opener, and he’s been rather good at home this season.
He owns a 2.61 ERA at Petco this season to go along with a 3.30 FIP and 3.54 xFIP. For whatever reason, his strikeout rate takes a big hit at home, however, as he’s striking out the opposition at just an 8.27 K/9 rate at home compared to a big 10.80 mark on the road.
Still, there little denying his work in the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco. If we take away an earlier outing this season when he allowed five earned runs in seven innings against the Rockies at home, Lucchesi owns a 1.85 ERA across his other six starts at home. He’s coming off 6.1 innings of one-run ball against the Marlins – a game that was played at Petco.
Overall, the sophomore has posted a 3.96 ERA on the season to go along with a 3.57 FIP and 3.72 xFIP, numbers that more or less agree with his ERA figure.
Lucchesi has actually faced the Nationals once already this series and the result wasn’t pretty as he allowed four earned runs – five runs total – on nine hits, including two home runs. Of course, that start came on the road where Lucchesi has been notably worse this season.
To be honest, this is a really good pitching matchup. Both pitchers sport similar overall numbers and could keep the opposing offenses at bay, especially in this stadium. However, for a reason I’ll explain later, I can’t give the edge to Lucchesi and his stout work at home over Corbin and his recent road woes, so I’ll chalk this one up as a wash.
Friday: Erick Fedde (1-0, 2.55 ERA) vs. Nick Margevicius (2-6, 5.40 ERA)
Fedde is currently occupying the rotation spot vacated by Jeremy Hellickson while he remains on the IL, and the result has been good through the first three starts of the season as he’s pitched to a 1.93 ERA across 14 innings in those three starts. Fedde has also made five relief appearances this season prior to entering the rotation.
Fedde actually began the season in Double-A where he made four starts and five appearances while pitching to a 2.55 ERA and 2.80 FIP.
While that starter’s ERA looks very nice, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that he also owns a 4.87 FIP and 5.73 xFIP as a starter, numbers that tell us we are going to see some serious regression coming for the right-hander.
He owns just a minuscule 5.14 K/9 as a starter – a number that only increases to 5.91 as a reliever – and his 4.50 BB/9 rate is way too high as it’s approaching that strikeout clip. His 92.6% strand rate as a starter is due for a big dip as well, so keep an eye out for the regression, something that could very well happen in this series despite a weak Padres offense hitting in a pitcher’s park.
It should also be noted that his three starts this season have come against the Mets, Marlins, and Reds, three teams that rank no higher than 18th in league offense and the Marlins are the league’s very worst offense as judge by wOBA.
Margevicius had a fabulous start to his season when he allowed just one run in each of his first three starts of the season, although two came against the light-hitting Giants. However, it’s been mostly downhill since and straight downhill over his last three starts.
Over his last three outings, Margevicius has allowed 15 earned runs in just 12 innings, good for an unsightly 11.25 ERA. He’s allowed six home runs in that span and struck out only eight. The good news, if any, is that he walked just three in that time.
Interestingly, he’s been much worse at home this season despite a favorable venue. He’s posted a huge 7.09 ERA at home while his 6.20 FIP and 5.40 xFIP also suggest that he’s been really bad at home this season. He’s somehow allowing 2.03 home runs per nine innings, a massive number considering the spacious outfield at Petco.
While Fedde is due for some big regression, there is absolutely nothing to like about Margevicius right now and I’m therefore giving the edge to the Nationals’ young right-hander.
Saturday: Max Scherzer (3-5, 3.06 ERA) vs. TBD
Don’t let the record or ERA north of 3.00 fool you, this is very much the same Max Scherzer.
In fact, it’s a Max Scherzer that is due for some serious positive regression as the season moves along.
Scherzer enters this one with that 3.06 ERA, however, he also owns a 2.14 FIP and 2.92 xFIP, both of which are the best marks in the National League. His 3.4 WAR and 12.34 K/9 this season also pace the senior circuit.
Furthermore, the regression should come at a higher clip on the road than at home. In other words, he owns a 3.26 ERA on the road, but also a tiny 1.74 FIP and a 2.71 xFIP. His 13.27 K/9 on the road has been simply outrageous while he’s also walked just 1.40 batters per nine innings away from Nationals Park in Washington.
To summarize, here’s a table showing Scherzer’s dominance once again this season.
If you think Scherzer has regressed this season, think again. At 34, he’s still arguably the best pitcher in the world and certainly the best in the National League from a wide-lens perspective, although Hyun-Jin Ryu and his 1.35 ERA might have something to say about that.
Scherzer also enters this one on a roll, posting a 0.90 ERA with one run allowed or less in each of his last three starts. He pitched eight innings of one-run ball with a whopping 15 strikeouts in his last outing.
He owns a 2.37 ERA in 10 career starts against the Padres and a stout 1.96 mark in four starts at Petco Park.
While there hasn’t been a starter announced on the Padres side here, it would appear to be Eric Lauer’s turn in the rotation after he last pitched on June 3rd against the Phillies.
Lauer owns a 4.18 ERa and 4.09 FIP to go along with a 4.62 xFIP on the season. He hasn’t struck many out with just a 7.24 K/9 on the season, but he’s also issued free passes at just a 2.37 BB/9 clip.
He also enters this one on one heck of a roll. He’s allowed just one earned run in four consecutive starts and sports a 1.50 ERA over that time. He’s walked just three over his last 24 innings and allowing only one home run.
Lauer’s been very good at home where he’s pitched to a 2.50 ERA on the season while his home FIP and xFIP do call for some regression at Petco Park with a 3.56 and 4.91 mark, respectively.
Nonetheless, we have a pitcher with excellent recent results and excellent home results going here.
Still, I’m not about to give the advantage to anyone but Scherzer which will likely be the case every time the three-time Cy Young winner toes the rubber this season.
Sunday: Stephen Strasburg (6-3, 3.54 ERA) vs. TBD
Strasburg was touched up for five earned runs in the first inning of his last start at home against the White Sox. However, he settled down from there to complete five innings, the last four of which were scoreless and his offense came to life and he even ended up in the win column with a 9-5 victory.
It certainly wasn’t his best outing, but this guy has been good this season. Very good, in fact.
Like Scherzer, Strasburg is in for some positive regression as his 3.54 ERA is well above his 2.89 FIP and 3.07 xFIP. He’s striking out hitters at an 11.14 K/9 clip and he’s kept walks down to a 2.46 BB/9 rate as well.
He’s already been good on the road with a 3.18 ERA, however, he also sports a stout 2.41 FIP away from Nationals Park as well. Furthermore, he’s allowed just 0.40 home runs per nine innings at home, and that number has a good chance of going down in this venue.
The Padres also sit with a to-be-determined for this game, but it would appear to be rookie right-hander Chris Paddack’s turn in the rotation.
He has been very good, posting a 2.97 ERA and 3.70 FIP to go along with a big 9.79 K/9 rate as well. Furthermore, he’s showing some serious maturity with a tiny 1.78 BB/9 rate on the season after posting some ridiculously low walk rates throughout his minor league career.
He owns a 2.50 ERA on the season at home while his 2.71 FIP and 3.09 xFIP more or less support that figure.
That said, Paddack has struggled in his last two starts, allowing nine earned runs over his last 9.1 innings, good for an 8.90 ERA in starts at the Yankees at home against the Phillies.
Rookies are certainly going to have some tough outings, and Paddack has certainly scuffled of late.
At the end of the day, the advantage here goes to the Nationals’ star right-hander despite Paddack’s overall quality work on the season, but it’s not by much.
Advantage: Slight to Nationals.
Nationals vs. Padres MLB Series Pick
Before we briefly get into the offenses, let’s glance back at the pitching matchups.
I mentioned in the game one breakdown that I’m not about to give the advantage to Lucchesi despite some yeoman’s work at home. That’s because the Nationals are raking left-handed pitching this season to the tune of a .361 wOBA on the season, good for third in all of baseball.
The Padres, on the other hand, are sitting 22nd with a .304 wOBA against lefties. As even as the pitching matchup looks, I like the Nationals in game one thanks to their bats versus southpaw pitching.
The Nationals also see a lefty in game two in the form of Nick Margevicius and should also see a lefty in game three in Eric Lauer. The stars are aligning for the Nationals’ offense to have a big first three games to this series while Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg toe the rubber in games three and four, respectively.
Against right-handers, the offenses are almost identical as the Nationals own a .306 wOBA against them and the Padres sit at .303. Nothing to say here.
Now, the Nationals have the worst bullpen in the big leagues with a 6.68 ERA. The Padres rank 17th with 4.47 mark and also rank 10th with a 4.19 FIP and all the way to third with a 3.82 xFIP.
There’s little doubt the bullpen advantage goes to the Padres in this series despite the Nationals’ ‘pen performing better of late.
Still, the Nationals are rolling out their three-headed starting pitching monster in this series, and that alone should get them the series win. Add in their lefty-mashing offense facing three left-handed starters and I am all over the road team to win this series at solid -110 odds.