I had quite the weekend with my MLB Series Picks.
First, I’ll briefly speak to the loss at +100 that I suffered between the Red Sox and Astros. I had the Red Sox to win what I thought was going to be a close series, and close it was.
The Astros won games by a 4-3 score on both Friday and Saturday to sink my pick before the Red Sox won the Sunday finale by a 4-1 count.
That said, it was all positive from there on out.
My pick that I released Thursday between the Rays and Indians went over quite well. I had the Rays at -120 to win the four-game set, and they indeed took the series by winning three of four. They won the opener Thursday, dropped the second game Friday, but won both the Saturday and Sunday games by a 6-2 and 6-3 score, respectively.
I also released a pick between the Phillies and Brewers over the weekend as I took Philadelphia to win a series on the road at quality +140 odds, and the pick ended as a winner.
The Phillies won the series opener on Friday by a 6-4 score and locked down the pick with a 7-2 win on Saturday behind eight strong innings from Jake Arrieta who I touted as the best bet to win a game for the Phillies over the weekend. His effort proved key to winning the pick as the Phillies dropped the finale, as I expected a per my piece on Friday, by a 9-1 score behind a wonderful eight-inning, 10-strikeout effort from Brandon Woodruff as his quality run continues.
If you bet $100 on the two weekend picks you came out with a $40 profit, however, if you add in the Rays pick that began Thursday you profited $140 on the weekend.
I’ll look to continue to rake in profits as I’m looking at another valuable, albeit slightly boring, pick between the Giants and Marlins as they kick off a three-game set Tuesday night from Marlins Park in Miami.
Let’s take a look at the odds for this series, as per MyBookie.
Giants vs. Marlins MLB Series Odds
- Giants (-125)
- Marlins (+105)
Now let’s have a peak at the probable pitching matchups for this series, as per MLB.com.
- Tuesday: Samardzija (SF) vs. Richards (MIA)
- Wednesday: Bumgarner (SF) vs. Lopez (MIA)
- Thursday: Pomeranz (SF) vs. Alcantara (MIA)
Let’s break down these pitching matchups before getting into some notes on the offenses and bullpens before finally making my pick!
Tuesday: Jeff Samardzija (2-3, 3.27 ERA) vs. Richards (1-5, 4.14 ERA)
Samardzija both struggled to stay healthy and struggled on the mound while posting a 6.25 ERA and 5.44 FIP across 10 starts in the 2018 season, but he has bounced back with a solid 3.27 ERA across his 10 starts to kick off this season.
However, that is about where the good news ends. Samardzija’s ERA indicators are well above his ERA figure in the form of a 5.12 FIP and 5.37 xFIP. Samardzija has benefited from both a .226 BABIP on the season as well as a 75% strand rate, that while not outrageous, is still almost 5% higher than his 70.8% career mark.
He isn’t producing many strikeouts with a 7.05 K/9 on the season, the walks are up with a 3.10 BB.9 clip, and he’s allowing home runs at a 1.72 HR/9 rate as well despite a rather normal 13.3% HR/FB rate this season.
He’s a big fly-ball pitcher with a 49% fly-ball rate this season, something that hasn’t hurt him at home in the league’s top pitcher-friendly venue of Oracle Park in San Francisco. However, he’s been burnt on the road with a 4.56 ERA away from home compared to a 2.03 ERA at home.
While he can perhaps get away with his fly-ball ways in another pitcher-friendly venue at Marlins Park on Tuesday night, Samardzija still owns a brutal 6.50 FIP and 6.08 xFIP on the road where he’s allowed 2.45 home runs per nine innings.
Trevor Richards hasn’t been very good this season either as he owns a 4.14 ERA but also a poor 5.08 FIP and 5.35 xFIP while his 4.47 BB/9 rate is an unacceptable number.
Richards is also allowing too many homers in the form of a 1.49 HR/9 on the season while his fly-ball rate is similar to Samardzija’s with a 13% mark which is roughly average in this league.
Richards is coming off a nice start over the Tigers when he pitched 5.2 innings of one-run ball to go along with six strikeouts while walking only one in that outing. The Tigers and Giants sport very similar numbers against right-handed pitching, as do the Marlins for that matter, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Richards handle this Giants lineup, but his overall work on the season needs some improvement.
Wednesday: Madison Bumgarner (3-4, 4.10 ERA) vs. Pablo Lopez (3-5, 5.40 ERA)
Bumgarner may not be the top-five pitcher he was back when he was winning World Championships with the Giants, but he’s still a very good arm as his ERA has been on the unlucky side so far.
His 3.65 FIP and 3.65 FIP aren’t too far under that 4.10 ERA figure, but Bumgarner also owns a pristine 5.38 K/BB ratio, which towers over his excellent 4.17 career mark. In other words, he’s striking out 5.38 batter per one walk this season. Very good.
Bumgarner’s bad luck has come in the form of a .312 BABIP against, notably higher than his .285 career mark. He’s also sporting a 66.7% strand rate than sits well under his 76.6% career mark. When these numbers begin to normalize we should see better results than the 4.10 ERA we’ve seen so far from the left-hander.
He’s pitched a quality start in three of his last four, but just barely as he’s allowed at least three earned runs in three of his last four but is also coming off six innings of two-run ball with six strikeouts in a no decision against a good Braves offense his last time out.
In other words, he’s been good, but certainly not unhittable entering his start on Wednesday night.
It’s been a tale of two seasons for Lopez when it comes to his home/road splits.
If all of his starts came at home, he would be a Cy Young candidate as he owns a 1.93 ERA, 1.66 FIP and a 10.03 K/9 rate at home. If all he starts came on the road, he wouldn’t be pitching in the big leagues as he owns an 8.26 ERA, 6.01 FIP and a 7.62 K/9 rate away from Marlins Park.
Fortunately, this one comes at home where he’s been dominant in holding the opposition to just a .175 batting average this season. His overall numbers speak to some serious positive regression coming, but most of it is likely to come away from home. Still, his 4.04 FIP and 3.91 xFIP are significantly better than his 5.40 ERA while his 8.71 K/9 rate and 2.44 BB/9 clip are real good numbers as well.
Lopez has a good sinker that has helped induce ground-balls at a 51% rate on the season. Not to jinx him or anything, but those ground-balls have helped him allowing precisely zero home runs at home so far this season across 23.1 innings. Of 87 total batters faced at home this season, he’s given up just four extra-base hits, all four coming in double form. Opponents are hitting him for a measly .455 OPS at Marlins Park this season.
One final thought on his home/road splits. He allowed a whopping 10 runs on 10 hits and three homers while lasting just three innings in his third-to-last start, which came against the Mets. He faced those same Mets again in his next start, this time at home, and threw seven shutout innings while allowing just one hit and two walks while striking out seven.
Needless to say, the dude likes pitching at home and to be quite honest, his success at home has me thinking this matchup is much more even than we think despite Bumgarner sitting in the other dugout.
Advantage: Even, slight advantage to Giants.
Thursday: Drew Pomeranz (1-5, 6.45 ERA) vs. Sandy Alcantara (2-5, 4.50 ERA)
Pomeranz is a long way away from the 3.32 ERA pitcher he was with the Red Sox in 2017, interestingly after posting an identical 3.32 ERA in the 2016 season between San Diego and Boston.
He latched on with the Giants after posting a 6.08 ERA and 5.43 FIP in Boston last season, however his 6.45 ERA and 5.80 FIP here in 2019 doesn’t paint a much rosier picture.
He’s struggling big-time with both walks (4.54 BB/9 rate) and home runs (2.15 HR/9 rate). His 23.1% HR/FB rate is going to come down, which is why his xFIP sits at a much-improved 4.66 mark from his ERA and FIP figures. That 2.15 HR/9 clip shouldn’t last much longer.
Home and away doesn’t really matter much to his numbers this season, although it should be noted that he still owns a 6.14 ERA but also a 6.57 FIP on the road this season while his 6.89 home ERA is the one set to improve thanks to a 4.71 FIP and a 4.29 xFIP at Oracle Park in San Fran.
Like with Samardzija, Pomeranz should benefit from a big pitcher’s park in Miami on Thursday. His 27.3% HR/FB rate on the road this season is ridiculous and unsustainable, fortunately for him.
Still, there hasn’t been anything to like about his game in 2019. His last two starts have come against the Diamondbacks, and he’s allowed seven earned runs in just 7.1 innings in that time, walking six and allowing 10 hits. Furthermore, those two starts came after allowing seven earned runs in just 1.2 innings in a loss at Cincinnati.
Pomeranz could certainly be pitching for his job on Thursday afternoon.
Alcantara doesn’t exactly have many numbers that are impressing.
His 4.50 ERA comes with a 4.60 FIP and 5.13 xFIP. His 5.90 K/9 rate is extremely low, and his 4.03 BB/9 clip is too high. He’s kept the ball in the yard at a nice 0.93 HR/9 rate, but his 10.5% HR/FB rate could be in danger of going up, although hre consistently posted very low HR/FB rates throughout his minor league career.
Like his teammate Lopez, Alcantara’s numbers become much better at home, albeit not to the same extent.
While his ERA if 4.05 at home isn’t much better than his 4.50 overall mark, he also owns a real nice 2.85 FIP at home to go along with an improved 7.56 K/9 rate, but more importantly his walk rate shrinks from 6.93 BB/9 on the road all the way to 1.89 BB/9 at home. He’s also allowing just a 0.54 H/9 rate at home on the season with a nice 1.14 WHIP.
Another good example of these splits comes from something similar to Lopez in those Mets games. Alcantara allowed four earned runs on eight hits including two homers in a loss at the Mets in his third-to-last start. That said, he hurled a complete game shutout walking allowing just two hits and one walk with eight strikeouts his next start at home against those very same Mets.
Given his work at home, I see an advantage here over the struggling Pomeranz.
Giants vs. Marlins MLB Series Pick
Pick: Marlins (+105)
Believe it or not, I have already made money on the Marlins recently as they swept the Tigers at +105 odds just last week.
They’re actually 7-3 over their last 10, and their 17-34 record, as well as their -91, run differential isn’t a whole lot worse than the Giants’ 21-31 record and -78 run differential while San Fran is just 3-7 over their last 10.
While I see the Tuesday night series opener going, either way, Samardzija’s road struggles have me liking them to win that one despite a fairly even pitching matchup with Richards.
Game two could also go either way. Bumgarner is still very good, don’t get me wrong, but boy it’s hard to argue with the results Lopez gets at home, especially with his 1.66 home FIP even lower than his home ERA. That one could very well be a pitcher’s duel.
Game three I like Miami as there’s just nothing to like about Pomeranz while the work of Sandy Alcantara at Marlins Park has been very good as well. With two games looking even and the Marlins looking good to win game three, I am very much liking the value we are getting with Miami at home.
That’s because there is nothing between these offenses to separate one another. In fact, in terms of overall wOBA this season, the Giants rank 29th with a .281 mark while the Marlins rank last with a .270 mark. We are literally talking about two of the worst offenses in the league, so there isn’t much to say about this aspect.
One area where the Giants hold a notable advantage is in the bullpen where their ERA ranks sixth with a 3.76 mark, and their FIP ranks fourth with a 3.66 mark.
That’s a big contrast to the Marlins’ 5.20 bullpen ERA (26th) and 4.88 bullpen FIP (25th).
I’ll certainly give that one to San Francisco, but at +105 odds and given the starting pitching matchups, I’m very much willing to roll the dice on Miami as the Giants are still 10 games under .500 with that good ‘pen.
Give me Miami in this one, although I will likely find some more entertainment elsewhere on the MLB schedule this week.