Jacob deGrom got roughed up, allowing four runs for his most in over a month, but the Mets still scratched out a 6-5 victory over the Cardinals. Unfortunately, I liked both Martinez, who had a great history against the Mets, and deGrom, who had been on absolute FIRE – to handle their business, and the eight run total was easily eclipsed. We have two more days before the break to finish up the first half strong, so let’s see if we can make them count.
Elsewhere, Zack Greinke delivered another Cy Young caliber performance, shutting down the Reds in a home victory, the Cubs got a much-needed win over the Pirates to keep pace with the Brewers who easily defeated the Yankees to stay red hot.
It’s a good slate of action today. Zach Wheeler and Adam Wainwright link up in a battle of two big names with even bigger ERA’s (both over 5.00), the Brewers try to stay hot against Luis Severino and the Yanks, and Jake Arrieta tries to again rediscover his former Cy Young form facing the Pirates in Wrigley.
Let’s dive in!
Today’s MLB Pick:
Pittsburgh Pirates +158 at Chicago Cubs -168 (Total: 8)
Ivan Nova (8-6, 3.24 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (8-6, 4.33 ERA)
Jake Arrieta has been very emblematic of the Cubs problems this season; under par performance and slightly off in general. His seven allowed stolen bases and ensuing kerfuffle led to the DFA’ing of Miguel Montero and increased talk of a serious World Series hangover. However, in his last start he was JAKE ARRIETA. He went seven shutout innings, fanning six batters and allowing just one hit and three baserunners. It was against the Reds in Cincinnati, who despite being one of the worst teams in baseball, possess a potent offense. It was an impressive outing.
Of course, the one before was five earned in four innings at Washington, but he has a more favorable lineup to face today in Pittsburgh.
The thing that drew me to this game, more than anything else, is the VALUE of the starting pitching matchup. Arrieta (really, like all the Cubs players in 2017) has been inconsistent. Nova has not. Ivan Nova’s ERA is a full run lower, his WHIP is 0.21 lower, his strikeout to walk ratio hovers near 5:1 while Arrieta’s is 3:1. So, edge Nova, right??
Well, not so fast. There are surface statistics, and then there are second-level considerations worth noting. Many experts thought Nova’s early start was a bit of a mirage, and it appears they were correct. He has allowed three or more runs in five of his last seven starts, including allowing a total of 13 runs in his last four starts over 25 innings. In that span, he has fanned just 13 batters, including just ONE in each of his last two outings. Batters are hitting a whopping .261 against him this season and he has allowed 38 baserunners in his last four starts for a WHIP near 1.50.
Further, Nova’s FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) of 4.03 suggests his last four starts are more in line with his ability that his early season 2.23 ERA of the first month and a half.
Today is a bit of a counter-intuitive value play. The large Cubs line made me really take a deeper look at the numbers, wondering if there was some value on the Pirates. I came away going to other direction FAST. The value is on the Cubs, and there is some value on the runline as long as we avoid “Bad Jake.” Hey, it’s called “gambling” for a reason… I’ll take the Cubs and their substantially better offense, and will bank on Arrieta to enjoy facing a softer Pittsburgh lineup at home at Wrigley, where his season ERA is under four and opponents are hitting just .219 off him. Arrieta has been far worse on the road, and oddly, due to schedule randomness, has pitched there nearly twice as often.
I like Jake coming home, handling his business, and for Nova’s regression to the mean to continue to be glaring today against a talented Cubs offense looking to close the first half of the year strongly.
Today’s MLB Pick: CHICAGO CUBS TO WIN -168
Also really like: CHICAGO CUBS RUNLINE -1.5 (line pending – I’m in anywhere over +100)