We are almost two months into the 2018 MLB season, giving us a decent sample size of data involving teams and pitchers. This week I decided to take a look ahead at some of the matchups taking place this week on the diamond involving starting pitchers that I feel are solid “bet on” or “bet against” candidates.
Los Angles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays: Lefty Tyler Skaggs takes the mound for the Halos and he has been solid with a 2.88 ERA and surrendering only five runs in his last 17.1 innings of work. Toronto has been inept against lefty pitching, hitting a collective .226. On the flip side, Aaron Sanchez for Toronto has struggled to a 5.68 ERA in his last three starts and 5.06 in five home starts. The Angels are a phenomenal 14-4 on the road while the Blue Jays are 1-7 in their last eight, sending them below .500 for the first time this season. I look at this spot and pitching matchup as one that favors LA, making the Angels worthy of betting support in this game.
Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds: Homer Bailey appears to be a “bet against” pitcher at every opportunity as long as he remains a part of this Cincinnati Reds rotation. Bailey has not been able to fool any opposing hitters, coming into his start this week against the Pirates with a horrific 6.11 ERA and an even worse 7.11 at Great American Ballpark. In his last three trips to the mound, Bailey has allowed 15 runs on 28 hits in 13.2 innings. Chad Kuhl may be turning a corner for Pittsburgh as he has allowed seven runs in his last 17.1 innings and the Pirates have won all three of his starts. I am interested in Pittsburgh Over and maybe the full game Over, depending on weather conditions, particularly from a wind perspective, we see at this bandbox of a ballpark.
Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays: Drew Pomeranz has warning signs and red flags everywhere popping up with what we’ve seen out of the struggling Red Sox lefty in recent outings. He is not generating any swings and misses right now with a declining swinging strike rate thanks to a major drop in his velocity, which last year sat in the 91-93 MPH range and is now down as low as 88 MPH.
Blake Snell is thriving for Tampa Bay. Since April 10, Snell has surrendered two runs or less in seven of his last eight starts with only one poor showing during that span against Baltimore. This should be a solid opportunity to back the Tampa Bay Rays at a very generous price tag in this matchup of two starters that are standing at opposite ends of the quality pitching spectrum right now.
Arizona Diamondbacks at Oakland Athletics: Patrick Corbin started off the season on a roll and producing one quality outing after another for the Diamondbacks but he’s hit a bump in the road over his last few starts, which coincides with a dip in velocity allowing 6 runs on 10 hits in his last 11.1 innings of work. Arizona is 0-4 in Corbin’s last four starts. The A’s are extremely well suited to hit against lefties, averaging almost 4.5 runs per game. On the other side, Daniel Mengden has a solid 1.37 ERA over his last three starts allowing just three earned runs in 19.2 innings facing Toronto, Boston and Houston.
Meanwhile, Arizona isn’t hitting right now during their recent 1-9 skid in their last 10 games and the D-Backs have been held down to two runs or less in eight of their last 10 games. Arizona is last in runs scored and team batting average against righties and 29th in OPS against righty pitching as well, so there appears to be a good chance the struggles at the plate could continue for them here. Oakland sets up as a “bet on” squad to me in this matchup on Friday and maybe this entire series as well.