MLB May 20th

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Indians -113: I’m still a big Corey Kluber guy. It’s insane that over his last 40 starts he’s 11-21 if you consider the kind of numbers he’s been putting up. Kluber has a 4.30 ERA so far this year but for the most part he’s the same guy he’s been the past few years. His K rate of 8.94 K/9 is still high, his BB rate of 2.24 BB/9 is still low, and his 3.39 xFIP is nearly a full run lower than his ERA. He’ll have a stiff test tonight against the best offense in the league as he takes on the Red Sox. The Sox can mash, there’s no way around it. Luckily for me they are sending Clay Buchholz to the hill and he’s been flat out awful. Everything with Clay is a mess right now, his K rate is considerably down, his BB rate is considerably up, he’s not getting many ground balls, he’s giving up way more HR’s, you name it. I realize the Sox are the better team, and clearly have the better offense, but at the end of the day it’s still Kluber vs. Buchholz and at -113 I can’t stay away from the tribe.

Nationals -135: I’m normally not big on taking road favorites, but I feel this play is too solid to pass up. The Marlins are sending lefty Justin Nicolino to the mound, and this guy has a K/9 rate as bad as any that you’ll ever see. Nicolino has struck out 4 guys in 24 IP for a K rate of 1.5 K/9, on the flip side he’s sporting a 4.13 BB/9 which gives him nearly 3 times more BB’s than K’s. Simply put that’s unheard of, just off the charts bad. All that is why he’s got an xFIP of 5.98 which is more than 2 runs worse than his 3.75 ERA. What’s saved Nicolino is a very lucky .235 BABIP as well as an equally lucky 3.6% HR/FB rate. Don’t let that ERA fool you, this isn’t a good pitcher. Tonight I expect him to get exposed by a Nats team that has a 120 wRC+ against left handed pitching. That mark is good enough for 4th best in MLB. Opposing him will be the improved Tanner Roark. Roark has seen his K rate go up, his ground ball rate go up, and his HR rate come down. He has had a little luck on the HR/FB rate front, but his xFIP of 3.72 is still plenty legit. This guy isn’t all of the sudden a stud or anything, but he’s worked his way into a respectable big league pitcher. In a matchup like tonight he’s an ace compared to Nicolino.

Tigers -105: Fully expecting some serious regression for Matt Andriese tonight. To his credit Andriese has gone 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA in his 2 starts this year. During those two starts however he’s seen a ton of luck. He’s got a .143 BABIP, a 90% strand rate, a 0.0% HR/FB rate, and a very low 4.5 K/9 rate. This isn’t a guy who is putting up numbers with amazing stuff and missing bats, for the most part he’s putting up these numbers because batters are hitting balls right at guys. Granted it’s only 2 starts but his 4.52 xFIP is nearly 4 runs worse than his ERA and shows that during this small sample size he’s gotten all the breaks anyone could ask for, and more. At some point this luck is going to run out, and my money is on tonight. Opposing him is the curious case of Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez has actually seen a small spike in his K rate which is now at 8.23 K/9 and his stuff is still pretty solid. What’s weird and completely out of the blue with Anibal is that he’s walking guys now, a lot. His BB/9 rate is 5.06 BB/9 and that’s awful not to mention completely out of character. Throughout his career Sanchez has been a low BB guy so who knows what’s going on here. The high K’s keep me optimistic though and overall I still like him more than Andriese and his luck box numbers. Good enough for me to take the Tigers tonight.

Twins +112: It’s only been 4 starts so far this year, but Tyler Duffey is slowly working his way into being one of those SP’s that I love, the high K, low BB guy. On the year Duffey is working on a 8.51 K/9 to go with a 1.85 BB/9 rate, both of which are very good. Duffey has had a little luck with strand rate and BABIP but nothing crazy. He’s certainly not as good as that 1.85 ERA indicates, but he’s pretty solid. Aaron Sanchez will take the hill for the Jays and I actually like Sanchez. He’s a good young pitcher, with good stuff and should have a nice season. That said he’s working with a high BB rate and getting some BABIP luck so he comes with his flaws too. More than anything though this play is about taking a guy like Duffey who intrigues me at plus money, at home, against a scuffling team.

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