1st 5 Innings Mets/Nats Un 4 (-110): Will roll with the first 5 under here and take my chances with Joe Ross and Thor doing battle. We all know Clayton Kershaw has been the best pitcher in baseball so far this year. When you dig into the numbers you could make the argument that Noah Syndergaard has been the second best. On the year Syndergaard’s xFIP of 2.23 is 2nd in MLB, his BB/9 of 1.19 is 3rd in MLB, his K/9 of 10.88 is 4th in MLB, and when hitters do manage to make contact he has a 54.2% ground ball rate which is 11th in MLB. No matter how you slice the numbers Thor has been incredible. Opposing him will be Joe Ross who while is not nearly on Noah’s level, he’s still a solid SP. In his last 19.1 IP Ross has only 3 BB to go with 19 K’s, and things certainly seem to be headed in the right direction with him. On the year his xFIP is a solid yet unspectacular 3.96 but I’d look for that to drop as the season moves on. This is a guy who has good stuff and is seemingly getting stronger as the season moves along. I’m expecting a very low scoring affair here.
D-Backs -135: I think Robbie Ray is one of the more under-rated pitchers in the league right now, and I have no idea what to expect from Vinny Velasquez in his first start off the DL. What I do know is Ray has a 10.42 K/9 this year and that his xFIP of 3.73 is nearly a full run better than his misleading 4.59 ERA. Ray is a good pitcher with damn good stuff. You don’t just luck your way into over 10 K’s per 9 innings without being good. The D-Backs lefty has suffered some bad luck, mainly by way of a .350 BABIP allowed and a 16.7% HR/FB rate. Don’t be fooled though, he’s a solid pitcher. As far as Velasquez goes there’s no denying he’s good. However coming off an injury there’s just no way I want to mess with him here, the combination of Ray being ready to break out and the uncertainty around VV is enough to get me on the D-Backs.
Angels -114: As big as I am on the Astros right now, I can’t pass on Matt Shoemaker with how well he’s throwing the ball lately. I went into most of the numbers 5 days ago when he took the mound and I played the Angels then. I won’t waste time by going over things I already hit on before. In short everything lately with Shoemaker has been excellent. High K’s, very low BB’s, he’s throwing harder, he’s getting a ton of swing and misses, etc, etc. He’s been very, very good. Collin McHugh hasn’t been as bad as his 4.70 ERA indicates, as his 4.00 xFIP shows. Tonight however he’s clearly the inferior pitcher in this matchup. Shoemaker (at least for now) is just on another level and I see no reason he shouldn’t be able to keep it up tonight. I know on the surface the Angels being favored over Houston seems odd, but here it’s rightfully so and they should honestly be 10-15 cents bigger favorites.
Rockies -101: One of the luckiest and unluckiest pitchers so far this season do battle in this one. Marco Estrada and his 4.67 xFIP that’s nearly 2 runs higher than his 2.70 ERA has been perhaps the luckiest pitcher in the league. His .183 BABIP is one of the luckiest things I’ve seen in quite some time, it’s just off the charts lucky, flat out insane. On top of that his 3.57 BB/9 rate is very high. The fact he’s made it this long without the regression train just pummeling him is amazing. I think there’s a good chance he gets knocked around badly tonight in Coors. Jon Gray on the other hand has a 4.80 ERA, but a 3.41 xFIP. Funny how baseball can work, Estrada has an ERA over 2 runs lower than Gray but in my mind Gray is far and away the better pitcher. He’s a high K guy who gets a lot of ground balls and does so with very good stuff. He has an electric arm, he throws hard, he misses bats, etc etc. I’ll happily take the buy low guy over the sell high guy here.