Didn’t really have much time for plays last week as you guys could tell from my lack of posts. Now today I’m ready to jump back in there but unfortunately only a 7 game slate to work with. I did however decide to play the following….
Braves (+138) Risking 1.31 to win 1.81 (Keuchel/Corbin): Dallas Keuchel skeptics will point towards his K rate which has been coming down little by little since his Cy Young season in 2015. While I’ll admit K’s are very important, especially given the current state of baseball, there is still plenty to like about Keuchel. What I focus on most is his ground ball rate. For the last 5 years or so Keuchel has been one of the best, if not the very best SP in the game at inducing ground balls. With HR rates through the roof league wide I see pitchers who get a ton of ground balls as even more valuable than in the past. Despite waiting for a contract until just last month Keuchel has picked right up where he left off with a sky high 58% ground ball rate. Yes, the HR rate is also very high but I expect some serious regression there. So far this year he’s allowed a a HR on 26.9% of the flyballs opponents have hit off him. That’s an outrageous jump from just 11.3% last year in 204 innings of work. Simply put I’ll trust a sample size of 204 innings last year over what has happened in 43 innings this year. The ground ball rate however is no fluke whatsoever. In fact at 58.0% this year he’s actually below his career level of 58.8%. Death, taxes, and Keuchel getting ground balls is how I look at it. His BB rate of 2.89 BB/9 is solid as are his ERA and xFIP which check in at 3.50 and 3.94 respectively. He isn’t the prototypical pitcher for 2019 but he gets the job done. After working out the kinks a bit in his first two starts he’s been rolling along nicely. In his last 5 starts he has an ERA of 3.00 and is working about 6.2 IP per start on average. Again, he’s not flashy but odds are he’s going to give you 6 or 7 solid innings and keep his team in the game. At this price, with that Braves lineup if he can go let’s say 7 innings, 3 runs, I’ll happily take my chances. On the other end full disclosure that Patrick Corbin has been great lately. His last 7 starts have been excellent but he’ll face a stiff test tonight against a Braves lineup that is stacked from top to bottom. I’ve got no problem at all with the Nats being favored but my number for Atlanta in this game was +122 so there’s some value to be had here with the road dog.
Marlins (-101) Risking 1.28 to win 1.27 (Kelly/Smith): I’m going to roll the dice here with the Marlins at what pretty much is even money. This will be Caleb Smith’s 5th start since coming back from an injury that cost him about a month earlier this summer. Since his return he’s been quite solid and I look for more of the same tonight. In those 4 starts he has a 3.00 ERA and a very impressive 10.5 K/9. In 3 of those 4 starts he’s issued 2 BB’s or less and he’s even more reliable when pitching at home. So far this year he’s posted a 2.23 ERA at home compared with just a 4.17 ERA on the road. Smith turned some heads last year with a 10.24 K/9 as a rookie and this year he’s even gone beyond that at 11.0 K/9 through his 90 innings of work. The guy can flat out miss bats and when looking at a pitcher that’s the first thing I want to see. Since his return from the DL he’s average 6 innings per outing and I’d be just fine with that again tonight. Realistically something like 6 innings allowing 1 or 2 runs is what I’m expecting from the Fish southpaw. On the other side we have Merrill Kelly who has certainly had his moments but is still quite inconsistent. The 30 year old rookie finally broke into the show this year and the results have been a mixed bag. Most recently he gave up 7 ER’s in 2.1 IP at home against the Orioles in one of those “how the hell did that happen?” kind of outings. Like most he’s been worse on the road with an ERA of 4.68 that’s nearly a full run higher than what he does at Chase Field. Of course the Marlins are no offensive juggernaut by any stretch but Kelly is far from a lock to just mow down this lineup. A deeper look into his home/road splits show what I mean. At home he has an 0.92 BB/9 to go with a 9.05 K/9. On the road however he sports a 3.84 BB/9 and just a 5.68 K/9. Those are some pretty extreme difference and I think even a light hitting offense like the Marlins can touch him up a bit tonight. If they do, with Smith on the mound I could see a 5-3 type win for the Fish.
Braves (+138) Risking 1.31 to win 1.81 (Keuchel/Corbin)
Marlins (-101): Risking 1.28 to win 1.27 (Kelly/Smith)