“And I am revealed for exactly what I am — a particularly stupid fish, moving from hook to hook, never learning my lesson.” - Victoria Aveyard, Glass Sword
That’s a quote from a book I’ve never read, but goodness does it describe my love of losing money on Marco Gonzales. The Seattle lefty proved me a particularly stupid fish once again on Thursday, taking just two innings to strike out five batters and exceed his prop. Did I win the other two bets I wrote up? Yes. But that’s not the point. This is:
It is April 21.— Garion Thorne (@GarionThorne) April 22, 2022
I will not bet a Marco Gonzales game for the remainder of 2022.
We’re 6-7 on article plays for the season. Here are three more wagers to consider.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
I triple-checked to make sure Gonzales wasn’t somehow starting this one on short rest, but no, it is Chris Flexen taking the mound for the Mariners on Friday night. After a phenomenal 2021 campaign — the RHP maintained a 3.61 ERA across 179.2 innings — Flexen’s been a little shaky in his first two outings of 2022, seeing decreased velocity and currently sitting with an ugly 10.91 xERA. So, why in the world would I want to back this man’s team? Well, it’s more about the opposition than anything else.
The Royals just can’t hit. Kansas City comes into Friday’s slate in possession of the American League’s lowest OBP (.259), wOBA (.264) and wRC+ (71). In fact, in the Royals’ past two series, the club is averaging a paltry 2.0 runs per game. That’s just not going to cut it in a matchup with a Seattle squad that ranks fourth in all of baseball in wRC+ (121). I’m also going to pencil in some regression for Brad Keller, who was quite possibly the worst starting pitcher in the league last season. At least that’s what Keller’s 6.47 xERA would suggest, as it was the worst mark of any pitcher to throw at least 130 innings in 2021. Give me the Mariners playing at home as short favorites.
Editor’s Note: Tonight’s game between the Rockies and the Tigers has been postponed due to inclement weather.
Here’s a news flash: It’s difficult for batters to transition from hitting in the attitude to hitting at sea level. It’s not just about power production, it’s about how pitches move, how breaking balls break. That’s why I’d be keeping an eye on the Rockies this evening in Detroit, fresh-off a seven-game homestand in Colorado. The Rockies haven’t struck out many times so far in 2022, yet a quick glance at the team’s splits in 2021 tells a clear story. Colorado posted a 19.8% strikeout rate at Coors Field last season and that figure jumped all the way to 25.4% when playing on the road. In 2020, the Rockies registered a 21.7% rate at home and a 26.4% rate in their other contests. This is a trend, people. There’s science involved. Also working in favor of this prop is that Skubal has legitimate strikeout stuff. Across 191.0 career MLB innings, the left-hander has posted a 9.94 K/9 and a 26.0% strikeout rate. An 11.6% swinging strike rate isn’t too shabby, either. Really, the only thing that’s worked against Skubal in the past is volume. Whether it’s shaky command, loud contact or the Tigers protecting his arm, the 25-year-old hasn’t always shown the ability to work deep into his own starts. However, the last 21 times that Skubal’s thrown at least five innings, he’s surpassed this prop 14 times. Let’s just say I think he can work into the sixth on Friday night.
I can’t help myself with these futures. Call it recency bias if you must — Gausman was absolutely dominant in a 3-2 victory over the Red Sox on Thursday afternoon — but I just think this number is too large. If we learned anything from last season’s Cy Young race in the American League, it’s that most of the best pitchers in baseball happen to play in the NL. The field is wide-open and it’s strange that Gausman carries only the 10th-best odds to take home award, despite finishing sixth in National League Cy Young voting just last year. Heck, there’s a case to be made that Gausman had the stats to unseat Robbie Ray had he been pitching for an AL squad in 2021.
Anyway, through three starts, Gausman leads all qualified pitchers in FIP (0.70), K/BB ratio (22.0), swinging strike rate (20.7%) and fWAR (1.0). The right-hander’s splitter, among the best pitches in baseball, currently has an insane 37.3% whiff rate. Elsewhere, Gerrit Cole (+1000) is unable to pitch on cold days or after four-minute delays, Shane Bieber (+600) has seen his velocity vanish and Lucas Giolito (+1500) is already on the injured list with an abdomen issue. This is going to be a back-and-forth affair all summer long and, in my opinion, Gausman’s pulled out to an early lead. Might as well sprinkle a few bucks on the veteran.
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