My first betting column of June. What a time to be alive. There were a lot of hot hitters around the majors who put up some gaudy numbers in May, and honestly, I think I can count myself among them. After yet another 2-1 performance on Friday — I swear the 3-0 week is coming — we now sit at 24-17 on article plays in 2022.
Here’s where I’m looking on tonight’s MLB slate.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
At first glance, this might not seem like all that dominant a pitching matchup. Sean Manaea’s been his usual self when it comes to run prevention in 2022, with an ERA hovering around 4.00 and a FIP sitting a couple tenths of a run below that. Home runs have also been an issue for the southpaw as of late, which is a big reason why he’s conceded at least three earned runs in each of his past six outings. As for Adrian Houser, a 3.69 ERA and a 3.73 FIP are perfectly fine, but we are talking about a pitcher that just surrendered eight runs across four innings in his most recent appearance. Still, it’s certainly worth noting that Houser’s been at his best when taking the mound at American Family Field. For the season, the RHP owns a 1.99 ERA and a 2.97 FIP at home.
Also, this isn’t really about the starters, it’s about the lineups. Milwaukee’s been at its best when opposed by a right-hander, which makes sense given that Kolten Wong, Christian Yelich and Rowdy Tellez are all left-handed — not to mention the team is missing lefty-killers Willy Adames and Hunter Renfroe, who are on the IL. The Brewers’ 108 wRC+ within the split falls to a putrid 84 wRC+ when facing a lefty, so Manaea should have the advantage. On the other side, San Diego is in the midst of a power outage. In fact, across the past two weeks, the Padres’ .096 ISO is the lowest mark in all of baseball. Combine all these factors, and I believe runs will be at a premium tonight.
With Dallas Keuchel designated for assignment last week, I’ve been forced to find a new Sportsbook piñata — someone I can trust to pick against every single time they take the hill. I think that man is Joan Adon. Among the 112 pitchers who have thrown at least 40.0 innings so far in 2022, Adon is one of four with an ERA over 6.00. In fact, Adon’s 6.09 xERA is the highest mark of any National League starter in that group. His .396 opponent xwOBA is in just the seventh percentile of qualified arms and he’s also somehow walking over 5.5 batters per nine innings. It’s all just so gross.
Meanwhile, Graham Ashcraft is a little intriguing — at least as far as Reds’ pitchers go. The 24-year-old has a three pitch mix with the ability to touch 99.0 mph on the radar gun. He’s also been a groundball savant as he’s moved throughout the minor leagues. So, while Ashcraft hasn’t registered many strikeouts so far in the bigs, a 58.3% groundball rate has translated into the RHP having yet to concede an opponent barrel. With both of these teams sitting in the bottom-third of MLB in terms of offensive potency, I think the disparity between the two starters will make all the difference. Cincinnati’s won five of its last seven contests, too. They aren’t as bad as you assume.
Taking a pitching prop in this game might turn out to be incredibly stupid, but I just can’t shake how low this number feels. While Anderson’s current 17.6% strikeout rate is extremely underwhelming, it’s also a total anomaly when it comes to his career statistics at every level. Heck, the right-hander’s 11.9% swinging strike rate is not only above-average, it’s the exact same figure that he posted in his 128.1 innings in 2021 and his 32.1 innings in 2020.
The Rockies have one of the league’s lowest strikeout rates as a team, and we all know the havoc Coors Field can cause not only on the scoreboard, but also when it comes to the movement of breaking pitches. This isn’t an ideal spot for Anderson’s own strikeout rate to normalize; however, at the same time, he’s managed to strikeout at least four opponents in six of his last eight outings. I don’t think hitting this over is all that farfetched.
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