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Posted at 8:30 AM EST.
7:10 PM EST. Eduardo Rodriguez tweaked his right knee while warming up in the bullpen prior to his June 1 start at Baltimore. That is the same knee that he dislocated in 2016, which resulted in his 1st half getting washed out by that dislocated kneecap that whacked his mechanics, but 29 K’s in the final 17 innings put a strong finish on his 2nd half rebound. Rodriguez has made just six starts since being injured back on June 1. He’s struck out 96 batters in 88 frames overall and appears to be getting stronger. Rodriguez brings risk because he’s been so inconsistent but all told, he gives up less than a hit per inning (74 hits allowed in 87.2 frames) and his K-rate remains among the elite. He’s also been terrific at home and he’ll now face a Cardinals nine that is far below league average against lefties.
The Cardinals came into this series as one of the hottest teams in the majors and proceeded to get their asses handed to them in the opener last night in a 10-4 loss. What the Cardinals found out is that they’re not playing Atlanta or Cincinnati anymore and the same fate could be in store for them here.
Batting Average of Balls In Play (BABIP) is a pure luck-driven stat that will help determine if a pitcher has a good or bad year on paper. Every year there are extremes at both ends of the spectrum and this year’s top beneficiary is Lance Lynn with a BABIP of .225. To give you an idea of how lucky that is, consider some of today’s other starter’s BABIP, like Gerit Cole’s .345 BABIP, Marcus Stroman’s .326 or Clayton Richard’s .338. Lynn’s BABIP is more than 100 points lower than any of those guys but eventually it all evens out and Lynn’s luck is going to run out too. That doesn’t mean it will happen today but the point is that Lynn is the luckiest pitcher in baseball with an ERA/xERA split of 3.20/4.61. Over his last three starts, Lynn’s xERA is 7.14. Over his last 30 frames covering his last five starts, Lynn has struck out a mere 16 batters. His first-pitch strike rate is 53% overall and down to 48% over his last three starts. His swing and miss rate is 7% and now his line-drive rate is also increasing, as it’s gone from 18% to 28% over his last seven starts. All the signs of fatigue are there while the poor skills have been there all season long. Lynn’s extremely misleading 3.12 ERA is actually mind-boggling and is more proof of just how inaccurate ERA’s can be. That shiny ERA is a direct result of extreme luck that includes balls being hit right at people. There's a huge gap between Lynn's ERA and xERA and now he's due for some serious regression but that regression may not even stop at that 4.61 xERA, because his first-pitch strike rate is so low that there's reason to believe his control rate is going to climb higher, and more walks would mean even more runs. Pay attention to Lance Lynn’s xERA over his last seven starts (7.14) and attack with confidence.
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