Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:40 AM EST.
7:10 PM EST. The Orioles took a lot of heat at the deadline for giving up future assets for pitcher Jeremy Hellickson from the Phillies in order to prop up this year's team. All the experts said that Hellickson was no better than the pitcher he was going to replace in Baltimore’s rotation. The experts were also baffled as to why the O’s weren’t selling instead of buying, citing that they would need a major surge to get into Wildcard contention. Fast forward a month and the O’s are in the midst of a major surge with Hellickson winning three of the five games he’s started in his new digs. Baltimore is now just a mere 1½-games back of the Twinkies for the final Wildcard spot with plenty of baseball left to play.
Hellickson’s improvements are not outwardly obvious in his profile, as his ERA with Baltimore is 5.46 and it was 4.73 with the Phillies. However, that 5.46 mark is a small five-game sample size and two bad outing in five games will do that. Pay more attention to his 4.36 xERA. Hellickson is coming off a strong seven-inning, four-hit, three run start against the Red Sox. He’s also thrown a seven-inning, five-hit shutout against the Royals in his new uniform. In 30 innings with Baltimore, Hellickson has walked a miniscule four batters with 20 K’s. That’s a 5-1 ratio. Leaning on his changeup more has yielded big results, particularly v righties. He’s altered his pitch mix and the return of his command is reminiscent of his 2010-2012 glory days. His career HR issues are a reminder that this can blow up quickly but we’re not going to worry about that here. Hellickson is pitching well, he has great career numbers against current Jays (.221 BAA in 104 AB’s) and the O’s are one of the hottest teams in the league that are seeing beach balls at the dish.
Writing about what Marco Estrada can’t do is becoming redundant. We were probably the first to tell you that he was a blowup artist waiting to happen and nothing has changed. We said the same thing about Jordan Zimmermann, Yovani Gallardo and a bunch of others over the years and that hasn’t changed either. Sabermetrics in baseball works better than in any other sport and is the main focus of what we study. The advanced stats still say that Estrada’s weak skills will continue to allow the opposition to put up some crooked numbers. Estrada’s groundball rate of 29.2% is the worst among qualified pitchers. His 1.42 HR’s allowed per nine innings is also one of the worst marks in baseball. Combine those two marks at this park against a team that is hitting everything and this start looks like one in which Estrada is going to need to get extremely lucky to make it past the fifth inning without allowing five or six runs. The Jays’ last ditch efforts to get back into the race went out the window when they were swept by the Red Sox to run their losing streak to four. Current form and state of mind hugely favor the O’s too.
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BALTIMORE -1½ +145 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.90)