Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:20 PM EST.
8:10 PM EST. Robert Stephenson doesn’t have appealing surface stats (5.15 ERA) but he’s a starter high on our radar because his stock is so much lower than it should be. We’ve written about Stephenson in the past and nothing has changed. This is a starter with nasty stuff that can dominate any lineup as long as he’s throwing strikes. He has 69 K’s in 65 innings but the problem is the 43 walks he’s issued over that same trial. Stephenson has a 2.19/4.27 ERA/xERA over his last five starts but that xERA is all because of walks issued. He will walks guys here but if he stays within himself, like he’s been doing lately, he has the ability to work around walks because his stuff is so good. That’s a gamble we’re willing to make because the take-back is so good also.
Lance Lynn will be making his fourth start of the season against the Reds with all three of the previous starts resulting in weak outcomes. He has not thrown a **pure quality start over his last eight starts and has been extremely lucky over his last 13 starts, going 4-2 with a 1.87 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Lance Lynn’s xERA over those aforementioned 13 starts is 5.58, which incredibly is near four runs higher than his actual ERA over that span. We don’t know what’s going to happen here but we do know we’re getting tremendous value for our money so let’s hope it pays off like we expect it to.
**When we talk about quality starts, we’re not referring to the old Bill James method — minimum 6 IP, maximum 3 earned runs — as it is simplistic and does not measure any real skill. Bill James' "game score" methodology is better, but is not feasible for quick calculation.
In pure quality starts, we give a starting pitcher credit for exhibiting certain skills in each of his starts. A starter earns one point for each of the following criteria:
1. The pitcher must have gone a minimum of 5.2 innings. This measures stamina. If he goes less than 5 innings, he automatically gets a total quality start score of zero, no matter what other stats he produces.
2. He must have allowed no more than an equal number of hits to the number of IP. This measures hit prevention.
3. His number of strikeouts must be no fewer than two less than his innings pitched. This measures dominance.
4. He must have struck out at least twice as many batters as he walked. This measures command.
5. He must have allowed no more than one home run. This measures his ability to keep the ball in the park.
We can then give a starter a pure quality start score of 0 through for each start.
Note the absence of earned runs. No matter how many runs a pitcher allows, if he scores high on the pure-quality start scale, he has hurled a good game in terms of his base skills. Again, Lance Lynn does not have a pure quality start over his last 13 starts.
The number of runs allowed — a function of not only the pitcher's ability but that of his bullpen and defense — will even out over time. This formula combines the individual raw skills of dominance, control and the ability to keep the ball on the ground, all characteristics that are unaffected by most external team factors.
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Cincinnati +150 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.00)