Today's Free Picks for
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Posted at 11:20 AM EST and are subject to change.
Baltimore -105 over Seattle
7:05 PM EST. The feisty Orioles continue to be a tough out and once again they are playable here against Chris Flexen (RHP - SEA). Flexen produced decent results during 2021 (3.61 ERA, 1.25 WHIP in 180 IP) but those stats came with a subpar foundation of skills: 17% K%, 5% BB%, 11% K-BB%, 42% grounders, 4.77 xERA. The exit velocity he allowed put him in the lowest one-third of pitchers. And his so-so 35% ball% confirms that his walk rate will head north. Fast forward to this and Flexen’s ERA is a predictable 4.47 after nine starts. His swing and miss rate is way down to 8.8%. In fact, all his skills are trending wrong. Flexen’s xERA in his last five starts is 5.44. He’s walking more batters and striking out less. Remember, Flexen honed his skills in the KBO during 2020 because no MLB team wanted him. His success last year was luck-fueled so let others pay the tax on his career year. This is a weak starter that is favored on the road.
Jordan Lyles (RHP - BAL) threw a career-high 180 innings in 2021 with a 5.15 ERA. Allowing jacks was the major reason his ERA was so high but that mark is down in 2022. With the home park changes, Lyles indeed provides some value.
Lyles has posted four quality starts through nine games in 2022 with a 14.1% K-BB% that ranks the third-best of his career since 2018 and 2019. The 10.1% swing and miss rate sits above the career rate of 8.9%. Also, Lyles is striking out 8.2/9, the third-highest of his career, versus a career mark of 6.9/9. He is also getting ahead of hitters with a 64% first-pitch strike rate versus a career rate of 60%. Nothing mind-blowing, but improved numbers.
In 2022, Lyles has a 14% HR/F, perfectly in sync with his career rate of 14%. However, from 2019 to 2021, the HR/F ranged from 15 to 17%. One reason for the drop in home run rates involves the increased groundball rate closer to his career norms, though over five percentage points higher than in 2019, 2020, and 2021. The change-up and curveball have generated a higher groundball rate north of 63% in 2022. For context, the curve has a career groundball rate of 57.5%, with the change-up at 47%.
In 2021, Lyles reshaped his slider to post a career-best 14.7% swing and miss rate. It added over five inches of drop and six inches of horizontal break, aligning with the nearly three mph drop in velocity with an increase in spin rate around 300 RPM. Lyles' slider in 2022 maintained the velocity and spin rates from 2021 yet added four more inches of horizontal movement, plus over six inches of vertical drop. Although the 2022 swing and miss rate on the slider dipped to 12.8%, Lyles has made several positive changes in 2022.
Through 52.2 innings, Lyles has the lowest ERA of his career versus a career ERA of 5.16. His 3.98 xERA aligns with his actual ERA. He now has value and appeal due to his increased groundball rate, home park changes, swing and miss rate and his slider's above-average movement profile. Dude should not be a dog to Seattle with Chris Flexen starting.
Baltimore -105 (Risking 2.1 units - To Win: 2.00)