Today's Free Picks for
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Posted at 10:15 AM EST and are subject to change.
Miami +205 over Houston
2:10 PM EST. On Opening Day this year, Justin Verlander (RHP - HOU) was 18 months removed from Tommy John surgery, which was well past the typical rehab window. A quick look at his 2018-19 skills before the opener revealed his possible upside that's possible but at that time we wrote, “concerns over volume and post-injury skills at his age are well-warranted.
11 starts in and Verlander is 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. At the age of 39, he’s doing what most guys will never do at the age of ____________ (insert any age). He does throw lots of strikes and walks few (72 K’s, 14 BB in 73 IP) so there’s that but there are signs of danger looming. First, his swing and miss rate is declining (was 15% his first 7 starts and is down to 11% in his last four starts). His groundball/fly-ball rate is 37%/44% so less strikeouts means more fly-balls in play means more HR/9. While we take nothing away from Verlander, we’re merely pointing out that it’s just an arm and said arm has over 3000 innings pitched at this level and nobody is immune to father time.
The Marlins are a team we have written about this year on several occasions. We had them as a steal to go over their posted win total. We have suggested that they’re close to being an elite team and might already be there. We have discussed the abnormally high (incredibly unlucky) one-run losses that they’ve incurred since Day 1. To take that a step further, we’ll point out that the Marlins run differential this year is +28. That puts them close to the 36-23 Astros and 32-26 Giants. It’s also better than the 33-27 Braves and 26 runs better than the 33-28 Brewers. Miami is below .500 and the market, for the most part, is unaware of just how good this Marlins’ squad is. At prices like this, they must be played on most days.
Edward Cabrera (RHP - MIA) has opened many eyes since his 2022 debut (6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 9 K), a feat made all the more impressive because he authored it in the thin air of Colorado. There was much to like about his start, from the 97.1 velocity to the 18.1% swing and miss rate, to the 72% first-pitch strike rate.
Cabrera was showing similar skills in Triple-A this year before his callup (31.7% K%, 11.9% BB%). What’s clear is that Cabrera is working with tremendous stuff, including an absurd 93.9 mph changeup complementing a slider and curve. Also clear is that control is still a work in progress. He had trouble finding the plate during his cup of coffee with Miami in 2021 (16% BB% in 26 IP) and odds are that location will continue to be a work in progress this season. That’s the risk. However, If he can continue to overpower hitters, he could mix dominant outings with the occasional wild clunker. As the favorite, the risk is not worth it but as an underdog in this range pitching for a team as good as the Marlins, Cabrera and the Fish must be played. Incidentally, Miami has won five in a row (no jinx).
Miami +205 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 4.10)