The MLB 2012 season is upon us and the Pirates home opener sees them take on the Philadelphia Phillies and their fearsome pitching line up. Thursday’s lunchtime game has Halladay versus Bedard.

5* graded play on the Philadelphia Phillies as they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Pirates home opener set to start at 1:35 PM ET. 

The simulator shows a high probability that the Philadelphia Phillies will get win No.1 in what will be at least a 93 win season

Roy HalladayI have also started a MLB thread for the 2012 season. It will be run in the same manner as the highly successful threads for the NFL, NCAA Football, NCAA Men’s Basketball, and the NBA. I will be releasing 5*, 10*, and 20* free picks and I am very excited to provide for a lucrative and solid learning platform for the MLB season.

This is a pitching mismatch as there are few starters in MLB that can matchup evenly against Phillies ace Roy Halladay. This may be the year that the Pirates end their streak of losing record seasons dating back to 1992, but for any team looking to get out of the gate fast, this is arguably the last team you want to face. 

The Pirates will see Clif Lee in Game 2 Saturday and then see Vance Worley in game 3. The Phillies elected to move Hamels to the four slot of this historic starting rotation so that he can make his first Home Opener start Monday at Citizen’s bank Park. Now, when you have the luxury of moving starters around to accommodate a situation specifically to reward your third ace, you know you have an elite team. 

In 2011, Roy Halladay posted a 2.34 ERA with a 1.017 WHIP and went 20-7 for the season. Most impressive is his walk-to-strikeout ratio, which was 6.35. Generally, a solid ratio is to have three times as many strikeouts as walks issued and only a few starters have ever reached the levels that Halladay has posted for many seasons.  

Halladay and the Phillies offense will be going up against Erik Bedard, who posted a 3.62 ERA and a 1.284 WHIP with a 5-9 record in 2011. His strikeout-walk ratio was a below average 2.60, but he did strike out 128 batters in 129.3 innings of work. He has had a 3.31 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and a 9.62 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio spanning the past five season, but he does not stay healthy having started only 82 times during this span. 

What makes all ace starters great, and the Phillies entire starting rotation is certainly leaders in this category, is that they get a first pitch strike in at-bats a very high percentage. Briefly, when elite starters get the first pitch strike, the batter’s batting average declines by a minimum of 75 points. Now, if a batter is batting .300, and Roy halladay gets the first pitch called for a strike, you are in a world of hurt. In 2011, batters hit just .196 with 157 strikeouts and just seven walks spanning 474 at-bats after Halladay got the first pitch strike in all at-bats. 

If a team chooses to attack the first pitch, they are essentially guaranteeing that he will have a complete game as his pitch count will be kept low throughout the game. Moreover, he has two solid pitches with varying rotations and speeds that he can throw for a first pitch strike. Batters rarely, if ever, see the same pitch sequence twice in a game from Halladay and this will keep the Pirates offense off-balance. 

Phillies will score more than four runs and that will be more than enough for them to get the win, so get them in your MLB picks for Thursday.