Our handicapper looks at this late starting pitching change for the Mets to see if it unlocks any hidden betting value. Read on as he gives us the best angle for this game.
N.Y Mets vs. Washington Nationals
The New York Mets try to avoid a road sweep at the hands of the NL East leading Washington Nationals, as they fell 5 games back of the division leaders after a 5-0 loss on Tuesday night. The Mets starting rotation is in flux as we approach the All-Star Break, but it appears that Rule 5 draft pick, Logan Verrett, will get the start. As this was a late announcement there has been no early MLB odds listed yet in this game. Let's break down the matchup anyway.
As stated, Logan Verrett, is a Rule 5 draft pick coming from the Baltimore Orioles. He possesses command of an average fastball, but also has a plus slider to fit in the mix for over a quarter of his pitches. In 41.1 innings pitches so far with 16 of his 20 coming out of the bullpen, Verrett has compiled a 3-4 record, 4.14 ERA, 31/18 K/BB rate, 1.45 WHIP, and .264 batting average allowed. Although Verrett is giving up a troubling 15.2% HR/FB rate, he is stranding over 80% of runners on base in 2016. Success in high leverage situations as a reliever is likely what has gotten Verrett back in as a starter. His batting average allowed with the bases empty is .284, with men on base .234, and with men in scoring position .171. Seems he is pretty good at getting batters out while in a jam.
Max Scherzer gets the start for the Nationals in this game, and his season has been a weird one statistically. On the year, he has posted an 8-5 record, 3.52 ERA, 138/28 K/BB rate, 1.00 WHIP, and .202 batting average allowed. The ERA is a huge jump from last year and his HR/FB rate of 17.2% is also a far cry from the 10.5% rate of 2015. On the other hand, Scherzer is striking out batters at a higher rate. Digging a little deeper into the numbers though you will find that of the 20 home runs that Scherzer has given up 12 of them have been of the solo variety. His other statistics while the bases are empty? Try a .190 batting average allowed and a 107/20 K/BB rate. I think Scherzer will be just fine.
The Mets' offense has been struggling all year, and is 35-39 overall, 18-22 on the road, and 28-31 O-U against right-handed starters on the season. In their past seven games, they have only put up an average of 3.4 runs per game. Washington's offense has fared much better on the season, putting up a 39-32 O-U record and 4.6 runs per game on the year. But they too have struggled over the last seven games by only putting up 4.0 runs per game. The difference for Washington has been their effectiveness against the NL East, where they are 25-13 straight up and giving up a paltry 2.8 runs per game. That statistic is rooted in the strength of their bullpen, as the Nationals relievers carry a 2.55 ERA and 0.98 WHIP at home this year.
In betting trends, it appears that Scherzer has been a little overvalued this year. Even though the Nationals are 9-7 in his starts, that is only good for -3.0 units for his backers. In those starts he has put up a 9-4 O-U record, which is significantly slanted towards the Over. Scherzer is 2-1 O-U in his last three games – all games with a 7.5 posted O/U total.
The lines and totals are finally out now, with Washington favored heavily at -193 at Pinnacle. The O/U total has opened up at 8 across the board as well. But for this game, I'm looking at the 1st 5 inning line for value with this pitching matchup, as I'll take Scherzer over Verrett at this point. That line is a more reasonable -135 favoring Washington when giving up a half-run at Heritage, which is my Wednesday MLB Pick.
Free MLB Pick: 1st 5 innings Nationals -½ -135
Best Line Offered: at Heritage
MLB 2016 Record: 31-18-3, +12.01 Units