Our MLB handicapper takes this pitching matchup to task using advanced stats; and suggests that the mirage of pitching success might come to an end soon.
Cruising the Fade-Watch Territory
The Angels and Mariners meet again on Friday night, in the second game of their four game series before the All-Star Break. The Mariners took the first game behind the excellent pitching of Felix Hernandez and some surprising offense from the Seattle lineup. Garrett Richards shit the bed all over my run line pick as he gave up 12 hits, tying the most he’s ever given up in his career. That loss has officially put me into Fade Watch ™ territory – the sixth in a row after a scorching 10 game stint where I was 8-1-1. For this game we have very similar odds compared to last night, with the Mariners being slight home favorites on the money line at -105 at 5Dimes, the run line giving the Angels 1.5 and steep chalk at -200, and a low O/U run total of 7. However, last night the money line odds continually shifted towards Seattle and it looks like tonight the early money is shifting the money line towards the Angels.
This game features two starters that are likely playing over their heads a bit. Let’s start with Hector Santiago of the Angels, whose advanced stats tell me that I would want him to make this pick instead of myself, as he is the luckiest pitcher on Earth. His left on base percentage is sitting at 89%, which is 2nd in all of the MLB behind that of Zack Greinke. His fielding independent pitching (FIP) earned run average is at 4.10. The difference between Santiago’s ERA and his FIP is among the highest in all of the MLB. His batted average on balls in play (BABIP) is .234. Only the before mentioned Zack Greinke has a lower BABIP in the MLB at .233. His fly ball percentage at 52.5%, pull percentage at 35.2%, and hard hit ball percentage of 32.8% are all the highest in those categories of his career. Yet, here we have a pitcher with an ERA of 2.40. A lot of this is due to Santiago’s ground ball inducing style, which will get him double plays and easy outs behind a pretty good defense. Either way, the BABIP statistic is one of the most stable in baseball, so I’d look for it to go up towards his the .288 and .289 numbers he carried in 2014 and 2013, respectively.
If you want to look at another pitcher with a striking difference between ERA and FIP, look no further than Mike Montgomery. He is carrying and ERA of 1.62 and an FIP of 3.26, although that FIP stat is much better than Santiago’s above. In his first 7 MLB starts, Montgomery went ahead and posted the best numbers in his career since the 2010 rookie and short season A ball with the Royals organization. He doesn’t have enough innings to qualify on league wide statistics leaderboards, but his BABIP of .221 would be the lowest among MLB starters. His LOB% at 86.6% is better than Felix Hernandez. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols might have other ideas.
Must Read: Here's our AL West division update
Baseball Betting Veredict
The Seattle offense scored seven runs last night, but like the night before, they could have scored a lot more. They left 11 men on base and got thrown out at home plate an astounding three times in the game. Maybe newly instilled hitting coach, Edgar Martinez, is finally having an effect on the Mariner lineup? And don’t look now, but a newly skinny Jesus Montero has been called up from AAA after mashing there all spring. A fat Montero was the Yankee uber-prospect that was sent to Seattle for Michael Pineda a few years ago.
MLB Pick: The Mariners have two Jesii on their roster now. It’s a sign. Take over 7 runs at Pinnacle with your Friday night MLB pick.