The Mariners have featured the long ball lately, led by masher Nelson Cruz, who hit another solo shot last night. Do they have a chance to continue that streak of power against Angel pitching tonight? Our handicapper gives his analysis of the pitching matchup and gives us his Tuesday MLB Pick.
It’s the Seattle Mariners and the Angels in Anaheim tonight as we celebrate a triple witching Taco Tuesday/Cinco de Mayo spectacular (at least in my house anyway). Both of these teams were picked to be the top contenders in the AL West, but have handed the keys to the division to the Astros and said, “here, you can drive as I’ve had too much tequila”. Both teams’ offenses have struggled, with the Angels sitting at 22nd in the MLB in overall offensive statistics and the Mariners even worse at 26th. There is a little bit of luck involved in this, as both teams are 26th and 27th in BABIP (batting average of balls in play). At some point you just have to chalk that statistic up to making bad contact, but we are not quite there yet just one month into the season.
The two slated pitchers in this matchup can definitely bring more heat than Taco Bell hot sauce. James Paxton is going for the Mariners featuring a fastball that sits around 94 most nights – it’s manageable green Tabasco. Garrett Richards for the Angels on the other hand consistently sits around 96 on the gun – bring your Corona’s and chap stick because that stuff is coming in hot as a habenero. The velocity that Richards somehow found in 2014 has made him incredibly difficult to pull a ball against. And a pulled ball can be a long ball. A great statistic to illustrate this penchant for weak contact is slugging average against. Check out where Richards ended up sitting for that statistic in 2014:
1. Garrett Richards, .261 SLG
2. Clayton Kershaw, .289
3. Felix Hernandez, .303
4. Chris Sale, .305
5. Adam Wainwright, .310
That company of pitchers doesn’t suck. Now what we don’t have for this game is any type of considerable record of how Richards does against the current Mariners lineup. Like any MLB hitter they can make adjustments over time, but in this game it could take until the 2nd and 3rd time through the lineup if at all. At that point it could well be too late to put up a bunch of runs.
James Paxton pitched quite well against the Angels in his first matchup with them this year, giving up 2 ER over 6 innings while striking out five. Basically he gave up a dinger to David Freese and that was enough as C.J. Wilson of the Angels pitched eight shutout innings. The word since that game has been “inconsistent” and Paxton finds himself with an early 0-2 record and 5.74 ERA. Home runs have been an issue as he has given them up at more than 1.3 per game this season. He’s capable of putting together a quality start and shows flashes of brilliance, but he is just hard to trust.
The MLB Odds underdog Mariners also had to DL starting center fielder Austin Jackson on Monday and called up SS Chris Taylor in his place. Jackson had been struggling at the plate to start the season so not much of a drop off in production with his replacement Justin Ruggiano. However, should Taylor continue hitting around .300 and playing the defense he showed in the latter half of 2014 he may find himself in the lineup for the rest of the season.
MLB Betting Verdict
The Angels are currently favored on the money line at -140 at BookMaker, with the O/U total at 7.5. Although the Mariners have been hitting some solo shots in recent games, I don’t like their chances of breaking out against Richards the first time they face him. With the Angels slumping at the plate as well, I’ll be taking under 7.5 runs in this game as my Tuesday MLB Picks.
The MLB Pick: Under 7.5