Both Starting Pitchers Are in Trouble in Rockies-Mets Match-up

Rainman M.

Saturday, May 5, 2018 2:35 PM UTC

Saturday, May. 5, 2018 2:35 PM UTC

The Mets host Colorado for the second game of a three-game series Friday at 7:05 ET. Both lineups promise to score a lot of early runs.

Colorado Rockies (18-15, 14-17-2 O/U) vs New York Mets (17-13, 16-13-1 O/U)

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The last time that New York starter Steven Matz (1-2, 4.98 ERA) faced Colorado, in July of last season, he allowed seven runs in the first inning of a home game. Matz is a consistent disaster at home. In all three home starts this year, he has allowed three runs and a combined five homers despite not completing more than four innings in two of those starts. His FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck) was over 4.00 in each and over 7.00 in the other two starts. In fact, you’ll have to go back to August of 2016 to find the last time in which Matz allowed fewer than three runs at home. His career FIP at home is 4.65, 1.19 higher than his career FIP on the road. Because of Matz’ struggles at home, the ‚over‘ is 6-2 in his last eight home starts.

Matz’ strikeout rate is attractive, but he’s also walking more than four batters per nine innings. In all three of his home games, he has been allowing a higher rate of medium and hard contact compared to his career average. He is vulnerable to throwing too frequently in the middle parts of the strike zone, where opponents are achieving a high slugging percentage against his stuff. All five homers that he has allowed this year came in New York.

Colorado’s offense is enjoying a recent resurgence, producing 19 runs in its past two games. Last season, the Rockies’ OPS (on-base plus slugging; average is .720) against left-handed starters was .801. This season, they are lagging behind in this category despite stronger numbers against left-handed pitchers overall. Contrary to the last few southpaw starters that they have faced, Matz is a propitious match-up for them as a ground ball pitcher. The Rockies’ OPS against ground ball pitchers is currently .781. Look out particularly for Charlie Blackmon who has five hits, including two doubles, in eight career at-bats against Matz. Blackmon’s OPS is .893 in his past week. All of the homers that Matz has allowed have come against right-handed batters. So look out for Nolan Arenado whose slugging percentage, like Blackmon’s, is above .600.

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Chad Bettis (3-1, 2.43 ERA) counters for Colorado. Bettis has produced his low ERA with smoke and mirrors. His 4.36 FIP tells a different story. He has been surviving with an unsustainably low opposing BABIP (batting average of balls in play) of .218 despite inducing less soft contact and allowing more hard contact. He has been stranding baserunners at a likewise absurd 87 percent. The key problem for Bettis has been his control, which is as poor as it has been since 2015. He is walking one batter more per nine innings than he did last season. Bettis has been getting away with poor location. For instance, he has been throwing in the dead center of the strike zone over seven percent of the time—this rate is up two percent from last season. Despite this spot being the favorite one for hitters, their BABIP is only .278 when making contact with pitches in this location.

The Mets’ lineup is heavily underachieving based on the metric BA-xBA (batting average minus expected batting average). Teams eventually progress towards their expected numbers and the overachieving Bettis provides a good opportunity for them to do so. Look out especially for Asdrubal Cabrera whose OPS is above .950 both overall and in the past week.

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