Brewers to Lead Philadelphia Early Behind Consistent Suter: MLB Betting

Rainman M.

Saturday, July 22, 2017 1:14 PM UTC

Saturday, Jul. 22, 2017 1:14 PM UTC

The Brewers are clinging to a one-game lead in the NL Central despite having lost six in a row. Will they turn things around in Philadelphia against the basement dwellers of the NL East?

Brewers vs. Phillies

The Brewers are averaging only two runs in their last seven games. They will try to get things going against a pitcher that they haven't seen little of and managed only limited success. Jonathan Villar is 4-for-6 with a home run and Domingo Santana is 2-for-5 with a double in their career vs Phillies’ starter Jeremy Hellickson. But no other Brewer is batting over .200 with over two at-bats in his career vs Hellickson. The Phillies, on the contrary, are hot, and have scored 5+ runs in their last five games. Tonight will be the first time that they hit against the Brewers’ reliever-turned-starter Brent Suter.

Probable Pitchers

Brent Suter (1-1 3.09 ERA) starts for Milwaukee. He is making his fourth consecutive start because his strong performances have convinced his manager to leave him in the rotation. Suter relies primarily on a fastball that averages only 87 mph. What makes his fastball difficult to make good contact with is its sinking movement and precise location. He tries to keep all of his pitches down in the strike zone, away from the more hittable part of the plate. His slider is tight and averages twelve miles per hour less than his fastball, thus introducing an effective change of pace.  His changeup, which has significant horizontal and vertical movement that is difficult for opposing batters to track, is his biggest strikeout pitch. Overall, he does not strike out many batters but pitches to contact in order to induce ground balls. The most impressive aspect of Suter has been his command. He does not walk many batters and he has yet to give up a home run because of the consistent effectiveness of his location -this makes the positive betting odds on him today appealing. The strongest asset in his command is the confidence that he has in his pitches that allows him to throw a first pitch strike. Statistically speaking, batters do the most damage when they are ahead of the count.  But when batters fall behind in the count, they are more likely to swing at pitches outside of the zone and make only weak contact with them. That is the case with Suter, who relies primarily on his favorite pitch, the fastball, to get ahead of the count. The former reliever will look to continue to be reliable with his command and location and to throw perhaps six quality innings against a hot Philadelphia lineup.

Jeremy Hellickson (6-5 4.44 ERA) counters for Philadelphia. Overall, 2017 is a down year for Hellickson, whose ERA rose from 3.71 last year to 4.44 this year, and who is striking out fewer batters, walking more, and giving up more home runs.  Hellickson relies not on the velocity of his pitches, but on their location and movement.  His favorite pitch has traditionally been the changeup, which, contrary to Suter’s changeup, introduces an effective change of pace with his fastball, because he throws his changeup at an average 10 mph slower than his fastball. He also tries to add backspin to his changeup in order to induce strikeouts.  His changeup's loss of effectivity has been the primary reason that he is striking out fewer batters and giving up more runs. Whereas last year opponents’ slugging percentage against his changeup was .300, this year it is .520. Last year, opponents were whiffing at his changeup at a 48% rate. This year, opponents are doing so at just a 30% rate. Helickson is less able this year to command the kind of location and induce the kind of movement on his changeup that made it so difficult to hit. Because he is struggling to utilize his favorite pitch, he is struggling to make adjustments. One adjustment that he made was to throw his changeup less frequently. He is throwing his favorite pitch at a 6% lower rate than in April and is compensating by relying more on his sinker. He has been having more success with his sinker. But he has been making mistakes with his location and has given up 5 home runs in his last 3 games. He’ll look to capitalize on his pitching adjustments and develop more consistency against the Brewers. This is normally the time of year when Hellickson develops a groove. His career ERA is 2.83 in July, meaning that July is historically by far his favorite month. 

The Verdict

It may seem likely that Hellickson can improve his form and limit his mistakes in July against a Brewers lineup that is struggling to capitalize on its opportunities.  But consider that during their slump, the Brewers have not had the same fortune as the Phillies in terms of which starting pitcher they go up against. The Brewers have mostly faced elite starting pitching, including the likes of Aaron Nola and Ivan Nova. Jeremy Hellickson is not an elite pitcher.  And even if Hellickson does limit his mistakes, the match-up advantage decisively favors Milwaukee, whose lineup is at its best against finesse fly ball pitchers. Philadelphia, meanwhile, is at its worst against ground ball pitchers. Suter has been much more consistent than Hellickson, who is struggling to find a recipe in terms of pitching selection, stuff and command that will help him find a groove. Pitching at home actually presents a disadvantage to Hellickson.  Milwaukee, who is fifth in home runs per game, should take advantage of playing in Citizens Bank Park, which is one of baseball’s least spacious venues and is especially dangerous for a shaky fly ball pitcher like Hellickson. Milwaukee should procure Suter a lead, who can likely neither endure more than six innings nor rely on his statistically mediocre bullpen on our MLB Picks.

Free MLB Pick: Milwaukee 1H RL (+125)
Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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