Double Play: Batted-Ball Rates Key for Two Monday Plays

Mark Lathrop

Monday, May 14, 2018 12:38 PM UTC

Monday, May. 14, 2018 12:38 PM UTC

Our expert MLB handicapper, Mark Lathrop, looks to batted-ball trends to find value on Monday's betting card. Check out his breakdown of two games to help you cash in.

MLB: Monday's Double PlayCincinnati Reds (13-27 SU) vs. San Francisco Giants (19-21 SU)Free MLB Pick: Reds +129 MLBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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The Cincinnati Reds are hotter than Hades right now and they will try to keep things going at San Francisco against a team that is equally cold. The Reds have won six games in a row while the Giants just broke a six-game losing streak with a win on the way out of Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Giants will fly across country, try to make nice with their lady friends and moms, then face a very hot Reds pitcher in Sal Romano tonight. Romano has a 1.59 ERA in May and his hard-hit rates have continued to decline as the season has worn on. His strikeout rates have also gone up in his latest starts and his walk rates have gone down. Romano has faced just the Marlins and Mets in May, but those lineups are very similar to the one the Giants can put together although the Giants are a little bit better of late.

Chris Stratton is the opposite of Romano in that his hard-hit rates have continued to creep up on the season. His hard-hit rate graph looks like the stock chart of Apple from 2002 to now and was sitting at over 35% for his last two games. Stratton’s line-drive rate is also at 26.1%, which is very high, and his pitch mix of mostly fastballs does not match up well with this Reds lineup. The Giants don’t match up well with Romano’s fastball/slider combination either, which is why I don’t have a problem laying on the Reds here on the moneyline plus odds as one of my Monday MLB picks.

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RECAP: Castillo cruises as Suárez and Votto homer to finish the #Reds' first sweep of the season. ➡️ https://t.co/fnj2okFj1n pic.twitter.com/795jHBYP5C

— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 14, 2018
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Tampa Bay Rays (19-16 O/U) vs. Kansas City Royals (15-22 O/U)Free MLB Pick: 'Over' 9 Runs -115Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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While one of my SBR brethren is all in on the Royals, I’m looking at a great opportunity to lay on the total in this game due to a few factors. The most important fact being that the wind will be blowing out hard tonight during game time. That has me investigating the fly-ball rates of each of the two starters, Ryan Yarbrough and Eric Skoglund, and I’m liking what I see. Yarbrough has a sub-90-mph fastball that gets lifted in the air quite easily, and his 49.2% fly-ball rate is the highest it has been this season, his first in the majors. Yarbrough’s BABIP of .232 is also due for serious regression, as he put up a .296 BABIP in 157.1 innings of AAA ball last year.

Skoglund has a lower fly-ball rate than Yarbrough, but his hard-hit rate is currently through the roof at 48.5% this season. His HR/FB% has about doubled this season as well to 13.2%, and Tampa Bay hits lefties quite hard with six hitters on the roster with slugging percentages over .500 against southpaws. The Rays also lift fastballs very well with every batter lifting that pitch in the air over 50% of the time. Skoglund does lean on the fastball a lot, so fly balls are in the forecast as well as the wind. I’ll take the weather and batted ball statistics into account while taking "over" 9 runs in this game as a Monday MLB pick.

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