Double Play: Hip to be Square in Cleveland

trevor bauer

Mark Lathrop

Friday, May 11, 2018 11:43 AM UTC

Friday, May. 11, 2018 11:43 AM UTC

Our expert MLB handicapper, Mark Lathrop, looks to improve on his record after a tough first 5-inning beat yesterday led to a split on his picks. Read up as he explains two of his best picks for the Friday night MLB betting card.

2018 MLB Record: 60-38-4, +21.49, 21.07% ROI

Kansas City Royals (12-24 SU) @ Cleveland Indians (18-18 SU)Free MLB Pick: Indians RLBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Sometimes a situation presents itself as square but checks out on all fronts. In that case, the aim for us in the know is to get on it before the line gets out of hand, which is what I did the moment the run line on the Indians was available at my tracking account. The Indians are coming off a day of rest and will face the Royals at home after they travel from Baltimore after a disappointing 11-6 loss. Jason Hammel gets the start for the Royals, and he has a 0-4 record and a 5.01 xFIP. What I don’t like him is his batted-ball profile where his hard-hit percentage is 43.7 and his pulled ball percentage is 41.7. That combination should equal dingers, yet Hammel’s HR/FB rate is just 5.5% on the season. That is less than half his career average and suggests Hammel is due for some serious regression.

Cleveland will face the wary Royals with Trevor Bauer, who has started very well this season with a 3.17 FIP and 10.49 K/9 rate. His peripheral statistics are all very similar to last year and even better in some cases. Bauer’s velocity is up a bit and his line-drive rates are the lowest they’ve been in his MLB career. What I like about this matchup is that only one batter in Kansas City’s lineup gives Bauer any trouble, and that is Alcides Escobar with a .321 batting average and one home run. That’s basically it for the danger to Bauer in this lineup. It’s square, but the numbers tell me it is ok to back the Indians here on the run line as one of my Friday MLB Picks.

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.@SalvadorPerez15 got himself a big birthday present! 🎁 #RaisedRoyal pic.twitter.com/GWjQOlg4PK

— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) May 10, 2018
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Seattle Mariners (21-14 O/U) @ Detroit Tigers (15-20 O/U)Free MLB Pick: Under 9Best Line Offered: Skybook

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The Mariners come off another winning road series to face the Tigers in spacious Comerica Park on Friday evening. The wind will be blowing across the field from left to right, which you may think would give trouble to two starting left-handers susceptible to pull hitters, but that is not the case here. This game features two pitchers creating some of the softest contact in the MLB this season.

First is Detroit’s Matt Boyd, and although Seattle does hit lefties well, Boyd only allows a 26.9% hard hit rate on the season. It’s the best he’s done in his career and corresponds to a switch in his pitch mix, as he has reduced his fastball usage and tripled the use of his slider with lower velocities across the board. His strikeouts are down as he’s pitched to contact, but his walks are also down as well from 3.53 BB/9 last year to 2.25 BB/9 this year.

Marco Gonzales gets the start for the Mariners and he has lots of similarities with Boyd this season. Gonzales has a sparkly 2.74 xFIP even though his BABIP is .400. His line-drive rate is 33% -- very high -– yet his ground-ball rate has stayed stable. It’s all very weird stats for Gonzales, as his hard-hit rates don’t portray a pitcher in trouble and his 9.87 K/9 rate is much higher than his career average. He’ll face the Tigers for the first time as well here, which should help the strategy of the crafty lefty. With the park factors favoring low scoring as well I will back both pitchers to have good outings and take 'Under' 9 runs as one of my Friday MLB Picks.

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