Friday's Pitcher Report: Teams in Need of Strong Starting Pitcher Performances

Doug Upstone

Friday, July 10, 2015 4:11 PM GMT

Friday, Jul. 10, 2015 4:11 PM GMT

In looking at today's betting odds, three clubs could really use their starting pitchers to come up with a stellar effort. These are situations where the overall team confidence matters.

This is not only important for the squad but for the player entrusted to perform his job at a higher level than what he has done lately or in some cases all season. These contests are normally ones baseball handicappers will shy away from and for good reason, but this article is about making MLB picks and understanding how decisions are derived, so let's attack them.

 

Reds vs. Marlins: Leake has been leaking oil for Cincinnati
For all intents and purposes, barring an unfathomable comeback, the only thing Cincinnati and Miami are playing for is paychecks and hoping to finish .500. The Reds would have the better chance at 38-45 compared to the Marlins 36-50 record and need Mike Leake (5-5, 4.39 ERA) to throw like he did earlier in the season.

The Cincy right-hander has 6.95 ERA in his past three outings, though only one was really bad. Nevertheless, Leake has been leaving too many pitches over the plate and been tagged more frequently. One good aspect for both him and his team is the former Arizona State pitcher will be on the road, where he's been dramatically better with a 2.95 ERA compared to 5.92 ERA at home.

Leake has enjoyed facing Miami with a  4-1 record and 1.65 ERA in five starts in the series. He will also have the added benefit of avoiding Giancarlo Stanton and challenge a Marlins lineup which is averaging 2.4 runs a contest in their last seven tries. Still, the MLB odds only have Cincinnati as only -110 favorites (Heritagesports.eu is at -106 at last look) because the Reds have been equally as inept in scoring, matching Miami's feeble total in the same seven-game stretch. As mentioned, while Leake has pitched better on the road this season, he and Cincy are 10-23 away in the second half of the year for his career.

Slight Disadvantage - Leake and Cincinnati

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Tigers vs. Twins: Verlander Trying to Regain Prior Form
Justin Verlander (0-2, 6.75) worked diligently to again reclaim the ace role of the Detroit staff after a couple below average seasons by his standards. Having lost the ability to throw in the mid to upper 90's, the 32-year old hurler came to camp in great shape but ended up with a strained right triceps, wasting all the hard work.

Verlander has returned and in four starts it is beginning to look like a revival is not possible. In 2010, Verlander's fastball averaged 95 MPH, thus far in 2015 it is down to 91. As for the answer was to why, it is simple, wear and tear. From 2009 to 2014, he threw 1,454 2/3 innings, combining regular season and postseason. That’s 60 1/3 innings more than the pitcher with the next-biggest workload, Felix Hernandez. Another way to look at this is Verlander and James Shields ranked first and second in pitches thrown over that six-year period, one difference, the Tigers righty tossed an enormous 2,000 more or roughly 20 more games by today's standards.

Sportsbooks have little faith in Verlander and have made Detroit a +133 road underdog at Minnesota despite the Tigers having won eight of 10 matchups this year. For MLB picks, have to agree.

Disadvantage - Verlander and Detroit

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Nationals vs. Orioles: Tillman Needs to Find his Stuff and Fast
Coming into 2015, nobody figured Baltimore could match last year's win total of 95. The Orioles labored out of the gate, making most experts look smart, but suddenly they caught fire and from June 4th to the 28th the Birds went 18-5 and were back in the AL East race.

However since, they are 2-8 and fallen off the pace again. About the only consistent aspect of Baltimore this season has been pitcher Chris Tillman (6-7, 5.57) and in this case it has been consistently bad. Coming off two solid campaign's, the 27 year old was expected to blossom, but he's gone backwards with a WHIP of .150 (1.23 last 2Y) and opposing hitters smacking him around for .288 average.

In truth, Tillman is just not throwing well and could use a confidence-building effort. He and the O's are -125 favorites which appears a little high against Washington, but Tillman's track record has him and his team 23-13 when the money line is +125 to -125 the last two seasons.

Slight Advantage - Tillman and Baltimore

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