Gray & Roark Set Up to Duel Sunday: Nationals vs Athletics Free MLB Pick

Oakland Athletics

Mark Lathrop

Sunday, June 4, 2017 4:45 PM GMT

Sunday, Jun. 4, 2017 4:45 PM GMT

Our MLB handicapper likes this matchup for both pitchers starting on Sunday afternoon. That leaves the side out of the equation as we look to make a play on this inflated total.
 

2017 MLB Record, 91-76-6, +6.85 Units, 3.41% ROI

Two starting pitchers with excellent potential take the mound on Sunday afternoon as the Washington Nationals finish up a series with the Oakland Athletics. The lines have been weird for this series as odds makers deal with the suspension of Bryce Harper for the Nationals. Washington opens as a slight favorite in this game at -113 on the moneyline at BetOnline, while the O/U total has opened up at 8.5 with a lean at -120 on the Over.

Sonny Gray gets the start in this game, and after missing all of April due to injury has come out fresh and strong. His fastball has increased velocity, which just adds to the danger of his tremendous slider. That slider was the strikeout pitch on 9 of the 11 K’s that Gray rang up on May 24th at home against Miami. I think the total line presented today is a little inflated due to Gray’s last outing against Cleveland – an outing he was cruising in before a disastrous 4th inning. But the fact remains that Gray’s strikeout rate is up while his walk rate is down, his ground ball rate is up to 60% versus a fly ball rate of 23%, and his stuff is electric as ever. Gray is also inducing his highest whiff rate in his career at 10.3%.

This being an interleague matchup Gray will be facing a lineup with little history against him, which I believe to be a huge advantage. That same advantage will be afforded to the Nationals starter, Tanner Roark.

Tanner Roark has been on fire lately, giving up just one earned run over his last two starts and 14.0 innings pitched. That also includes a nice 14/1 K/BB rate over that timeframe. If you look at his game log, you will see that Roark can be outright dominant at times. Primarily a pitcher that looks for contact for easy ground ball outs, Roark is missing more bats than ever this year. That has led to his highest whiff rate of his career at 9.5% and lowest contact rate within the strike zone at 84.2%. It has also led to a snazzy 3.67 FIP and above average 9.8% HR/FB rate. Roark can be better too, as his .299 BABIP is running over his .275 career average.

Bryce Harper will be back for this game, but I don’t think it will have much effect on the angle I am taking here, which is to take the Under. One if not both of these pitchers can be dominant in this interleague spot, and I think the total eventually moves to 9. Take the Under at the best line you can find as one of your Sunday MLB Picks.

Free MLB Picks: Under 9Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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