Happy Greinke Day! Back D'backs in 'First Five' vs. Brewers

Rainman M.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 1:28 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 15, 2018 1:28 PM UTC

Arizona, which has lost six straight, looks like the worst team to back when they face Milwaukee tonight. But Zack Greinke, their ace starting pitcher, will have something to say about that.

MLB Tuesday:Brewers (25-17, 14-25-2 O/U) vs. Diamondbacks (24-17, 17-21-2 O/U)Free MLB Pick: Parlay Diamondbacks 1H ML and 1H 'Under' 4.5Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Last year I began a profitable ritual called "Greinke Day." With my MLB picks I always backed Arizona through five innings when Zack Greinke started and I wagered more on home games. Greinke Day continues to be a success as the Arizona 1H ML is 4-0-1 in Greinke’s five home starts despite minimal run support.

Milwaukee’s Jhoulys Chacin (3-1, 4.00 ERA) is allowing more walks, home runs and hard contact. He is inducing ground balls with seven percent lower frequency than last year. Chacin’s sinker had been a more effective ground ball pitch. This year, there are seven spots in the strike zone which Chacin is hitting over seven percent of the time with his sinker. Last year, there were only four such spots. Moreover, he is leaving his sinker more often in the middle parts of the strike zone. He is struggling to vary the location of his sinker and otherwise effectively locate it. Consequently, opponents are slugging .587 against his sinker, compared to .362 last season, even though it is one of his two primary pitches.

Last year, San Diego’s 1H ML was 0-2 in Chacin's two starts in Arizona. He threw his sinker over 30% of the time in both starts and the Diamondbacks achieved a slugging percentage over .400 against it both times. One may counter that, while Chacin is struggling with his sinker, Arizona is also struggling to hit. Zona has lost five straight home games and hasn’t scored more than four runs at home since April 30. But bettors can’t punish Arizona for having faced the likes of Washington’s Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg and Houston’s Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. All of the starters which Arizona has faced at home recently are elite or having excellent seasons. Arizona did just struggle against Milwaukee’s Junior Guerra, but Guerra benefited from a fortunately low .167 opposing BABIP (batting average of balls in play) and his 4.15 FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck) suggests that Arizona’s hitting was more unlucky than poor

Strasburg and Cole, for instance, rely on a sinker-slider combination (like Chacin). Strasburg varied his location and avoided the middle parts of the zone while Cole threw heaters and nailed the corners of the strike zone. While Chacin survives with a strong slider without much vertical movement, he does neither with his sinker and, based on the metric BA-xBA, which compares how a lineup is hitting with how it should be hitting, Arizona is primed to hit his sub-par sinker. AJ Pollock leads AZ in BA and is slugging .709 in night games.

Greinke (3-2, 3.70 ERA) thrives on pitch sequencing and location. He continues to be a solid bet at home, where his ERA Is 1.72, compared to 7.27 on the road. For example, his FIP was 5.99 against the Dodgers on the road, compared to 0.81 at home. In Arizona against the elite Astros’ and Nationals’ lineups, he allowed combined two runs in 12.2 innings.

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The "under" is 4-1 in Greinke’s five home starts and 4-1 in Chacin’s five starts as an underdog. Arizona will not damage Chacin enough to bring the total "over." The over/under on the MLB odds board is 5-16-2 in Arizona. The added humidor has been taking its toll especially on hyped slugger Paul Goldschmidt, who had always been dominant in Chase Field but is slugging only .213 here.

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