The playoffs are here! The Miami Marlins clash with the Chicago Cubs for the first round of the postseason on national television. Who should your pick be for this one?
Miami Marlins vs. Chicago Cubs
Wednesday, September 30, 2020 – 2:08 P.M. ET at Wrigley Field
Miami starter Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.00 ERA) is enjoying the best season of his career. This claim is substantiated by so many statistics, such as the rate of walks allowed, opposing home runs, strikeouts per nine innings, ERA, and so forth.
One change he’s made this year is throwing more of his sinker. Now, he's throwing this pitch with a 40 percent frequency. This was a smart change for him to make because he’s made it more effective than it ever was. Currently, opponents are hitting .179 against this pitch.
Alcantara’s sinker is superior because he throws it with greater velocity. It averages 1.02 mph more than it did last year. He also ably focuses this pitch along the borders of the strike zone where he uses his sinker’s movement to play with the borders of the strike zone. As 33% of his sinker strikes are concentrated in three spots on a border of the strike zone, batters often remain unsure whether his sinker will land for a ball or for a strike.
While he throws his fastball less often, it remains a formidable pitch. Opponents slug only .350 against it. He’s great about distributing this pitch to all of the different parts of the strike zone. Based on percentile comparison, he’s also one of the better pitchers at putting a spin on his fastball. Making the ball's location more difficult for batters to track.
Alcantara vs. Cub Batters
With my MLB Picks, I like Alcantara today because of his positive form. He enters today’s game having allowed four earned runs in his last three starts, totaling 19.1 innings, combined. In two starts, he allowed one run each and then allowed two in a 7.2-inning outing.
His sub-three FIP (like ERA, but factors out fielding) in each game substantiates the individual quality of his efforts. It’s true that his numbers against active Cub batters aren’t great but ignore those. These numbers will change radically because they only come from 36 at-bats, none of which took place this season where Alcantara is improved.
Plus, the Cubs rank 21st in slugging against Alcantara’s three favorite pitches — all of which he throws over 19 percent of the time -- from righties. Look for Kris Bryant to struggle today. He’s 1-for-5 (.200) against Alcantara with three strikeouts.
Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks (6-5, 2.88 ERA) is all about variety, movement, and precision. He’s comfortable throwing four different pitches, each one with between 16 and 35 percent frequency. His fastball and curveball have been his best pitches. Batters hit lower than .200 against each one.
Each pitch enjoys a noticeable lateral movement. As is true of his pitches overall, its two most frequent strike locations are along a border of the strike zone. Still, Hendricks is best known for his famous change-up, which is his best source of whiffs by percentage.
Hendricks vs. Marlin Batters
Hendricks promises to thrive today, like his counterpart, because he enjoys solid form. He comes into today’s contest having allowed a combined total of six runs in his last five games. The man nicknamed "Professor" allowed one run or fewer in three of those contests, while he allowed two runs in 7.2 innings in both of the other outings.
During this span, he’s struck out 30 batters while walking four. Hendricks matches up well with Miami batters because they rank 28th in slugging against his pitches from righties. Collectively, active Marlin batters hit .225 and slug .300 in 80 tries against Hendricks. For example, Miguel Rojas is 1-for-9 (.111) with Hendricks on the mound.
Both starting pitchers enter today’s contest in strong form and with positive match-up advantages. The MLB odds don’t account for these sorts of details. To take advantage of both starting pitchers thriving, bet on the first-half under on the best betting sites.