Mets Come to Boston Armed With Hammer on Friday

Rainman M.

Thursday, September 13, 2018 7:09 PM UTC

Thursday, Sep. 13, 2018 7:09 PM UTC

Boston hosts the Mets on Friday night on the MLB Network. The Mets send Noah Syndergaard, also known as Thor, onto the mound.

New York Mets at BostonFriday, 7:10 p.m. ET (MLB Network)Free MLB Pick: Mets MLBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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New York’s Noah Syndergaard (11-3, 3.44 ERA) is performing better than his surface stats indicate. His FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck) is 2.70. His ERA is higher because he’s suffering from an unfortunately high BABIP (batting average of balls in play) despite yielding a rate of hard contact lower than his career average. Syndergaard’s last start interrupted a string of six consecutive starts in which he yielded an FIP under 3.00. Expect him to bounce back because he is 3-0 in the start after having conceded four runs in his previous one. In those three starts he yielded an FIP no higher than 2.01 and allowed no more than three runs in at least seven innings.

Aspects of both a power pitcher and of a finesse pitcher characterize Syndergaard. His favorite pitch is the sinker, which he throws with 35 percent frequency. It averages 97 mph and displays strong arm-side movement that makes it elusive. Despite its intense velocity and movement, its two most frequent locations are on the periphery of the strike zone. Syndergaard also relies on three more pitches with between 16 and 21 percent frequency. These pitches infuse his pitch arsenal with variety, which he magnifies by sequencing them well, so that he doesn’t rely too much on certain pitches in individual scenarios. He utilizes deception to make himself even more unpredictable, which a finesse pitcher typically likes to do. For example, his sinker and slider share immensely similar vertical and horizontal release points so that the batter struggles to discern which pitch leaves his hand. He throws the hardest slider in baseball, averaging 92 mph, and yet he’s able to concentrate it with 34 percent frequency in the lowest-right spot of the zone.

Syndergaard’s elite quality defies matchup considerations, which is why it doesn’t matter to me that Boston ranks highly in slugging against high velocity. Syndergaard yielded an FIP under 3.00 in two of his three starts against the Phillies, which ranks ninth in slugging against his pitches, and conceded four runs in 12 innings to the Nats, who rank first in the category.

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Boston’s Hector Velasquez (7-2, 3.29 ERA) has been wavering between the starting rotation and bullpen. His ERA is 1.10 higher as a starter than as a reliever. He also has allowed more homers as a starter, despite facing 90 fewer batters than as a reliever. The Red Sox are yielding -1.6 units in his last three starts.

Velasquez relies mostly on his sinker, but only with 35 percent frequency. He also utilizes a fastball, slider, and splitter with between 17 and 23 percent frequency. Despite the variety in his pitching arsenal, he is less unpredictable than he could be, especially because he doesn’t use much deception in his pitches, which also lack any difficult velocity. His sinker does have the best movement in terms of strong, arm-side direction, but he also can’t command it well, instead leaving it with high frequency over the more vulnerable parts of the zone. Besides his slider and splitter, he lacks a pitch that yields an opposing BA under .300. Because his slider and splitter only comprise 30 percent of his arsenal, he doesn’t often throw effective stuff.

The Mets show positive team rhythm, having won their last two series against playoff contenders Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Dodgers. They’ve produced double-digit runs in two of their last four games. Watch out for Brandon Nimmo, who slugs .533 against righties. Wilmer Flores, who’s hitting .287 against righties, is healthy again. He’s just one reason why the Mets' ML looks appealing on the MLB odds board for an MLB pick.

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