MLB Pick: Under In Blue Jays vs. Phillies As Runs Hard To Come By

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 2:00 PM GMT

Marco Estrada of the Blue Jays is allowing the fewest hits per nine innings in the AL while Jeremy Hellickson of the Phillies has pitched well at home, making ‘under’ the MLB pick.

 

There could be a rather unexpected pitching duel in the City of Brotherly Love during interleague play Wednesday night when Marco Estrada and the Toronto Blue Jays (36-31, 18-15 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Jeremy Hellickson and the Philadelphia Phillies (30-35, 16-16 home) in the third game of a four-game home-and-home series from Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA at 7:05 ET in a game available on Comcast SportsNet - Philadelphia.

The posted total at Bovada is 8½ for this contest with the current MLB Odds on the ‘under’ set at -115.

 

Teams Split in Toronto
The scenery shifts to Philadelphia today and tomorrow after the teams split two games in Toronto, with the Phillies pulling the upset 7-0 Monday behind Jerad Eickhoff and then the Blue Jays evening things up and pleasing chalk-eaters everywhere by winning 11-3 as prohibitive -300 favorites Tuesday. The defending American League East Champs are not having an easy time defending that division title, as Toronto is in third place three games behind Baltimore.

The Phillies meanwhile were the worst MLB Picks in baseball last year at 63-99, so sitting at 30-35 and in fourth place in the National League East at this stage of the season is actually commendable, even if they are 10 games behind Washington. The key to the Philadelphia improvement has been fine young pitching as the offense has continued to struggle, with the Phillies second to last in the majors in both batting (.230) and scoring (3.26 runs per game).

 

Estrada is Doing It Again!
Now, you could probably be forgiven if you did not know Estrada allowed the fewest hits per nine innings in the American League for the Blue Jays last season at 6.66 per nine, second best in the Major Leagues behind only National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta. Many observers dismissed that season as a fluke, but nobody is laughing now with Estrada entering with five straight Quality Starts since a bad outing in Texas over a month ago!

Not only that, but Estrada is again leading the AL in hits per nine innings allowed and he has actually improved off of last season’s figure, surrendering only 5.36 hits per nine here in 2016! And if the season ended right now, he would probably again finished second in the majors in that category behind only the NL Cy Young winner, as Clayton Kershaw currently leads the way but not by much, allowing 5.28 hits per nine frames.

Now, we totally get that Estrada has weak sabremetric numbers that do not support either that hit rate or his 2.57 ERA, and we actually think he will make for a nice fade in the immediate future when facing a good offense. However, the Phillies obviously do not fall into that category, so Estrada should be able to continue living his dream year for at least this start.

 

Home Has Been Heaven for Hellickson
Now, Hellickson has very mediocre numbers at 4-4 with a 4.34 ERA overall, but he is on a nice roll here at home as he has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last four outings at Citizens Bank Park, posting a 2.16 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over those starts with an amazing 25 strikeouts vs. five walks in 25 innings.

In fact, Hellickson has a nice ratio over the entire season with 71 strikeouts vs. 20 walks in 74.2 innings, which has helped lead to a fine 3.65 xFIP. So while Hellickson is not among the young crop of stud rookies in the Philadelphia rotation in Aaron Nola, Vincent Velazquez and the aforementioned Eickhoff who shut the Blue Jays down Monday, the 29-year-old Hellickson has mostly done his part to give the Phillies a promising rotation.

And remember that with the Phillies now being the home team after these clubs played north of the border the past two days, the Blue Jays now lose the designated hitter, which could affect their scoring considering the great depth of their lineup.

 

Blue Jays Going ‘under’ on the Road
Then again, even with the services of the DH in the American League, the Blue Jays have still be going ‘under’ with regularity outside of Canada as it has gone 23-7-2 in their last 32 road games! The ‘under’ is also a terrific 21-6-1 in Estrada’s last 28 starts overall, as well as 5-2 in Hellickson’s last seven starts on grass.

So while this is not a matchup of household names, there are enough good things going on with both starting pitchers to expect those trends to continue, so go ‘under’ when Toronto visits Philadelphia on Wednesday.

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Free MLB Pick: Under 8½ -115
Best Line Offered:  at Heritage
MLB Record: 40-35-2, +7.51