MLB Picks: Can De La Rosa Pull Fine Performance Against Cardinals Left Handers?

Mark Lathrop

Thursday, April 28, 2016 3:28 PM GMT

Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016 3:28 PM GMT

Our 'capper analyzes the pitching trends coming into this getaway game for the St. Louis Cardinals, as they take on the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Breakdown of his MLB picks inside. 

2016 YTD MLB: 8-4-1, +3.80 Units

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
The St. Louis Cardinals finish up their road trip and 4 game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night at Chase Field. Both teams have won 11 games coming into Wednesday, but St. Louis is 43 runs ahead of the Diamondbacks in run differential – having played just two more games. Both are in 3rd place in their respective divisions as of Wednesday morning. Opening MLB odds have the Cardinals favored in this game on the road at -120 at BetOnline, with the -1.5 run line on St. Louis paying out +130 at the same book. The O/U total has been placed at 9 across the board, with no lean in juice in either direction.

Starting for the Cardinals is Michael Wacha, who hasn’t face the Diamondbacks since 2014. Wacha is coming off of his first full year of starting and compiled a nice 17-7 record in 2015. So far this season, Wacha has a sparkly 2.82 ERA in spite of posting a .287 batting average against, 1.43 WHIP, and .347 BABIP that are well higher than his career averages. His strikeouts are also down, but he’s still been getting the job done. In his last start, a win against San Diego, Wacha pitched 6 innings of 2-run ball and didn’t strike out a single batter while walking 4.

Wacha’s batting average against and BABIP can be linked back to the fact that he is pitching to contact more than ever. In his short time in 2016, his contact rate has gone up 5.4% over 2015 to 86.4%, and his whiff rate has gone down from 9.5% to 6.2%. Batters are putting the ball into play and not striking out. This could either mean that Wacha’s stuff is deteriorating, or that the hits he has given up are a matter of luck – due to the historically high BABIP he is sporting. It’s likely too early to tell which is which, but it is a trend worth monitoring.

Getting the start for the Diamondbacks is Rubby de la Rosa, who did a small stint in the bullpen recently due to an extra inning game on his throwing day. He was back in the rotation over the weekend though, getting the win against the Pirates while pitching 6.0 innings of 1-run ball, striking out 6, and walking one. That one run was a solo home run given up to Sean Rodriguez.

 

Conclusion
Rubby exhibited a strong L/R batting average split in 2015 where he allowed left handers to bat .312 off of him while limiting right handers to a .209 average. This has continued somewhat in 2016, where the split is .267 for left handers and .222 for righties. It probably would be a good idea then, since de la Rosa hasn’t faced many St. Louis batters, to investigate how many left handers they could insert in their lineup (min 30 plate appearances):

Matt Carpenter - .286 career average, 28 HR in 2015

Jeremy Hazelbaker - .321 average and 5 HR in 63 AB’s to start 2016

Brandon Moss - .231 average and 5 HR in 62 AB’s to start 2016

Kolten Wong - .225 average against righties in 2016 in 48 AB’s

Matt Adams - .250 average against righties in 2016 in 30 AB’s

That’s not a lot of big time names, but it is quite a bit of the lineup that can turn into tough outs for De La Rosa. Still, I like the chances of De La Rosa being able to put together another fine performance like he did against Pittsburgh on Saturday – a lineup I like better than St. Louis’s at the moment. The value here it to take the home underdog on the run line as your MLB picks, which makes Arizona +1.5 runs at -170 at YouWager my initial lean on this NL Thursday night matchup. 

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Free MLB Pick: Arizona +1.5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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