This baseball handicapper looks at the final game of the Mariners/Dodgers exciting interleague series featuring teams that have gone over the total in both previous games. Will the trend continue?
The Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers finish their 3-game set Wednesday night featuring a matchup between promising young fireballer Taijuan Walker of the Mariners against the oft-injured Brett Anderson of the Dodgers. The weather will be pitcher perfect, 72F at game time and very low humidity – basically nothing that will prevent the ball from flying out of the park.
The opening MLB odds have the Dodgers favored at -125 at multiple books, with the O/U set at 7 runs.
The Dodgers ignored Anderson’s recent run of injury history to sign him to a one-year, $10 million dollar contract with $4 million in performance incentives. Maybe they were enticed by the success he has had while healthy, as indicated by his park adjusted career ERA (FIP) of 3.52. Still, Anderson has pitched just over 200 innings in the last four seasons. He busted out in 2009 with a superb 3.5 WAR season with Oakland, and possesses an above average career ground ball rate of over 55%. But in dealing with injuries, Anderson has lost velocity since 2009 and his fastball now tops out around 90 mph. To compensate for this, he’s resorted to junk, if that’s what you could call a knuckle curve. That pitch has showed up in his advanced statistics for the first time in 2014, and he threw it 17.2% of the time in his first start of the 2015 season against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In that start, he gave up 3 earned runs in a no decision.
I mentioned Tiajuan Walker in my sabermetrics futures series, as he was projected to perform at just 0.5 WAR over the season. I thought this to be too low, as he accrued 0.3 WAR in his September call up last year alone. Walker was fabulous this spring, striking out 27.7% of the batters he faced and giving up only two earned runs – making me look like a genius to boot. Then Walker gave up 3 runs in the first inning of his regular season debut against the Oakland A’s. Baseball. What I noticed in that start is that his recorded fastball velocity was about 2 MPH lower than in the spring, at 92.6 MPH. That’s still pretty good, but Walker throws one of the fastest off speed pitches in all of baseball as well. This is very similar to teammate and mentor, Felix Hernandez, who’s changeup sits at 90 MPH. Walker’s changeup in this game was coming in around 88 MPH. That just isn’t enough change of pace to keep batters off balance and induce strikeouts, for which we are accustomed to see from Walker.
MLB Betting Verdict
One might look at Anderson’s career 1.81 ERA against the Mariners and think this is an easy MLB Picks, but when looking at those stats closer, most of those innings were pitched against the historically bad offenses Seattle had in 2009 and 2010. The lineup is quite different now. And then there is Taijuan Walker, whose first start did not inspire confidence, but looks like an anomaly until proven otherwise. Basically, we have two pitchers that I believe are wild cards. One thing that has been consistent in this series though, is the bats… and dingers. Nelson Cruz of the M’s will be going for his 5th game in a row with a HR tonight. With the O/U lying at a reasonable 7 at the moment, I believe there is value in taking the Over in this game as one of your MLB picks.
Free MLB Picks: Over 7.5 at Pinnacle