Orioles a Devilish 'First Five' Matchup for Angels

Rainman M.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 1:20 PM UTC

Wednesday, May. 2, 2018 1:20 PM UTC

Los Angeles hosts Baltimore for the second game of a three-game series tonight at 10:07 ET. The Orioles have significant matchup advantages with which to procure a rare win.

MLB Wednesday: Orioles vs. AngelsFree MLB Pick: Baltimore 1H MLBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Dylan Bundy (1-3, 2.97 ERA) was human last week after achieving six consecutive starts with a sub-3.00 ERA. He was struggling to locate his fastball and change-up, and his opponent slugged both pitches hard. In his last outing, he located both pitches in four spots over 9% of the time mostly in the middle parts of the strike zone. Prior to that outing, he had located them in only one spot 9% of the time and that spot was in the outside corner of the zone.

Expect Bundy to return to form tonight in our MLB picks. Dating to last season, he followed three of his last four starts in which he yielded an FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck) over 5.00 with an FIP of under 2.50 in the following outing. In the one exception he achieved a 3.36 FIP. He will reestablish solid location of his fastball and change-up. Bundy's slider, his favorite whiff pitch and his best one based on opposing batting average, will continue to be strong against an Angels team that ranks fifth-to-last in BA against this pitch.

Bundy loves west coast night games, where Baltimore has won the first five innings in each of his three starts there including once last year against the Angels, against whom he achieved 10 strikeouts. Bundy's career ERA is over .80 lower in night games than in day games.

Andrew Heaney (0-1, 6.91 ERA) looked tremendously better in his last start than Bundy. Heaney returned to the majors from Tommy John surgery only in mid-August of last season. In the eight starts he has made since then, he has achieved an FIP of under 3.50 in two of them. After each of those positive starts, he was shelled in the next one. Heaney is searching for the same consistency as Bundy. By comparing a three-game stretch in 2015 from a healthy Heaney with Heaney's three starts this season, a threefold variance in the respective vertical release point of his three pitches is evident this season. Heaney has yet to establish the repeatable delivery and comfort with mechanics that is key for consistency.

Since 2015, the southpaw has worked on lowering the vertical release points of his pitches. This makes it more difficult for left-handed batters to track and hit his pitches. This season, he is pitching very well against left-handed hitters, yielding an 0.62 FIP against them, compared to 4.28 against right-handed batters. These splits make him a poor matchup for the O's lineup, whose lack of run support explains Bundy's poor win-loss record, but is primed to score tonight. Heaney is letting right-handed hitters slug .542 against him so far. The O's lineup is right-handed heavy. Their OPS (on-base plus slugging; average is .720) is .742 against southpaws compared to .649 against right-handed pitchers.

The top Baltimore hitters are right-handed. Foremost among them is Manny Machado, who has two homers in six career at-bats against Heaney. He is batting .333 against lefties and .361 overall in a tremendous bounce-back season.

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Heaney will be especially uncomfortable since he relies mostly on the sinker. Heaney throws this pitch more than any other and he particularly relies on it to work his way back into the count and to finish off a batter with two strikes. Besides the vertical release point, one aspect of his sinker that Heaney is struggling with is its location. In his strong stretch in 2015, he didn't throw his sinker in any spot in the middle strike zone quadrant more than 7% of the time. This year there are two such spots. Since last season, Baltimore ranks seventh in BA against this pitch and is primed to slug Heaney's currently unreliable but favorite pitch.

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