Overrated Pitchers Make The Over Our MLB Pick For Nationals vs. Phillies

Monday, May 30, 2016 2:00 PM GMT

A matchup of two pitchers we are not particularly fond of could make the ‘over’ the MLB pick at a low posted total when the Nationals visit the Phillies the night of Memorial Day.

 

The ‘over’ could hold value at a relatively low posted total Memorial Day Monday night in a matchup of starting pitchers that are not as good as their mainstream stats when Tanner Roark and the Washington Nationals (30-21, 15-10 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Jeremy Hellickson and the Philadelphia Phillies (26-24, 13-9 home) in the opening game of a three-game series from Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA at 7:05 ET in a game available on MASN.

The posted total at BetDSI is 7½ for this contest with the current MLB odds on the ‘over’ set at -120.

 

Back in Sole Possession of First Place
The Nationals regained a one-game lead over the second place defending National League Champion New York Mets in the NL East yesterday by snapping a mini two-game losing streak to the St. Louis Cardinals, taking the series finale easily 10-2 and improving to 11-0 this year when Stephen Strasburg has started. The Mets then lost to Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers last night to fall one game back.

The Phillies meanwhile have been the most pleasant surprise in baseball after finishing as the worst MLB picks in the Major Leagues last year at 63-99, as the prospects for improvement this season seemed bleak before the year. Yet, here they are at two games over .500 after 50 games and in third place in the division, still only 3½ games behind the first place Nationals. Things could really get interesting if Philadelphia can somehow sweep this series at home.


 

Roark Looks Like Paper Tiger
Now on the surface, it would appear that Roark has been pitching in bad luck while going just 3-4 pitching for a first place team despite a stellar 2.71 ERA, but a closer look reveals that he dominated some very weak lineups earlier in the season. And Roark would have an even better ERA and a better WHIP than his 1.22 if not for the Miami Marlins, as he now has seven Quality Starts in 10 total starts this year, with all three non-quality outings coming vs. Miami!

Still, there are enough peripherals in place to suggest that Roark has been pitching over his head. Roark is currently sporting career highs in both strikeout rate (8.29 per nine innings) and walk rate (3.43 per nine innings), but the caveat in the strikeout rate is that he had 15 in one seven-inning outing vs. the team with the worst record in the American League, a Minnesota Twins team that had never faced him before while playing in the opposite league.

If you take away that one outing, Roark’s strikeout rate over his other nine starts is 6.91 per nine innings, which is not as impressive as the overall figure and also not much higher than his career strikeout rate of 6.46. The walks on the other hand are a legitimate concern, and while his 3.56 xFIP looks good on paper despite being 0.85 runs higher than his ERA, that xFIP also gets a bump from the one performance against the Twins.

And do not forget that his last experience of pitching at Citizens Bank Park was not an enjoyable one, as he was torched here last season for eight earned runs on 12 hits in just 3.1 innings by a last place team.

 

Do Not Expect Hellickson’s Run to Continue
Meanwhile, Hellickson is starting to become a journeyman while pitching for his third team in three years, and he has actually been quite serviceable going 4-3 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.24 WHIP this year. Furthermore, he enters this contest on a nice run that has seen him post a 2.25 ERA and a miniscule 0.95 WHIP over his last three outings, with all of them being Quality Starts.

Still, we feel you must pump the brakes if you really think this run will last very much longer, as we are still talking about a guy with a career 4.35 FIP and 4.28 xFIP. Hellickson could not even stick with what was a pitching poor Diamondbacks team last year after going 9-12 with a 4.62 ERA, 4.44 FIP and 4.16 xFIP for Arizona, and he is now pitching in another predominantly hitter’s ballpark, especially as the weather gets hotter.

And remember that one of his worst starts this season came vs. the Nationals here in this stadium back on April 15th, when Hellickson was touched up for five earned runs on seven hits in three innings.

 

Nice ‘over’ Run
Finally, the Nationals enter this contest on a 6-2 ‘over’ run overall. The ‘over’ is also 9-4 in the Nationals’ last 13 road games vs. teams with winning home records and 4-1 in their last five games vs. right-handed pitchers, as well as 26-10-2 in the Phillies’ last 38 home games vs. teams with winning records.

With both starting pitchers seemingly overachieving in the early going of this season, look for those trends to continue and go ‘over’ when Washington visits Philadelphia on the night of Memorial Day.

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Free MLB Pick:  Over 7½ -120
Best Line Offered:  at YouWager
MLB Record: 29-29-1, +3.58