Expectations for the Arizona Diamondbacks & San Diego Padres have reversed heading into Sunday afternoon's MLB betting matchup in Phoenix, which will be played indoors at Chase Field.
The San Diego Padres Can Win Because...
They are going up against a pitcher who just does not dominate games. Hellickson has been a little more solid of late for Arizona, but he still has a 5.10 ERA for a reason. That reason is that he doesn't go deep into games. Only once in his past 10 games has Hellickson gotten at least one out in the seventh inning of a game. His ceiling is generally six complete innings. He also always shows at least a little bit of instability each game in terms of his control. Hellickson has not had a walk-free game in any of his last 10 starts. He doesn't give up large numbers of hits, but that's partly a product of his control, which can very easily desert him. Hellickson has walked 13 men in his last seven starts, encompassing exactly 40 innings. Broken down into walks per nine innings, that's roughly three walks per nine. That's not good. San Diego should get multiple chances to drive in runners in scoring position in this game.
When you also consider that Hellickson gave up five runs to the Diamondbacks in just 4 2/3 innings when he faced them earlier this season, that's even more reason to think that San Diego will call the shots in this game.
The Arizona Diamondbacks Can Win Because...
Their starting pitcher, while having an inflated ERA, has actually managed to reduce that ERA over the past month. Entering his start on May 19, Jeremy Hellickson had an ERA of 5.92. The fact that he has reduced that ERA to 5.10 is a sign of definite progress and growth, an indication that he's cleaning up his mechanics and is finding much better consistency on the mound. If you look at Hellickson's last six starts, over which he's made that 0.82 reduction in his ERA, you will notice that he's pitched at least six innings and given up no more than three runs in five of them. He's pitched at least six innings and given up no more than two runs in four of his last six starts. That's very good pitching -- two earned runs in six complete innings is an ERA of exactly 3.00. If this is what Hellickson will do on Sunday against a San Diego team that's struggling at the plate, and has fired one manager this past week (Bud Black) while using two interim managers (settling on its current choice, Pat Murphy), Arizona has a pretty good chance of winning.
The Diamondbacks might not have a lot of quality hitters, but in Paul Goldschmidt, they have one of the three or four best hitters in baseball, alongside Miguel Cabrera and Andrew McCutchen. Goldschmidt is at or near the top of just about every major offensive category. He doesn't need to drive in five or six runs per game, though; as long as Hellickson can hold down San Diego's bats, just one timely hit from Goldschmidt with runners in scoring position could be enough for Arizona on Sunday. San Diego hasn't just been losing a lot of games (six of its last eight heading into Saturday night); the Padres lost three out of four this past week to an Oakland team which is in the cellar of the American League West. Arizona has been playing better than San Diego for some time now. San Diego trotting out a pitcher (Andrew Cashner) with a 4.24 ERA is not the best way to convince bettors to pick the Padres in this game.
The key point to make here is that Hellickson is not the same pitcher he was when San Diego rocked him much earlier in the season. Hellickson's growth and development should lead bettors to go with the D-Backs for your MLB picks.
MLB Pick: Arizona at WagerWeb