Rangers, Hamels Out in Full Force Against Dodgers

Rainman M.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 10:51 AM UTC

Wednesday, Jun. 13, 2018 10:51 AM UTC

The Dodgers will try to sweep their two-game set tonight against Texas. The Rangers have been cold and the Dodgers hot, but tonight is the spot for both streaks to end.

Texas Rangers (27-42) at Los Angeles Dodgers (34-32)Free MLB Pick: Rangers RLBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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The Dodgers have won eight out of 10, whereas the Rangers have lost five in a row. Considered by itself, there is nothing essentially predictive in a streak. So while streaks can substantiate a lean that a bettor may already have, there is no reason that, just because Texas lost five in a row, they should lose a sixth. Tonight, Texas is a live dog. If it’s not too juiced, i’ll take the +1.5.

Cole Hamels (3-6, 3.86 ERA) has expressed that he wants to pitch for a contending team, so he’ll be motivated to use tonight’s start as a tryout. Hamels seems to be in bad form, but three of his last four starts came at home, where he’s been consistently worse. His home ERA is 4.91 compared to 2.55 on the road. His FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck) is 2.44 lower outside Texas.

In the first half of his career, Hamels was primarily a fastball pitcher, but his reliance on this pitch has steadily declined. Now, he relies on five different pitches with approximately equal frequency. His deviation from the fastball is crucial because it has lost the velocity and horizontal and vertical movement which it once possessed. For example, his last road opponent, the Angels, slugged 2.000 against his fastball, but mustered two runs in seven innings because he only threw it 13% of the time.

Four of Hamels’ five double-digit strikeout-per-nine-innings performances came away from home. His best whiff pitch is the change-up, which opponents are batting .184 against. Hamels features it especially against right-handed batters, so it’s a big reason why righties are batting .184 against him outside Texas. His last three road opponents are slugging .125 against it even though they rank above average in slugging against the change-up from lefties. Two of those opponents, Cleveland and Houston, rank Top 10 against his pitches thrown by southpaws, and Houston had had a three-game win steak. Hamels, in his road streak, is superseding matchup difficulties. For example, in his first two road starts against Houston, he yielded two runs in 12 combined innings, but then five runs in 7.1 innings against Houston at home.

Besides his change-up, Hamels’ curve and cutter have yielded only four extra-base hits in 468 attempts. He throws his fastball only 2.2% of the time with runners in scoring position because he has various quality pitches to rely on in crunch time. Hamels has proven capable of dominating a hot lineup that matches up well with him as long as he’s on the road.

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Kenta Maeda (4-4, 3.61 ERA) counters for LA’s injury-plagued pitching staff after having been out since May 29. He participated in two bullpen sessions and, officially, feels well enough to return without a rehab assignment. But I suspect that he’s bypassing the rehab assignment because his team needs him so badly. Whether my suspicion checks out or not, Maeda’s history in returns from the DL is shaky. On April 13, for example, he yielded two earned runs in 2.2 innings. I can’t trust him tonight against anybody. Maeda is particularly vulnerable against lefties. So watch out for Shin-Soo Choo, who is slugging .571 in his past seven days. Jurickson Profar slugs .574 against lefties. Donate some flu medicine to Nomar Mazara so that he can join our cause.

Texas’ bullpen provides an additional advantage. In the last two weeks, their bullpen ranks third in FIP. While taking a beating last night, Texas was able to conserve important relievers. Jose Leclerc and Jake Diekman, for example, have yielded combined three runs since May 16.

The Rangers are yielding +4 units away from Texas and Hamels +2. They’ll continue contributing to your bankroll tonight for our MLB picks.

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