Reds vs Nationals: Won't You Bet Homer Bailey?

Jason Lake

Friday, June 23, 2017 8:27 PM UTC

Friday, Jun. 23, 2017 8:27 PM UTC

The Washington Nationals are a riddle wrapped in an enigma. They’re also the wrong baseball pick for Saturday’s game against Homer Bailey and the Cincinnati Reds.

Welcome to the ranch. This is where my colleagues and I do our work – and work’s been pretty good lately. We’ve managed to nail most of our MLB picks this year, using a simple, fundamentally sound betting strategy that has withstood the test of time. Here’s a solid rule of thumb, for example: If you find a betting line that’s at least 20 cents off where you think it “should” be, that’s a game worth looking at.

But you have to be quick. The Washington Nationals opened as –162 home faves for Saturday’s game (4:05 p.m. ET) against the Cincinnati Reds; the baseball nerds at FiveThirtyEight project Washington to win 56 percent of the time, which works out to –127 according to the glorious SRB Betting Odds Converter. Instant value, right? Well, as we go to press, the Nats have already been pounded down to –140 on the MLB odds board. There’s still some potential for profit here, so let’s go ahead and take a closer look.

We’re Talkin’ Homer

Saturday’s game is of particular interest, since it will be the 2017 debut of Reds starter Homer Bailey. Once the top prospect in Cincinnati’s farm system, Bailey had Tommy John surgery after a truncated 2015 campaign, played sparingly in 2016, and missed the start of the new season recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow.

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Homer Bailey's numbers in three minor league rehab starts:
16 2/3 innings pitched, 2 earned runs, 17 strike outs

— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) June 20, 2017

Bailey looked pretty good in his rehab stint, and the Reds bullpen is in the middle of the pack at 4.28 FIP, so the risk here should be worth the reward. Note that Bailey was saddled with a highly unfortunate .452 BABIP in his six starts last year, leaving him with an unsightly 6.65 ERA compared to his excellent 3.10 FIP. Recreational bettors tend to look at ERA if they look at anything.

The Nats respond with Joe Ross (4.85 FIP), who’s having his own issues with a .359 BABIP, inflating his ERA to 5.98. But Ross is obviously not quite right. His fastball has lost some zip, and he’s giving up way more home runs than he did last year: try 1.99 per nine innings, compared to 0.77 dingers in 2016. Looks like Major League Baseball and the Rawlings factory in Costa Rica have claimed another victim.

Free MLB Pick: Reds +127
Best Line: at Heritage

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