Rockies Are Upset MLB Picks At Home Hosting Blue Jays

Monday, June 27, 2016 2:00 PM GMT

The mainstream stats of the starting pitchers do not tell the whole story Monday, as we feel Jon Gray and the Rockies have good MLB pick value vs. Marco Estrada and the Jays.

The mainstream statistics of the starting pitchers do not tell the entire story in an intriguing interleague matchup in high altitude Monday night when Marco Estrada and the Toronto Blue Jays (41-36, 22-19 away) pay a rare visit to fellow right-hander Jon Gray and the Colorado Rockies (36-39, 17-18 home) for the first game of a three-game series from Coors Field in Denver, CO at 8:40 ET in a game available on ROOT.

The posted money line at Bovada has Colorado as a moderate home underdog for this contest at current MLB odds of +104.

 

Trouble Defending AL East Title
The Blue Jays returned to the playoffs last season for the first time in 22 years as American League East Champions, but they are having a tough time defending that division title this year as they had a slow start, then seemed to pick up their pace nicely and are now in another lull as the losing MLB picks in five of their last seven games. This leaves Toronto in third place, five games behind the division-leading Baltimore Orioles.

The Rockies come off of a last place finish in the National League West last season at 68-94, but they have been a pleasant surprise over the first half of this year at only three games under .500, which is good enough to have Colorado in third place, albeit a distant third at 12 games behind first place San Francisco. The Rockies salvaged a split of a four-game series vs. Arizona to open this home stand by winning that last two days after dropping the first two games.


 

Weak Peripherals for Estrada
Estrada had a breakout season for the Blue Jays last year when he went 13-8 with a 3.13 ERA and led the American League in fewest hits per nine innings allowed at only 6.66 per game! Now, most experts wrote that season off as an anomaly and expected a lot of regression this season, and yet here Estrada is again this time leading the entire Major Leagues allowing just 5.21 hits per game while working on a current streak of seven straight Quality Starts.

With that being said, the sabremetric picture for Estrada is far less flattering, especially considering that he leads the majors in BABIP allowed at an almost unfathomable .183! What makes that ridiculously low figure more remarkable is that Estrada has a poor ratio of 8.10 strikeouts vs. 3.57 walks per nine innings and most of the contact he allows is in the air given his poor ground ball rate of 35.3 percent.

And it is not as if Estrada is not allowing hard contact either with his hard-contact percentage at 33.7 percent, so he has been extremely lucky so far. His style of pitching is not conducive to success in the altitude of Coors Field though, so if there was ever a spot for some obvious regression to kick in, this looks like it. Remember also that his only experience at Coors so far was not a pleasant one as he was roughed up for seven runs and 10 hits in 5.2 innings in 2014.

 

Top 20 in Major Leagues in xFIP
Gray is on the opposite side of the spectrum for the Rockies as he remains undervalued due to a 4.93 ERA to go along with a 4-3 record when his underlying numbers show that he has been significantly better than that. Granted he was not sharp vs. the Yankees his last outing last Wednesday in the Bronx allowing four earned runs on three hits and a season high five walks in four innings before leaving with “arm fatigue,” but he has been cleared to take this start.

And a healthy Gray has actually been lights-out this season with his 9.74 strikeouts vs. 3.12 walks per nine innings, with that walk rate much better prior to that last start when he was not his usual self, and his resulting 3.41 xFIP actually ranks 15th in the Major Leagues among starting pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched.

Gray has even managed to record Quality Starts in his last three outings here in Denver and this will be his first ever appearance vs. the Blue Jays, which should make him even tougher to hit.

 

Never Won in Colorado
Finally, these teams do not meet very often in interleague play with this being just Toronto’s third trip ever to Colorado, and the Blue Jays have yet to win a game here going 0-6 in those first two visits. Conversely, the Blue Jays are 9-0 vs. Colorado in Toronto, meaning that the home teams are 15-0 in the history of this series!

Given that the peripheral numbers suggest regression in opposite directions for these starting pitchers relative to their ERA, look for that home dominance in this series to continue and back Colorado at home with Gray hosting Toronto and Estrada on Monday.

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MLB Pick: Rockies +104
Best Line Offered:  at Bovada
MLB Record: 44-36-2, +10.57

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