Rockies vs Mariners Picks: Two Outstanding Pitchers Guarantee a Low Scoring Affair

Rainman M.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 7:11 PM UTC

Wednesday, May. 31, 2017 7:11 PM UTC

After the Mariners swept the two-game series at Coors Field, they will look to beat Colorado a third straight time in Seattle, where ace James Paxton will pitch for the first time since May 2nd.

Colorado Rockies vs Seattle Mariners  

James Paxton will return tonight from being sidelined for nearly a month due to a forearm injury. In his rehab pitching sessions, he was reportedly able to throw all of his pitches for strikes and did not feel any discomfort or pain afterward. Paxton’s return means more good news for a Seattle team that, after being publicly called out by their manager for lack of effort on offense, has responded by winning three straight games and scoring 21 runs in those games.

The bulk of those runs came against Colorado starters Tyler Chatwood and Tyler Anderson. Both pitchers’ common denominator is that they do not rely on throwing the four-seam fastball.  Anderson throws a changeup at about a 40% rate. The Mariners, however, are ranked number one at hitting the changeup, with a .373 wOBA (which is very high). They likewise beat up Chatwood, who throws a two-seam fastball at about a 42% rate. The Mariners are the fifth-best at hitting this pitch, with a very high .398 wOBA. The Mariners’ dominance against these two pitchers was magnified by their playing in hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Antonio Senzatela, however, is purely a four-seam fastball pitcher. Senzatela’s four-seam fastball is so good, that he is able to throw it about 80% of the time, which is an extremely high rate, and he throws this pitch at an average velocity of 94.1 mph. The Mariners are only 23rd at hitting this particular pitch, with a very low .336 wOBA, which makes them a favorable match-up for Senzatela. Senzatela is a power ground ball pitcher. The Mariners’ OPS against power pitchers, however, is only .663, which is very low. Their OPS against ground ball pitchers is only .659. I expect a strong performance from Senzatela because he is a power ground ball pitcher who relies most of all on a four-seam fast ball. I especially don’t expect the Mariners to do well at night, when their OPS is a very low .682, compared to .789 during the daytime.

James Paxton is one of a number of pitchers who have recently returned from the DL. These other pitchers (for instance, Kendall Graveman on April 27; Chris Tillman on May 7, etc.) have shown little effect from being sidelined. Like Paxton, they went through rehab efforts that ensured their readiness. This does not mean that all pitchers perform well in their first outing back. Oakland’s Sean Manaea, for instance, gave up four runs in just five innings against Seattle, and he walked five. However, he had already walked twelve batters in his first four outings. In order words, pitchers are not developing new problems when they return to the mound—they are still the same pitcher as before, especially when their injury was not debilitating like Tommy John, and especially when they report themselves as having felt great during rehab sessions. Paxton, when he returned from the DL last season on August 25th, pitched five innings against the White Sox and gave up three runs, although his 1.75 FIP indicates that he actually pitched a very effective game. He walked only one batter and struck out five.  Paxton’s career ERA after 6+ days’ rest is just 2.92, meaning that he is actually at his best after having extra days of rest.

Paxton matches up well against Colorado batters because of his power stuff. Against power pitchers, the Rockies’ ops is just .686, compared to .809 against finesse. His career ERA at night is 3.08, compared to 3.63 during the day. Perhaps most importantly, his career BB/9 rate drops from 3.02 on the road to 2.52 at home, meaning that he is best able to command the plate in front of the Seattle faithful.

The Verdict

Both teams will travel from hitter-friendly Coors Field to pitcher-friendly Safeco. Both lineups will also have to deal with starting pitchers who present a difficult match-up for them. Senzatela, after pitching a gem against one lineup that really struggles against the four-seam fastball, the Cardinals, gets to face another one, the Mariners. The Rockies will have to deal with Paxton’s power stuff at home, where, after promising rehab work, he is primed to continue where he left off before his injury: with a 10.75 K/9 rate, a 2.63 BB/9 rate, a 1.43 ERA and a 1.53 FIP.

I like both starting pitchers tonight, but don’t want to mess with either bullpen. The Rockies’ pen has been shaky as of late, while the Mariners’ is statistically ranked as one of the worst.

So I am backing the following play for free MLB picks:

Free MLB Pick: 1st Five Inning Under 4 (+108)Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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