Solid Pitching Matchup in Rockies-Padres Leans 'Under'

Rainman M.

Friday, June 2, 2017 6:16 PM UTC

Friday, Jun. 2, 2017 6:16 PM UTC

The Padres are feeling confident after their shocking sweep of the defending world champion Cubs. Now they will look to continue that momentum on Friday night when they welcome the NL West-leading Rockies.

The Padres’ sweep of the Cubs to open this week says more about how the Cubs are playing than San Diego. The Friars did not need a lot of runs to win because the Cubs were in a slump, during which they produced just nine runs in six games.  The Padres’ offensive production has actually been worse than usual. Their OPS is a very low .604 in their last six games, compared to .657, which is also very low, on the season. The Rockies, who just avoided the embarrassing four-game sweep against the lowly Mariners, are also suffering from cold offensive production. Their OPS in their last six games is .665, which is a steep decline from their season OPS of .759. Both offenses are slumping.

Probable Pitchers 

The Rockies send German Marquez (4-2, 3.76) to the mound. Contrary to his lineup, he has been in excellent form in giving up up just four runs in his past 21.2 innings. Marquez relies most of all on a four-same fastball that averages a blazing 94.5 MPH. His ability to command pitches at a high velocity makes him a bad matchup for a Padres lineup whose OPS is .570 against power pitchers.

Not to mention that the Padres rely to a relatively high degree on home runs for their offensive production. Marquez has yet to give up a home run outside of hitter-friendly Coors Field. On the season, he averages less than one home run given up per outing. However, possibly the most important reason that Marquez matches up well against the Padres is his reliance on the four-seam fastball, which he throws 66% of the time. The Padres rank last against this pitch, with a very low 0.294 wOBA.

The Padres counter with Clayton Richard (3-6, 4.33). Contrary to his lineup, and like Marquez, Richard is in good form. He has given up just four earned runs in his last two games, two of which came after the fifth inning. He had bad luck against the Brewers but pitched very well, as indicated by his 0.71 FIP, before throwing a complete game one-run gem against Arizona and then giving up a respectable three runs in six innings on the road against the elite Nationals’ offense. The Rockies are in a tough spot because of their poor hitting form and because they have to hit in Petco Park. Last year, their OPS was a very low .622 in 10 games played in San Diego. This season, their OPS is just .700 in three games in Petco, and even this low number is inflated because they got to hit against our favorite fade pitcher on MLB picks, Jered Weaver.

Richard, in his last home outing against the Rockies in September 2016 pitched seven innings of shutout baseball. He should be in a good spot here as a left-handed ground-ball pitcher. The Rockies’ OPS against southpaw starters is .721, compared to .775 against right-handed starters.  Their OPS against ground-ball pitchers is .743 compared to .774 against fly-ball pitchers. Richard's career FIP at home is a solid 2.87, compared to 4.87 on the road. And he is pitching on five days of rest. In that scenario, his career ERA drops to 3.99 from 4.30 with four days of rest.

The Verdict 

Two solid and in-form starting pitchers and two cold lineups in a pitchers' park is a recipe for few runs. However, I love both starting pitchers more than I do either bullpen.

Free MLB Pick: 1st 5 'Under'Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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