Twins vs Orioles: Cashner Looks to Build on Sinker Success

Mark Lathrop

Saturday, March 31, 2018 2:58 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 31, 2018 2:58 PM UTC

The weather in Baltimore can't change it's mind lately. Mark Lathrop looks at the forecast of wind and ground balls to grab an edge in this matchup between the Twins and Orioles.

Minnesota Twins (0-1 O/U) vs Baltimore Orioles (0-1 O/U)

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Free MLB Pick: Under 9.5 RunsBest Line Offered: at Pinnacle

Andrew Cashner gets his first start as a Baltimore Oriole on Saturday evening against the Minnesota Twins after signing a $16 million dollar, 2-year contract over the winter. Baltimore is looking to have a successful opening home stand after winning Game 1 of the 2018 season 3-2 behind starter, Dylan Bundy. Baltimore has opened as -108 moneyline favorites in this game at BetOnline, while the total has opened at 9.5 runs across the board. The game starts at 7:05PM EST and can be found on the Orioles regional sports network, MASN 2.

Andrew Cashner is a bit of an anomaly, in that he put up a nifty 3.40 ERA last year in spite of some terrible peripheral stats. For one, his K/9 rate plummeted to a pedestrian 4.64/9, paired with a 3.46 BB/9 rate. Although he did keep the ball in the yard at an 8.6% HR/FB rate, Cashner put up a 4.61 FIP and 5.30 xFIP, which suggests that negative regression is coming fast. He did make an adjustment to throw his sinker more and I see that his hard-hit rates dropped over 7% correlating to a 7% increase in soft hit rates. Pitching to weak contact can work as a viable strategy and is the new bread and butter of pitchers such as Felix Hernandez. Still, it could be said that Cashner’s results were incredibly lucky in 2017 and his .266 BABIP is a huge red flag.

The Twins will start 30-year old Kyle Gibson, who was atrocious to start the 2017 season then punished those who faded him down the stretch. I know, as I was one of them. After posting a 6.31 ERA and .316 BAA in the first half of the year, Gibson finished 2017 with a 3.76 ERA and .261 BAA. The change, like Cashner, is supposedly the result of a shift in strategy instead of the sudden discovery of new talent. His overall 18.3% HR/FB rate is a problem, although that also dropped to 14.5% in the second half of last year. Neither Cashner or Gibson have much of a lefty-righty split to consider in this matchup.

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.@Orioles are the first team in @MLB history with a #walkoff win on #OpeningDay in three straight seasons.

— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) March 30, 2018

The weather will be doing some interesting things as the game gets going on Saturday night, as a strong front is supposed to pass near game time to make the stiff breeze blowing out switch to directly from left field at over 12 mph. That’s going to knock some balls out of the air for sure, and with Cashner’s newfound pitch mix, I don’t think the Twins have much of a chance to hit any dingers. I’ll also back Gibson here as his strong last half of 2017 has continued through the spring. With both pitchers eyeing success I will take Under 9.5 runs at Pinnacle as my MLB Pick.

2018 MLB Record: 1-1, -0.21u (1 Pending)

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