When Big Names Trump Stats: Betting the Total in Cain-Colon Duel

Mark Lathrop

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 2:49 PM GMT

Our MLB handicapper has dug up some advanced stats that indicate one of these pitchers could be in for a long night in San Francisco. Read on to see where the value lies in this game as he gives his MLB Pick.

Mets vs. Giants
There are times in handicapping when good analysis yields bad results, such as last night in Seattle. The M’s tagged Alfredo Simon for 5 runs. Good for us who tailed the sharp money on the M’s, right? The M’s hadn’t lost a game in which they scored 5 runs or more since May 3rd, yet the Seattle bullpen thought it to be a good time to shit the bed. Handicapping is a long slog, and any betting system in baseball would be well served to reach 60% success. When the good and great in a sport is measured by the difference in 26% and 30% success, you are going to have some random variation in your results. The best tactic is not to go all out on any one play, have a plan, and be ready to break even for extended periods of time. Also, like an NFL cornerback, have a short memory and plan to forget days like yesterday.

So, on to San Francisco as they host the New York Mets on Tuesday night, after the Mets took last night’s game 3-0 behind the pitching of Jonathon Niese. It was the seventh loss in a row for the Giants and they have dropped to .500 on the season as a result. The Giants now find themselves five games back of the Dodgers in the NL West. Hoping to stop the losing streak, Matt Cain is making just his second start of the year after having elbow surgery last summer. He was smacked around in his first start back against Miami, giving up 2 dingers and 5 ER over 5 IP. He was likely on a pitch count for that game and should be for this game as well, so expect the San Francisco bullpen to get some extended work.  

Bartolo Colon is 42 years old. He throws a fastball in the 80’s more than 80% of the time and yet he is still a serviceable MLB pitcher. Using a mix of a two-seamer and four-seamer, Colon has excellent movement and location control of this pitch. Makes sense since it is the junk balls that most pitchers miss the strike zone with. This has led to an excellent K/BB rate so far this season of 79/11. However, there is a consequence of being around the zone so much, and that is contact. Colon’s 86.6% contact rate at all pitches swung at is one of the highest in the league. A byproduct of that contact is that you will get hit hard on occasion and Colon’s HR/9 rate is 1.27. He’s had 16 starts and given up 14 HR’s. Basically, don’t expect Colon to throw a shutout any time soon.

The odds on this game opened with San Francisco favored on the money line at -135 at 5Dimes, yet the line has moved in the Mets favor and it now sits at -115. The O/U total is listed at 7, and the juice is trending towards the under at -125 at 5Dimes at time of writing. The weather will be partly cloudy and in the low 60’s F at game time.

The MLB Pick:  With Cain trying to find his way and Colon always ready to accept giving up a few runs, I like the prospect of this game exceeding the MLB odds listed total of 7. With recent performances, both pitchers are a wild card to get lit up. Take the over as your Tuesday MLB Pick.