06/28/2013 04:24 PM
Sportswagers MLB 6-28-13
San Francisco @ COLORADO
COLORADO -1½ +146 over San Francisco
We hate to sound like a broken record but Barry Zito pitching at this park has less chance of success than Mike Tyson would have in a game of Scrabble against Ken Jennings. Zito’s ERA over the past month is 4.90 and his xERA is 6.02 over that same span. He’s posted an ugly 1.56 WHIP this season and the only reason he has any wins is because his strand rate was high. Zito’s 37%/28%/35% groundball/line-drive/fly-ball profile this season has held up somewhat in San Francisco’s AT&T Park but on the road is 0-4 with an 11.28 ERA and a BAA of .432. In 22.1 road innings, Barry Zito has allowed 48 hits. The only way we would pass on this one is if Larry King was pitching for the Rockies but he’s not. Jhouly’s Chacin is and that’s all the information required. Fading Zito is a no-brainer.
COLORADO -1½ +146 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.92)
Philadelphia @ LOS ANGELES
Philadelphia +140 over LOS ANGELES
The Dodgers have won six in a row and two straight with Chris Capuano on the hill but Capuano is too risky to trust in the price range. The buy low - sell high philosophy now gets applied here. Capuano has had two DL stints already this year. At age 34, his injuries seem to be chipping away at his skills, as suggested by his 5.45/4.60 ERA/xERA before his last two starts against the struggling Yanks and at San Diego. There are other warning signs in Capuano’s skill set as well. His groundball rate is trending the wrong way and it’s now at just 39% on the year, down from 46% in his first four starts (he’s only started eight games this year). Capuano’s line-drive rate has also increased to an eye-opening 31%. The Dodgers have won just three of Capuano’s eight starts. John Lannan has been hurt by a ridiculously low 57% strand rate. Lannan has made just five starts this year but the Phillies have won three of them because Lannan almost always gives his team a chance to win. He’s only allowed one jack in 24.2 innings and that’s because he’s an extreme groundball pitcher with a GB rate of 54%. Lannan’s other skills leave plenty to be desired. There’s a reason this guy has been up and down from the minors for years but this is precisely the type of park that Lannan thrives in and at this price he and the Phillies are worth a wager.
Philadelphia +140 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.80)
St. Louis @ OAKLAND
St. Louis -104 over OAKLAND
The A’s are 12 games over .500 but they are a combined 14-1 against the Angels and Astros and if you take away that, they are a game under .500 against the rest of the league. Give the A’s credit for getting the most out of a mediocre lineup but things get much tougher here against the Cardinals and Shelby Miller. Before there was Michael Wacha, the Cardinals pitching prospect generating buzz was Shelby Miller. But Miller tripped in the minors and some of the excitement turned to doubt. With a 8-5 record and 2.35 ERA, is the hype justified? Damn right it is. It's still early in his career, but so far Miller's skills are that of an All-Star-caliber starter. Miller has struck out 101 batters in 92 innings. Solid control and more than a strikeout per inning add up to elite command for a starter. Miller has one disaster outing in 15 starts. Miller is only 22, but he's pitched with consistency and the poise of a veteran. If there's a nit to pick, it's his inefficiency. Miller has lasted 7 innings in only 3 of 11 starts because he runs up high pitch counts but at this park, he should absolutely thrive again. Bartolo Colon owes us money and it’s time to collect. 10-2 with a 2.93 ERA is the most remarkable SP stat this season for a pitcher of Colon’s skills, or lack thereof. Yeah, he rarely walks anyone but he’s now striking out fewer batters than any time in his career. Colon has whiffed four or less in five straight starts. He’s inexplicably escaped jam after jam by pounding the strike zone and letting his defense do the rest. Fortunately for Colon, those hard hit balls (25% line drive rate over his past five starts) have been hit right at people but that won’t last. Bartolo Colon is a two-pitch pitcher and throws his fastball 85% of the time, the highest mark in the league among starters with 5+ starts. Batters are sitting on his fastball and he delivers it every time. This is not a 10-2 pitcher with an ERA under 3.00. Colon is not even an average pitcher. He’s predictable and he’s survived on his control and more luck than any pitcher in the game. Like we said, it’s time to collect.
St. Louis -104 (Risking 2.08 units - To Win: 2.00)
Toronto @ BOSTON
BOSTON -105 over Toronto
Josh Johnson has been on a June tear since returning from the DL (triceps). Johnson has a 25/7 K/BB in 25 innings this month with an ERA of 2.84, which is a vast improvement from the 6.86 ERA he posted in April. With his stock soaring, now is the time to sell high on Johnson because he’s not nearly as good as his recent numbers suggest. Two outstanding starts in San Fran and at home against Colorado have Johnson’s recent numbers skewed in his favor. Truth is, he barely escaped his other two starts against Baltimore and Texas, lasting a combined 11 innings and surrendering 12 hits and seven runs. Jonson’s line-drive rate over his past three starts is an alarming 36% and that alone should scare you away from backing him. He'll have a tough test this time, as Boston leads baseball in runs scored and OPS. The Sox are a small price here because Allen Webster is on the hill. Webster’s surface stats look very ugly (0-2 11.25 ERA) but it’s a small sample size and as is often the case with a small sample size, one or two poor starts cause the numbers to balloon. Webster’s ceiling, however, is very high. Webster had been in the Dodgers system since 2008 before coming over to Boston in a 2012 trade. He throws three plus pitches: fastball, slider, and curveball, and his change-up is rapidly approaching plus level. His fastball hits the mid 90’s and tops out at 97, and combined with his hard slider with nice late break, he induces a lot of swings and misses and groundballs. In fact, Webster’s groundball rate is an elite 57%. He struggled upon first arrival to AA-Portland in 2012, but came on strong as the year progressed. Command has always been Webster’s greatest struggle but he impressed during spring training by posting 14/1 K/BB in 11 IP. He followed that up with a 12/3 K/BB in 10 IP at Triple-A Pawtucket to start 2013. The club has worked with Webster extensively on speeding up his delivery and repeating his mechanics and it appears it may have started to pay off. The swing-and-miss/groundball combo bode well for his transition to the majors and as he hones in his command, he could jump from a back-end starter to a #2 or #3 in the rotation. The numbers don’t say it, but Webster is more than capable of throwing a gem and chances are he’ll also receive good run support. Underlay.
BOSTON -105 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 1.90)