MLB Picks 4/20/19

I have been throwing out a lot of picks lately and haven’t held myself accountable so today I begin to truly cover my plays and see what my end of the season record may be. Let’s get this started on a winning track.

Chicago White Sox (Santana) at Detroit Tigers (Norris)

The Detroit Tigers as a team haven’t hit much all year. They have however been better at home with a .244 BA at home when compared to a .183 BA away from Comerica Park. Ervin Santana has not been stellar in his first two starts of the season giving up 10 earned runs over 8 innings and getting shelled by right handed hitters.

The Tigers have a healthy Nick Castellanos back in their lineup which will propel them to a victory at home.

Pick: Detroit Tigers -135

Boston Red Sox (Porcello) at Tamp Bay Rays (Morton)

Rick Porcello has been a ticking time bomb to start the season, a matchup the leagues best team has the potential for time to run out. Lefties in particular have hit Porcello to a tune of .460 batting average in more than enough of a sample size.

The Tamp Bay Rays will have an array of lefties in their lineup including Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi and the red hot Austin Meadows. Even if Boston was playing better this is not a matchup that benefits the the world champs.

Pick: Tamp Bay Rays -1.5 (+140)

Philadelphia Phillies (Nola) at Colorado Rockies (Senzatela)

No one expected the Rockies to have struggles on the offensive side of the ball but that has been the case early in 2019. The Rockies are bottom five in most offensive categories. With a slash line of .215/.274/.360 at the plate as a team a matchup with Aaron Nola seems like trouble for Colorado. However, their offense has come alive during their recent winning streak, scoring at least four runs in each of their last five games.

The Rockies will send Antonio Senzatela to the mound coming off of a great first start against San Diego going 6.2 innings while only giving up one run. Ryan McMahon has stepped up for the Rockies filling in for the injured Daniel Murphy. The Rockies as a home dog versus a usually sluggish start to the season for Nola should give great value in this situation.

Pick: Rockies +105

Each teams most important player down the stretch!

As the MLB season winds down it is time to find out which teams are prepared for a playoff push or just to get pushed.  There are five teams on the outside of the National League playoffs that will need contributions from players that can give them that push.  Who are they?

St. Louis Cardinals- Paul DeJong

The St. Louis Cardinals have lacked a power bat in their lineup since the departure of Albert Pujols.  Marcell Ozuna was supposed to be that player but has not shown the power of his previous season in Miami.  DeJong’s productions can be a huge contribution to a St. Louis order that tends to struggle to put runs on the board. During the month of August his contributions have been minimal despite the Cardinals beginning to show life winning nine straight games at one point.

As the Cardinals continue to fight their way to a potential wildcard they will need the productions from one of their most powerful forces in the lineup.  Being a player that put his name on the map in 2017 with a ridiculous .333 ISO he has the potential to make a serious impact in the middle of the St. Louis order.   If he can’t pickup the power statistics St. Louis will have a problem scoring runs down the stretch, especially if MVP candidate eventually comes back down to earth.

Milwaukee Brewers- Cory Knebel

The Milwaukee Brewers added a lot of power during the trade deadline.  They didn’t however address one of the needs many thought they would, their starting rotation.  Instead the Brewers will look to get what they can from the rotation and have their strong bullpen figure out the backend.  All-Stars Josh Hader and the reborn Jeremy Jefferess have done their part to keep the Brewers in the race.

2017 breakout Corey Knebel has not found his form during the second half of the season.  He currently holds a second half ERA of 6.75 and has become a liability on the mound.  Knebel has not only had issues with walks but players are have been hitting him hard with a hard hit percentage 11% higher then 2017.  For the Brewers to find their way into the playoffs they will have to rely on their bullpen for 3+ inning most nights.  Knebel returning to his All Star form is the key to their success.

Colorado Rockies- Wade Davis

Positive, Wade Davis has 35 saves in 2018.  Negative, Wade Davis has a 4.99ERA.  The biggest off season signing for the Rockies has had an up and down first season with Colorado but his playoff experience is going to be huge for the young club over the final few weeks of the season.

Davis has seemed to find his way over his last five appearances picking up 3 saves and not giving up a single run in that span.  Those appearances brought his August ERA down to 9.82.  He has to build off of those games as the Rockies have little to no room for late inning blow ups down the stretch.  Davis and the other Rockies bullpen arms have to hold on to leads in order to make them a real threat in the both the wild card and the division hunt.

Los Angeles Dodgers- Walker Buehler

With the lose of Kenley Jansen for an unknown amount of time the Dodgers will have need someone to step up at the backend of the bullpen.  They will also need their starters to step up for more innings down the stretch.  With four veterans Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda and Alex Wood in the rotation the one guy that will need to give them a little more length is star prospect Walker Buehler.

Over his last three August starts Buehler has shown the promise that Dodgers brass have banked on coming into the season going 2-0 with a 1.47ERA.  He has also given six innings per start which is all you can ask of a young pitcher down the stretch.  If Buehler can continue to produce solid outings the Dodgers could be in a great spot to overtake the unproven Arizona Diamondbacks in the West.

Philadelphia Phillies- Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana was a surprise offseason signing from the young and thought to be rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies.  His defense and power seemed like a perfect fit for a time on the rise in the NL East.  To the surprise of many in the baseball world the Phillies have been in the thick of the race the entire season.

Santana will have to be the force in the order that the fighting Phils thought they had signed in order to make the playoff push.  With Rhys Hoskins taking on the role of offensive leader, it will be up to Santana to produce enough to force pitchers to throw to Hoskins or pay the consequences.  While Santana has provided some power with 18 homers on the season, the Phillies need to have more consistency day to day.  A .218 average from your four hole hitter will not scare teams enough to pitch to the hotter bats in the lineup.  If Santana can’t find a way to produce the lineup depth for the Phillies ends very quickly.

 

 

A “Rockie” bullpen

The Colorado Rockies found themselves in the National League Wild Card game in 2017, losing to the Diamondbacks.  The players looked at the season as a huge step forward for a young club.  With young starters like Jon Gray, Chad Bettis and Tyler Anderson carrying the load of the rotation as well as a offense packed with talent the Rockies had a clear hole to fill in the back end of the bullpen.  They needed depth and a new closer, enter Wade Davis.  Davis and Colorado agreed to a three-year, $52 million contract. The deal included a four-year vesting option that could take the total value up to $66 million if he finishes 30 or more games in the 2020 season.  The former Royal and Cub signed a historic contract pundits of the deal called it a classic “Coors overpay”.  Fans of the contract saw the final piece of a potential championship puzzle.

Davis joined free agent signee former Indian Bryan Shaw (3year, $27million) and the resigning of Jake McGee (3year, $27million). Along with the rebranded and dominating Adam Ottavino the Rockies thought they had shaped a bullpen that would be able to handle the pressures of Coors Field.  Unfortunately for Colorado their bullpen has been more rocky then the mountains they were named after.

If you exclude Ottavino the other top five Rockies bullpen arms based on usage:

Bryan Shaw 39 games, 7.08ERA, -1.5 WAR

Jake McGee 30 games, 5.40ERA, -0.1 WAR

Chris Rusin 23 games, 7.45ERA, -0.6 WAR

Mike Dunn  23 games, 9.00ERA, -0.5 WAR

Wade Davis 30 games, 4.55ERA, 0.3 WAR

Five players making a combined $130 million in contracted salary have combined to make the worst bullpen in the entire league with a combined ERA of 5.75.  Davis leads the league in blown saves followed directly behind him is Bryan Shaw, both have 4 blown saves for a team that is still looking to fight their way into a playoff spot.  Davis has also been uncharacteristically wild during the first two months of the season, sporting a 33.6 percent Zone% that is the second-lowest among qualified relievers.

The Rockies cannot blame the entirety of their troubles on their bullpen.  The starting rotation hasn’t been top level and the offense has been nearly non-existent at times during the season.  The Dodgers have had early season struggles and the Diamondbacks have been falling off from their red hot start.  The Rockies are still in the mix for the National League West despite being four games under .500. Colorado will need a drastic turn around from their bullpen to have a chance to make up ground with in the division.

The Nationals made the first move to improve themselves before the All-Star break acquiring Royals Closer Kelvin Herrara.  With some much money locked up in their current relievers its seems unlikely the Rockies will be able to go outside the organization for help.  They will have to rely on their players to overcome their problems.  There is hope despite recent struggles Wade Davis has had his moments including 18-20 saves before June as well as holding hitters to a .274 Xwoba at dreaded Coors field.  Adam Ottovino has established himself as a dominate reliever.  Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee are not young players, you would have to believe that they will find a way to figure out what is going wrong.

The NL West has done one of the worst things they can possibly do, allow a team that has underperforming talent stick around.  If the Rockies find a way to fix their bullpen they will leave their mark on the National League soon.