MLB Betting Notes: Hellickson Debuts Against Mets, Plus 2 Other Rivalries
Maybe we can actually get some baseball in today. After having SIX games postponed due to weather Sunday, MLB has already postponed the Red Sox-Orioles game scheduled for this morning. Instead of 11 a.m. ET Monday morning action, we’ll all have to suffer through the day together.
The good news is we’ll get rewarded tonight with the start of a few rivalry series (two traditional and one newer) to complement more NBA and NHL playoff action. Specifically, we will look at the following three matchups from a betting and fantasy perspective:
- Marlins (Smith) at Yankees (Severino) -350 | O/U: 8 | 6:35 p.m. ET
- Cardinals (Wainwright) at Cubs (Chatwood) -140 | O/U: TBD | 7:05 p.m. ET
- Nationals (Hellickson) at Mets (deGrom) -171 | O/U: 8 | 7:10 p.m. ET
We should get a good night of baseball … if they actually play.
Miami Marlins (+272) at New York Yankees (-310) | O/U: 8
Caleb Smith (0-1, 4.73 ERA) vs. Luis Severino (2-1, 3.50 ERA)
6:35 p.m. ET
Big Dogs: The Jeter Bowl! Though Marlins fans probably already hate his guts (I don’t know any Marlins fans so can’t be sure), Yankees fans are thanking him for what looks like an easy win on paper. The Yankees hit -350, which would have made them the biggest favorites of the season so far. Since 2005, if you risked one unit on every team favored by -350 or more, you’d have gone 27-8, but lost a little less than a unit. — Mark Gallant
The Fish touched +290 when these lines first came out — that’s a real rarity in MLB. We have seen 25 underdogs of +290 or larger since the start of the 2015 season. Only two of the 25 teams won, costing a $100 bettor $1,678 during that span. — John Ewing
Luis, Luis: Luis Severino has a decent 3.50 ERA through three starts to start the season, but he has pitched much better than decent. Yankee fans can take solace in a couple of things.
- His 2.01 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) suggests an unlucky start.
- His .304 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is much higher than his career-mark of .284.
Trade Bait: Believe it or not, the Yankees and Marlins made more than one trade this offseason. The first trade sent first baseman Garrett Cooper and starting pitcher Caleb Smith to South Beach for a prospect and some cash. Smith only has 32 major league innings under his belt, but has shown flashes. The 26-year-old averages an impressive 10.41 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched in his big league career. The Marlins certainly aren’t surprised, as Smith racked up strikeouts in his prior life as a minor leaguer.
While Smith has no issues striking out batters, he’s struggled inducing ground balls (27.8% ground-ball rate) and keeping the ball in the park. The Texas native wasn’t a ground-ball pitcher in the minors, but he wasn’t giving up as many homers. And that’s Caleb Smith in a nutshell. — Michael Leboff
Power Outage: The Marlins rank in the bottom five in all of baseball in home runs and doubles. Overall, they’re tied with the Reds for the fewest extra-base hits this season with 24 — less than half of the Yankees’ 50.
Miami also leads the league with 14 GIDP (grounded into double plays). Marlins second baseman Starlin Castro leads the league with seven of those 14 GIDP — no other player has more than five. It’s never a good sign when an offense leads the league in GIDP while having the fewest extra-base hits. — Stuckey
Washington Nationals (+161) at New York Mets (-171) | O/U: 8
Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, -.– ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (2-0, 3.06 ERA)
7:10 p.m. ET
Stranded in Queens: The Mets just keep winning, which feels weird to say out loud. One of the main reasons why: their strand rate. Through Saturday, the Mets’ pitching staff has stranded a league-best 85.1% of opposing base-runners. To put that into perspective, that is 20% more than the Yankees, who sit in last place in that category. Last season, the Dodgers led the league at 77.8%. That rate will surely come down in due time. — Mark Gallant
Citi Field of Dreams: Jacob deGrom’s career 2.98 ERA puts him in impressive company. Only five active starters with at least 100 starts can claim a sub-3.00 career ERA: deGrom, his teammate Noah Syndergaard (2.94), Kyle Hendricks (2.97), Chris Sale (2.96) and Clayton Kershaw (2.36).
If you dig a little deeper, you will notice that deGrom — not surprisingly — loves to work at pitcher-friendly Citi Field. Just take a look at these drastic splits:
While potential Mets backers will fancy those home-road splits for his start in Flushing tonight, deGrom also seems to prefer pitching during the day. In fact, he owns the lowest career daytime ERA in MLB history among starters with at least 200 innings, while his night ERA sits at 1.6 runs higher. — Stuckey
Hellboy: It’s not September, but Jeremy Hellickson’s Washington debut comes at a pretty important time. The Nats come into this one a full six games behind the Mets in the NL East standings. A strong performance from Hellickson would go a long way to easing nerves around the Beltway.
There’s not much to get excited about in regard to Hellickson, who has proven to be nothing more than a back-end starter throughout his career. The 2011 Rookie of the Year owns a 4.12 ERA, 4.51 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) and 1.25 WHIP over 1,139 innings. Even more alarming, the 31-year-old finished with a 5.43 ERA and 5.77 FIP in 2017, despite the fourth-lowest BABIP among qualified pitchers.
Given his 6.59 strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9), the Iowa native tries to make a living by inducing weak contact. Last year, Hellickson ranked 23rd among qualified pitchers in soft-contact %. — Michael Leboff
Unlucky, But Still Good: Bryce Harper has arguably been the best hitter in baseball this season, even without much luck. Just take a look at the top five hitters in wRC+ (100 is average) through Saturday, along with their BABIP (.300 is average):
As you can see, even with a very unlucky BABIP, Harper has nearly doubled the performance of an average hitter. He can thank his home runs and walks for those splits, which will only improve once the BABIP increases. — Mark Gallant
Did You Know?: Since Harper joined the Nats in 2012, Washington has a 94-69 (58%) record when .500 or worse. That ranks as the third-best winning percentage during that span, trailing only the Yankees and Cardinals. — John Ewing