Stuckey’s Rays-Twins Betting Preview: Which Fortunate Pitcher Will Regress?

Stuckey’s Rays-Twins Betting Preview: Which Fortunate Pitcher Will Regress? article feature image

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Charlie Morton.

Betting Odds: Tampa Bay Rays at Minnesota Twins

Charlie Morton (8-1, 2.31 ERA) vs. Jake Odorizzi (10-3, 2.58 ERA)

  • Rays odds: -111
  • Twins odds: +101
  • Over/Under: 9
  • First pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET

Helluva pitching matchup on paper here with two starters who have combined to go 18-4 on the year and both own sub 3 ERAs.

While Odorizzi didn’t make my recent list of luckiest pitchers in baseball to date, I did mention him as a potential fade candidate moving forward.

Odorizzi boasts a very clean 2.58 ERA on the season but I just don’t think he has the overall stuff to maintain that level. His xFIP of 4.32 — almost two full runs higher than his ERA — confirms my sentiment there.

Odorizzi’s fastball has graded out as one of the best in the game so far in 2019 but, while his velocity has ticked up, it’s still only a 92/93 mph offering.

I can’t see that pitch continuing to carry him — especially since he doesn’t have elite secondary stuff.

Odorizzi has benefited from an over 80% strand rate (LOB%) — a number that was sub-70 last season. His control has been a little better of late but this is still a fly-ball pitcher that only induces ground balls about a third of the time.

Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (12).

Not only should his strand rate see some correction, the homers should start to come. He has only allowed 0.67 HR/9 — extremely low for a fly-ball pitcher, especially with today’s launch angle craze. That rate sits at almost half his career rate. Regression looms for the righty.

The Rays will go with Charlie Morton — who has benefited from some slight fortune himself this season (82.4% LOB%) but he at least has the stuff to back it up. His xFIP is almost a full run lower than Odorizzi — and his similar home run rate (.76) makes sense considering that, unlike Odorizzi, Morton is a ground ball pitcher.

The Rays’ righty has a ground ball rate of right around 50%. After spending time in Houston, Morton now features a plus-fastball at around 95 mph and an elite curve ball to go with it — a pitch he throws as much as any starter in the bigs.

Bottom lime: These two starters have similar surface numbers but if you look under the hood, it’s Morton that is much more likely to continue this level. I make this Rays -120 and will have the starter with much better stuff on the mound. Do not expect Odorizzi to maintain a lower HR rate than Morton for much longer.

The PICK: Rays Moneyline -110

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