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Chris Archer is now a Pirate, and we love the move for Pittsburgh
Welcome back to the LazyBets Free MLB Picks column for Friday, August 3rd. Thursday’s pick was another banger - the Rangers delivered their highest run total of the year, pounding Andrew Cashner and the Orioles for a 17-8 win. We thought it would be a high scoring game - too bad we didn’t bet on the over as well. Regardless, that makes us 7-3 in our last 10 picks, and 22 games over .500 for the season (75-53) - not too shabby.
Our pick for Friday has similar odds to Thursday’s, but this time we love it because of the huge edge we’ll have in the pitching matchup. Chris Archer will be making his debut in Pittsburgh, and we think he’s got a far better chance of taking home the W than the oddsmakers do. Let’s get into it.
St. Louis Cardinals (Gant) at Pittsburgh Pirates (Archer)
We here at LazyBets would like to applaud the Pirates for their savvy move in picking up Chris Archer at the trade deadline. Archer has three years left on his bargain of a contract ($27.5 million total), and the Pirates only had to give up a couple of ex-prospects in Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows to get him. It was a classic buy-low deal, as Archer’s ERA over the last three seasons (4.10) may have led the Rays to give up on the 29 year-old a little prematurely.
The bookmakers may have also soured a bit on Archer, given the odds being offered on Friday. We aren’t making the same mistake - Archer has top-flight talent, and eventually the results will catch up. He’s always been able to strike out batters at a high rate (9.70 K/9 career), and he’s kept the walks and homers in check. As the game moves further in the direction of the three true outcomes, Archer seems like an ideal ace in the modern game.
Archer’s struggles are a result of a lot of bad “false” outcomes, AKA balls in play. The righty has been getting hit hard over the last two seasons in particular, and it’s resulted in a BABIP of .343 in 2018, 3rd worst in baseball amongst pitchers with at least 90 innings. Even if the batted ball numbers aren’t great, that BABIP is certainly inflated by some bad luck. Once that luck starts to even out, Archer should start to look like a dominant pitcher once again.
Dominant is not a term we would use to describe Cardinals righty John Gant, despite having some good results (3.43 ERA) in 59.1 innings split between the rotation and the bullpen this year. In the same stat where Archer has suffered from bad luck, Gant is on an absolute heater - he’s allowing an absurdly low .228 BABIP. To put that number in context, only one qualified pitcher has a lower BABIP this year, and that pitcher is Julio Teheran. If Teheran is leading the league in a pitching stat, you know that there’s some extreme variance involved.
With that number sure to rise over the remainder of the year, Gant’s control issues will become more of a problem - his 2018 walk rate of 4.40 BB/9 is in a dangerous territory, and he doesn’t strikeout nearly enough batters to make his wildness work for him. His ERA should start heading towards his current xFIP of 4.71 - we don’t see Gant as much more than a low-end starter at the moment.
The offenses in this game are pretty even - the Pirates have been a bit better over the course of the season, but they’re missing two of their better hitters in Corey Dickerson and Josh Bell - both on the 10-day DL. However, the Cardinals also traded away one of their best sluggers in Tommy Pham, and Marcell Ozuna exited Thursday’s game early with a toe injury. Even if Ozuna plays on Friday, we still think the offenses are close enough to make Friday’s moneyline well worth the risk.
Just like the Pirates, we’re buying low on Chris Archer: -143 at BetOnline is an absolute bargain. He’s been an ace in sheep’s clothing for the past few years, and he’ll have a much better chance of showing how good he really is in the National League. We bet that we get a glimpse of that potential on Friday.
That’ll do it for Friday’s MLB picks. If you’re like us, you’re probably just starting to get that itch for NFL Football - if so, we’ve got you covered. We’ll be releasing team-by-team previews leading up to the start of the season, and our Miami Dolphins preview dropped today.
Better yet, get fully prepped for the start of the season by checking out our top sportsbooks list and get some funds ready to roll on one of our recommended sites.
We’ll see you degenerates back here tomorrow. Let’s get a win.
Bet the Pirates -143
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