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The Diamondbacks' Robbie Ray, prior to striking someone out (probably)
Welcome back to the LazyBets Free MLB picks column for Thursday, July 12th. Sonny Gray rebounded like we knew he could on Wednesday, breezing through six scoreless innings against the Orioles in a 9-0 Yankees win. Sadly, Gray probably pitched a little too well - we’re not likely to see the same value in the moneyline on his next start.
Luckily, we certainly found some value for Thursday - there’s one bet that has our name written all over it. We’re going to take another look at the D’Backs-Rockies series after winning our bet on Tuesday's game between the two. We called that pick one of our favorites of the year so far, but Thursday’s might even be better - we just don’t see this matchup the same way the oddsmakers do. Let’s get into it.
Arizona Diamondbacks (Ray) at Colorado Rockies (Freeland)
We took the Diamondbacks in the first game of their series against the Rockies on Tuesday because we believed Arizona had a big advantage in the Corbin-Anderson pitching matchup - we couldn’t believe that the D’Backs were made an underdog in that game. While the moneyline for Thursday’s game favors Arizona a bit more than it did on Tuesday, we think that the mismatch on the mound is far greater in this one.
D’Backs lefty Robbie Ray hasn’t quite found his groove since returning from the DL - in three starts, he’s posted a 5.87 ERA and has allowed five home runs in 15.1 innings. That may be why Thursday’s moneyline looks so appealing - the average bettor would want Ray to “prove” that he’s all the way back from the oblique injury before wagering on him again.
If Wednesday's bet on struggling Yankees starter Sonny Gray tells you anything, it’s that we prefer big sample sizes over smaller, more recent ones. Despite struggling a bit of late, Ray quietly had two solid seasons for the D’Backs before a breakthrough 2017 campaign where his strikeout rate was second in all of baseball. Ray is striking out even more batters this year (13.60 per nine, highest among starters with at least 40 IP) and he hasn’t even turned 27 years old. We see a lot of success in Ray’s future, and with a strikeout rate like that, it won’t be long until he gets the national attention that he deserves.
The 25 year old Colorado lefty Kyle Freeland will oppose Ray on Thursday night, and while his ERA is very impressive for a guy in his second big league season (3.18), we think a sophomore slump is right around the corner for Freeland. First of all, in stark contrast to Ray’s electric strikeout rate, Freeland’s is not very impressive - he's well below-average at 7.18 Ks per nine despite beating his career mark (6.59) and his all of his projections so far in 2018. Secondly, he’s been getting particularly lucky where it counts - his BABIP is unsustainably low at .265, and his LOB% (left-on-base percentage) is 12% higher than it’s projected to be. There’s a storm brewing on the horizon for Freeland - once his luck starts to even out, that 3.18 ERA should shoot through the roof in no time.
We covered this on Tuesday, but we’ll recap it quickly - despite their 19 run outburst on Wednesday, the Rockies’ offense has been one of the worst in baseball for two years running. They play in the most offense-friendly park in baseball, but that only distracts from how bad they've been - they're 27th in wRC+ this season, the same ranking they finished with last year. The Rockies have one of the game’s best hitters in Nolan Arenado, but the rest of their lineup is lacking. The D’Backs are not the Yankees, but they’ll have the edge offensively on Thursday. A.J. Pollock hit a dinger on Tuesday after we shouted him out in the column as being a lefty-killer; let’s see if he can do it again on Thursday off of the young lefty Freeland.
While the D’Backs aren’t underdogs this time around, they’re damn close to it - we can’t believe that Arizona is only -103 on the moneyline with such a substantial advantage in the pitching matchup. Look for Robbie Ray to rack up the strikeouts against a weak Rockies lineup and for the D’Backs offense to make contact early and often against Kyle Freeland in a Diamondbacks victory.
Good luck to all of our loyal readers out there. Let’s get a win!
Bet the Diamondbacks -103
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