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The Mariners have been surprisingly good this year, but is their good fortune here to stay?
Welcome back to the LazyBets Free MLB picks column for Tuesday, July 3rd. We lost our bet on Monday in brutal fashion - a Robbie Grossman grand slam put the Twins ahead 5-1 in the 5th, but a blown save by Fernando Rodney and a bases-loaded walk in the 10th resulted in a 6-5 Brewers win. Even though it stings, blown leads and painful losses are bound to happen over the course of the long baseball season - you’ve gotta just dust them off and move on to the next one.
Luckily, there’s a game on the board we really like for Tuesday. Given the fact that we like to target overachieving teams, it’s pretty amazing that we haven’t picked against the Seattle Mariners in almost two months. The Ms have the fourth best winning percentage in baseball, only a half game back of the returning champion Astros, and most of their success has come without their best hitter in Robinson Cano. The opportunity to fade them has finally presented itself, as they’re facing the team we expected to surprise in the West - the Angels. Let’s get into it.
Los Angeles Angels (Heaney) at Seattle Mariners (LeBlanc)
Like we noted in the intro, the Mariners have been one of the true surprises of 2018 - they were 10-1 to win the division in the preseason, and they’re now only a half game back as we’ve passed the midway point of the season. However, it cannot be overstated how much luck has played into their success this year - they’re outpacing their pythagorean win total by 9 games, most in baseball by far, and they’re an amazing 26-11 in one run games.
Their bullpen has been solid (7th in FIP), but no amount of bullpen dominance merits that kind of winning record in close games - the Astros, for example, have the #1 bullpen by FIP, but are only 10-16 in one run games. If the luck was flipped in the opposite direction, this division race would have been over a month ago.
The Mariners offense has also been getting lucky, in that nearly their entire lineup is out-hitting their projected stats - Mitch Haniger, Jean Segura and Nelson Cruz have all had massive first halves and should start leveling off soon. In contrast, the only Halo that is overachieving at the plate is shortstop Andrelton Simmons (.319/.380/.440). We’d say that Mike Trout might be outdoing himself (.313/.456/.633), but it’s not wise to doubt the GOAT - a regression to his mean would still represent MVP level production. Seattle ranks 6th in wRC+, one spot ahead of the Angels, but we like LA’s chances of finishing as the better offense once these Mariners hitters cool off from their fluky start.
We also like the Angels’ side of the pitching matchup on Tuesday. The Mariners’ Wade LeBlanc hasn’t made more than 10 starts in a season since 2011, and yet he’s somehow posting a 3.38 ERA in 11 starts for Seattle this season. Chalk that up as another fluke that’s gone in their favor - LeBlanc doesn’t have the strikeout ability to maintain that ERA, and it should balloon up into the mid 4s soon enough. The Angels’ Andrew Heaney projects as the better pitcher for the remainder of the year - while he’s not an ace by any stretch, he’s got the far better strikeout rate and a lower projected FIP than LeBlanc.
All things considered, the Mariners have gotten quite lucky to be in the position they’re in, and the odds have started to represent them as a better team than they are. We’re happy to take advantage on Tuesday by grabbing a far superior Angels team as a +103 underdog in Seattle.
That’ll do it for our MLB picks - be sure to check out our World Cup picks for Wednesday while you’re here. We’ve been on a heater over there, giving out yet another winner on Monday after giving out a 4/1 parlay winner over the weekend.
Good luck to all of our readers. Let’s get a win!
Bet the Angels +103
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