Free MLB Picks – June 20, 2018

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MLB Free Pick Today

Jake Arrieta has given the Phillies exactly what they wanted when signing him this offseason. Can he keep it going against the Cardinals on Wednesday?

Welcome back to the LazyBets Free MLB picks column for Wednesday, June 20th.  We had another rough time betting on Chris Sale in Tuesday's pick - the Sox managed four more baserunners than the Twins, but ended up losing 6-2.  We’re now 2-4 when betting on the Red Sox in Sale’s starts, which is odd considering that he’s a future Hall of Famer in his prime, pitching in front of one of the best offenses in baseball, and we’re not having too bad a year ourselves (55-39 overall).  Weird things happen in small sample sizes, I tell ya.

For Wednesday’s pick, we’ll be turning our attention to Philadelphia where the Phillies and Cardinals have split the last two games, both of which were decided in the final frame.  The sportsbooks see another close one to round out the three game set. However, we see one of the clubs having a clear advantage based on the pitching matchup - let’s get into it.

St. Louis Cardinals (Wacha) at Philadelphia Phillies (Arrieta)

Game Time: 1:05 PM EST

Where to Watch:  MLB.tv

Run Line: Philadelphia -1.5 (+175)

Moneyline: Philadelphia -114

Bet the Phillies -114

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Phillies Cardinals Pick

While it’s not likely that we end up cashing in on our bet on the Phillies to win the NL East at better than 14-1 odds, we don’t regret making the wager in the slightest.  For one thing, the same bet is currently being offered at 8-1 at BetOnline - that’s called value, folks.  Beyond that though, we still think our reasoning was solid, and one big reason we liked their chances was the addition of starter Jake Arrieta, and he has not disappointed.

Arrieta has posted a 3.33 ERA in his first 13 starts for the Phils, and has helped solidify a rotation that finished 18th last year in xFIP; they’re up to 5th so far in 2018.  He’s had a pretty odd year when looking at his peripheral stats - his strikeout rate is way down (6.04 K/9 in 2018 vs. 8.16 K/9 career), but he’s got a very solid homer rate (0.62 HR/9) that has been helped by an increased ground ball rate (56.3% in 2018 vs. 48.6% career).  I can’t point to a specific reason for these changes - his pitch selection and velocity appear to be about the same as last year. I do know that these things generally regress to the mean, so we should expect the Ks and homers to rise. Either way, Arrieta projects as a solid contributor for the Phils for the remainder of the year.

Speaking of projections, the projected stats for Cardinals starter Michael Wacha appear very similar to Arrieta’s, except that they’re worse in the two most important categories - strikeouts and walks.  Because of this, we see Arrieta as the better pitcher overall, while others may see the younger Wacha with his superior 2018 ERA and think that he’s got the edge.  

Offensively, this game appears to be a wash.  The Cardinals are ranked 15th by wRC+, right about where they were projected to start the season, and where we see them finishing.  The Phillies are down at 21st, but are only separated by 3 points from the league average Cardinals.  Beyond that, we think they’ve gotten a bit unlucky on the offensive side of the ball. Their top four hitters in plate appearances (Cesar Hernandez, Odubel Herrera, Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins) have been solid, but the next seven hitters have all been below average.  While none of those guys are world beaters, just one of them having a nice run of luck at the plate could easily boost the Phils up and beyond the Cardinals in the offensive rankings.

Home field advantage gives the home team roughly -115 odds in a dead even matchup, so the bookmakers see this one as about as even as it gets.  However, we give the edge to the Phillies based on the starting pitching matchup - while others may not see it this way, we believe that Arrieta is clearly the better starter than Wacha, at least for the remainder of 2018.  We’re going to put our money where our mouth is and make the Phillies -114 our bet of the day for Wednesday.

If you're still itching for more sports gambling fun, be sure to check out our homepage for our daily World Cup picks, our best bets for the NBA Draft, and much much more.  

Good luck to everyone out there.  Let’s get a win!

Bet the Phillies -114

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