This is our weekly feature where we will look at various starting pitchers and supply our opinion who could be Play On or Play Against material for those betting baseball. We will also review different bullpens and see who might have trustworthy non-starters who can close out games or what teams are prone to blowing saves and messing up wagers on totals, run lines and money lines.
Who is this Corbin dude and why does he keep winning?
A couple years ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks were reported to be loaded with young arms. Among them was a young fella named Patrick Corbin, who is either wearing a uniform two sizes to large or is rail thin. The lefthander is 6-0, with sparkling 1.52 ERA and opposing batters are hitting a mere .212 against his deliveries.
Corbin is known for being able to spot his pitches and is unafraid to toss four different types of pitches on various counts. One major improvement he’s made in his delivery is not opening up his left side, which has enabled him to bury his fastball on the hands of left-handed batters and they collectively are hitting just .125 against him.
Corbin’s walks are up a little bit compared to career norms, but the extra bit of wildness might be working to his advantage as hitter’s feel a little less comfortable in the box. What is especially impressive about his more mature approach is how he deals with runners in scoring position. Though just 23-years old, Corbin has been a bulldog when opponents are threatening to score and hitting an unsavory .118 against him.
No reason not to keep backing the D-Backs lefty until further notice.
Play On Pitchers
Here is a little known fact about the St. Louis Cardinals, only twice in the last 53 years have they suffered back to back losing seasons, which makes it real easy to be a fan of the team. St. Louis always has a competitive club because they work the farm system and have a seemingly endless supply of talent going thru the ranks. Presently, the Redbirds have a vast amount of young arms in their system and the latest off the assembly line is Shelby Miller. The hard-throwing 22-year old is 5-2 with a miniscule 1.40 ERA and has allowed only 33 hits in 51+ innings, with batters hitting a paltry .182 against him. Miller is a real star in the making with an upper 90’s heat and a power curveball.
It figures to be another long season on the north side of Chicago, but there are a few bright spots. One is pitcher Travis Wood, who is 4-2 with a 2.03 ERA. Wood showed a lot of promise as a rookie with Cincinnati in 2010 and went backwards quickly. The Cubs got him in a trade last season and we went 6-13, surrendering 25 home runs in only 156 innings. This year, Wood has kept his fastball down in the zone, dropping his long ball tendencies dramatically and is working both sides of the dish with cutter-like slider. The Cubs might not be good, but Wood is the first left-handed hurler for this organization to begin the year with eight quality starts since Hippo Vaughn in 1919.
Play Against Pitchers
When Dillon Gee came up with the Mets in 2011, he was the talk of the Big Apple and was a consistent winner for backers of New York. Baseball observers were mystified he enjoyed so much success, because his wins did match his talent. Gee was not nearly as effective last season and that ended up being partly blamed on needing shoulder surgery for blood clots. Gee was given a clean bill of health but his five-pitch arsenal is not fooling anyone and he is 2-5 with an ERA of 6.13. His fastball is on average only 88 MPH, which is down two miles per hour, giving him fewer strikeouts and leaving him attempting to be trickier, which has increased his walks.
When Ryan Vogelsong returned from Japan and ended up in the San Francisco rotation, everyone assumed the Giants were painfully thin for starters in 2011. How many players go five years between Major League stints and are effective. Well, Vogelsong was among the best No. 4 starters in baseball (13-7, 2.71 ERA) and most assumed he caught lightning in a bottle and would suffer significant regression. But Vogelsong ended being a big part of the Giants second World Series championship in three years last season. However, 2013 has been a different case, as the 35-year old is 1-4 with a gargantuan 8.06 ERA. He’s been getting cuffed regularly, permitting 59 base hits in just 41.1 innings and nearly 20 percent (18.6) of the hits given up have been taken over the wall.
Down in the Bullpen
Atlanta’s impregnable bullpen from last year is showing signs of wear and tear. Setup man Jonny Venters is going to have his second Tommy John surgery within the next month and uber-closer Craig Kimbrel is not super human after all with three blown saves (he had that many in all of 2012) and is sporting a 3.14 ERA. The Braves will need other pitchers to step up to maintain the second-best reliever ERA in the big leagues.
Arizona is the only team in baseball with double digits (11) in blown saves thus far.
Houston’s relief pitchers have been like arsonists, surrendering the most home runs (29) and walks (68) among the 30 teams.
The Oakland bullpen might have a 6-1 record and good 3.05 ERA, yet collectively they are not helping themselves with runners on base, as they have given up 17 stolen bases, the most in the game, by not doing the job holding runners.