After yet another 2-1 performance last Friday, our record on article plays now stands at 17-14 for the season as a whole. Generally, this is where I would wax poetic about my singular pursuit of that ever-evasive 3-0 slate, but with only three games on tap past 7:00 p.m. ET this evening, we’re keeping the card a little smaller than usual.
Here are two bets that have my eye on Thursday.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
When taking an under at Wrigley, there’s a natural inclination to check the weather reports, as the direction of the wind tends to play a big role in run production. Unfortunately for anyone tailing me on this bet, the breeze is supposedly blowing out in Chicago this evening, which should help ball flight. However, that’s literally the only reason to think this contest might hit the over.
Zac Gallen is taking the hill for the Diamondbacks on Thursday and so far this season his 1.05 ERA across six starts is backed up quite nicely by a 1.87 xERA and a 2.22 FIP. This really isn’t anything new when dealing with a healthy Gallen — he boasts a 3.19 ERA for his career — but a 7.00 K/BB ratio and a 0.26 opponent HR/9 are fun figures to dissect nonetheless. Gallen should have little issue working his way through this Cubs lineup, one that enters the day with a 79 wRC+ in May. That represents the lowest mark of any National League team in the month.
On the other side, Chicago will be activating Marcus Stroman for this tilt, in what will be his first appearance since May 1. The veteran RHP hasn’t had the best beginning to 2022, yet he comes with a lengthy track record of success. Plus, in his final two starts before hitting the IL, Stroman surrendered just two earned runs across 13.0 innings in road outings against the Braves and the Brewers. Even if you don’t trust him, trust the fact that 60.5% of Arizona’s games have hit the under this season — the most of any NL club.
I simply think this line is one strikeout too high. I don’t want to take anything away from Valdez, who has been a soft-contact savant so far this season, but he’s not a strikeout pitcher. Yes, he’s struck out at least six opponents in each of his last two outings, yet he needed 7.2 innings against the Nationals to get those six strikeouts back on May 13. Six strikeouts when you’ve faced 31 batters isn’t exactly something to write home about.
For the season as a whole, Valdez’s 18.9% strikeout rate places him in the 28th percentile among qualified pitchers. His 26.5% chase rate sits in the 16th percentile. He’s a starter that relies on innings volume to rack up counting stats, and while that can be a viable strategy, there are more variables in that method as opposed to a pitcher who generates a high whiff rate. It’s not like the Rangers have been poor against LHPs, either. While Texas’ .283 wOBA versus right-handers is the fourth-lowest in baseball, the squad’s .308 mark when facing a southpaw is right outside the league’s top 10. The Rangers have also struck out in a modest 21.7% of their plate appearances within the split.
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