For what feels like the billionth time this season, we went 2-1 on article plays last night, which brings us up to a more than respectable 22-16 for 2022 as a whole. I assume we’ve all won millions of dollars at this point, and I won’t be checking to make sure that assumption is valid. It’s just a gut thing, you know?
It’s Friday. June is around the corner. Here’s what I like on tonight’s slate.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
The Rangers have been a much better team in May, as they’ve shaken off a 2-9 start to 2022 and pulled themselves back within smelling distance of an AL Wild Card spot. In fact, Texas is 7-4 in its last 11 games, and it’s starting to look like a team that shelled out roughly a half-billion dollars in contracts this past winter. Crucially, the Rangers have also been at their best when facing a left-handed opponent instead of a right-handed one. Texas enters play on Friday with a notable 108 wRC+ when facing a southpaw, while the club’s 82 wRC+ against RHPs is the third-lowest mark in baseball. I guess it’s a good thing Cole Irvin is a lefty.
Irvin has survived in the early parts of the season, somehow maintaining a 3.21 ERA over 33.2 innings, yet all of his underlying metrics tell a much different story. Irvin’s 4.65 FIP is a reflection of his microscopic 15.6% strikeout rate, while the 28-year-old ranks in the 14th percentile of qualified pitchers in both opponent xwOBA (.350) and xERA (5.43). On the other side of the matchup, Jon Gray has had the opposite experience this season. His 3.32 FIP is almost two full runs lower than his 5.14 ERA, and Gray’s had trouble getting into a rhythm due to multiple IL stints. However, the veteran is now healthy and he should have little issue controlling an Oakland lineup that sits dead-last in wOBA versus right-handed pitching (.261).
It’s a little jarring to see a Carrasco strikeout prop this low, but I understand how we got here. On the surface, the veteran simply isn’t generating as many strikeouts as we’re used to. In fact, over Carrasco’s past five outings, he’s managed a paltry 15.4% strikeout rate over 123 batters faced. That isn’t just underwhelming, it’s flat out awful.
Still, I think better times are on the horizon. Carrasco’s checking too many of the right boxes for this to keep going like it’s been going. To wit, among qualified National League pitchers, Carrasco trails only Max Fried in opponent chase rate, with the 35-year-old’s 38.9% figure also registering as the fourth-highest in all of baseball. As for using that chase rate to generate swings and misses, Carrasco’s 13.2% swinging strike rate is tied with Shane Bieber for the 13th-best in MLB, just a couple of tenths of a percentage point better than Zack Wheeler. That’s some impressive company. With the Phillies in possession of a top 10 strikeout rate over the past two weeks (23.8%), I think Carrasco has no problem collecting at least five strikeouts.
You probably don’t need someone to relay how good Story has been over the past couple of weeks, but if you’ve been living under a rock, these next two sentences are for you. Going back to May 10, Story is sporting an eye-popping .483 ISO to go along with a 216 wRC+. In that span, he’s somehow managed to club nine home runs in only 58 at-bats. The term “red-hot” might not even be doing him enough justice at this point.
So is this simply a case of a streaking hitter needing some love? Of course not. This is also an ideal matchup. Kyle Bradish has been absolutely picked apart by opposing RHBs in 2022, surrendering 3.77 home runs per nine within the split. If that wasn’t enough, the 63 righties that the rookie has faced have also combined to slash .357/.413/.714 with a .478 wOBA. The fact that this game is in Boston — away from the newly augmented Camden Yards — is a blessing, as well.
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