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Congratulations, everyone! The baseball season made it through another day, with
12 games 10 games being played without a hitch! Am I inspired that the Marlins have been hit by an outbreak a day after they were allowed to play, even though everyone seemed to think that an outbreak was imminent? Umm, no. Bu-uut, am I inspired to focus even more on the games being played because I’m not sure how long they will continue? Yes! We’re going to have to bet bet ’em while we got ’em. Because at this point, no one knows if (or when) the other coronavirus shoe will drop. Which why everyone needs to soak in and appreciate the dong show that seems to be happening again up in Minnesota. Let’s get to it.
Twins vs. Cardinals: Moneyline (-128/+112 FD, -128/+110 FB)
Warning…Warning. Large amounts of Carlos Martinez shade incoming. As I’ve lived in the St. Louis area most of my life, it pains me to continue trumpeting Martinez’s deficiencies against left-handers. “But Nicklaus, didn’t Martinez have a 2.97 FIP and 27.3% K-rate versus left-handers last season?” Yes, he did…As a reliever. Remember that Martinez hasn’t spent a full year in the rotation since 2017, spending 2015-17 as a top-25 starter on the Razzball player-rater. But he also had a 4.41 FIP versus left-handers in 2016 and a 4.65 FIP in 2017, always struggling when facing lefties multiple times. Maybe Martinez has finally figured out left-handers after 10 years trying. Or perhaps his struggles (and a limited arsenal) were covered up by a move to the bullpen, where he wouldn’t have to see batters multiple times.
Even if Martinez didn’t struggle versus left-handers, I’d be worried about his matchup with the Twins. The same way that I worry about any pitcher that has to face the stacked and packed Minnesota lineup. The Twins have picked up right where they left off in 2019, and through three games have 7 HR (T-1st), 27 R (1st), and 27 RBI (1st), with respective 5 run and 6 RBI gaps between them and second place. And in more bad news for Martinez, they’ll also trot out four legit options from the left side, with Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, and Luis Arraez all likely being in the lineup. The Cardinal in my heart wants it to be otherwise but Martinez and the birds may be in for a long one.
Pick: Minnesota ML (-128) Fanduel
Minnesota Twins Total: Over/Under (5.5 PB)
Given what I already mentioned for the above moneyline bet, you better believe I’m interested in the Twins over, currently at 5.5 runs. And while the left-handed side of their lineup is particularly dangerous for Carlos Martinez, the right-handed side is just as good. The ageless Nelson Cruz already has seven home runs and 10 RBI and Josh Donaldson only has one hit so far but has collected four walks in three games. Then there are the “scrubs” in the order: Mitch Garver, Miguel Sano, and Byron Buxton. That is a difficult lineup to navigate and I love the Twins quick-strike ability to put up crooked numbers.
Pick: Twins (Over 5.5 runs PB)
Chicago Cubs Total: Over/Under 5
The Chicago offense is rolling early, scoring 19 runs through their first four games, going 3-1 through 1/15 of the 2020 season. They’ll take on right-hander Tyler Mahle on Tuesday in one of baseball’s friendliest hitting environment at Great American Ballpark, having crushed right-handers so far. The Cubs have a 151 wRC+ (5th-highest) and .383 wOBA (6th) against righties so far and feature a lineup that has had consistent success against them.
Looking at the Stack Target tool from FTN, the Cubs have a 146 ISO score that is the third-highest on the slate and the FTN MLB optimizer is projecting the Cubs to score 5.2 runs. And since 2018, Anthony Rizzo (144 wRC+, .390 wOBA), Kyle Schwarber (124 wRC+, .361 wOBA), Kris Bryant (118 wRC+, .352 wOBA), and Javier Baez (117 wRC+, .349 wOBA) have all more than held their own against right-handers. I’m just not confident that Tyler Mahle (5.14 ERA in 2019) will have much to stop them.
Pick: Chicago Cubs Over (4.5 PB)
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Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)