Oskeim Sports previews Friday’s MLB card and provides free daily sports picks on several marquee matchups. Be sure to visit Oskeim’s Blog for quality daily sports picks in football, basketball and baseball.
Texas southpaw Cole Hamels has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the game since 2006, averaging over 205 innings per season over his 12-year career. Hamels finished last season with a 3.32 ERA, 3.98 FIP and a 3.99 SIERA, and I expect those results to carry over now that he is finally healthy.
After averaging just 4.1 K/9 through his first five starts before landing on the disabled list, Hamels compiled six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings of work against the White Sox in his last start. Hamels finished the game by retiring the last 19 batters and limited Chicago to just two hits.
Interestingly, 21 of Hamels’ 22 strikeouts in 2017 have come on pitches at either the edge of the strike zone or outside of it. That’s the second-highest rate in MLB for a pitcher with at least 20 total strikeouts.
The veteran hurler has also enjoyed success against the Angels, allowing one run over seven innings in his last start against Los Angeles on April 11.
More importantly, Hamels is 2-0 with a 2.73 ERA in his last five starts against the Angels dating back to 2015. Albert Pujols is 6-for-36 against Hamels, a .167 batting average that is his lowest in his career against a left-hander with at least 20 at-bats.
The Rangers’ bullpen has performed well at home in 2017, posting a 3.27 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 145.7 innings (126 K). Hamels should continue his success against a Los Angeles lineup that is averaging just 4.1 runs per game on the road (.676 OPS), 4.1 runs per game versus left-handed starters (.690 OPS) and 2.9 runs over its last seven games (.625 OPS).
In contrast, Texas is averaging 5.6 runs per game at home (.764 OPS) and 5.7 runs over its last seven games (.771 OPS). The Angels’ bullpen has also imploded recently, posting a 6.52 ERA and 1.55 WHIP over the last seven games. Los Angeles starter Ricky Nolasco toes the rubber in excellent form with a 2.18 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in his last three outings.
However, I am not buying his recent “success” as Nolasco’s entire body of work suggests that he is nothing more than a glorified innings-eater. For example, the 34-year-old has allowed 23 home runs in 99 2/3 innings this season (2.08 HR/9). After finishing 2016 with a subpar 11.1% home run per fly ball rate, Nolasco currently owns an alarming 18.9% HR/FB rate.
Overall, Nolasco is 4-9 with a 4.42 ERA, 5.39 FIP and a 4.57 SIERA this season, and he has survived, in part, on an unsustainable 82.9% strand rate. The aging righty has a 5.82 FIP and 4.65 xFIP away from home and finished June with a 5.73 FIP and 4.55 xFIP.
In his last start against the Mariners, Nolasco stranded 100% of the baserunners allowed. Let’s also note that he has posted a concerning 37.5% hard contact rate this season.
Finally, Nolasco is 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in three career starts against the Rangers, including allowing five earned runs on eight hits (2 home runs) in five innings against Texas on April 13.
The Angels are 2-10 in Nolasco’s last twelve starts, 1-6 in his last seven road starts and 0-9 in his last nine outings with five days of rest. Los Angeles has also lost four straight games against left-handed starters.
Conversely, Texas is 38-14 in Hamels’ last 52 starts, 20-6 in Hamels’ last 26 home starts, 16-5 in his last 21 starts against division foes, 12-1 in his last thirteen home starts versus .499 or worse opposition and 24-4 in his last 28 starts versus teams with a losing record.
With Texas standing at 13-4 in its last 17 home games versus teams with a losing record (39-19 L/58 overall), take the Rangers as one of Oskeim’s Daily Sports Picks and invest with confidence.
Daily Sports Picks for Friday, July 7:
- Texas Rangers (-140)
- Colorado Rockies (-151)
- San Diego Padres (+112)