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Free Sports Picks: Pivetta Squares Off Against DeSclafani

Thank you for visiting Oskeim Sports’ Blog where it publishes daily free sports picks in all major sports.  On Friday, Oskeim previews the MLB game between the Phillies and Reds and recommends taking Philadelphia as one of his free sports picks for July 27.

Philadelphia’s bats have come alive in the last seven days over which time the Phillies are averaging 6.1 runs per game.  Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams and Maikel Franco each homered twice in last night’s 9-4 win in the opening game of this series.   The Phillies tied a franchise record by going deep seven times for the first time in 20 years

Philadelphia has hit 56 home runs in its last 36 games, while Hoskins is batting .385 with six home runs since the All-Star break.  “The Derby made me be a little more aggressive, pull the ball,” said Hoskins.  “I think it carried over.  I’m swinging at a lot better pitches.  I feel like I’m getting in a lot of hitter’s counts, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Philadelphia’s turnaround this season has been nothing short of remarkable.  Indeed, the Phillies are currently 58-44 after being 26 games under .500 (38-64) at this juncture of the 2017 campaign.  “I think we’re past the narrative of, ‘Are we a good team,'” Hoskins said following Thursday’s win.

The Reds’ bats have fallen silent over that span, averaging just 2.9 runs per game (.278 OBP, .609 OPS).  Philadelphia right-hander Nick Pivetta toes the rubber with a 4.69 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 21 appearances in 2018 (20 starts), a span covering 101.2 innings.  While those results appear to be middling at best, Pivetta’s peripherals indicate that he has pitched significantly better than his ERA would lead you to believe.

Specifically, Pivetta boasts a 3.56 FIP, 3.36 xFIP, 3.37 SIERA and a career-high 27.9% strikeout rate.  The righties’ command has improved since his rookie campaign (3.86 BB/9) as he owns a 2.66 walks-per-nine rate in 2018.  Pivetta’s home runs-per-nine rate and groundball rate have both improved as well compared to his first season under the bright lights.

Based on the foregoing, why does Pivetta have a 4.69 ERA?  The reason is predicated upon negative variance as the 25-year-old owns a .341 BABIP and 68.7% strand rate, both of which are unsustainable moving forward.  In short, Pivetta is due for positive regression in the immediate future.

Despite posting a 4.60 ERA across 15.2 innings this month, Pivetta is arguably pitching at his highest level.  In fact, he has compiled a 2.52 FIP, 3.06 xFIP, 27.1% strikeout rate, 5.7% walk rate and a 55.6% groundball rate.  Once again, Pivetta has been plagued by an extremely unlucky .378 BABIP and an unsustainable 50.9% strand rate.

In his lone start against Cincinnati on April 11, Pivetta allowed just two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings pitched.  Technically speaking, the Phillies are a profitable 5-1 in Pivetta’s previous six starts against National League Central foes and 4-1 in Pivetta’s last road starts versus teams with a losing record.

The Phillies’ bullpen has also performed well in the last seven games, garnering a 3.31 ERA and 1.18 WHIP across 35 1/3 innings of work.  Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s relief staff owns a 4.22 ERA and 1.44 WHIP at home and a 4.43 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in evening affairs.

Cincinnati right-hander Anthony DeSclafani has performed line a glorified batting practice pitcher this season, posting a 5.40 ERA and 6.23 FIP in nine starts.  The 28-year-old also owns an alarming 2.61 home runs-per-nine rate and a shocking 48.6% hard contact rate across 48.1 innings of work.

DeSclafani is 3-1 with a 5.21 ERA in four career appearances against the Phillies and takes the mound in terrible form, allowing a combined nine earned runs in 7 2/3 innings to the Pirates and Cardinals.  Like his teammates, DeSclafani has struggled with the long ball as referenced above.  In fact, Reds pitchers have allowed 19 home runs in seven games since the All-Star break, and 154 for the season (the most in MLB).

With Cincinnati standing at just 11-20 in home games under the lights this season, take the Phillies as one of Oskeim Sports’ free sports picks for Friday, July 27.

Oskeim Sports’ Free Sports Picks for Friday, July 27:

  • Philadelphia Phillies (-114) over Cincinnati Reds
  • St. Louis Cardinals (-109) over Chicago Cubs