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Interleague Baseball Best Bet: Angels at Cubs

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Recently-acquired Ricky Nolasco toes the rubber for tonight’s interleague baseball clash with a 5.23 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 22 starts this season, together with a 5.16 ERA and 1.36 WHIP on the road and a 6.75 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over his last three outings. Nolasco’s peripherals are equally disappointing: 4.47 FIP, 4.45 xFIP and a 4.36 SIERA with a 6.68 K/9 rate and a 1.45 HR/9 rate.

The 33-year-old posted a 4.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 5.27 FIP and a 5.43 xFIP in 28.0 innings of work in July, and currently owns a 5.32 ERA, 6.81 FIP and a 5.38 xFIP in the second half of 2016 (22.0 IP). Those metrics are are further backed by a declining strikeout rate (4.91 K/9 vs. 7.04 K/9 in first half) and rising home run rate (2.45 HR/9 vs. 1.24 HR/9 in first half).

Even more disturbing is the fact that Nolasco’s second-half numbers are poor despite being aided by an unsustainable .194 BABIP. Meanwhile, Chicago right-hander Jason Hammel has been outstanding at Wrigley Field where he is 6-1 with a 2.24 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. The 33-year-old has also been strong in the second half, posting a perfect 4-0 record with a 1.50 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and a 3.34 FIP in 24.0 innings.

I shied away from investing on Hammel at the outset of the second half in light of his career 5.05 ERA in the second stanza of the regular season. However, Hammel has dispelled those concerns by allowing just four earned runs over 24 innings (4 starts).

The Cubs are 8-2 in Hammel’s last ten home starts, 15-5 in his last 20 starts during game 2 of a series and 6-1 in his last seven starts with extended rest (7+ days). Chicago’s bullpen has also been unhittable of late with a 0.90 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over the last seven games.  Chicago relievers have also been dominant in interleague baseball play with a 0.66 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in 40.7 innings.

In contrast, Los Angeles relievers have garnered a 6.85 ERA and 1.71 WHIP over the last seven games, together with a 4.46 ERA and 1.47 WHIP on the road and a 4.33 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP in interleague baseball contests. Finally, the Cubs are 18-6 in their last 24 games overall, including winning 7 straight. Take the home favorite as Oskeim Sports’ Interleague Baseball Best Bet and invest with confidence.

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