Interleague Baseball Slugfest: Tampa Bay at Colorado

Jul 18, 2016

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Colorado rookie Tyler Anderson takes the mound for tonight’s interleague game with an impressive 3.03 ERA and 1.26 WHIP over four starts this season. The talented southpaw also possesses very strong underlying metrics, including a 3.33 FIP, 2.94 xFIP and a 3.18 SIERA over 35.2 innings of work.

Interestingly, Anderson has excelled in the thin air of Coors Field where curve balls don’t curve and sinkers don’t sink. Indeed, the 26-year-old owns a 2.62 ERA, a 2.57 FIP and a 2.60 xFIP in 24.0 innings pitched at home.

Anderson also owns a 24.5% K% (9.75 K/9), a 3.8% BB% (1.50 BB/9), a 20.8% K-BB% and a 0.75 HR/9 rate at home despite having an incredibly unsustainable .392 BABIP. I also like the fact the underrated lefty boasts an elite 59.8% ground ball rate. Anderson’s changeup is inducing swing-and-misses on more than a third of swings, while his cutter is inducing ground balls almost a 70% of the time.

According to Alex Chamberlain of FanGraphs, if the season ended today, Anderson would own the highest single-season ground ball rate of any Colorado pitcher since 2002 when Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) began tracking that data.

Anderson should have continued success against a scuffling Tampa Bay lineup that is average just 3.9 runs per game this season (.300 OBP; .709 OPS), including 3.7 runs per game in interleague play (.312 OBP; .729 OPS) and 2.3 runs over its last seven games (.270 OBP; .611 OPS).

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay left-hander Drew Smyly has grossly underperformed this season as evidenced by his 5.47 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. Smyly is also 2-4 with a 6.02 ERA and 1.51 WHIP on the road, 1-7 with a 5.07 ERA and 1.23 WHIP at night, 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA and 1.27 WHIP versus National League foes and 0-3 with a 9.19 ERA and 2.04 WHIP in his last three outings. The struggling 27-year-old has allowed six runs in three consecutive starts for the first time in his career and is 0-6 in his last nine starts overall.

Smyly’s 4.46 FIP, 4.08 xFIP and 3.75 SIERA suggest that he hasn’t pitched as poorly as his surface statistics suggest, and he has also been incredibly unlucky with men on base (63.2% LOB%).

The southpaw also owns a solid 25.2% K% and 6.3% BB%, but a 1.79 home run rate has contributed to his poor overall numbers. Let’s further note that Smyly posted a 6.85 ERA and a 5.10 FIP in June, together with a 2.66 HR/9 rate!

The Rays are 0-4 in his last four starts overall and 1-4 in his last five road outings. Tampa Bay is also a money-burning 6-18 in its last 24 road games, 7-21 in its last 28 games on grass, 5-13 in its last 18 interleague games versus left-handed starters and 15-37 in its last 52 games overall, including 2-11 in its last thirteen.

With Colorado averaging 6.3 runs per game at home (.371 OBP; .882 OPS) and 7.0 runs per game in interleague play (.355 OBP; .866 OPS), take the Rockies and invest with confidence.