Baltimore southpaw Wade Miley is off to a strong start to the 2017 campaign, posting a 2.45 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in his first two starts, a span covering 11 innings. Miley has garnered a surprising 28.3% strikeout rate after finishing with a 19.3% strikeout rate last season.
However, the 30-year-old has struggled mightily with his control in his first two outings, issuing seven walks (5.73 BB/9). Miley owns a career 2.79 BB/9 rate so I expect his command and control to improve as the season progresses.
Cincinnati’s offense is averaging just 3.9 runs per game at home (.297 OBP; 706 OPS) and 4.0 runs per game versus left-handed starters (.250 OBP; .650 OPS). Let’s also note that the Reds are batting .236 with a .294 on base percentage at night and .203 with a .311 on base percentage versus American League opponents.
Miley is supported by a solid Baltimore bullpen that owns a 3.65 ERA this season, including a 2.10 ERA at night, a 1.35 ERA in interleague play and a 2.86 ERA in its last seven games. My concern focuses on the fact that Baltimore relievers have issued 21 walks and allowed 51 hits in 44 1/3 innings of work in 2017.
Cincinnati sends veteran right-hander Scott Feldman to the mound, who is coming off a brilliant outing against the Cardinals where he threw six shutout innings. While Feldman’s 2.87 ERA looks appealing, his underlying peripherals aren’t nearly as promising: 4.20 FIP, 4.26 xFIP, 4.32 SIERA and a 4.60 BB/9 rate.
The 34-year-old has also benefitted from an unsustainable 89.1% strand rate, and his ground ball rate has dropped from 49.8% in 2016 to 33.3% this season. Feldman’s line drive rate is also up from previous seasons and his career 4.38 ERA and 5.6 K/9 rate more accurately project his future results.
From a technical standpoint, Baltimore is a profitable 22-8 in its last thirty interleague games, 8-2 in its last ten interleague road games versus right-handed starters, 12-4 in its last 16 games versus .501 or greater National League foes and 5-1 in its last six meetings with the Reds.
The Orioles are 7-0 in umpire Mike Estabrook’s last seven games behind home plate, whereas Cincinnati is 1-5 in Estabrook’s last six games calling balls and strikes. With the Reds standing at 16-38 in interleague play, including 5-12 at home and 3-11 versus teams with a winning record, take Baltimore and Oskeim Sports’ Free Interleague Baseball Pick for Thursday, April 20.
Oskeim Sports’ Interleague Baseball Free Pick: Baltimore Orioles (-115)