Members who have been with my firm for the past few years know how much I enjoy analyzing Cincinnati right-hander Alfredo Simon. The 35-year-old veteran is 1-3 with a 7.96 ERA and 1.80 WHIP this season, including going 0-2 with a 15.42 ERA and 3.64 WHIP on the road.
Simon’s underlying metrics are equally disturbing: 7.74 FIP, 5.27 xFIP, 4.61 SIERA, 4.33 BB/9 and 3.00 HR/9. After a terrific start to there 2014 campaign, Simon’s inevitable regression began in his final 11 outings where he posted 4.69 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. His strikeout rate plummeted while his walk and home run rates both increased.
The aging hurler’s regression continued in 2015 and, now, the Reds have decided to give Simon a look this season. That look, to date, has been unsurprisingly ugly. Meanwhile, Cleveland right-hander Danny Salazar is enjoying a breakout campaign with a 1.90 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in seven starts, including a 1.23 ERA and 0.75 WHIP at home and a 1.37 ERA and 1.01 WHIP over his last three outings.
Salazar’s success is backed by a 2.82 FIP and 3.57 SIERA, together with an 11.18 K/9 rate and 52.7% ground ball rate. The 26-year-old has also been excellent at keeping the ball in play as evidenced by his 0.42 HR/9 rate.
Salazar now faces a scuffling Cincinnati squad that is 3-12 on the road (3.4 runs per game; .292 OBP) and 6-19 at night (3.4 runs per game; .269 OBP). Cleveland’s bullpen has pitched well in 2016, posting a 3.79 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, including a 2.65 ERA and 1.23 WHIP at night and a 3.26 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in interleague play.
In contrast, Cincinnati relievers remain hopeless with a 6.16 ERA and 1.57 WHIP, including a 6.49 ERA and 1.59 WHIP on the road and a 7.22 ERA and 1.62 WHIP at night. I don’t expect Cincinnati’s bullpen to perform much better in this interleague series against the Indians.
Technically speaking, Cleveland falls into a very good 37-12 (75.5%; +23.9 units) run line system that invests on strong starting pitchers who are well-rested and matched up against a poor hitting opponent. The Reds are also 6-12 against the run line at the existing price over the last three season, including 0-5 this year (Simon is 0-7 in his career against the RL at the existing price).
With Cleveland standing at 3-0 against the run line at the current price with Salazar toeing the rubber, take the Indians in this interleague matchup and invest with confidence.