The Marlins Return Home to Host Pittsburgh; Eovaldi vs. Locke

Jun 13, 2014


Miami right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is one of the most promising young arms in baseball as the 24-year-old is 4-2 with a 3.27 ERA and 1.14 WHIP this season.  Eovaldi is also 3-1 with a 2.49 ERA and 1.04 WHIP at home and 1-0 with a 2.86 ERA and 0.77 WHIP over his last three starts.  The young hurler has thrown four consecutive quality starts over which time he is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.  I also like the fact that Eovaldi owns an elite 69/15 strikeout-to-walk ration in 82 2/3-innings of work.

“I feel like guys have just continued to get better,” Evoaldi said.  “We’re going deeper in ballgames and giving ourselves better chances to win.  The bullpen has been throwing a lot better as well.  We’ve just been playing very good baseball lately.”  The Marlins are 22-11 (+10.9 units) at home where they are bating .279 with a .348 on base percentage (5.1 runs per game).  Miami is also 11-4 (+8.8 units) versus left-handed starters against whom they hitting .296 with a .355 on base percentage (5.8 runs per game.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh southpaw Jeff Locke toes the rubber with a 5.11 ERA and 0.97 WHIP on the year. Locke, who made the All-Star team last year with a 3.52 ERA, failed to make the Pirates’ opening day roster and struggled at Triple-A Indianapolis earlier this season where he posted a 4.02 ERA and 1.41 WHIP.  The warning signs surrounding the 26-year-old were more than evident last season when Locke garnered a 7.94 ERA and 2.25 WHIP in August and a 6.00 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in September.  Let’s also note that Locke is 0-2 with a career 4.15 ERA and 2.01 WHIP versus the Marlins.

Pitching Metrics:

Nathan Eovaldi: 3.47 xFIP and 3.42 SIERA

Jeff Locke (2013): 4.19 xFIP and 4.47 SIERA

My only hesitation with backing Miami in this game is the fact that Eovaldi’s wife is expecting the couple’s first child any day and he is prepared to leave the game if his wife goes into labor.  “Chuck said once I get the call, I’m coming out of the game,” Eovaldi said, referring to Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. “We’re not sure when we’re having the baby.  If it doesn’t happen any day now, it will happen Sunday.  I’d probably come to the field and throw a bullpen [session] on Sunday and leave after that, and be back Wednesday.”  The issues are twofold: (1) how focused will Eovaldi be with the pending birth hanging over his head; and (2) will Eovaldi be pulled from the game prematurely, thereby placing undue burden on Miami’s bullpen.

From a technical standpoint, Miami is 10-2 (+8.1 units) at home versus teams with a losing record, 20-9 (+10.9 units) at home with a total of 7.5 runs or less, 20-7 in its last 27 games versus southpaws, 8-3 in its last 11 as home favorites and 4-1 in Eovaldi’s last five starts versus teams with a losing record.  In contrast, the Pirates are a money-burning 6-13 in Locke’s last 19 road starts and 0-5 in Locke’s last five starts versus teams with a winning record. Take Miami and invest with confidence.