The casual baseball observer will take notice of Mike Montgomery’s 2.04 ERA and 0.96 WHIP this season, including his 2.02 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over his last three starts. The 25-year-old is coming off his most impressive outing yet wherein he threw a complete game shutout against the Royals (9 IP; 4 H; 10K; 0 BB). There is no question that the former first round Draft pick by Kansas City has done an excellent job filling in for the injured James Paxon, but his surface statistics epitomize a house of cards. The one-time prospect has been shipped around since being drafted by the Royals, landing in Tampa Bay before being sent to Seattle at the end of March.
Scouts suggested during the offseason that Montgomery’s potential would be limited to being a “7th inning guy” or a “spot starter” or a “long man” out of the bullpen. His minor league career has been unremarkable, posting a strikeout rate in the high teens and a walk rate between 7% to 10%, both of which are average to below average marks. The southpaw’s mid-40% groundball rate further suggests that his arsenal is pedestrian at best. Montgomery owns a 4.24 career Minor-League ERA, together with a 7.4 K/9 rate so his ceiling is limited at best. Let’s take a look at Montgomery’s Triple-A numbers with the Rays:
2013 Triple-A with Tampa Bay:
- 4.72 ERA & 4.36 FIP (3.98 BB/9)
2014 Triple-A with Tampa Bay:
- 4.29 ERA & 3.99 FIP (3.43 BB/9)
Montgomery boasts a 2.04 ERA in five starts this season, but his underlying metrics tell an entirely different story: 4.15 xFIP and 4.24 SIERA. He also owns a 4.42 xFIP on the road with an alarming 4.50 BB/9 ratio. Montgomery’s brilliant surface stats have also been aided by an unsustainable .243 BABIP and 80.9% LOB%. Finally, let’s not lose site of the fact that Montgomery’s results are derived from a small sample size, a period covering just 35.1 innings.
Seattle also arrives to town with a relief staff that owns a 4.38 ERA and 1.41 WHIP on the road and a 4.63 ERA and 1.67 WHIP in interrelate play. The Mariners’ offense has also been scuffling, batting .223 with a .282 on base percentage on the road (3.6 runs per game), .238 with a .294 on base percentage in night games (3.3 runs per game) and .206 with a .267 on base percentage over the last ten days (2.7 runs per game). Conversely, San Diego’s offense has been surging since interim manager Pat Murphy put Matt Kemp in the leadoff spot.
Indeed, since Wednesday, Kemp has seven hits in 16 at-bats with two doubles, two home runs and five RBIs out of the top spot in the order. San Diego has scored 23 runs in its last four games with Kemp hitting atop the lineup, and Kemp became the third member of the Padres to reach 40 RBIs this season after knocking in a run on Saturday.
It’s also noteworthy that San Diego is the only team in baseball with three players who have knocked in 40 or more runs this season. Meanwhile, the Mariners are last in the American league in scoring and lose their designated hitter tonight at Petco Park.
San Diego starter Ian Kennedy looks to have turned around his season this month, going 2-1 with a 2.40 in five starts in June. Many will scoff at Kennedy’s 5.09 ERA and 1.34 WHIP this season, but the talented right-hander boasts a 3.74 xFIP and 3.72 SIERA in 2015.
Kennedy has also garnered a 3.43 FIP and 3.34 xFIP in June, which comes on the heals of posting a 3.86 xFIP in May. I also like the fact that Kennedy maintains an impressive 8.48 K/9 rate this season. San Diego’s bullpen is also performing significantly better with a 2.59 ERA and 0.86 WHIP over its last 24.3 innings of work (23/5 K/BB rate).
From a technical standpoint, Seattle is a money-burning 5-11 in its last 16 interleague games versus right-handed starters, 3-8 in its last 11 against National League West foes and 3-9 in its last 12 road games versus right-handed starters. The Mariners are also 1-5 in their last six interleague road games and 1-7 in their last eight interleague road games versus teams with a losing record.
Conversely, San Diego is a profitable 35-16 as a home favorite, 15-7 at home versus .499 or worse opposition and 25-12 as a home favorite of -150 or less. And, with Kennedy toeing the rubber, the Padres are 4-0 off a loss and 4-1 as favorites.
With San Diego standing at 4-1 in its last five home meetings with Seattle, take the Padres as out free Best Bet winner and invest with confidence.
Oskeim Sports Free Best Bet Winner: San Diego Padres