Congratulation Client’s and trial members as we hit our 25* Soccer Play Of The Year yesterday to go along with our 20* MLB Play Of The Day winner. I look to continue that success and start us out on the right foot with another 20* MLB BOMB tonight. For the winner along with the breakdown, just continue reading. I’ll be waiting at the cashier to congratulate you tomorrow.
Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks -1.5 on the Run Line
Breakdown: I always love a good narrative, and this game is no different. J.D. Martinez will be starting in his first home game since being traded to the Diamondbacks. His first game with them didn’t go expected when they had a showdown with the Cincinnati Reds and was hit on the knuckle by a pitch in his first at-bat and had to leave the game. Needless to say, after watching his batting practice this afternoon, I don’t think that hand will be an issue hitting or fielding. Another thing we saw happen in the very same game Martinez was injured, a not so elite performance from our guy tonight, Zack Grienke.
I have always loved tailing a team when Grienke is on the mound and I wasn’t too shy to do so last time. Although, in the last outing we got burned as Martinez’s early dismissal sucked the energy out of the Diamondback’s offense and instead gave the Reds some hope. That hope sparked a good offensive performance from the Reds as they were able to get a lead off base runner in every inning Zack pitched. Those hits, mixed with insufficient run support for Grienke, and it wasn’t the result we wanted. I see a different story tonight. Grienke will be back in his home ball park where his numbers are immensely better (9-0 2.41 ERA @Home vs 2-4 3.75 ERA on the road). To pair with those excellent Home numbers for Zack, he also seems to prefer night games vs day games as he has posted a 2.72 ERA in night games (a full 2 runs better than his day game numbers). Opponents are only hitting a .192 Average against him when he is in Arizona, and its worth noting that despite Grienke’s poor outing last time, only lasting 5 innings, he is still in the top 5 in the National League in ERA and is averaging about 10 strikeouts per 9 innings. One thing I really like about Grienke is his composure. With runners on both 2nd and 3rd, he has still maintained a 0.00 ERA more than halfway through the season (in part because he doesn’t get himself in those situations, and when he does, he works efficiently to get himself out of them). The Braves are a team I always look to fade on the road, so I am glad we get such a good pitcher on the mound for us backed by a stout lineup, something I can’t say about Atlanta. The Atlanta Braves are 18th in the league in ‘team batting’, and they really don’t hit rightys well (which Grineke is). Against right handed pitchers, the Braves have the 2nd worst strikeout percentage at 22.7% of at-bats resulting in a K, which is never a good equation with a strikeout artist in Zack Grienke. The Braves are also bottom 5 in the MLB in terms of Base on Balls, so with a high strikeout rate and a low amount of base on balls, the Atlanta Braves will really have to earn each and every hit/run.
Our offense shouldn’t have any problems tonight folks. Robert Allen Dickey (yes, R.A. Dickey) is on the mound for the Atlanta Braves who is win less since June 24th (exactly one month ago). The knuckle-ball specialist is now 42 years old and is lucky his knuckle ball has been decent from him because his other pitches are HORRID. Dickey throws 86.4% knuckle-balls/12.95% fastballs and then will very rarely throw a curve-ball but has one if needed, that he throws at about a 1% rate. The average pitcher throws about 52% fastballs and a mixture of other pitches like curves, change-ups, sliders, etc. This is where Dickey’s approach is flawed. I understand the movement on the knuckle pitch is very strong, but when you throw that pitch over 86% of the time, it allows hitters to not even worry about timing the fastball and instead they can get the timing of the knuckle-ball down. Once you get the timing down, it is all about making contact and putting the ball in play. I have never backed Dickey in my life and I don’t think I ever will. If you want my very strong opinion on him, I don’t think he should be a Major League pitcher anymore. His knuckler isn’t what it used to be, he needs to retire or go to the bullpen and be a closer. Rant over, back to the statistics and facts. The Arizona Diamondbacks are 6th in all of baseball in terms of ‘team hitting’ statistics overall, good for 4th in the National League. They have good (low) strike-out rates against right handed pitcheds and a top 5 on base percentage in the same situations (these are all numbers without the addition of J.D. Martinez). I think the new bat with Martinez and him making his first home start will give this team the extra juice to beat the Braves handily, much like the Indians did for us yesterday.
Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks 6 – Braves 2
Things to consider for tonight’s game:
There was a study done a couple years ago that showed R.A. Dickey’s Knuckle-ball performs better with a closed dome opposed to an open dome or non-dome stadium. Tonight’s ball park will be all sunny skies with a slight wind as the Diamondbacks will have their roof open. Not ideal conditions for a Dickey special.
Diamondbacks have the 2nd best Home win % in the National League, only behind the 1st place Dodgers.