Angels at Mariners – MLB Pick for June 11th
The Seattle Mariners will clash with the Los Angeles Angels for an important midseason AL West series starting Monday night in the Pacific Northwest. The Halos enter play Monday 4.5 games back of the Mariners, who are tied with the Houston Astros for first place in the division. The Angels are 3 games up on the Oakland A’s for 4th, while the Texas Rangers are already out of it.
Based on run differential, the Angels, not the Mariners, look like the second-best team in the division. The Astros blow everyone away in this department with a run differential of +127 on the season. L.A. is sitting at +36, while the Ms are +20. Seattle has a 21-9 record in games decided by 1 run, which is the best mark in baseball. The Mariners are the first team in MLB history with 21 1-run victories in the first 65 games of a season.
Wade LeBlanc will toe the rubber tonight for Seattle against fellow lefty Andrew Heaney for the Angels.
Wade LeBlanc has been around for a while, but the 33-year-old seems to have come into his own this season since being promoted into the rotation. His 18.7 percent strikeout rate certainly doesn’t jump off the page, but LeBlanc has been able to enjoy a good bit of success thanks to his deception. The lefty has been throwing his sinker more often, and he’s been throwing it for strikes.
Per Fangraphs, LeBlanc and Arizona’s Zack Greinke are the only 2 starters in baseball to rank in the top-10 in lowest Z-Swing% and highest O-Swing%. That means leBlanc has been elite both in terms of generating strikes looking and strikes on pitches out of the zone. Clearly, hitters are having a problem picking up the ball out of his hand.
LeBlanc has also posted some pretty serious reverse splits, which is rare for a left-hander. Lefties have a .364 wOBA against him this season, while he’s held right-handed hitters to a mark of just .283 so far. Those splits should come in handy for him tonight against a Halos lineup that will very likely have 9 righties in it.
As for Heaney, he has been up and down so far this season. He struggled mightily 2 starts ago against the Tigers, but rebounded in a big way last time out. In his last start against the Royals, Heaney threw a complete game, 1-hit shutout with 4 punchouts on 116 pitches in what was easily the finest outing of his career.
Heaney has a K-rate over 23 percent and a walk rate under 8 percent. His 3.89 SIERA suggests his 3.12 ERA is a bit lucky, but he’s still pitched well. The lefty has also surrendered just 4 home runs in over 60 innings of work to this point. Unlike LeBlanc, Heaney is a lefty with a wide traditional split. He has held lefties to a .214 wOBA and without a home run, while righties are at .294 and have accounted for all 4 dingers against him.
They’re not big underdogs by any means, but I do like the Mariners on the moneyline at -101 against Heaney. He’s still a solid pitcher, but the Ms have some decent right-handed bats that I think can get him into some trouble. I also wouldn’t be all that surprised if this game came in under 8 runs, though the Mariners on the moneyline are still my preferred bet.
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