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@FastMoneyLabs’ Early MLB Pick - 5/2

Kansas City Royals (7-13) at St. Louis Cardinals (12-9)

We’re officially on a self-proclaimed Heater. Let’s keep it going today, shall we?

Of the 2 early games, I’m targeting STL/KC for the pitching matchup between Zack Greinke (0-1, 2.86) and Steven Matz (2-1, 6.11).

I’ve mentioned in past articles that I believe Earned Runs Average (ERA) is a misleading stat. All it takes is one bad inning to stain the number. It can also be skewed high or low by factors out of pitchers’ control like ballpark dimensions, weather, defense, etc.

Rather than look at ERA, I prefer MLB Statcast’s expected Earned Runs Average (xERA), which attempts to adjust for some of those things. It’s measured based on quality of contact (i.e. when the bat hits the ball) rather than actual game outcomes. The idea being that allowing good contact will eventually bleed through to your stats in the form of more earned runs.

Applied to this game, I see:

  • Royals’ pitcher Zack Greinke has a 2.86 ERA (good) but much worse 6.07 xERA, indicating some negative regression could be imminent.
  • Conversely, I see Cardinals’ pitcher Steven Matz has a 6.11 ERA (bad) but a 4.38 xERA (still not great, but better than 6.11).
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In simpler terms: the data suggests Greinke is due for worse results and Matz better soon — if not today.

I also noticed Greinke performed worse in Day games last year while Matz was at his best. That spells trouble for Kansas City, considering:

  • This year’s Cardinals are 4-2 in home day games, scoring 5.7 runs per game while allowing just 3.8.
  • While the Royals are 1-2 in road day games scoring only 4.0 runs per game while allowing 4.7.

Taken together, I like St. Louis’ chances of winning this game outright. To isolate the pitching matchup, I bet them to win the First Five innings via the F5 Run Line. If it were a better weather day, I’d also consider sprinkling on their Team Total over 3.5. Unfortunately it’s not, so I’ll stick with the F5 run line.

$FML Pick

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STL -0.5 (First 5 Innings) @ -108
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