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Sat, 06/07/14 - 10:10 PM Bryan Leonard | MLB Money Line
double-dime bet 914 ARI (-103) Pinnacle vs 913 ATL
Results: W, $200
914 Atlanta at Arizona

Ervin Santana will take the ball for the Braves in the middle game of their weekend set against the Diamondbacks. The Snakes will counter with Wade Miley. There are a lot of concerns about Santana entering this start. If you look at his PITCHf/x data, there are some signs of potential injury for Santana.

Santana sailed through his first six starts with a 1.99 ERA and a 43/10 K/BB ratio. In his last four starts, Santana has allowed 20 runs in 23 innings with a 15/10 K/BB ratio. He has decreased the use of his slider of late, which signals a potential injury because the slider is Santana's bread and butter pitch and sliders put the most torque on a pitcher's elbow. Consider that teams were scared away from Santana's medicals before the Braves signed him out of necessity due to elbow injuries to Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen.

Usually Santana is the type of pitcher we would look to back because his advanced metrics signal improvement. However, we're concerned about his health because of what we're seeing from his control and the decreased use of the slider. In his first start of the season, 25 percent of Santana's pitches were sliders. Over the next five starts, he threw no fewer than 33.7 percent sliders. In his last four starts, his slider percentage per game has been 32.3, 23.2, 27.4, 29.9. After throwing 50 percent or more pitches in the strike zone in his first four starts, Santana has ranged from 35.7 to 48.5, with two games below 40 percent in those last four games.

The problem for Santana is that his fastball command has been lacking this season, so he either throws the slider and takes a chance with the elbow or he avoids the slider and has to rely on his other pitches. Factor in that Santana has had home run problems in the past and opposing hitters are slugging .431 on the road against Santana and it's hard to find reasons to like him in this start.

Wade Miley has deserved a better fate this season. His ERA is at 4.85 and his FIP is at 4.56, but his xFIP is 3.55 and his SIERA is 3.65. Home runs have been the problem and especially at home. That said, a 25.6 percent HR/FB rate is completely unsustainable. Miley has a 3.82 K/BB ratio at home. Miley is pitching from ahead in the count more and inducing more swings and misses and strikeouts overall. All of the positive developments have been overshadowed by the inordinate rate of home runs allowed. That number will come down and Miley's success rate will go up.


Pick Made: Jun 7 2014 6:26AM PST
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