After another win last night, the Marlins enter the final game of a three-game set posed for a sweep. Henderson Alvarez gets the ball for the Fish, going up against one of the most effective pitchers in the Big’s early on and one of the strongest off-season signing according to the numbers after a month of play, Ervin Santana. With the pitching matchup favoring the road team, so does the price. Atlanta is a -125 favorite to salvage one game on South Beach.
Ervin Santana has been about as good as it gets through April and it’s no real secret why. The addition of a change-up to his small but sturdy repertoire of fastball/slider has elevated Santana’s game to a new level while pitching in the friendly confines of Turner Field. While Santana had been a pretty darn effective two-pitch pitcher his entire career with the Angels and the Royals, he is beginning to mix in a change-up in certain spots to help him get more outs and strikeouts. According to Pitchf/x, Santana throws a change-up a little more than 5 percent of the time now, which may seem small but it’s when Santana unleashes the new weapon that’s interesting. He throws it almost primarily to left-handers (9 percent) compared to righties (1 percent). He also uses it 10 percent of the time he’s ahead or even in the count with lefties, which means it’s become an out pitch against those lefties. That’s not surprising. While he still lacks some command of the change, it has nice downward movement that sends it out of the strike zone and away from left-handed hitters. Expect Santana to throw another good game in Miami Park.
The game is always a little more up in the air than normal with Henderson Alvarez on the bump. The 24-year-old has nasty stuff and the ability to shut a team out, but also struggles with command at times. Despite posting an ERA of 2.73, Alvarez’ WHIP is over 1.40 because of that inconsistency. He’s given up just two earned runs in his last 15 innings and has yet to surrender more than three in a start this season, but I’ll fade Alvarez today in a spot where he will have to be spectacular to take down Santana.
We got a win last time out in game one of this series with Fernandez priced at -125. I think we get another one here, this time with the road side.
Free Pick: Atlanta (-125)
2014 YTD: 10-4 +5.65