Starting pitchers are Robbie Ray for the hosts and Cole Hamels for the visitors. It's hard to say exactly what we make of Cole Hamels and his resurgence with the Cubs as the 34 year old southpaw is not just throwing more fastballs than he was with the Rangers, but is throwing them even harder with a noticeable uptick in velocity. Nevertheless, we have a suspicion that the conditions here in the desert won't suit Hamels, who hasn't pitched at Arizona in over 5 years, especially with respect to his offspeed deliveries. On the other side, Robbie Ray has saved his best for last as the hard throwing southpaw has posted 5 consecutive starts with 2 runs or less allowed. Ray still has severe control issues with one of the highest walk rates in the league but he will benefit from a home plate umpire with a generous strike zone tonight. Neither bullpen is reliable at the moment but even with a struggling Diamondbacks team at the plate, we have to give them the edge at home with the superior pitcher on the mound.
Starting pitchers are Touki Toussaint for the hosts and Jack Flaherty for the visitors. Jack Flaherty enters this game with an 8-7 record and a sparkling 2.86 ERA but one area the rookie has struggled at this season has been facing left handed batters. Lefties actually have a lower batting average against Flaherty than right handers but this has been skewed by an abnormally low BABIP (.230) and HR/FB ratio significantly lower than against right handers. The telltale sign has been Flaherty's K/BB ratio which is a mere 2.09 against lefties compared to 5.59 against righties and in fact, Flaherty has struggled with his control lately with 11 walks allowed over his last 16 innings of work, despite allowing just 5 runs over that span. This is of course, significant when facing one of the better hitting teams in the league in the Braves and one stacked with left handed batters in a ballpark that favours them as well. On the other side, Touki Toussaint is an intriguing rookie for the Braves with electric stuff but he too hasn't shown the best command and he will be tested by a Cardinals team that's piled on the runs of late. The Cardinals bullpen has certainly improved but we would hardly call them reliable and the Braves' bullpen continues to be an unmitigated disaster with another blowup yesterday. We see runs for both sides!
It’s just amazing for us that Caroline Garcia is the world number 4, because that number tells us women’s tennis is struggling. Bare in mind that the French girl is just 30-18 on the year, and her win record (52.2%) on hard court is a fair way under her average (57.6%). Add to the fact Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won all three meetings between the pair, and then you can understand the case for betting the Russian. Pav’s did us a favour in round one of this competition by beating Aliaksandra Sasnovich, and her record indoor (68%) is a very decent one. While we have to accept that the 27 year old lacks consistency, she is fantastic odds here!
Karolina Pliskova will be out for revenge on Daria Gavrilova, because the Aussie knocked her sister (Kristina) out of the competition. In some ways we can imagine that the world number 8 would rather face the 24 year old rather than her own sibling. Furthermore, she will know that head to heads stand at 4-0, and Gavrilova has never managed to take a set from her! Dasha needed 2:56 to land odds of 1.40 and beat Kristina in the first round. In fact, her opponent won more points, and the last set went to 10-8 in a tie breaker. What we would say is Gavrilova often makes hard work out of beating her opponents, and that’s probably the reason she doesn’t make it to the business end of tournaments. Karolina lost just three of her first round matches this season, and four needed to go over the distance. That means the Czech girl won 12 in straight sets, so what about her opponent? Dasha is 23/22 on the year, and she lost 12 from 20 matches in straight sets. That sapping first round for Gavrilova, and history between the pair suggest Karolina should do this in straight sets.
Starting pitchers are Joey Lucchesi for the hosts and Derek Holland for the visitors. It's been a nice turnaround season for Derek Holland as he enters this game with a 3.46 ERA and a 7-8 record. Nevertheless, Holland has benefited tremendously from pitching at his home park and on the road, his xFIP is a below average 4.58. The Padres are one of the poorest hitting teams in the league but they do have some power from the right side and should be able to exploit Holland's poor walk rate (4.39 BB/9) and home run rate (1.73 HR/9) against right handers on the road. On the other side, Joey Lucchesi has put up terrific numbers in his rookie season and in particular, his splits against left handers are excellent. This does not bode well for the Giants who have most of their limited power hitting from the left side and will likely have to sit all but a few of their lefties, who will be at a disadvantage anyway. Lucchesi has also been reliable at home with a 3.65 xFIP. Both sides have bullpens in the top third of the league but we would still rate the hosts' a notch above. Neither side can be relied upon to score runs on a given night but we like the matchup much better from the hosts' point of view!
Starting pitchers are Chase Anderson for the hosts and Michael Lorenzen for the visitors. It's hard to imagine a luckier pitcher than Chase Anderson over the last 2 seasons as he has again outperformed his peripherals by a significant amount. In 2017, Anderson managed a 2.74 ERA despite a 4.33 xFIP and much of it was aided by a .265 BABIP and an 8.6% HR/FB ratio. In 2018, Anderson has followed it up with a 3.85 ERA compared to a 4.78 xFIP and again has an incredibly low .234 BABIP though his HR/FB ratio has normalized a bit at 15.4%. At any rate, a .234 BABIP isn't sustainable even with a terrific defense behind him and Anderson's home run rate of 1.69 HR/9 is troubling in this ballpark despite facing a Reds team that hasn't hit for much power this year. On the other side, Michael Lorenzen is making his first start in almost 3 years to the day as he has been exclusively a bullpen arm since that time. Lorenzen will surely be on a pitch count but his bullpen numbers aren't exactly flattering either, despite a 3.21 ERA. Lorenzen's strikeout rate is rather low at 6.55 K/9 and his walk rate is nearing 4 batters per 9 innings. His L/R splits aren't terribly bad but away from home in his career, Lorenzen has a 5.04 xFIP against left handed batters, something we consider significant given the Brewers' left handed heavy lineup they will undoubtedly put out. Furthermore, the Reds bullpen ranks among the worst in the league and any quality they have is at the back end so Lorenzen's inevitable early exit will expose their poor middle relief. On the bright side for Lorenzen, however, he has proven to be quite a capable hitter in his career and actually homered in 3 consecutive at-bats earlier this season over a week's span. In fact, one of those home runs was a pinch-hit grand slam against these same Brewers back in late June! We believe this has all the makings of a slugfest between 2 good hitting teams with 2 below average pitchers on the mound and in a hitter's park to boot!
Just a month separating these two 28 year olds in age, and 38 places in the rankings. Mona Barthel comes into this with a rank of 93, albeit she’s been creeping up the charts during the second half of the season. We could also mention the German won two qualifying matches here, and she’s 66.67% on this surface. Irena-Camelia Begu is another base-liner with a decent record indoor. However, she’s lost eight from her last nine matches and she has a bit to prove. We believe Barthel can play the percentage game better, and she’s got to be the player here.
Barbora Strycova is what you could call a stead player. By that we mean she is good to a certain level, and she’s usually reliable. The 32 year old Czech comes into this on the back of a 20/19 YTD, and her rank has slipped to 25. Nevertheless, she’s the winner of over $7 million in Prize money, and her record last year on in-door was an excellent one. In fact, Strycova won Linz and made a semi final in Biel, so she’s certainly a player to beat! Despite a season 29/21, Zarina Diyas is finding it hard to break back into the top 50. However, on a positive note the girl from Kazakhstan has a 78.3% win record on indoor hard court, and she won two rounds of qualifying here with the minimum of fuss. To be analytical we would have made Strycova shorter in the letting, because she’s simply more reliable and the higher ranked player. We advised at 1.83, expect her to go around 1.72 to 1.75 by the start!
We are not sure whether our site visitors can read, because according to our analytics you guys just come and take the tip without even clicking the preview. If that’s the case, maybe we are wasting our time writing! However, lets pretend one or two are serious about betting, and at least give something! The thing which stands out about this match-up is Eugenie Bouchard leads head to heads 5-1. However, most of those matches took place a while back, and the Canadian has been going downhill for a while now. In fact, Bouchard lost her two matches coming in to this tournament, and she should never have needed three sets to qualify past Chihiro Muramatsu. That alone suggests she’s off the pace and very beatable. Alison Riske has always been a nervous player, and she’s let her rank slip this year. In fact, the 28 year old has done very little since winning Surbiton and making the QF of Mallorca. With that said she hasn’t played much, and she at least came through qualifying with ease. If we are to believe the flow, it’s Alison Riske in this one!
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