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Nelly’s Free MLB Pick Thursday


#923 Tampa Bay Rays (Archer) -115 over Pittsburgh Pirates (Taillon) 6:05 PM CT

Chris Archer is back to being one of the better right-handed starters in the AL this season after a down 2016 campaign. Archer has pitched even better than his solid traditional numbers appear as he owns the fourth lowest FIP among all 77 qualified MLB starters at 2.88 even if his ERA is a full run higher. Archer has the second best K/9 in the AL and while the Pirates are a better hitting team vs. right-handed pitching they still boast just a .718 team OPS vs. right-handers which is the fourth worst mark in the NL. Tampa Bay is crushing right-handed pitching with a .809 OPS that barely trails the Astros and Yankees on top of the AL. The Rays are 32-22 vs. right-handed starters while going 6-2 so far in interleague games. Jameson Taillon has made three June starts after a six week absence due to a cancer diagnosis and while his future looks bright he is overvalued in a matchup against one of the top established pitchers in baseball. Taillon owns steady numbers but a FIP a half a run higher than his ERA is a red flag as is a very high strand rate and an unusually low home run rate. Taillon actually hasn’t pitched that well at PNC Park with a 4.22 ERA on the season and right-handed batters own a .278 average with a robust .845 OPS against him this season. Ultimately getting the Rays vs. a right-handed pitcher at near-even pricing with Archer on the mound is a great opportunity even with a bullpen edge for the Pirates and a slight losing road record for the Rays on the season.

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