(Eduardo Escobar photo courtesy Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports)
Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.
When and Where: Tuesday, July 23, Chase Field, Phoenix, Ariz., 9:40 p.m. EDT.
Arizona Diamondbacks rookie Merrill Kelly completes the gauntlet of American League East teams Tuesday night when he faces the Baltimore Orioles in the middle game of a three-game series.
Bundy back on bump after resting sore knee
Dylan Bundy (4-11, 5.28 ERA) has had his share of troubles this year and will be activated from the injured list prior to the game to make this start.
“I was trying to push the limit in the last bullpen, and I didn’t feel anything,” Bundy told the Orioles’ official website Friday, referring to his bullpen session. “(Saturday) I expect more of the same.”
The right-hander missed only one turn in the rotation due to knee tendinitis, which he tried to pitch through July 12 with disastrous results. Bundy did not use the injury as an excuse — he did not tell manager Brandon Hyde anything was wrong — but was drilled for seven runs and eight hits in the first inning of Baltimore’s 16-4 shellacking administered by Tampa Bay.
About the lone positive was none of the seven runs scored on a homer. Bundy has allowed 21 of those in just 92 innings after serving up a career-worst 41 in 2018. His rate of 1.70 allowed per nine innings on the road is a slight improvement on his season mark of 2.05, and his pitching outside Camden Yards is also better than at home.
Bundy is 3-4 with a 4.25 ERA in eight road starts while yielding more than three runs in just two of them. He lost his lone interleague start this season at home to San Diego but won his only start over Arizona in 2016.
Kelly tries again to end winless run after strong start
Kelly (7-9, 3.77) has split his four matchups against AL East teams while posting a 3.70 ERA, but that was skewed by allowing seven runs in four innings of a May loss to Tampa Bay. The right-hander limited Boston, New York, and Toronto to a run apiece over 20 1-3 combined innings.
He is 0-3 with a 3.86 ERA in his last six starts but deserved a better fate Thursday after limiting Milwaukee to one run and three hits while striking out six in seven innings and using his curve more effectively. Kelly left with the score tied before the bullpen yielded four runs in the final two innings of a 5-1 loss.
“(Before that,) it was never a dagger,” Kelly told The Arizona Republic regarding his curve. “Now, as it’s progressed, there are situations – like last night, there were a couple of times that, in my head, once I got to two strikes, it was, ‘All right, let’s throw a curveball.’ Before that wasn’t the option in my head.
“I did a pretty good job with it,” he added. “Overall, sometimes when I get in trouble with it, I get to two strikes and I have trouble bouncing it and getting it below the zone. A couple of times this year, I’ve got beat with it with two strikes when I’ve left it in the zone.”
Kelly is 3-3 with 2.83 ERA in nine starts at Chase Field but has only gotten 15 runs of support. His 2.35 run support average at home is the third-lowest mark in the majors.
Eduardo Escobar, who had a pair of doubles and an RBI in Monday’s win, is 20 for 59 (.339) with a 1.039 OPS against AL opponents.
The Diamondbacks are:
- 7-0 in their last seven interleague games.
- 8-2 in their last 10 interleague games vs. sub-.500 teams.
- 39-14 in their last 53 games vs. sub-.400 teams.
The Orioles are:
- 2-11 in Bundy’s last 13 starts during game 2 of a series.
- 3-15 in their last 18 interleague games vs. right-handed starters.
- 4-11 in Bundy’s last 15 road starts.
Diamondbacks -1.5 runs (+105)
As opposed to a litany of statistical trends convincing you why you should take the Diamondbacks, here is the flowchart used in arriving at this pick:
Are the Orioles playing?
Is John Means pitching? No bet!
Are they home? Bet Against them | | Yes No
It’s risky, but OK. You should bet against them.
Diamondbacks -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-125)
The Diamondbacks have not trailed after five innings in their last seven games (5-0-2) and are 12-3-1 at the midway point against American League opponents. They are also 2-1-1 in Kelly’s previous four starts versus the AL East.
Monday’s loss also marked the eighth time in 10 games since the All-Star break the Orioles have been behind after five innings. Baltimore has also trailed in its last five interleague contests after five innings.
Diamondbacks OVER 1.5 runs first 3 innings (-131)
Even before considering it a pick against Bundy, it is worth noting the Diamondbacks have scored four or more runs in the first three innings in four of their last six games. The Orioles have also yielded two or more runs in the first three frames in seven of their 10 games since the All-Star break after the Diamondbacks pushed across five in Monday night’s win.
UNDER 9 runs (-105)
Kelly offers confidence in general for this pick, but Bundy’s season-long form creates enough of a buffer from this being anything more than a toss-up. Though the under has gone 6-1 in Bundy’s last seven road starts for the Orioles and is part of a trend in which the under is 10-4-1 in his last 15 overall, there is some skepticism with it being below double digits.
The under is also 5-0 in Kelly’s last five home starts, part of a run in which it has gone 9-3 in his last 12 overall. The under is also 4-1-2 in Arizona’s last seven interleague home games after playing to a push Monday night.
Diamondbacks OVER 5 runs (-121)
This pick is essentially trying to thread a needle while serving as a confidence vote in Kelly in taking the . Opponents have scored five or more runs against the Orioles in six of Bundy’s last nine starts, which offers confidence in this pick, but the worry is it gets out of hand like it did for him in his last start versus Tampa Bay.
UNDER 5 first 5 innings (-121)
Despite Bundy’s horrific outing in his most recent start, there is hope for the five-inning under on his end as it has gone 6-3-1 in his last 10 starts. The under is also 4-2-1 in Kelly’s last seven starts and splitting his four starts versus AL East teams.