Washington (Roark) at Houston (Morton)Recommendation: See analysis
I have some concerns about Washington's Tanner Roark heading into arguably his toughest start of the season with a trip to Houston. Roark's velocity spiked a few weeks back but his last two outings have seen a sudden decrease (91 mph), something he even noted to the media
. His recent results look solid with three straight quality starts but the numbers tell a different story with a dismal 11-10 K-to-BB ratio, four home runs allowed, and a very friendly .167 BABIP. For the season, Roark has performed like a below average NL pitcher (4.46 xFIP) and with diminished velocity, he must now navigate an elite AL lineup on the road. Not having Carlos Correa in the lineup has resulted in a decrease in Houston’s offensive production but they are still averaging a solid 4.8 runs without him.
As a team, the Nationals rank fourth in MLB with a 104 wRC+ vs. righties but without Bryce Harper's ridiculous .682 SLG, 1.126 OPS, and .350 ISO, it's a far weaker lineup. In eight games without Harper, the Nationals are averaging only 3.8 runs per game and didn't face one starting pitcher during that span that you'd consider above league average. They'll face one tonight in Charlie Morton who has enjoyed a huge uptick in velocity this season. Two years removed from throwing 92-93 mph, Morton has consistently been at 94-96 while featuring one of MLB's highest rate curveballs. Morton misses bats, keeps the ball on ground, and has allowed only one home run over his last five starts.
Unfortunately the price is well reflective of Harper's absence and Morton's advantage over Roark. I plan on waiting to see if I can get a cheaper number later today; something in the range of -165. In the meantime, I would look for any anti-Roark, pro-Houston props, most notably a play on Houston over the team total of 5.