Sept. 15 MLB Picks and Preview — Miami Marlins (52-96) at San Francisco Giants (71-78)

(Johnny Cueto photo courtesy Cody Glenn/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

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: Sunday, Sept. 15, Oracle Park, San Francisco, Calif., 4:05 p.m. EDT.

After a return to pitching that exceeded all expectations, Johnny Cueto looks for a second straight positive outing Sunday when the San Francisco Giants wrap up their series with the Miami Marlins.

Hernandez aiming for consistency in final month for Fish

Elieser Hernandez (3-5, 5.24 ERA) has not recorded a decision in his last three starts heading into this series closer for Miami. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 5.23 ERA in nine starts since rejoining the rotation, recording just two quality starts in that span.

Hernandez bared down after a couple of shaky innings, retiring the final eight batters he faced and yielded three runs in five innings before Miami recorded a 4-3 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday night.

The 24-year-old allowed a two-run homer to Hernan Perez and has struggled keeping the ball in the park since returning to the Miami rotation, serving up 10 homers in just 43 innings over the nine starts. Twenty-two of the 40 hits he has given up in that span have gone for extra bases.

Hernandez made his season debut in a mop-up role against San Francisco on May 28, giving up two runs in two innings of an 11-3 victory. The righty is making his first career start versus the Giants after yielding seven runs and 12 hits over 9 2-3 innings spanning three relief appearances.

Cueto to be part of Giants rotation over final two weeks

After missing nearly 15 months following Tommy John surgery, Cueto (1-0, 0.00) had as good a return as one could have Tuesday night when he limited Pittsburgh to one hit and one walk in five innings. The right-hander struck out four in a nice 69-pitch effort as the Giants held off the Pirates 5-4.

The biggest surprise was Cueto being so effective to the point Giants manager Bruce Bochy is keeping him on normal rest and shifting Dereck Rodriguez to long relief while keeping open the possibility of starting him midweek versus Boston.

“We want to keep him on a somewhat regular schedule,” Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle regarding Cueto, “but with him coming off surgery and throwing well, there’s no reason to ramp him up.”

Bochy said he would again keep Cueto on a pitch count of approximately 70, but that the righty will be in the rotation for the remainder of the season. Cueto is 4-2 with a 5.09 ERA in 10 career starts against the Marlins and has no record and a 9.00 ERA in two outings versus Miami since joining San Francisco on 2016.

Notable Trends

The Giants are:

  • 4-1 in their last five games vs. sub-.400 teams.
  • 5-1 in Cueto’s last six starts during game 3 of a series.
  • 9-4 in Cueto’s last 13 starts.

The Marlins are:

  • 6-13 in Hernandez’s last 19 starts.
  • 6-16 in their last 22 Sunday games.
  • 14-38 in their last 52 games vs. right-handed starters.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Giants -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-115)

A pick willing to ride Cueto being effective for the second time in as many starts since coming back. At the very least, he should be able to provide four innings on a 70-pitch count, and if he is as effective as he was Tuesday, he could provide that fifth inning and get the Giants over the hump.

****4-Star Pick****

OVER 8 runs (-110)

This is more about the number being too low than Cueto potentially being ineffective. Hernandez’s inability keeping the ball down on a consistent basis offers confidence in the Giants doing most of the heavy lifting for the over to hit. The over has trended strongly with Cueto at home, going 8-1-2 in his last 11 starts versus sub-.500 teams and 20-5-2 in his last 27 at Oracle Park overall.

The over has also hit the last four times in the third game of a series for the Marlins and is 9-3 in Miami’s last 12 against opposing starters with a sub-1.15 WHIP.

***3-Star Picks***

Giants -1.5 runs (+135)

More of an anti-Marlins pick than pro-Cueto one, but Miami’s struggles make the run line a viable play with San Francisco. The Marlins have totaled 17 runs in their last six games and dropped 11 of their last 14 on the road.

Giants OVER 4.5 runs (Even)

The expectation is for the Giants to buck their season-long trend against the Marlins and break out offensively in the series finale backing Cueto. San Francisco has not scored more than three runs in any of its five games versus Miami this year, but the Marlins have yielded five or more runs in eight of their last 15 contests.

UNDER 4.5 runs first 5 innings (-125)

The hook makes the pick here with Cueto expected to be effective enough to offset Hernandez giving up a home run in the first five innings should it happen. The teams have failed to score a run in the first five innings in this series and have combined for three runs in the last four meetings.

Giants -0.5 runs first 3 innings (+115)

Another pick in expecting the Giants to snap out of their offensive funk, with Hernandez having an ERA of 4.50 or higher in each of the first three innings and 4.93 cumulatively in those frames.

 

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