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  • Writer's pictureMason Dalley

Best Bet 7/27/2023

The New York Mets(-1.5) @ The Washington Nationals

DK +100

FD -105

BSB +100

Best Bet Season Record: 8-7

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This best bet is Kodai Senga driven. I would never touch the Mets on a game where he isn't pitching. Senga has been the only consistent aspect of the Mets this season. The Japanese import has had a great first season in the MLB, tossing 99.0 IP at a 3.27 ERA/3.81 FIP/29.7 K%/ 47.1 GB%/1.00 HR/9 clip. The one thing that he needs to reign in is the walk rate. Per Baseball Savant, he ranks in the 11th percentile in BB% and the raw number is 4.55/9.

Everything else is stellar. He avoids barrels and induces soft contact. The key to that success is that he throws an uncommon pitch; the Forkball. The Forkball is a a rare pitch that's a mix of Curveball and Splitter. It hovers mid 80's and has a tumbling sort of break that's most similar to the 12-6 Curveball. It's most prolific users in the MLB were Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Jack Morris. It also had some notable arms in from 2000-2015, being used by the likes of Kaz Sasaki, Hideo Nomo, Jose Valverde, Jose Contreras, Chien-Ming Wang, Junichi Tazawa, and Tim Lincecum. The pitch is actually quite common in Japan's professional league, the Nippon Professional Baseball League, due to that league placing a lot of value on sharp downward breaking pitches. You'll be hard pressed to find a pitcher who came from the NPB who is currently in the MLB that doesn't feature a Splitter or a Forkball.

Senga's forkball is a weapon. The "Ghost Fork" as it's been called is his secondary pitch, tossing it 23.2% of the time. In the 114 Plate Appearances the pitch has been used, it has induced a .125 BA/.146 SLG/56.% Whiff Rate. It's gross. if you need to see it to believe it, look no further.

To see why the punch out rate is so effective, here's an overlay of the Ghost Fork with his Fastball.

To get more into the pitch on the whole and why Senga's is so effective, check out Pitching Ninja's video on it, which is linked right below.

Now, this is all fine and dandy, but the reason for the Best Bet tonight is the profile of the Washington Nationals. As a team, they hit the fastball poorly, clocking in at only 29.8% of their hits coming off the heater, good for 3rd worst in all of MLB. They hit the Changeup fairly well, which is the closest thing to the Ghost Fork, but then Senga can just mix in his Cutter, a pitch the Nats are 4th worst against in all of MLB. The Nats also aren't a team that profiles well against a high walk rate pitcher. They are middle of the pack when it comes to On Base Percentage, with a team OPB of .319, but it is a little misleading. Lane Thomas is their best get on base guy, but he only has an OBP of .339. They have no one higher than an 8% walk rate on the team. For reference, the Tampa Bay Rays who rank 10th in OBP, only 6 spots ahead of the Nats, have 6 every day players with at least an 8% walk rate.

A team that rarely walks that relies on BABIP against a pitcher that has a walk problem but is nasty at everything else is a recipe for a cover for the team with the Pitcher. All the Mets have to do is show some life on offense, but that's been easier said then done this season. This is a riskier pick, than what I'd like, but with only 5 games slated for tonight, I'll rock with Senga and the Ghost Fork

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