MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Tuesday, September 12th

By Adam Burke  ( Managing Editor) 

September 12, 2023 11:42 AM

MLB schedule today has 17 games

We’ve got 17 games on the betting board today thanks to a couple of doubleheaders, with one in Boston and one in Chicago. Two games were rained out on Monday and will immediately be played today between teams that are not really playing for anything, so it feels like an unnecessarily long day at the yard.

But that also means we have a ton of stuff to talk about with today’s games. I noticed that some of the huge underdogs I’ve been skipping over have been doing well, but it’s not like I would have had the wherewithal or the reasoning to take any of them. It’s just a sign that sometimes the inflated prices being slapped on teams at this time of the year aren’t always worth the squeeze. They’ll still win more often than not, but remember that a -300 favorite is still going to lose roughly 25% of the time based on the implied probability. If you can catch those at the right time, it’s a big bankroll booster, but won’t always be the case.

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Here are some thoughts on the September 12 card (odds from DraftKings):

Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates (-148, 9)

We start with a rather bland game in the Steel City between the Nationals and Pirates. It will be Joan Adon and Bailey Falter in this one, as the Pirates look to get one back after losing yesterday in a favorite role to Patrick Corbin. I will say this, both of these teams are still plenty invested in how the season turns out. The Nationals hit a rough patch, but keep playing hard and the Pirates are doing the same.

This is a pretty simple handicap, though. I have no interest in backing Adon and this is a pretty big favorite role for Falter. The Nationals are only 25th in wOBA at .288 and have just a 78 wRC+ against lefties since August 1, so they’ve definitely fallen off in terms of their production in that split, but it’s still a big number for a below average MLB pitcher.

Atlanta Braves (-130, 8.5) at Philadelphia Phillies

The Braves and Phillies will battle it out this week, as Atlanta heads north to the Keystone State for the final time. Max Fried and Zack Wheeler are the slated starters in this one, which is about what it takes for the Braves to not be a massive favorite at this point in time. They need to be facing an elite pitcher or an otherwise elite team. The Phillies are not an elite team, but are a quality bunch and Wheeler is pretty close to elite.

Wheeler comes in with a 3.49 ERA, 3.13 xERA, and a 2.93 FIP over his 170 innings of work. He’s having a better season than his ERA would indicate, but it has been coming down a little bit recently, as he has allowed just nine runs over his last five starts covering 33 innings of work. He’s getting locked in at just the right time for the Phillies and is actually getting a bit of help from the defense and the sequencing gods.

He’s allowed 16 homers this season, but just a 9.2% HR/FB%, so that’s about as good as you can hope for if you decide to pick against the Braves offense.

Since returning from injury on August 4, Fried has a 3.10 ERA with a 2.97 FIP over his 40.2 innings of work. He’s had one start with more than three runs allowed, so the baseline is quite strong here. He also has a 42/9 K/BB ratio over that span and has allowed just seven home runs.

I spoke yesterday about how offense is ticking up around the league with some bad and tired pitchers. These two don’t really fit the bill, but it doesn’t take much for these offenses to find some runs. Even though the total of 8.5 looks high here given the starting pitcher matchup, I’m not confident enough in this one staying Under the total.

Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets (-112, 9.5)

I guess the play yesterday was to lay a juicier price and take the Mets for the 1st 5, as they led 3-2, but had a couple of bullpen blunders and decided that scoring three runs off of Zach Davies was enough. That’s the trouble you sometimes run into with these bad teams in September and throughout the season. They may get into position to win, but finishing it off is an altogether different story.

My level of interest in this game is about zero. Ryne Nelson is a pitch-to-contact right-hander who has a 5.30 ERA with a 5.36 xERA and a 5.07 FIP in his 130.2 innings of work. He’s wholly dependent on batted ball and sequencing luck and that is far from the kind of profile I want to attach my hard-earned money to in this racket.

Butto is making his fourth MLB start of the season, but he had a 5.93 ERA with a 5.98 FIP in 91 innings at Triple-A, so you can see precisely why I’d have no interest in backing the 25-year-old. This will be his second straight start and he did pitch well against Washington on September 6 with 6.1 innings of two-run ball, but I don’t have a high level of trust in his baseline.

Miami Marlins at Milwaukee Brewers (-166, 7.5)

JT Chargois will open for Edward Cabrera and the Brewers will send out right-hander Freddy Peralta in Game 2 of this series. I guess maybe I was a little bit right about Jesus Luzardo, who got decimated in yesterday’s game, as the Brewers had a laugher and won running away. It’ll be interesting to see what they do against Cabrera today, who has a 4.56 ERA with a 3.89 xERA and a 4.48 FIP over 81 innings of work.

Cabrera just came back up from the minors and worked four shutout innings with eight strikeouts against the Dodgers in a bulk role. That’s the role that he’ll assume here and he is looking to follow the momentum of that first appearance, plus the 2.22 ERA he had over 28.1 innings in the minors while getting all of his stuff figured out. He struck out 30 and walked 12 down there, but five of them came in one of his five minor league starts.

To some degree, I think the Marlins are live tonight in what should be a close, low-scoring game, but Peralta’s second half has been stellar. He’s having a good season as a whole with a 3.89 ERA and a 3.82 FIP over 150.1 innings, but he owns a 2.62 ERA with a 2.59 FIP in 58.1 innings since the Midsummer Classic.

I am worried about Peralta moving forward as the innings mount because he is a guy that has battled a lot of injuries throughout his career and this is getting to be a lot. But, I also don’t have any signs in the statistical profile to support my theory, other than it happens to a lot of pitchers. He wasn’t quite as sharp last time out against the Pirates and allowed three runs for just the third time in his last 10 starts. His four strikeouts were the fewest in that span. His velo was down as well and his SwStr% was really low, along with a low Chase Rate.

Peralta’s fastball had its lowest amount of horizontal movement in a start this season and second-lowest vertical movement. I do wonder if maybe, just maybe, we’re getting to a point where the quality of his stuff is declining a little bit. Shop around because you can find this price much higher in the market, but I think the Marlins are worth an underdog look tonight.

Pick: Marlins +140

San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers (-162, 9)

Skipping over Cubs (Javier Assad) at Rockies (Chris Flexen) - though I’d watch for Assad regression in this start, I don’t want to back Flexen or trust that we’ll get to 13 runs

It will be Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn as the Padres and Dodgers continue their series. Admittedly, we got a bit lucky with the Padres yesterday, as both Gavin Stone and Pedro Avila were bad, but the Padres hit more late and also got better relief work in that one.

We’ll see what happens today with Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn, as the Padres and Dodgers continue their series. After it looked like the Dodgers had worked their magic on Lynn, it sure seems like the clock struck midnight and a search party is out looking for a Fairy Godmother. Lynn has allowed 19 runs over his last three starts covering 15 innings of work. He’s given up eight homers in that span and has THREE strikeouts in his last 78 batters faced.

Wacha is a negative regression candidate in my eyes with a 2.99 ERA and a 3.94 FIP. He has worked 111.1 innings and has a .264 BABIP with an 82.6% LOB%. Some of that regression crept into the picture last time out with three runs on seven hits over just four innings against the Phillies. He was hit really hard in that start and was fortunate not to give up more.

The Over might be the only logical play here, but I’m not totally in love with it. Wacha has thrown the ball well and Lynn has shown the ability to be a much different guy in Dodger Blue, even though his recent returns don’t inspire a ton of confidence. The ball seems to be jumping to some degree as well and it surely was last night in Dodger Stadium, but totals haven’t been my thing and I have to really love one to take one. I don’t love this one.

Texas Rangers (-118, 8) at Toronto Blue Jays

Chris Bassitt’s home magic disintegrated yesterday, as the Rangers let off some frustration and pummeled the Blue Jays to take down Game 1 of this very important series. Game 2 could go the way of the Rangers also, as they send Max Scherzer to the hill. Scherzer had been exceptional as a Ranger, but then his last start against the Astros happened.

Mad Max had allowed a total of nine runs in his first six starts with Texas. He allowed seven runs in just three innings against Houston six days ago. There were some questions as to the health of Scherzer going into that start, but he made it. It just wasn’t a very good one. He allowed three homers in that start, something he had done three other times this season. I’m not sure where he’s at physically right now, though it is hard for me to ignore in my mind that the Blue Jays have had major issues with most above average righties in the second half.

Hyun Jin Ryu gets the call for Toronto here. He’s made seven starts since coming back on August 1 and has a 2.65 ERA, but a 4.23 FIP. He’s running on a .237 BABIP right now and a 50% GB%, so there are some regression signs there to be sure. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in each of his last six starts and has actually allowed a total of six earned runs.

Seeing Max at this low of a price is as tempting as tempting gets, but with his health a bit of a question mark, I cannot advocate taking him in this spot. I do think Ryu is pitching over his head a bit, but we’ll see how it plays out.

Tampa Bay Rays at Minnesota Twins (-135, 8)

Skipping over the Yankees/Red Sox doubleheader…

Zack Littell and Joe Ryan are the listed hurlers here, as the Rays won 7-4 last night following a Twins bullpen meltdown. The bullpen usage from Rocco Baldelli was a tad suspect, if we’re being honest. He got another poor appearance from Dylan Floro, which is becoming a trend now, but instead of going to his primary guys in a tie game, he went to Brent Headrick and then Josh Winder. It does feel like he’s trying to play the long game and the Guardians have given him that luxury.

It makes me change the way I think about the Twins if he’s going to shield Griffin Jax and some of the other guys that he’s used a lot. I guess we’ll see how he plays it today, especially if he’s able to take a lead into the late innings with Joe Ryan. Ryan has allowed four runs on 12 hits in 15 innings since coming back from a three-week IL stint. He has only allowed two homers after giving up 15 of them over his previous seven starts before going on the shelf.

Littell, who was actually a reliever for the Twins from 2018-20, got back on track with his best start of the season last time out. He went eight innings of spectacular ball against the Mariners with one run allowed on five hits. I had the Over in that one. I also had the Over in Littell’s start against the Cardinals back on August 10 and that was the game where Matthew Liberatore threw eight shutout innings for St. Louis.

Maybe I’m just cursed in this guy’s games. Either way, what concerns me here is that he only has nine strikeouts over his last three starts and the Twins are a team that strikes out a lot. Will he find that extra gear to keep them at bay or will he be subject to batted ball variance? If it’s the latter, who knows how this game goes. If it’s the former, the Rays are in good shape in a dog role here. I just don’t know, so I’ll take the advice of the All-American Rejects and Move Along.

Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox (-130, 8.5) Game 1

Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox (-130, 9.5) Game 2

Let’s talk about Game 1: It will be Dylan Cease and Brady Singer. Cease has allowed 24 runs over his last four starts and he looks like he has no idea which end is up. He just gave up 12 hard-hit balls and four barrels to the Royals a week ago in his start against them and allowed five runs on eight hits. He did strike out seven, but his bad location really came to a crescendo in that one. Previously, he had been getting a little bit unlucky with some soft contact finding holes and whatnot, but he just got smoked by KC in that start.

He’s allowed 30 hits and has 12 walks in his last 20.1 innings of work, so he’s really been riding the struggle bus.

Singer didn’t exactly pitch well his last time out against Chicago either, as he allowed six runs on nine hits over five innings. It was his first start in 10 days after spending some time on the paternity list, so he may have been a little rusty, especially with the major change to his lifestyle. He’s allowed 16 runs over his last three starts himself. Singer only threw 59 pitches in that start.

The Royals are going to be backing off his pitch count a bit and will be limiting his innings. What scares me about this game is that Brad Keller might piggyback or bulk in some capacity and he stinks.

Let’s talk about Game 2: It will be Jordan Lyles and Touki Toussaint in this one, as the Royals and Lyles have not been a match made in heaven at all this season. Lyles has allowed just five runs on 11 hits in his last 13.1 innings. He didn’t have a single strikeout over 5.1 innings against the White Sox last time out.

But, Toussaint, as I’ve mentioned, has not been reliable for the White Sox either. Every start is a struggle and every stat line looks pretty rough it seems. He has only allowed five runs over his last three starts, so he seems to have settled in a bit.

Look, I think you can bet the Royals at plus money in each game and probably get one of them. I don’t think Chicago will sweep the whole day, but there were enough Game 1 concerns with Singer and the possibility of Keller working bulk that kept me off of that idea officially.

It’s not a play I’ll be making, but I’ll be surprised if the White Sox sweep both games.

Cincinnati Reds (-120, 9) at Detroit Tigers

Skipping over A’s (JP Sears) and Astros (Justin Verlander) and Angels (Patrick Sandoval) at Mariners (Bryan Woo) (man I wish I could trust the Angels), as well as Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals against John Means and the Orioles…

The Reds and Tigers will match up in Motown here with a couple of southpaws, as Brandon Williamson and Joey Wentz face off. I have to say that perception of the Reds seems pretty low right now. Wentz has a 6.65 ERA with a 5.76 xERA and a 5.77 FIP in 90.2 innings of work, yet this line is not that heavy on the Cincy side.

Wentz has allowed five runs on nine hits over his last 11.1 innings of work, so he’s been a bit better recently, but he also has allowed five or more runs eight times this season. Right now, he’s listed as the straight starter here with a 7.17 ERA and a .385 wOBA against in that role in 75.1 innings. He’s fared much better in a relief capacity.

Williamson has not pitched since August 29 while sitting on the COVID list. I can’t help but wonder if the COVID layoff was something of a blessing in disguise for Williamson. While he was sick and it seems like he had a pretty bad case of it to be out for two weeks, he’s worked 98.2 MLB innings and 132.2 innings overall. He threw 122.2 last season across Double-A and Triple-A, so he was reaching some new heights and I can’t help but wonder if there was some wear and tear building up on his body.

I do think there’s a good chance that Williamson is capped or on a pitch count. Fortunately, the Reds bullpen is in pretty good shape and there are a lot of options for guys to go to. Frankly, pitchers generally get less effective as they turn lineups over and that could spare Williamson a bit of damage here.

The Tigers are just 26th in wOBA against LHP since August 1, so this should be a good way for Williamson to ease back into the season. I like Cincinnati at the short price here, especially as they’ve gotten healthier recently with Jonathan India and Joey Votto back.

Pick: Reds -120

Nothing from me on Guardians/Giants, but there was a big line move this morning on San Francisco, likely with Cleveland drawing a left-handed opponent in Sean Manaea, who appears to be getting the straight start here.

TL;DR Recap

Marlins +140

Reds -120

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