MLB betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Friday 5/13

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

May 13, 2022 11:23 AM
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Happy Friday, friends. We’ve got 15 games on the betting board and not a day game in sight, which means you can assume that spot on the couch, grab a cold one or two and immerse yourself in all the sports taking place this evening. Today looks like a mixed bag with some great pitching matchups, some awful pitching matchups and some mismatched pitching matchups.

Let’s dive into all of it and see what looks good for Friday the 13th *cue spooky music*

Yesterday’s Recap

Mets/Nationals: I’m still rattled seeing pitching lines like what we’ve gotten this week from guys like Reid Detmers and now Taijuan Walker. Walker threw seven shutout innings of three-hit ball with only one strikeout. We’re on pace for the lowest K% since 2018, as pitchers are not being penalized for pitching to contact. The league’s 3.82 ERA is the lowest since 2014, when the K% just ticked north of 20% for the first time ever. I’m going to have to make adjustments to my handicapping going forward because of how some of the pitchers’ statistical profiles look, but at least I’ve identified that now rather than later.

Reds/Pirates: The Reds are on fire! I’ll kick the disappointing Tigers again here and note that the Reds only have one fewer win than the Tigers in the same number of games played. I’ll also kick the Pirates here because they got shut out by Connor Overton and the Cincinnati bullpen. Overton only had three whiffs in 36 swings, but gave up zero runs with three hits and four walks in 6.1 innings. He allowed 12 hard-hit balls and two of the hits were on batted balls of 86.9 and 81.5 mph. Baseball is so weird. (Also, Overton is a fade candidate going forward with a 1.59 ERA, 4.90 xERA, 3.24 FIP (no HR allowed) and a 4.41 xFIP)

Phillies/Dodgers: The Phillies offense bailed out the bullpen with two runs in the ninth after blowing a four-run lead in the eighth. This will continue to be the story for the Phillies all season long. Zack Wheeler did throw the ball really well with increased velo and spin rates, so my concerns about him are now gone and we can wager on him accordingly.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, are in a bit of a funk. Remember, just about every team will win 60 or lose 60. Between the Reds and the Dodgers, we’re seeing what regression to the mean looks like at the extreme ends of the spectrum.

A’s/Tigers: The Tigers were actually 4-4 at one point this season. They’ve gone 5-19 over the last 24 games and are now 1-22 when allowing at least three runs in a game. They’ve scored two or fewer runs in 18 of 32 games. Again, this is an extreme and they will find some better fortune soon, but if they couldn’t find it against the A’s, who will they find it against?

Astros/Twins: I failed all of us. I talked up the regression of the Twins pitching staff and managed to go 0-1 with bets in a series sweep where Minnesota was outscored 21-3. The losing bet was an over in Game 1. Josh Winder, Joe Ryan and Chris Archer all struggled in this series. Houston, by the way, has now won 10 in a row and has not allowed more than three runs to an opponent in any of the last 12 games, including five shutouts. I’m guessing they’ve once again solved the matrix and have found something to have huge pitching success in the new Dead Ball Era.

Over the last 14 days, Houston pitchers have the highest infield fly ball rate (IFFB%) and second-lowest HR/FB% in the league, while still having the sixth-highest ground ball rate (GB%). They have the second-lowest BB% in the league (Arizona is No. 1 with former Astros pitching coach Brent Strom). For the season, the Astros lead the league in four-seam fastballs at the top of the zone or above at 14.8%. The next closest team (Twins) is at 12.6% per Statcast. In the current run environment, with the lack of carry and decrease in power, inducing fly balls on fastballs up in the zone is an incredibly sound strategy.

They were sixth in that stat last season, due in large part to the absence of Justin Verlander, who lives up in the zone, but their percentage of those sorts of fastballs is up 4.8%. I think they’ve made an adjustment to the current ball and should maintain their success because of it.

Royals/Rangers: What a royal (pardon the pun) flub-up this could’ve been yesterday. Those that read the article quickly saw me mistake Jon Heasley for a lefty, with a noteworthy part of the handicap being that the Rangers have hit lefties well. It turns out that Heasley throws right-handed, so I was forced to leave the pick, grade it at the listed price and edit the write-up. It all worked out in the end, but I had a mild heart attack when a reader reached out on Twitter to tell me about my error. Thank you, Ed, and I apologize to the readers.

Yankees/White Sox: I have never seen a pitching line like what Dylan Cease had yesterday. He gave up six runs on six hits in four innings, but struck out 11 and had 20 whiffs on 42 swings. The Yankees ultimately laid it on a gassed White Sox pen and won 15-7, but that was an insane pitching line.

Chicago’s offense is slowly, but surely coming along. Having Yoan Moncada back in the two-hole helps. The Twins still have a really low strength of schedule coming up, so I’m watching the AL Central odds just a little bit longer.

Friday Resources

Weather: Rain will be hovering for a few games on Friday, with higher chances of precipitation forecasted for Astros/Nationals and Giants/Cardinals. It’s that time of the year when instability can create thunderstorms with more warmth towards the ground level and more cold in the upper levels of the atmosphere. However, washouts are less prevalent now than they were in April, so it’s more about delays and less about postponements as we head towards summer.

Those can still be important handicapping factors because the last thing you want is to handicap a couple of starting pitchers and a prolonged delay keeps them from coming back into the game.

Injuries: Check out our Injury Report right here at VSiN. Also, my friend @MLBDream on Twitter put together a great MLB beat writer list to follow.

Line Moves

Padres at Braves (-155, 7): The worst line moves are the ones that leave you confused as to why they’re happening. This is one for me today with Padres/Braves. The Braves have jumped 10-15 cents in the market, leaving me to look and see if Manny Machado got hurt or got COVID or something. The Padres had yesterday off, so it isn’t a bullpen thing. Neither Max Fried nor Yu Darvish has anything stunning in their stat lines. The Padres are even a top-10 offense against lefties. So, consider me confused here, but we’ll see if the market is right. Money is coming back in a little on San Diego now, which makes some sense to me.

Phillies at Dodgers (-245, 8): We’ve seen some early Dodgers investment and market movement with Clayton Kershaw up against Kyle Gibson. Gibson has a 2.94 ERA with a 3.32 xERA and a 3.63 FIP, so that may be driving the line a little bit, but it’s more about Kershaw being a dominant ace and that 10-20 cent move we see on aces on a daily basis.

Yankees (-185, 7.5) at White Sox: A typical day with Gerrit Cole getting bumped up 15-20 cents. Happens every time he pitches. If it doesn’t, then that speaks volumes. Otherwise, just anticipate it happening every time his turn comes up in the rotation.

Mariners at Mets (-230, 7): See above. Scherzer. Ace. 15-20 cent move. You can set your watch to it.

What I’ll Be Watching

Aaron Civale: Ugly doesn’t even begin to describe this season for Civale. He has a 9.45 ERA with a 4.53 xERA and a 5.02 FIP in five starts over 20 innings. He’s got a .381 BABIP against and a 43.2% LOB%, so there are some positive regression signs in the profile, only because it’s virtually impossible for anybody to keep being that bad in those two stats. Civale has already allowed nine barrels and has a ground ball rate almost 20% below his career average. Any hint of progress would be big for the Guardians, who have lots of COVID concerns within the coaching staff, but I’m really curious to see if we get any from Civale, who did have eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings last time out against Toronto.

Eduardo Rodriguez: That is such a big number today on the Tigers with E-Rod up against Jordan Lyles. Rodriguez is a positive regression candidate. He has a 4.50 ERA with a 3.81 xERA and a 3.84 FIP. His 44.6% LOB% is one of the lowest among starting pitchers, due in large part to the gauntlet of teams he has faced thus far. Rodriguez has started against the White Sox, Red Sox, Yankees, Twins, Dodgers and Astros. A lot of pitchers would struggle with those teams. He’s faced a lot of right-handed-heavy lineups already and has actually held righties to a .175/.231/.289 slash with a .236 wOBA. I’m actually quite surprised at how well he’s done in that split. The 30 lefties he has faced own a .360/.433/.800 slash. The line suggests he pitches well today and so does the matchup.

Friday Best Bets

Shop around for the best lines! I’m using a market consensus number that should be widely available to most, but every cent matters, so do the best you can to get the best line possible.

VEGAS LINES | ODDS BY STATE | MLB MATCHUPS

Reds 1st 5 (-110) over Pirates: Alright, let’s take the plunge. Tyler Mahle heads into this start with a 6.46 ERA, which sounds absolutely terrible, but he’s been the victim of a ton of bad luck and unfortunate sequencing. He has a 3.66 xERA with a 3.55 FIP in his seven starts over 30.2 innings. He has made his own problems with 17 walks, but he also has 32 strikeouts. His BABIP against is .330 and his LOB% is 53.1%. Referencing that “Cluster Luck” concept I’ve talked about before, Mahle has allowed an .182/.280/.242 slash with a .248 wOBA with the bases empty. With men on base, those numbers balloon to .345/.422/.582 with a .434 wOBA and stay high with RISP at .343/.415/.629 and .443.

Mahle has some very stark home/road splits for his career, which makes sense because Great American Ball Park is terrible for pitchers. His career wOBA against is 41 points lower at home and his ERA is over a run lower. Last season, Mahle’s road wOBA against was just .259 and he ran a 2.30 ERA with a 2.76 FIP.

Mitch Keller has similar numbers for the Pirates with a 6.11 ERA, a 3.14 xERA, a 4.45 FIP and a 4.15 xFIP. The difference is that Keller has not proven that he can perform to those levels yet in his career. Over 198.1 innings of work, he has a 6.04 ERA with a 4.32 FIP. His career Hard Hit% is 40.1%, so it’s more about subpar command for him than anything else. Mahle, meanwhile, has a career Hard Hit% of 36.1% and has only posted one season north of 40% in six years.

While both guys show signs of positive regression, I have more trust in Mahle than I do Keller and the Reds are finally feeling good about themselves with a few wins lately. I’ll shy away from the Cincinnati bullpen and just roll with the 1st 5 on the Reds, especially since I’m not losing any line equity.

Giants (-120) over Cardinals: Today in “I have to do this”, I’m on the Giants against the Cardinals. The thought process remains the same as it always is when I fade St. Louis. They’re a good team to bet against when facing an above average right-handed pitcher and Logan Webb fits the bill. Webb made an appearance in “The Regression Report” this week, as he has a 3.82 ERA, but should be even better. His BABIP is really high at .351 and his K% of 18% should be on the rise based on his swing-and-miss rate of 11.4%. He should at least have a league average (around 22%) K% with that number, but hitters are making more contact outside the zone whilst chasing more often. That shouldn’t continue.

The Jordan Hicks as a starter experiment has gone fine for the Cardinals, as he has held the opposition to a .200/.333/.400 slash, but has run into some sequencing issues with a 4.97 ERA. His K% as a starter is down significantly and his BB% has gone up.

The Cardinals rank 22nd in wOBA against righties at .299, while the Giants are a top-10 offense in that split. St. Louis has a 96 wRC + and the Giants have a 110. I’m following through on an angle that I’ve identified and I don’t have to pay a steep price to do it, so sign me up.

Rockies (-135) over Royals: Shop around for the best price here, as we have a few opinions in the marketplace, but I think this line should be higher. Let’s start by talking about the absurd season Zack Greinke is having. Greinke has a 2.67 ERA with a 3.75 FIP, but he only has 10 strikeouts out of 134 batters. He’s running a 42% Hard Hit% and has just a .274 BABIP against. Balls in play are a bad thing at Coors Field because of the elevation and because of the spacious outfield, so this feels like a spot where regression finds the veteran right-hander.

I’m not a big Kyle Freeland guy, but the southpaw draws a good matchup here. Like most Rockies, he’s increased his GB% this season, which is never a bad thing at Coors. He has a 3.94 ERA with a 4.02 xERA and a 3.84 FIP, so he’s right in line with where he should be, not like Greinke, whose xERA is 5.42. The Royals are dead last in wOBA against lefties at .268 and tied for 29th in wRC + at 76.

It’s a pretty big line to lay, but as we know, the Rockies are a much different team at home. They’ve scored 41 runs in 15 road games and 92 runs in 16 home games. They’re + 17 in run differential at home and -46 in run differential on the road. The Rockies pen is also rested, whereas some of the better relievers for the Royals pitched yesterday.

Like I said, this line should be higher in my estimation, so I’ll take the Rockies on Friday night.

We’ll be rolling out some more baseball tools soon, including a tracker of my picks that will update in real-time, but for now, I’m tracking my picks in this spreadsheet HERE.

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