MLB betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Friday 5/20

By Adam Burke  ( 

May 20, 2022 12:03 PM

Almost half of the league was idle yesterday with a travel day for most teams, but we’re back to the 15-game slate today with only one matinee. That will be at Wrigley Field between the Diamondbacks and Cubs. Otherwise, it will be a baseball-filled Friday night around North America, to go along with everything else happening this weekend.

Take some time to look around today. We’ve got a lot of excellent PGA Championship and Preakness Stakes content, plus podcasts for the race weekend in F1 and NASCAR, NBA and NHL Playoff coverage from my pals JVT and Andy MacNeil, UFC from Lou Finocchiaro and First Strike podcast host Dave Ross and a French Open tennis podcast with two of my favorites in the gambling space, Gill Alexander and Drew Dinsick. And, of course, our new MLB feature from Derek Carty and the crew at EV Analytics with some betting capsules on every game.

Without further ado, let’s get into the card.

Yesterday’s Recap

While I did finally get a winner on the Red Sox yesterday, it was a frustrating day. I had Reds/Guardians under with the bad weather on Wednesday and didn’t follow up and take it again on a warm afternoon in Cleveland. The game never came close and I could’ve gotten 10 cents better on the vig. I liked the under in Astros/Rangers and that stayed comfortably under, despite a three-run first inning. I also liked the Padres, but the 10 a.m. West Coast start and the article don’t really jive.

You’re going to have days that should be a positive and turn them into a negative. I left money out there yesterday, but at least I had good reads on the games after not having many a few days prior. I try to make it a point to talk about the mental side of handicapping a lot because this hobby/business/interest can wear you down, especially if you do what I’m doing about wishing I had taken more games. It is easier said than done to be happy with a positive day and just move forward with the moral victory of capping other games correctly, but we have to try.

The “what if” game is a dangerous one in this business because now the instinct will be to chase more games today and in upcoming days to try and “get back” the money that wasn’t won. It’s a struggle no matter how long you’ve been doing this, but it’s important to stay level-headed and treat every day as its own quest.

Padres/Phillies: There were 18 combined hits, but only two runs, as the teams went 1-for-12 with RISP. All 18 hits were singles, which is kind of incredible. There were only two walks in the game as well. Keep an eye out for this. We should see a lot of pitchers willing to pitch to contact until (if?) the baseball normalizes a bit.

Cardinals/Mets: St. Louis gradually chipped away at a good right-handed starter by scoring four runs on nine hits over 6.1 innings against Chris Bassitt, but the Mets prevailed in extra innings. Dakota Hudson actually did experience regression with four runs allowed on five hits over 4.2 innings. I’ll end up betting against Hudson a fair amount in road starts going forward I would think, given all of the strong indicators of negative regression in his profile. The Mets also stole three bases off of Hudson, which may be something to follow moving forward.

Diamondbacks/Cubs: Has miracle worker Brent Strom fixed the Diamondbacks bullpen as well? The Cubs bullpen turned in four scoreless innings and has pitched extremely well of late also, but the Diamondbacks pen has a 2.97 FIP over the last 14 days. Some bad luck has led to a 4.43 ERA thanks to a 61.8% LOB%, but Arizona’s pitching staff is vastly improved across the board. We’ve also seen a K% spike from the D-Backs relief corps. The Cubs, by the way, lead MLB in reliever fWAR over the last two weeks and have a 2.66 ERA with a 2.55 FIP.

Yankees/Orioles: Runs?! At Camden Yards?! In this environment?! There had been 131 runs in 19 games at Oriole Park, but 15 runs were scored yesterday in a 9-6 victory for the Birds. It was not a good start for Bruce Zimmermann, though, as he only had two whiffs on 39 swings. The velocity and the spin rates were fine, but his command was nowhere to be found. The O’s battled though, and their bullpen outlasted the Yankees pen, so they deserve a ton of credit for that. The win snapped a six-game skid with Tampa coming to town tonight.

White Sox/Royals: Here we go again for the White Sox. Liam Hendriks has pitched three of the last four days, as his usage rate continues to be off the charts. Chicago won and the White Sox need every win that they can get, but, man, I don’t know how he’s going to last the season.

Vince Velasquez and Carlos Hernandez are two below average starters, but we had 25 hits and 11 runs in this game with warmer weather in Kansas City. I’m still trying to figure out the effects of the humidor with some temperature increases, but it’s hard to decipher what might be a physical change to the ball and what might just be two bad starting pitchers.

Mariners/Red Sox: This game is an example of what I believe to be two effective starting pitchers, but one where 18 runs were scored. Rich Hill was not good yesterday, but Tanner Houck was and really bailed out the Red Sox bet. So did the Red Sox offense, specifically Trevor Story, who hit three homers and drove in seven. I will pat myself on the back, though, as the Red Sox were 4-for-13 with RISP and that was a topic in The Regression Report this week. They’re getting better in that spot for sure.

Now if only Alex Cora would read a stat sheet and stop leading off Enrique Hernandez. Maybe then Boston would really have something.

Rangers/Astros: Remember when we had early-season concerns about the Astros? Since a 6-8 start, the Astros are 19-6. They played a lot of road games early and improved to 10-4 at home with yesterday’s win. Combined scores at Minute Maid Park have averaged just 6.8 runs per game, another reason why I’m upset I didn’t take the under yesterday. Both Glenn Otto and Framber Valdez were solid in their starts and the Astros got some insurance runs off of the Rangers pen. There weren’t a lot of hard-hit balls, but the three barrels that were hit all ended up as outs.

How about a quick Statcast search to see which parks are hurting barrels the most? In terms of BA-xBA (batting average minus expected batting average), Comerica Park (DET), Progressive Field (CLE), Oriole Park (BAL), PNC Park (PIT) and Chase Field (ARI) have the biggest gaps between what is expected and what is real in batting average. For what it’s worth, Minute Maid Park has the fourth-lowest actual batting average on barrels.

For SLG-xSLG (slugging percentage minus expected slugging percentage), Comerica, Progressive, Oriole, PNC and Yankee Stadium are the bottom five. Notice that they are all outdoor venues in cooler weather climates. Make of that what you will.

Reds/Guardians: The Reds had a plane to catch to Toronto, but the Guardians didn’t. Both teams swung away like they had dinner reservations or something. To be fair, Tyler Mahle and Cal Quantrill were working fast and throwing a lot of strikes, but this game felt it like it flew by and there wasn’t much offense. Franmil Reyes hit two barrels covering almost 800 feet and both were outs, otherwise this game may have gone differently for Cleveland.

Friday Resources

Weather: I’m talking about warmer weather in most locales and it’s going to snow and be in the 30s in Denver today. It’s May 20. Somebody should reset Mother Nature and try blowing in the cartridge. This game should’ve been cancelled already, but I’m sure it will be at some point.

Otherwise, some pregame rain in Philly and the Bronx is all we’ve got in terms of precipitation, but we do have wind factors. You’ll notice a total of 11.5 in Chicago and that’s because of winds blowing out at 20 + mph. We’ll also have some helping breezes in Cleveland and San Francisco. Based on the barrel numbers, though, we’ll need hurricane-force winds to make a difference in Cleveland.

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

Braves (-115, 7) at Marlins: Chuckie Morton has pitched well in his last two starts, but Trevor Rogers and the Marlins are taking the money for today’s tilt in South Florida. It’s not a big move, but it is a predictable one. Rogers has a 4.45 ERA with a 3.92 xERA and a 3.81 FIP while pitching at home, where the Marlins are definitely viewed in a different light.

Nationals at Brewers (-200, 8): All is right in the baseball betting world when there’s a 20-cent move against Erick Fedde. The Nationals draw Eric Lauer, who may be morphing into ace territory as a guy that could see a line move on his side more often than not as we go forward. That and, well, Fedde stinks and has his entire career.

Padres at Giants (-120, 7.5): This line move doesn’t really surprise me. I’ve been very impressed with Sean Manaea this season, but the Padres are back on the West Coast after playing at Atlanta and Philadelphia. Also, the Padres are + 3 in Pythagorean Win-Loss and + 4 in BaseRuns record, meaning that they’re 24-14, but Pyth W/L says they should be 21-17 and BaseRuns says 20-18. Sharp bettors will bet against overachieving teams per these metrics and the Padres look to be one.

White Sox at Yankees (-210, 8.5): Nestor Cortes and Dallas Keuchel looks like a huge mismatch and this line has moved accordingly, pushing New York up over a $2 favorite. They’re the only $2 favorite on the board today. The White Sox are still hitting lefties, but Cortes has a 1.35 ERA with a 2.19 xERA and a 2.45 FIP. Keuchel? A 5.54 ERA with a 4.00 xERA and a 5.10 FIP.

Rangers at Astros (-175, 8.5): This Lone Star State battle appears to be a meeting of the Martin Perez Anti-Fan Club. Even though Perez has a 2.01 ERA with a 2.50 xERA and a 2.43 FIP, this line has jumped about 15 cents. I guess bettors are expecting Perez to run into some tough times, as history tells us he will, but he’s really embraced the dead ball in a big way. He hasn’t allowed a home run yet. Let’s see if that changes tonight.

What I’ll Be Watching

Paul Blackburn: How much longer can Blackburn keep this up? The A’s right hander has a 1.67 ERA with a 2.99 xERA and a 2.30 FIP in his seven starts over 37.2 innings this season. He draws a very, very good Angels lineup today, but he just faced them and allowed one run on five hits in 6.2 innings. That start did come at home and Blackburn has made just about all of his starts in good pitching environments.

He’s only struck out 22 batters in his last six starts covering 32.2 innings and his Hard Hit% sits at 43.5%. It seems unlikely that a .262 BABIP and an 82.8% LOB% are going to be sustainable, so this is a guy that we may want to look to fade in the near future. Today’s 20-cent move with Chase Silseth in just his second career MLB start was a pretty telling indicator of what the market thinks about Blackburn.

Aaron Civale: Once again, I am curious to see if we get any positive signs from Civale. The Tigers are 29th in wOBA against right-handed pitching. They have a low walk rate and a high strikeout rate, to go along with virtually no power. They’re also a pretty right-handed-heavy unit, but righties own a .492 wOBA against Civale to this point. He does have 27 strikeouts in 24.2 innings, but has allowed 30 runs on 35 hits, including six homers with a dead baseball. A big velocity drop is a major concern here with Civale. Interestingly, his spin rates are up and the stuff should be playing better, but he’s had no command of his cutter or his fastball this season. The Tigers should be a good matchup and Progressive Field has been a mausoleum for fly balls, so he should improve here.

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.


Cardinals/Pirates Under 9 (-115): I might be playing with fire here by trusting Zach Thompson, but he does pitch in a home park that suppresses offense and at least has some measure of confidence rolling after a couple of good starts against the Reds. It looks to me like the Pirates tinkered a bit with his delivery after a horrific month of May, as he’s getting more extension on his pitches, which is good to see with a guy that stands 6-foot-7. His contact quality numbers are better this month, including an average exit velocity of just 77.7 mph on his cutter, which is the pitch he throws most often.

Adam Wainwright is having an excellent season with a 3.15 ERA and a 3.55 FIP. There are no smoke and mirrors in this profile, as his Hard Hit% is 29.6% and he’s inducing a bunch of ground balls, just like we’ve seen him do throughout his career. The Cardinals have been an excellent defensive team all year long and should continue to play well behind Wainwright.

As mentioned above, PNC Park ranks in the bottom five in difference between BA and xBA, as well as SLG and xSLG, so it has not been a friendly park for hitters. The Pirates have scored a total of 15 runs in their last nine games, so their offense has gone by the wayside to say the least.

I expect both starters to have success and the Pirates had yesterday off, so their good relievers should be available, with all of them being right-handed to match up against a right-handed-heavy Cardinals offense. I’ll give the under a go tonight.

Giants 1st 5 (-115) over Padres: The line movement in that Sean Manaea vs. Jake Junis matchup is pretty sharp in nature. Given the offensive splits, it makes some sense. The Giants are a top-10 offense against southpaws with a .317 wOBA and a 108 wRC +. Their .396 SLG ranks eighth, so they’ve certainly had some measure of success in that split, even with a BABIP of just .260.

The Padres are a bottom-five offense against righties, coming in 26th with a .285 wOBA. Their 88 wRC + ranks in the bottom third of the league as well. According to Statcast, San Diego is batting just .188 with a .285 wOBA on sliders, a pitch that Junis is throwing about 56% of the time. Opposing batters are hitting .157 with a .255 SLG on the pitch thus far in 34 batted ball events. This was a change that Junis made last season, throwing a slider about 40% of the time with a .190 BA against and a .286 SLG. The Giants have just built upon that.

Because of the weight that Manaea’s name carries, especially relative to Junis, we’re actually seeing the 1st 5 line smaller than the full-game line. I’ll take my shot with what looks like a very strong matchup for Junis and maybe a tougher one for Manaea.

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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Betting Splits: Percentage of handle & tickets from DraftKings for every game on the board, updated every 10 minutes. GO HERE.

NFL Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

CFB Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

View more CFB tools for Pro subscribers

View more NFL tools for Pro subscribers


Follow The Money: Consider schedules before betting on a team. What happened before and what is coming up can impact if a team is worth backing. Like SEA hosting CAR (off their bye) with SF in Week 15.  View more tips.

The Greg Peterson Experience: Have a value in mind for a dropoff to a backup quarterback from the starter, as many QBs are injured at this time of the season. View more tips.


Dave Tuley: Saints +3.5. ​​​View more picks.

Greg Peterson: Troy +16 vs San Diego St. ​​​View more picks

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Betting Splits: Percentage of handle & tickets from DraftKings for every game on the board, updated every 10 minutes. GO HERE.

NFL Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

CFB Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

View more CFB tools for Pro subscribers

View more NFL tools for Pro subscribers


VSiN PrimeTime: Be aware of injuries on the offensive line, skill positions get the most publicity, but if an elite tackle is out it could have a huge impact on the game. View more tips.

A Numbers Game: If you’re just getting into soccer betting, make sure you know exactly what you’re betting. i.e. Double chance, to win, to advance, etc. View more tips.

Chuck Edel: Kansas State +2.5 vs TCU. View more picks.

Kenny White: Fresno State +3 vs Boise St. View more picks.