If Mother Nature cooperates, we’ll have our first of many days this season with all 30 clubs in action. That means it’ll be a big, busy day on the MLB betting board and there is no time to waste with a lot of afternoon games on the first Saturday of the season.
As I said yesterday, these won’t always be this detailed or voluminous, but it’s early in the season, so we need to be vigilant.
Dodgers/Rockies: Walker Buehler had decreased velo and spin rates in his first start of the season. Pitching in Colorado may have something to do with it, but he did have only seven whiffs in 40 swings. His velo was down 1-2 mph across the board and his spin rates were down significantly. Nothing to be worried about yet, but the rotation is my concern with this team, so I’ll be monitoring the situation. Just about every Dodgers hurler that threw was down in velo, but didn’t have the same spin rate decrease as Buehler.
Marlins/Giants: What a wild game by the bay. Lost in the shuffle is that Logan Webb pitched well, while Sandy Alcantara walked five and fought with his control. Webb only threw one four-seam fastball, while throwing 30 changeups, 30 sinkers and 24 sliders. I wrote in my preview about how Webb’s gains were legit because of better pitch usage. We’ll have to see if the big CH bump sticks around, as he threw that pitch about 24% of the time last season, but I like what the smart Giants are doing with him.
Mets/Nationals: The Nationals bullpen has allowed six runs over 10 innings of work thus far. I felt like this was one of the worst bullpens in baseball coming in and they have struggled. If you want to take a shot with Washington, it seems like the 1st 5 is the only route.
Padres/Diamondbacks: For the second straight day, Arizona got no-hit by a starter. It was Yu Darvish for six innings on Thursday and Sean Manaea for seven on Friday. This time, though, the bullpen at least held on to the win. San Diego has only scored five runs on 15 hits and 10 walks in this series. This is still a solid enough lineup with Fernando Tatis Jr., but they’re missing him so far.
White Sox/Tigers: Lucas Giolito was sailing against the Tigers lineup before leaving the game with “side tightness”. With Lance Lynn already out until late May or early June, this would be a big early blow to the Pale Hose. Chicago is still determining what to do, but I’d bet they err on the side of caution in a division they should easily win.
Rangers/Blue Jays: What an atmosphere in Toronto yesterday. What a win for the Blue Jays as well. The article best bets moved to 3-0 on the season with the over in this game cashing easily. The Rangers do have a solid offense and the Blue Jays obviously have an incredible one. The Jays pen wasn’t awful after Jose Berrios left early, but I’m still not a big believer. All four relievers that pitched for the Rangers allowed a run. I think that bullpen is very bad. I don’t see anything concerning for Berrios under the hood with his velo or spin rates to indicate injury or fatigue. It was just one of those days.
Astros/Angels: The teams combined to go 11-of-24 with runners in scoring position (RISP) to get to 19 runs, 13 of which were scored from the seventh inning on. Kyle Tucker and Jeremy Pena are batting sixth and seventh for the Astros. LOL. This lineup is still scary good. The Angels have looked bad defensively through two games. Something that merits watching.
A’s/Phillies: Frankie Montas pitched better than his stat line indicates, as he had 16 swings and misses on 49 swings. He allowed six hard-hit balls, the same number as Aaron Nola. Every A’s reliever gave up a run, which will be an ongoing issue for them. Watch Montas closely. He’s a guy we may be able to play 1st 5 with or some unders.
Red Sox/Yankees: Gerrit Cole made it four batters before getting booed at Yankee Stadium, but he only allowed one hit after that. His spin rates were fine and his velo was good. He just didn’t locate well early on. He’ll be fine, just probably not the elite starter we saw before the substance crackdown of last season.
Mariners/Twins: On a cold day in Minneapolis, Robbie Ray threw 65% fastballs and the Twins still couldn’t do much against him, though he did walk four over seven innings. Joe Ryan walked four as well in his four innings. The game ended 2-1, as the teams combined to go 0-for-12 with RISP. Ray’s velo was down significantly. I’ll blame the cold for now, but will keep an eye on him.
Saturday Weather Report
Winds blowing out 10 or more mph: Detroit, St. Louis, San Francisco, Bronx, Atlanta, Denver
Winds blowing in: Wrigley
It’s still chilly for baseball across the country. We did see a lot of scoring in some games yesterday, though, so take it on a case-by-case basis, but remember that the ball won’t be carrying all that well in most locations.
Again, bookmark Rotogrinders for weather info. I won’t do this every day unless it applies to a best bet.
Saturday Injury Report
Always stay up on the latest by following beat writers, fantasy sites, etc., but we also have a great Injury Report tool here at VSiN.
Also, keep an eye on that bullpen usage. Guys that pitched Thursday and Friday may be unavailable or not as sharp today. My favorite resource for reliever usage is Baseball Press.
Pirates at Cardinals (-170, 8): We’ve seen a move down on the total and the side here. Mitch Keller threw well in spring training and Miles Mikolas has had ERA and FIP marks north of 4 in each of his last two seasons. He missed all of 202 and only pitched 44.2 innings in 2021. In both 2019 and 2021, though, Mikolas was dramatically better at home than on the road. I’d rather bet against him in road games, but influential bettors are doing it here.
Marlins at Giants (-145, 7.5): Some pitchers are “market darlings”. Pablo Lopez is one. You’ll see a lot of line moves in his favor and we’ve got one today against Carlos Rodon. I can’t say I disagree with this one, but watch Lopez’s lines throughout the season, as they’re likely to move in his favor. This one has only moved a few cents, but I’m just pointing out Lopez’s pull in the markets.
Mets (-135, 9.5) at Nationals: For the third day in a row, a Mets line has been bet down. We saw late buyback on Friday to just about push the line back to where it was originally. We’ll see if it happens today. I happen to think Chris Bassitt is really, really good. Joan Adon could be. It’s an interesting line move to say the least.
Orioles at Rays (-220, 8.5): It’s funny to see underdogs bet almost blindly each day early in the season, but then Jordan Lyles is on the mound and it virtually stops. This line did go up a little before settling back around where it opened.
Red Sox at Yankees (-150, 9): Nick Pivetta is not a beloved figure in the betting markets, but the Red Sox have taken the money against Luis Severino and the Yankees. Severino is a massive unknown that didn’t pitch overly well in spring training. I can’t say I disagree with this move.
What I’ll Be Watching
JV & Thor: What an intriguing game in Anaheim today. Justin Verlander returns from Tommy John surgery at the age of 38 and Noah Syndergaard returns after throwing just two innings last season. Both guys have a ton of upside and great stuff, but I’m not sure which version of either we’ll get. Houston is absolutely the rightful favorite here, but we have seen Angels money hit the board. Hard game to bet, but fact-finding missions are important in April.
Casey Mize: I really like Mize, which was part of my handicap on the Tigers season win total over. If the game is played, he’ll get a tough test going up against the White Sox while trying to keep pace with Dylan Cease. Mize held righties to a .215/.276/.324 slash and a .266 wOBA last season, while lefties had a .256/.322/.523 slash with a .355 wOBA and 17 of the 24 home runs he allowed. This is a right-handed-heavy Sox lineup, so I’ve got a fairly high bar for him today.
Saturday Best Bets
As always, shop around for the best lines! I’m using a consensus number that should be widely available to readers, but every cent matters, so do what you can to get the best price out there.
VEGAS ODDS | ODDS BY STATE
Brewers (-150) over Cubs: Same handicap as yesterday, so I’ll just copy what I wrote then, with a few minor edits. Brandon Woodruff is elite. He has a 3.23 ERA with a 3.17 FIP in his career over 460 innings with outstanding K/BB numbers, good command, great velocity and he’s got a four-pitch mix that is almost unrivaled around the league. I personally think he’s the best starter on the staff.
The Cubs are sending out Justin Steele, who had a 4.95 ERA and allowed a .354 wOBA in 43.2 innings as a starter last season. He had a BB% north of 10% as a starter last season and the Brewers, despite struggling to hit for power against southpaws, had the second-highest BB% against them at 10.1%. I do think we could see Jesse Chavez or Keegan Thompson in a piggyback with Steele here, which would be interesting to follow a lefty with a righty, but the Brewers should play from in front.
Playing from in front means Josh Hader and Devin Williams get a chance to pitch. They weren’t used yesterday in a tie game/while trailing, but I’d expect Craig Counsell to use both today no matter, since neither guy has pitched since Tuesday and he’ll want to keep them sharp. The Cubs did catch a mild break with the rainout in that they used their five primary relievers on Thursday and then got a day off, but the Brewers are still the right side to me.
Guardians (+ 105) over Royals: Most spring training stats don’t matter much, but one that tends to stabilize quickly is K%. Zach Plesac had nine strikeouts in 8.2 innings, so while he isn’t going to go long in this game, at least he may have found some more swing and miss. Plesac’s biggest issue is the long ball, with 23 of those allowed in 25 starts last season. The ball isn’t carrying much these days, which should negate his biggest issue.
Brad Keller has multiple issues. His command and control were both subpar last season. The Guardians have a lot of bat-to-ball guys, but also some patient hitters that can expose his 10.4% BB% from last season. The Royals bullpen might be slightly better, but the Guardians have a starting pitcher advantage and are on the plus-money side here, so I like them in this spot. There are + 110s out there, but listing + 105 seems fairer to the masses.
A’s/Phillies Over 9.5 (+ 100): This is a big number to be betting early in the year and it looks as though it may tick down to 9, so you could wait this one out. I have to get the article posted, so I have to take what’s out there. I’m looking to fade Cole Irvin of the A’s, especially on the road. Irvin had a 3.90 ERA with a .309 wOBA against in 87.2 home innings last season, but a 4.57 ERA with a .335 wOBA against on the road. His home/road differences were 13 points in BA, 22 in OBP and 41 in SLG. He draws a potent and powerful Phillies lineup here.
Kyle Gibson is not a good fit on the Phillies roster. I said as much at the Trade Deadline last season and still think the same. Philadelphia is a bad defensive team on the infield and Gibson is primarily a ground ball pitcher. He doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, has a slightly elevated walk rate and is subject to balls in play. I don’t like either one of these bullpens either. Try to find an Over 9 if you can, but over 9.5 at even money is also fine.
I’ll be tracking this season’s article picks HERE and feel free to use that format to track your own picks if you’d like.