MLB betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Saturday 5/21

By Adam Burke  ( 

May 21, 2022 10:25 AM

Sixteen games are on the betting board for today and the Mets have another doubleheader, their second one this week and third since May 8. I’m not sure what the full impact is for today, but those are things that really can catch up with a team, especially with fewer off days right now league-wide.

Remember, no article on Sundays with all the day games. I’ll be hosting The Run Line with special guest Josh Towers tomorrow night from 8-10 p.m. ET. Please tune in and have some fun with us.

I’m filling in to host Betting Across America today from 12-3 p.m. ET with my good pal Femi Abebefe, so the intro is short and sweet. Let’s get down to business.

Yesterday’s Recap

Diamondbacks/Cubs: With winds in excess of 20 mph blowing out, it was not a fun day to pitch at Wrigley Field. Kyle Hendricks gave up seven runs on eight hits (four homers) in five innings. D-Backs reliever Noe Ramirez was the only one of the seven pitchers not to allow a run, as there were 11 home runs hit in the game. Arizona came away with a 10-6 decision and Josh Rojas hit three of the home runs.

Take the Hendricks outing with a few grains of salt to some degree, though it’s not like he’s pitched well this season.

Cardinals/Pirates: “In play, runs.” I saw that way too much for my liking while sweating this total with my wife and Mike Pritchard at a Happy Hour downtown. A 1-0 game after five innings became a massive sweat thanks to two ineffective bullpens. I owe Giovanny Gallegos a fruit basket (if I can borrow one from the Prime Time Action crew). Adam Wainwright only had five whiffs on 45 swings over his 98 pitches. Pitchers just aren’t as worried about pitching to contact anymore and we’re seeing it on a daily basis.

Braves/Marlins: Bullpens are such a crazy thing. In the Braves/Marlins game, all eight runs were scored off of the starters, as Trevor Rogers gave up five in four innings and Charlie Morton gave up three in 5.1 frames. The pens pitched scoreless ball and the Braves won 5-3. Atlanta barreled seven balls in this game with three doubles, three homers and a fly out. I still feel like they’re on the verge of a run.

Dodgers/Phillies: I know the Dodgers are a great team, but that was a strong win yesterday. Traveling west to east can be tricky, but Julio Urias threw five solid innings and the Dodgers did enough off of Ranger Suarez to be in the driver’s seat. Urias only threw 80 pitches, though and had a velocity decrease and a big spin rate decrease on his fastball. It looks like the Dodgers are back to babying him after last season’s increased workload. That’s something you absolutely want to keep in mind. It may also have been the decreased velo. There wasn’t a drop late in his start or anything, but it would seem the Dodgers are taking a very cautious approach with him.

Padres/Giants: For the Padres’ bad numbers against sliders, I’m surprised at how Jake Junis and the Giants attacked the lineup yesterday. Junis was 50% sinkers and 45% sliders, but maybe he didn’t like his slider yesterday, as the pitch only got two whiffs on 19 swings. He came into the game throwing 56% sliders, but that wasn’t what we saw yesterday. To be honest, that may have been a fortunate push.

Rays/Orioles: The big story here has nothing to do with last night’s game. It’s that Adley Rutschman has been called up by the Orioles. The game’s No. 1 prospect has played across three levels this season and had a .233/.377/.442 slash in 53 plate appearances at Triple-A before getting the call of a lifetime. The kid has hit at every level, shown elite plate discipline and above power and now gets his shot. Congrats to him and congrats to Orioles fans.

Tigers/Guardians: Tarik Skubal threw five shutout innings with five strikeouts before leaving due to a comebacker off of his shin last night. Jacob Barnes came in and promptly gave up four runs, as the Tigers lost 6-1 to the Guardians. Skubal hobbled off the field and is said to have a bruise, but fingers crossed that it’s nothing more. The Tigers are already missing every other pitcher in their projected Opening Day rotation.

Aaron Civale finally pitched well for Cleveland, allowing an unearned run on just three hits over 6.1 innings. He had big bumps in velocity and spin rate as well. Cleveland pitchers are starting to add back a bit of velo. One sinker for Civale did register as 111.8 mph, so Statcast had an oopsy there, but he looked better. He was also facing a Tigers lineup that, in the immortal words of Rube Baker in Major League 2, couldn’t hit sand if it fell off a camel.

Mariners/Red Sox: Robbie Ray made one mistake and it was the biggest one you can make. Trevor Story stayed hot with a grand slam, but Ray struck out eight and had 17 whiffs in his six innings. He just gave up the biggest of big flies and Diego Castillo and Anthony Misiewicz failed to keep the game at 4-3 by giving up three runs in the eighth. Credit again to Scott Servais for using some better relievers in hopes of keeping the game where it was, but it backfired again, through no fault of his own.

The Red Sox offense is coming around in a pretty big way right now. We may need to take further advantage of that.

Rangers/Astros: Martin Perez scattered eight hits in a complete game shutout of the Astros to lower his ERA to 1.64. At some point, the other shoe will drop for Perez, but Levi Weaver wrote a great piece for The Athletic on what has changed for the southpaw. Basically, he’s locating a lot better, but his pitch usage has changed, something I mentioned yesterday. Pitchers can and will make these adjustments and have success. How they adjust as hitters adjust tells the story of the season. So far, Perez has been excellent, but I know we’re all watching for the fall.

Saturday Resources

Weather: Yesterday’s slate seemed pretty clear, outside of Denver, but we had a second PPD in the Bronx. Today’s slate has a lot less sunshine. Rain threatens D-Backs/Cubs on a cold, ugly day in Chicago with temps in the 50s. Mets/Rockies looks pretty bad once again with temps in the 40s and dreary hitting conditions. Tigers/Guardians may have to dodge some storms, as a long line of slight severe weather potential stretches from Maine all the way to the Gulf Coast. Cardinals/Pirates may catch some of the rain late.

Wind isn’t really a factor today, aside from Padres/Giants with helping breezes out to left center.

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 Giants (-150, 7): I’m a little surprised to see this line as high as it is. The Padres won a one-run decision yesterday and were an overachiever going into that game in Pythagorean W/L and also BaseRuns record. We’ve seen money against the Padres recently, but it’s tricky to fade Joe Musgrove and the 2.20/2.54/2.69/2.89 pitcher slash (ERA/xERA/FIP/xFIP) that we’ve seen through seven starts. But, bettors appear to like Carlos Rodon to bounce back from his ugly outing in St. Louis.

Braves (-140, 8) at Marlins: This is one of the most notable line moves of the day for me. The Marlins typically get bet on at home, but that is not the case today, as this line has jumped upwards of 20 cents on the Braves and Kyle Wright. Elieser Hernandez has a 6.15 ERA with a 4.49 xERA, but he’s allowed a lot of homers to this point. Wright, meanwhile, has a 2.79 ERA with a 3.12 xERA and faces a weak-hitting lineup in a good pitcher’s park.

Nationals at Brewers (-220, 7.5): Despite a rough start to the season for Brandon Woodruff, he’s getting the “ace bump” today against Patrick Corbin and the Nats. Woodruff has a 5.35 ERA with a 3.52 xERA and a 3.71 FIP, so there are a lot of positive regression signs in the profile, which is part of the equation here as well.

Tigers at Guardians (-180, 8): You know who isn’t getting the “ace bump” anymore? Shane Bieber. Bieber draws a horrible Tigers lineup and Alex Faedo shows a lot of negative regression signs with a 1.5-run difference between his ERA and xERA, yet this line has barely moved. It’s a sad state of affairs for Bieber right now.

Twins (-145, 7.5) at Royals: This total opened 8, but it’s on the way down to 7 on a bad-weather day in Kansas City. Joe Ryan and Brad Keller have also been two pretty good hurlers thus far. People may be a tad surprised to see that big totals move, but with temps in the 50s and a wind blowing in from left, the under is very popular.

Athletics at Angels (-140, 7.5): We’ve seen quite a bit of anti-Michael Lorenzen sentiment of late. It’s easy with Frankie Montas on the other side, but Lorenzen has a 3.57 ERA with a 3.45 xERA, but a 4.22 FIP must be what bettors are seeing and don’t like. He, like so many others, is pitching to a lot of contact, but his stems from going back into the rotation after years of being a reliever.

What I’ll Be Watching

Matthew Liberatore: The Cardinals have called up former Rays draft pick and top pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore for this start against the Pirates. Liberatore has a 3.83 ERA and FIP in 40 innings at Triple-A with 46 strikeouts and 12 walks. Liberatore is only 22, but throws a big, looping curveball at 6-foot-4 and has induced a lot of pop ups throughout his rise to the Majors. FanGraphs listed him as the 67th-best prospect coming into the season.

Liberatore’s childhood best friend, Nolan Gorman, just made his debut yesterday and now he’ll go today. I’d expect him to pitch pretty well given the minor league numbers and his prospect status. Liberatore, and other minor league call-ups, will be interesting to follow because Triple-A is using the pitch clock, so those guys are used to working fast.

Shane Bieber: Bieber’s fastball velocity is still on “Missing” posters all over utility poles in the Cleveland area, but other pitchers have started to find their hidden velo. Maybe that will happen for Bieber today, though it will be a cooler and uglier day at the ballpark than it was yesterday. Bieber has still managed to post a 3.72 ERA with a 4.43 xERA and a 3.58 FIP without his velocity, but his 12.3% Barrel% is hideous and his Hard Hit% mirrors previous seasons, just with a higher average exit velo and fewer strikeouts. If he’s going to break out of this funk, today should be the day against Detroit.

Saturday 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.


Dodgers/Phillies Under 9 (-110): It is going to be a hot one in Philadelphia, so maybe this game will serve as a test case for how the humidor balls will play in warm weather, but this still has the makings of a low-scoring game. It will be Aaron Nola for the Phillies and Mitch White for the Dodgers, but this will be mostly a bullpen day for LA, as White is slated to go about 45 pitches.

White has a 4.82 ERA in 9.1 innings, but that’s because of a 56.6% LOB%. He has a 3.35 xERA and a 3.41 FIP otherwise, as a guy that has racked up a good number of strikeouts already in his young career. The expectation is that we will likely see David Price in some capacity and he has struck out eight of the 23 batters that he has faced thus far. Most Phillies hitters will see a different arm in every plate appearance and the Dodgers have plenty of hard-throwers and interesting arms.

Nola is throwing the ball really well this season. He has a 3.64 ERA with a 2.66 xERA and a 3.52 FIP in his 47 innings of work. The Dodgers are going to be forced to put balls in play against him, as he has only walked nine of 185 batters. Los Angeles is batting .246 as a team, which ranks eighth, but their offensive profile has been really propped up by a league-leading 11.2% BB%. Nola shouldn’t issue many walks here, much like what we saw in his last start with eight strikeouts against two walks.

Nola is also pretty efficient, which should limit the exposure of the Phillies bullpen, which we all know is a concern, but 9 is a big total here with Nola’s upside and the Dodgers rolling out a cast of different and talented arms. I’ll give the under a look in this one.

Cardinals 1st 5 (-135) over Pirates: As mentioned, Matthew Liberatore is making his MLB debut today for the Cardinals. He draws a Pirates lineup that has scored 18 runs over its last 10 games and ranks 21st in wOBA against left-handed pitchers. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are the best lineup in baseball against lefties with a .372 wOBA and a 145 wRC +.

Jose Quintana has pitched extremely well this season for Pittsburgh and deserves a ton of credit for seemingly resurrecting his career. However, he’s running a .235 BABIP with an 83.8% LOB%, which I’d be stunned to see continue. The ball is dead, but Quintana’s best BABIP season was .282 in 2018. His high LOB% with a low strikeout rate seems pretty tough to maintain as well. He has a 2.19 ERA, but a 4.52 xERA, and throws left-handed, so my hope is that the Cardinals are able to make some of those regression indicators into a reality.

I’m shying away from the full game here because Giovanny Gallegos and Genesis Cabrera have each worked three of the last four days and are likely unavailable today. But, I think Liberatore has a good first matchup and the Cardinals have owned lefties, so let’s hope those two things come to fruition today.

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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