MLB betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Saturday 5/7

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

May 7, 2022 11:37 AM
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What a day sports fans have. We’ve got 17 MLB games on the card now that Rangers/Yankees have already been washed away. We’ve got the Kentucky Derby, UFC 274, continued action with the Wells Fargo, NBA and NHL Playoffs and even WNBA for those that like to tap into that betting market. That sure is a lot on the betting board.

The success of the picks so far has gotten a little bit of run the last couple of days. I sure hope it continues, but I also want readers to be checking out the article for the information and analysis. Winning picks come from a sound process and good analysis of the data. Everything has worked out to this point. There will be a downturn at some point, but hopefully I’ve passed along some skills to help readers identify line moves and good betting opportunities for themselves.

I will say that I feel like part of my success is that the team at VSiN has afforded me the opportunity to focus almost exclusively on baseball. At my previous stops with BangTheBook and ATS.io, I’d also be covering golf, UFC, NASCAR, NBA, NHL and other sports during baseball season. This is the first year I haven’t handicapped the Kentucky Derby in ages. I’ve talked about handicapping with a clear mind from a mental health standpoint, but being organized and focused on one sport should absolutely help your results and it has for me so far. I’ve felt the difference and if you are stretching yourself too thin, perhaps narrowing your focus will benefit you as well.

Lastly, as mentioned last week, there will be no article on Sundays going forward. It’s just too tough with all the morning games with the Pacific Time Zone and other morning responsibilities to get the article out in a timely manner. I don’t want to force best bets on a limited card, since the early games won’t be available to me. Fortunately, you can hear me on The Run Line from 8-10 p.m. ET on Sunday nights with my buddy and co-host Ben Wilson.

Yesterday’s Recap

Mother Nature: Mother Nature won the day yesterday, canceling Dodgers/Cubs, Pirates/Reds, Mets/Phillies, Royals/Orioles, Rangers/Yankees and Blue Jays/Guardians. Six postponements means either six doubleheaders or the loss of off days. Those can be taxing on a bullpen and we do have three doubleheaders on the board for today.

Brewers/Braves: Another dazzling performance from Eric Lauer, who had eight strikeouts and 18 whiffs over his 6.1 innings of work. Josh Hader also returned from a barking back to record a strikeout in a scoreless inning. Lauer won’t remain quite this good, but I think his improvements are legit with a team that clearly knows how to develop starting pitching.

I think a Brewers World Series future is a real consideration. The pitching staff is obviously great and the division is awful. Milwaukee already leads the third-place team by 7.5 games and that gap will only grow. I don’t think the Cardinals are this good. The Brewers should have an inside track at being a top-two seed, which means a bye into the NLDS, thus sparing their pitching staff from throwing extra innings. I’m seeing mostly 11/1 or 12/1, but shop around and see if you can grab a better number than that. The offense is suspect, but if the ball doesn’t change by the playoffs, they’re built for low-scoring games.

Rockies/Diamondbacks: Merrill Kelly came within one out of a complete game, as he allowed one run on seven hits over 8.2 innings with eight strikeouts against two walks. Chad Kuhl was also strong in his six innings. The bottom should fall out to some degree with those two guys soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kelly does end up having a career year. Kuhl might as well, though that bar is a lot lower.

Kelly hasn’t allowed a HR yet and his LOB% is 87.2%, so somebody will get him soon. It’s just a matter of how big the price is to bet against him. Similarly, a pitch-to-contact guy in Kuhl has an 85.6% LOB% and a .179 BABIP against. Those are not sustainable numbers. I will be looking for fade spots, likely at Coors Field.

Marlins/Padres: The Marlins have lost five consecutive one-run games and six games in a row. They still have a positive run differential on the season, but are 5-8 in one-run games. Typically about 25% or so of a team’s games will be one-run affairs. Half of Miami’s games have been. The Marlins are also now 2-11 against teams .500 or better and 10-3 against teams with a losing record. Make of that what you will.

Cardinals/Giants: The offensive outage continued for the Giants on Friday, as they managed just two runs against Jordan Hicks and the Cardinals bullpen. San Francisco has dropped five in a row while scoring just 10 runs over those five games. They’ve actually lost seven of their last eight.

However, something actionable with the Cardinals remained a thing. Alex Cobb had 19 whiffs over his five innings of work with eight strikeouts. He made one mistake to Harrison Bader and gave up two runs. The Cardinals only hit five balls hard in the game and won with an xBA of .138. They still can’t hit above average RH starters. Spoiler alert.

White Sox/Red Sox: I got more than what I wished for in this game, but the logic was sound. All I wanted was Vince Velasquez to cancel out Nate Eovaldi with the White Sox at a plus-money price so their bullpen advantage would be to my favor. As it turns out, Velasquez was better than Eovaldi and the White Sox came away with a 4-2 victory at + 150. Boston’s offensive woes continued and Eovaldi did meet some of the regression signs that were present in his profile.

One thing I will note for today is that Tony La Russa used Liam Hendriks for the fourth time in five days and fourth game in a row. Aaron Bummer and Matt Foster have also thrown three straight games and three of the last four days. Thursday’s off day was big, but its effectiveness is now gone for the relievers. I actually like Dylan Cease over Nick Pivetta today, but the White Sox bullpen is very scary based on the workloads for today’s game.

Tigers/Astros: I vividly remember when the Tigers went to Houston and swept the Astros early last season in manager AJ Hinch’s return to Minute Maid Park. The Tigers just cannot hit. They scored two runs yesterday and have scored three runs per game on the season. They’ve scored just two runs in eight games and three or fewer runs in 19 of 25 games. That’s never going to get it done. However, the pitching staff has been pretty decent. This looks to be a good under team, even if the ball starts to transform in the warmer months.

Athletics/Twins: Josh Winder fired six innings with only one unearned run allowed and eight strikeouts. He was a bulk reliever a couple times in April, but has 15 strikeouts against one walk in 12 innings as a starter. It seems like the Twins have another exciting young arm in the rotation. For their sake, I hope more of those guys come up to phase out guys like Chris Archer and Chris Paddack.

Rays/Mariners: I’m glad I ultimately stayed away from this mess. Logan Gilbert’s regression did hit, which is what I was concerned about. He allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings. Josh Fleming didn’t pitch overly well for the Rays either, leaving me wishing I had taken the over here given everything I had handicapped.

I mentioned yesterday that I appreciated how Scott Servais used Paul Sewald to keep him sharp and also protect a one-run lead on Thursday. Well, in a back-to-back, he allowed three runs on a Manny Margot home run in the ninth to blow the save. It was his first back-to-back appearance of the season and those were his first runs allowed. Oops.

Nationals/Angels: This may be some recency bias talking, but let’s keep an eye on West Coast teams that finish a road trip and head home. The Angels managed just three runs against Joan Adon and the Nationals on Friday after a road trip to the East. The Padres came home off a doubleheader against Cleveland and managed just two runs against the Marlins in that first game back on Thursday. The Diamondbacks managed four runs on a couple of late HR yesterday after stops in St. Louis and Miami. Oakland scored 13 runs in a four-game series against Baltimore late last month after a long East Coast swing. The Mariners managed three runs in the series opener against the Rays after their long roadie.

The Giants did score eight against Oakland after their 11-game road trip earlier this season, but were shut out the following day. There are a lot of factors here. It could just be the opposing pitcher. It could be the dead ball. It could be coincidence. But, it is still early in the season and guys are getting into the swing of things. Maybe a “Return Home Under” for a West Coast team coming back from the East isn’t a bad idea.

Saturday Resources

Weather: Yep, we’ve got weather again. Rangers/Yankees is already off the board and rain threatens Mets/Phillies again, along with Royals/Orioles. Wind is also a huge factor today. Winds will be blowing in from LF for Dodgers/Cubs and in from RF for Blue Jays/Guardians, A’s/Twins, Mets/Phillies, White Sox/Red Sox and Royals/Orioles, all at pretty good clips.

Winds are forecasted to blow out for Pirates/Reds, Cardinals/Giants and Brewers/Braves. That sure is a lot of games impacted, so keep that in mind accordingly. Obviously we’ve got some very low totals in the games with wind blowing in.

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

Cardinals at Giants (-125, 7): The Giants are not hitting at all right now and it feels like some of the preseason predictions and projections are being validated. This is still a 14-12 team, but one that has lost seven of eight. Influential bettors pushed this line down a bit on the overnights and early this morning with Steven Matz and Logan Webb set to take the mound. More on this game later.

Brewers (-110, 7) at Braves: I’ve talked about this a lot, but the line moves that don’t happen often say more than the ones that do. Corbin Burnes is in a select group of pitchers that take money just about every time they pitch. That has not happened with Burnes today in this matchup against the Braves and Max Fried. The lack of a line move says a lot to me here. It suggests that the Braves are the right side. I’m not personally betting it, but we see lines with Burnes go up 20-30 cents on overnights regularly and we haven’t seen any movement in his favor today.

Rockies at Diamondbacks (-120, 8.5): This weird phenomenon is taking place again. I don’t know what to do with myself and question everything I’ve ever known about the baseball betting markets when Zach Davies is taking money. The “Road Rockies Fade” is also a pretty regular occurrence, but the “Double Down on Davies” is not. This is a lot like the Davies move we saw a couple starts ago and like the recent love for Jordan Lyles. I’m not sure I have the heart to play this one, but bettors with influence are making a strong statement here with a 15-20 cent move.

Tigers at Astros (-195, 8): Here’s a line move that does say a lot. Eduardo Rodriguez has one of the lowest LOB% marks of any pitcher in baseball. Usually, those are positive regression guys because it’s hard to keep being that bad or that unlucky with men on base. However, the Astros are taking money here with Framber Valdez on the bump. This is a commentary on how poorly-rated the Tigers offense truly is. It’s not like Houston is really hitting, but they’re almost a $2 favorite now. The Tigers are graded very poorly by bettors that move markets, so if you like Detroit, it’s best you wait on the line in most of their games.

White Sox (-135, 8) at Red Sox: Dylan Cease has moved his way into that class of aces that has line movement on a regular basis. We’re seeing it here today against the Red Sox and Nick Pivetta, who I think is a below average pitcher. My concern here is that the White Sox bullpen has a lot of relievers looking at four appearances in five days and Hendriks is looking at a fifth appearance in six days. I’m not saying I’d fade Chicago pre-game, but if this one is close, a Red Sox live bet isn’t the worst idea.

Rays (-140, 7) at Mariners: I’ll continue to talk about this, but if you want to fade Marco Gonzales, do it early. His big ERA-FIP discrepancies of last season and this season show clear-cut signs of regression, so bettors are lining up to fade him. If you see a day when the markets aren’t against him, that’s when you know Seattle is probably the right side. Today is not that day, as the Rays have jumped 10-15 cents market-wide.

What I’ll Be Watching

Triston McKenzie: This just might be another good spot for Triston McKenzie. While the Blue Jays don’t strike out at the same clip as the A’s, they are similar in that they don’t walk. Toronto’s 6.6% BB% is the third-lowest in baseball. Their 22.8% K% is basically in the middle of the pack. The wind will be blowing in pretty sharply from RF today, which may not affect a right-handed-heavy lineup as much, but will still kill a lot of balls hit in the air.

I’m hoping this is what I call a “Fool’s Gold” start for McKenzie. Dominate against a lineup perceived to be good when, in reality, the conditions were just pretty good for him. That way, I can look to go against him with teams that aren’t as good of a matchup. We’ll see how Game 2 goes for him today.

Josiah Gray: Gray has a 3.12 ERA with a 3.92 FIP in his 26 innings to start the season. Walks have been a bit of an issue with 14 of them over his five starts, but he’s struck out 31 to make up for it. Gray has been a very extreme fly ball guy, which could absolutely hurt him as the season goes along, especially with eight Barrels allowed already and a 40.3% Hard Hit%. He only threw 30.4% first-pitch strikes in his last start against the Giants, but threw six shutout innings, so that is an indicator of the quality of his stuff and his ability to get back into counts.

This is an interesting draw against the Angels today. They’re one of the few MLB teams to consistently hit for power this season regardless of location, but they are also a pretty right-handed-heavy group. Righties own a .195/.298/.268 slash against Gray in 47 PA, while lefties have a .231/.344/.481 slash in 61 PA, including all three homers he has allowed.

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.

VEGAS LINES | ODDS BY STATE | MLB MATCHUPS

Giants (-130) over Cardinals: Logan Webb will officially be starting today for the Giants after Friday’s fiasco and I have to make this bet. The line has come down a bit with Steven Matz on the other side and San Francisco’s inept offense over the last several games, but the Cardinals have been punchless against any above average right-handed starter to this point.

Matz has a 4.56 ERA with a 2.10 FIP, which is a big reason why the line has moved down. He has a strong K/BB rate and has only allowed one home run in his five starts, but there’s a reason why his BABIP sits at .400. Matz has a Hard Hit% against of 43.7%. He’s been over 57% in starts against the Pirates and Reds, who are both poor offenses.

St. Louis continues to bash lefties with a .370 wOBA and a league-leading 146 wRC +, but has a .286 wOBA and a 90 wRC + against righties. This is a little bit of a price to lay, but I’ve been talking about this angle a lot and I have to see it through. Webb hasn’t gotten the strikeout stuff working yet, but still has a 3.26 ERA with a 2.78 FIP. In this run environment, stringing together hits is harder than ever and Webb’s 61.6% GB% is a major weapon. Not to mention, righties have a .227 wOBA against him this season in 64 PA and had just a .251 wOBA last season in 304 PA.

Webb also dominated at home last season with a .248 wOBA against and a 1.96 ERA over 73.1 innings of work. As I’ve mentioned, his big leap from 2020 to 2021 is not a fluke. It is based on some pitch usage changes and a very smart Giants front office.

You can find -125s out there, but -130 is closer to the consensus line, so that’s what I’ll go with here.

Athletics/Twins Over 7.5 (-105): Sorry, I know this one is an early start, but I really like the angles present in this game. James Kaprielian gets the start for Oakland after a bad first start last week against the Guardians. Kaprielian allowed four runs on three hits in two innings with four walks and a couple of strikeouts. It was a continuation of what we saw during his minor league rehab assignment with 11 runs allowed on 15 hits in 13.2 innings. He walked four in his last rehab start and carried that erratic control over to his first MLB start of the season.

Not that Target Field is a launching pad in May, but Kaprielian did allow a .331 wOBA on the road last season in 61.2 innings compared to a .296 wOBA at home in 57.2 frames. He allowed 12 of his 19 homers and his SLG was .462. We know that Oakland is a very pitcher-friendly park and he did struggle away from there.

Sonny Gray returns from the IL to get the ball for the Twins. In his two MLB starts, he allowed four runs on five hits in 6.1 innings with five strikeouts against three walks. He only lasted seven batters on April 16 before hitting the IL. He did pitch well in his rehab start on May 1, but faced 11 A-ball hitters and only worked three innings. This should limit how deep Gray can work into the game and I’ve pegged the Twins bullpen for regression.

Even though the weather conditions aren’t the most conducive for hitting for power, we should get walks and traffic on the basepaths here, plus extended looks at a couple of below average bullpens. That’s good enough for an over look at some shorter juice.

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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