MLB betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Thursday 4/28

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

April 28, 2022 11:44 AM
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We have a rather robust card for a Thursday in Major League Baseball, but a lot of the action will be during the day, giving bettors a lot of welcomed distractions while waiting for tonight’s NFL Draft. Our NFL Draft coverage is going to be exceptional here at VSiN.com and I encourage everybody to check out the Draft BetCast beginning at 7 p.m. ET (LISTEN HERE | WATCH HERE).

Personally, I’ve done very little with the draft, as baseball takes up the majority of my time, so I’ve been relying on our experts and their smart takes, so I am excited to see how tonight plays out. First, we’ve got some work to do on the card and everything happening around the big leagues.

Yesterday’s Recap

Mets/Cardinals: This series wound up with a lot of fireworks, as the benches cleared yesterday and the pitchers jawed back and forth through the media about baseballs and beanballs. Ultimately, it ended with Carlos Carrasco giving up eight runs in 3.2 innings. Carrasco only allowed three hard-hit balls, but sometimes variance appears. He gave up a couple of doubles and a bunch of singles that all happened to be grouped together. Context is important with bad starts. He only had 11 whiffs in 43 swings, but his velo was up and his spin rates looked fine, so he’s healthy and a prime bounce back candidate next time out.

Dodgers/Diamondbacks: I have a theory about some teams when they play against really bad opposition. I don’t think they’re nearly as invested or engaged. With a team like the Dodgers, destined to win 100 games and return to the playoffs, not every game gets the attention it should. It’s almost like the NBA in that respect. The Dodgers just scored eight runs in three games off of D-Backs pitching. They didn’t get swept, but just didn’t seem overly engaged. It’s entirely possible that they won’t this week against the Tigers either, given that San Francisco is in town next week. I may try to prey on some of those kinds of spots as the season rolls along.

Brewers/Pirates: Josh Hader is 100% unavailable today for the Brewers having pitched four of the last five days. His velo and spin rates were both down yesterday, a sign of some fatigue, as he needed 26 pitches to end the game. I’d be surprised if he pitched on Friday as well. Bullpen usage is so important to handicap. I wrote about that this week in Point Spread Weekly HERE.

Padres/Reds: Vladimir Gutierrez is one of the lowest-rated pitchers in baseball by the modeling crowd that shapes numbers. You can see that with his line moves in advance of starts. He now has a 7.41 ERA to open the year after giving up six runs. Keep fading him on the overnights and you should be just fine.

It was another day where a run line bet against the Reds won. It has cashed in 13 of Cincinnati’s 15 losses, as the Reds are 3-15 to start the season. Mackenzie Gore used his fastball-heavy plan of attack to rack up 10 strikeouts in just five innings. I genuinely can’t remember a team as bad as this Reds one to start a season. They’re being outscored by 2.6 runs per game. That gravy train will run out soon, but kudos to everybody that has been betting run lines against them.

Marlins/Nationals: Yadiel Hernandez hit a ball with an exit velocity of 107.3 feet, a launch angle of 30 degrees and an xBA of .950 against Anthony Bender in the eighth innings yesterday. In past years, that kind of batted ball was a home run about 98% of the time. It was a fly out short of the warning track.

Maikel Franco’s long single in the ninth was hit 101.1 mph and 343 feet down the left field line. It looked gone off the bat, but hit the wall and Franco’s home run trot led to a single and the Nationals lost the game by a run. The Nationals hit four barreled balls yesterday with three fly outs and a long single. We see examples every day about how the baseball isn’t carrying enough and this game had several for the Nationals, who have lost seven in a row. Tough to hit Pablo Lopez, but tough when the breaks don’t go your way either.

Cubs/Braves: Charlie Morton is a pitcher I’ll be following. He’s allowed 14 runs in 18 innings and has a 7.00 ERA. His spin rates remain elite and his contact management numbers suggest a better fate, as he ranks in the 76th percentile in average exit velo and 66th in Hard Hit%. But, he’s in the 21st percentile in Whiff% and 11th in Chase Rate. I don’t think he’s out of gas quite yet. The market bet against him yesterday, but I think that’s more of a commentary on how Atlanta is playing. This would be Morton’s first season with a SwStr% under 10.9% since 2015 and I don’t think we’re truly at that point. I may look to bet on him soon.

Mariners/Rays: Twenty-six of the 43 batted balls in this game were 95 + mph, yet only five runs and 12 hits were accumulated. I can’t stress enough how much the humidor has sucked the life out of offense. It will be changing once we get into May and the weather warms up in some of the Midwest and East Coast cities, but probably not at a place like Tropicana Field.

Red Sox/Blue Jays: This Blue Jays offense is a riddle. They had nine hard-hit balls against Michael Wacha, but managed just one run on four hits over six innings. The Jays are 12-7, so life is good, but they’re already 6-2 in one-run games and have scored three or fewer runs in seven of 19 games. They lead the league in home runs with 26, but rank 11th in runs scored. They don’t walk at all, which is part of this equation, but they’re second in Hard Hit%, so the offense should be just fine.

Tigers/Twins: Joe Ryan seems to be the real deal. He gave up one hit over seven innings with nine strikeouts against the Tigers yesterday. Not bad for two months of Nelson Cruz. Unfortunately, I think he’s pitched too well for us to find a lot of betting value on him. That said, he’s faced the Mariners on a miserable day, Boston, Kansas City and Detroit. If he stays healthy, his next run of starts will be against Baltimore, Oakland, Cleveland, Oakland again and Detroit twice. He’ll probably carve up most of those lineups, but we’ll have to think long-term and try to find spots to fade him. I’m seeing 50/1 out there for Cy Young. If you’re seeing something higher, it might not be a bad speculative play, given that he has the chance to run some great numbers in his next six starts.

Astros/Rangers: I nearly took the under in Astros/Rangers yesterday, but I also nearly took the 1st 5 under. The full game got there, the 1st 5 did not, as Houston scored three in the fifth against Glenn Otto and Brett Martin. Otto held his own over 4.1 innings with two runs on four hits and five strikeouts. Like I talked about yesterday, the comps on his pitches rate highly. He’s a guy to follow and maybe a guy to bet on against lesser competition.

Guardians/Angels: I talked in my Guardians season preview about the coaching losses on the pitching side with Matt Blake and Ruben Niebla gone. I feel like it’s hardly coincidence that Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac have regressed. Plesac only had three whiffs in 33 swings yesterday and gave up seven runs in 3.2 innings. The pitching is supposed to be the saving grace for this Cleveland team and it’s not right now. They’re ticketed for a long season and it’ll soon be time to get more prospects up and let them learn on the job.

Thursday Resources

Weather: Winds are blowing in for the games in Philadelphia and D.C., as well as Minnesota and Chicago. Helping winds will be blowing out to right in the Bronx, but it will be another cool day in a lot of places with some rain in the forecast in Chicago and St. Louis.

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. 

The biggest note today is that Ronald Acuna Jr. is back with the big league club in Atlanta, so the Braves should get a nice shot in the arm from one of the game’s best hitters.

Line Moves

Brewers (-145, 7) at Pirates: This game will have started by the time I get the article out (hate the 9:30 a.m. PT starts), but we saw money hit Pittsburgh in the Freddy Peralta vs. Jose Quintana matchup, due in large part to the absence of Christian Yelich in the lineup and the Milwaukee bullpen situation. Line moves happen overnight on pitchers, but we’ll also see line adjustments when star players sit.

Cubs at Braves (-210, 8.5): Drew Smyly faces his old team, but the start to the season for Kyle Wright is the story and this line has jumped up about 20 cents. Wright has a 1.06 ERA with a 0.73 FIP in his 17 innings of work thus far.

Mariners at Rays (-150, 7.5): The Rays have taken 15-20 cents of movement for a Johnny Wholestaff day started by Jeffrey Springs. Chris Flexen is on the hill for the Mariners. His home/road splits are very significant, though I will note that Tropicana Field plays a lot like T-Mobile Park in Seattle. This line may be overadjusted a bit at this point.

Tigers at Twins (-135, 7): This line has been bet down about 10 cents, which is intriguing to me because Bailey Ober has taken a good bit of money in his short MLB career. I’ve mentioned before that if you can isolate guys that take money and notice when they don’t, it can be profitable. It suggests to me that the Tigers are the right side, but we’ll see how the game plays out.

Red Sox at Blue Jays (-135, 7): The biggest mover of the day has been this game between the Red Sox and Blue Jays. Garrett Whitlock was outstanding in his first start with seven strikeouts over 4.1 innings. This line has gone down upwards of 30 cents with Alek Manoah on the bump for the Blue Jays. This is another one, though, that has some noteworthy line movement because of a lineup absence, as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is not listed.

What I’ll Be Watching

Bruce Zimmermann: Zimmermann heads into this start with a 1.20 ERA and a 2.81 FIP in 15 innings to start the campaign. The southpaw has limited hard-hit contact and is throwing fewer fastballs and more changeups and curveballs. The Orioles are doing a really solid job of developing pitching talent with minor adjustments, like changes to pitch usage. Zimmermann is a guy with a lot of upside and this start against the Yankees will be a good test.

Humberto Castellanos: Once a well-regarded prospect in the Astros organization, the 24-year-old Castellanos should get a lot of chances with Arizona. He had a 4.93 ERA and a 5.01 FIP in 45.2 innings last season, but ran a nice Hard Hit% of 32.7%. He has very little swing and miss and needs to get back to being a ground ball specialist like he was coming up through the minors, but the former Astros pitching coach is now with Arizona, so he’s very familiar with Castellanos. In two starts against the Mets, Castellanos allowed two runs on five hits over nine innings. It’s far from a sexy profile, but I think he’s got an interesting profile in light of everything going on.

Thursday 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

Guardians (+ 145) over Angels: Cal Quantrill has a really great feel for pitching. He’s a throwback type of guy that misses enough bats to get by, but sequences well and commands his pitches effectively. He took a huge leap for the Indians in the second half last season with a 1.94 ERA and a .271 wOBA against over his final 88 innings. He even ramped up his K rate a little bit with 78 punchouts against 27 walks in that span. He allowed just a 34.2% Hard Hit% last season and had a 6.8% Barrel%, all above average numbers.

Reid Detmers has allowed nine runs on 12 hits in 12.1 innings to this point in starts against Houston, Texas and Baltimore. His Hard Hit% is slightly lower than Quantrill’s at 44.4%, but Quantrill’s was elevated by his start against the Yankees, who lead the league in HH% by a large margin. We do have some small sample sizes here, but righties own a .294/.385/.520 slash with a .390 wOBA against Detmers in 117 plate appearances. The Guardians project as a team that should hit lefties well with the ability to stack nine right-handed bats in the order.

I think this price is worth a shot today. The Angels have already taken the first three in the series and have a four-game series coming up in Chicago with a long flight after the game. The Guardians stay out west and go to Oakland, so they’ve got a shorter trek and they’ve also lost six in a row, so there’s a little more urgency. I think Quantrill can fare better than Detmers here and I’ll hold out hope that a rested Cleveland bullpen can finish it off. I also have a sneaking suspicion that somebody prominent will get the day off for the Angels. I’ll take the plus-money shot with the Guardians.

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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