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

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

May 5, 2022 11:57 AM
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Offense! We had 17 games on the board yesterday and eight of them finished with double-digit runs. Three more finished with nine runs. It was a 10-6-1 day for the over per my colleague Dave Tuley, who also tweeted that Unders are down to 55.2% for the season.

Most of that has to do with the sportsbooks adjusting their totals more than an increase in offense. Of yesterday’s 17 games, nine of them had a total of 7.5 or lower, including a couple of rogue 6.5s. Totals have been adjusted down a half-run to a full run across the board based on the dead ball and now the books are getting some more balanced results. Batters are collectively hitting .238/.305/.376 in May after batting .231/.307/.369 in April. It is only a sample size of four days, so we can’t really make any definitive conclusions, but power is up slightly, which could be more about the quality of pitchers than any atmospheric changes or alterations to the baseball.

Yesterday’s Recap

Diamondbacks/Marlins: Home plate umpire Dan Bellino embarrassed himself with his stare down of Madison Bumgarner during the substance check after the first inning. He baited Bumgarner into that reaction and there will be no repercussion from the league. Umpires just skate by. They can consistently blow calls and goad players into outbursts with no recourse. It’s a damn shame.

As far as how the game played out, another day with heavy Marlins home steam ends with a loss. This line jumped 25-35 cents and Arizona outlasted Miami 8-7. Those pesky Diamondbacks have a pretty good ROI for bettors thus far.

Braves/Mets: Adam Ottavino was called upon for a third straight day and allowed all three batters he faced to reach with two hits and a walk. He ultimately gave up three runs in the seven-run sixth that Atlanta put together. It wasn’t why the Mets lost, but it is another indicator of why bullpen usage is so important to monitor and follow.

Reds/Brewers: Another day, another Reds run line loss. Another day I didn’t play it. Sigh. Vladimir Gutierrez gave up seven runs on eight hits in the 18-4 defeat, which won’t help his market perception. As I’ve mentioned, Gutierrez is regarded as one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball and his lines will move as a result. Most Reds lines seem to be moving against them these days anyway. If you want to fade them, do it early.

Nationals/Rockies: I got fortunate with the Colorado 1st 5 here, as the Rockies got all five of their runs in the fourth inning. Patrick Corbin threw a complete game loss with five runs allowed on nine hits. Only three were earned, but he did give up 15 batted balls of 95 + mph and only had six whiffs in 52 swings. The quality of the stuff remains quite poor. I think he’s still worth fading, but that one was too close for comfort.

Giants/Dodgers: The Dodgers look relentless so far this season. They’re a juggernaut. I still wonder about their interest level when playing bad teams, seeing as how four of their seven looses are to the Diamondbacks and Rockies and another has been against the Tigers, but they’re now 6-2 against the Giants/Padres/Braves. I think we might be able to spot fade this team after a big series, possibly when they play the Cubs on Friday if the line and pitching matchup make sense.

Mariners/Astros: Everybody “oohed and aahed” over Matt Brash in spring training and now he has a 7.65 ERA and is in danger of being sent down. That isn’t a knock on him. It’s just a reality check for not taking those games too seriously. Brash was lucky to only allow four runs yesterday with 10 baserunners in three innings. Meanwhile, Justin Verlander just kept right on chugging. The Astros only allowed two runs (with a 7-0 lead on Wednesday) over three games to the Mariners and swept the series by a 14-2 count.

Rays/A’s: Frankie Montas was excellent yet again, but so was Corey Kluber and the Rays got to the Oakland bullpen for the 3-0 win. Montas allowed four hits and a walk with six strikeouts over seven innings. He’ll be a nice trade addition for somebody this summer. Kluber was yanked after just 64 pitches, but his velo was up a tick across the board and his spin rates were also higher, so it wasn’t an injury or anything of the sort. He’s been really, really good for a Rays team that needed some rotation help. I see no reason to believe this is fraudulent from the two-time Cy Young winner.

Twins/Orioles: Trust thyself. I knew this start to the season wasn’t sustainable for Dylan Bundy and now he has a 5.76 ERA after allowing nine runs on 11 hits in 3.2 innings. Regression can come in many forms and a complete ERA killer is one of them. I’m mad at myself for not trusting the Bundy read and following through. Sometimes you have to take an ugly team like Baltimore to see a strong thought through. Frustrating.

Angels/Red Sox: I thought we had a winner when Xander Bogaerts broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the eighth with a solo homer, but Boston blew the save and the game flew way over in extras. It turned out that, despite the Bogaerts blast, that the Angels did have the bullpen advantage with their main guys fresh. It’s an important part of handicapping a game and especially live betting.

Padres/Indians: I was on Betting Across America as this whole dynamic was playing out, but bear with me while I roll through it again. The Padres tried to push Mike Clevinger through the fifth inning with a lead so that he would be in line for the win. He maxed out at 67 pitches in his last rehab start and got pushed all the way to 95 here. It was a bad decision by Bob Melvin. Clevinger really labored in the fifth and walked a couple of guys, forcing Steven Wilson to come in with two guys on. He walked the first guy he faced and then gave up a two-run inning.

Then Terry Francona made an even more egregious error and brought Zach Plesac back out. Plesac, who left the bases loaded in the top of the fifth, immediately gave up two hits before Enyel de los Santos came into a leverage spot and gave up both runs. It was a clinic from both guys on how not to manage a baseball game. Had I known Plesac was coming back out, I would have immediately live bet the Padres. Being able to pay attention to these things can create a lot of good live betting opportunities.

Cardinals/Royals: I couldn’t pick this game because of the early start combined with writing the article, but the Cardinals battered lefty Kris Bubic in the first inning en route to an easy 10-0 win. Credit to Adam Wainwright for seven innings of one-hit ball given his road splits, but this was another example of the Cardinals against southpaws. Average or better righties have shut them down. Lefties have not.

White Sox/Cubs: Lucas Giolito had 10 strikeouts over 5.2 innings and 16 whiffs in his start against the Cubs. Giolito’s fastballs have been clustered higher in the zone this season and hitters have not been able to get up there to get them. It looks like there has been a mechanical tweak as well, as Giolito is releasing the baseball closer to the plate than in previous seasons. Ethan Katz is an excellent pitching coach and this Giolito K spike appears legit.

Thursday Resources

Weather: A very quiet day on the weather front. Breezes will be blowing out in San Francisco, but on a cool 50-degree day. That’s really about it.

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

Reds at Brewers (-250, 7.5): This Cincinnati team just might be one of the worst of all-time. We’ve seen a 30-50 cent move depending on the book for this one and the sportsbooks are going to have to really inflate these numbers to get any Reds interest whatsoever. If you ever start to see Reds money hit the board, that’s when you know the books have finally adjusted.

Mets at Phillies (-160, 8.5): We’ve seen some love for Aaron Nola and the Phillies here with a 15-20 cent move. Nola has a 3.90 ERA with a 2.28 xERA and a 2.49 xFIP, so the expected metrics do show some signs of positive regression. This is also just Taijuan Walker’s third start of the season and they’ve all come against the Phillies.

Marlins (-110, 7) at Padres: It is rare to see a move on Miami in a road setting, but that’s what we have here. Jesus Luzardo is on the slab and Nick Martinez is slated to go for the Padres. I agree with this line move. The Padres just had a doubleheader and used every reliever on the roster. Martinez has a 4.12 ERA with a 6.55 FIP, whereas Luzardo has been thoroughly impressive with a 3.10 ERA and a 2.31 FIP.

Angels (-125, 7.5) at Red Sox: It’s an early start at Fenway Park in this one with Shohei Ohtani for the Halos and Rich Hill for the BoSox. Hill has a 3.71 ERA with a 4.56 FIP and a 5.18 xFIP, but his side is the one taking money today. That’s because Mike Trout is getting a day off for the Angels against Boston’s regular lineup.

Tigers at Astros (-150, 8): I think an argument can be made that the Astros may be like the Dodgers in that they won’t have the same intensity against bottom-feeder teams. The Tigers have been awful to this point, much to my chagrin, but they’re taking money here with Tarik Skubal and Jose Urquidy as the listed starters. Urquidy has struggled with a 5.95 ERA, while Skubal has been excellent with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.59 FIP, but five of the 12 runs he’s allowed are unearned.

What I’ll Be Watching

Tarik Skubal: Speaking of Skubal, I’m curious to see how he navigates this right-handed-heavy Astros lineup. He does have a 17/3 K/BB ratio against righties, but also has allowed 19 hits, including six doubles, in 71 plate appearances thus far. Last season, righties posted a .240/.305/.502 slash with a .341 wOBA in 514 PA, bashing 34 home runs. He was also far better at Comerica Park with a 3.56 ERA and a .312 wOBA against than on the road with a 5.55 ERA and a .363 wOBA against. He threw 33 more innings at home than on the road, which helped his overall numbers. I think this is a tricky start for him, so we’ll see how he does and if he can quell some of those platoon split concerns.

Aaron Nola: I don’t understand how Nola isn’t better. I guess that’s hard to say with a career 3.68 ERA and a 3.43 FIP over 1,051 innings, but he seems to always have something that holds him back from reaching his true potential. The long ball is the most obvious factor with a career HR/FB% of 14.2%. He has already allowed five this season, even with the ball not really carrying all that well. He has posted elite K% marks each of the last six seasons. I know the Phillies have had bad fielders and relievers throughout most of his career and that hasn’t helped. There’s just something about him that I can’t get past, despite losing money on him to win the Cy Young in previous seasons.

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

WITH LOGAN WEBB SCRATCHED, THIS PLAY IS CANCELLED! Giants (-130) over Cardinals: If I lose this bet, so be it, but I’ve said time and time again that average or above average righties will shut down this Cardinals offense. Logan Webb fits the bill. Lefties have done some damage with a .407 wOBA against Webb in the early going, but righties are batting just .213/.250/.246 with a .227 wOBA. Last season, Webb held righties to a .251 wOBA. This should be about as good of a matchup as he can ask for in a short favorite role.

I give Miles Mikolas a lot of credit for his start to the season, but his 1.52 ERA won’t be around long. He’s running a .229 BABIP and a 90.9% LOB%, both of which should regress in pretty short order. His starts this season have been against the Pirates, Brewers, Marlins, Mets and Diamondbacks, so they’ve virtually all come in good pitcher’s parks. While Oracle Park still tilts towards pitchers, the Giants have a solid offense and the park has played more neutral because of the adjustments that Farhan Zaidi and the Giants coaching staff have helped orchestrate.

I’m following through on a trend I’ve noticed with the Cardinals and have the right conditions for it. They’re facing a righty that owns righties and have a regression candidate on the mound. Win or lose, this is a play I can’t overlook, so I’m on the Giants today.

Blue Jays/Guardians Over 8 (+ 100): There may not be a more misleading 4.13 ERA in MLB than the one currently sported by Jose Berrios. The 28-year-old right-hander has a Hard Hit% of 53.1% in his five starts covering 24 innings of work. He has already allowed 12 (!!) barrels for a Barrel% of 14.8%. His average exit velocity against is 93.1 mph. Among 92 pitchers with at least 25 batted balls of 95 + mph, Berrios’s xwOBA (expected wOBA) is the third-highest at .823, yet his actual wOBA against is .612.

At some point, he’s going to stop being as fortunate on those as he has been and his 84.3% LOB% is going to go down. Hopefully that day is today, as I’m not expecting much from Aaron Civale either. Civale has allowed 20 runs on 22 hits in 14.1 innings of work. He has minimal margin for error as a guy that doesn’t miss a lot of bats and he’s given up six barrels and a 40.4% Hard Hit% of his own. Civale’s velocity is way down and his cutter is getting obliterated. That is Civale’s primary pitch that he throws 30.9% of the time and opposing batters have a .438 BA and a .938 SLG against it in 14 batted ball events thus far. He primarily throws it against lefties and throws fastballs and sliders to righties, which is bad because none of those pitches are working and he allowed a .600 SLG on his four-seam fastball last season.

We should get the necessary baserunners and contact quality for an over. I’m also expecting the Blue Jays offense to stop being embarrassingly bad with RISP sooner rather than later. They make too much hard contact for that to keep being a thing. They’re now batting .172 with RISP and have a league-worst 53 wRC +. That just can’t continue.

So, I’ll hope today’s the day and be on the over 8 at even money here.

Orioles (+ 135) over Twins: I am not a believer in Chris Archer. The Twins right-hander has a 2.93 ERA with a 5.57 FIP and a 4.89 xFIP through four starts covering 15.1 innings. He’s got a .200 BABIP against and a 94.9% LOB%. The Twins rotation is one that I have pinpointed for serious regression and we saw it yesterday with Dylan Bundy. My hope is that Archer continues the trend today.

Archer has walked nine so far, but has been saved by balls in play results. He’s already allowed five barrels and a 39.5% Hard Hit%. Six of those nine walks have come with men on base, but he’s been fortunate enough to get timely outs to limit the damage. He ranks in the 28th percentile in xwOBA and xERA per Statcast and isn’t getting hitters to expand the zone and swing at bad pitches. I just don’t see a lot of sustainability here and he also hasn’t finished the fifth inning yet, which will put some strain on a Twins bullpen that is also in line for some regression.

Spenser Watkins doesn’t really shine either. He has a 2.55 ERA with a 5.19 FIP, so he’s a negative regression candidate himself. He doesn’t generate a lot of swing and miss, but he is a ground ball pitcher and that forces opposing offenses to string more hits together to score runs. Ultimately, I just don’t think that Archer and the Twins deserve this big of a favorite price and I’m willing to give the Orioles a look at plus money as a result.

If these two starters cancel each other out, which seems fairly plausible, the Orioles bullpen does have the lower FIP to this point and shows signs of positive regression with a 68.9% LOB% as opposed to Minnesota’s 79.7% LOB%, which is among the highest in the league and likely to come down.

Basically, what I’m saying is that I think this line should be lower and feel like there’s some line equity on Baltimore today, so I’ll bet the price more so than the team.

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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