MLB betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Wednesday 5/11

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

May 11, 2022 11:47 AM
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The MLB board is bursting with day games on Wednesday, as a lot of teams finish up series and look to head on to different places. The old adage in MLB is that you have a pretty good idea what you are dealing with around the 40-game mark; most teams are somewhere around 30 games right now. We seem to know which teams are good and which ones are bad, but the teams in the middle are what I follow the closest to see if we can find something actionable moving forward.

Through 10 days worth of games in May, batters have a .236/.305/.376 slash line (BA/OBP/SLG) with a .306 wOBA. That is a slight upgrade from what we saw in April with a .231/.307/.369 slash. It is worth noting that the BB% has gone down from 8.9% to 8.2% and that the K% has dropped from 23% to 22.3%. Pitchers have realized that pitching to contact is less hurtful than in past seasons, so we’re seeing them attack hitters more often.

For now, balls in play remain not a bad thing. We’ll see if it stays that way as warmer weather arrives, but that’s why batting average and slugging percentage are up. It has nothing to do with offense coming back, but more to do with fewer strikeouts.

Yesterday’s Recap

Dodgers/Pirates: Maybe this is what we can expect from the Dodgers after a loss. Bryse Wilson isn’t any good, and I mentioned that he’s one of the market’s premier fade candidates, but they played a lifeless, uninspired game on Monday and lost, so they blew out the same bad team on Tuesday. Speaking of pitching to contact, Tony Gonsolin only had three whiffs in 32 swings. The Dodgers have one of the league’s best defenses. I wouldn’t be shocked if we see a decrease in strikeouts from Los Angeles as their pitchers try to conserve energy and pitches for the latter part of the season.

Brewers/Reds: Devin Williams continues to fight through this season, as he gave up three runs and needed 38 pitches to get just two outs. He walked three and allowed a couple of hits. Bullpens are fickle because the workload on the human body is very challenging. I don’t think we appreciate the consistent veteran relievers enough. It can be a position with a short shelf life. As nice as the Brewers' record is so far, the state of the bullpen is a little worrisome.

Mets/Nationals: The Mets were just 2-for-14 with RISP yesterday, but still came away with a 4-2 win. Mike Petriello of MLB.com wrote an interesting piece on the Mets offense and how their exit velocity is low, but they’re making a ton of contact and that has spearheaded this offense. I do wonder about the sustainability of how well this offense has played, but the luxury for the Mets is that their starting pitching is so dominant that it may not really matter.

Cubs/Padres: This was a really tricky handicap. Wade Miley was coming back from a month on the IL with a bum elbow and it was Mike Clevinger’s second start in his return from a second Tommy John surgery. Miley was awful with five walks in just three innings and probably should have given up more than three runs. Clevinger faltered in the fifth inning for the second straight start, letting two runners reach before getting pulled. Now that the Cubs offense has regressed in the BABIP department, this team has fallen off of a cliff. It will be hard to find spots to bet on them moving forward.

Frank Schwindel barreled a ball with a .770 xBA, 102.5 mph exit velo and a 33-degree launch angle to end the game with the bases loaded. Normally, that’s a home run. This season, it fell a foot short.

Marlins/Diamondbacks: Arizona is playing some really good ball right now. Madison Bumgarner allowed a lot of hard-hit balls, but gave up two runs over 6.1 innings. He’s just a pitch-to-contact dude now, but the Diamondbacks are a pretty decent defensive team and he’s made it work. I still think he’s a regression candidate, though, so I’ll be looking for spots to fade him.

Meanwhile, Jesus Luzardo walked four batters for the second time in six starts. It took him 78 pitches to get eight outs. He’s another one of the Marlins that will be viewed differently at home as opposed to on the road, but I do think some bettors jumped the gun on him after spring training. I’m not that convinced in his profile. He now ranks in the 17th percentile in Hard Hit% and 19th percentile in Barrel%. He may be a really good road fade.

Rockies/Giants: Road Rockies. Lather, rinse, repeat. Colorado is now 5-9 on the road and has been outscored 80-40 in those 14 games. At home, the Rockies are 11-5 and + 17 in run differential. As a team that is -23 in run differential overall, but 5-0 in one-run games, Colorado is going to have some pretty big discrepancies between actual win-loss record and other standings metrics like Pythagorean Win-Loss and BaseRuns.

Given that the Rockies have only played San Francisco twice, three of 19 games against the Dodgers and haven’t played the Padres yet, I’m thinking this is not only a fade team going forward (especially on the road), but one where an adjusted season win total under may be a consideration.

A’s/Tigers: What a weird day yesterday. The Tigers won at home 6-0 as the road team, but then lost 4-1 as the home team in a quirky double dip. Detroit only has a winning record against one team (Royals) and shows no signs of snapping out of this. They’ve scored two or fewer runs in 17 of 30 games. They are 1-20 when the opposition scores at least three runs. Detroit started slowly last season, too, but this just feels different. This team is really bad and it surprises me a lot.

Blue Jays/Yankees: Toronto’s luck in one-run games is changing, as Jordan Romano gave up a three-run walk-off homer to Aaron Judge in a game where the Yankees scored all six runs on two swings from Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. We also had an ump show in this one, which was another embarrassing black mark for the league’s officials, as Yimi Garcia was tossed with no warning and his pitching coach followed him to the clubhouse. Toronto was 1-for-6 with RISP, as their struggles continued there. It’s been a weird season already for Toronto and only 31 games have been played.

Astros/Twins: The Joe Ryan regression I anticipated did come through, but the Twins managed nothing against Justin Verlander, so the under came up short. Verlander only had seven whiffs on 47 swings, but the Twins managed all of one hit. Hopefully Ryan’s rough outing adds a little value in backing him going forward, as now his schedule softens up quite a bit.

As far as Verlander goes, guys that pitch to fly ball contact should thrive unless the ball returns to something resembling normal. I may have tried to get too cute with this pick, but it will be interesting to see strikeout rates go down as pitchers feel more comfortable allowing the opposition to put balls in play.

Royals/Rangers: What an odd game this was. Brad Keller gave up six runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings as some of his expected regression came to a head. He allowed 15 hard-hit balls, including two Corey Seager homers. Seager is heating up a bit. Marcus Semien is not, as he’s still batting just .171, despite three hard-hit balls in four trips to the dish yesterday.

Martin Perez had 20(!!) whiffs on 62 swings against a Royals team that entered the game with the lowest K% in baseball. Even Keller had 17 on 51 swings. I don’t know if somebody was flashing laser pointers in CF or what, but this was really, really odd.

Rays/Angels: What an incredible moment last night for the Angels...Anthony Rendon hitting a home run left-handed in his first (and probably only) career PA swinging from the other side. In hopes of not messing up his timing against position player Brett Phillips, Rendon barreled a ball to right center for a two-run shot. It was an insane moment.

Oh, yeah, and Reid Detmers threw a no-hitter. Detmers only had two strikeouts and allowed nine hard-hit balls. He had 10 whiffs on 51 swings. It was obviously a great start for the kid. This won’t be the last no-hitter we get this season.

Red Sox/Braves: Maybe getting out of the northeast helped the Red Sox on Tuesday, as they scored nine runs against the Braves, including six off of Kyle Wright. Rafael Devers had the big blow with a no-doubt grand slam. Boston did play dome games against the Rays and Blue Jays, scoring just 22 runs in those seven games, but their other road games have been in cooler climates. Maybe it was just an outlier. We’ll have to see.

Orioles/Cardinals: Kyle Bradish struck out 11 over his six innings against the Cardinals, who once again struggled with a right-handed starter. I need to start taking better advantage of this situation.

Phillies/Mariners: Robbie Ray threw his slider at the highest rate of the season yesterday against the Phillies and had 10 strikeouts in just 5.2 innings with 21 swings and misses. Ray had seven strikeouts on the slider, which had a Whiff% of 50% in the game. It was the first time this season that Ray threw more sliders than fastballs. It was also his first start throwing more than 25 pitches to left-handed batters, so it might have been a matchup thing, but he was great and I’ll see if that’s a change going forward.

Wednesday Resources

Weather: Not much to be concerned about today. Winds are blowing out in San Francisco and Anaheim and blowing in for Blue Jays/Yankees. Rain could happen in Minnesota, but that’s about it as far as precipitation goes.

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

Marlins (-115, 8) at Diamondbacks: This one sounded alarm bells in my head. Sandy Alcantara and the Marlins have flipped into a favorite role against Merrill Kelly and the Diamondbacks. Kelly has been outstanding this season, but does have regression signs with a 1.22 ERA, a 3.29 xERA and an 87.2% LOB%. Alcantara, oddly enough, has some, too, along with a high walk rate and a profile that plays better at home. Interesting move here that says a lot about what influential bettors think of the game.

Phillies at Mariners (-145, 7.5): This is another line move that says a lot. Bailey Falter was recalled from Triple-A after making two starts covering just 5.1 innings of work and he’ll be opposed by Logan Gilbert. Gilbert has a 1.36 ERA with a 3.48 xERA and a 2.98 FIP. His high LOB% of 87.7% is probably a driving force here as well. Bettors are starting to try and play the likelihood of regression now that most pitchers are five or six starts into the season. ERA-FIP and LOB% are great shortcuts to look for line moves and this game is a prime example.

Not really a whole lot of line movement today otherwise.

What I’ll Be Watching

Chad Kuhl: The price is a little cost-prohibitive to take the Giants today and taking a run line with a low total and the likelihood of only eight rounds of swings for San Francisco isn’t really an option for me. However, Kuhl is a premier fade candidate. He has a 1.82 ERA with a 2.91 xERA and a 3.40 FIP, not to mention a .179 BABIP against and an 85.6% LOB%. I wrote about him in The Regression Report this week and fully expect him to struggle today and in upcoming starts.

Ian Anderson: Anderson is making his sixth start of the season. He owns a 4.01 ERA with a 3.43 xERA, but a 5.05 FIP thanks to some subpar strikeout and walk rates. Anderson only has 18 K against 15 BB in 24.2 innings of work. The right-hander has always carried high strikeout and walk rates, but the increased margin for error with his K% allowed him to pitch past the high BB%. Oddly enough, his SwStr% is a career-best at 13.5%, but he’s not getting enough chases outside the zone.

Here, Anderson is matched up with the team that chases the most and has the third-highest rate of swings and misses. It’s not a bad matchup for him, so I’m curious to see how he performs.

Wednesday 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

Rockies/Giants 1st 5 Over 3.5 (-120): This is my way of fading Chad Kuhl for today. It will be a plus if the Rockies can scratch something out against Alex Cobb, but Kuhl is one of the league’s top regression candidates. If it doesn’t happen today, it will happen soon, but I’ll likely be lining up to go against him in some context in just about all of his outings.

As mentioned above, Kuhl has a .179 BABIP against and an 85.6% LOB%. BABIP and LOB% are two main areas of regression and ones that are extremely low are highly likely to go up. He’s also running a 6.7% HR/FB% after posting 15.4%, 19.0% and 16.9% marks over the last three seasons. The ball is dead, but Kuhl’s command shouldn’t have improved that much. He’s also faced the Rangers, Phillies, Tigers, Reds and Diamondbacks, so one above average offense to this point. The Giants are swinging the sticks better of late.

I’m not entirely sure how much help Colorado may provide, but Cobb has allowed 13 runs on 17 hits in 15 innings, despite some pretty good peripherals. He hasn’t performed well in jams and did have an early-season injury, something that is typically a red flag for me because it alters a pitcher’s timeline in terms of building up for the season. If the Rockies get us a run, it’ll be a huge help. If they get two runs, it’ll be a godsend. But, I really think Kuhl cools off in this outing.

Since the question will come up, I think Over 4 at + 105 is also fine, but try to get a 3.5 if you can.

Cubs/Padres Over 8 (+ 100): It will be Keegan Thompson and Nick Martinez in this matinee between the Cubs and Padres and I’ll be on the over. Thompson may be able to pitch into the fourth or fifth inning at most here, which leaves a lot of ground for the Cubs bullpen to cover. That group has been one of the worst in baseball with a 4.27 ERA and a 4.16 FIP. Thompson has been strong to this point with a 1.17 ERA and a 3.27 FIP, but he, too, shows some signs of regression with a 93.2% LOB% and a .236 BABIP against with a high ground ball rate. He’s allowed a lot of pull-side contact, which should ultimately help hitters start to break through a little bit.

The primary purpose of this bet is to fade Nick Martinez without having to back the Cubs bullpen. Martinez has a 3.38 ERA with a 5.38 xERA and a 5.46 FIP. He is running a 90.6% LOB%. Martinez has been a benefactor of what Joe Peta calls “Cluster Luck” in his excellent book, Trading Bases. Martinez is allowing a .340/.426/.717 slash and a .491 wOBA in 61 plate appearances with the bases empty. With men on base, though, Martinez is allowing just a .159/.255/.205 slash with a .221 wOBA in 51 plate appearances.

With the bases empty, his BABIP against is .351. With men on base, it’s just .206 and with men in scoring position, it’s just .190. He has gotten extremely fortunate with his results in higher-leverage spots and that should level off as the season goes along. San Diego’s bullpen has been a bit of a revolving door and top options Taylor Rogers and Steven Wilson threw 28 and 24 pitches, respectively, yesterday.

This one is worth an over look, especially with even money on the vig. You can even find 7.5s in some faraway places.

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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