MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Friday, May 5th

By Adam Burke  ( 

May 5, 2023 12:20 PM

MLB schedule today has 15 games

All 30 teams are back in action on Friday, as it’s a league-wide party on Cinco de Mayo. Of course the Cubs have to ruin the block party by having an afternoon one of their own in Wrigleyville, but the other 14 games will be completed under the lights. We’ve got a really good mix of pitchers on today’s card and that should make for an interesting evening. (Tracking sheet)

Quickly looking at the offensive numbers from this week, we saw quite a bit of run-scoring, though a lot of it happened in Kansas City and Boston. I went back to Monday to run this data, which is good because it leaves out the ridiculousness of Mexico City last weekend. Joe Musgrove and Sean Manaea have to be excited to be back at sea level for their starts today.

Here are the numbers dating back to Monday:

.254/.324/.427, .327 wOBA, .295 BABIP, 21.4% K%, 8.8% BB%

Here are the full-season numbers:

.247/.321/.407, .319 wOBA, .298 BABIP, 22.9% K%, 8.8% BB%

We’ve seen some bumps in SLG this week, along with some decreases in K%. Pitcher injuries are a factor, as we’ve seen some call-ups, though some of those guys like Bryce Miller, Mason Miller, Logan Allen, Tanner Bibee, and others have been really good. We have had a lack of aces on the mound during the week and have a few more going today. The big K% drop is what really stands out to me and there are several possible explanations, like injuries, reliever fatigue, and maybe some more aggressiveness out of hitters.

Another quick note: Jared Smith has joined us to write up 1st inning wagers Friday-Sunday, so check out today’s first edition.

We’ve got some new toys at VSiN for baseball bettors. We have MLB team summaries with year-to-date moneyline and run line results, as well as the same for 1st 5 results.

Follow me on Twitter, @SkatingTripods, to get the article right as it goes live.

Catch a new VSiN Daily Baseball Bets this afternoon.

Here are some thoughts on the May 5 card (odds from DraftKings):

Miami Marlins at Chicago Cubs (-165, 9)

Edward Cabrera and Justin Steele get the day started with a 2:20 p.m. ET first pitch in the Windy City. Steele has been outstanding this season, but there are some regression signs in the profile and he draws a top-10 lineup against southpaws in this matchup. He’s got a 1.24 ERA with a 3.22 xERA and a 3.38 FIP. He’s running a .239 BABIP on a 53.2% GB% and an 84.8% LOB%.

This is Steele’s second straight start against the Marlins. To be honest, I have no idea why MLB is doing this early in the season with these games the following week against the same team, especially outside the division, but it’s created some interesting spots for pitchers. He allowed a season-high three runs (two earned) on seven hits with just three strikeouts over six innings.

Steele’s low BABIP is certainly a byproduct of an 85.1 mph average exit velo and a spectacular 24.5% Hard Hit%. He only allowed two hard-hit balls to the Marlins in that last start. At some point, he’ll have command hiccups and somebody will rock him. Usually ground ball guys end up running on the wrong side of variance and get crushed all at once instead of more gradual regression with a few bad starts in a row. We’ll see what it is for Steele, but he won’t keep running this good. Nothing against him, but nobody runs a 1.24 ERA.

Cabrera has a 4.67 ERA with a 5.39 FIP, but that isn’t all that indicative of how he’s pitched. He has allowed two runs in five of his six starts and four in another, but he’s also had major issues working deep into games because of walks and a lot of deep counts. Of his 126 batters, 36 have struck out and 25 have walked. He had 12 strikeouts and five walks in five innings last time out. The five batted balls averaged 100.2 mph in exit velocity. It was one of the crazier stat lines of the season.

If I’m going to fade Steele, I’d rather do it against a pitcher who doesn’t remind me of the Tasmanian Devil with his wildness and volatility.

Colorado Rockies at New York Mets (-275, 8)

It’s been a really rough season for both teams, but the Rockies had a pretty happy flight to LaGuardia. The Mets did not. Getting swept by the Tigers is about as embarrassing as it gets. No offense to the Tigers, but the $300 million Mets are down to 16-16 and have lost nine of their last 11. 

A visit from the Rockies should be a welcomed sight, but let’s be honest, they’ve been swept by Detroit and lost series to the Nationals and Giants during that stretch. This team has issues that go beyond the starting pitching. They’re also not really scoring, even though the offense hasn’t dealt with much on the injury front.

Maybe Antonio Senzatela will be the elixir needed for the Metropolitans. This will be Senzatela’s first MLB start since August 18 of last year, as he missed the start of the year with a torn ACL. He’s made two rehab starts at Triple-A in his quest to return and allowed 10 runs on 13 hits in 6.1 innings. He allowed nine of those runs in his second start, with six of them earned. He’s generally not a very good pitcher with a 4.88 ERA and a 4.37 FIP in his 672 innings. The crazy thing is that he’s actually been worse on the road with a 5.24 ERA and a 4.52 FIP compared to a 4.25 FIP and a 4.57 ERA at home.

Kodai Senga has been healthy for the Mets, but he’s had his share of problems. He’s walked at least three guys in every start and four in each of his last three. He’s allowed five homers in 26 innings and comes into this one with a 4.15 ERA and a 5.47 FIP. He actually has some negative regression signs, including an 85.3% LOB% to go with some serious Cluster Luck. He’s allowed a .378 wOBA with the bases empty and four of his five homers. He’s allowed a .292 wOBA with men on and a .240 wOBA with runners in scoring position.

I can’t trust the road Rockies offense, so I can’t play the over and I have no interest in Senzatela coming off of a big dud. This is a big start for Senga because this is a lineup he should dominate. If he doesn’t, well, that’s a problem. His five starts have been the Marlins twice, A’s, Giants and Nationals. He’s in line for this start, followed by Washington again and then either Tampa Bay or Cleveland, which could not be a bigger contrast.

Washington Nationals at Arizona Diamondbacks (-190, 9)

Josiah Gray and Merrill Kelly toe the slab at Chase Field for this matchup on Friday night. Gray is a pretty clear regression candidate at this point. He has a 2.67 ERA with a 4.40 FIP over 33.2 innings of work. He’s only allowed five runs in his last five starts and only one home run. Perhaps he’s turned a corner and he has done an outstanding job of limiting hard contact with a 27.4% Hard Hit%, but he has an 88.8% LOB%. 

Gray ranks in the 93th percentile in average exit velo against and 91st percentile in Hard Hit%. Many of his peripherals look really good, including a higher Chase Rate from last season because he’s mixed his pitches a lot more effectively. Gray’s throwing more sliders than fastballs this season and he’s added a cutter for another pitch with some horizontal movement. I’m still not sold on the fastball, though. It’s a pitch with a low spin rate and he’s generating a 30.5% Whiff% on the pitch after having a 17.1% Whiff% last season on it. It may just be a sequencing thing and he does seem to be commanding it better, but I’m not sure how long that’ll be the case.

His fastball has more movement on it this season and he’s lowered his vertical release point, which has probably aided with more ground balls and potentially added a little more deception from his 6-foot-1 frame. He may just be realizing his potential after posting really strong minor league numbers before the trade that sent him to Washington.

Kelly has a 3.06 ERA with a 4.16 FIP on the season. He’s had a walk problem this season, as he walked four in each of his first three starts and then walked five two starts ago against the padres. I was on Kelly in Colorado last week and he threw six really effective innings with one walk. I don’t know if there’s something about the grip on the ball or what indoors at Chase Field, but he’s walked 13 batters in three starts there.

Like Gray, Kelly has mostly stayed away from hard contact with a 36.6% Hard Hit% and only five barrels in six starts. He’s only given up two homers and only 24 hits in 32.1 innings of work, so the walks haven’t hurt him. The Nationals don’t walk much and are a bottom-five offense against righties, so Kelly may be able to get by once again.

I gave some thought to the under here, but I’m not convinced Gray is for real. He’s faced some pretty decent offenses and the Snakes are a borderline top-10 group against righties. This will be another good test. This total has been bet up a good bit and may touch 9.5. Games at Chase Field have averaged 9.64 runs per game.

Los Angeles Dodgers (-120, 7.5) at San Diego Padres

Giddy up. The first of 13 meetings between the Dodgers and Padres will be on Friday night and the Padres are playing some pretty good ball right now. The offense has channeled its inner Frampton and come alive. San Diego is 9-4 in the last 13 games. Some of the offensive gains certainly came about due to Mexico City, but they’ve scored at least five runs in eight of those nine wins, six of which have come in the United States.

They’ll need to find a way to try and keep up that pace against a tough customer in Clayton Kershaw. He looks like prime Kershaw with a 1.89 ERA and a 3.04 FIP in his 38 innings of work. He’s only allowed eight earned runs in six starts with a 41/5 K/BB ratio. He’s actually struck out 24 in his last 20 innings with one earned run allowed in his last three starts. He’s got a 33% Hard Hit% and he’s got a .215 BABIP against. I’m not sure that’s sustainable and four of his 24 hits are homers, which don’t count towards BABIP. But, he’s throwing the ball well right now and the future Hall of Famer looks healthier than he has in a while.

The Padres made a swap with the starting pitcher for this one, as Yu Darvish takes over for Joe Musgrove, who has a blister on his foot. Darvish has a 3.60 ERA with a 3.90 FIP in his 30 innings of work. He’s struck out 34 and walked 12 with nine of his 12 runs allowed coming in two of his five starts. His season got off to a late start coming out of the WBC and I’m not surprised he’s been a little inconsistent and erratic.

It’s also worth pointing out that he faced the Giants in Mexico City last time out and allowed four runs on nine hits and all three of this season’s home runs. Prior to that, he had allowed a 31% Hard Hit%. The walks are the key to this game. The Dodgers draw a lot of walks, so if Darvish can avoid those, he should be in really good shape.

Tough game, tight line, great series, but no betting value in my mind.

Milwaukee Brewers (-120, 8) at San Francisco Giants

Sean Manaea drew the short straw in the first Mexico City game and he allowed five runs on five hits in just two innings. The bigger problem is that the Giants have really jerked Manaea around this season. He worked 1.1 innings in relief against the Cardinals because they wanted to protect him from a lineup that bashes southpaws. He wasn’t very good in his April 20 against the Mets with five runs allowed on four hits. Then he only went 3.1 innings on April 14 against the Tigers.

Even though the Brewers have been one of the worst teams against lefties this season, what can we reasonably expect from Manaea here? He has a 7.85 ERA with a 7.61 FIP. Even if we take away the Mexico City start, he has a 6.61 ERA with a 6.97 FIP in his other 16.1 innings of work.

Corbin Burnes isn’t fully fixed, but he’s well on his way. After allowing 10 runs on 11 hits in his first 9.1 innings of the season, he’s allowed five earned runs in four starts with a 21/6 K/BB ratio over 24.1 innings of work. He has a 35.4% Hard Hit% and has only allowed five barrels for the season, with just two of them over his last four starts. After really low SwStr% marks of 8% and 4.3% in his first two starts, he’s been in double digits in each of the last four.

The interesting thing about Burnes this season is that righties are slashing .305/.364/.441 with a .353 wOBA, whereas lefties are slashing .148/.239/.230 with a .218 wOBA. Lefties have five more plate appearances than righties, but he’s been dominant against them, which seems problematic for the Giants, who have hit righties well because of their stable of left-handed sticks.

Last season, Burnes allowed a .269 wOBA to lefties and a .264 wOBA to righties, so he was good regardless of batter. In 2021, he allowed a .248 wOBA to lefties and just a .215 wOBA to righties. It almost doesn’t matter against him and this season, he’s actually been way better against lefties. We’ll see if that is enough here, as the Giants have hit 40 of their 49 homers against righties and have an .812 OPS compared to a .631 OPS vs. lefties.

I fully realize Milwaukee is inept against lefties, but you almost never get Burnes at this kind of price and I like how he matches up here since he doesn’t really give up a lot of long balls. Manaea is a well below average pitcher. He doesn’t work deep into games and the long relievers for the Giants are right-handed, so it may not be that much of a hindrance for the Milwaukee offense. I’ll take my chances with Burnes throwing a gem and the Brewers providing enough support.

Pick: Brewers -120

New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays (-180, 8.5)

The upper deck will be open at Tropicana Field for this one, not because Floridians are excited about the Rays, but because the Yankee fans that have relocated down to the Sunshine State produced high demand for tickets. Jhony Brito and Yonny Chirinos will start this one off, as the Rays will give Chirinos a full-fledged start instead of using an opener.

Chirinos will make his first start after being the bulk guy on four occasions. He’s allowed one run on six hits with an 8/2 K/BB ratio out of 50 batters faced. He’s only allowed a 33.3% Hard Hit% after missing most of 2020, all of 2021, and most of 2022, as he only threw seven MLB innings last season. The 29-year-old Chirinos has really ramped up his slider usage since we last saw him pitch regularly and that has been a good weapon to this point. His sinker and splitter have been solid as well, but I’m concerned going forward about the lack of swings and misses and chases.

His Chase Rate is just 16.1% per Statcast, which ranks in the bottom 3%. His Whiff% is in the bottom 7%. He’s faced the Blue Jays, Reds, and White Sox twice, but this is a watered-down Yanks lineup. Not only are Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton out, but Harrison Bader and Oswald Peraza left hurt last game.

Brito has been pretty good in four of his six starts this season. He allowed seven runs and only recorded two outs against the Twins on April 13 and that’s a start you don’t erase from the ledger very quickly. He also allowed three runs in 2.2 innings in his second crack at Minnesota. In his other four starts, he’s allowed four earned runs and worked at least five innings in three of them.

The margin for error for Brito is really narrow, though. He’s only recorded 17 strikeouts and has issued 11 walks out of 98 batters. His Hard Hit% is rising with his last two starts. I’m not sure he’s the right guy to take against this Rays lineup. I’m not laying the price with Chirinos either, nor am I playing the over with the current state of the Yankee lineup. Another game that just isn’t very appealing from a betting standpoint.

Minnesota Twins (-120, 8.5) at Cleveland Guardians

The Twins narrowly avoided getting swept on the South Side with an extra-inning win that they probably shouldn’t have gotten on Thursday. Chicago had the winning run on third multiple times and failed before ultimately falling apart in the 12th. This is the first of 13 meetings between the Guardians and Twins and those two appear to be the ones battling for AL Central supremacy, though “supremacy” is a strong word in this clusterflub of a division.

Bailey Ober and Peyton Battenfield are not exactly household names on a couple of quality rotations, but they’re the starters in line for Friday’s lid lifter. Zach Plesac has been so bad that Battenfield, who has allowed seven runs on nine hits in his last 6.2 innings, gets the call. For Battenfield, he’s struck out 14 and walked 11 in 17.1 innings. He’s given up an average exit velocity of 94.2 mph and it has risen with each appearance. Over 50% of his batted balls have been hit at least 95 mph and he’s allowed nine barrels in just 51 batted ball events.

This will be Ober’s third start of 2023 at the MLB level. He’s allowed just two runs on seven hits in 11.1 innings. I would normally point out how he’s faced the Nationals and Royals, but the Guardians are on that level, so it’s not like that is a slap in the face to Ober. He’s struck out 10, but also walked five. Only eight of his 29 batted ball events feature hard-hit contact and he’s been an extreme fly ball guy, which is probably a good thing in Cleveland with a breeze blowing in from RF and temps in the upper 50s. Ober also has four pop ups in his 17 fly balls, which are effectively strikeouts.

Ober is actually a MLB-caliber pitcher, while I would argue Battenfield is not. Ober would have been in a lot of rotations, but it was a numbers game for the Twins. With some injuries now, he’s back where he belongs. He had a 3.21 ERA and a 2.92 FIP in 56 innings last season and has thrown the ball well in Triple-A this season. The only worry is the Twins bullpen, but the Guardians bullpen has been pretty bad lately, with several blown saves and losses from that group in recent weeks.

Emmanuel Clase says he’s healthy, but he doesn’t look right. James Karinchak is unusable at this point. Trevor Stephan’s velocity is down and his effectiveness has been a concerning trend. Also, while not quantifiable, I think this game means a lot to the Twins. They were 85% or higher in win probability multiple times in games against the Guardians last season and lost them, including a few late in the year.

The bullpen still has its warts, but that’s true of both teams. I’ll take my chances with the better offense and the better starter here.

Pick: Twins -120

Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals (-155, 10)

That offensive regression I’ve been talking about for the Royals has come to the forefront over the last few days, as they’ve really started swinging the bats well. The timing couldn’t be better with a visit from the A’s, a team that the Royals should be able to scoop some wins against in this weekend set.

Brad Keller and Kyle Muller are today’s combatants, as the Royals are in their biggest favorite role of the season. This is a role that they aren’t in often, including just five such occurrences last season at -150 or greater. Two of them were against the A’s and they lost both of those games against Jared Koenig, who is in Double-A as a reliever with the Padres right now.

Keller owns a 3.56 ERA, but the Regression Monster is lurking. He has a 4.78 FIP and 24 strikeouts against 24 walks in his 30.1 innings of work. A .280 BABIP and a 78.2% LOB% are doing some heavy lifting on that ERA. Also, he’s allowed a 42.2% Hard Hit% and an average exit velocity of 91.2 mph, so he’s really danced around some hard contact.

Muller hasn’t had the same luck with his. He’s allowed 20 runs on 40 hits in 28.2 innings with 20 strikeouts against 15 walks. He’s got a 6.28 ERA with a 5.46 FIP to go with a .367 BABIP and a 49% Hard Hit%. The Royals rank 15th in wOBA against LHP and have a 99 wRC+, so they’re basically a league average unit against lefties, which is better than where they are against righties. Like I said, they’re also swinging the bats a lot better this season.

How’s this for a shocking number? The A’s have a 101 wRC+ on the road and a .317 wOBA that ranks 13th. I guess it isn’t shocking when you think about how the Coliseum suppresses offense, but when you think about the talent level of this A’s team, I wouldn’t expect them to be a league average offense anywhere. They’re actually quite good against lefties, which is another thing to keep in mind.

I happen to think Keller stinks. And the A’s have that 101 wRC+ in spite of a 25.2% K% on the road. Keller’s 18% K% is well below league average and he’s issued a lot of walks. He’s also lasted just four innings in two of his last three starts. He went 5.1 against the Twins last time out, but had his highest EV against at 94.6 mph and a 56.3% Hard Hit% with three barrels in that start.

Muller doesn’t rack up strikeouts and also has a walk problem. It’s going to be a little warmer in KC today with a breeze blowing out to LF as well. These are also two garbage bullpens that rank 26th (KC) and 30th (OAK) in ERA and 23rd (KC) and 30th (OAK) in FIP with two starters that don’t exactly project to work deep in the game. Three KC relievers have also worked back-to-back days and Taylor Clarke threw 51 pitches over Tuesday and Wednesday.

With a lot of balls in play, high-velocity contact, two bad bullpens, and a decent day for hitting, I’ll take the Over 10 at -105. You can still find some Over 9.5 at -125, which is a better bet, but I have to go with what DraftKings has for the purposes of the article and tracking.

Pick: Over 10 (-105)

Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels (-145, 9.5)

Dane Dunning gets the start for the Rangers to kick off this series against Tyler Anderson and the Angels. Dunning was thought to maybe have an opener, but the Rangers will go with the straight start for the right-handed reliever, who has allowed just five runs on 12 hits in 20.1 innings of work. His longest relief effort was 4.1 innings back on April 17, but he’s only pitched twice since and hasn’t pitched since April 28.

Dunning has a 1.77 ERA with a 3.31 FIP on the season. He only has 11 strikeouts out of 79 batters faced, but he’s also only issued five walks. His .197 BABIP is pretty unsustainable with a 50.8% GB% and I would expect that to regress in pretty short order if he’s going to be a starter. He’s allowed four runs on four hits in his last two outings, so maybe that’s the start of it.

Anderson has had two really good starts and three really bad starts so far this season. He’s coming off of a strong effort against the Brewers with 6.2 innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts. He had seven strikeouts over his previous three starts combined covering 14 innings of work. He also allowed 17 runs and five homers over those three starts. His other good start was six shutout innings against the A’s to start the year.

Anderson only has 18 strikeouts in 26.2 innings, so he’s really reliant on the defense and the Angels are not a great defensive team. His 5.74 ERA and 6.40 FIP are definitely high relative to his 37.1% Hard Hit% and he grouped his homers against the Blue Jays and Red Sox, so I’m willing to look past that to some degree.

I’m definitely not interested in laying a big price with Anderson, nor am I interested in Dunning as a starter.

Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners (-135, 7)

I mentioned on yesterday’s edition of VSiN Daily Baseball Bets that I’d have some interest in Luis Castillo and the Mariners in Friday’s game against Cristian Javier and the Astros, but this line is a bit higher than I expected it to be. I certainly appreciate how good Castillo is, but Javier is no slouch himself and the Mariners haven’t really gotten the bats going to this point.

Castillo has allowed seven runs on 24 hits with a 38/8 K/BB ratio over his six starts. He’s got a 1.82 ERA with a 2.24 FIP and has been able to pitch around some hard contact in some of his outings. He has a .261 BABIP and an 81.7% LOB% with a 49.4% Hard Hit%. A lot of his hard contact comes on the ground, which is a lot different than fly balls and line drives. However, he struggled to locate last time out with four barrels allowed at the hands of the Blue Jays.

Some of that natural regression has been creeping in, as he’s allowed five runs on 13 hits in his last 10 innings with his two shortest starts of the season. I was hoping for Castillo to be 15 cents cheaper or so and then I’d have a lot more to think about, but this price is a little bit on the high side.

Javier has a 3.48 ERA with a 3.93 FIP in his 33.2 innings of work. He’s got a 35/7 K/BB ratio. His numbers are honestly pretty similar to Castillo’s, except the fly ball Javier has allowed five homers compared to Castillo’s one. Javier has also allowed a lot more hard contact than last season with a 42.7% Hard Hit% and 11 barrels. He only allowed 24 barrels in 333 batted ball events and a 33.3% Hard Hit% last season. So, he’s working through some things himself.

I’m sure part of the heightened line has to do with the fact that Castillo had a 1.42 ERA in five starts at T-Mobile Park last season, holding opposing batters to a .440 OPS, and that he’s got a 1.14 ERA in 23.2 innings at home this season. Turns out I don’t have a play in this one, but much like Dodgers/Padres, this is a big tone-setting series.

Toronto Blue Jays (-145, 9) at Pittsburgh Pirates

Chris Bassitt and Rich Hill square off as the Pirates draw another AL East opponent. Pittsburgh had a rough flight home after getting swept by the Rays and we’ll see how they’re able to bounce back against a Jays team that just got swept in a four-game series by the Red Sox. Both teams limp into this one and will have to rely on veteran starters to set the tone.

Since allowing nine runs on 10 hits, including four homers, in his Blue Jays debut, Bassitt has a 3.03 ERA with a 4.27 FIP. It takes a long time to get an ERA killer off of the ledger like that first one, but Bassitt has rallied with 11 runs allowed on 15 hits in 29.2 innings of work. That being said, he’s still walked 16 batters, which is very unlike him. He’s had a .176 BABIP against in his last five starts, which I would absolutely not expect to continue. He’s given up just 15 hits in his last five outings. Even with a 25% Hard Hit%, I’m not buying the long-term viability of that.

Hill also had a “Bassitt”, as he allowed seven runs on eight hits to the White Sox over four innings in his second start of the season. Otherwise, he’s allowed 10 runs over his other five starts. He’s only given up five earned runs in his last four starts. His Hard Hit% sits at 35% and his Barrel% is a bit misleading since he gave up nine of them in his first two starts and has only allowed five since.

I noted a release point change that Hill made after that White Sox start and he’s pitched way better since, but his horizontal release point has gradually moved back to where it was early in the season and his spin rates have decreased in his last two starts. He’s been able to hold Cincinnati and Washington at bay, but I’ll be curious to see how he does when tested by a Toronto lineup that has underperformed against lefties, especially from a power standpoint. The Jays are 16th in wOBA and 20th in SLG against southpaws, despite all their right-handed power.

One thing I will say about Hill is that his velocity has come up as the season has gone along. Even though his release point is moving around a little bit, he sat 88.2 with the fastball in D.C., which was still below most of last season’s outings, but closer to where he should be. With both of these teams struggling this week and Pittsburgh coming back to earth a bit, this is a tough one.

Chicago White Sox at Cincinnati Reds (-115, 8.5)

Lance Lynn and Hunter Greene get it going on a perfect day in Cincinnati. Temps will be in the 70s with clear skies at first pitch. That may not be a good thing for Lynn, who has allowed eight homers already in just 32.2 innings of work. He has a 7.16 ERA with a 5.45 FIP after allowing 26 runs on 37 hits. He does have 42 strikeouts to go against 15 walks, but his command profile has been ugly aside from the swing and miss. He’s allowed a 45.6% Hard Hit% and at least four runs in four of his six starts.

Is a matchup against the Reds what he needs to get back on track? It is a tough park factor for a guy giving up homers, but the Reds only have a .324 wOBA at home and an 89 wRC+. The weather has been chilly in Ohio for the most part, so better hitting conditions may help the Reds offense and hitting a guy like Lynn would be a big step forward.

Greene has a 2.89 ERA with a 2.36 FIP in his 28 innings of work. He’s struck out 40 and only walked 11. Most importantly, he’s only allowed one home run this season. He’s given up some hard-hit contact with a 43.1% Hard Hit% and has the .394 BABIP to show for it, but he’s been able to work around it. Greene has allowed a .354 wOBA with the bases empty, but a .293 wOBA with men on base and a .205 wOBA with RISP. At some point, that probably catches up with him, but the White Sox may not be the team to do it.

Both offenses have been poor against righties. The White Sox are 25th in wOBA and the Reds are 21st, but they have identical 82 wRC+ marks. 

One potential advantage for the Reds is in the bullpen. The White Sox pen was used extensively in that series against the Twins. Every player on the roster except for Reynaldo Lopez has been used back-to-back days, but he was injured the two days prior to yesterday’s blown save. The Reds pen is in way better shape and enjoyed an off day yesterday. Cincinnati’s primary guys like Alexis Diaz and Lucas Sims haven’t been used since Tuesday.

To me, the best-case scenario for Lynn and the White Sox is that he can match Greene. I’m not expecting the White Sox to find much success against Greene. That would leave me with the rested Reds bullpen and their primary guys available at -115 against the White Sox. I think that’s a decent bet to make.

Pick: Reds -115

Boston Red Sox at Philadelphia Phillies (-155, 8)

What a week it has been thus far for the Red Sox. A win over Zack Wheeler would really add to the excitement. Hell, a road win would be great, since I think the perception of Boston is that they’re simply hitting the cover off the ball at Fenway Park, but they are a top-10 offense on the road as well. That said, they have a .322 wOBA and a 104 wRC+ away from home, but have a .369 wOBA and a 125 wRC+ at home. So, yeah, Fenway Park has been huge for them, but this may just be a really good offense overall.

Wheeler will be a nice test for this group. He has a 3.86 ERA, but he’s gotten unlucky with a 67.3% LOB%. He actually has a 2.54 FIP and a 41/11 K/BB ratio in his 32.2 innings of work. He also has a .333 BABIP despite an average exit velocity of 84.9 mph and a 31.8% Hard Hit%. A 3.86 ERA isn’t bad, but Wheeler honestly deserves a much better mark based on his control and command.

He has only allowed one homer this season and it came way back on April 1 against the Rangers. It is worth noting that Wheeler hasn’t faced a murderer’s row of opponents, as he’s drawn the Reds, Marlins, White Sox, and the Rockies at home. He did fire six shutout against a decent Houston lineup last time out.

Chris Sale continues to be a really hard guy for me to figure out. He’s allowed at least five earned runs three times in six starts, but then he’s also had a couple of really strong outings against the Twins and Guardians. Of course, the AL Central is a debacle, so that’s part of that equation. Sale has not allowed a homer in his last three starts. He’s only issued three walks in his last 17.1 innings. He has 35 K in 29.1 innings. But, he still has a .350 BABIP against and his fastball remains hittable.

I honestly have no idea what we get from him here. The Phillies are 21st in wOBA against lefties with an 89 wRC+, so they’ve been bad in this split and have struck out over 24% of the time. They also only have a 5.5% BB%, which isn’t as much of a big deal against a guy in Sale who doesn’t walk that many batters anyway.

Tough handicap, maybe the right price. Wheeler certainly has room for improvement if things start falling his way and the Red Sox are really taking advantage of Fenway.

Baltimore Orioles at Atlanta Braves (-210, 8.5)

Dean Kremer and Max Fried are listed for this one, as the Braves head back home to host the Orioles. Baltimore had a rather interesting day yesterday and you really have to worry about their bullpen today if they are in position to win. Yennier Cano and Felix Bautista each threw 32 pitches in yesterday’s win over the Royals. Those would be huge weapons against a Braves lineup that does swing and miss a good amount.

To be honest, it’s probably enough to keep me from even thinking of the big underdog price on Baltimore. This is a top-five offense against lefties. They have a .355 wOBA in that split, trailing only Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay. Fried is way better than a run-of-the-mill lefty, as he has allowed exactly one run in 20 innings this season, but this should be a good test for him.

Fried missed a few weeks with a leg injury suffered in his Opening Day start against the Nationals. Since then, he’s returned to throw 16.2 scoreless innings with just 10 hits allowed and a 16/4 K/BB ratio. Nearly 65% of his batted balls have been on the ground and he has a 25% Hard Hit%.

It also doesn’t help that Kremer has allowed seven homers on the young season with 22 runs allowed on 38 hits in 292 innings of work. He’s allowed a 42.7% Hard Hit% and a 10.4% Barrel%. Kremer also got remarkably lucky to run a 3.63 ERA in 62 innings pitched on the road last season. His wOBA was 75 points higher on the road than at home and he had a 4.40 FIP in those starts. He had a 79.5% LOB%. 

The other thing that has been problematic for Kremer this season is that he’s seen a correction in his BABIP at .348. The Orioles are a bad defensive team, especially in the outfield, and Kremer only has a 36.5% GB%. The only start in which Kremer allowed fewer than four runs was against the Nationals, who can’t hit righties. Even Oakland got four in 4.1 innings against him.

In the past, I haven’t done the team total bets because they weren’t really available to everybody. In thinking about it, the sportsbooks offer basically everything now. I think I’m going to make an executive decision now to include them in my write-ups. I talk all the time about not restricting yourself and keeping an open mind about the card. In this case, I need to do that with the Braves Team Total Over 4.5 (-125) at DraftKings. I still won’t do player props, but I will be looking to utilize some of these team total props when the opportunity presents itself and I think it does here.

These will be tracked under the “Props/Deriv” section in the tracking sheet and abbreviated as “TTO”. For those using DraftKings, these can be found under the “Game Props” tag in the nav menu.

Pick: Braves Team Total Over 4.5 (-125)

Detroit Tigers at St. Louis Cardinals (-225, 8)

Southpaws Matt Boyd and Jordan Montgomery fire up a series in St. Louis and this is a really big weekend for the Cardinals. Things are not going well. To this point, the Cardinals have faced a lot of good teams. The Tigers are not one of them, despite the recent sweep of the Mets. St. Louis needs to show well this weekend, otherwise some changes could absolutely be coming.

They have the right starter on the mound to set the tone in Montgomery, who has a 3.34 ERA with a 2.68 FIP in 35 innings of work. He’s struck out 32, only walked eight, and allowed just one home run. Montgomery allowed seven of his 14 total runs in his April 18 start against the Diamondbacks, so he’s been really strong otherwise. The Tigers are better against lefties than righties, but are still running a 27.8% K% against southpaws, so Montgomery should be set up for success here.

Boyd should not be, but we’ll see. The Cardinals have fallen to eighth in wOBA against lefties, as they’ve struggled to hit anybody lately. Boyd is coming off of his worst start of the season when the Orioles touched him up for six runs in 5.2 innings of work. He’s only allowed a 27.3% Hard Hit% and only allowed a 22.7% HH% in that start against Baltimore, so he got a bit unlucky.

Those 5.2 innings were a season-high for Boyd, who works a lot of deep counts because of foul balls. He allows a lot of contact on chases outside the zone and it can take some time to put guys away, so that forces the bullpen into action. The Tigers pen ranks 25th in FIP this season. The Cardinals pen has actually been good, but hasn’t had many leads to protect.

It would be Tigers or pass here, since we’ve seen no indication that the Cardinals are worthy of being this big of a favorite, but I don’t see enough reasons to back Detroit.

TL;DR Recap

Brewers -120

Twins -120

OAK/KC Over 10 (-105)

Reds -115

Braves Team Total Over 4.5 (-125)

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