MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Monday, May 15th

By Adam Burke  ( 

May 15, 2023 11:59 AM

MLB schedule today has 12 games

Twelve games are on the betting board as a new week starts in Major League Baseball. Five of the 12 games are interleague matchups, with four games in the NL and then three games in the AL. You’ve got to keep an eye on the news on a daily basis now in MLB with openers, pitchers scratched, and all sorts of other tidbits with the rash of injuries that nearly every team has experienced.

Offense picked up over the weekend with a SLG bump back up to .415 and 106 homers hit over the last three days. Warmer weather and more day games could be causes, along with the variety of starting pitchers that were out there. Small sample offensive numbers will also be dependent on which ballparks are hosting games. They aren’t overly telling, but I just like to take the pulse of the league when possible.

The stolen base rate is one again down from where it was earlier in the season, so it would seem that pitchers and catchers are getting better with the pitch clock. The league-wide BABIP also went up a few points from where it was Monday-Thursday, so that, too, was just an example of variance.

Speaking of variance, there has been a ton of negative variance this month and Saturday was the worst day of the season. I’m working diligently to constantly analyze the teams, pitchers, and my process in hopes of turning around this ugly and very unpleasant run. I’m trying to stay positive that it will turn, as this is just one of the characteristics of a long season. Hopefully it will start to turn today. (Tracking sheet)

A new edition of VSiN Daily Baseball Bets includes the first-ever Monday Mailbag today.

Here are some thoughts on the May 15 card (odds from DraftKings):

New York Mets (-155, 9.5) at Washington Nationals

It feels like the Mets and Nationals have played each other 200 times this season. They’ll play on Monday afternoon in D.C. with a matchup between David Peterson and Patrick Corbin, as the Mets are a hefty matinee favorite. Even though Corbin has been a lot better recently, we aren’t seeing much respect for Washington here.

Corbin allowed two earned runs (three total) on eight hits in his last start with zero walks and three strikeouts. It was hardly a dominant performance, but Corbin has now allowed three or fewer earned runs in five straight starts and six of his eight starts this season. He still has a 4.87 ERA with a 4.61 FIP, but he hasn’t pitched like the 5.82 ERA guy we saw in 2021 or the 6.31 ERA guy we saw last season.

He’s back to throwing his slider more and he must have made some good adjustments to his grip or his location because it is back to being an above average pitch per the Linear Pitch Type Weights at FanGraphs. It was worth -22.2 runs last season per Pitch Info Solutions and is +2.1 runs in the early going. Statcast is even more optimistic at +4.4 runs compared to -21 last season. Opposing batters own a .177 BA with a .274 SLG on the slider thus far. They hit .309 with a .571 SLG last season.

It’s hard to tell if this is fully sustainable for Corbin or not, as he still has a 43.7% Hard Hit% for the season and a 43.2% mark over his last four starts. He’s given up a hit per inning in that span, but cutting down the walk rate has really helped and his ground ball rate is up 4.5% this season compared to last season.

Peterson gets the call here for the Mets in a bit of a funk. He was recently recalled from Triple-A to start six days ago and allowed four runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings of work. It was his fourth straight start with at least four runs allowed, as he’s given up 21 runs in his last 19.1 MLB innings. In seven MLB starts this season, he has a 41% Hard Hit% against and an 11.4% Barrel%. He also allowed four runs on seven hits and five walks in five innings in his lone Triple-A start when he got sent down.

The Nationals are third in batting average and seventh in wOBA against lefties on the season. The Mets are 20th in wOBA against LHP on the season. Peterson does have 40 strikeouts in 34 innings, which has saved him from having even worse numbers because his command has been pretty poor on the whole. The Nationals have the lowest K% in baseball against lefties at just 15.2% and have made the most of their contact.

I realize that betting on Patrick Corbin in the midst of a giant slump is probably not advisable, but the Nationals do really well in this split against lefties. Given what the Nationals have done with MacKenzie Gore and Josiah Gray this season, it seems like they deserve the benefit of the doubt for their MLB adjustments with their pitchers, Corbin included.

With almost nothing but righties (Brooks Raley) in the Mets pen, I’d rather go with the 1st 5 here than the full game.

Pick: Nationals 1st 5 +125

Milwaukee Brewers (-115, 8) at St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals won late last night on Sunday Night Baseball and went home to St. Louis to open up an important set against the Brewers. The players got to sleep in their own beds, so this isn’t like the Dodgers situation last week when LA had a long trip and a 3 a.m. arrival to Milwaukee, but it is interesting that the Brewers draw a team off of SNB without an off day for the second straight week.

The Cardinals landed around 2 a.m., so it still isn’t an ideal situation as they look to build off of a weekend sweep of the Red Sox. This team always had too much talent to be as bad as it had been and they’ve quietly won six of their last seven. It will be Jack Flaherty’s turn in the rotation on Monday with a 6.18 ERA and a 5.66 FIP in his 39.1 innings of work. He does have a 10-run blow-up to his name and has a 4.14 ERA outside of that start, but he still hasn’t been sharp with his command or his control.

Freddy Peralta has been solid more often than not with a 3.32 ERA and a 3.42 FIP in his 40.2 innings of work. He allowed nine runs over two starts on April 15 and 21 against the Padres and Red Sox, respectively, but has only allowed six earned runs over his other five starts. He has a solid 46/14 K/BB ratio and has only allowed four homers this season, with two of them coming in a start at Coors Field where he struck out 10.

I wouldn’t call it full-on apples and apples, since the Brewers are on the road and it’s a division rivalry, but Milwaukee won 9-3 over the Dodgers last Monday with this type of travel scenario. They beat the Royals 9-6 and then landed in St. Louis before 7 p.m. Some food for thought anyway.

Cincinnati Reds (-130, 11) at Colorado Rockies

Hunter Greene and Connor Seabold are the listed starters for this one between the Reds and Rockies at Coors Field. Greene comes into this start with a 3.69 ERA and a 3.48 FIP. The most important thing about this season for Greene is that he’s only allowed four home runs in 39 innings of work. He’s allowed a 45.3% Hard Hit% and an 8.5% Barrel%, but has managed to avoid homers. He gave up 24 in 125.2 innings last season.

All four long balls have come in starts at home and Great American Ball Park is comparable to Coors Field East in some respects, though that’s mostly true in the heat of summer. It hasn’t been very hot in Cincinnati yet, but he’s got a 5.19 ERA at home in 17.1 innings and a 2.49 ERA on the road in 21.2 innings. At least Coors Field, which cuts down on the spin rate of pitches, doesn’t do much to curtail velocity, except for pitchers getting tired a little quicker in elevation. So, Greene will still have that triple-digit gas to fall back on.

Seabold owns a 4.56 ERA with a 5.33 FIP in 23.2 innings of work. This will be his third straight start and fourth extended appearance in a row. He’s allowed four runs on 10 hits in 10 innings as a starter and six runs on 15 hits in 13.1 innings over his last three efforts. He’s faced the Diamondbacks, Brewers, and Pirates in that span. In his home start against Milwaukee, he allowed three solo homers, so that could be a thing today for player prop bettors.

I don’t have a bet here at all. The Reds laying a road price with their home/road splits this season and in most seasons is a tall ask, even if Greene is definitely better than Seabold.

Philadelphia Phillies at San Francisco Giants (-120, 9)

The Phillies are going to use an opener for Bailey Falter tonight, but he’ll pitch the majority of the game for Philadelphia against a Giants lineup that, as we know, can’t really hit lefties. The Giants have the fourth-highest K% against lefties at 26.8% and a .292 wOBA, which ranks 26th. They’ve hit for a good bit of power against righties, but rank 27th in SLG against southpaws.

So, this should be a good opportunity for Falter, who is skipping the first inning because he hasn’t done well. The thing about Falter is that he has a 5.75 ERA with a 4.69 FIP and hasn’t exactly done well the second or third times through the lineup. Guess this will put those Giants numbers against lefties to the test with a lefty that is clearly below average this season. Falter has allowed nine runs on 14 hits in his last eight innings.

Connor Brogdon will be the opener. The 6-foot-6 right-hander has a 2.61 ERA with a 3.69 FIP in 20.2 innings. He pitched two innings in his previous outing and five outings with at least 1.2 innings, so he could go a little longer than just one frame. These are also two really tall pitchers, so that makes for an interesting dynamic for Giants hitters.

The Giants are sending out Alex Wood, who hasn’t faced more than nine batters at the MLB level since April 11. Wood threw one inning on May 12 and allowed a run on three hits. He made one rehab start at Triple-A on May 7 and faced 15 batters over 3.2 innings with two runs allowed on six hits. This is a pretty tough game to handicap given all of the dynamics in play. Wood could be piggybacked by Jakob Junis, who threw 27 pitches on Friday after Ross Stripling started. Wood followed Junis in relief.

The Phillies are just 25th in wOBA against lefties on the season, so maybe this isn’t an ideal spot to back them. The plan will just be to try and cobble this game together for both teams. That doesn’t make for a very exciting betting opportunity.

Los Angeles Angels (-125, 8) at Baltimore Orioles

If not for an Emmanuel Clase blown save on Friday night, the Angels would have flown to Baltimore as losers of five straight and seven of eight. Instead, they stole the series opener, but had two eighth-inning meltdowns on Saturday and Sunday and are at risk of falling to .500 if Shohei Ohtani can’t stop the bleeding against the Orioles.

Ohtani has allowed 12 runs on 14 hits in his last 18 innings of work, including five home runs. Ohtani has played 39 of the team’s 41 games and you have to wonder if maybe the workload is getting to be a lot after playing 157 games last season. Maybe he’s just having some command hiccups or something, but I think it bears watching. His velocity and spin rates seemed fine per Baseball Savant, with his fastball spin down a little bit relative to previous starts.

After all, he still has 28 strikeouts in his last 18 innings, so the stuff is still plenty explosive. He does have a .202 BABIP and an 83.3% LOB%, so natural variance is just going to be part of the equation at times as well. He allowed two earned runs in his first five starts, which wasn’t a sustainable pace, even for the best player on the planet.

Grayson Rodriguez has a 5.08 ERA with a 4.81 FIP in his 33.2 innings of work this season. He’s allowed five homers over his last two starts and given up eight runs on 15 hits. The Rays hit some balls very hard when I laid a big -140 price for the 1st 5 on them last week, but Rodriguez danced out of danger. He has 41 strikeouts in his 33.2 innings of work, but has also allowed a 50.5% Hard Hit%, so his command has been problematic.

The Angels bullpen is messy right now, so I’d definitely shy away from full games with them until they get that worked out. The Orioles pen is usually pretty dependent on the state of Yennier Cano and Felix Bautista. Neither guy worked yesterday, so that could present a live betting opportunity on the O’s, depending on how this game is playing out. No full-game bet from me, but I do think that’s a good angle to keep in mind.

New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays (-170, 9.5)

It is Jhony Brito’s turn in the rotation for the Yankees, but they will use an opener in front of him. Jimmy Cordero will pitch an inning or two in advance of Brito. As a side note, Luis Severino is making a second rehab start tomorrow night and looks like to join the rotation next weekend, but he’ll likely take Clarke Schmidt’s spot over Brito’s.

Brito still has that awful start against the Twins back on April 13 to his name and owns a 5.81 ERA with a 5.94 FIP. He has a 3.86 ERA otherwise, but the peripherals just aren’t stellar. He only has 22 strikeouts in 31 innings against 14 walks. He’s given up six homers, with five of them in his last three starts. He hasn’t faced the Blue Jays yet, but has faced several good lineups to this point and now gets another one.

Brito’s reverse platoon splits could be a real issue here. He has allowed a .631 SLG to righties, despite being a right-handed pitcher, in 72 plate appearances. Righties are also batting .292, while lefties are only batting .241 with a .370 SLG. That should benefit a Blue Jays bunch that is pretty right-handed-heavy and is outscoring opponents 72-43 in 15 home games to this point.

Alek Manoah has a 4.83 ERA with a 5.76 FIP on the season and some ugly peripherals of his own. He’s struck out 32 and walked 25 in 41 innings of work. I wrote prior to his last start about how nearly all of his numbers are worse than last season to some degree. His K% is down, his BB% is up, his BABIP is up, his LOB% is down, his Hard Hit% and average exit velocity are both up, and his ERA and FIP are way up.

Manoah actually threw seven shutout innings against the Yankees back on April 22. Since then, he’s allowed seven earned runs (10 total) on 18 hits in 14.2 innings of work with 11 strikeouts against nine walks. I don’t believe in batter vs. team stats, but I think it will be mentioned by some that Manoah has been phenomenal against the Yankees in his career. The Yankees have a .157/.239/.231 slash against him in 163 plate appearances across seven games. He has a 1.93 ERA in those games.

Maybe the dominance continues, but there’s nothing in his current profile that suggests it will because his numbers are so subpar this season. I don’t have any interest in this game from a betting standpoint and I’m really not sure what to do with the Yankees overall right now.

Seattle Mariners (-120, 10) at Boston Red Sox

This will be a good test for George Kirby, as he takes some stellar pitching numbers to the hitter’s haven that is Fenway Park. Kirby has a 2.62 ERA with a 2.65 FIP over 44.2 innings of work. He’s struck out 35 and walked three with just two homers allowed on the season. His road starts have been against the hapless Guardians, the Phillies, and the A’s, so this is definitely a big step up in class in both ballpark and offense.

Kirby has done a masterful job of limiting walks, homers, and hard contact and those are all really strong attributes. He’s got a 31.1% Hard Hit% against and has only allowed a 3.7% Barrel% on the season in 135 batted ball events. He’s also giving the Mariners some serious length with six straight starts of at least six innings, which you don’t see much nowadays.

Kirby had nine strikeouts over seven innings last time out against the Rangers. If he can add back some strikeouts to his rate stats, that is really going to advance what is already an excellent pitching profile. He’s getting a 37.1% O-Swing% per Statcast, so I would’ve expected more strikeouts. I think he may almost throw too many strikes to get strikeouts, but his command is so spectacular that he’s induced all that weak contact and gets guys to expand the zone. Let’s see how the Red Sox approach him.

Let’s also see how Tanner Houck fares in his matchup against a Seattle offense that ranks 21st in wOBA against righties. The Mariners are among the league’s worst offenses against lefties, but are closer to league average against righties. Houck has a 5.26 ERA, but a 4.04 FIP, as his 60.8% LOB% has skewed his metrics in a negative way. He’s got a 50% GB%, so he does a good job of forcing teams to string hits together, but pitching to contact is always a dicey proposition at Fenway.

The Red Sox had bullpen meltdowns on both Friday and Saturday before getting blown out on Sunday Night Baseball. They’re dropped five of six now and their lack of pitching depth is starting to crack a little bit. The offense has leveled off a little bit as well, though this is still a dangerous group with a favorable ballpark. A helping breeze to RF is present tonight, which is how we get a 10, even though Kirby is on the mound.

It’s a good test for Kirby and I may look back in anger at not taking him and the Mariners tonight, especially since his Hard Hit% is actually just 26% in his last five starts.

Atlanta Braves (-140, 9) at Texas Rangers

Charlie Morton is a veteran of 330 MLB games and 1,837.2 innings. The Rangers will turn to 25-year-old left-hander Cody Bradford for his first MLB start. Bradford has a 0.91 ERA in his 39.2 innings at Triple-A this season with four runs allowed on 21 hits and a 37/13 K/BB ratio. The big leagues are definitely a different beast, but those are some excellent PCL numbers for Bradford. 

Last summer, Bradford was under the “Lower-Impact Arms” heading in Texas’s June prospect update per FanGraphs. He’s a fly ball pitcher taking on a Braves lineup that pummels lefties and also hits for a lot of power, so this is a really tough first assignment. This is like showing up for a math class and all the sudden you step into trigonometry. So, I’m rooting for the kid, but, man, the Rangers could’ve picked an easier assignment.

Who knows, maybe he thrives. He’s certainly located well this season and made some good adjustments after having a 5.01 ERA with a 4.63 FIP in 118.2 innings last season at Double-A. He gave up 18 homers in 118.2 innings last season.

Morton has a 3.32 ERA with a 4.79 xERA and a 4.06 FIP in his 40.2 innings of work. His 21.9% K% is the lowest he’s had since 2015 and his 9.6% BB% is the highest he’s had since 2016. His peripherals don’t necessarily inspire a ton of confidence in his ability to continue to post such a low ERA. He does, however, have just a 36.7% Hard Hit%, so he’s done a much better job of limiting hard contact after struggling with that last season. He’s also gotten back to his ground ball ways with a 50.4% GB%.

The Rangers are sixth in wOBA against righties, third in wOBA against righties, and second in home wOBA vs. righties, including the league leader in SLG. The Braves are first in wOBA with a .400 mark against lefties on the season, including a .401 wOBA against lefties on the road. Their 154 wRC+ in that mark leads the league as well.

With a chance of thunderstorms tonight, I’m not sure if the roof will be open or closed in Texas. With muggy conditions, the ball should carry really well if the roof is open. With Bradford’s fly ball stylings, I think the Rangers would prefer it to be closed. If it is indeed open, I’d expect this total to jump from 9 to probably 9.5 and potentially even 10.

I like the over here. Bradford’s performance in the minors has been really impressive, but this is a Braves lineup that collectively hits at a Paul Goldschmidt/Matt Chapman-esque pace against lefties. I’m also looking for Morton to regress a bit.

Pick: Over 9 (-120)

Chicago Cubs at Houston Astros (-195, 8)

Jameson Taillon and Framber Valdez are the slated starters for this interleague matchup down in Texas, with the Astros lined as a big favorite. Taillon comes into this start with a 6.41 ERA, but a 3.85 xERA and a 3.65 FIP in 19.2 innings of work. He missed time with a leg injury and has allowed seven runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings since coming back. He hasn’t been hit terribly hard, but has allowed three home runs and that has hurt him against the Nationals and Cardinals.

I will say that I generally think Houston has been lined a little high, particularly with the 27th-ranked offense in wOBA against righties. They have really not made a lot of quality contact and have struck out more than usual in that split. Jose Altuve will be back shortly and that may help things fall into place a bit, but this is a really disappointing lineup in the meantime.

The problem is that Taillon looks unlikely to work deep into the game and the Cubs just sent down Javier Assad, so they’ll have to cobble this one together with a bullpen that used five relievers yesterday in the blowout loss to the Twins. They may call up another arm prior to the game to serve as a long man, since they shouldn’t really need one with Justin Steele going tomorrow.

Valdez has stellar numbers this season with a 2.38 ERA and a 3.05 FIP in 53 innings of work. He’s got 57 strikeouts against 10 walks and has struck out 20 batters in his last two starts. He’s also only walked two batters in his last four starts, so he’s been really sharp and really efficient with his pitches.

The Astros are probably lined a little high here, especially because the Cubs are a top-five offense against lefties, but I don’t have much faith in Taillon, even against what could be a favorable lineup.

Arizona Diamondbacks (-210, 9) at Oakland Athletics

Merrill Kelly is over a $2 favorite on the road. This is the first time Arizona has been more than -200 on the road since August 19, 2018 and just the fourth time in the last 15 seasons. It will be the fourth time this season that Oakland is +180 or higher at home and the second time with Drew Rucinski on the mound.

Rucinski, who was a KBO star from 2019-22, has not been an MLB star at any point in his career. This season, he’s allowed 17 runs on 21 hits in just 14.1 innings of work. He’s walked nine and only struck out six, so it may not be long before he heads back across the Pacific Ocean. He’s given up a homer in each of his three starts against the Reds, Mariners, and Yankees. It’s been a struggle to say the least. Only 13 of the runs are earned, but he’s earned his 8.16 ERA and 7.28 FIP.

Kelly has a 3.18 ERA with a 3,87 FIP and is making just his fourth road start of the season. He’s got 46 strikeouts against 20 walks in his 45.1 innings of work. He’s only walked three batters over his last three starts, so he’s ironed out the control kinks that he had earlier in the season coming out of the WBC. He did allow four runs on four hits last time out, but that was some unfortunate sequencing luck with a three-run homer on his ledger.

There just isn’t much you can really do with a game like this. I guess Arizona team total over is in play, but the Diamondbacks are only 17th in road wOBA for one reason or another. They’re a top-five offense at home.

Kansas City Royals at San Diego Padres (-225, 9)

Brad Keller and Michael Wacha are listed for this one, as the Padres search for some positives. They’ve lost five in a row and seven of the last eight. They were just swept by the Dodgers and scored four runs over the three-game series. They’ve been held to three or fewer runs in all seven losses. 

The cure for a slumping offense could very well be Keller, who has a 4.31 ERA with a 5.39 FIP in his 39.2 innings of work. He’s walked 32 batters in just eight starts, so he’s actually really lucky to have just a 4.31 ERA on the season. He’s walked at least four batters in each of his last five starts, but he’s only had one huge blow-up with seven runs allowed. I’m not entirely sure how he’s doing it, aside from a 57.4% GB% that keeps him from allowing multi-run homers.

He’s also been a benefactor of some Cluster Luck with a .412 wOBA with the bases empty, a .308 with men on, and a .292 with RISP. Given how badly the Padres offense needs a laugher, they’d love to get it here and have the chance to do exactly that, but it’s a hard bet to make given how they’ve been running.

Wacha has been sharp over his last three starts with four earned runs allowed on just nine hits over his last 17 innings of work. He allowed 12 runs on 21 runs against the Brewers and Diamondbacks on April 14 and 20, but he’s been really solid since. For the season, Wacha has also limited hard contact against with an average exit velocity of 86.2 mph and a stellar 28.8% Hard Hit%. He hasn’t missed a ton of bats, but he’s done a good job to give his fielders a chance.

This will be an interesting matchup for the Royals because they are a top-five offense in Hard Hit%, but Wacha has done well to avoid exactly that. Could this be one of those games where the Royals get some batted ball fortunes on soft contact to help their low BABIP and BA numbers? We’ll have to see, but I don’t see any betting edges here.

Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Dodgers (-120, 8.5)

Pablo Lopez and Noah Syndergaard are matched up here as the Twins play a road game outside the Central Division for the first time since April 20. They’ve only played six road games in that span with trips to Chicago and Cleveland, so this might be a bit of a shock to the system for them with the LA double. They’ll play the Angels next.

Lopez has a 3.47 ERA with a 3.26 FIP in his 49.1 innings of work this season. He hit a speed bump against the Nationals and Royals on April 23 and 28 with 11 runs allowed on 16 hits in 10 innings of work, but seems to have put that behind him with 16 strikeouts in his last 13.1 innings and just three runs on eight hits against the White Sox and Padres.

He has 62 strikeouts in eight starts against just 14 walks, though he did walk four last time out against San Diego. He’s allowed two or fewer runs in six of his eight starts, which is how you get a line this low for a Twins team that has won four of five and scored 27 runs in the last two games.

Syndergaard is something of a surprise starter here. He left after one inning in his May 9 start with a cut on his finger. He was skipped the previous time through the rotation to work on his mechanics and some other things and even underwent hypnosis in hopes of getting everything turned around. I have no idea how he would have fared against the Brewers. He allowed a hit and a walk before getting an inning-ending double play and then going to the dugout with a bloody finger.

What that means is that Syndergaard has thrown all of one inning since April 30. Two of the three balls in play against the Brewers were hit hard and it was a 20-pitch inning with 11 strikes and nine balls.

While Syndergaard scares me a lot, this is a short price to go against a Dodgers team playing really well right now.

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