MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Monday, May 29th

By Adam Burke  ( 

May 29, 2023 11:48 AM

MLB schedule today has 11 games

Eleven games are on the card for Monday, including four early starts. With plenty of action to get to and a short time to get to it, I’ll spare you the long intro and do a little bit more at the top of tomorrow’s article.

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Here are some thoughts on the May 29 card (odds from DraftKings): 

Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks (-200, 10)

The Rockies aren’t playing for anything this season, but the fact that they don’t have any better options than Karl Kauffmann is a real big indictment on the organization. In two MLB starts, Kauffman has allowed 10 runs on 13 hits in 8.1 innings of work with six strikeouts against five walks. Only nine of the runs are earned, but he’s running a .414 BABIP with a 53.3% Hard Hit% though 30 batted ball events. 

Not only is he not a Major League-caliber pitcher, but he had a 6.68 ERA over 21 starts at Triple-A in 101 innings of work with 86 strikeouts against 57 walks. He had a 5.75 ERA in 159.2 innings at Double-A with 75 walks in 159.2 innings. His third start at the MLB level may end up being his last for the time being, as the Rockies are working to stretch out Dinelson Lamet as a starter.

Ryne Nelson goes for the D-Backs today. He’s got a 5.02 ERA with a 4.45 xERA and a 4.52 FIP in his 52 innings of work across 10 starts. He’s got some bland peripherals with a 16.4% K% and a 6.8% BB%. The low walk rate is good, but the lack of strikeouts and 8.4% SwStr% really limit his upside. He’s allowed a 40.5% Hard Hit% on the season with a .304 BABIP against. His results have been a bit better lately with seven earned runs allowed over his last four starts after allowing 15 runs in a three-start stretch to end April, but this is a big number to lay on him, no matter how bad Kauffmann is.

The total of 10 is also high, given that the Rockies have scored 1.2 fewer runs per game on the road than they have at home.

Pittsburgh Pirates at San Francisco Giants (-140, 8.5)

It was an unhappy flight to SFO for both teams yesterday, as the Giants dropped a 7-5 decision to the Brewers on Sunday, but they did go 5-2 on the trip to Minnesota and Milwaukee and have actually won 10 of their last 13 games as they welcome the Pirates. Pittsburgh fell 6-3 in extras to the Mariners and fell to .500 for the first time since April 3 when they were 2-2. 

Rich Hill and Anthony DeSclafani are the two starters listed for this one. Dick Mountain and Tony Disco are two of the better pitcher nicknames in this one and also form a decent pitching matchup at Oracle Park. Hill comes in with a 4.27 ERA and a 4.26 FIP after allowing five runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings to the Rangers six days ago. Texas is a top offense against lefties, but Hill still struck out nine of 25 batters in that outing.

The Giants are not a top offense against lefties. Far from it, actually, as they rank 24th in wOBA and 25th in wRC+ in that split. They strike out a lot (27.4%) and don’t walk much (6.1%). The bulk of their offense throughout the season has come via the long ball, but Hill has only allowed one of those in his last six starts after surrendering seven in his first four starts.

This will be the first left-handed starter that the Giants have faced in quite a while, so we’ll see how they react.

DeSclafani has a 3.43 ERA with a 4.48 xERA and a 3.57 FIP in his 60.1 innings of work. He’s only allowed a .265 BABIP with a 46.5% Hard Hit% and has allowed 19 hard-hit balls in his last 32 batted ball events. He gave up three barrels last start against the Twins after not allowing a barrel in four straight starts. Over his last four starts, he’s allowed 17 runs on 26 hits in 22.1 innings of work. His BABIP in that span is .324, so we’ve seen some negative regression leak into the profile in starts against the Nationals, Diamondbacks, Marlins, and Twins.

He’s had a single-digit SwStr% in his last five starts after three double-digit games in his first five starts. His xwOBA is 50 points higher than his actual wOBA and his xBA is 48 points higher than his actual BA. There are still regression signs present in the profile, even with this recent run. 

The Pirates are worth a look today. The Giants are decidedly worse against lefties and rank just 26th in wOBA against LHP at home. It’s a good matchup for Hill and there is some ugliness in the profile for DeSclafani. Shop around for the best price on this one.

Pick: Pirates +120

Washington Nationals at Los Angeles Dodgers (-245, 9)

Bobby Miller’s second assignment seems much easier on paper than his first one. The Dodgers top prospect draws a Nationals lineup that ranks 23rd in wOBA at .301 and 26th in wRC+ at 85 against right-handed pitching. While the Braves are just an average bunch in that split, we can all agree that Atlanta is at least a much more daunting matchup.

Miller allowed one run on four hits with five strikeouts and a walk in his debut outing and now he’ll make his first start at iconic Dodger Stadium. Miller’s scouting report is that he pounds the zone with fastballs and that was evident in his first start with a 70% F-Strike% to get ahead in counts. Then he expanded the zone with his arsenal of other pitches and it is a deep arsenal.

This should be a good fit for him and a chance to have another solid outing. I would say that this is not a solid fit for Trevor Williams, as he draws a Dodgers lineup that ranks third in wRC+ at 114 and second in wOBA at .339 against righties. The pitch-to-contact righty has a 4.32 ERA with a 5.19 xERA and a 5.05 FIP in his 50 innings of work. He’s allowed nine homers to this point and the Dodgers are third behind the Yankees and Rays in HR against RHP and tied for second in HR overall (Rays, Braves).

The -245 price is not only pretty fair, but I’d argue could be even higher. I considered the run line here with the home team, but the Dodgers are coming off of a three-city, 10-game road trip, and it wouldn’t be a total shocker if they do just enough to win here or even sleepwalk through the game and find a way to get upset. Yesterday’s game was also a marathon with a long flight home from Tampa, along with it being a weird, early start for the team because it was the Peacock game at 11 a.m. ET.

As a lookahead, I could see a flat spot on Wednesday against the Nationals prior to Thursday’s off day and the Yankees coming to town.

Cleveland Guardians at Baltimore Orioles (-135, 7.5)

Logan Allen and Tyler Wells square off in this matinee at Oriole Park, as two teams with a penchant for playing close games are expected to play one here. Allen has a 3.31 ERA with a 3.29 FIP in his six starts with 33 strikeouts in 32.2 innings of work. I’ve talked about my concerns with Allen in previous write-ups and I have similar ones here.

Not only do the Orioles hit lefties well, but Allen only has 17 strikeouts in his last 21.2 innings of work after racking up 16 strikeouts in his first two starts. His Hard Hit% is 44.2%, so he’s yielded some loud contact, along with a 10.6% Barrel%, but his .347 BABIP hasn’t really hurt him as badly as it could have. He has a 79.4% LOB% and very noticeable Cluster Luck with a .248 wOBA against in 37 PA with men on base. He’s allowed a .324 with the bases empty and a .325 with men on base.

Allen is still generating a lot of swing and miss and did a good job expanding the zone against the White Sox, as he has a 12.2% SwStr% and had two O-Swing% marks north of 40%, but he’s not getting many whiffs inside the zone right now. I think he’s sitting on some negative regression and this is a lineup that ranks ninth in wOBA against lefties. That said, they are only 21st in wOBA at home against lefties thanks to Mount Walltimore and other factors.

Wells is still sitting on all sorts of negative regression. He has a 3.47 ERA with a 4.07 xERA, 5.04 FIP, and a 4.30 xFIP in his 57 innings of work. He’s given up 13 homers in just 57 innings and a 42.4% Hard Hit% with an 11.9% Barrel%. He also gets a weirdly high number of swings and misses, as there’s some deception to his profile, and his fastball specifically. 

He’s given up eight runs on 11 hits in his last 10 innings, including five homers, so it seems like some of those signs are coming to fruition right now. In his five May starts, Wells has allowed a 50% Hard Hit% and an 18.1% Barrel%. He’s only allowed 18 hits in 28 innings, but nine are homers, so he has a .143 BABIP. He’s also got a 97.4% LOB%.

There isn’t much lead time with the early start here, but I’ll keep looking for games to fade Wells and Allen.

Texas Rangers (-170, 8.5) at Detroit Tigers

The Rangers are heavy road favorites for matinee action at Comerica Park between Nate Eovaldi and Matthew Boyd. Eovaldi has been one of baseball’s best this season with a 2.60 ERA, 2.87 xERA, and a 2.47 FIP in his 69.1 innings of work. He’s averaging nearly seven innings per start, which is downright ridiculous in today’s pitching environment. He has a 25% K% with a 4.2% BB% and has only allowed nine barrels on the season. 

Eovaldi has allowed a 40.9% Hard Hit%, but he has a 51.6% GB%, so a lot of that hard contact has come on the ground and you can live with that. He’s allowed more than three earned runs in just one of his 10 starts and this should be a very favorable matchup against a Tigers group that is 26th in wOBA against righties at .292.

I would not call this a good matchup for Boyd, who has a 5.74 ERA with a 4.24 xERA and a 4.71 FIP in his 42.1 innings of work. Boyd allowed nine runs over his first four starts, but has allowed 19 runs in his last 23.1 innings. There’s a good bit of bad luck in his profile, as he’s only allowed a 31.3% Hard Hit% and nine barrels on the season. 

The Rangers are fifth in road wOBA against lefties at .353 and draw a lot of walks against southpaws, which makes the task at hand even more difficult for Boyd. Overall, the Rangers are third in wOBA against lefties at .358.

Another early start, so not much lead time, but I couldn’t see a reason to want to bet the Tigers today.

Minnesota Twins at Houston Astros (-125, 8)

Sonny Gray and J.P. France are listed for this one at The Juice Box down in the Lone Star State. Gray has been outstanding this season with a 1.82 ERA, 3.19 xERA, and a 2.02 FIP in his 54.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 29.2% of opposing batters and has a 9.3% BB%, so that’s a little high, but the strikeouts have more than made up for it. He has an 83.1% LOB% and has not allowed a home run yet.

The Astros are 22nd in wOBA against righties at .308 and 18th in wRC+ at 96, so we’ll see what they do against Gray. In his 10 starts, Gray has allowed more than two runs just once. Oddly enough, that start came against Cleveland back on May 6 when he allowed three runs. Gray’s SwStr% in his last four starts has been well below his season average, so that merits watching, as he may be building up towards a rough start in the not too distant future.

This will be the fifth MLB start for France, who allowed six runs on nine hits to the Cubs in his third career start and has allowed two runs on 11 hits otherwise. Five of the 20 hits he has allowed have left the park, so he has a 3.43 ERA with a 5.53 FIP. He’s coming off of a strong start with eight strikeouts against the Brewers after racking up only 10 in his first three starts. It’s tough to know what you’re going to get on a daily basis from France, which is similar to what we saw in the minors.

Overall, he had good numbers, but he had a lot of strikeouts, a lot of walks, and allowed a good number of home runs. This season, the Astros have made some adjustments to his arsenal to try and induce more ground balls to shave off some long balls, but those changes were more evident at the Triple-A level than the MLB level.

I’m not sure we’ve really paid that close of attention and six of the wins are against the A’s, but the Astros are 14-3 since May 9. They have beaten up on some inferior teams in that span, but they’re back to being the Astros that we know and also have a top-10 offense by wOBA in that period.

I don’t have a play I like here, since France is a little shaky, but let’s see how they do stepping up in class a little to play a competent team.

Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox (-140, 9)

Michael Kopech has been a lot better recently than what we saw early in the season. Of course, there was nowhere to go but up for him, as he was positively awful to start 2023. Kopech has not allowed a run in either of his last two starts covering 15 innings with 19 strikeouts against one walk. The right-hander now has a 4.24 ERA with a 5.32 xERA and a 5.64 FIP over 57.1 innings pitched.

Kopech gave up four homers in his May 7 start at Cincinnati and has not allowed one in three starts since. He’s given up 12 for the season and walked six three starts ago against the Astros, but he’s shut down the Royals and Guardians in his last two efforts.  He still has a 43.8% Hard Hit% and a 15.1% Barrel%, but his HH% over his last four starts is just 23%. That includes the Reds start in which he allowed four barrels.

Is Kopech “fixed”? It’s hard to say. The Guardians are terrible offensively and the Royals will strike out a lot. Plus, Kansas City is much better against lefties. It does appear that the White Sox maybe found a mechanical issue with Kopech, as his fastball velocity is up and has been more consistent in his last three starts. His spin rates are also ticking back up a bit after lagging in the middle part of his season to date.

Griffin Canning gets the call for the Angels today. He’s got a 4.95 ERA with a 4.75 FIP in his 36.1 innings of work. Canning has allowed 30 runs on 35 hits with a 43.2% Hard Hit% and just a 7.2% Barrel%. His K/BB ratio is a big reason why he hasn’t found more success, as he’s only had more than five strikeouts once and only has 30 for the season. 

After posting SwStr% of 21.4%, 12%, and 14.6% in his first three starts, he’s reverted back to his old pitch usage with way too many fastballs and he’s topped out at 9.1% in his last four starts. Interestingly, he shuffled his pitch mix last time out against the Red Sox with more curveballs and fewer fastballs and threw seven shutout innings with just two hits allowed. That’s a pretty strong showing from Canning and maybe the reinforcement needed to mix his pitches better.

He did it early in the season and had more success than he had in the middle part. It would be a good idea today against the White Sox, who are an aggressive lineup that will chase. Chicago is 27th in wOBA against righties at 81 and in wOBA at .289. The Angels are slowly working backwards in this split, but grade slightly above average.

I don’t have a play here, but will be watching both starters closely. I thought about the Angels, but maybe Kopech’s resurgence is legit. Guess we’ll find out against a better lineup.

One other note: Liam Hendriks has been activated and could get into a game for the first time since his cancer diagnosis. It’s sure to be an emotional moment at Guaranteed Rate Field if that happens.

New York Yankees at Seattle Mariners (-135, 8)

Domingo German makes his first start in 13 days after being suspended for the use of foreign substances. German worked three no-hit innings against the Blue Jays before getting caught in a situation eerily reminiscent to when he had thrown five no-hit innings against the Twins. German was simply told to wash his hands, leading Twins manager Rocco Baldelli to get ejected. The subjective enforcement of the foreign substance policy is embarrassing.

Anyway, German has given up 10 of his 20 runs in two of his nine starts, as he had a couple rough outings against the Blue Jays and Twins on April 21 and 26. Since then, he’s allowed just four runs on nine hits in four starts. Of course, he’s coming off of the suspension here and did not make any minor league starts, so it’s been a while since he’s thrown in real game conditions.

German told reporters that he’s going to change the way that he uses rosin going forward, so we’ll see what that entails and if it affects his grip and command. I honestly don’t know. I don’t know how much he’s used and how he’s gotten away with it to this point or if what he’s done this season with a 3.75 ERA and a 4.20 FIP is legit.

This is hardly earth-shattering analysis, but there’s a big correlation between bad starts for German and giving up homers. He’s allowed seven homers and 14 runs in his games with more than two runs allowed. He hasn’t allowed a homer in any of his six other starts and has only allowed six earned runs. Given that this start comes at T-Mobile Park, it isn’t the greatest of home run venues, especially at night, whether the roof is open or closed. The ball carries a lot better in day games with the roof open.

For the M’s, it will be Bryce Miller’s turn in the rotation. He’s allowed just four runs on 13 hits in 31.1 innings of work with 28 strikeouts against three walks. Two of those starts came against the A’s and the others came against the Astros, Tigers, and Braves. It was Atlanta on the road where three of his four runs were scored. His Hard Hit% is just 32.1%, leading to a .167 BABIP against. There’s a lot to like in the profile for Miller and the Yankees come in as a below average offense against righties.

I just don’t see a great edge to be had in this game. German is a wild card. Miller has been great, but lightly tested. The Mariners used six relievers yesterday and five on Saturday, so their pen is a little shaky. The Yankees are in better shape, but may be without Anthony Rizzo in the lineup after suffering a neck injury yesterday.

Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals (-175, 9.5)

We get a Johnny Wholestaff game from the Royals today, as Josh Staumont starts and Mike Mayers bulks. Staumont has thrown 48 pitches in the last three days, so I can’t imagine this is more than a one-and-done for him. Mayers threw 84 pitches on Tuesday, so he’s good to go as the bulk guy. 

Staumont has a 4.76 ERA with a 3.58 xERA and a 2.94 FIP in his 17 innings of work. He’ll try to get through the top of the order unscathed before turning it over to Mayers. The journeyman right-hander worked 4.2 solid innings against the Tigers last time out with eight strikeouts in 20 batters faced. He allowed one run on six hits and has only allowed two runs on eight hits with 11 strikeouts and five walks in 7.1 innings through two appearances. 

Mayers had a 5.68 ERA with a 6.37 FIP in 50.2 innings for the Angels last season. He was with the Cardinals from 2013-19, so this is a really interesting appearance for him to be back at Busch Stadium. At the MLB level, Mayers has a 5.02 ERA with a 4.62 FIP. He had a 6.88 ERA and a 5.49 FIP in 34 innings at Triple-A before getting the call, so we’ll see how long this smoke and mirrors act at the big league level continues for this season.

Wainwright has not been sharp at all this season. He was hurt in the WBC and then rejoined the Cardinals on May 6. He has allowed 18 runs on 28 hits in 21.1 innings of work in his four starts with a 10/6 K/BB ratio. Waino only has a 4.5% SwStr% and has allowed 10 barrels in 82 batted ball events. He’s faced the Tigers, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Reds in Cincy, so it hasn’t been an easy road, but he just doesn’t look very good right now.

A lot of bets have come in on the Royals to drive this number down, as Wainwright simply doesn’t fit the bill of being that big of a favorite, but the Royals pitching staff has had a rough go of it lately and I can’t trust them to cobble 27 outs together.

Tampa Bay Rays (-120, 8) at Chicago Cubs

We’ve got a good one this afternoon at Wrigley Field between the Rays and Cubs. It will be Taj Bradley and Marcus Stroman with a short price for the Rays on the road. The Rays are only 12-10 over their last 22 games, so things have kind of cooled off a bit for baseball’s best team. That was inevitable. Running at the pace that they were playing is virtually impossible.

Bradley comes into this start with a 4.44 ERA and a 3.25 FIP in 24.1 innings of work. He has a 34/4 K/BB ratio, so it makes sense that FIP loves him, but he’s had some issues working in the middle innings and hasn’t gone more than 5.1 innings in any of his five starts. He went four innings last time out against the Blue Jays and allowed four runs on nine hits. He struck out seven with no walks, but allowed a bit of hard contact and endured a bit of bad luck.

This is a big problem going forward for the Rays with Bradley and their patchwork rotation. They’ve had the worst bullpen in baseball for a few weeks now and just put Pete Fairbanks on the IL after he was hurt warming up yesterday. The other thing about Bradley is that he allowed 17 runs on 14 hits in nine innings at Triple-A when he was sent down, so his last start felt like a continuation of that bad stretch.

Marcus Stroman has a 2.95 ERA with a 4.04 xERA and a 3.74 FIP in his 64 innings of work. Stroman’s K/BB numbers aren’t great with a 21.3% K% and a 9.1% BB%, so it’s no surprise that xERA and FIP aren’t in his corner. I also don’t see a .246 BABIP sticking around forever with a 59.1% GB%. He’s had a couple of really bad starts accounting for 11 of the 21 runs he has allowed, but he’s been quite good otherwise, holding opponents to two or fewer runs in nine of 11 starts.

He’s allowed a 42.6% Hard Hit%, but only seven barrels (five in his last four starts) on the year. I am concerned about some of the signs in Stroman’s profile, but it is tough to get runs in bunches off of him with that high ground ball rate.

The Rays pen is really in a tight spot. Colin Poche and Jake Diekman each pitched three days in a row Thursday-Saturday. Closer Jason Adam threw 38 pitches yesterday and Jalen Beeks has thrown 50 pitches in the last three days. Kevin Kelly worked four of five days from Tuesday-Saturday. Given how Bradley doesn’t work deep into games, I’m curious to see if the Rays are going to try to push him a little bit farther today. Josh Fleming gave up 10 runs yesterday, but the Rays pushed him through six innings and 86 pitches out of necessity.

I don’t think I can take Stroman and the slumping Cubs, who were just swept by the Reds in Chicago, but the Rays merit watching closely with all their pitching concerns as the week rolls along.

Atlanta Braves (-245, 9) at Oakland Athletics

Two guys we haven’t seen in a while are on the mound at the Coliseum today. Michael Soroka will make his first MLB start since August 3, 2020 after multiple injuries and setbacks during rehab. The A’s will send out Paul Blackburn, who makes his first MLB start since August 4, 2022.

In eight minor league starts, Soroka has a 4.33 ERA with a 35/11 K/BB ratio in 35.1 innings of work. He had one really ugly start back on April 30 with eight runs allowed, but he only allowed 10 runs in his other seven starts. He’s allowed eight earned runs over his last 18.2 innings of work and now makes his long-awaited return to the bigs.

Blackburn’s minor league work has not gone as well. He’s made six rehab starts and allowed 18 runs on 33 hits in just 18 innings of work. Only 15 of the runs have been earned, but he’s struck out just 10 of 90 minor leaguers. He did throw five good innings last time out over five innings with five strikeouts against one walk.

At first, I thought about taking Oakland here, simply given the fact that this is a monster number for Soroka and Blackburn is at least right-handed against a lineup that only grades out as average against righties, but the A’s are really bad and Blackburn’s rehab efforts weren’t inspiring at all.

TL;DR Recap

Pirates +120

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