MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Saturday, April 15th

By Adam Burke  ( 

April 15, 2023 11:23 AM

MLB schedule today has 15 games

After a neat and tidy Friday slate with nothing but night games, we’ve got all-day baseball spread across the entire day on Saturday. Games kick off at 1:05 p.m. ET and will run until midnight or later, depending on when the 9:40 p.m. ET first pitch in Seattle wraps up. That makes for a long day for baseball bettors, but it’s just the nature of the beast as the season gets rolling. (Tracking sheet)

Here’s a quick recap of Friday’s numbers with a full dance card and a limited number of aces:

  • 41 homers were hit last night, which I believe is the second-highest total of any day this season
  • The BB% was 10.1% - we are definitely seeing more walks this season, whether it’s the pitch clock or something else
  • Teams were 26-of-29 on the bases, so that continued to be a thing
  • There were 147 runs scored across 15 games (9.8 R/G) - scoring is definitely up and will continue to be, especially with back-end starters pitching

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

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals (-200, 9)

The Pirates and Cardinals fired up a midday matinee under the Arch with a matchup between Roansy Contreras and Steven Matz. It has been a tale of two starts for Contreras, who allowed one run on three hits in 5.2 innings against the Red Sox in his first outing, but got bombed by the Astros for seven runs on nine hits in 3.1 frames in his last effort. He only has five strikeouts against five walks and a 41.2% Hard Hit%, so he’s certainly had some command issues in the early going.

Contreras has experienced a big velo drop with a decrease of 1.5 mph on the fastball from 2022 and hasn’t been able to miss bats while working behind in the count way too often. Contreras was in the 64th percentile in Whiff% last season, but ranks in the 29th percentile this season. He allowed a lot of hard contact last year, but had some swing-and-miss upside to overcome it. We’re not seeing that this season and his command will likely continue to suffer.

Matz has allowed 10 runs on 19 hits in 11 innings of work. On one hand, it’s easy to see why he has struggled, given that he’s faced the Braves and then pitched against the Rockies in Colorado. On the other hand, he just hasn’t pitched well and there were a lot of questions about him coming into the season. He’s got a 45.9% Hard Hit% and also has some decreased velo to this point.

Matz had a 5.25 ERA with a 3.78 FIP last season over 48 innings, so there were some positive regression signs, but he also had issues staying healthy and allowed eight homers in that small sample size. I was a little surprised to see this total sitting at just 8.5 given the increased totals we’ve seen with the increased run environment, but it is still Busch Stadium, but it moved to 9 and that makes sense.

Milwaukee Brewers at San Diego Padres (-150, 8)

The Brewers need Freddy Peralta more than ever right now. With a litany of injuries (including  an ominous update on Brandon Woodruff yesterday) and concerns about Eric Lauer, Peralta needs to stay healthy and also be productive. He’s done both thus far with one run allowed on six hits over 12 innings with 14 strikeouts against six walks. He only allowed two hard-hit balls against a Mets team that hasn’t seen him much, but did allow seven in 16 batted ball events against the Cardinals for a 43.8% Hard Hit%. However,  he’s kept the ball on the ground well and has gotten swings and misses to neutralize baserunners.

Peralta has experienced nearly a 2 mph bump in velo this season and his Stuff+ numbers have looked quite good, so it sure seems like he’s back. Peralta had a 3.58 ERA with a 3.06 FIP last season when limited to 78 innings. He had a 2.81 ERA with a 3.12 FIP in 144.1 innings back in 2021. He’s been very reliable when he’s been able to be out there and the stuff looks really explosive right now.

We’ve also seen a huge spin rate increase on his slider that even surpasses his 2020 levels. He’s also seen a big bump on his curveball relative to last season and his four-seam fastball spin rate is the highest that it has been. I’m buying a lot of stock in Peralta at this point. He’s actually got better numbers as a starter than a reliever with a .272 wOBA against compared to .292 and he’s still running a K% north of 30%.

Seth Lugo has also been really impressive thus far with two runs allowed on nine hits over 13 innings of work. He’s struck out 12 and walked four, with all four walks coming last time out against the Braves. Lugo has allowed a bit more hard contact than Peralta at 41.2% and he isn’t getting the same rate of swings and misses. That said, Lugo is pitching really, really well and his velocity looks pretty good despite being back in the rotation full-time.

Usually pitchers see a velo bump when they go from the rotation to the bullpen and a velo decrease when they do the opposite. Lugo hasn’t started since 2020 and hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2017, but he’s maintained his velo well.

I don’t really have a lot of ammo to go against Lugo, though his .242 BABIP with a 67.6% GB% is probably not going to hang around long. Peralta’s .214 BABIP won’t either, but at least he’s inducing weaker contact and getting more whiffs with more strikeouts. I just feel compelled to bet Peralta in an underdog role, especially at this price. I don’t think we’re going to see a lot more of these, especially with how great everything looks under the hood.

His name recognition and stats have a much shorter price for the 1st 5 and I’d rather take the full-game number and expect a little regression from Lugo and the Brewers to have a lead to protect late.

Pick: Brewers +130

Philadelphia Phillies (-115, 9) at Cincinnati Reds

Matt Strahm and Graham Ashcraft have both found success this season and will square off at Great American Ball Park on Saturday afternoon. Honestly, Strahm has been a good pitcher throughout his career. Injuries have been a hindrance and he hasn’t really gotten the chance to start since 2019, but I think the stuff is solid and he has generally done well to limit hard contact.

Strahm has scattered five hits over his 10 innings of work with 10 strikeouts against two walks. He hasn’t allowed a run in two starts and a relief outing. The Yankees hit him hard with six hard-hit balls and two barrels in 10 batted ball events, but the Marlins did not in his most recent outing. While the Reds offense is decidedly better at home, they still aren’t a team racking up a lot of high-velocity contact. Strahm has a good chance to keep succeeding here.

But, so does Ashcraft, who has allowed three runs on 10 hits in 13 innings of work. He’s struck out 13 and walked four. He has only allowed a 32.4% Hard Hit% with his heavy cutter/slider arsenal. Ashcraft is missing more bats this season and has gotten more chases outside the zone. He’s traded sinkers for sliders and that should be a really positive development. Opposing hitters batted .313 against his sinker last season and it only had a Whiff% of 11.1%.

Furthermore, the spin rate on Ashcraft’s pitches has risen greatly, as his slider has gone from an average of 2707 rpm to 2846 rpm and his cutter has jumped about 170 rpm. Those are pretty elite spin rate numbers and he always had more swing-and-miss upside throwing a 96 mph cutter with good life. We’re seeing it now with a higher Whiff% on the cutter. His cutter comp is Corbin Burnes, but with more velo. It’s almost Emmanuel Clase-esque. That’s pretty damn special. Oh, and his slider comp is Jacob deGrom. That’s not bad.

This line moved very quickly with books that opened early numbers towards the Reds and then shifted back towards the Phillies. I think Strahm has a good chance at continuing to throw the ball well and the Phillies have the better bullpen. But, Ashcraft probably won’t be had at many bargain prices the rest of the way. I was pretty torn here.

Arizona Diamondbacks at Miami Marlins (-140, 8.5)

Ryne Nelson will be on the bump for his sixth career MLB start as the Diamondbacks battle the Marlins. In two starts this season, Nelson has allowed six runs on 10 hits in 11 innings of work with six strikeouts against five walks, but he’s had a couple of tough assignments against the Dodgers and Padres. He’s done a good job of limiting hard contact with a 35.1% Hard Hit%, but he hasn’t missed a lot of bats, hasn’t generated a lot of chases, and hasn’t pitched ahead in the count enough.

To be honest, based on his 16.3% O-Swing% per Statcast and his 7.7% SwStr%, he’s displayed some pretty decent stuff to not get hit really hard. He’s thrown way too many middle-middle fastballs and his velocity is down a touch, so the fact that he’s been able to navigate two talented lineups with about as little damage as you could hope for is a good sign going forward.

Nelson does throw a lot of heaters and he’s allowed a .308 BA with a .577 SLG on 22 balls in play with that pitch. He’s throwing it at a lower rate than he did in his few starts last season. I’d love to see a more versatile pitch mix and maybe we will moving forward.

Braxton Garrett gets the call for the Fish, as he’s worked 137.1 MLB innings with a 4.13 ERA and a 4.00 FIP. He was solid over 88 innings last season with a 3.58 ERA and a 3.56 FIP and has allowed four runs on 15 hits in 7.2 innings thus far in 2023. Both appearances came against the Mets, with one at home and one on the road, but he limited the Mets to a 27.6% Hard Hit% over 29 batted balls.

The left-handed Garrett was quite a bit better at home than on the road, where his SLG was 92 points lower and his wOBA against was 15 points lower, as an oddly high BB% in his 41 home innings skewed his OBP and wOBA a bit. He gets the nod at home here.

At first glance, I thought this line was too high. The Marlins just have such a low offensive projection and it was lowered even more with Luis Arraez out of the lineup again. He's slashing .514/.571/.757 vs. RHP so far this season for a Marlins team that ranks 24th in wOBA against righties. His absence did move the line down a bit, but not as much as I would have expected.

Arizona is an excellent defensive team that creates a lot of added value on the bases. If this is going to be a low-scoring affair, those things should benefit them. Also, their primary relievers have had a couple of days off if they do have a lead to protect. Arraez being out pushed me over the brink on this one, as I liked it to begin with, but he's a noteworthy absence in a lackluster Miami lineup.

Pick: Diamondbacks +120

Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers (-145, 9)

After getting stymied by Justin Steele, the Dodgers will give it a try against Jameson Taillon as they look to even up the weekend set with the Cubs. The numbers would suggest that Taillon has struggled in the early going with eight runs allowed on 13 hits in nine innings of work, but it hasn’t all been his fault. One of the runs is unearned and he’s given up a .406 BABIP with a 34.4% Hard Hit%, so it seems like he hasn’t gotten much assistance from his defense overall in starts against the Brewers and Rangers.

Taillon has altered his pitch mix to throw more cutters and fewer fastballs this season, which could explain the Hard Hit% decrease, but he hasn’t gotten many swings and misses. His SwStr% through two starts is just 6.8% and he isn’t getting a lot of chases outside the zone. The cutter also hasn’t really worked out well to this point, as opposing batters have eight hits on 12 balls in play. It is a pitch he has used almost exclusively against lefties, but lefties are hitting .417/.462/.625 off of him through 26 plate appearances.

But, Taillon hasn’t really been getting hit hard, despite the poor results. His average exit velocity against on the cutter is just 86.1 mph and it’s 85.7 mph on the fastball. Based on the batted ball data, his xBA is .250, but his actual BA against is .317. He’s done well to limit walks in his two outings, which is how you really get in trouble against the Dodgers. He also has just a 5.9% BB% for his career and had a 4.4% BB% last season.

It hasn’t been unicorns and rainbows for Michael Grove either, as the Dodgers youngster has allowed 12 runs on 14 hits in just 7.1 innings of work. The Diamondbacks scratched out nine runs over 3.1 innings against him last time out, as Grove allowed 41.2% Hard Hit% and pitched behind in the count a lot. Grove worked 29.1 innings at the MLB level last season with a 4.60 ERA and a 5.16 FIP after starting the season at Double-A.

Unlike Taillon, Grove has allowed a lot of hard contact with his primary pitch (fastball) and doesn’t have a deep arsenal. Taillon has multiple pitches he can go to if one isn’t working, but Grove only throws a fastball, slider, and a curveball and the slider is the only one generating any swing and miss right now. As long as hitters seek out and isolate the fastball, which he’s throwing over 50% of the time, they should have success.

The Dodgers are a pretty hefty favorite with a guy who maybe shouldn’t be a big leaguer right now. The Cubbies have a top-10 lineup by wOBA and 12 more stolen bases than the Dodgers. Grove has already surrendered nine stolen bases in just nine Major League games.

Because the Cubs won comfortably yesterday, it was a light day for the bullpen and most everybody is available. Seiya Suzuki came back yesterday and provided a big boost for the offense and I like where this team is at overall. I’ll take a shot with the Cubs at a dog price today, something I should have done yesterday.

Pick: Cubs +125

Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees (-135, 8.5)

Tyler Mahle and Domingo German will line it up with today’s earliest first pitch as the Twins look to secure a series victory at Yankee Stadium. The Twins won in blowout fashion on Thursday and took down a tight 4-3 decision on Friday. Carlos Correa has had a huge impact on this series since returning from a bum back and it couldn’t have come at a better time with so many dudes out of the lineup.

The Twins are still only 23rd in wOBA and have a 97 wRC+, so they’ve been a below average group thus far. We’ll see what they can do against German, who has allowed six runs on just six hits in 7.2 innings of work with eight strikeouts and five walks. German walked five in his last start against Cleveland with zero strikeouts, but only allowed two hits over his three innings. Of the 12 balls in play, not one of them was hit harder than 95 mph and they had an average exit velocity of just 81.9 mph.

Mahle had allowed five runs on 13 hits in 11 innings to start 2023. He’s struck out 13 and only walked two, so he’s fit the mold of most Twins pitchers with a lofty K%. He gave up some hard contact against the Astros in his April 9 start, but limited the hard contact in his first outing against the Marlins. He sits at 41.4% for the season.

He’s an interesting guy because he had big platoon split issues early in his career against lefties, but worked so hard to rectify them that he actually wound up hurting himself against righties, who have posted wOBAs of .357 and .339 the last two seasons with big SLG marks. Of course, what we also have to consider about Mahle is that he allowed a .254/.334/.473 slash in 55 career games at Great American Ball Park with 61 homers allowed and had a career 5.02 ERA with a 5.02 FIP.

We’ll see how a day game at Yankee Stadium treats him. I don’t have a play in this one. Rain is also in the forecast in the Bronx and could hit during the game, causing a delay.

Baltimore Orioles (-115, 9) at Chicago White Sox

Kyle Gibson will become the first pitcher to make his fourth start of the season when this matinee in the Windy City begins. He’s allowed seven runs on 17 hits in 18.1 innings of work thus far. Gibson has 12 strikeouts against four walks, so he hasn’t racked up a whole lot of swing and miss and that’s why his FIP is 4.30 with a 3.44 ERA. He has allowed six barrels over starts against the Red Sox, Rangers and A’s. The good contact management numbers are skewed by that outing against Oakland, who only had four hard-hit balls in 17 batted ball events and just one barrel with an average exit velo of 86.1 mph. Otherwise, he’s had two starts with an exit velo north of 90 mph and 14 hard-hit balls in 36 batted ball events.

Michael Kopech’s two starts could not have been more different by the results, but they were more similar than you would think. Kopech allowed seven runs on eight hits against the Giants in his first start and allowed five home runs. He gave up one run on two hits in six innings against the Pirates and actually allowed a higher Hard Hit% in that one. Out of 32 batted balls against Kopech, 11 of them have been barrels. He allowed 29 barrels in 329 batted ball events last season. That is some seriously awful command.

I do like the over in this game and apologize for it being an early one, but I think it’s worthy of a bet. It’s going to be warm in Chicago, which should help the ball fly a little better. The Orioles used Felix Bautista for a second straight day to close out yesterday’s game, so I doubt he’s available in this one. Outside of Bautista’s dominance, the bullpen has had some ups and downs. The White Sox pen has been terrible.

Gibson is a guy that I’m seeing negative regression signs from in the early going and Kopech simply can’t locate at all. The Pirates failed to take advantage, but I think the Orioles can. They’re swinging the bats really well right now.

Pick: Over 9 (-115)

Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays (-120, 10)

The dream of a perfect season has ended for the Rays. They’re even an underdog to Yusei Kikuchi today, which seems a lot like kicking a guy while he’s down. Calvin Faucher will be the opener prior to Josh Fleming and Fleming draws a right-handed-heavy Blue Jays lineup, which is how you end up with Kikuchi and the Jays as a favorite here.

Faucher has allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings of work, but this will be his first start in the opener role. Fleming was awful against the Nationals in his first start with five runs allowed on 10 hits, but bounced back really well against Boston with four scoreless innings and five strikeouts. He had a 6.43 ERA with a 4.43 FIP in 35 innings last season and had a 5.09 ERA with a 4.27 FIP in 104.1 innings in 2021. The Rays usually have a lot of wins and successes with their pitchers, but Fleming seems like the weak link.

That doesn’t mean anybody is rushing to back Kikuchi, who has allowed seven runs on 12 hits in his 9.1 innings of work. He threw five good innings against the Royals in his first start, but then allowed six runs on nine hits and gave up three homers against the Angels in his second outing. As usual, Kikuchi has allowed a ton of hard contact with a 53.3% Hard Hit% in two starts and an average exit velocity of 92.6 mph.

This could be a game with a lot of runs, as Fleming is a subpar bulk reliever and Kikuchi is a downright bad starter, even though Stuff+ really likes the way his arsenal looks. The movement and shape of his pitches have never been the problems. The really awful command has been the problem.

Los Angeles Angels (-115, 10) at Boston Red Sox

It will be Tyler Anderson and Nick Pivetta at Fenway Park in this one as the Angels and Red Sox exchange pleasantries again today. I got really fortunate that yesterday’s game stayed under, as the Angels gift-wrapped four runs for the Red Sox with defensive miscues and pitching mishaps. It was not a pleasant baseball game to watch.

Speaking of fortunate, Pivetta has really had a lucky season to this point. He has only allowed one earned run on six hits over 10 innings with 12 strikeouts and five walks, but he’s dodged more bullets than Neo in The Matrix. He has a 68% Hard Hit% with 17 hard-hit balls out of 25 batted ball events. He’s also allowed seven barrels. His 28% Barrel% is second to the astronomical rate of Kopech. Pivetta ranks in the 5th percentile in average exit velocity, 2nd percentile in Hard Hit%, and 1st percentile in Barrel%.

Pivetta gave up two solo homers and a double on his five barrels against the Pirates. Both barrels against the Rays were flyouts. xERA is a measure of expected ERA based on contact quality against and other factors. Pivetta has a 0.90 ERA with a 6.36 xERA and a 5.07 FIP. He has a .174 BABIP and a 97.6% LOB% despite all that hard contact.

Anderson had a rough outing of his own last time out against the Blue Jays. He allowed five runs on seven hits over 4.2 innings and gave up three homers. That was on the heels of six shutout frames against the A’s, so he failed a much tougher test. The Blue Jays should be one of the top offenses against lefties when all is said and done. I’m not sure I can say the same about the Red Sox. 

Boston is currently 19th in wOBA against lefties, but they’re missing Adam Duvall, who profiles as a terrific platoon bat. Masataka Yoshida is still not in the starting lineup. This will actually be the sixth lefty in the last seven games for the Red Sox, so they’ve been seeing a lot of them.

I feel like I have every reason to fade Pivetta today, but I’m having a tough time pulling the trigger. Anderson doesn’t have an elite defense behind him like he did with the Dodgers and he’s a pitch-to-contact guy in a tough pitcher’s park. I’m going to pass on this one and hope that the horseshoe lodged deep in an unnamed orifice stays there for Pivetta and I can go against him in a more favorable spot soon.

Texas Rangers at Houston Astros (-175, 8)

Jon Gray and Hunter Brown meet at the Juice Box as the Astros continue to limp out of the gate. Houston is just 6-8 thus far and didn’t do much offensively yesterday against Martin Perez and the Rangers bullpen. They draw a right-hander in Gray, who has allowed four runs on 10 hits in 12 innings with 11 strikeouts against five walks. Gray has mostly limited hard contact, but has allowed four barrels and three home runs.

He had a solid season last year in Texas before injuries got in the way. He finished with a 3.96 ERA and a 3.80 FIP in 127.1 innings of work. It was his first season not with the Rockies and I’m not too surprised that he performed well. Gray always managed to run some pretty good strikeout numbers despite all the BS that comes with pitching in Denver. He saw a velo bump with the Rangers as well, which was helpful.

I think Gray’s just a quality pitcher. He pumps a lot of first-pitch strikes, works ahead in the count, has good velocity, and has been average or better most of the time in the Hard Hit% department.

The Astros are sending out a really promising young arm in Brown, who has allowed five runs on eight hits in 11.2 innings. He’s struck out 12 and walked five in his starts against the Tigers and Twins. He was a little shaky in the debut outing against the Tigers, but gave up an unearned run over seven innings against Minnesota. He has a 32.1% Hard Hit% and has only allowed one barrel in his two outings.

Brown made his MLB debut last season with 20.1 regular season innings and three scoreless postseason appearances. He had two starts and five relief outings and only allowed two runs on 15 hits with 22 K in 20.1 innings. He, too, is a quality arm. At first glance, I figured I’d want to be on the Rangers here at a big underdog price with how the Astros are slumping a bit, but I’m not sure Gray has a great matchup here.

He doesn’t generate a ton of swing-and-miss, more like a league average rate. He gets a lot of strikeouts from throwing a lot of strikes. The Astros have struck out a lot more than usual this season, but they’re a pretty aggressive lineup in the zone and I’d expect they jump on Gray early in counts.

San Francisco Giants (-145, 9) at Detroit Tigers

The Tigers walked it off last night on a three-run bomb from Nick Maton on a 3-0 count. I’d love to insert a soliloquy about why more guys should swing 3-0, but it’s a big card and we don’t have time for that. I can keep this handicap really quick and simple.

The Tigers are sending out Michael Lorenzen, who is returning from the 15-day IL from a groin issue. He made one rehab start at Triple-A and faced 12 batters. He allowed four runs on two hits, walked three, and only struck out two. He’s not going to be long for this game after throwing 56 pitches. The Detroit bullpen has been rather bad this season.

However, I don’t have much interest in laying hefty road numbers with the Giants, who are a bad defensive team in a spacious ballpark. Anthony DeSclafani has looked great in two starts with one run allowed on six hits and 11 strikeouts against no walks. The Giants should win this game, but that’s a steep price to pay on a team that I just don’t think is very good.

With Joc Pederson hitting the IL before the game, this total fell from 9 to 8.5 at most shops and the line dropped about 10 cents on the Giants side.

Cleveland Guardians (-180, 9.5) at Washington Nationals

How much does the betting market hate Chad Kuhl? Look at the size of this favorite role for Cleveland with Zach Plesac on the mound. This one has been bet up a bit on the Cleveland side, but, man, I really have some increasing concerns about this Guardians offense. They rank really poorly in the contact quality metrics. At least Josh Bell homered and doubled yesterday to hit a couple balls hard when they needed it the most.

Kuhl is a gas can and a guy that Cleveland (and pretty much any lineup) should crush. He has a 4.80 ERA and a 4.81 FIP for his career. In two starts this season, he has allowed nine runs on 10 hits over 10 innings with three homers, five walks, and seven strikeouts. He has allowed an average exit velocity of 93.4 mph and 16 hard-hit balls in 32 batted ball events with six barrels. If Cleveland is ever going to have a day with a bunch of hard contact, today should be that day.

Plesac’s first start was a disaster, as he allowed six runs on seven hits and recorded only three outs against Oakland. He was better in his second start against Seattle with seven innings of two-run ball with six strikeouts. He still gave up a TON of loud contact with 14 hard-hit balls in 20 batted ball events. He also allowed three barrels, but it was a day in Cleveland where the ball simply did not carry. So far, he’s allowed a not nice 69% Hard Hit%. He shouldn’t be long for this rotation and I’m ready for Tanner Bibee to be freed.

We’ve seen a big spike in slider usage for Plesac, which makes sense because his fastball is terrible. I’m not sure the slider is that great either. He’s just not a good Major League pitcher and probably not worthy of being this big of a favorite, as bad as Kuhl is.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a lot of runs here with two pitch-to-contact dudes on a warm and humid day in D.C. Weather could be a factor here with thunderstorm chances during the day. The start could get delayed. The game could get banged, leading to a likely doubleheader tomorrow. I don’t know how the weather plays out and I do think the chances are good for a lot of runs here, but the Nationals offense is far better against lefties than righties and there’s a chance that they don’t hold up their end of the bargain.

New York Mets (-190, 9.5) at Oakland Athletics

A total of 9.5 in Oakland is pretty outlandish. I get it with Carlos Carrasco and Shintaro Fujinami, but this is the first game with a total of 9.5 at the Coliseum since July 3, 2021. There were only two such games in 2021 and four games in 2020. There were actually a lot in 2019, but we had the juiced ball that season and scoring was up everywhere.

Carrasco has looked pretty bad this season. He’s allowed 11 runs on 10 hits in 8.2 innings with a bunch of hard contact, decreased velocity, and three homers to go along with seven walks. He’s a guy that has battled a lot of injuries in his career and the pitch clock seems to really be affecting him in a negative way. He’s had issues maintaining pitch speed as his starts have played out. His fastball velocity is down 2 mph per Statcast and his sinker velo is down 1.4 mph.

Honestly, if this was anybody other than Shintaro Fujinami for the A’s, I’d probably be betting against the Mets in this game. Fujinami has allowed 13 runs on eight hits in 6.2 innings of work. He’s walked seven batters already this season and looks to be having some issues adjusting to MLB. What’s crazy is that his pure stuff looks really impressive, but his command and control are not MLB-caliber.

He did do a much better job with contact management in his second start, as the Rays only hit three balls hard out of 15 batted ball events, but he walked four guys and created his own issues. This is a real dumpster fire of a game. I could definitely see a lot of runs here, but I could also see Carrasco somehow figuring it out and keeping the A’s at bay in a good pitcher’s park. I could also see Fujinami having a start where he works around the walks because his stuff should be pretty hard to barrel. It’s a weird game and not one I want to bet on.

Atlanta Braves (-135, 8.5) at Kansas City Royals

If you’ve been following the work at FanGraphs or any of the writings in the analytics community, you’ve read about Kris Bubic this week. The Royals left-hander is getting a lot of buzz. His fastball velo is up and the quality of his arsenal is up across the board. The Royals hired Guardians bullpen coach Brian Sweeney to be their pitching coach, so it isn’t a big surprise that somebody would look better (Brady Singer is another story). It just so happens to be Bubic.

Bubic shoved against the Giants last time out with six shutout innings and nine strikeouts, but that is a Giants lineup that has been rather bad against lefties to this point. He allowed two runs on seven hits against the Blue Jays in his first start with a lot of loud contact against. His Stuff+ metrics look a lot stronger and the increased velo is never a bad thing. To this point, he has a huge bump in SwStr% and that is always a good sign going into a start against a Braves team that hits for a lot of power, but will swing and miss.

I guess I’m impressed to see Bubic add velo and have better stuff, but I’m not ready to anoint him as some sort of savior for the Royals rotation. Let’s see what he does with a real tough test today against a lineup that will punish command mistakes. I also don’t want one game to be the barometer. I’ll watch him closer than I would have coming into the season.

The Braves have to be thrilled with what Bryce Elder has provided to this point. He’s thrown 12.1 scoreless innings with eight hits allowed and four walks. He’s struck out 13. That being said, he’s running a .286 BABIP with a 50% Hard Hit%, so there are some regression signs in the profile. His xERA is 3.85. I’m not sure a really bad Royals offense will be the one to make those regression signs a reality, but they’re there and something to think about.

Colorado Rockies at Seattle Mariners (-250, 8)

George Kirby and the Mariners are heavy favorites over Ryan Feltner and the Rockies. I don’t have much to really say here. Kirby is a dude that I love and it’s easy to fade the Rockies on the road, where they just don’t score runs. This line has jumped up pretty substantially on the Mariners side and, to be honest, you can look for at least a 10-15 cent fade on Colorado in virtually every road game.

Feltner has done a pretty good job of limiting hard contact in starts against the Dodgers (road) and Nationals (home), but he’s walked eight guys in 9.2 innings to go along with 10 hits allowed. He’s only given up eight runs despite the traffic and has a K% that is too high to be sustainable given his career numbers. If he keeps allowing baserunners at a high rate, he’ll easily be one of the worst pitchers in baseball.

Kirby had some issues with the Angels in his first start, but rebounded nicely to hold the Guardians to one run on five hits. I would expect him to get locked in sooner rather than later and see more strikeouts. That may even happen today.

TL;DR Recap

Brewers +130

Diamondbacks +120

Cubs +125

Orioles/White Sox Over 9 (-115)

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Matt Youmans: Heat (+8.5) at Nuggets. View more picks.


The Lombardi Line: Both the Nuggets and Heat shot poorly in Game 1 of the NBA Finals - and the total is down five points in Game 2 (219.5 to 214.5). Consider betting the OVER if you expect any positive regression. View more tips.