MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Saturday, April 22nd

By Adam Burke  ( 

April 22, 2023 11:17 AM

MLB schedule today has 16 games

We’ve got a busy Saturday with action all day long as there will be 16 games to think about. The Guardians and Marlins will play a twin bill at Progressive Field if Mother Nature cooperates, but there are other games threatened by weather.

It’s a big card, so let’s dive right in. A brief reminder: Make sure you are always checking the option for Listed Pitchers Must Start. Don’t just accept “Action”. (Tracking sheet)

Be sure to catch up on any episodes you missed from this week on VSiN Daily Baseball Bets. The podcast will return on Monday.

Here are some thoughts on the April 22 card (odds from DraftKings):

Los Angeles Dodgers (-120, 8.5) at Chicago Cubs

This is one of several games that has weather considerations today. A late start seems possible between Dustin May and Hayden Wesneski, but it could also be one of those situations where the game starts and then gets delayed, which would leave each team in a bind from a pitching standpoint.

The Dodgers sure seem to have the upper hand on the starting pitcher front with May, who has allowed eight runs on 15 hits in 24 innings of work. He’s coming off of his worst start of the season against the Mets with five runs allowed on eight hits, but he had his lowest Hard Hit% of the season in that start at 22.8%, so he wasn’t hit hard. It was just some bad luck and bad timing. I did expect some regression from May given that he hasn’t found his strikeout swagger yet with only 13 punchouts, but he’s still keeping the ball on the ground at a high rate to minimize damage.

Wesneski had a couple of rocky outings to start the year, but just fired seven innings of one-run ball in his start. All Major League lineups have some measure of talent to them, but the Oakland lineup that Wesneski bested is certainly not one high on the list. In starts against the Mariners and Reds, he allowed 10 runs (eight earned) over just six innings of work. Suffice it to say that the Dodgers lineup is better than the A’s lineup.

I think this game is lined pretty fairly. We’ll see how LAD bounces back from nearly getting perfect-gamed yesterday.

New York Mets at San Francisco Giants (-130, 9)

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Giants face a lefty today and they’re terrible against lefties. This one is David Peterson, who simply has to follow the lead of Joey Lucchesi and he’ll wind up having some success. Peterson has not been all that sharp for the Mets this season, though, as he’s allowed 14 runs on 26 hits in 20.2 innings of work. He has two really good starts to his name against the Marlins and Padres, but also a bad start against the Brewers and a rough one last time out against the Dodgers.

Peterson does have some noteworthy positive regression signs. He’s running a .368 BABIP against, which should level off. He also has an outlandishly high HR/FB% against of 31.3%. He’s given up five homers with a GB% of 51.7%, so the fly balls that he has allowed have been well-struck.

After Lucchesi’s masterful performance yesterday with seven shutout innings and nine strikeouts, the Giants are down to a 60 wRC+ against southpaws. They’ve hit righties really well, but they have not hit virtually any of the lefties that they have faced.

It will be Logan Webb for the Giants as they look to bounce back. Webb has allowed 16 runs (13 earned) across his four starts with some noteworthy positive regression signs of his own. He’s got a stellar 28/3 K/BB ratio over 23.2 innings and a K% like that would normally lead to a strong LOB%. Webb has the opposite with a 60.9% strand rate. He’s also running a .350 BABIP and a 29.4% HR/FB%.

Both guys have positive regression signs that look similar and I think there’s a path to success. The path may be easier for Peterson given how the Giants have been against lefties, but I’m pretty high on Webb, so this one is a pass for me.

Colorado Rockies at Philadelphia Phillies (-180, 10.5)

Kyle Freeland and Cristopher Sanchez are slated to go in this one. I’ll keep this one brief. Sanchez is coming off of the IL to make this start after throwing 8.2 innings over two Triple-A starts with one run allowed on three hits with 11 K against three walks. Sanchez has just 52.2 MLB innings to his name with a 5.47 ERA and a 4.38 FIP. He’s not really a guy we know much about.

Freeland is and he was completely rocked in his last start. He allowed nine runs in just 2.2 innings as a lot of regression signs came together to create a perfect storm. He still has more to come with a 3.80 ERA, a 4.89 FIP, and a 5.54 xFIP, so I’ll be looking for that, but not at the expense of a huge number with this Sanchez cat on the mound.

Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates (-165, 9)

Luis Cessa gets the start for the Reds here, which automatically makes them unbettable. He’s a reliever masquerading as a starter for this team as they wait for some of their younger, higher-upside arms to get ready. In three starts, Cessa has struck out three of the 70 batters that he has faced and he just allowed 11 runs to the Phillies over three innings of work. He faced 27 batters in three innings, which is really, really hard to do.

In Freeland’s last start, I looked really hard at taking the Pirates. I knew that Kyle had a bevy of red flags and I had also done some digging on Rich Hill. Hill’s first two starts were really iffy with 10 runs allowed on 11 hits over nine innings. However, he then had a really solid start against the Astros with six innings of two-run ball. Then he followed it up with six really good innings in Colorado.

Haters and doubters will say that he was pitching with a big lead, but I noticed a change in Hill’s mechanics in his start against the Astros, as he moved his horizontal release point a bit. The mechanics tweak led to a spike in velocity and also improved spin rates, both of which he carried over into Coors Field, where spin rates usually sag because there’s less resistance on the baseball.

Oddly enough, Hill actually had his best spin rates of the season in that outing in Denver. He generated a lot more swing and miss across his entire arsenal in that start against the Rockies and it looks like he and the Pirates fixed whatever the early-season issue was.

It’s a big number today with Hill, but he’s definitely figured some things out and the Reds offense stinks away from Great American Ball Park. Luis Cessa stinks pretty much anywhere. The Reds bullpen is also odious. The Pirates pen is a little shorthanded tonight with David Bednar having worked 3-in-4 and 4-in-6. Colin Holderman and Robert Stephenson have also worked B2B days, but the Pirates are doing some good things on the pitching side and have one of the league’s top relief corps. I can’t say that about the Reds.

It’s a hefty number. Shop around for a cheaper one because they are out there. But, I’m on the Pirates here.

Pick: Pirates -165

San Diego Padres (-155, 9.5) at Arizona Diamondbacks

The second big return of the week for the Padres will be today with Joe Musgrove back on the bump after missing some time due to a weight room mishap. Musgrove fractured his toe when he dropped a weight on it, but he’s back now after a couple of rehab starts. He allowed seven runs on 11 hits over 9.1 innings with a solid 14/1 K/BB ratio, but his rehab starts did come 10 days apart, with the second one coming at Single-A.

Musgrove “tweaked” his shoulder in his first rehab outing and the Padres played it carefully with one of their prized rotation pieces. He only threw 69 pitches in that Single-A start with four runs allowed on six hits.

Merrill Kelly seemingly fixed his walk issue last time out against the Cardinals. After walking four guys in each of his first three starts, Kelly didn’t walk anybody in his six innings against the Redbirds. He has only allowed six earned runs over 21.1 innings of work to this point. He has been able to work around the walks thanks to a really good D-Backs defense. There are some regression signs lurking in the profile, though.

He has a 2.53 ERA with a 4.23 FIP and a 4.79 xFIP, with that high walk rate doing a lot of damage to his FIP and xFIP metrics. He’s running a .264 BABIP with a 76.1% LOB%, which is a little high given his strikeout rate. However, he’s also limited hard contact well aside from his first start and I do think it makes sense for his control metrics to settle in now given that he pitched for Team USA in the WBC and a lot of guys have had some issues coming back from that.

Unless Musgrove settles in from a command standpoint, I like the Diamondbacks offense in this matchup. They don’t draw walks, but that’s less important against a guy like Musgrove, who fills up the zone. He has a 6.1% BB%. Aggressive teams should fare well against guys with iffy command, which I presume Musgrove has at present. Typically he doesn’t, but those two rehab starts are the only starts he’s made this season. He suffered his injury on Feb. 28 and had not yet appeared in a Spring Training game.

I’m sure he’s been throwing sim games and side sessions and stuff, but that’s not the real deal against a big league team. Specifically, a big league team that ranks third in wRC+ at home this season.

Pick: Diamondbacks +135

Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees (-170, 7.5)

Alek Manoah and Gerrit Cole are listed for the early start in the Bronx, as the Yankees are a big favorite behind their ace. Cole has been every bit of an ace this season with 32 strikeouts in 28.1 innings with just three runs allowed on 13 hits. He has not allowed a HR yet this season after giving up 33 long balls last year.

Manoah has not looked like an ace for the Blue Jays. He has nearly as many walks (15) as strikeouts (16) in his 19.1 innings of work. He’s given up 15 runs on 23 hits over his four starts. There just isn’t much to like about the profile right now, but he is a guy with good stuff and generally good command, so he could get it turned around at any time.

It’s a big price here and understandably so. I just don’t see much of an edge on this game.

Chicago White Sox at Tampa Bay Rays (-190, 7)

Dylan Cease and Shane McClanahan are listed to go in this one between the White Sox and Rays after a high-scoring affair at the Trop yesterday. This is not expected to be an 8-7 game with two studs on the bump, though there are a couple of interesting notes about this game. McClanahan is left-handed and we have seen a ton of line movement in the past on the White Sox against lefties. McClanahan is not your average, run-of-the-mill southpaw, though, so there aren’t a ton of reasons to bet against him.

He’s come as advertised this season as well with four runs allowed over 23 innings and 27 strikeouts. He does have 11 walks, but the White Sox are not a lineup that draws a lot of free passes, so I don’t think that slight shortcoming is going to be that much of an issue for him.

Cease has only allowed five earned runs over his four starts, though he has given up four unearned runs. He has 29 strikeouts in 22.1 innings of work and he, too, has had a little bit of a problem at times finding the strike zone. Truth be told, McClanahan and Cease have really similar statistics overall and the same regression signs from an ERA-FIP-xFIP standpoint.

It’s a big number here on McClanahan and you virtually never get Cease at a number like this, but I still can’t take the plunge here. The White Sox have not really looked the part against most opponents this season and I’d be surprised to see them do a number on McClanahan. They could gut out a 3-2 win, but the paths to victory do seem rather limited.

Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers (-240, 8.5)

Shintaro Fujinami and Andrew Heaney are the starters set to get going here in this AL West battle. Fujinami was a little bit better in his start against the Mets after allowing 13 runs in his first two starts. He allowed three runs on four hits with five strikeouts against two walks. Hopefully he does settle in a bit because his stuff profile is actually really special. He just doesn’t seem to have MLB-level control or command yet, but each data point is a chance for him to figure some stuff out.

The Rangers will counter with Heaney, who got shellacked in his first start of the season to the tune of seven runs in 2.2 innings of work, but has not allowed a run over his last 10 frames. Keep in mind that starters with blow-ups early in the season will have some pretty skewed numbers that the traditional and advanced stats aren’t necessarily going to account for. For example, Heaney has a 67.9% LOB% that does signal a little bit of positive regression, but it’s only low because of one really bad start where he had minimal luck on batted balls.

One bad start takes a while to shed from the ledger early in the year, so it’s best to look at game logs for pitchers rather than look at the overall numbers because they can tell some lies early in the year.

I don’t have a play here with a cost-prohibitive favorite and not the slightest idea what Fujinami will do in his fourth kick at the can.

Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles (-180, 8)

Another bad team faces a big underdog price as the Tigers and Orioles square off again at Camden Yards. Joey Wentz gets the call for the Motor City Kitties, while it will be Kyle Gibson for the host Orioles. Gibson only has 13 strikeouts in 23.2 innings of work, so he has really struggled to miss bats since joining Baltimore. He has a 4.18 ERA with a 4.78 FIP, so the low strikeout rate has really done a lot to skew his numbers.

Certainly this is a step down in class against the Tigers, who are one of the league’s worst offensive teams, but you need to show some measure of strikeout prowess to have success and Gibson just has not done that. Putting it on the defense - a subpar Baltimore defense at that - is eventually going to bite Gibson. He’s faced the Red Sox, Rangers, A’s, and White Sox to this point and has really pedestrian numbers. That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence when he faces better offenses in the AL East.

There would obviously be a price difference if this was Spencer Turnbull or somebody else for Detroit, but I’d give it a lot of thought to going against Gibson if it was somebody I had more confidence in. I just don’t know what I’ll get from Wentz, who has allowed nine runs on 11 hits in 12.2 innings of work. He’s struck out 10 and walked six and is coming off of his best outing of the season with six good innings against the Giants. He is left-handed, though, and that surely helps against San Francisco.

I think the Tigers are fairly live today, but the O’s are a borderline top-five offense against lefties and that scares me enough to stay away. Also, this game may not even get played due to rain.

Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels (-180, 9.5)

Another big line in the AL here with the Royals and Angels. Tyler Anderson and Zack Greinke are the listed hurlers and it makes sense that the Royals would face long underdog odds here. That being said, Anderson has been objectively awful to start the season. He has allowed 11 runs in 14.2 innings of work and that includes six shutout innings against the hapless A’s. Will he be able to get on track against the Royals?

He has a chance because this is not facing the Blue Jays or pitching against the Red Sox at Fenway. This is a matchup against a Royals team that ranks among the league’s worst offenses and also has a 64 wRC+ against lefties, so they’ve been quite bad against southpaws like Anderson.

Greinke is also a dude that I have a hard time backing because he just allows way too many balls in play. He’s actually pitched quite well with 10 earned runs allowed over 22.1 innings of work this season. His K% is actually up a bit and he continues to force guys to put balls in play with low walk rates. Is that enough here against an Angels squad that ranks 24th in wOBA against righties and owns an 85 wRC+? It very well could be.

Tough game here. Of the big dogs, I think the Tigers are the liveliest, but Anderson has been beaten like a drum in his last two starts.

Washington Nationals at Minnesota Twins (-320, 7)

This game is a big ol’ pile of nope. Chad Kuhl is not good and Pablo Lopez is quite good. The weather is once again awful in Minneapolis, but they played through it yesterday and may very well play through it again today. I’m not really keen on laying -280 unless I feel like there’s a big edge and I’m not sure that there is here.

Quick pass and move on.

Miami Marlins at Cleveland Guardians Game 1 / Game 2

Rain is in the forecast for Game 1, as the Guardians have swapped Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac. Bieber will now pitch the first game and Plesac the second game. The Marlins were supposed to roll with Sandy Alcantara on Saturday, but now there’s some talk that his start may be pushed back. Braxton Garrett is pitching Game 2.

I want no part of either of these games. Both very easy passes for me. It’s also possible that Game 1 has some delays or something and both bullpens get a workout, which would make Game 2 really challenging to cap.

Boston Red Sox at Milwaukee Brewers (-125, 8.5)

It will be Garrett Whitlock against Wade Miley in this one, as Whitlock makes his third start of the season. He allowed five runs to the Rays in his first outing, but then threw seven innings of one-run ball in his second outing against the Angels. He gave up a 50% Hard Hit% in that first start and then limited nearly all hard contact in the second start. I’m a Whitlock supporter, even though most of his MLB sample has come in relief.

He’s got a 2.86 ERA with a 3.25 FIP in 163.2 innings of work, but only 11 starts out of 79 appearances. Whitlock has also been a dominant reliever, while being an average starter based on the splits. He’s got a 4.22 ERA and his wOBA is over 60 points higher as a starter compared to a reliever. Against a team like Milwaukee, it’s also worth noting that his SLG is nearly 100 points higher as a starter. Still, I like the stuff profile and his arsenal. It’s just fair to wonder how often he can turn over lineups as he continues to develop.

The Brewers are sending out a guy in Miley who is really pitching well. He has only allowed three runs in his 18 innings of work. It must be something about being a Brewer, though pitching coach Derek Johnson, who basically revitalized Miley’s career back in 2018 has since moved on. Miley does have some unsustainable numbers in his profile with a .245 BABIP and a 90.4% LOB%. Those won’t continue, even with a low Hard Hit% against of 25.9%. He’s actually been adept at staying off the barrel for most of his career.

This is one of those games where I had an expectation of liking the underdog, but Whitlock’s starter splits, while still in a small sample size, worry me and Miley, though regression is coming, seems happy back with the Brew Crew and his performance is reflective of how well both parties work together. Boston is a top-10 offense against lefties, though, so maybe the over is in play with those red flags.

Houston Astros at Atlanta Braves (-110, 8.5)

Framber Valdez and Kyle Wright are the probables here as Wright makes just his third start of the season. He struggled badly in his first outing against the Reds with four runs allowed on four hits in just three innings, but he was better in his most recent effort against the Royals. As I’ve mentioned a few times already, though, the Royals just don’t have a lot of redeeming qualities as an offense.

The Astros definitely do, though they’re not really performing up to their usual standards just yet. They only have a 99 wRC+ against righties, but Wright may not be fully into the swing of the season. He’s walked seven batters in 8.2 innings of work after walking just 53 batters last season in 180.1 innings last season. Not that the Astros draw a ton of walks or anything like that, but pitching behind in the count against that lineup is always a questionable course of action.

This is a pretty interesting matchup for Valdez. The Braves have hit lefties really well for several seasons in a row, but the southpaw checks a lot of boxes for being able to have success against Atlanta. He misses bats and keeps the ball on the ground. Those are two things that are really important against a Braves team that makes a ton of violent contact and also likes to elevate the baseball to drive it for power.

Valdez has a career 66.3% GB% and is up over 67% in the early going this season. He’s only allowed 41 home runs in 539.1 career innings. He has a career SwStr of 10.6%, which is pretty average over that span, but he is over 12% this season. He’s had a velo uptick this season that could lead to more strikeouts and more whiffs and I always like seeing that in a pitcher’s profile, especially if he’s already an elite starter.

Ryan Pressly has worked three of the last four days, but he’s the only reliever that would be unavailable. It’s anecdotal as well, but it does feel like the Astros step it up in class a bit when they take on better teams. I like them here in this matchup and worry a lot about Wright’s command and control in just his third start.

As always, shop around for the best odds.

Pick: Astros -110

St. Louis Cardinals at Seattle Mariners (-165, 7.5)

Miles Mikolas has given up 19 runs over 20 innings. Some of the Team USA WBC starters have kind of settled in a bit, but Mikolas is really not one of them. He did pitch better last time out against the Pirates and maybe that will be the catalyst for turning it all around. He had allowed 16 runs to the Blue Jays, Braves, and Rockies (in Colorado). Those were three tough assignments in fairness to Mikolas.

This isn’t as tough of an assignment, as the Mariners aren’t really hitting so far this season. They only have a .303 wOBA to this point, which ranks 23rd in the league. This is also a really good pitcher’s park, so Mikolas may have a little bit higher of a ceiling in this start than he’s had in his other ones.

The biggest thing is that Mikolas is traditionally a guy who limits hard contact at a pretty good rate, but he hasn’t done that this season with a 42.1% Hard Hit% and an average exit velocity of at least 90 mph in every start.

That makes it tricky to do a lot with this game because the baseline for Luis Castillo is so elite. He has only allowed two runs on 11 hits over 24.2 innings this season and has insane numbers at T-Mobile Park since joining the Mariners. As promising as the Cardinals offense usually looks, I don’t think they do well here. That puts a lot of pressure on Mikolas. This price point seems accurate.

TL;DR Recap

Pirates -165

Diamondbacks +135

Astros -110

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