MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Saturday, August 26th

By Adam Burke  ( 

August 26, 2023 12:53 PM

MLB schedule today has 15 games

College football Week 0 has arrived, along with a huge NFL Preseason slate for Saturday, but don’t forget about Major League Baseball in your excitement about the return of meaningful football. There will still be opportunities in the MLB world, and possibly even more of them, as oddsmakers dedicate more time and resources to booking football games.

Football draws a much bigger betting handle than MLB. Some (most? all?) of today’s lesser CFB games will still draw more bets and more dollars than even the highest MLB game. The books need to prioritize their bottom lines and that will mean focusing more on the sports with more interest, so that means football > baseball. It’ll be more evident when the NFL starts, but the books do luck out a bit in September in that you can usually just slap some big favorite prices on the board and limit exposure that way.

In any event, it’s a long-winded way to say that if you’re still plugged into baseball, you may find some good chances to get good prices moving forward.

Latest MLB betting splits | MLB odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

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Here are some thoughts on the August 26 card (odds from DraftKings):

Atlanta Braves (-175, 8.5) at San Francisco Giants

The Braves came away with an easy 5-1 win on Friday, as the Giants continued to struggle offensively. Based on this line, the expectation is that they will have a hard time again on Saturday with Max Fried. Fried comes in with a 2.83 ERA, 2.69 xERA, and a 3.10 FIP in 47.2 innings of work, but he has allowed nine runs on 26 hits over 21.2 innings since returning from the IL on August 4.

Fried has a 20/3 K/BB ratio and has been weighed down by a .369 BABIP, but still has a 3.74 ERA and a 3.18 FIP in that span. The Giants are 29th in wOBA at .275 with a 74 wRC+ in the second half. They’ve struck out 26.4% of the time and have walked just 6.1% of the time in that split. It should be another good chance for Fried to pitch well.

Ryan Walker will open for the Giants with a 2.14 ERA and a 3.35 FIP in 46.1 innings, including 10 starts, but who he turns the ball over to could very well dictate the outcome of this one. Sean Manaea looks to be the likeliest candidate after throwing 60 pitches on Monday. Alex Wood had to throw 52 pitches to spare the bullpen yesterday. The left-handed Manaea would draw a Braves unit that is ninth in wOBA at .351 with a 118 wRC+ against southpaws in the second half. I would’ve expected better, but they’ve mauled righties after spending most of the season torturing lefties. 

Either way, Manaea comes in with a 5.06 ERA, 4.45 xERA, and a 3.82 FIP in 83.2 innings of work. He allowed three runs on three hits (2 HR) last time out on August 21, but had only allowed one run over his previous seven appearances.

I imagine the Braves run line will be a popular pick today. I’m not on it, but I can’t see a reason to be against it with how San Francisco is performing offensively.

Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins (-205, 8)

We’ve got what looks to be a pretty big mismatch here between Jake Irvin and Eury Perez as the Nationals and Marlins continue their weekend set. The Nats got to Braxton Garrett and got six shutout innings from Joan Adon to pull ahead of the Mets in the NL East last night and will be looking for another upset dub tonight.

Irvin is right-handed, so that’s a good start. If Adon can throw six shutout innings against Miami, that is the biggest illustration to date of this team against righties. The Marlins are 27th in wOBA at .297 in the second half with an 84 wRC+ in that split. Irvin has a 4.47 ERA with a 5.02 xERA and a 5.31 FIP in 96.2 innings of work on the season. He doesn’t work deep into games and rarely gets blown up, but he doesn’t have the highest ceiling either. He has seen a recent uptick in strikeouts since the Break, which is good, and just threw six shutout innings against the Phillies to tie his highest start by Game Score of the season.

The problem here for Washington is that Perez is not left-handed. The Nats have had a top-10 unit against lefties all season, but they’ve lagged behind against righties. They are 21st in wOBA at .308 with a 92 wRC+ in the second half. They’re still really good at strikeout avoidance, but don’t have the same power production in that split. They also draw a tough customer in Perez, who has a 2.91 ERA, 3.61 xERA, and a 3.75 FIP over 68 innings.

Perez has allowed eight runs on 11 hits in 14.2 innings since getting recalled on August 7, but he just threw six shutout against the Dodgers with 10 punchies and has a 22/4 K/BB ratio in that span. He has allowed a 51.5% Hard Hit% and a 15.2% Barrel%, though, and faces one of the best teams in baseball when it comes to strikeout avoidance, so that’s an interesting side note to this one.

No play from me on it, though.

San Diego Padres at Milwaukee Brewers (-142, 8.5)

The Brewers kept on winning with a 7-3 triumph last night behind 11 strikeouts over six innings from Brandon Woodruff. The Brewers would seem to be in a more advantageous position tonight going from Yu Darvish to Pedro Avila, who makes a rare spot start in this one. Avila started back on August 1 and allowed one run on five hits over four innings to the Rockies. He’s been quite good this season, holding opponents to three runs on 18 hits in 23 innings of work. He doesn’t have the track record of Darvish, but he’s thrown the ball well.

Avila has maxed out at 4.2 innings in his seven MLB appearances this season, so we’ll see how far he can go in this one after replacing Rich Hill in the rotation. The Padres do have a rested bullpen if it boils down to that, as they had Thursday off and only Hill and Luis Garcia worked yesterday. Avila has an 8.57 ERA and a 7.12 FIP in 55.2 innings at Triple-A this year, so the sustainability of his MLB numbers is fair to question.

Freddy Peralta has a 3.97 ERA with a 3.35 xERA and a 3.86 FIP over 133.2 innings of work on the year. Peralta is 11 innings away from tying his career-high in MLB innings pitched in a season, so there are some workload concerns as we head into September, but he’s throwing the ball extremely well right now. 

In four August starts, Peralta has a 1.82 ERA with a 1.65 FIP. He’s allowed five runs on 15 hits with a 37/7 K/BB ratio. He stepped up in class against Texas last time out and struck out 11 of the 23 batters he faced over 5.2 innings with a run allowed on four hits. Along with terrific results, he’s allowed just an 18% Hard Hit% and only one barrel in 50 batted ball events. This is a really good stretch for him and the low walk rate is pertinent because the Padres are a patient lineup.

There might be a little value on the Brewers if you don’t believe in what Avila is doing. Milwaukee’s bullpen usage has also been good, as the primary guys haven’t pitched since Wednesday. I’m not racing to bet this one, as Milwaukee still has a bottom-five offense against RHP in the second half.

St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies (-218, 8.5)

Dakota Hudson and Zack Wheeler are listed as the starters for this one and the Phillies are a big favorite as a result. The Phillies coasted to a win last night, as Nolan Arenado left the game with a barking back. We’ll see what his status is today, but the Cardinals are just playing out the string of their most disappointing season in a very long time. 

Hudson has been something of a bright spot, though. He has a 3.95 ERA with a 4.96 xERA and a 4.84 FIP in 43.1 innings pitched, which doesn’t sound great, but he’s hung in there with a 3.75 ERA over his four starts covering 24 innings. Of course, he also has a 5.64 FIP and is running a .222 BABIP with an 86.4% LOB%, so regression signs are rather plentiful. He has only allowed a 36.8% Hard Hit% and six barrels, though he has allowed five homers in his four starts, which is why FIP is so pessimistic about him.

The margin for error is typically pretty slim with a guy like Wheeler on the mound. He has a 3.70 ERA with a 3.28 xERA and a 3.04 FIP in 151 innings pitched. He’s got a stellar K/BB ratio and has only been anchored down by bad luck, as his 70.8% LOB% is the lowest of his career. Wheeler had a run of seven straight starts with three or fewer earned runs allowed snapped last time out by Washington, as he allowed four runs on seven hits, but he fell victim to a lot of paper cuts, as he had a 31.8% Hard Hit% against. Wheeler has only allowed a 36.6% HH% this season and a strong 5.2% Barrel%.

This one seems to be priced pretty fairly, all things considered. Nothing from me in this game.

Chicago Cubs (-135, 9.5) at Pittsburgh Pirates

Javier Assad and opener Colin Selby are listed for this one, as the Pirates plan to go with Osvaldo Bido in a bulk role today. Assad has been a huge piece of the Cubs pitching staff of late, as he’ll make his fifth straight start. He enters with a 3.13 ERA and a 4.67 FIP for the season, so there are some regression signs in the profile, but he’s allowed seven earned runs over his four starts in the month of August.

Assad has only struck out 13 of 90 batters faced, though, and has a .212 BABIP against with an 87.6% LOB% in that span. He’s allowed four homers, so the lack of strikeouts leads him to a 5.40 FIP against a 2.86 ERA in those outings. This is not a profile I’d buy long-term by any means, but he has only allowed three barrels and a 40% HH% over 70 batted balls in that split.

Selby opens with seven runs on 11 hits to his name over 8.2 innings. He was called up on August 9 and has had two bad appearances with three runs allowed twice. He could work multiples here in favor of Bido, who has a 5.08 ERA and a 4.06 FIP over 44.1 innings. This will be the third straight bulk appearance for Bido, who has allowed three runs on six hits in 6.1 innings.

The total pretty accurately reflects some of the standout metrics and the underlying ones for these pitchers, so I don’t think there’s any equity there and I do agree with the Cubs being favored, though maybe not by as much. But, I don’t have any interest in backing the Selby/Bido tandem.

Cincinnati Reds at Arizona Diamondbacks (-130, 9.5)

Yesterday was a tough day for the Reds. Not only did they suffer another setback in the standings, but Nick Lodolo suffered a setback in the minor leagues and it looks as though he may not be able to come back and bolster the pitching staff. Lodolo actually had the setback on Sunday, but he didn’t make his rehab start on Friday and is seeking more medical opinions on the stress reaction in his leg.

So, it seems almost fitting that Fernando Cruz will make his first start of the season at any level in a huge Saturday game against Arizona. Cruz has made 46 appearances in relief at the MLB level and two at Triple-A. He’s been very useful as a reliever. He owns a 4.30 ERA, but a 3.16 xERA and a 3.06 FIP, so his other run estimators look quite a bit stronger. The issue here is that he hasn’t worked more than 1.2 innings since June 26, so this is effectively a Johnny Wholestaff Day for the Reds.

Brett Kennedy was supposed to start, but he threw 74 pitches yesterday to save the bullpen after Hunter Greene couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning again. Sending Kennedy down and getting another fresh arm could be an option, but Levi Stoudt won’t be that guy, as he gave up seven runs for the second straight start on Tuesday and has a 6.96 ERA. Casey Legumina is also on the 40-man, but he’s been working in relief. Lyon Richardson started in Wednesday’s doubleheader.

Therefore, this will just be a straight bullpen game for the Reds and they’re in decent shape for it, but somebody is going to have to wear one and go multiples. But, you can see the lack of respect for Zach Davies in the market that the Snakes are only a favorite of this size, even though they’ve now won six in a row, nine of 10, and 11 of 13.

Davies has a 7.38 ERA with a 5.19 xERA and a 4.66 FIP in 57.1 innings of work this season. He’s making his first MLB start since July 18 when he allowed nine runs on eight hits to the Braves. He allowed 13 runs on 22 hits in three rehab starts with a 6/7 K/BB ratio, so that’s not ideal.

And neither is this game. I could certainly see the Reds coming together and gutting one out here, but Arizona has gotten its swagger back and maybe Davies isn’t even enough to stop it.

Cleveland Guardians at Toronto Blue Jays (-166, 8.5)

To the AL we go, where we start north of the border with a couple of left-handers in Logan Allen and Hyun Jin Ryu. At risk of sounding like a broken record, Cleveland is the worst offense in baseball against lefties by a long shot, both for the season and for the second half. That has not changed since I told you about it a few days ago and won’t change the rest of the season.

Toronto hasn’t hit many righties and didn’t hit Tanner Bibee yesterday, but they have hit lefties. The Blue Jays are second in the second half against southpaws with a .376 wOBA and also second with a 143 wRC+. They did not hit Allen on August 9, as he allowed one run on four hits over five innings with a 3/3 K/BB ratio, but the signs were there. They had an average exit velo of 93.5 mph, which was the third-highest that Allen has allowed in his 19 starts. They had a 40% Hard Hit%. They made some loud contact, but didn’t end up with much to show for it.

Ryu worked four shutout innings against the Guardians before leaving due to a comebacker. He’s allowed four unearned runs over his last two starts and zero earned runs over his last 14 innings pitched. He gave up four runs in his return against Baltimore and has a 1.89 ERA with a 3.16 FIP over 19 innings. I’m not sure Cleveland will do much of anything here, given that they haven’t against lefties since Moses was a boy, but it’s a fairly big price.

Allen has a 3.31 ERA with a 4.03 FIP and has pitched well on the whole, along with just five earned runs allowed in his last four starts. I don’t love the recent peripherals, but he’s getting by. I could see him keeping up his success, but this is a tough assignment.

New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays (-180, 7)

Clarke Schmidt and Tyler Glasnow line it up in this AL East rivalry after Gerrit Cole bested Zach Eflin last night. Schmidt’s resurgence has been a really interesting storyline this season, especially in what seems to be amounting to a lost year for the Yankees. The Braves crushed him for eight runs on nine hits in 2.1 innings two starts ago, but that was the first time since May 14 that Schmidt gave up more than three runs.

Even with that dagger on his resume, he still has a 3.90 ERA with a 4.24 FIP over his last 16 starts and the numbers were way better before that outing. He did bounce back nicely and allowed two runs on four hits to the Red Sox. It was the Rays who got seven off of him in that ill-fated May 14 start and he hasn’t faced them since, so we’ll see what he has in store today, as the Rays rank eighth in wOBA and have a 121 wRC+ against righties in the second half.

The Yankees do not have a top-10 offense against righties since the Break. Far, far from it. They rank 28th in wOBA at .296 and have an 89 wRC+. That doesn’t seem great going up against Glasnow, who has a 3.35 ERA with a 3.12 FIP on the season. He’s coming off of a surprisingly rough start against the Angels with seven runs allowed over six innings a week ago, but he had allowed a total of 20 runs over his previous nine starts, with only 16 of them earned.

The Rays might be little a touch high here because Schmidt has more than held his own, but I don’t see a reason to fade Glasnow against this Yankee bunch.

Kansas City Royals at Seattle Mariners (-258, 8.5)

Jordan Lyles and Logan Gilbert battle it out here, as Seattle is a huge home favorite against the Royals. Lyles has a 6.20 ERA with a 5.16 xERA and a 5.59 FIP in his 139.1 innings pitched. He’s had fleeting moments of competence this season, but it has mostly just been a long and arduous year. He’s made 24 starts and allowed at least four runs in 18 of them.

With a low offensive baseline for the Royals against Gilbert, who comes in with a 3.77 ERA, 3.74 xERA and a 3.73 FIP over 148 innings, this game doesn’t really need much more attention. T-Mobile Park suppresses offense in a way that could keep this game close and the Mariners are unlikely to have to bat in the ninth inning, so the run line is even a big ask, especially juiced to where it is.

Houston Astros (-130, 8.5) at Detroit Tigers

I officially don’t know how to handicap Framber Valdez, as he went seven no-hit innings over 114 pitches before being pulled in favor of Bryan Abreu, who gave up the first hit. What was interesting was that Matt Manning only gave up one hit of his own to the Astros and youngster Parker Meadows walked it off with a three-run shot to give the scrappy Tigers the 4-1 win.

Now we get Hunter Brown and Eduardo Rodriguez, as the Astros try to get back to their winning ways. Brown has been riding the struggle bus a bit lately, as he comes in with a 4.50 ERA, 4.18 xERA, and a 3.99 FIP. He had his turn in the rotation skipped after allowing five runs on eight hits to Baltimore on August 10 and made a two-inning relief appearance in an effort to stay sharp and work through some things on August 15. Well, it didn’t work, as he allowed six runs on eight hits to the Mariners and a 96 mph average exit velocity against on August 20.

Brown’s Hard Hit% is up to 44.3% for the season and he has allowed a ton of barrels lately. He didn’t allow any in that relief appearance, but has allowed eight over his last two starts and now has a 10.3% Barrel% for the season. 

The Tigers are playing free and easy right now and those teams can be pretty dangerous. The youth movement is afoot with Meadows, Spencer Torkelson, Kerry Carpenter, and others providing a jolt of offense. Given how Brown has struggled, it wouldn’t be all that shocking to see the Tigers keep progressing on that side.

But, Rodriguez draws a difficult assignment. He has been outstanding this season with a 3.03 ERA, 3.50 xERA, and a 3.15 FIP, but the Astros have been the league’s top offense against lefties with a .382 wOBA and a 147 wRC+ in the second half. Their .531 SLG blows everybody else away. Rodriguez is not your average lefty, but he hasn’t been quite as sharp coming back from the finger tendon injury. He’s allowed four or more runs three times in eight starts and has shut down the likes of Seattle (before they got hot), Pittsburgh, Minnesota (struggled vs. LHP a lot this season), and Cleveland.

A helping breeze will be blowing out to RF in this one, but these are two really talented pitchers who could absolutely figure it out and get back on track. I may regret passing on this total, but 8.5 is a little rich for my blood.

Oakland Athletics at Chicago White Sox (-135, 9.5)

The A’s have scored 20 runs in the first two games of this series in Chicago, as the White Sox went into the weekend with the knowledge that everything was going to change with the firings of Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn. Oakland jumped all over Dylan Cease yesterday and hung a dozen runs, even with just six hits in 19 at bats with men in scoring position.

Today’s game features left-hander JP Sears and right-hander Touki Toussaint. Toussaint’s magic at the MLB level is wearing off and doing so quickly. He’s allowed 18 runs over his last four starts with a 25/18 K/BB ratio and six homers allowed out of 93 batters faced. He’s faced the Rangers, Yankees, Cubs, and Mariners, so some pretty good offensive teams, which Oakland probably is not, but Toussaint has allowed a 50% Hard Hit% and a 16% Barrel% over those four starts.

Unfortunately, Sears isn’t exactly lighting it up right now either. He’s allowed 14 runs in his last 13 innings, including seven runs allowed at home to the Orioles in his most recent outing. He’s an extreme fly ball guy and warm weather will typically be unkind to him. His peripherals still look better than Toussaint’s and the A’s seem way more engaged, but Sears has a 4.61 ERA with a 5.18 FIP for the season, so it’s been hit or miss as to whether or not you’ll get a good start from him.

This is the better split for the White Sox since they’re facing a lefty, but that hasn’t really been as much of a strength this season as it has been in the past. The A’s are actually a top-10 offense against righties on the road here in the second half and that’s the situation here.

I lean with Oakland, but I don’t know that the price is good enough for me to dive in headfirst.

Texas Rangers (-118, 8) at Minnesota Twins

Max Scherzer will attempt to apply a tourniquet to the bleeding, as the Rangers got blown out on Friday to run their losing streak to eight games. Scherzer draws a matchup against Joe Ryan and comes in as a short favorite. He has a 3.77 ERA with a 3.35 xERA and a 4.33 FIP on the season. Since joining the Rangers, Scherzer has done his part with a 2.66 ERA and a 2.55 FIP in 23.2 innings of work.

His last start was a rough one with three runs allowed on three hits in 3.2 innings. He walked four and only struck out four against Milwaukee, so I’ll be curious to see if he bounces back here. The Rangers certainly need him to and he’s only allowed a 28.3% Hard Hit% and a 3.8% Barrel% in his 53 batted ball events, so the odds would appear to be in his favor.

Ryan is back for the first time in 24 days. He was not pitching well when he hit the shelf. He’s got a 4.43 ERA with a 4.15 FIP In 126 innings overall, but has a 6.89 ERA with a 6.37 FIP in his last nine starts. He had allowed 19 home runs in just 48.1 innings pitched before going on the IL for a groin issue. He made one minor league rehab start and allowed a solo homer over four innings with seven strikeouts, but that was eight days ago.

He had allowed a 44% Hard Hit% and a 14.2% Barrel% in that span over 134 batted ball events. Look, if he comes back and pitches well against a solid Texas lineup, I will tip my cap. However, Scherzer should be really good here and I have a lot of reasons to believe that Ryan will not be.

I’m on Texas today to end the losing streak. Their recent results have made this line too cheap in my opinion.

Pick: Rangers -118

Los Angeles Dodgers (-125, 10) at Boston Red Sox

The Dodgers were the ones celebrating with Mookie Betts back in Beantown, as the visitors won 7-4. They’ll head to the ballpark as a favorite again today with Julio Urias on the hill against James Paxton.

It has been a rough year for Urias by his lofty standards, as he comes in with a 4.15 ERA, 3.93 xERA, and a 4.27 FIP in 106.1 innings of work. I think Urias is back, though. He’s allowed four earned runs on 16 hits over his last four starts covering 25 innings. He has faced the A’s, Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Marlins, so this is a step up in class against Boston and especially at Fenway Park, but he has a 27/2 K/BB ratio and has only allowed two barrels in that span. 

Paxton has a 3.79 ERA with a 3.50 xERA and a 4.21 FIP in 90.1 innings this season. He’s had a few hiccups here in the second half and has allowed six earned runs twice, including his most recent start against Houston. He has a 5.50 ERA with a 5.13 FIP in 34.1 innings over the second half with a .340 BABIP and seven homers allowed. He’s allowed a 42.5% Hard Hit% and has experienced a big decline in his Stuff+ metrics. 

In his last two starts, he has rebounded from a velo standpoint, but one start was good and one wasn’t, so we’ll see what happens in this one. I think Urias and the Dodgers have a little bit of value and it may be the last time we get a decent price on Urias, but I’m not feeling strongly enough about it to fire.

Colorado Rockies at Baltimore Orioles (-298, 8.5)

Chris Flexen and the Rockies are massive underdogs to Kyle Bradish and the O’s in this one and absolutely deserve to be. Bradish has a 3.03 ERA with a 4.01 xERA and a 3.56 FIP in 127.2 innings of work. He has allowed more than three runs in a start once since May 28.

Flexen had a rare good start against the White Sox last time out, but he had allowed 18 runs over his first four starts as a member of the Rockies. I can’t imagine he pitches well today against the Orioles. I don’t have much more to add here. Maybe an O’s Team Total Over or something, but that’s about it, aside from some player prop stuff.

Los Angeles Angels (-120, 9) at New York Mets

Carlos Carrasco and Chase Silseth finish up the slate and it has been a tough card to find things to like. Maybe it’s the distractions of football season, but it hasn’t been a card that seems to have a whole lot of strong positions to take.

Silseth had been rolling along until he gave up five runs to the Rays last time out over 3.2 innings. He had allowed four runs total in his first four starts, but that was an unexpected setback. Perhaps he can get right back on track here against the Mets, as Silseth has a 35/8 K/BB ratio, but he also has a 46.9% Hard Hit% and a 15.6% Barrel% over 64 batted ball events as a starter.

Carrasco has a 6.42 ERA with a 6.60 xERA and a 5.79 FIP in his 88.1 innings of work. He has allowed seven runs on 16 hits over his last 12 innings, but it was ugly coming out of the All-Star Break with 23 runs allowed in his first four starts of the second half. I just don’t really see why he’ll be a reliable pitcher the rest of the way. It’s also tough to know how invested both teams are and it was a pretty lifeless 3-1 game last night.

Nothing from me and only the one play today.

TL;DR Recap

Rangers -118

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