MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Thursday, April 27th

By Adam Burke  ( 

April 27, 2023 11:48 AM

MLB schedule today has 11 games

We’ve got another midweek slate full of day games as some series wrap up and some begin. There are 11 games on the Thursday slate and six of them start at 4:07 p.m. ET or earlier. It is just going to be the norm on Wednesdays and Thursdays and I’ll do everything I can to get the article out as quickly as possible. Baseball does make it hard to work ahead with bullpen usage, injuries, line movements, and the like, but that’s why I’ve been trying to suggest shortcuts on VSiN Daily Baseball Bets to have some preconceived thoughts on the pitchers and their respective matchups.

Some trends are definitely forming based on pitcher handedness or some early-season positive/negative regression signs. Keep listening to the podcast and reading the article to get a good sense of what those are so that you can attack these early cards even before I get my content out there. (Tracking sheet)

Follow me on Twitter, @SkatingTripods, to get the article as soon as it goes live.

Catch a new edition of VSiN Daily Baseball Bets this afternoon.

Here are some thoughts on the April 27 card (odds from DraftKings):

Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves (-175, 8.5)

While waiting for DK to re-post 1st 5 moneyline odds on today's games, this game started. I wrote it up, so I left it in there for thoughts on the two starters.

We’ve got southpaw Braxton Garrett and right-hander Kyle Wright in this one as the Marlins and Braves wrap up a four-game set. Kyle has not had the Wright stuff so far this season, as he has struggled mightily. He’s given up 10 runs (nine earned) on 15 hits in 13.2 innings of work. He only has 11 strikeouts against eight walks and has given up a ton of hard contact with a 45.7% Hard Hit%.

He’s also given up six barrels in his last two starts with a Hard Hit% of 52.8%. Ironically, his first start against the Reds was the worst one by line score with four earned runs allowed in just three innings, but he’s had no command in his other two outings. This is a guy who had a 3.19 ERA with a 3.58 FIP last season, but his velocity is down this year and he got off to a late start because of a Spring Training injury.

Wright’s curveball spin rate is down 260 rpm this season, yet he’s been able to hold opponents to a .103 BA and a .345 SLG, so he’s even toying with disaster with that pitch. His other spin rates look fine, but given that the curveball is his primary weapon, he’s very fortunate that the results haven’t been worse. The Astros hit two homers off the curve last game. He’s also lucky that all 11 hits off the sinker have only been singles.

The problems here are that the Marlins offense is really hard to trust and the Braves crush lefties. Garrett has been really good in his four appearances covering 19 innings with six runs allowed on 24 hits. He’s only walked three guys and only allowed one home run in two outings against the Mets and games against the Diamondbacks and Guardians. He has a .371 BABIP against, but also an 82.7% LOB%, so there are some dueling regression signs there.

Garrett was solid last season over 88 innings with a 3.58 ERA and a 3.56 FIP, so maybe some measure of what he’s doing is sustainable. Just a tough draw here, even if Miami manages to give him some run support.

Los Angeles Dodgers (-165, 7.5) at Pittsburgh Pirates

While waiting for DK to re-post 1st 5 moneyline odds on today's games, this game started. I wrote it up, so I left it in there for thoughts on the two starters.

This will already be the sixth start of the season for Julio Urias and the same for Mitch Keller. Urias is coming off of a rocky outing in his second straight start against the Cubs, as he gave up five runs on seven hits, including two homers, over 3.1 innings of work. He has allowed five homers over his last three starts, but still owns a 3.33 ERA with a 4.18 FIP. He had three really strong starts before a decent start and a clunker against the Cubs.

He still has a 30/5 K/BB ratio on the season, so this may just be a small blip on the radar or it may be more. He did have a noticeable velocity drop in that start against the Cubs, which could have been the cold weather or the long innings. The spin rates looked mostly okay, but his vertical release point was down in both starts against the Cubs. Sometimes that can be an injury indicator, so I’ll be keeping close tabs on him. It won’t be quite as cold for the day game in Pittsburgh, so a lagging velo number will be a red flag.

Keller is off to a decent start this season. He’s got a 3.64 ERA with a 4.27 FIP in his 29.2 innings of work. He’s struck out 30, walked 11, and given up four homers. He is running an 80.2% LOB%, so I would look for regression from that, as the difference between his ERA and FIP does imply. That being said, Keller is running a stellar 21.7% Hard Hit%. Though, what’s weird is that he also has a 13.3% Barrel%. Eleven of the 18 hard-hit balls have been barrels, so his mistakes have been egregious ones.

I think a case could be made for Keller and the Pirates with an early start and some potential issues with Urias, but if those are nothing more than some natural variance, then he’s fine and has the chance to pitch very well.

San Diego Padres (-155, 8.5) at Chicago Cubs

The Padres are clear road chalk for getaway day baseball at Wrigley Field. Seth Lugo has been outstanding this season with seven runs allowed on 23 hits in 22.2 innings of work. He owns a 23/6 K/BB ratio and has a .344 BABIP with an 80.4% LOB%. He has allowed some hard contact this season that he has been able to bypass by really buckling down with runners in scoring position. He’s only allowed a .125 BA with a .158 wOBA in 26 PA with RISP. Those numbers definitely aren’t sustainable, so Lugo is going to be a viable regression candidate soon.

He has allowed a 44.6% Hard Hit%, but apparently those batted balls have not come around in high-leverage situations. I’m sure it’ll catch up with Lugo and his 4.51 xERA says the same, but I do appreciate that he’s keeping the ball on the ground and that he’s limiting the home runs that have bothered him in relief the last couple of seasons. He’s also maintained over a strikeout per inning through four starts, which is quite a feat, given that he hasn’t started full-time since 2017.

Hayden Wesneski is going to have his April 11 start against the Mariners follow him around for a while. He allowed seven runs (five earned) in 1.1 innings. In his other three starts, he’s allowed seven runs in 16 innings of work, which is much more palatable, but he still hasn’t been all that sharp. He only has 12 strikeouts in 80 batters faced and has allowed four homers overall. 

The thing is that Wesneski hasn’t allowed much hard contact aside from the homers. His Hard Hit% is just 34.4%. His 64.1% LOB% will rise at some point, but the command and control haven’t been terribly strong for the youngster. His SwStr% is just 7.5% and hitters are not expanding the zone to chase pitches.

I’ll hope Lugo keeps sailing along in hopes of a future spot to fade him. Wesneski is being given some time to iron out these wrinkles, but the clock is ticking.

St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants (-155, 8.5)

It has been a rough start to the season for Miles Mikolas. A lot of the Team USA WBC pitchers have struggled (Lance Lynn, Brady Singer, Merrill Kelly with control) at the outset. Mikolas has gotten a bit unlucky, but he’s also made some of his own problems. He’s got a .402 BABIP against and a 66.5% LOB%. His Hard Hit% is 40.9% and he’s allowed 11 barrels already. He only had a 35.7% HH% last season and allowed 42 barrels in 607 batted ball events.

Mikolas simply hasn’t located well and he’s paid the price for it. As a pitch-to-contact guy, the margin for error is pretty thin and he’s found that out the hard way. He ran a .249 BABIP last season in 202.1 innings, so maybe this is just some pent-up regression coming to a head. Whatever the case, his average exit velocity is up 3.5 mph from last season and he looks like a shell of himself.

Logan Webb broke a bad trend in his last start. He had allowed four runs in each of his first four starts, but only gave up two runs on five hits last time out against the Mets. Webb has 36 strikeouts in 30.2 innings of work, but he’s given up six homers and has a .333 BABIP with a 65.2% LOB%. He has a 4.40 ERA with a 4.01 FIP and a 2.55 xFIP. Remember, xFIP is FIP, but with a league average HR/FB%. Webb’s HR/FB% is 28.6%. League average is 12.2%.

As an extreme ground ball guy, Webb certainly has the chance at running a high HR/FB%, but probably not this high. He allowed six HR in 192.1 innings last season. Webb only allowed five homers on 156 batted ball events on the slider last season, but has already allowed three in 18 BBE this season. He’s throwing more sinkers this season, as he hasn’t quite found a handle on the slider or the changeup. At some point, he should and he’ll likely see improvements in his numbers when he does.

I’m hoping that day is today. Mikolas has been bad against batters from both sides, but lefties have nine extra-base hits already with a .375/.418/.688 slash and a .458 wOBA. Righties have a .359/.382/.563 slash and a .405 wOBA. San Francisco’s issues on offense are against lefties and against strikeout pitchers. Mikolas is neither.

Webb is back at home, where his numbers should be quite strong, and he draws a lineup that isn’t swinging it all that well right now. Also, he’s had some negative Cluster Luck with a .290 wOBA with the bases empty, a .406 with men on, and a .462 with RISP. His .440 BABIP with men on shouldn’t continue. 

Unfortunately, the price on this game got a bit rich for my blood. It was -135 or lower yesterday, but a lot of action has come in on the Giants to drive this price to -155 or higher across most of the market. I think the Giants are the right side here, but a lot of the value I perceived in this line has been extracted.

Washington Nationals at New York Mets (-240, 8)

Trevor Williams is not a popular figure in the investment community. Betting markets have long hated the junkball right-hander. He doesn’t miss enough bats. He walks too many guys. He gives up too many home runs. These are all valid criticisms to some degree, but he’s also got a career 4.24 ERA with a 4.41 FIP, so he’s not that far off from being a league average-ish pitcher. He gets treated like a baseball leper, though. And there's been a line move against him again today.

Williams pitched well for the Mets last year in a swingman role and has been competent in four starts for the Nationals this season. I’ve always been intrigued by his profile because he’s got a 33.3% Hard Hit% and a 6.6% Barrel%. He’s never really allowed a lot of hard contact and he’s been generally unlucky to run some really high BABIPs, particularly from 2019-22 relative to the contact he has allowed.

This season, Williams only has 13 strikeouts out of 86 batters, so FIP hates him, but he’s got an average exit velocity of 85.3 mph and a 3.38 ERA. He has a .246 BABIP, which is going to rise, but he’s navigated a start at Coors and a start against the Twins. He also worked five solid innings against a bad Cleveland offense.

Joey Lucchesi was terrific against the Giants last time out, but as we’ve established, the Giants are abhorrently bad against lefties. They’re the worst offense in baseball in that split. So, Lucchesi, who hadn’t made a MLB start in 22 months, racked up seven shutout innings with nine punchouts.

Washington’s hodgepodge lineup of random dudes actually has a 110 wRC+ against lefties with a .337 wOBA. The BABIP is a bit high at .351, but the Nationals only have a 15.4% K% against southpaws. They’ve been very, very scrappy in that split and may be a league average or so offense against lefties. That’s good because it will overshadow how horrible they are against righties.

This is a spot where I’m willing to take a shot on the Nationals. The bullpen has actually performed pretty well and they're playing well as a whole right now. The Mets are sputtering. I think Washington can get a lead and play from in front here. Remember that +200 implies a 33.33% win probability, so a bet like this will lose more often than it wins, but it's important to pick your spots and I think this is a good one.

Pick: Nationals +200

Oakland A’s at Los Angeles Angels (-295, 8.5)

JP Sears has the unenviable task of going up against Shohei Ohtani with the A’s offense in support. There’s a reason why this line is to the moon and a lot of it has to do with Ohtani’s remarkable dominance this season. The best player on the planet has allowed just two runs on eight hits over 28 innings of work with 38 strikeouts. He has issued 15 walks, but he’s given up virtually no hard contact with a 28.6% Hard Hit% and not a single barrel in 49 batted ball events.

Ohtani is doing all of this with just a 53.3% first-pitch strike rate, which is part of the reason for the high rate of walks. He also hasn’t gotten a lot of chases outside the zone, but he’s gotten a ridiculous amount of swings and misses on pitches in the zone. Regression will come at some point with a .163 BABIP and a 92.3% LOB%, but it would certainly be shocking if it came against the A’s.

Sears has flashed a lot more strikeout upside than I anticipated in his four starts covering 21.2 innings. He’s struck out 23 and only walked four, but he’s given up six homers and has a 4.98 ERA with a 5.64 FIP. His 41.4% Hard Hit% and 10 barrels leading to a 17.2% Barrel% are concerns, but the other peripherals do look pretty good if he’s able to harness his command a bit more. He throws a lot of strikes and is a fly ball guy, which is why I figured he’d fare better in the Coliseum than on the road.

If you’re interested in player props here, righties have hit all six homers off of Sears and own a .556 SLG as a result, though 22 of his 23 strikeouts have come against that side.

Baltimore Orioles (-150, 8) at Detroit Tigers

Kyle Gibson gets his second straight crack at the Tigers in this one, as he looks to repeat his stellar performance from April 22. Gibson struck out 11 over 6.1 masterful innings with one run allowed on two hits. Gibson had only struck out 13 batters in 23.2 innings prior to that outing, so it was definitely an outlier performance.

On the whole, he’s been fairly solid with a 3.60 ERA and a 4.47 FIP. He’s allowed four runs twice (Red, White Sox) and one or two runs in his other three starts. He is largely a pitch-to-contact, ground ball guy, so there will always be the chance for extreme variance in his starts depending on where the batted balls get hit. He did give up three barrels to tie a season-high in that Tigers game and has allowed 10 barrels on the year. However, his Hard Hit% is a tad better than league average at 38.1%.

Wentz also pitched in that April 22 game with less encouraging results. He allowed five runs on six hits in just four innings of work. He gave up a homer, but got unlucky otherwise with only four hard-hit balls, yet a .385 BABIP for the game. Wentz has allowed a homer in three of his four starts and that will come with the territory as an extreme fly ball guy. Like Gibson, Wentz doesn’t really miss a lot of bats, though one key difference is that he also issues a higher rate of walks.

The other concern here for Detroit is that Wentz is left-handed and the Orioles are seventh in wOBA at .347 against southpaws this season with an 11.4% BB%. This just isn’t a very good matchup for him and Baltimore is seeing him a second straight time. Detroit is seeing Gibson for the second straight time, but they’re a far worse offense. Detroit is 29th in wOBA and wRC+ against righties this season with virtually no power and the fifth-highest K%.

Detroit’s bullpen is quite bad and Baltimore’s is solid once again, leading the league in fWAR while sitting third in ERA and first in FIP. I also think this is a good spot to take the run line given the big bullpen edge for the O’s and their splits against lefties. It’s also a road team guaranteed to hit nine times. I think -150 on the straight moneyline is absolutely fine as well and a completely reasonable way to bet the game, but it’s a good spot to get a little greedy.

Pick: Orioles Run Line (-1.5) (+115)

Tampa Bay Rays (-155, 7) at Chicago White Sox

The pitching matchup of the night is not up for debate. It is this game between Shane McClanahan and Dylan Cease. The Rays are laying a hefty road number here and there aren’t a whole lot of interested parties in taking the White Sox against this lefty, even with Cease on the bump.

McClanahan is running it back against the White Sox after facing them five days ago. He struck out a season-high 10 over six innings of work with two solo homers as his only blemishes. They were the first two homers that he allowed. Some early-season control issues seem to be a thing of the past with three walks in his last 46 batters after eight walks in the previous 46 hitters. He’s allowed all of six runs on 18 hits and has 37 strikeouts in his 29 innings. I wouldn’t want to bet against this profile either.

His velo is up from last season, which is a good sign after the shoulder impingement that robbed him from some time in the second half. He’s also having more success while throwing more fastballs, which is an even better sign if he opts to vary his pitch mix more going forward.

Cease has been solid himself with eight earned runs allowed on just 18 hits in 26.1 innings. He’s had a little bit of a control blip as well with five walks in two of his five starts, but he’s also racked up 34 strikeouts. Cease does have a 48.5% Hard Hit%, so he is remarkably fortunate to have just a .242 BABIP against. Some reversals of fortune have taken place in his last two starts on that front and he has allowed seven runs in his last 10 innings.

This may not be a bad time to catch Cease for the Rays and for bettors looking to ride Tampa Bay. I’m not one of them today, but he seems to be working through a few things. He hasn’t thrown his curveball much in the last two starts and I wonder if he has a feel for it. I guess we’ll see because I’m sure he’d like to alter his pitch mix facing the Rays for the second straight time.

Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins (-200, 8)

After a couple of really impressive outings to start the season, we’re seeing what I expected to see from Zack Greinke. He’s allowed 12 runs in his last 16 innings on 17 hits. Greinke only has 19 strikeouts in 27.1 innings of work and he’s a pitch-to-contact guy who was sure to have some issues with the shift ban.

Over those three starts, Greinke has also allowed five home runs. For the season, he has allowed a Hard Hit% of 41.3%, but has been at 50% and 55% in his last two starts. His craftiness and deep pitch mix can allow him to have some success in certain spots, but he’s a guy who has a really thin margin for error. He only had 73 strikeouts in 137 innings last season and 120 in 171 innings back in 202. He’s worked 3,274.1 innings in his career and he’s 39 years old. The skills are in decline and I’m pretty sure I won’t have a bet on Greinke at any point this season.

The Twins will send Tyler Mahle to the hill here. He’s had a bit of a home run issue in his last three starts with four homers allowed. His strikeouts by start have gone 7, 6, 5, 4, which is a little surprising given how the Twins are racking up punchies this season. Mahle has been strong in starts against the Marlins and Nationals and less strong in starts against the Astros and Yankees, which should come as no surprise given those four teams.

Let’s see which Mahle shows up in this game. His velo was down nearly 2 mph in his last start compared to his outing against the Yankees. It’s been cold in Minneapolis virtually all season, so maybe it’s nothing more than that, but I’m keeping an eye on it. He only had a 5.4% SwStr% in that start against the Nationals, who are awful against righties. There may be some underlying injury concerns here.

I like the Over 8 in this one. I’ve been focused on the Royals and their offense. They are fourth in Hard Hit%, but 28th in batting average and 25th in BABIP. Their numbers have actually improved a bit since I’ve been tracking this, including a pretty decent series against the Diamondbacks. If Mahle isn’t generating swings and misses, the Royals are likely to put some violent contact in play. I certainly like the matchup for the Twins against Greinke.

Rain could be a factor in this one on a damp night in MPLS, but I expect a lot of balls in play and run-scoring chances.

Pick: Over 8 (-110)

New York Yankees (-165, 8) at Texas Rangers

It will be Gerrit Cole and Andrew Heaney down in Arlington for this one. Cole has been outstanding this season. He hasn’t allowed a homer in five starts and has only allowed three runs on 17 hits over 34 innings. He’s struck out 36 and walked 10. This type of dominance won’t continue, as nobody will ever run a 0.79 ERA, but it’s hard to poke too many holes in what he has done to this point.

His .224 BABIP and 89.3% LOB% will naturally regress to the mean because they have to. His .224 BABIP also comes with a 40.8% Hard Hit%, so he has been living right on the batted ball luck side. That doesn’t mean I’m in a rush to fade him. Technically, “regression” is giving up one run over eight innings at this point because that would raise his ERA. I’m sure a rocky start is coming in the near future, but I don’t think you’ll make a lot of money betting against Cole this season.

Heaney has thrown the ball really well since a disastrous start to the season against the Orioles with seven runs allowed in just 2.2 innings. Over his last three starts, he’s allowed just two runs on nine hits over 16 innings of work. He’s got 18 strikeouts in that span, though 10 did come in his start against the Royals. 

Aside from that rough start against Baltimore, which accounted for three of his five barrels and six of his 17 hard-hit balls, he’s done a really good job on the contact management front against the Royals, Astros, and A’s.

I don’t have anything I like in this game. I think the price is fair and the total seems reasonable as well. The Rangers bullpen has been in meltdown mode recently, though, so if you’re thinking of fading Cole, maybe the 1st 5 is the way to go. Bullpens are fickle and volatile.

Seattle Mariners at Philadelphia Phillies (-110, 8.5)

Speaking of bullpens, the Mariners pen prevented us from a sweep yesterday, as Justin Topa blew it in the eighth and the Mariners couldn’t tie it up in the ninth. Logan Gilbert wasn’t super effective, but at least my handicap was right on Taijuan Walker. Unfortunately, my health concerns were also validated, as he left the game after four innings with the dreaded “forearm soreness”. Hopefully he’ll be okay. I’m never rooting for injuries, just looking for those indicators.

This is a solid pitching matchup for the lone interleague game of the day. It will be George Kirby for the M’s and Matt Strahm for the Phils. Kirby isn’t racking up strikeouts yet, but he’s done a way better job of limiting hard contact and has only allowed nine runs on 23 hits in 22.2 innings of work. He’s only walked one batter and that happened in his first start. He struggled in that first start against the Angels, but has been strong since and has allowed just a 30.4% Hard Hit% in outings against the Guardians, Rockies, and Cardinals.

I’m certainly intrigued by Kirby at a low price like this, but it’s an early start and it’s also a tough matchup for the Mariners because they’ve been quite bad against lefties. Strahm has only allowed six runs on 10 hits in his 18 innings of work with 27 strikeouts. The Mariners are 28th in wOBA against lefties, despite a decent showing against Bailey Falter in the first game of this series.

I do think Seattle’s fortunes will change against lefties soon. They have a .254 BABIP in that split. However, they also have a 26.9% K% and that is a concerning number going up against Strahm and his huge 15.4% SwStr%.

Good game to watch early today, but not a good game to bet on.

TL;DR Recap

Nationals +200

Orioles -1.5 (+115)

KC/MIN Over 8 (-110)

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