MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Thursday, May 11th

By Adam Burke  ( 

May 11, 2023 09:11 AM

MLB schedule today has 6 games

Thursday features about as quiet of a schedule as you can get in Major League Baseball. There are only 12 teams in action across six teams, so 18 of the league’s 30 teams will wait to get back on the field on Friday. Three games are early and three games are late for the May 11th slate, which means that you’ll have a nice distraction from the work day to go along with some action with a nice, cold beverage at night. (Tracking sheet)

Quick note: I try to be really consistent with the timeframe in which the article goes up for the sake of the readers, but with only six games tonight and an early game as part of my plays, I posted the article early today.

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

Tune in for a new episode of VSiN Daily Baseball Bets as soon as we can get it published.

Here are some thoughts on the May 11 card (odds from DraftKings):

New York Mets (-200, 10) at Cincinnati Reds

Matinee baseball on the shores of the Ohio River features the Mets and Reds as the teams wrap up their series with Kodai Senga and Derek Law. Law will be the opener for the Reds, who will use Ben Lively in the bulk reliever role. It would have been way more fun to see Brandon Williamson or Levi Stoudt, but it will be Law and Likely instead, as Luis Cessa was recently DFA’d.

Law has made 17 appearances over 18 innings with a 3.00 ERA and a 5.32 FIP. He’s struck out 18 and walked 11, with three homers allowed and six earned runs on 16 hits. Law has maxed out at 2.1 innings, so this may not be a one-and-done appearance for him, but we’ll have to see how the Reds choose to play it.

Lively, who debuted back in 2017 with the Phillies, has a 4.80 ERA and a 5.03 FIP in his 120 career MLB innings. He has not pitched at the MLB level since 2019 when he had one inning with the Royals. He went to the KBO and was a below average pitcher by foreign player standards and then signed with the Reds for the 2022 season, where he had a 4.09 ERA and a 3.97 FIP in 77 innings at Triple-A.

This season, Lively has allowed seven runs on 19 hits in 27 innings of work with 16 strikeouts against 10 walks. Those aren’t exactly promising numbers, but he has been a little sharper of late with three earned runs allowed on 13 hits in his last 17 innings of work. He’s just not missing many bats and that is not a good thing when pitching in Cincinnati.

Senga is missing a lot of bats, but also missing the strike zone a lot. He’s struck out 36 in 32 innings, but has also walked 22 guys. He’s allowed 12 runs on 25 hits, including five homers. His Hard Hit% is 41%, but that 15.6% BB% is what really stands out and scares me. He’s walked four guys in each of his last four starts and three guys in the other two.

I have no idea what happens in this game, but the Law and Lively combo is how you end up with Senga and his 5.16 FIP as nearly a $2 favorite. He does have a 3.38 ERA, so let’s see if the Regression Monster finds him here.

San Francisco Giants (-135, 9.5) at Arizona Diamondbacks

Alex Cobb takes the ball in a sizable road favorite role for the Giants on Thursday night against Tommy Henry and the Diamondbacks. Henry is left-handed, so that’s the first thing to mention about this game, since the Giants have some really well-defined platoon splits. They have a .291 wOBA (26th) and a 82 wRC+ (25th) against lefties, while pummeling righties at a top-five clip.

That being said, Henry is a subpar lefty to say the least. He has a 5.31 ERA and a 5.56 FIP in 62.2 MLB innings over the last two seasons and has allowed nine runs on 17 hits in 15.2 innings of work so far this season. He only has seven strikeouts out of 67 batters to go along with seven walks, so he’s a guy that doesn’t miss a lot of bats and has to rely on his command for success. He’s only allowed one homer in three starts against the Royals, Rockies (at Coors), and Nationals. He’s only allowed a 32.1% Hard Hit%, so he’s done a nice job in that respect, but it is hard to find anything overly redeeming in the profile.

Cobb is off to a tremendous start this season with a 2.01 ERA and a 2.92 FIP in his 40.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 38 and only walked six, along with allowing just three home runs in 168 batters faced. Cobb has allowed some hard contact with an average exit velocity against of 90.4 mph and a 48% Hard Hit%, but he’s also running a negative launch angle against because he has a 63.1% GB%.

Cobb has a .342 BABIP against, which is absolutely fair for his hard contact rate and all the ground balls. His 87.6% LOB% is high and ripe for regression, but he hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his seven starts to this point. He very much falls under that Cluster Luck umbrella, as he’s allowed a .333 wOBA with the bases empty, a .250 wOBA with men on base, and just a .182 wOBA with runners in scoring position.

What’s also crazy is that his K% goes from 19.8% with the bases empty to 26.9% with men on to 38.6% with RISP. At some point, a correction of those numbers will have to take place, but it’s truly hard to pinpoint when. He’s also faced a pretty good mix of teams, so it’s not like he’s been feasting on bad offenses.

I can’t really trust Henry, even against the Giants in their current state against lefties, but Cobb has some concerning signs in the profile that could strike at any time much like, say, a Diamondback.

Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals (-115, 9.5)

Mike Clevinger and Brady Singer wrap up this AL Central series at Kauffman Stadium with some day baseball and a lot of questions about their performance. Clevinger has a 4.84 ERA with a 4.97 xERA and a 5.19 FIP in his 35.1 innings of work. He’s had the really bad combination of a bad walk rate and a high home run rate with a 10% BB% and six homers allowed in his last four starts.

Clevinger has actually been better with the walks lately, as he allowed 10 free passes in his first three outings, but now that he’s throwing more strikes, he’s started to give up home runs and more hits. To be fair, he’s allowed a 35.8% Hard Hit%, so he’s had decent stuff at times and hitters haven’t been able to square him up a ton. Ten of those 39 hard-hit balls have been barrels, though, leading to some of the home runs.

Clevinger has struck out 15 batters over his last two starts, but has also allowed six runs on 13 hits over 11 innings. I call guys like this a “box of chocolates” pitcher because you never know what you’re going to get. He’s got four starts with two earned runs or fewer, but also two starts with at least four earned runs allowed. The Royals are making a lot of hard contact, but will also strike out, so if Clevinger’s recent strikeout uptick is to be believed, it would seem to help here.

Singer has not really looked good at all this season. He’s had two good starts and five really bad ones, leading to an 8.82 ERA with a 5.40 FIP over 33,2 innings of work. He’s given up 33 runs on 42 hits and has a 50.8% LOB%, so he’s certainly gotten somewhat unlucky, but that’s hard to say when he’s allowed seven homers and has had the command profile that he has. His average exit velocity against is 94.4 mph and he has a 58.3% Hard Hit% with a 13% Barrel%.

He’s just not locating his pitches well and they are getting hit very hard. The start with six shutout innings against Arizona is the only one without a Hard Hit% of 50% or higher, so it’s been consistently bad across the board.

Weather is a huge factor here today with rain in the forecast through possibly 5 p.m. The last thing you want is a getaway game delayed by rain. Teams aren’t always engaged when rain delays happen, especially in these types of games.

Tampa Bay Rays (-115, 8) at New York Yankees

Drew Rasmussen and Domingo German fire up this four-game weekend set between the Rays and Yankees. New York’s offense really got it going against Oakland pitching earlier in the week, but the Rays pitching staff is an altogether different animal, as we know. Rasmussen would easily be the ace of the Oakland staff, but he’s just another key cog in the pitching factory that is the Rays organization.

He’s got a 3.11 ERA with a 2.83 FIP in 37.2 innings of work with 40 strikeouts against just 11 walks. His last start came against the Yankees down at the Trop and he worked 5.2 shutout innings with two hits allowed and six strikeouts. He’s had rocky outings against both the Astros and the Blue Jays that have accounted for 10 of the 13 runs he has surrendered.

Rasmussen has only allowed two homers, five barrels, and a Hard Hit% of 28.4%, so he’s been masterful with his contact management, with only one game coming in north of 33.3% in the HH% department. Two of Rasmussen’s three worst starts have come in road games. He had some noticeable home/road splits last season as well, with a SLG that was 130 points higher on the road and a wOBA that was 90 points higher.

I’d also like to note Rasmussen’s reverse platoon splits. He owns a 16/1 K/BB ratio against lefties and has held them to a .257 wOBA, while righties have a 24/10 K/BB ratio and a .298 wOBA. This follows the same pattern as last season, when Rasmussen allowed a .289 wOBA to righties and a .242 wOBA to lefties. Those are still great numbers, but he gave up 11 of his 13 homers to righties in 102 more plate appearances.

German heads into this start with a 4.35 ERA and a 4.46 FIP in his 39.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 44 over seven starts, but has also allowed seven homers, which are clustered in three of those seven outings. He just went five innings against the Rays and allowed two runs on four hits with five strikeouts against a couple of walks. German has a 38.8% Hard Hit%, so better than the league average, but he’s also allowed a 11.2% Barrel%.

The Rays have posted a 2.52 ERA in 200 innings at home this season with a .257 wOBA against. On the road, they have a 3.57 ERA and a .304 wOBA against. Some of that has to do with the opponents, but some of it also has to do with how elite of a pitcher’s park Tropicana Field is.

I’ll take a shot with the Yankees here. Some good vibes are rolling with Judge’s return and I’m looking for regression from the Rays bullpen. They have a 3.01 ERA with a 4.05 FIP and a 4.79 xFIP while having a .239 BABIP against and a 6.3% HR/FB%. That’s the lowest BABIP for any bullpen in the Statcast era (2015) in a full season by 15 points (2022 Mariners). It’s the lowest HR/FB% for a full season by 1.2% (2022 Yankees).

Pick: Yankees -105

Texas Rangers (-240, 8.5) at Oakland Athletics

The Rangers are sending Nate Eovaldi to the hill, but we don’t know who Oakland will be sending out as of yet. Fireballing phenom Mason Miller is dealing with some arm pain and will join Paul Blackburn, Adrian Martinez, and Freddy Tarnok on the IL. With Shintaro Fujinami in the bullpen, the A’s look most likely to call up Zach Neal for this start.

James Kaprielian is still working on things in Triple-A and Luis Medina looks to have been moved to a bullpen role. The 34-year-old Neal would need a 40-man roster spot, so the A’s may not want to jettison a younger player to bring him up, or they could move a guy to the 60-day IL and free up a spot that way.

Either way, this game is messy as can be, so no play from me regardless.

San Diego Padres (-125, 8) at Minnesota Twins

Early action at Target Field features the wrap-up of this interleague series between the Padres and Twins. Yu Darvish gets the call for the Padres as they seek a series victory before moving on to visit the Dodgers. This could be a bit of a sleepy spot for San Diego with the early start and the Dodgers looming after last weekend’s series, so it wouldn’t be a total shocker to see something of a no-show here.

Darvish has been solid this season with a 3.19 ERA and a 3.50 FIP. He’s allowed nine of his 13 earned runs in two of his six starts, with a road outing against the Mets and then the Mexico City start against the Giants. Other than that, he’s allowed one earned run in each of the other four starts. He gave up three homers in that south of the border outing and those are the only three homers he has allowed this season.

This will be the fourth MLB start of 2023 for Bailey Ober, who has allowed two runs on 10 hits in 18.1 innings of work with a 16/6 K/BB ratio. The tall right-hander has an 0.98 ERA with a 2.55 FIP, so I don’t need to tell you that it won’t continue long-term, but he’s throwing the ball very well and has a .217 BABIP with his extreme fly ball stylings.

He’s done well to build off of last season’s solid numbers when he worked 56 innings with a 3.21 ERA and a 2.92 FIP over 11 starts. He’s a solid middle-of-the-rotation type of guy and can be hard to face the first time because he comes from a 6-foot-9 arm slot. Not surprisingly, he has 98th percentile Extension, so even though his fastball is only 91, it sneaks up on hitters. He ranks in the 94th percentile in Hard Hit% on the season and is also generating a lot of chases outside the zone.

He’s also increased his spin rates this season and is really locating his fastball well up in the zone. I don’t think this is a good spot for San Diego at all. I think Darvish can have success against the Twins and attempt to set the tone, but with San Diego having the late game Sunday, the long flight Monday, and the extra-inning game last night, I think this is a good spot for an Under, even on a warmer day in Minneapolis. The Padres may not be totally invested here with a long flight back home to get ready for a big series. Not to mention, Ober is a way different guy than what you normally see.

I know this is an early game, but I liked this play and so I wanted to get the article out a bit quicker to make sure it was in play with some lead time.

Pick: Under 8 (-110)

TL;DR Recap

Yankees -105

SD/MIN Under 8 (-110)

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