MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Thursday, May 25th

By Adam Burke  ( 

May 25, 2023 11:58 AM

MLB schedule today has 10 games

Four day games and six night games are on the Thursday MLB card, as we start bright and early in Cincinnati and wrap up late in Seattle. Six games are in the NL and four games are in the AL, but the interleague machine will fire back up for the holiday weekend. With the early starts, I’ll get this out as quickly as possible.

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Here are some thoughts on the May 25 card (odds from DraftKings): 

Miami Marlins (-120, 11) at Colorado Rockies

The Marlins and Rockies wrap up their set at Coors Field with an afternoon clash that could be threatened by some passing showers. Rain chances increase in the evening, so this is one of those spots I’ve talked about before where teams may be racing the rain, especially for a getaway day game.

A couple southpaws do battle here between Braxton Garrett and Kyle Freeland. Garrett is a positive regression candidate with a 4.60 ERA and a 3.74 FIP, plus his 3.38 xFIP suggests he’s gotten a bit unlucky on the home run front. However, he allowed four home runs against the Braves when he gave up 11 runs on 14 hits in 4.1 innings back on May 3. He’s allowed 11 runs total in his other seven starts and one three-inning relief appearance. And, actually, he allowed two runs in that relief effort, so he’s only allowed nine runs in his seven starts aside from that huge disaster against the Braves.

That being said, Garrett has allowed a ton of hard contact, even outside of the Braves start. His Hard Hit% is 48.5%, with the Braves game as an outlier with 15/23 balls classifying as “hard hit”. If we take out that start, he’s down to 49/109, which is still very much on the high side at 45%. His .349 BABIP is deserved, but the hard contact has only really gotten him once.

He’s allowed one run on four hits in his last 11.1 innings with 16 strikeouts, so it seems like he figured out whatever was wrong with that Atlanta start and then a rough follow-up against the Diamondbacks. He’s a bit of a wild card at Coors, but it is worth noting that his offense is way better against lefties than the Rockies are.

The Marlins are ninth in wOBA at .339, while the Rockies, aided by Coors Field in some of these games, are 28th at .290. Even at home, the Rockies are 23rd with a .308 wOBA against LHP. That doesn’t seem to bode well for Freeland, who has a 3.88 ERA with a 4.12 xERA, and a 4.48 FIP.

Freeland has actually been way better at home than on the road thus far. He only has 11 strikeouts in 21 road innings and has allowed a .293/.330/.500 slash with a .354 wOBA compared to 27 strikeouts in 32.1 innings at home with a .246/.287/.377 slash and a .291 wOBA against. That even includes a blow-up against the Pirates when he allowed nine runs on eight hits in 2.2 innings on April 17.

Freeland just allowed eight runs on nine hits over two innings against the Rangers, so he had another big blow-up. It was his second start in the last three with 11 hard-hit balls and a Hard Hit% of at least 55%, so his command isn’t super sharp right now. Per usual, though, it is really hard to trust a Marlins lineup averaging just over 3.5 runs per game and you never quite know with road pitchers in this environment.

San Diego Padres (-190, 9.5) at Washington Nationals

Another tantalizing price for the Nationals against a lefty, but this one is a lot better than Ryan Weathers. This one is Blake Snell and he’s laying a hefty price tag against Jake Irvin in the series finale. I’m definitely upset with myself for leaving the Nats off yesterday, as that was a play I absolutely should have made. I liked Stroman and the Cubs as well and left that one off the card. Frustrating day.

Anyway, back to this one, Snell has been the losing pitcher in six of his nine starts with a 5.40 ERA, 5.94 xERA, and a 5.54 FIP in 45 innings of work. His K% is down from 32% to 23.8% and his BB% is up from 9.5% to 13.4%. He’s also given up nine homers in those 45 innings after allowing just 11 homers in 128 innings last season. His Barrel% is up over 5% from last season. Everything seems to have gone in the wrong direction for him.

What’s crazy is that he hadn’t allowed more than three runs in any start except one prior to his last outing when he allowed six runs on five hits in four innings to the Red Sox. It was his fifth start of the season with a Hard Hit% of 50% or higher and he’s allowed a 43.3% mark for the season. 

This is a big total because the shine has come off of Irvin very quickly. After allowing one run on six hits in his first 10.2 innings as a big leaguer, he’s allowed 12 runs on 11 hits in his last 7.1 innings of work. Irvin has 15 strikeouts over 18 innings with 12 walks and has allowed a 45.3% Hard Hit% with an 11.3% Barrel%. The Tigers just crushed him for a 69.2% HH% and four barrels last time out.

In four starts, Irvin has a 4.4% SwStr%, so he’s just not missing any bats and has an O-SwIng% under 15% in three of his four starts, so guys are just teeing off. In his last two starts, he hasn’t had a single swing and miss on a pitch in the strike zone. He has a 5.50 ERA, but a 6.87 xERA with all the hard contact and the walks. For all of the problems that the Padres have had offensively, drawing walks has not been one of them, as they have a 12% BB% on the season against righties.

What they also have is a .255 BABIP against righties, so they have just a .297 wOBA and an 89 wRC+. They’ve pulled the ball at a top-10 rate and have a top-10 rate of Soft% contact as defined by Statcast, so they’ve hit the ball pretty well against righties to have such poor numbers.

This is a big total, but I think we get runs in this game. The Padres should be able to jump on a guy like Irvin who isn’t adjusting to big league hitters and the Nationals rank seventh in wOBA at .346 against lefties. They have the lowest K% in the league against lefties and strikeouts are really the only thing that Snell has to fall back on at this point.

Rather than mess with the bullpens, as the Padres have a 1.41 ERA and a 2.89 FIP in the last 14 days and the Nationals have been respectable, I’ll just go with the 1st 5 Over 5. As always, shop around. 

Pick: 1st 5 Over 5 (-110)

Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves (-110, 9.5)

Aaron Nola and Dylan Dodd fire up a four-game set between the Phillies and Braves with a virtual coin flip in the betting market. This will be Dodd’s first MLB start since May 4 and just his third since April 9. He made the Opening Day roster and allowed seven runs on 10 hits in his second start and got sent to Triple-A Gwinnett. He’s back now after throwing four shutout innings in his last outing, but he had allowed 12 runs on 16 hits, including five homers, in his two starts prior to that.

Fortunately for Dodd, this is the weaker side of the split for the Phillies, who rank 25th in wOBA at .296 against lefties. They only have a 5.5% BB% to go with a 25.6% K%, so they haven’t walked enough and have struck out way too much. Their 83 wRC+ means that they are 17% below league average against lefties. That said, Dodd is barely a MLB left-hander and he only has seven strikeouts out of 70 batters at the big league level.

Nola heads into this start in the midst of a really weird season. He has a 4.31 ERA with a 3.66 xERA, and a 3.92 FIP. He’s got a 65.1% LOB%, which is reminiscent of his 2021 season when he had a 4.63 ERA, but a 3.35 xERA and a 3.37 FIP. The weird thing about this season is that the LOB% is his fault because his K% is down from 29.1% last season to 21.3% this season. 

He did strike out 10 Cubs last time out, so he found the swing and miss button, but I’m pretty impressed with his 34.6% Hard Hit% when the quality of his stuff is down a little. He had a 31.6% Hard Hit% last season, which was his best mark since 2018.

As I’ve continued to report, the Braves are a below average offense against righties this season, but Nola isn’t quite himself. I also have no idea what Dodd brings to the table here. I think this is a pretty easy pass.

New York Mets at Chicago Cubs (-115, 8.5)

Here’s a name we haven’t heard in a while: Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks will make his first MLB start since July 5 of last season. He had a 4.80 ERA with a 4.82 FIP last season while pitching hurt and was limited to just 84.1 innings and 16 starts. It seemed like he was pitching hurt in 2021 as well, when years of regression signs all came to a head and he had a 4.77 ERA with a 4.95 xERA and a 4.89 FIP. 

From 2015-20, he was one of the game’s most reliable pitchers with a 3.17 ERA and a 3.55 FIP. He was billed as having some of the best command in baseball, as he had 835 strikeouts against 211 walks with only 100 homers allowed in 967 innings. Now 33, and coming off of two atrocious years, I genuinely don’t know what to expect from him. In five rehab starts, he allowed 13 runs on 21 hits, but gave up 10 of those runs in his first two starts. Once he settled in, he allowed three runs on 13 hits over 16 innings with 14 strikeouts against just two walks.

Hendricks has always been a master at limiting hard contact with a 30.7% Hard Hit% and a 5.2% Barrel%. His last two seasons, he had a 33% HH% and a 38.8% HH% with an 8.4% Barrel % and a 9.9% Barrel%. One interesting comment from Hendricks’s post-game interview following his last rehab start was that he mentioned being a bit rattled by the pitch clock in his first two starts, even as a guy who works quickly. His last minor league starts came in 2017 and MLB hadn’t had the pitch clock up until this year, so I think it makes sense that he would struggle.

It’s tough to watch Carlos Carrasco these days. Cookie has an 8.68 ERA with a 6.97 FIP and just allowed five runs on five hits to a largely hapless Cleveland offense. He’s given up 18 runs in 18.2 innings this season and only has 11 strikeouts against 10 walks. Perhaps he’ll get a little stronger here and he did look good in his two rehab outings, but the velocity is down, the stuff isn’t nearly as sharp, and the margin for error just isn’t there.

Carrasco draws a big upgrade here, as the Guardians are about the worst offense in every category and the Cubs are 10th in wOBA against righties. They do have a bit of a heightened K%, but Carrasco isn’t the swing and miss guy that he once was, as injuries continue to play a big part.

I like the Cubs today. Stroman’s masterful eight innings gave everybody but closer Mark Leiter Jr. a day off and the pen has been used sparingly over the last few days. Hendricks is the last tie to the World Series team of 2016, so I’d expect a pretty amped up crowd as well. This is a good team that is better than its record and that should really keep showing through.

Pick: Cubs -115

San Francisco Giants (-125, 9) at Milwaukee Brewers

This game is a bit of a mess, as we’ve got Logan Webb pushed back to Saturday, which means Scott Alexander gets the opener duties today, followed by either Tristan Beck or Jakob Junis. Sean Manaea is back in the rotation and slated to pitch Tuesday, so this is a fluid situation. Alexander gets the start and will pitch for the third time in four days.

Junis worked back-to-back days on Saturday and Sunday with 15 pitches each day and Beck threw 39 pitches on Monday. They’re obviously both available, but “bulk” would be a misnomer here in all likelihood. Junis hasn’t worked more than two innings since May 7. Beck has only pitched twice in the last 15 days with a 5.40 ERA and a 5.63 FIP.

It would appear that newly-signed Julio Teheran may get the start for the Brewers. He hasn’t pitched at the MLB level since 2021 when he made one start over five innings for the Tigers. He has a 5.63 ERA in 40 innings at Triple-A this season for the Padres with 45 strikeouts against 16 walks. He gave up eight runs in one of those starts to blow up his ERA, but I have no idea what the hell he’s going to provide here.

This is a brutal game to try and bet.

Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays (-170, 8)

Zach Eflin and Alek Manoah wrap up this series at the Trop on Thursday night, with Eflin a growing favorite in the finale. Most books have seen a line move upwards of 30-40 cents here, as there aren’t a lot of supporters for Manoah in the investment community and a day off for George Springer and Whit Merrifield. 

Manoah turned in a decent effort against the Orioles last time out with two runs on six hits over 5.2 innings, but he still has a 5.15 ERA with a 6.26 FIP in 50.2 innings of work. He’s got a terrible 40/33 K/BB ratio and is running a .307 BABIP despite allowing nine home runs. As I’ve previously outlined, his K% is down 6%, his BB% has more than doubled, his BABIP is 63 points higher, and his Hard Hit% is up more than 10%. All of his numbers have regressed in a big way and that doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence against a Rays lineup that has crushed righties all season long.

Eflin, meanwhile, has been good and some of his advanced metrics suggest he could be better. He has a 3.45 ERA with a 2.93 xERA and a 3.66 FIP in his 47 innings of work. That said, he’s struggled a bit lately with 11 runs allowed on 18 hits in his last 19 innings of work. He’s allowed five homers over his last three starts and his Hard Hit% is up to 40% on the season with a 12% Barrel%. He allowed four barrels last time out against the Brewers.

This is an early game with limited lead time, so I didn’t spend too much time thinking about a bet, but the over might have been interesting if the Blue Jays were fielding a full lineup given that Eflin has had some spotty command this month.

Chicago White Sox (-150, 8) at Detroit Tigers

Lucas Giolito and Alex Faedo are listed for this AL Central showdown to start off a four-game weekend set. Giolito is having an excellent bounce back season for the Pale Hose after running into some difficulties last year. He’s got a 3.62 ERA with a 3.79 xERA and a 3.81 FIP over his 59.2 innings of work. He’s struck out over a batter per inning and, most importantly, has avoided walks at an elite rate. He’s at his best when he’s not giving up those free passes and he can work around some of the homers he allows when he’s forcing guys to hit their way on base.

Giolito has only issued 12 walks this season and only walked more than two in a start once. His Hard Hit% is down to 35.9%, although he has allowed six barrels in his last three starts, including two against the Royals. He’s danced with the devil a little bit, but has escaped with first-degree burns more often than not. He’s also had a 12.2% SwStr% and a double-digit SwStr% in eight of his 10 starts. I cannot express how much swings and misses help increase a pitcher’s margin for error.

Faedo has a 4.60 ERA with a 3.53 xERA, but a 6.09 FIP is what really stands out for him in his three starts across 15.2 innings of work. The youngster has allowed five homers in his three starts against the Cardinals, Mariners, and Nationals. The unfortunate thing for Faedo is that he has a 12/1 K/BB ratio and a low 33.3% Hard Hit%, but he’s gotten unlucky with the mistakes that he has made. 

I will say this in his defense. He’s faced two lineups in the top eight in SwStr% in the Nationals and Cardinals and one in the bottom 10 in the Mariners. He had a 12.8% SwStr% in that start against the Mariners and the White Sox are actually worse about swinging and missing. I actually kind of like his profile a little bit. He’s had good minor league numbers and just hasn’t been able to stay healthy. I wish I trusted his offense a little bit more against Giolito, but the Tigers are 27th in wOBA against RHP on the season. 

Player props are far from my area of expertise, but I think Over 4.5 strikeouts at +125 (DK) isn’t a bad bet at all. He struck out seven Mariners in that May 13 start and he’s thrown a first-pitch strike nearly 74% of the time, so he pitches ahead a lot. He also has a 43% O-Swing% through three starts. This is a really intriguing profile.

I like Under 8 here. The White Sox are 27th in wOBA over the last 14 days and the Tigers are 25th. Detroit even has an 11.2% BB% in that span and still ranks 25th because of a complete lack of contact quality. Giolito doesn’t issue a lot of walks and the Tigers can’t hit righties. The White Sox also can’t hit righties, as they rank 26th in wOBA and don’t draw walks.

Both of these bullpens are top-six units by ERA and top-10 by FIP over the last 14 days. The weather conditions aren’t great for offense in Detroit tonight and I don’t see either offense having much success here.

Pick: Under 8 (-105) 

Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees (-135, 9)

We had to wait a while with a lengthy rain delay in the Bronx, but the game was eventually played and nearly doubled the total with a Baltimore 9-6 win. Today’s game could have some offense once again, as we look at Kyle Gibson for the O’s and Clarke Schmidt for the Yankees.

Gibson has a 4.27 ERA with a 4.85 xERA and a 4.18 FIP in his 10 starts over 59 innings of work. He’s a pitch-to-contact right-hander who does keep the ball on the ground and has pretty reasonable peripherals across the board. His .311 BABIP seems fair for a 45.4% GB%, though I do think his 73% LOB% is a little on the high side given such a low K% in the 17% range.

However, the other thing to think about with any Baltimore pitcher is that the road is likely to be a lot less kind than the pitcher-friendly conditions of Oriole Park. Yankee Stadium is definitely not a friendly environment for pitchers and we finally saw a little bit of that regression coming to Tyler Wells.

Gibson has allowed a .307/.340/.482 slash with a .352 wOBA on the road over 35.1 innings leading to a 5.09 ERA. At home, he’s allowed a 3.04 ERA in 23.2 innings of work with a .297 wOBA and a .230/.316/.345. His FIP is 3.74 at home and 4.47 on the road. He also has one huge strikeout outlier at home that has him with a 24.2% K% from an 11-strikeout performance against the Tigers. He has 30 K over nine starts and 51.1 innings otherwise.

Schmidt has a 6.00 ERA with a 4.98 xERA and a 4.39 FIP in his 45 innings of work. He’s racked up big strikeout totals with well over a punchie per inning, but his command profile is a mess. Even with 10 homers allowed in his 45 innings, he’s got a .386 BABIP against because he has allowed so much hard contact. He has a 47.4% Hard Hit% and an 11.1% Barrel%.

He’s actually been worse overall on the road, but six of his eight homers allowed have come at home. Lefties are pummeling him to the tune of a .452 wOBA with a .644 SLG. The Orioles are eighth in road wOBA against righties at .325 with a 107 wRC+ and will throw either six or seven lefties at Schmidt in this one.

Schmidt has had three decent starts in his last four outings, but those have been against the Guardians, A’s, and Reds. The Rays crushed him for seven runs at Yankee Stadium and he was blasted by the Rangers on April 28. Baltimore boasts a better lineup than Cleveland, Oakland, and Cincinnati to say the least. This total is showing signs of possibly leaking down to 8.5, which would be pretty interesting.

I still think Over 9 is worth a play since you can find even money on it. Schmidt’s lone saving grace is the strikeout, but the Orioles are pretty good about making contact and making good contact at that. The Yankees should be able to get to Gibson, whose style is not a great fit for good offensive parks.

Pick: Over 9 (+100)

Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners (-250, 7.5)

The Mariners look for a four-game sweep of the A’s here and they’ll send Logan Gilbert to the bump in a big favorite role in hopes of doing just that. Gilbert, like Bryce Miller, George Kirby, and Luis Castillo, has been terrific this season and should actually be doing even better. He has a 3.81 ERA with a 3.09 xERA and a 2.68 FIP in his 52 innings of work. His 66.7% LOB% is holding his ERA back, but his peripherals are all stunning. He has a 30.6% K% to go against a 4.9% BB%. He’s allowed just a .214 BA against and only five homers.

His Hard Hit% is 42.1%, though, and he’s given up 18 hard-hit balls and five barrels in his last two starts against the Tigers and Braves. He had allowed five barrels in seven starts prior to his last two. These last two starts have driven up his HH% 4.5% for the season. He’s one of those guys building towards a rough outing like I mentioned on yesterday’s podcast.

JP Sears was pretty good for us when we had him as a big underdog against the Astros last time out. He allowed two runs on five hits over six innings, but the A’s lost on a Yordan Alvarez solo shot in the seventh by a 3-2 count. Sears has a 4.99 ERA with a 4.98 FIP on the season, but that mostly has to do with the 11 homers that he has allowed.

Aside from those mistakes, he has a 37.7% Hard Hit% and a strong 51/10 K/BB ratio. What also helps him in this start is that he is left-handed and the Mariners have been poor against lefties with a .296 wOBA and a 92 wRC+. They also have a 27.2% K% in this split, so that should bode well for Sears, who threw six shutout innings against them at the Coliseum earlier this year.

I’m really tempted by the A’s moneyline again today behind Sears, but they’ve won 10 games out of 41. The +1.5 run line is even money at DraftKings and that’s fairly interesting in a game with a total of 7.5. Ultimately, I put my tail between my legs here, but I do think Gilbert is building towards a good fade spot. I just hope I don’t miss the boat with it today.

As much as I’ve praised the A’s offense on the road, they’ve scored eight runs in six games on this current road trip. I just can’t do it.

TL;DR Recap

SD/WAS 1st 5 Over 5 (-110)

Cubs -115

CWS/DET Under 8 (-105)

BAL/NYY Over 9 (+100)

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