MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Thursday, September 28th

By Adam Burke  ( Managing Editor) 

September 28, 2023 11:40 AM

MLB schedule today has 11 games

The days are dwindling with the MLB regular season, as we’re down to four. There are 11 games on the card for today, including some games with a lot of playoff interest, but also some games that don’t really have much intrigue to them at all.

Let’s look through today’s card and see what, if anything, looks like a good betting opportunity.

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Here are some thoughts on the September 28 card (odds from DraftKings):

St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers (-218, 8)

The hangover angle didn’t work yesterday, as the Brewers won 3-2 and the Phillies won 6-5. Corbin Burnes will make his final postseason tune-up today for the Crew, as he opposes Dakota Hudson and the Cardinals. It still took Burnes 97 pitches to get 15 outs against the Marlins in his last start six days ago, despite getting 16 runs worth of support, including that 12-run second inning that set records for Milwaukee.

Burnes did have to sit for a long time while his team put on an offensive assault, but it was the second straight start for Burnes in which he failed to get through six innings. I’ll be interested to see how the Brewers handle him today as he’s in line to start Game 1 next Tuesday. Sometimes a team will keep a guy to somewhere around 75-80, so as not to overextend them going into the postseason, where all of the bullets will be needed. There isn’t a whole lot of upside or incentive to pushing him too far today.

Note that at time of writing, DraftKings didn’t have an Outs prop posted. Strikeouts were at 6.5, which may be high if he’s limited in the pitch count department. See if you can find an Outs prop somewhere. I’d be surprised if he goes more than five innings.

I’m not sure I’d be interested in backing the Cardinals and Hudson, as I don’t really know where they’re at mentally right now. They’re probably ready to get home and send off Adam Wainwright with hopefully a plate appearance and a postgame concert.

Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies (-218, 8.5)

Well, it looked good for a while, as the Pirates scored three in the first and two in the second to open up a 5-0 lead before blowing it and scoring one run the rest of the way. We definitely got a hangover lineup from the Phillies, but that still wasn’t enough. What a disappointing outcome to what looked like a good spot and a promising start.

The rest of this week will be about keeping guys fresh, so Rob Thomson will rotate guys in and out of the lineup and probably do what I just talked about with Burnes with his prized arms. That includes today’s starter, Zack Wheeler. Wheeler isn’t going for any milestones, with 207 K, 14 W and 188 IP, so there are no round numbers to worry about.

Regardless, I have no interest in backing Luis Ortiz, who has a 4.96 ERA and a 5.58 FIP. But, at risk of sounding like a broken record, I’d really keep an eye on those final starts before the playoffs.

Miami Marlins (-130, 8) at New York Mets

Yesterday did not go how I expected it to for the Marlins. I figured the Braxton Garrett game was the one they had the best shot at, but they went down 11-2 in that one. They won 4-2 in Game 2 to top Kodai Senga, who finished his season with an ERA under 3.00 and a spectacular set of peripherals.

Jesus Luzardo and David Peterson are the slated starters for today, as the Marlins control their own destiny. The Cubs can’t get out of their own way and the Marlins have the luxury of playing a much weaker opponent this week. Luzardo comes in with a 3.73 ERA and a 3.67 FIP in 171.1 innings of work, but that only tells part of the story. The home/road splits tell quite a tale:

Home: 108.1 IP, 3.07 ERA, 3.29 FIP, .216/.285/.369, .285 wOBA

Away: 63 IP, 4.86 ERA, 4.30 FIP, .287/.342/.496, .359 wOBA

The thing about today is that Luzardo is at Citi Field, which tends to be a good pitcher’s park and the weather is still not conducive to hitting. The winds blowing in from CF on another cool evening, so the conditions should benefit Luzardo. I guess we’ll see if they do, but he’s definitely been way better at home than on the road, which is something to think about as the Marlins hit the road for the postseason if they get that final Wild Card spot.

Peterson has a 5.37 ERA with a 4.45 FIP and a 4.54 ERA with a 4.67 FIP since rejoining the rotation full-time on August 4. He’s got 52 strikeouts in 41.2 innings, but has still allowed a .359 BABIP and a 46.4% Hard Hit%. He’ll get swings and misses, but his margin for error is small and his command is mediocre at best.

Nothing on this one from me, as the Marlins deserve the road favorite role and they’re way more invested than the Mets, but I’m not laying that price.

Chicago Cubs at Atlanta Braves (-148, 9.5)

The Cubs turn to veteran Marcus Stroman in hopes of salvaging something in the finale against the Braves. It has been a horror show for the Cubs the last two nights. They blew a 6-0 lead on Tuesday night when Seiya Suzuki whiffed on a routine fly ball. Last night, they got an excellent start from Jameson Taillon, only to give up runs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth to ultimately lose in extra innings.

Chicago is tied with Miami now in the NL Wild Card standings and the Marlins hold the tiebreaker by going 4-2 in the season series. This will be Stroman’s second start since July 31, as he allowed three runs on five hits to Colorado five days ago. He only went three innings and isn’t exactly stretched out since going on the IL in early August, as he’s worked six innings over three appearances since his return. I can’t say I love the situation for Chicago here, even though AJ Smith-Shawver is on the other side.

Smith-Shawver has allowed 13 runs on 17 hits and walked 10 over his 21.2 innings of work. His last MLB appearance came back on July 30 and he allowed three runs on four hits in five innings. His last two minor league starts have been two and three innings. He hasn’t allowed any hits or runs with six strikeouts and four walks, but he’s not exactly stretched out himself.

That means this will be a full-fledged bullpen game both ways and that doesn’t seem ideal for the Cubs with how things have gone lately on that front. Another game I have zero interest in betting.

Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles (-142, 7.5)

Skipping over Dodgers/Rockies (Yarbrough/Flexen), A’s/Twins (Medina/Gray), and Royals/Tigers (Ragans/Gipson-Long after the completion of a suspended game)

To Baltimore we go for the start of this four-game set between the Red Sox and Orioles. Boston has dropped four in a row and 10 of 12 going into this one, as the Orioles lead by 2.5 games in the AL East. Chris Sale and Dean Kremer are listed here, as DraftKings is the highest number in the market. A lot of other books here in Vegas and offshore are in the -125 to -130 range.

I think this is a big start for Sale. He finally gets to go into an offseason looking to prepare instead of rehab some sort of injury. I don’t know how much more the 34-year-old has in the tank, but he will cross 100 innings (barring a disaster) for the first time since 2019. I think that’s a big deal for him. His 4.42 ERA is not indicative of how he’s pitched, as he has a 3.71 FIP and a 68.7% LOB% that is holding him back. He’s got 123 K against just 28 walks.

Sale allowed seven runs to Baltimore the last time he faced them, but has allowed one run on five hits with 17 strikeouts in 11 innings in two starts since. I’m not sure what we get today, but it’s been nice to see Sale out there. He’s made 19 starts and had made 11 over the previous three seasons combined.

Kremer was not good at all last time out against Cleveland, as he allowed six runs on seven hits in just 3.1 innings. Only three of the runs were earned, but he didn’t locate very well and has now allowed 12 runs over his last three starts. He had allowed 12 runs over his previous eight starts. He’s actually been really good for the Orioles in the second half, but has hit a couple of snags here recently.

I don’t have anything here either. The Red Sox seem checked out, but I can’t imagine Sale will be. Baltimore can clinch the AL East tonight with a win. I didn’t realize it, but tiebreaker games are gone with the new format, so the head-to-head record is the first tiebreaker. There is no Game 163 anymore. With Baltimore having so much to play for, they probably win, but it’s a steep price, at least per DraftKings.

New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays (-180, 8.5)

The way the teams in the AL Wild Card hunt are playing, it seems like nobody wants that final spot. Houston, Seattle, and Toronto have all had major issues in September and Toronto is at risk of being swept by New York. As the line indicates, it shouldn’t happen, as Luke Weaver starts for the Yankees and Chris Bassitt goes for the Blue Jays, but you never know.

Toronto’s bats have been silenced by Michael King and Gerrit Cole in this series. Weaver is not at all on that level, but he pitched well last time out against Arizona and has allowed three runs on eight hits in 9.1 innings of work. This will be a stiffer test against Toronto, but the Jays have had major issues with righties in the second half. 

Bassitt has some pretty huge home/road splits that could factor into this one in that he’s been significantly better at Rogers Centre. He’s allowed a .197/.279/.314 slash with a .265 wOBA against. His ERA is nearly 1.5 runs better and he’s only allowed nine homers in 102.1 innings compared to 19 homers in 90 road innings.

Still, it’s a hefty price to lay against a Yankees team that has been fighting and scrapping at the end of the season. Nothing from me here, as I would think it’s Toronto run line or bust, but they’re likely to only bat eight times and the Yankees have not waved any sort of white flag.

Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners (-125, 7.5)

Here’s another one where DraftKings has the highest number in the market on the favorite when looking at the odds screen I use. I’m sure FanDuel isn’t far behind, but the spreads on some of these lines and the premiums on some of these favorites is a little bit staggering. Anyway, it’ll be Jordan Montgomery and Logan Gilbert in this one, as the Mariners are back against the wall once again. They are 1.5 games back of Houston for the final playoff spot and face the surging Rangers.

Texas swept Seattle in Arlington last weekend and they’ve won seven of their last eight while putting a stranglehold on the division. The Rangers are up by 2.5 and have a game in hand on Houston, which takes place tonight. Texas can clinch at least a Wild Card spot tonight.

Montgomery has bounced back nicely from a couple of rough starts to begin September, as he’s allowed one run on 14 hits over his last 21 innings of work with 17 strikeouts and just three walks. He threw seven shutout innings against Seattle last time out and lowered his ERA to 3.25 with a 3.52 FIP. He’s in line to make some good cheddar this offseason as a durable guy with great numbers.

Gilbert only allowed two runs on five hits to the Rangers in that game, but he only had two strikeouts as well. He’s a guy I’ve been following really closely throughout the second half because he’s allowed a ton of hard contact along the way. His Hard Hit% for the season is 44.8% and it’s actually 53.1% in the second half. He’s been fortunate to work around a lot of it, but he has allowed at least 10 hard-hit balls in six of his 13 starts and only has two starts under 40%. The league average HH% is 39.2%.

I’ll take Montgomery over Gilbert and the Rangers over the Mariners here. Texas is playing better and has some margin for error, while Seattle is really pressing right now. I also simply like Montgomery more and trust his underlying metrics more than Gilbert’s.

Pick: Rangers +105

Nothing of note on the early game between the Diamondbacks/White Sox. The only thing I’d say is to keep an eye on Arizona’s bullpen usage heading into a series with Houston. Arizona’s magic number is 2 to clinch a Wild Card spot, so they could do so today with a win and some help.

TL;DR Recap

Rangers +105

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