MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Tuesday, May 16th

By Adam Burke  ( 

May 16, 2023 09:59 AM

MLB schedule today has 15 games

The card for Tuesday is packed with interleague action, as we’ve got four games in the NL, four games in the AL, and seven games on the interleague schedule. This is the biggest example we’ve had to date of the new schedule, in which all 30 teams face off at some point. The unbalanced schedule used to put division rivals up against each other 19 times, but 24 games against those teams have been hacked off the schedule and now we see more interleague play.

It should make for a fun day and an interesting card with some battles that we aren’t used to seeing. Those games will come last, as the article goes NL, AL, interleague by rotation number and I’ve got a lot to get to, so let’s dive right in. (Tracking sheet)

A reminder that you can follow me on Twitter, @SkatingTripods, and get the article link right as the piece goes live.

A new episode of VSiN Daily Baseball Bets comes your way this afternoon.

Here are some thoughts on the May 16 card (odds from DraftKings):

Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins (-165, 7.5)

It was a happy flight from D.C. to Miami for the Nationals, as they hammered the Mets 10-3 and then hit the road to start a weekday set against the Marlins. Josiah Gray and Jesus Luzardo are the listed starters for this one, as the Nationals draw another lefty, but a much better one than David Peterson.

Luzardo and Gray were drafted two years apart when they signed their first pro ball contracts, but both guys are in their age-25 seasons, with Luzardo three months older than his adversary today. He also has about a 60-inning head start on Gray and his numbers are a bit better. Luzardo has a 3.38 ERA with a 3.75 FIP over 45.1 innings of work this season. He has a 4.41 ERA with a 4.12 FIP career in 312 innings of work.

Gray has a 2.96 ERA with a 4.36 FIP, so there are some more noticeable regression signs in the profile. He has a 4.79 ERA and a 5.64 FIP over 265 innings for his career, but he looks a lot better this season after hanging a 5.02 ERA with a 5.86 FIP last season. The Nationals have done well with Gray, MacKenzie Gore, and even Patrick Corbin this season and deserve a lot of credit for the adjustments that they’ve made.

For Gray, the adjustments have come in the form of pitch usage. Statcast classifies the pitch as a cutter, but he’s throwing fastballs 10% less often than last season and has worked in a cutter, with less usage of his curveball.  He ranks in the 84th percentile in average exit velocity and 81st in Hard Hit%. Opposing batters are actually having success against the cutter (.273 BA, .515 SLG), but he allowed a .742 SLG on the four-seam fastball last season, so anything was going to be better than that.

Luzardo is actually throwing more fastballs, but more four-seam fastballs and fewer sinkers. He’s changed the shape of his offspeed pitch and it’s more of a slider than a curveball now. He hasn’t been as effective as Gray in terms of limiting hard contact, but he throws a lot harder and gets more chases outside the zone. 

The Nationals offense could have an edge here, as they are up to sixth in wOBA against southpaws after yesterday’s beating of Peterson. The Marlins are ninth in wOBA against lefties, but Gray is a righty and the Fish are 26th in wOBA in that split. Luzardo’s just a pretty good lefty in a really favorable ballpark, so I don’t think I can trust the Nats here, even though this park should play well for Gray also given his career home run issue with a 17.3% HR/FB%.

Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals (-180, 8.5)

The Brewers did not take advantage of St. Louis’s travel schedule, as the Redbirds rolled to their fourth straight victory in an 18-1 drubbing. Ten of the 18 runs came in the eighth, as the Cardinals let out some serious frustration to turn a laugher into an uproarious laugher. Jack Flaherty struck out 10 and allowed zero runs. It couldn’t have been a better day for the Cardinals.

Now, today, they send a lefty to the mound in Jordan Montgomery, which should also be a good thing for them. Milwaukee is 30th in wOBA against lefties at .275 and 30th in wRC+ at 70. They are 30% below league average offensively against lefties. The Cardinals haven’t been as dominant against lefties this season, but do get one in Wade Miley and St. Louis has a 105 wRC+ against southpaws, so they’re 5% above league average.

That’s a big difference in this game and Miley is also a regression candidate, even with giving up seven runs on six hits last time out. He still has a 3.60 ERA with a 4.48 FIP and a 5.28 xFIP. He gave up three homers in that start and his ERA jumped from 2.31 to 3.60 with that one start. A similar outing against the Cardinals today is absolutely not out of the question.

Montgomery has a 4.11 ERA with a 3.50 FIP, so he’s pitched better than his ERA would indicate. He’s got some of that reverse Cluster Luck with a .261 wOBA with the bases empty and then a .388 wOBA with men on base and a .384 with RISP. He’s allowed 13 of his 21 earned runs in two of his eight starts, as the Cubs and the Diamondbacks have gotten to him.

Miley’s SwStr% this season is 6.7% and he’s had five straight starts under 5%. He’s got very thin margins for error and he’s pitched behind in the count a lot lately, as last start was his first with a first-pitch strike rate over 50% since April 16. With a Cardinals lineup that seems to have figured it out, the run line looks attractive here at +120, even if the Cardinals are the home team and may only bat eight times. 

The Cubs are a top-five offense against lefties. In starts against the Tigers (21st in wOBA), Dodgers (22nd), Giants (26th), Montgomery allowed three earned runs on 16 hits in 18.2 innings with 19 strikeouts against four walks in three starts prior. The Brewers have a league-worst 31% K% against lefties. Milwaukee has also lost nine of the last 14, while the Cardinals have won seven of eight, so these are two teams going in very different directions.

I’ll ride the wave and give the run line a shot at +115.

Pick: Cardinals -1.5 (+115)

Cincinnati Reds at Colorado Rockies (-130, 12.5)

Brandon Williamson will make his MLB debut for the Reds today in an underdog role against the Rockies and Chase Anderson. This is a really hard line to bet into because this game could go a ton of different ways. Williams has a 6.62 ERA with a 6.50 FIP in 34 innings at the Triple-A level this season and had a 4.07 ERA with a 4.90 in 55.1 innings there last season.

He’s a walk machine with 97 walks over his last two seasons covering 156.2 innings of work. He’s struggled to get strikeouts in Triple-A with 76 K over 89.1 innings of work against 57 walks, so it’s really hard to know what to expect here as the left-hander debuts at Coors Field. He was Cincinnati’s ninth-ranked prospect by FanGraphs back in January, with a lot of emphasis on his complete lack of control. The raw stuff and the raw data are really exciting, but he seems to have no idea where the ball is going.

However, the Rockies are sending out a journeyman in Anderson, who is on his fifth different MLB team in five years. He made seven starts and two relief appearances for the Reds last season and posted a 6.38 ERA with a 5.07 FIP. He appeared in two games for the Rays and was acquired by the Rockies. He worked five shutout innings in those two outings and then got scooped by the Rox.

Anderson has a 4.14 ERA and a .325 wOBA against in 930 innings as a starter. He’s been decidedly worse as a reliever, so maybe starting is the role for him, but the 35-year-old is a fringy big leaguer at best.

I don’t think Anderson and the Rockies deserve to be -130 against anybody, but Williamson might not make it out of the first inning here. It’s a weird game.

Philadelphia Phillies (-120, 7.5) at San Francisco Giants

We have a really good pitching matchup at Oracle Park between Zack Wheeler and Alex Cobb to wrap up the NL slate. Wheeler fired a gem against the Jays last time out with seven innings of one-run ball and seven strikeouts. He’s got a 3.80 ERA on the season, but that is hardly indicative of how well he has pitched. He has a 2.59 FIP and a 3.38 xERA. He’s only allowed two home runs this season and just a 32.2% Hard Hit% with only three barrels allowed.

Wheeler has a .311 BABIP against despite all of that soft contact and a 65.1% LOB%, so he’s gotten extremely unlucky in leverage situations. The Phillies aren’t a great defensive team, but Wheeler has been disproportionately affected relative to his peers. The Giants do have the second-highest K% against right-handed batters, so I do think there’s a chance that this could be a really solid outing for him. The fewer balls in play, the less of an impact his defense can have.

Cobb has a 1.70 ERA with a 3.61 xERA and a 2.97 FIP in his 47.2 innings of work. He’s got a much lower K% than Wheeler, but he has an 89.6% LOB% to fall back on. He’s got a 64.1% GB%, so he’s been burning up worms left and right this season. He also has a .336 BABIP, but he’s pitched around it. 

Cobb has allowed a .326 wOBA with the bases empty, but a .253 with men on base and a .177 with RISP. His BABIP by situation goes .359, .294, .241, so he’s had some pretty extreme Cluster Luck this season for a guy whose ground ball rate goes up exponentially with men on base. Some team will eventually find some holes against him in high-leverage spots. Maybe it’ll be the Phillies.

I don’t have a bet on this one. I do think Wheeler has a better chance than most to neutralize the Giants and their power production, but I’m not confident enough in that to lay the road price.

Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles (-135, 9.5)

With the injury to Jose Suarez and the desire to maintain a six-man rotation, the Angels have pushed 23-year-old righty Chase Silseth into the rotation. He’ll make his first MLB start of 2023 today against Dean Kremer and the Orioles. Silseth made seven starts last season with a 6.59 ERA and a 5.97 FIP in 28.2 innings of work.

This season, he allowed two earned runs over 20 innings in Triple-A with a 20/8 K/BB ratio before getting called up. He faced 18 batters last time out and allowed six runs (three earned) on five hits with three strikeouts and two walks. That was his longest appearance of the season, so I wouldn’t expect him to go too much farther than that, as he threw 72 pitches. He’ll likely be somewhere in that 75-80 range today.

He’s a better pitcher than what we saw from him last season in seven starts, but I’m not really sure that the ceiling is all that high. However, he did make it to the Majors in his second season of pro ball at 22 and was one of four “sixth starters” to watch per Paul Sporer of Rotographs back in December.

So, I guess I might be selling him a little short, but I need to see it before I can really believe in it. He’s at least right-handed, so he’s against the better side of the split for Baltimore, as they’ve crushed lefties this season and 19th in wOBA against righties.

Kremer has a 4.97 ERA with a 5.03 FIP in his 41.2 innings of work. He’s struck out just 32 and walked 13. He’s had good results the last two times out against the Braves and Rays, which is impressive on the surface, but he allowed 22 hard-hit balls in 36 batted ball events and four barrels, so he just got pretty fortunate with his batted ball luck in those two starts. The Rays actually had a season-high 96.3 mph average exit velocity against him, so Kremer will have to locate a lot better. He’s allowed double-digit hard-hit balls in his last three starts.

No play from me in this one, as Kremer does make a second straight start at Oriole Park, where he had a 2.84 ERA with a .273 wOBA against last season.

New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays (-180, 8)

Drama in this series yesterday, as Aaron Judge hit a ball a metric ton (see what I did there?!) at Rogers Centre after peaking into the home dugout during the at bat. Blue Jays announcers felt the need to bring up Judge’s gazes and it became a big thing. Was there something going on? I don’t know, but the pitch he hit 462 feet was a really terrible one from Jay Jackson and the sixth straight slider that Judge saw from him.

Rivalries having an extra dimension are always fun, so we’ll see if it continues to be a thing. In any event, Kevin Gausman goes tonight for the Jays and it will be Domingo German for the Yankees, who was checked, double checked, forced to wash his hands, and triple checked for using a foreign substance in a start earlier this season. I’m sure that will be brought up on the broadcast.

Gausman has a 3.38 ERA with a 2.31 FIP on the season and had a nice bounce back start last time out with six shutout frames against the Phillies. He allowed eight runs on 10 hits in 3.1 innings to the Red Sox the start prior. Gausman has allowed all 18 of his earned runs in three of his eight starts this season. He has 67 strikeouts against just seven walks, as he’s displayed some absurd control. But, he once again has a high BABIP at .350 and is running a 67.4% LOB% because of two enormous outliers.

Since the Twins exacted revenge on German on April 26 with six runs over six innings, German has only allowed four earned runs on nine hits in his three May starts. He’s got a 47/15 K/BB ratio in his 45 innings overall with a .194 BABIP, yet a 65.3% LOB%. His numbers are all over the place, leading to a 4.00 ERA, but a 4.37 FIP. He’s really hard to project for a variety of reasons, but he’s allowed two or fewer earned runs in five of eight starts and 14 of his 20 earned runs in the other three.

This number on Gausman might be a little bit high, but he’s allowed just a .257 wOBA to right-handed batters with a 36/1 K/BB ratio this season and that neutralizes a lot of Yankee hitters.

Seattle Mariners (-165, 10) at Boston Red Sox

George Kirby passed his test with flying colors yesterday as the Mariners routed the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Now Seattle sends Luis Castillo to the mound in hopes of keeping the good vibes rolling. Meanwhile, the Red Sox send Nick Pivetta, hence the big line on this one.

Pivetta heads into this start with a 6.23 ERA and a 5.79 FIP. His 4.80 xFIP would suggest some positive regression, but when you think about regression, you have to have the expectation of some level of command. Pivetta has no command. He’s allowed eight home runs and a Hard Hit% of 51.9%, not to mention a 15.4% Barrel%. It’s hard for your ERA to get better and your advanced metrics to matter if you’re going to be among the league’s worst pitchers in the contact management department. He’s allowed a HH% of at least 41.2% in every start. The league average is 39.2%. Imagine being below average in every single game.

As a result, Pivetta has a balloon ERA and is basically unbettable. That said, I’m not rushing to back Castillo either. He has a 2.70 ERA with a 2.56 FIP and some solid peripherals on the season with a 52/9 K/BB ratio, but this is a really big road number in a great hitter’s park. Castillo has allowed a 4.91 ERA over his last four starts with 12 runs allowed on 26 hits, as his hard contact is catching up with him. He has a .371 BABIP against in his last four starts and a 44.6% Hard Hit%. He’s actually at 45.5% for the season, but has a .283 BABIP, even with the last four starts.

If this total holds at 10, it will be just the sixth time in Castillo’s starts that a game of his has had a total of at least 10. Two are at Coors Field. The most recent one came July 6, 2021 against the Royals and Kris Bubic. He has not had one as a Mariner.

No interest here at all, but this is a lofty total in a Castillo start.

Cleveland Guardians (-120, 8) at Chicago White Sox

Sigh. It is an uncomfortable feeling to be a fan of a team and want to fade its ace every time he pitches. It’s even more uncomfortable when it doesn’t seem to pan out. I’ve done that a few times with Shane Bieber this season. He has a 2.61 ERA with a 3.62 FIP and a 4.09 xFIP. Most notably, he has a 4.51 xERA. His K% is down to 18.8%, which is nearly 10% below his career average and over 6% below last season.

Bieber has allowed an obscene 48.7% Hard Hit%, which is a career-worst. He’s never been a guy to really limit hard contact, as he’s been north of 41% in all but one of his six seasons. But, he has a .267 BABIP against and he’s running an 82.1% LOB%, despite the huge decrease in punchies. He’s allowed a .355 wOBA with the bases empty, a .193 with men on base, and a .181 with RISP. He’s the picture of Cluster Luck.

And, I just don’t know what to do. I want to fade Bieber again today, but the White Sox are 25th in wOBA against righties, so this may not be the matchup. However, the Guardians are 29th in wOBA against righties and might be just what Lance Lynn needs to get back on track. Lynn has a 7.51 ERA with a 5.31 FIP and a 3.88 xFIP. He’s allowed 11 homers in eight starts, but the Guardians don’t really hit for power.

That said, Lynn has allowed at least four runs in each of his last five starts, including seven last time out against the Royals. He’s also had a start with eight runs allowed this season. He’s been a punching bag for virtually everybody. The weird thing is that he has a 39.5% Hard Hit%, so it isn’t that far from the league average. His 10.1% Barrel% is high, but he doesn’t seem to totally deserve the 22% HR/FB% or the .364 BABIP.

I don’t know if the Angels series will serve as any kind of springboard or not. I don’t want to be hyperbolic, but Saturday’s comeback win felt like a season saver. Of course, they didn’t score for most of Sunday’s game again, but this team needed a big lift with a three-run homer and got two of them in two days. I can’t force myself into a bet here, but I’ve gotta fade Bieber again soon.

Pittsburgh Pirates at Detroit Tigers (-125, 8.5)

The hapless Pirates are out on the road against the Tigers to kick off an interleague series in Motown. Mitch Keller pitched the Buccos to just their second win in May on Sunday, as they are now 2-10 this month and have scored a whopping 20 runs in 12 games. They’ll take their cuts against Michael Lorenzen here in search of some positives.

Lorenzen has a 4.18 ERA with a 4.20 FIP in 28 innings of work. His season got off to a late start, but this will be his sixth outing. He’s allowed just two runs on nine hits in his last 14 innings of work, while only striking out four batters with a ton of ground balls. Lorenzen’s GB% is up at 51.1% and he has allowed some hard contact, but he’s kept it on the ground and therefore been able to work around most of it. He only has 19 strikeouts in 28 innings, but has only allowed one home run since a bad outing against the Giants in his first start back.

The Pirates will counter with Luis L. Ortiz, who made four starts last season with a 4.50 ERA and a 3.67 FIP over 16 innings and just went five innings last time out with five runs allowed on seven hits. Only two of the runs were earned, so he got no help from the defense, but he also only had one strikeout out of 24 batters. 

He does seem to have a promising profile with upper 90s heat and a good slider, but there is a clear lack of depth to his arsenal. That will be something he and the Pirates have to fix as teams see him for a second and third time, but it isn’t as much of an issue early in the season or in these interleague starts.

The problem with backing the Pirates right now is that they just aren’t scoring, so a guy like Ortiz is asked to be nearly perfect. That makes his profile hard to bet into and makes this team hard to bet on. It’s an easy pass from me here.

Tampa Bay Rays at New York Mets (-155, 8.5)

Jalen Beeks will open for Yonny Chirinos as the Rays take their road show to Queens to take on the Mets. Beeks hasn’t had the best of seasons with a 5.40 ERA and a 4.66 FIP, but his 3.12 xERA suggests that he’s gotten a bit unlucky. His 60.3% LOB% also suggests that, though he does have a .228 BABIP that runs on the right side of variance. He has only allowed two barrels, which is a big component of xERA, and he has a strong Hard Hit% of 35.6%.

Beeks has worked three straight scoreless appearances, including two innings of scoreless efforts on May 10 and May 13. He’ll probably try to go two innings or more again today before giving way to Chirinos, who has allowed five runs on eight hits in his last 10.1 innings of work. The biggest issue is that Chirinos has eight walks against just one strikeout in his last two outings. Those were against the Orioles and Yankees, so two teams very familiar with his stuff and also with Tampa Bay’s opener procedures. The Mets are less exposed to that sort of thing and also Chirinos.

That being said, Chirinos does have a 2.22 ERA with a 3.92 FIP in 24.1 innings of work. He has a .187 BABIP against, which will be problematic if regression hits along with all of these walks. He’ll be dealing with a lot of traffic on the bases if so. 

The big question I have in this game is whether or not anybody should be this big of a favorite against the Rays. I know Justin Verlander carries a lot of name recognition, but the Rays are playing at an historic clip and are the best offense in baseball against righties. This will be just the third start of the season for JV, who has allowed three runs on seven hits in 12 innings of work with 12 strikeouts against three walks.

Verlander’s two starts have been against the Tigers (30th in wOBA vs. RHP) and Reds (17th), so he’s really stepping up against a lineup whose .362 wOBA against righties is 18 points higher than anybody else (Dodgers). The Mets are at .313, which ranks 18th. He was sharper against the Reds than he was against the Tigers, as he allowed a 64.3% Hard Hit% against Detroit, but a 33.3% HH% against the Reds. The Rays lead the league in HH% at 45%. The Tigers are 13th and the Reds are 30th.

I realize that it’s Verlander against the Beeks/Chirinos combination, but do the Rays really deserve to be +135 against anybody right now? Verlander’s faced a couple of below average offenses and now gets a Rays one that clearly stands out above the rest. I can’t help but feel like the Rays are absolutely worth a play here. I’m not sure how sharp Verlander actually is. Also, the Rays are +45.2 runs against fastballs per Statcast’s Linear Pitch Type Weights. That is over 26 runs better than anybody else (Blue Jays) and Verlander throws a lot of fastballs.

I do have some concerns about the Rays pen and their regression signs long-term, but with all their quirky arm angles and all the deception they create, I’d expect it more in AL East play than against interleague opponents.

Pick: Rays +135

Atlanta Braves at Texas Rangers (-110, 9.5)

We’ve got a coin flip game in Arlington between the Braves and Rangers. The Braves got over the total themselves yesterday with 12 runs in a 12-0 shutout, as the Rangers had 10 hits, but went 0-for-6 with RISP. I’ve been watching Texas closely because they were 53 points better in batting average than any other team with runners in scoring position not that long ago, but those numbers are starting to stabilize a bit. They’ve dropped 13 points over the last week or so and the gap is down to 43 points better than any other team, so there’s still a long way to go.

The roof did end up closed for yesterday’s game, as rain was in the forecast. I would expect it to be open tonight with a really nice 81-degree high and very clear skies. That should give a boost to both offenses. The return of Jared Shuster could give a boost to the Texas offense as well. Shuster made the Braves rotation out of camp, but was promptly sent down after allowing eight runs on 12 hits in 8.2 innings with nine walks against five strikeouts.

He went down to the minors and had better results from a runs allowed standpoint, but still had 14 walks in 24.2 innings of work. He allowed 11 runs on 20 hits (nine earned) and gave up a couple homers. The Rangers are fourth in wOBA against lefties this season at .351, but they are only 14th in home wOBA against lefties, which goes against their highly-rated numbers against righties at home. Nevertheless, Shuster has a tough matchup here.

Dane Dunning gets the call for the Rangers and regression signs are everywhere. He has a 1.72 ERA with a 2.96 FIP and a 4.53 xFIP in 31.1 innings of work. He just recently joined the rotation and has allowed two runs on eight hits in 11 innings with an 8/2 K/BB ratio. Dunning has done a nice job of keeping the ball on the ground at a 48.9% clip, but I don’t think his .217 BABIP is all that sustainable in light of all the grounders. His Hard Hit% is just 37%, though, and he has only allowed three barrels. 

Shuster tilts more towards the fly ball side, so the roof being open would seem to hurt him more than Dunning. However, what may hurt Dunning here is that he doesn’t generate a ton of swing and miss. His K% is just 15.8% and his SwStr% is just 8.3%. Statcast lists a 19.3% O-Swing%, so his chase rate is very low. That said, Dunning had his two highest appearances by O-Swing% in his last two starts against the Angels and Mariners, including a 15.5% SwStr% against the Mariners last time out.

Still, it’s hard to look at a pitch-to-contact profile against Atlanta and get excited about it. The Mariners are awful against cutters and sliders, which are Dunning’s two main pitches. Atlanta is fourth in pitch type value offensively against sliders and 12th against cutters. I think they match up a bit better and seem to hit the ball hard against most pitchers. They should against Dunning as well. Also, with Dunning still not terribly stretched out, they’ll get a Rangers pen that has a 6.27 ERA over the last 14 days. The Rangers project well against Shuster also.

Pick: Over 9.5 (-115)

Chicago Cubs at Houston Astros (-170, 7.5)

Is this the first stop on the Justin Steele Regression Tour? Nothing against how he’s pitched so far and I actually love the dude and really sang his praises last season, but he has a 1.82 ERA with a 3.21 xERA and a 3.23 FIP, so a dud is coming at some point. Steele is running a .259 BABIP with a 51.1% GB% and an 81.7% LOB%. We’re starting to see it creep in a bit, as he’s got a 2.84 ERA in his last three starts, but his BABIP is .323 and his LOB% is 72%.

The hardest part about doing all of this regression analysis is that you never quite know when or how it’s going to come. All you know is that it will. For Steele, we’re seeing that modest regression with his BABIP and LOB%, but he’s still only allowed six earned runs in his last 19 innings. Sometimes it’s one horrific start that drives an ERA up a run or more. Other times, it’s a slow burn. For Steele, it seems like the slow burn has started.

Is that enough to lay a big number with the Astros? I would say no. Cristian Javier is looking a lot like the pitcher from last season with a 3.47 ERA, a 3.37 FIP, and a big K% at 29%. The Cubs are better against lefties than righties and Javier is a righty, so I don’t love this matchup for them. Javier has also only issued 10 walks.

The Cubs are 11th in wOBA against RHP, which is still very strong, but Javier is not your average lefty. I’ll be watching Steele closely to see what happens here, but I don’t have a play.

Arizona Diamondbacks (-155, 9) at Oakland Athletics

A couple of uninspiring lefties are on the mound here with Tommy Henry and Kyle Muller. Henry has a 4.43 ERA with a 5.01 FIP in his 22.1 innings of work on the season. He’s only struck out nine of the 93 batters that he has faced, but he’s also only walked nine of them. He’s limiting hard contact well, so he’s only allowed 11 runs on 22 hits, despite all that contact. It’s just a very hard profile to get behind because he’s so dependent on batted ball variance and sequencing luck because stranding runners is an issue without strikeouts.

His 32.4% Hard Hit% and 6.8% Barrel% are why he’s been able to work around the lack of strikeouts to be an effective pitcher, at least in the early going. He made nine starts last season and had a 5.36 ERA with a 5.88 FIP in 47 innings of work, so he wasn’t quite as successful last season with that. He also allowed 10 homers in his short stint, something that he seems to have cleaned up this season.

Muller has to be thrilled to get back home. He’s gotten his brains beaten in on the road and has a 7.34 ERA with a 5.75 FIP overall in 38 innings. After giving up six runs in four innings against the Yankees last time out, he has a 10.31 ERA in 18.1 innings away from the Coliseum. He has a 4.58 ERA in 19.2 innings at home thus far, not that his numbers look great there either.

With his fly ball style and pitch-to-contact approach, the ballpark plays a huge role for him and he has the chance to succeed at home. He has very limited upside on the road. Even though this start is at home, I have no interest in trying to back him.

Kansas City Royals at San Diego Padres (-200, 8.5)

For the second time this season, Brady Singer showed signs of life. He allowed one run on five hits over six innings against the White Sox with four strikeouts and two walks. “Signs of life” is a relative expression here, though, because he still allowed a 55.6% Hard Hit% and two more barrels. His Hard Hit% sits at 57.9% for the season and his Barrel% is 12.7%. His start against the Diamondbacks back on April 25 actually featured a 33.3% Hard Hit% to go with his six innings of one-run ball.

His last start was not that. He had better batted ball fortunes, but the command profile was still messy and I don’t think I’d read into that start as being a positive. He’s still dealing with a lot of badly-located pitches and even the slumping Padres offense has the chance to take advantage here. Singer has a 7.71 ERA and he has earned every bit of it, despite what his 5.02 FIP and 4.45 xFIP will tell you. He has earned his .336 BABIP against and his 55.4% LOB%. So, I don’t have a high projection of Singer going into this start at all. 

I’m still waiting for Seth Lugo to come back to earth a little bit. Lugo has a 3.18 ERA with a 3.96 FIP in his 39.2 innings of work. The grind as a starter is something he hasn’t experienced in several years, but he isn’t really showing any wear and tear to this point. He’s got solid peripherals across the board and a reasonable 41.2% Hard Hit%. The Royals are back in the tank a bit offensively, with 10 runs scored over the last four games.

It’s tough to take an over at Petco Park with that marine air and also with where the Padres stand offensively right now. They scored four runs last night and that was the most they had scored in seven of their last eight games. I don’t see anything I like that much, but I’d be careful thinking Singer showed positive signs with a good last outing. He’s still struggling mightily.

Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Dodgers (-200, 8)

Bailey Ober and Clayton Kershaw wrap up today’s article after a thrilling 9-8 game yesterday between these two teams. The Dodgers, who are second in wOBA against righties, jumped all over Pablo Lopez and scratched out some production against the Twins bullpen. Meanwhile, their bullpen had a really rough night.

It’s always tough for teams to blow out their bullpens early in a series, so we’ll see what kind of impact that has today and going forward. The Twins were going so hard for yesterday’s win that Jhoan Duran actually pitched two innings, which is extremely rare for him. 

Ober is an interesting guy for Minnesota. He stands 6-foot-9, so he has elite extension and that plays up the pedestrian velocity that he has. He’s allowed five runs on 16 hits in 24.1 innings of work this season with 22 strikeouts against six walks. He’s an extreme fly ball guy that actively works up in the zone with the fastball, which also helps the perceived velocity. I think it makes him a tough guy to face and I think it makes sense that he has a 3.54 ERA with a 3.85 FIP in his 172.2 MLB innings.

Today’s outing will be a tough, emotional one for Kershaw. He’s expected to be placed on the bereavement list after this start following the death of his mother. Kershaw’s mom died on Saturday, one day before Mother’s Day, which had to make it even harder. It seems really inconsequential to talk about his stats after that note, but he’s having a terrific season with a 2.3 ERA and a 3.55 FIP in 49.2 innings of work. He’s got a 56/10 K/BB ratio and has given up eight of his 13 earned runs in starts against the Diamondbacks and Padres. He’s allowed two earned runs in four starts against non-NL West teams.

The Twins are horrible against lefties, as they rank 29th in wOBA at .280. They have a 77 wRC+ and a 27% K% with just a 7.7% BB%. This looks to be a good spot for Kershaw from a matchup standpoint. Certainly the human element is present here given the circumstances and it is a risk to buy in on Kershaw with all the emotions and the difficulties over the last few days. I have nothing to back this up, but doesn’t it feel like Kershaw is one of the ultimate gamers? Like he’s just going to go out there and shove in his mom’s honor?

I also think Ober is a tricky matchup with what he’s able to do at the top of the zone and with his sneaky fastball. He’s allowed just a .279 wOBA the first time through the order with an 88/19 K/BB ratio in 315 plate appearances. I was hoping for a 1st 5 Under 4.5 here, but most of the market is 4. The wind is blowing out at Dodger Stadium, so that’s a concern as well. I wanted to fire here, but I guess there are enough uncertainties with Kershaw and also with a fly ball Ober in a park that can play smaller when it’s warmer and with a breeze. Also, the line at 4 makes it tough.

TL;DR Recap

Cardinals -1.5 (+115)

Rays +135

ATL/TEX Over 9.5 (-115)

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