MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Tuesday, September 19th

By Adam Burke  ( Managing Editor) 

September 19, 2023 11:50 AM

MLB schedule today has 15 games

We’ve got a 15-game card for Tuesday, as the MLB regular season keeps inching closer to the finish line. I had a big, long, philosophical intro typed out regarding Nick Chubb’s injury last night, but decided to shelf that and just focus on getting to the games that are on the betting board in hopes of finding some plays that make sense.

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Here are some thoughts on the September 19 card (odds from DraftKings):

New York Mets at Miami Marlins (-155, 8)

We start with the Mets and Marlins, as Joey Lucchesi and Braxton Garrett square off and Miami lays a pretty sizable number. A little bit of interest seems to have come in on the Mets. Garrett owns a 2.36 ERA with a 3.56 FIP over his last nine starts covering 49.2 innings of work. He does have an 82.1% LOB% with a low K%, so maybe that’s the reason why. The Mets also won yesterday to snap Miami’s winning streak off of a sweep of the Braves.

Lucchesi was solid against the D-Backs last week with seven innings and zero earned runs. He gave up an unearned run and walked three with two strikeouts. He has a 2.83 ERA with a 4.49 FIP in his 35 innings of work this season, but hasn’t made more than two MLB starts since May 13. Nothing from me here, but let’s see if Garrett’s regression does hit. Or if Lucchesi’s does. Or both.

Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves (-218, 9)

Mostly just mentioning this game because Spencer Strider is on the hill and is a massive favorite for a Braves bunch that has not looked the same for a little while now. Strider also has been dealing with an illness recently, but is going to make the start. He allowed one run on four hits over seven excellent innings last time out against the Phillies, but had allowed 10 runs on 14 hits in his two starts prior to that.

The Braves do draw left-hander Cristopher Sanchez in this one, but this is actually a piggyback with Sanchez and Lorenzen, so the Phillies will throw a southpaw and then a righty at Atlanta. Sanchez may be wearing down a bit and Lorenzen seems to be doing the same, so asking for 3-4 innings from each guy makes sense. Sanchez did strike out 10 Braves over 7.1 innings last time out and has a 3.40 ERA with a 4.03 FIP, so the numbers are solid, but the Phillies are trying to protect their arms as much as possible.

To me, this is less about Sanchez and more about Lorenzen, who allowed four runs on five hits to the Braves last time out in five innings. He’s allowed 26 runs over his last five starts and hasn’t pitched in eight days, so the Phillies will hope that a little downtime and a piggyback role will help him get back on track.

The sportsbooks are aware of the setup, as Sanchez’s K prop is only 3.5, a number he has gone over with regularity, but this is an example of why you need to be vigilant with the news. He still may go over that, but piggyback implies maybe 3-4 innings for Sanchez, so he’s not out there going six or seven innings. I think a lot of people will see that line and think it’s low, but there is a reason why.

Milwaukee Brewers (-125, 9) at St. Louis Cardinals

Yesterday was cause for celebration for the Cardinals in a season where they haven’t had much to celebrate. Adam Wainwright threw seven shutout innings to get his 200th win. There will be a strong sentiment in going against the Cardinals today and moving forward. Getting Waino to 200 was really the only objective the rest of the way. There aren’t enough games left to finish .500 or better. Maybe playing spoiler gets them excited, but I’m not sure.

Trevor Megill will open for Colin Rea and Drew Rom will get the start for the Cardinals. The Brewers properly leveraged the opener/bulk concept with Rea last time out, as he allowed one run over 4.2 innings in relief. Megill went a scoreless inning to get things started. He has a 3.13 ERA with a 1.90 FIP on the season, so he should be a useful opener again in this spot. Rea has a 4.89 ERA with a 5.01 FIP, but the purpose of the opener is to avoid the top of the order to begin the game, so it’s supposed to help a team extend the staff a bit.

Money has also come in on the Brewers today because Rom has allowed 17 runs on 27 hits in 22.2 innings of work with an 18/13 K/BB ratio. He’s making his second start at Busch Stadium, where things have cooled off and maybe the bats will do so as well, but I still wouldn’t call him a trustworthy arm.

I understand the anti-Cardinals sentiment today. I’m not sure I can follow suit with Rea’s subpar numbers, even if the opener concept could provide a boost for him.

San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks (-148, 8.5)

Some sites don’t have a starter listed for the Giants today, but Alex Cobb was pushed back to line up with Zac Gallen here on Tuesday. Cobb hasn’t pitched in eight days and has only pitched twice since August 29, as he got some extra time after his near-no-hitter on August 29. He gave up four runs on six hits in a shortened start against the Padres and then allowed two unearned runs over five innings against Cleveland on the 11th.

The bigger story here is Gallen, who wowed everybody with that complete game shutout against the Cubs on the 8th and then followed it up by allowing seven runs on eight hits in five innings against the Mets. Gallen has allowed a ton of hard contact this season and particularly in the second half, yet he has a 3.50 ERA with a 3.33 FIP.

He had that CGSHO, yet has still allowed 18 runs over his last four starts, as the chickens have come to roost on all that hard contact. The tough part is that a lot of those signs are very much present and accounted for, but you never fully know when they’re going to come through. Before allowing six runs and four homers to the Dodgers on August 28, Gallen allowed two runs on 14 hits over 18.1 innings with a 60.9% Hard Hit% and a 17.4% Barrel% over his previous three starts.

Guess it comes down to whether or not the Giants are able to swing the bats well tonight, something that has been an issue throughout the second half.

Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees (-115, 8.5)

Skipping over Padres (Blake Snell) and Rockies (Ryan Feltner) and Angels (Patrick Sandoval) and Rays (Taj Bradley)...

Yusei Kikuchi and Clarke Schmidt square off at Yankee Stadium here, as we’ll see the No. 2-ranked Yankees offense against lefties draw Kikuchi. The southpaw has hit the skids a bit of late, as Kikuchi has allowed 17 runs over his last four starts and 20 runs over his last five. In that span, he’s still got a 31/10 K/BB ratio, but has allowed a .343 BABIP and a 54.1% LOB%. He has allowed a 50.7% Hard Hit% in starts against the Orioles, Guardians, Rockies (at Coors), Royals, and Rangers.

Kikuchi’s recent returns and New York’s prowess against lefties is enough to make the Yankees the favorite, even though it is Toronto with the playoff hopes and more to play for the rest of the way.

Schmidt has fallen on the wrong side of luck lately, as he’s continued to do a good job with contact management, but has allowed 13 runs over his last four starts. That being said, his baseline at this point is somewhere around allowing three runs over five-ish innings. Will that be enough against Kikuchi? Will the Yankees give him enough run support?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I don’t have much interest in backing Toronto, who has been all over the map lately.

Cleveland Guardians (-162, 9.5) at Kansas City Royals

Logan Allen gets the call for Cleveland in a rather big favorite role against the Royals. Cleveland got some shoddy relief work again in yesterday’s game and fell short against Brady Singer and the Royals.

Games like this frustrate me a lot in September. Cleveland has no business being this big of a favorite against anybody, but it doesn’t mean I want to run and bet the Royals, who are still shy of 50 wins on September 19. Allen comes in with a 3.60 ERA and a 4.08 FIP, so there are some modest regression signs in the profile, but he’s allowed two runs on eight hits over his last 10 innings. He’s also only going about five innings per start at this point, which means that Cleveland will have to find somebody to get outs and finish the game.

The pitching setup for the Royals today is Steven Cruz, who has allowed four runs on six hits in seven innings, and likely Alec Marsh as the bulk guy with a 5.67 ERA and a 6.18 FIP. Marsh has had two strong appearances back-to-back with one run on three hits in four and 4.1 innings, respectively.

I feel like Kansas City is more of a live dog than this number would imply, but maybe a live betting situation is a better option since Allen is probably a better bet than the Cruz/Marsh setup.

Boston Red Sox at Texas Rangers (-162, 8.5)

Speaking of bullpen mishaps, the Rangers have had a ton of them lately. They had another one yesterday, as the Red Sox were dormant for seven innings, but then scored three runs in the eighth to win 4-2. Of course, the Rangers also only scored two runs, so they didn’t give the pitching staff much margin for error, but Texas’s bullpen is trash.

After getting an awesome start from Jordan Montgomery, it didn’t take long for Will Smith to give up two runs and Chris Stratton to allow another. Today’s game features Nathan Eovaldi for the Rangers, so that means they’ll have to deal with the bullpen for an extended period of time. Eovaldi has made three starts since coming back and gone 1.1, 2.1, and 3.1 innings. He needed 73 pitches to get 10 outs last time out and allowed two runs on three hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

I would expect Eovaldi goes somewhere around 80 pitches today, which, if he’s efficient, could get him into the fifth inning. His K prop sits at 4.5 and I think that is pretty optimistic, as he has nine strikeouts out of 37 batters faced since returning. That’s just shy of 25%, but I don’t think he works super deep into the game and the Red Sox are pretty good at strikeout avoidance. So, I do like Under 4.5 strikeouts for Eovaldi today.

The Red Sox will counter with Tanner Houck, who threw six shutout innings against the Yankees last time out. He had allowed nine runs on 15 hits in his previous 10.1 innings of work. Houck owns a 4.94 ERA with a 4.32 FIP, so there are some positive regression signs in the profile, namely his 68.6% LOB%.

This is another game where the favorite is probably a little too pricey, but the Red Sox don’t inspire a lot of confidence right now. Yesterday’s comeback snapped a four-game losing streak and the Sox have lost 10 of their last 13. The Rangers are having all sorts of issues, so maybe shying away is the wrong call, but I don’t have enough compelling reasons to take Boston.

Baltimore Orioles at Houston Astros (-155, 9)

Kyle Gibson and Hunter Brown are listed here, as the O’s scored a huge come-from-behind win yesterday to take advantage of one of the games that they had in hand against the idle Rays. The lead is 2.5 and the Orioles have one more game in hand. The game also flew over the total after a lot of scoring off of the bullpens, so I guess I should have broken my “no totals” rule.

Gibson has a 4.98 ERA with a 4.72 xERA and a 4.13 FIP in his 175.1 innings of work. It has been a mixed bag lately for Gibson, who has thrown back-to-back quality starts, but also allowed seven runs to the White Sox on August 30 and nine runs to Seattle on August 11. I wish I had a higher degree of confidence in him because Brown has not performed well himself.

He threw five no-hit innings against the A’s last time out, but he had allowed 24 runs over his previous 24 innings. He’s allowed a lot of hard contact this season and the Astros have tried to monitor his innings and workload as efficiently as possible. 

If the Orioles pen was in a better spot, I’d be more inclined to take an underdog shot with them, since Gibson and Brown could cancel out in a variety of ways. Yennier Cano has pitched back-to-back days (though only 12 pitches) and he’s one of four Orioles to have done that. In all, six relievers were needed yesterday for Baltimore. I don’t think Brandon Hyde will use Cano three straight days, not with the fatigue he had earlier in the second half and with Felix Bautista out.

Minnesota Twins (-135, 9.5) at Cincinnati Reds

Skipping over the Mariners (Luis Castillo) as a huge favorite over the Athletics (Paul Blackburn)...

We’ll see Kenta Maeda here for the Twins and Fernando Cruz as the opener in front of Ben Lively for the Reds. Losing is never great, but a good silver lining for the Twins yesterday is that Dallas Keuchel ate up the last three innings of the game, so the bullpen is in good shape for this one today. Minnesota just got shut down by Connor Phillips and Joe Ryan struggled in a tough road environment.

Maeda comes in with a 4.50 ERA and a 4.14 FIP, but the full-season numbers don’t mean much here. Since coming off the IL on June 23, Maeda has allowed more than three runs in a start just once. That was against Cleveland on August 28 and that was a game that ended 10-6 on a hot evening in Minnesota. He does have a 5.64 ERA with a 5.40 FIP over his last 30.1 innings of work, but his contact management numbers aren’t that bad. He’s given up six barrels, but seven homers, so he’s had some bad batted ball luck, but has allowed a Hard Hit% north of 40%.

Cruz will be making his second appearance as a starter this season and has allowed an unearned run on a hit in 1.1 innings in that role. He’s got a 4.05 ERA, but a 2.81 FIP, so he’s been solid overall. Lively has not been, as he has a 5.22 ERA with a 5.32 FIP in 81 innings of work. He does have two extreme blow-ups to his name, including 13 runs on 13 hits against the Cubs on August 1. Since coming back from the IL, he has allowed six runs on 10 hits in 10 innings, but he has only allowed nine hard-hit balls in 31 batted ball events.

I expected to go into this game liking Minnesota, despite a line move against the Twins in this one. However, Maeda has struggled a bit of late and I just truly don’t think of the Twins as being that good of a team. Lively and Maeda may very well cancel out and the Reds bullpen is better than the Twins bullpen in my estimation.

I tend to agree with the line move here, especially with Cincinnati healthier at this point in time and with that strong, rested bullpen.

Pick: Reds +114

Chicago White Sox at Washington Nationals (-115, 9.5)

Jose Urena and Jackson Rutledge are the listed starters in this one, as the White Sox and Nationals exchange pleasantries again. Mike Clevinger took a shutout into the ninth inning before Dom Smith homered and the benches cleared following some jawing between Clevinger and Smith.

That was about the only excitement in that game, as two bad teams went head-to-head for nine innings of lackluster baseball. We’ll see what today holds, as Urena comes in having allowed six runs on seven hits last time out against the Twins. He did strike out eight, but also gave up three homers. The Nats are 24th in wOBA against righties in September at .297.

But, the White Sox are worse at .285, as they rank 29th in that department. They face the 24-year-old rookie Rutledge tonight, who allowed seven runs on 10 hits in 3.2 innings against the Pirates six days ago. It was not the debut that the youngster wanted, but the 6-foot-8 former first-round pick gets another crack today against a worse White Sox lineup.

I’d love to fade Urena, but I have no idea what Rutledge does in his second start. It can be overwhelming to make your MLB debut and there are a lot of emotions to process. On the other hand, Rutledge had a 4.44 ERA with a 5.82 FIP in 11 Triple-A starts, so maybe he’s just not MLB-ready yet. Tough one to say the least here and I have nothing to say about the Tigers/Dodgers game with a Bobby Miller/Ryan Yarbrough/Gavin Stone triple piggyback for LA.

TL;DR Recap

Reds +114

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