MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Tuesday, September 5th

By Adam Burke  ( Managing Editor) 

September 5, 2023 12:30 PM

MLB schedule today has 15 games

Fifteen games are on the MLB card for Tuesday night and there is only one interleague game between the Mariners and Reds. Seven games in the NL and seven games in the AL actually bring us a few more division games than usual, as the new MLB schedule has taken away some of those crucial September matchups.

With a lot of ground to cover and fewer big numbers than what we’ve seen lately, let’s get to the games.

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Here are some thoughts on the September 5 card (odds from DraftKings):

Milwaukee Brewers (-175, 8.5) at Pittsburgh Pirates

I wanted to mention this game because the Pirates are playing well. I don’t have interest in fading Brandon Woodruff, though I do think Andre Jackson is a pretty interesting dude moving forward. 

As I said, Pittsburgh is playing well. They’ve actually won five of six and just beat Corbin Burnes on Monday night. Bad teams that are still engaged can cash some underdog tickets and really play the role of spoiler at this time of year, as this team at least has something to build on in future seasons. Don’t treat all teams with bad records the same. The situations in St. Louis and San Diego are nothing like the ones in Pittsburgh or Kansas City. Let’s see if the Buccos can take down Milwaukee’s other ace.

Los Angeles Dodgers (-142, 7.5) at Miami Marlins

A couple southpaws square off here as we’ll see Clayton Kershaw and Jesus Luzardo down at Marlins Park. My view on Luzardo was dead wrong, as he and the Marlins have made some adjustments and he’s back to being a super effective pitcher. Luzardo allowed 21 runs in a four-start stretch from July 30 to August 16 and I thought that the 25-year-old was hitting a wall. His velo still looked good, but his command was lacking and he was reaching new heights from an innings standpoint.

Well, the innings keep mounting and he’ll cross 150 in this start for the first time ever. But, he’s also thrown 12 straight scoreless innings with a 15/3 K/BB ratio and just three hits allowed against the Padres and Rays. He’s allowed a total of five hard-hit balls in those two starts and no barrels. He had allowed a 52.2% HH% over his previous six starts and 11 barrels. I guess the Marlins figured out whatever the mechanical issue was.

Kershaw has worked 17 innings since coming off the IL and has allowed four runs on 10 hits over 17 innings. All four runs have scored via solo homer and he has a .150 BABIP against with a 100% LOB%. He has only thrown seven innings since August 16, but he was sharp in his five innings against Arizona on August 29. As you know, the Marlins have been way better against lefties than righties throughout the season, but Kershaw is not your average lefty.

Tough handicap here. I actually went into it assuming I’d like the Over 7.5, but Luzardo’s return to pitching well is enough to keep me away.

New York Mets (-142, 9.5) at Washington Nationals

The Nationals have dropped seven of eight as they head into this one against the Mets. Washington is 26-22 in the second half, but -35 in run differential, so they’ve done well in close games, but have had some issues otherwise. They’ll send Patrick Corbin to the hill here and the Mets will counter with Jose Quintana.

Corbin has a 4.90 ERA with a 6.12 xERA and a 5.11 FIP in his 154.1 innings of work. He just allowed six runs on 10 hits against the Blue Jays in his most recent start and has had a few of those blow-ups in recent outings.

Quintana has been good this season with a 3.26 ERA and a 3.32 FIP in 47 innings, but his 4.45 xERA is not as bullish on his performance He has only allowed one home run in eight starts, but also only has a 35/20 K/BB ratio, so xERA isn’t a big fan of the lack of strikeouts and the heightened walk rate. He does have a 34.3% Hard Hit% against and a 5.0% Barrel% on the season, so those are good numbers.

The Mets are another one of those teams like the Cardinals and Padres where I think they’re just playing out the string. Their pure talent level will lead to some wins, but they’re also not going to be trustworthy moving forward.

San Francisco Giants at Chicago Cubs (-135, 10.5)

Skipping over the Braves (Michael Soroka) as a huge favorite against the Cardinals (Miles Mikolas), we head to Wrigley Field for the Giants and Cubs. The Cubs took down Game 1 with a 5-0 win behind Justin Steele during a very hot day game in Chicago. Tonight’s game will be at night and Ryan Walker will open for the Giants against Kyle Hendricks for the Cubs.

The Giants will have their pick of Sean Manaea or Jakob Junis after Walker. Both guys pitched on Thursday, as Manaea threw 86 pitches and Junis threw 58. The Cubs are 19th in wOBA against lefties in the second half at .303 with an 89 wRC+ compared to second with a .356 wOBA and a 125 wRC+ against righties, so I would presume that Manaea is viewed as the better matchup.

Walker has a 2.16 ERA with a 2.57 xERA and a 3.14 FIP in 50 innings, including 11 starts as the opener. He has allowed a .366 wOBA in 17.2 innings as a starter, but has a 2.55 ERA, so he’s been able to overcome a heightened walk rate and more homers than he’s allowed in 32.1 innings as a reliever. Manaea has a 4.96 ERA, but does have a 4.48 xERA and a 3.99 FIP. Since July 29, Manaea has a 2.55 ERA with a 4.07 FIP in 24.2 innings of work. That said, he’s allowed six runs on nine hits in his last 9.2 innings with 10 strikeouts, nine walks, and three homers allowed.

Hendricks has a 3.59 ERA with a 4.04 xERA and a 3.87 FIP over 110.1 innings of work. He was crushed by Atlanta on August 4, but hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any other start since July 14, so he’s done what he’s done throughout his career - keep his team in games and limit hard contact. In four of his last five starts, Hendricks has allowed an average exit velo under 84 mph.

I lean with the Cubbies here, despite their clear splits against lefties. Both bullpens are in terrific shape, though, so this one may ultimately come down to rested relievers. I don’t feel strongly enough to dive in with the home team, but we do have a total of 10.5 here with heat, humidity, and a breeze blowing out. This total could keep going up.

Philadelphia Phillies at San Diego Padres (-115, 9)

Skipping over Rockies (Kyle Freeland) at Diamondbacks (Brandon Pfaadt)...

The sportsbooks have to be having a hard time lining Padres games. This team isn’t very good, but you have to respect the immense talent level on the roster. They’re a short favorite against the Phillies again tonight after being favored last night in a losing effort. Tonight’s game features Michael Lorenzen and Pedro Avila after a tight one on Monday.

The Phillies’ bullpen situation is the first thing I notice here. Craig Kimbrel and Jose Alvarado have both worked back-to-back days. Jeff Hoffman has as well, but he’s less important. It’s actually a 3-in-4 for Alvarado and Hoffman. Kimbrel was needed to work out of an eighth-inning jam yesterday, so it was a high-leverage appearance to say the least.

That brings me to Lorenzen, who has really struggled since his no-hitter. He has allowed 15 runs (13 earned) on 24 hits over his last three starts with only 10 strikeouts against six walks in 15 innings of work. He’s allowed five homers in that span as well. He needed 124 pitches in the no-hitter and did get some extra rest, but it has been a tough road against Washington, San Francisco, and the Angels since. Those are not exactly great lineups against righties.

The Padres aren’t a great lineup against righties either, but the clear hardships for Lorenzen make him unbettable today and probably going forward as well, unless he finds a way to turn it around.

San Diego is really hard to bet on right now as well, as they’re playing out the string of a thoroughly disappointing season. Avila has been a bright spot with a 2.67 ERA and a 2.83 FIP over his 30.1 innings, but his upper minors numbers don’t really suggest a lot of sustainability here. Perhaps this will be another high-scoring game, but I’m not really interested in anything here. I escaped with the Phillies last night and I’ll leave this game alone.

Minnesota Twins (-125, 8) at Cleveland Guardians

In the biggest game of the season for the Guardians, they got beat 20-6 and used a position player for four innings. Newcomer Lucas Giolito gave up nine runs in just three innings and Cleveland mustered just one run against Pablo Lopez. Overall, the Guardians were 2-for-16 with RISP in the game. They scored three meaningless runs in the ninth off of a position player. It was about as disappointing of an outcome as possible and guaranteed that they can make up one game at most in this must-sweep series.

Sonny Gray and Tanner Bibee are tonight’s hurlers, as Bibee has been exceptional at Progressive Field. Bibee looks like a future ace with a 3.03 ERA, 3.63 xERA, and a 3.69 FIP in his 124.2 innings as a rookie. Since getting blasted by the Padres in his first pro start in California, Bibee has a 2.48 ERA over his last 13 starts over 76.1 innings with 80 strikeouts against just 26 walks and he’s gone 8-1 in that span. He’s a true building block for the future and an absolute keeper as Cleveland looks to deal from a position of strength on the pitching side to get some hitting this winter.

In 58 innings at home, Bibee has allowed a .194/.267/.256 slash with a .240 wOBA against and has a 2.02 ERA with a 2.76 FIP. He’s only allowed two homers at home compared to 11 on the road. He’s every bit as good as his numbers suggest and we’ll see if he can withstand the pressure in this spot, though the pressure was certainly lightened off of yesterday’s game.

Gray has a 2.92 ERA with a 3.71 xERA and a 2.82 FIP in 158 innings. This is the most MLB innings we’ve seen out of Gray since 2019. It doesn’t seem to be bothering him much, as he’s allowed one run on nine hits in his last 14 innings against the Rangers and Guardians. He does only have nine strikeouts in that span, but he’s allowed just six homers this season and has just shy of a strikeout per inning.

It will be warm and humid in Cleveland tonight, which could provide a boost for the bats, which is the only reason I’m staying off of Under 8. I think both starters perform well tonight and this becomes a bullpen battle. I don’t really trust either bullpen, so I can’t advocate a side either.

Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays (-162, 8)

Aaron Civale was spectacular for the Rays yesterday, but they’ve got a bullpen issue. I’m not sure what Kevin Cash’s fascination is with Chris Devenski, but he’s brought him into some leverage spots recently and he has really failed. Yesterday was another one, as Civale left with two guys on and Devenski promptly gave up a three-run homer to Triston Casas. Civale had struck out 12 over 5.1 innings, but the two inherited runners went on his line and Andrew Kittredge gave up three runs in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

It will be Kutter Crawford and Zach Eflin in this one, as Eflin has a 3.40 ERA with a 3.04 xERA and a 3.07 FIP in his 150.2 innings of work. He’s been a godsend for the Rays in a season where they’ve lost the equivalent of a Major League rotation to injury. He had a little bit of a tough stretch with five runs allowed in three of six starts, but he’s only allowed three runs over his last three starts.

Crawford ran into a tough outing last time out, as the Astros knocked him around for six runs on seven hits. He had allowed a total of nine runs over his previous six starts, but he didn’t locate well for one reason or another against Houston. The Rays are a top-10 offense against righties here in the second half and more balanced than the Astros, so it’ll be a tough assignment for Crawford.

I’m finding it tough to lay big numbers on the Rays with their bullpen situation at present, but the Red Sox have a pretty low projection against Eflin. Moving on…

Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals (-125, 9.5)

What is the market view of the White Sox? Money has come in on the Royals and Brady Singer in this one. Both pitchers have positive regression signs in the profile, as Singer comes in with a 5.15 ERA, 4.90 xERA, and a 4.06 FIP, while Dylan Cease has a 4.91 ERA, 4.13 xERA, and a 3.82 FIP in 148.1 innings of work. 

Singer hasn’t pitched since August 25, as he missed time on the paternity list. He allowed 10 runs on 18 hits in 7.2 innings over his last two starts, so I’m not entirely sure why he’s getting steamed in this game. There aren’t many redeeming qualities in the profile to say the least, though he had been better from July 22 to August 14 with nine runs allowed over five starts. Still, this is not an exciting profile at all.

Then there’s Cease, who has allowed 19 runs over his last three starts covering 15 innings. He’s allowed 22 hits and 10 walks in that span. He’s only allowed two homers, but has a .455 BABIP and a 48.1% LOB%, so he’s run the wrong side of variance every which way in that span. He’s still generating a lot of swings and misses and has only allowed a 32.6% Hard Hit% with a 2.2% Barrel% against the Rockies, Athletics, and Orioles. He’s allowed an average exit velo of 87.9 mph, which is below the league average of 89.3 mph. He’s just gotten super unlucky.

Maybe Singer gets a baby bump, but I disagree with this line move. Cease has given up a ton of runs lately, but he’s not pitching all that poorly. I could certainly do without the 10 walks, but the Royals have a 5.6% BB% against righties in the second half, which is easily the lowest in the league.

Shop around because Chicago is priced a good bit better elsewhere, but I think this line has moved too much and Cease is definitely in line for some positive regression here based on the numbers. The White Sox have lost four in a row, but the Royals have also lost eight of 10, so it’s not like they’re really playing any better.

Pick: White Sox +105

Houston Astros (-115, 8.5) at Texas Rangers

What a juicy pitching matchup we have here, as the Astros and Rangers play Game 2 of this key three-game set with Framber Valdez and Nathan Eovaldi. Last night, the Rangers led 3-0 going into the fifth and then it fell apart for Andrew Heaney. Heaney couldn’t get out of the fifth and the floodgates opened from there, as the Rangers’ bullpen woes continued. The game was eventually finished by catcher Austin Hedges after Josh Sborz gave up six runs in two-thirds of an inning and Martin Perez even came in for some mop-up work. All in all, the Astros won 13-6 and moved into a tie with the Mariners for first place.

This will be Eovaldi’s first start since July 18. He did not make any rehab starts. He’s been on the IL with a forearm issue that I more or less picked up on back in July, but he wound up pitching pretty well despite velocity and strikeout decreases. For the season, Eovaldi has a 2.69 ERA with a 3.23 FIP. He has 111 strikeouts against 34 walks and has only allowed eight homers in 123.2 innings. 

Eovaldi has been battling a forearm strain and has only thrown bullpens and sim games, so I’m not super excited about where that leaves him from a pitch count standpoint. Maybe it was spoken about somewhere, but I didn’t see it when researching the game. I would honestly think 3-4 innings, as they have bigger picture things in mind and won’t push it too far here.

Valdez has a 3.38 ERA with a 4.19 xERA and a 3.46 FIP in his 167.2 innings, but it has been a crazy second half for him. He has a 5.08 ERA with a 4.74 FIP. He’s thrown a no-hitter and also thrown seven no-hit innings. Aside from those two starts, he’s allowed 35 runs in 40.2 innings. He gave up four runs on five hits last time out against the Red Sox. Two of the runs were earned, but he wasn’t super sharp in that start coming off of 114 pitches in that no-hit bid against the Tigers.

I wish I had more certainty about Valdez so I could get invested in this game, but I just don’t. Eovaldi could be good for however long he’s out there, but the Rangers bullpen has a 5.36 ERA with a 5.94 FIP over the last 30 days. It’s a 6.44 ERA with a 7.17 FIP if we cut that down to the last 14 days. Maybe the play here is a live bet on Houston if you can get them as a dog. Say Eovaldi throws up a scoreless first and Valdez allows a run or two. I think you look for a live betting spot on Houston at that point.

Eovaldi will tire as he turns the lineup over and is probably slated for an early exit anyway. So long as Valdez doesn’t get blown up, then Houston should be a live betting candidate at various points throughout the game.

Baltimore Orioles (-170, 8.5) at Los Angeles Angels

Reid Detmers is a way better pitcher than Kenny Rosenberg, however, it does look like the Angels will be without Shohei Ohtani, who tweaked his oblique during batting practice yesterday. He hasn’t officially been ruled out, but this line will jump if and when he is. That’s my starting point here for determining whether or not I want to run back the Orioles run line.

Dean Kremer has a 4.20 ERA with a 4.69 FIP in 150 innings of work, but he has a 3.12 ERA with a 4.24 FIP in 52 innings in the second half. He’s allowed more than three runs just once in that span. He’s allowed 17 homers at home and just nine on the road this season, though he has thrown 26 more innings at home. His wOBA against is 80 points lower in the second half, though, as he allowed 20 homers in the first half and has surrendered just six in the second half. The Orioles appear to have made some good adjustments with him, which is no surprise.

Detmers has a 5.01 ERA with a 4.41 FIP. He’s got a 6.57 ERA with a 5.84 FIP in the second half over 38.1 innings. He’s allowed seven runs twice, but both of those starts were against division foes that have seen him a lot. The Orioles don’t really have that same measure of exposure to him. However, one thing I do see here is that Detmers has been allowing a lot of hard contact lately and has seen a decrease in K%. 

He had a 15/14 K/BB ratio in August and allowed six homers while allowing a 44.7% Hard Hit%. His velocity has also been down in his last three starts, as he may just be running out of gas. Detmers jumped to 135 innings last season after throwing 82.2 innings in 2021.

I don’t love this one as much as yesterday’s, but I also took yesterday’s with no inkling that Ohtani would get hurt and be out. With Kremer throwing the ball well, Detmers struggling with his velo and his performance, and Baltimore playing for something with the Angels playing for nothing, I’ll run it back again and see what happens.

Pick: Orioles -1.5 (-105)

Seattle Mariners (-148, 10) at Cincinnati Reds

Skipping over the Blue Jays (Chris Bassitt) against a lefty for the A’s (Ken Waldichuk)...

Another day for the Reds where they have to cobble something together and see what happens. To do that today, they will use Connor Phillips in his MLB debut. Phillips, who was actually with the Mariners originally, has a 4.69 ERA with a 4.08 FIP in 40.1 innings at Triple-A. He’s had some enormous strikeout numbers in the minors, but has also had some enormous walk rates.

Back in January, FanGraphs called Phillips the eighth-ranked prospect in the Reds system. He was acquired in the Jesse Winker deal and has big velo with a big frame, but also isn’t always sure where the ball is going. He also just turned 22 in May and is already making his MLB debut, so that tells you about the raw stuff. His big breaking ball is the primary out pitch and his fastball has good life.

Seattle will go with one of their youngsters in Bryce Miller, who is 20 starts into his MLB career with a 3.93 ERA, 4.48 xERA, and a 3.76 FIP in 107.2 innings of work. Miller has allowed six runs on 13 hits over his last 10 innings against the Royals and A’s, so that’s a bit concerning. I’m not concerned enough to try and take a shot with Cincinnati, but I’ll be keeping an eye on this game, especially to see what Phillips looks like as the Reds deal with COVID issues.

TL;DR Recap

White Sox +105

Orioles -1.5 (-105)

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