MLB schedule today has 15 games
A full 15-game slate starts bright and early with lunchtime action in Pittsburgh, New York City, Milwaukee, and Cleveland, not to mention other afternoon tilts in Arizona, San Francisco, Seattle, and Anaheim. I’ll spare you the long intro and get right down to business. (Tracking sheet)
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Catch a new episode of VSiN Daily Baseball Bets this afternoon as quickly as we can get it published.
Here are some thoughts on the May 10 card (odds from DraftKings):
This game has already started, but I left it in the article since I had written it up.
This line looked a bit low for the Pirates today with Rich Hill on the bump against Antonio Senzatela and the Rockies. Hill had his first rocky (no pun intended) outing in a while last time out, as he allowed four runs on eight hits to the Blue Jays over 5.1 innings of work. Hill simply didn’t locate well with a 55.6% Hard Hit%. Prior to that, his worst start from a HH% standpoint was 42.1% when he got rocked by the White Sox on April 7.
The Rockies remain a really bad offensive team, so there is definitely a path for Hill to get back on track. Overall, Colorado is 25th in wOBA against LHP and 29th in wRC+, as Coors Field skews the curve in a big way for park-adjusted metrics. Colorado is also 28th in road wOBA against lefties and 28th in wRC+. If Hill struggles here, that will be a bad sign going forward.
The Pirates have had problems scoring runs early in games lately, even against Rockies pitchers in this series. They’ve scored one run in the first five innings of the last six games. This will be Senzatela’s second start back after returning from a torn ACL. He allowed one run on three hits over five innings against the Mets in that outing.
No play here with the early start, but I’ll be keeping tabs on Hill given a favorable matchup.
In this battle of teams that are bad against lefties, one lefty is way better than the other one. That better lefty is Clayton Kershaw, who leads the Dodgers into battle against Wade Miley. The Dodgers are 24th in wOBA at .304, while the Brewers are dead last at .266 and also rank last in wRC+ at 64. The Dodgers have a 90 wRC+, so maybe they haven’t been quite as bad as wOBA suggests.
The Dodgers have an 11.1% BB% in this split, but also have a 26.8% K%. The thing about facing Miley is that you don’t have to worry as much about the strikeouts. He’s only struck out 21 of the 140 batters that he has faced. Miley has a 2.31 ERA with a 3.46 FIP and a 5.00 xFIP, so there are some regression signs in the profile. He’s also got a 4.00 xERA, so that’s another thing to key in on.
I will say that I am a bit concerned about the Dodgers, as they flew from San Diego to Milwaukee late Sunday night and arrived at 3 a.m. local time for Monday’s game. They won on Tuesday, but now have an early wake-up call for the day game. It isn’t an ideal spot for them, even if it looks like they have a good chance at getting to Miley based on the regression signs in his profile. Miley won’t keep running an 82.4% LOB% with a 15% K%.
Was the last start for Kershaw a blip on the radar or something to be more worried about? After walking five batters in his first six starts, Kershaw walked five against the Padres in just 4.2 innings. He allowed four homers in his first six starts, but two in that start. To be honest, he was fortunate to only allow four runs on eight hits. Nothing looked off with his velocity or his spin rates, so it was probably just a bad start, but for a guy in his late 30s with a barking back, you never know.
Another early start with limited lead time, but I do think it’s worth watching to see if Kershaw bounces back and if Miley’s regression signs keep building.
Edward Cabrera and Merrill Kelly face off in the rubber match of this series. Unfortunately, Brandon Pfaadt was not much better in his second start last night, as Jorge Soler hit a ball that is still orbiting Earth and he gave up some insurance runs late in his outing. That leaves the Diamondbacks hoping for a better start out of Kelly, who is coming off of seven dominant innings against the Nationals with 10 strikeouts.
Kelly walked 17 batters over his first five starts, but has only walked two guys in his last two starts with 15 strikeouts. He’s got a 2.75 ERA with a 3.88 FIP on the season, with FIP punishing him a little for the free passes. The Marlins only have a 6.7% BB% against righties, so I can’t imagine it will be that big of a deal for him in this start.
Miami’s outburst against Pfaadt was definitely an outlier, as they now rank 27th in wOBA against righties and 26th in wRC+. This just isn’t a good offensive team against righties and Kelly is a polished product having another fine season under the tutelage of pitching coach Brent Strom.
Cabrera’s BB troubles are way more pronounced with 26 of them in just 32 innings of work, but the Diamondbacks are a very aggressive, contact-oriented offense that has an 8.3% BB% against righties. That is quite a bit higher than their mark against lefties. Arizona is also up to fifth in wOBA against righties at .342. They're fourth in SLG in that split, so they’ve been really potent and productive. They’re also fourth in home wOBA against righties at .361.
I do like Kelly over Cabrera, but the Marlins are a team finding ways to overperform and I’m not excited to lay -140 or so against them for the full game or 1st 5.
Josiah Gray and the Nationals battle Sean Manaea and the Giants with some getaway day action at Oracle Park. Gray has been a really pleasant surprise this season for the Nats, as he has a 3.03 ERA with a 4.41 FIP in his 38.2 innings of work. He gave up three homers to the Braves in his first start back on April 1, but has only allowed two homers in his last six starts. That’s an important metric against a Giants lineup that hits righties well and hits for power in that split.
Gray’s walk rate is a little elevated, which FIP is punishing him for, as he’s walked 15 in 38.2 innings against 37 strikeouts. He has an 87.2% LOB%, which is doing some lifting on that 3.03 ERA, but it’s also worth mentioning that he has just a 30.6% Hard Hit%. He also only has a 6.3% Barrel%, which is really, really impressive when you consider that he’s allowed a good bit of fly ball contact.
Manaea has not been impressive this season. In fact, this has already been a pretty tough year for him. He has a 7.33 ERA with a 6.41 FIP in his 23.1 innings of work. We have to be fair and draw a line through his Mexico City start back on April 29, but he came back to the States to face a terrible Milwaukee team against lefties and allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits over five innings.
Manaea has allowed a 46.2% Hard Hit% on the season and a 16.9% Barrel%. He’s allowed an average exit velocity of 91.5 mph, which is over five mph harder than Gray. The Nationals are 13th in wOBA against lefties and have a 104 wRC+ in that split. They are way better against lefties than righties, but have been dropping down the board a bit after a blistering start. They also have the lowest K% against southpaws at just 15.2%. Manaea has struck out 27 batters in 108 PA. In the 81 PA not ending in a strikeout, he’s given up 25 hits and 13 walks with three additional batters hit by a pitch.
I was very close to playing the Nationals, but then I looked at Gray’s splits against lefties. He’s allowed a career .244/.455/.520 slash with a .373 wOBA. While he’s done way better this season with a .213/.318/.333 slash and a .296 wOBA against, that is way different than last season and he’s also got a 13.6% BB% against LHB on the season. Maybe his adjusted pitch mix and big decrease in four-seam fastballs is the root cause, but this will be a good test to find out.
The Over 8.5 might be a decent play. Oracle Park is designed to limit the effects of wind, but the breeze will be blowing out to CF at a 20 mph clip and it will be a little warmer with the afternoon first pitch.
Our first nighttime game of the day is in Cincinnati between the Mets and Reds. It will be Justin Verlander’s second start of the season and the eighth for Hunter Greene. Greene let us down last time out with five runs allowed on seven hits in 5.2 innings, as he gave up his first two homers since Opening Day. The Elvis Andrus three-pointer was particularly brutal, since Andrus is a pretty bad hitter at this stage of his career.
Greene struck out seven and walked one and has a 3.74 ERA with a 2.93 FIP in his 33.2 innings of work. He’s allowed a .384 BABIP, which is pretty high, but he also has a 43.8% Hard Hit%, so he’s given up some loud contact that has just stayed in the park. That last start was the first one in which he’s given up more than three runs in a start, so we’ll see if he can bounce back today.
Verlander made his 2023 debut against the Tigers and allowed two runs on five hits in five innings. He allowed nine hard-hit balls in 14 batted ball events and two barrels, which both left the yard. He wasn’t super sharp, which is easy to understand when you think about it being his first start after just one rehab start at Double-A. As he keeps moving forward with his season, I can’t imagine we see a 1.75 ERA with a 2.49 FIP like we saw in 2022, but I think he’ll still be a really big contributor for the Mets.
Let’s see if he looks sharper in his second outing. I also want to see if Greene bounces back.
The betting markets have spoken on this one, as the Cardinals are now favored on the road at Wrigley Field behind Jordan Montgomery. Justin Steele takes the hill for the Cubs and it appears as though bettors are looking for his regression signs to come to the forefront. Steele has a 1.45 ERA with a 3.16 FIP and faces a Cardinals lineup that has historically been really good against left-handed pitchers.
This year’s Cardinals crop ranks eighth in wOBA at .339. Of course, this year’s Cubs bunch is sixth in wOBA against southpaws at .343 and gets a lefty in Montgomery who has a 3.29 ERA with a 2.83 FIP. Seven of Montgomery’s 15 earned runs came in his April 18 start against the Diamondbacks, so he’s only allowed eight runs in six starts otherwise. He also gave up three runs in his first start against the Blue Jays, so five of his last six starts have been really strong.
Steele’s .246 BABIP and 84.6% LOB% are both ripe for regression and that’s what the market is betting on here with a Cardinals team that you could traditionally count on to do well against guys like this. I’m looking for spots to fade Steele as well, but I also have to give him a lot of respect. His Hard Hit% is 23.3%, which is absurd, and he’s only allowed four barrels. There are numerous starters who have allowed four barrels in one start, let alone four barrels over seven starts.
I respect the market movement, but I also respect these two pitchers. Let’s see which offense comes out on top with a couple of stingy southpaws.
This game has already started, but I left it in the article since I had written it up.
Kyle Muller and Jhony Brito wrap up this series in the Bronx after we saw a good bit of run scoring last night. This is not an optimal ballpark for Muller, a southpaw who has a 6.62 ERA with a 5.67 FIP in 34 innings of work. In 14.1 innings on the road, Muller has allowed a .373/.444/.593 slash and a .437 wOBA. It’s not like he’s been that much better at home, but his ERA is about cut in half and his FIP is quite a bit lower.
These are small sample sizes for Muller, but being a pitch-to-contact guy in Oakland can work out. It really can’t in the Bronx or a lot of other road venues. The other big problem for Muller is that he is walking way too many dudes. He’s walked 18 batters in 34 innings against just 21 strikeouts. When you add in a 50.8% Hard Hit%, you start looking at a guy who profiles as one of the worst pitchers in baseball.
Brito heads into this start with a 6.08 ERA and a 5.31 FIP. He’s still trying to shake off the effects of allowing seven runs while only recording two outs against the Twins back on April 13. If you take that start away, Brito has allowed 11 earned runs in 26 innings for a 3.81 ERA. However, you can’t just eliminate starts and his last start against the Rays wasn’t that great with four runs allowed on six hits in four innings of work. Brito also has a bad K/BB ratio of 19/12.
He’s had some tough assignments early in his MLB career and the A’s have to feel like a little bit of a respite, even though they are a very capable offense on the road.
I’d be pretty surprised if the Yankees don’t knock Muller around today, but this was a really early game, leaving me no time to put anything out there.
This game has already started, but I left it in the article since I had written it up.
Peyton Battenfield was really good last time out, as he struck out seven Twins over seven innings of two-run ball. Given that he had walked 11 batters over his previous three starts, his 7/0 K/BB ratio in that Twins start really came out of nowhere. However, the same issue I’ve been staring at was present again, he just happened to work around it.
By appearance, Battenfield’s average exit velocity against has been 91.7, 94.3, 95.8, 96.6, 95 mph. Add it all up and that’s a 50.7% Hard Hit% with a 17.9% Barrel%. His command profile is downright horrifying. The fact that he has a .222 BABIP with all of that violent contact is simply astounding. And I would not expect that to continue. He’s extremely fortunate to have a 4.07 ERA, as his 5.09 FIP and 6.32 xERA suggest.
The resurgence of Eduardo Rodriguez is one of this season’s top storylines. E-Rod has a 1.81 ERA with a 3.28 FIP in 44.2 innings of work. He’s struck out 39 and walked eight while only allowing nine runs on 27 hits. He gave up seven runs in his first two starts against the Rays and Astros, so he’s allowed all of two runs in his last five starts covering 34.2 innings of work.
There wasn’t enough lead time to get a play out on this game, but I would’ve taken the Tigers for the article at this price. Battenfield is allowing a lot of hard contact and the Tigers are actually making a good bit of quality contact, especially in games against non-AL East foes, where they are 14-5.
As for the Guardians, they are 4-10 against left-handed starters and 28th in wOBA against lefties at .281. They are 29th in SLG. I am not expecting much out of them today and think Battenfield struggles. I’ll be looking to fade him next time out.
The Mariners get a right-handed pitcher today in Dane Dunning, which is definitely a big deal for them. While they found some success against Andrew Heaney yesterday, they haven’t found much success against lefties on the whole. They are 29th in wOBA against southpaws at .269 and 28th in wRC+ at 73.
Against righties, though, this is roughly a league average bunch with a 101 wRC+ in 1,025 plate appearances. They only rank 18th in wOBA, but the park adjustments help them in wRC+ since T-Mobile Park is not a great offensive venue at all. The Mariners do have the third-highest K% against righties and also strike out a lot against lefties, so they have major issues with making contact.
Fortunately, that doesn’t matter much against Dunning, who only has 14 strikeouts in 25.1 innings of work. This will be just the second start for Dunning, who fired five shutout innings against the Angels five days ago. He’s allowed four earned runs on 14 hits over eight relief outings and the one start. He’s got a 1.42 ERA with a 3.16 FIP and I would certainly expect a correction in his numbers as he returns to starting. He won’t keep running a .187 BABIP as he’s turning over lineups and having to resort to some of his weaker pitches.
The Mariners will turn to Luis Castillo in hopes of winning this series. Castillo has a 2.38 ERA with a 2.53 FIP in his 41.2 innings of work. He’s only allowed 11 runs on 29 hits, but has given up nine of those runs on 18 hits over his last 17 innings of work against the Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Astros. The Rangers are a top-10 offense against righties with a .335 wOBA and a 113 wRC+, but they actually rank 20th in road wOBA against righties at .302. They’ve really been able to use the home ballpark to their advantage this season.
Dunning only has a 6.9% SwStr% this season, which should negate Seattle’s biggest issue on offense, which is swinging and missing. The Rangers are also a team that I’m looking to fade because they’ve gotten really lucky with men in scoring position this season. Castillo is a tough guy to hit under most any circumstances, but especially for an overperforming offense that should be falling back to the pack as things move forward.
I don’t like to play a lot of run lines on home teams because they may only bat eight times and finish the game with a one-run lead, but I question Dunning’s ability to turn lineups over long-term, as he posted a .268/.345/.443 slash against and a .344 wOBA in 153.1 innings of work as a starter last season.
In this series, the Rangers were shut out by George Kirby and Logan Gilbert took a no-hitter into the seventh. I don’t anticipate much offense against Castillo and I think the Mariners can get some production against Dunning.
Pick: Mariners Run Line (-1.5) (+115)
Cristian Javier and Griffin Canning meet in the other AL West rivalry series today and Houston has a short favorite price after topping Shohei Ohtani last night behind an outstanding start from Framber Valdez.
Javier hasn’t been quite as dominant this season, bue he’s got a 3.54 ERA with a 3.54 FIP. He’s struck out 43 and only walked nine in 40.2 innings of work. He’s allowed a 42% Hard Hit% and an 11.6% Barrel%, which are dangerous numbers for a fly ball guy like him. He had a 33.3% Hard Hit% and a 7.2% Barrel% last season, which are the types of numbers that you would like to see.
This is the weaker of the splits for the Angels, who are a top-five-ish offense against lefties, but rank 12th in wOBA against righties with a 105 wRC+. It will be in the upper 60s with a breeze blowing out to LF in Anaheim today, so Javier is going to have to try and stay off the barrel, as some fly balls might get a little bit of help if hit out that way.
The same is true for Canning, who has a 5.31 ERA with a 4.80 FIP in his 20.1 innings of work. Canning has allowed 12 runs on 19 hits in four starts with 18 strikeouts against eight walks. He’s made some noteworthy pitch usage changes this season to throw fewer fastballs and more of everything else, but he’s gradually regressing back to throwing more heaters. He has a 42.4% Hard Hit% and a 10.2% Barrel%, but he doesn’t have the strikeout upside of a guy like Javier.
One big concern about a guy like Canning in this start is that he has shown reverse platoon splits in his career. Righties have a .266/.326/.488 slash and a .343 wOBA, while lefties have a .229/.321/.411 slash and a .317 wOBA. The same is true this season, albeit in small sample sizes, with righties having a five extra-base hits in 45 PA to just two for lefties in 41 PA.
I like Houston today. They’ve lost three straight series and this seems like a team capable of giving a little extra effort when needed. They could also leave town over .500 and with a .500 road trip. Houston is 13-10 against teams .500 or better and just 5-8 against teams with losing records. It feels like they just decide to get excited when they want to.
The Angels are 12-4 against teams with losing records and just 8-13 against teams .500 or better. Obviously the Astros just got to .500, but we all know this isn’t a .500 team from a talent standpoint. I’m not a big believer in Canning and feel like Javier’s increased strikeout upside is a major deciding factor in this game.
Pick: Astros -125
Jalen Beeks will open here for the Rays and be followed by Yonny Chirinos as they take on the Orioles. Trying to sneak Beeks through the lineup for a couple of innings is risky, given that the Orioles have been one of the league’s best offenses against lefties, but it does make sense to use Chirinos in the bulk role given that knowledge.
Beeks has struggled a bit this season with a 6.75 ERA and a 5.63 FIP over 16 innings of work. He has 11 strikeouts against 10 walks. He’s allowed eight runs to the White Sox in two of his 13 appearances, so that accounts for most of the damage. We’ll see how Chirinos bounces back after a rocky outing against the Yankees with three runs allowed on three hits and four walks with zero strikeouts. Chirinos has only struck out eight of the 72 batters he has faced this season.
After holding the Braves at bay, Kremer draws another tough assignment against the Rays. Kremer threw six solid innings in that outing against Atlanta on the heels of a couple of lackluster starts against the Tigers and Red Sox. For the season, he has a 5.80 ERA with a 5.39 FIP in his 35.2 innings of work.
Last season, Kremer allowed a .273 wOBA in 63.1 innings of work at home with a 2.84 ERA and a 3.21 FIP. He, like most Orioles pitchers, was a big benefactor of the ballpark alterations and we’ll see if those help him here. I don’t have any play on this one.
Brad Keller takes the mound for the Royals with some really ugly numbers to his name. Keller has a 4.67 ERA with a 5.60 FIP in 34.2 innings of work. With 20 walks in his last four starts, he now has 28 walks against just 25 strikeouts on the season. It’s amazing that his ERA and FIP aren’t higher, but he just allowed two homers to the A’s for his second and third long balls of the season. He’s somehow running a 75.7% LOB% with a terrible K% and shoddy command.
Keller has allowed a 39.8% Hard Hit%, which is right around league average, and feels super fortunate given how much he works behind in the count. The one saving grace for him has been a high GB% of 55.3% to avoid the worst of the hard contact. He gave up seven runs on 11 hits last time out, as that was a big start for many of his burgeoning regression signs. He had a 3.56 ERA with a 4.74 FIP and a 5.36 xFIP prior to that.
Lance Lynn has allowed at least four runs in each of his last four starts and comes into this start with a 6.86 ERA and a 4.97 FIP in 39.1 innings of work. Lynn has 50 strikeouts out of 175 batters faced, but has also allowed nine homers and a BABIP of .360. He has a 64% LOB% that is the reason for the big gap between ERA and FIP, but he’s also earned that high ERA in a lot of ways.
It will be a warm and humid day in KC, so this game certainly has the potential for runs, but the wind will also be blowing in from RF. If I had more faith in the White Sox offense to draw some walks, I’d be looking at the over here. Keller has luckboxed his way into some decent starts this season, though, and has even worked around some walks in some outings. I just won’t be surprised if a slow-pitch softball game breaks out here.
The best pitching matchup of the day is in Philly between Kevin Gausman and Zack Wheeler. Gausman is looking to bounce back from a disastrous outing in Boston where he allowed eight runs on 10 hits in just 3.1 innings of work. It was his second such blow-up this season, as he also allowed eight runs (seven earned) to the Astros on April 17. Those two starts account for 15 of the 18 earned runs he has allowed over seven starts.
There is no rhyme or reason as to why he got rocked in those two starts, other than to look at the fact that he allowed seven of his 10 barrels in those two outings. He simply didn’t locate well in them. I will say that Gausman’s velocity has been all over the place this season, which looks to be a reporting error in Toronto, so I wouldn’t read too much into that.
He has 58 strikeouts in 42 innings of work and just seven walks. He’s got a 3.86 ERA with a 2.61 FIP thanks to that spectacular K/BB ratio. It is crazy to look at his game logs and see four starts with zero earned runs allowed over at least six innings and then see the two big blow-ups and three earned runs allowed in another start where he had 11 strikeouts.
Wheeler is coming off of an uncharacteristically bad start of his own. He allowed five runs on seven hits to the Red Sox over 5.1 innings five days ago. The Red Sox offense just might be that good this season, as they’ve hit around some really good pitchers. Wheeler has a 4.26 ERA with a 2.43 FIP. He has a .340 BABIP against and a 62.5% LOB% despite having 46 strikeouts in 38 innings and a ridiculously low Hard Hit% of 28.8%. Wheeler has only allowed three barrels on the season. Gausman allowed three last start alone.
Tough game to call here. I went into the handicap thinking I’d like Gausman at the short price, but Wheeler’s been every bit as good, if not better, and has deserved a better fate.
Brayan Bello is the guaranteed starter for the Red Sox. It looks like Jared Shuster will get the call for the Braves with Max Fried on the shelf. Bello has a 5.71 ERA with a 5.34 FIP in his 17.1 innings of work across four starts this season. He’s been a bit better in his last two starts than he was in his first two, but this will be a big test against the Braves. He’s allowed a 51.8% Hard Hit%, which isn’t really what you want to see going into an outing against the Braves.
I don’t have much to really say on this game since Shuster hasn’t been confirmed, but he’s allowed eight runs on 12 hits in 8.2 innings over two starts this season at the MLB level. He made the Opening Day roster, but didn’t last long after walking nine guys in those two outings against just five strikeouts.
Since going down, Shuster has allowed five earned runs on 13 hits in 19 innings at Triple-A with 17 strikeouts against 13 walks. If the Red Sox stay at this high of a price when Shuster is officially announced, it’s hard to look at his profile and think he has a good chance to shut the Red Sox down. Boston is only 12th in wOBA against lefties (second against righties), but I would think they’d have a good chance to hit Shuster. Make of that what you will.
The Padres send Seth Lugo out to the mound against the Twins for the middle game of this interleague set. Minnesota will counter with Pablo Lopez in hopes of getting back in the win column.
Lugo has a 3.21 ERA with a 3.91 FIP in his 33.2 innings of work. He’s allowed two or fewer runs in four of his six starts and has been really effective for the Padres with a 31/8 K/BB ratio and only four homers allowed. He has a 41.2% Hard Hit%, but has only allowed seven barrels with a solid 49% GB%. I am looking for some regression from Lugo because he has an 84.5% LOB% and some huge Cluster Luck.
Lugo has allowed a .371 wOBA with the bases empty, including all four homers. He’s allowed a .262 wOBA with men on base and a .151 wOBA with RISP. Those types of splits don’t seem terribly sustainable for Lugo and I would anticipate some regression in his performance with men on base. Perhaps it happens as soon as today, but a .160 BABIP with RISP doesn’t seem likely to hang around.
Lopez will make his eighth start of the season, as he comes in with a 3.77 ERA and a 2.99 FIP in 43 innings of work. He bounced back last time out from a couple of tough starts against the Nationals and Royals with seven solid innings against the White Sox. On the whole, he’s allowed two or fewer runs in five of his seven starts, but his location has been a little iffy in his last three outings.
No play for me here in this one, but the Padres are playing some pretty good ball these days and the Twins just seem to be floating in the water trying not to drown.
Mariners -1.5 (+115)