Happy Saturday to one and all! It might not feel like baseball weather in most US cities today, but we have a full day and night of MLB action. Below we’ll share with you our best picks, analysis and bets for today’s games.
As always, we’ll use lines provided by our friends at PointsBet.
Let’s get after it.
Seattle at Boston
Chris Flexen over 3.5 strikeouts (-109) – 1 unit
Chris Flexen spent the 2020 season in the KBO and has returned to the majors with a different pitch mix. He has added a cutter and leaned on his changeup and curveball more, essentially using his fastball as a secondary pitch and throwing it only 33.7% of the time. His 7.88 K/9 through 16 IPs this year doesn’t scream “power pitcher,” plus Boston’s K% is one of the lowest in the league, but this is more of a volume play. Flexen’s 10.18 K/9 in the strikeout-phobic KBO suggests his K-rate will indeed settle above his previous 6.75 K/9 career mark.
Flexen projects to give up some runs today, but I think he pitches admirably into the middle innings. His median K’s are projected at 4.23 today and I think he hits – and hopefully exceeds – that number.
Kansas City at Detroit
3-inning total under 2.5 (-131) – 2 units
Royals (-112) – 1 unit
Matt Boyd has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the ball being de-juiced (un-juiced?) this offseason. Homers have always been his achilles heel, but through 4 starts this season, he has allowed only 1 dinger en route to a 2.03 ERA and 3.17 FIP. His batted ball profile hasn’t changed significantly, but whether he’s due for a bit of regression or not, the cool afternoon at spacious Comerica Park sets him up to avoid a recurrence of homeritis for at least one more day.
Royals starter Brady Singer should do his part with a clean – or at least clean-ish – 1st time through the punchless Tigers lineup and setup the 3-inning under to hit. I think there’s room for this to be low-scoring throughout, so also consider the under on the game total.
Pittsburgh at Minnesota
3-way moneyline, first 7 innings: MIN (-150) – 1.5 units
Michael Pineda has been pitching well, while journeyman Trevor Cahill has not. Cahill has always been a boom-or-bust stream candidate from start-to-start, and even though it’s cold, damp day at Target Field, he projects to be more bust than boom this afternoon.
Whether this turns out to be a low-scoring affair or not, the top half of the MIN order stands out as the likely difference-maker today. I don’t see value on the -200 moneyline, but will happily wager on Minnesota’s first 3+ times through the order being more productive than Pittsburgh’s.
Washington at New York Mets
3-way moneyline, first 5 innings: NYM (-125) – 1 unit
3-way moneyline, first 7 innings: NYM (-145) – 1 unit
This one is as simple as following the projections. Marcus Stroman projects to pitch a quality start, while Joe Ross grades out as one of the worst starters taking the mound today. The Mets have scuffled out of the gates offensively, but have too much talent to not break out at some point. I think there’s a good chance of that happening today.
In addition to being in a great spot, the Mets lineup also features 5 left-handed hitters today. Joe Ross has been tuned up by left-handed bats throughout his career (0.853 OPS, 0.366 wOBA) and should have his hands full today. I like the in-game moneylines instead of the game line (-184) and NYM total (4.5 runs) in the off chance New York’s bats continue to scuffle.
Los Angeles Angels at Houston
Astros (-151) – 1 unit
Double: Astros to win and under 8.5 runs (+250) – 0.5 units
The Angels lineup simply (and obviously) is not intimidating without Mike Trout or Anthony Rendon in it. Jake Odorizzi has struggled in his first few starts to open the season, but his underlying peripherals suggest happier days are ahead. I wouldn’t doubt he gives up his usual homer or two, but if he does, they’ll likely be of the solo variety. Odorizzi projects to have a quality start, while Griffin Canning, his opponent, does not.
This feels like a fairly vanilla, straightforward game within the course of a 162-game season. I don’t expect major fireworks any direction, but I see most everything in the projections pointing to a Houston win of the 5-3 variety.
Toronto at Tampa
Robbie Ray under 7.5 K’s (-165) – 1 unit
That’s a lot of K’s, and it’ll take a lot of pitches to do it against a pesky Tampa lineup. The Rays are striking out at a 29.1% clip against southpaws thus far into the 2021 season, but Robbie Ray simply hasn’t been in good form. He has a reverse 2:3 K:BB ratio after his first two starts. Woof.
Whether Ray gets chased or simply is removed due to pitch count, I don’t foresee this one hitting. His median projection is 6.48 K’s today, which is a full 2 K’s lower than what he’ll need to hit today’s prop.
New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians
5-inning total under 3 (-115) – 0.5 units
Alternate total under 7 (-160) 0.5 units
Shane Bieber and Gerrit Cole are two of the best starting pitchers in all of baseball. Both project for a quality start today. This isn’t a wager on both pitching quality starts (said market doesn’t exist) but it’s reflective of the pace both project to be on after 30 combined outs. This is still a very low total, though, and I think we’d need pretty immaculate showings from both bullpens to hit the current total of 6.5 runs, so I’m going to chop and change this a bit, while reducing the units on each. No matter how this one shakes out, it should be an incredibly fun pitcher’s duel.
Texas at Chicago White Sox
3-way moneyline, 9 innings: Chicago (-150) – 1.5 units
Did you know that PointsBet has a “Game Prop” that allows you to wager on a 3-way, 9-inning moneyline? Essentially you reduce the vig on the moneyline at the expense of needing the win to be in regulation, rather than extra innings. I like this wager here, as I’m late to getting action on the White Sox and their moneyline is now north of -174.
Dallas Keuchel is a worm-killer, and while he hasn’t pitched great out of the gates, he’ll have Chicago’s “A-squad” behind him on a soggy field that should slow grounders all the more, potentially saving a hit or two. Whether or not that’s the case, this Texas lineup is atrocious in stretches, plus Joey Gallo and Nate Lowe will both be at platoon disadvantages this evening. Whether the Pale Hose give Keuchel 4 or 14 runs of support, it should be enough for the hosts to win this evening’s contest in regulation.
Arizona at Atlanta
POINTS BET: Atlanta over 8.75 hits – 0.5 units
Atlanta 7-inning total over 4 (+110) – 0.5 units
Madison Bumgarner is entering Year 3 of a nightmarish decline from being one of the most feared pitchers in baseball to one of the most hittable. He has given up 24 hits in 18.2 IPs on the year, and that’s including a (flukey) 2-hit, 5-inning start his last time out. His median projection calls for 5-ish innings pitched with 5-6 hits allowed. Arizona’s bullpen is hardly one to fear, so if the projections hold, Atlanta will be well above pace to hit the over here.
The concern? Atlanta is home, and might only bat 8 times, rather than 9. The upside? This points bet has a massive ceiling, as it’s well within the realm of reason that this over hits in the first 5 innings. Bumgarner allowed 7, 8 and 7 hits in just 4.2, 5.0 and 4.0 IPs, respectively. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at points betting, this is the perfect high-floor, high-ceiling wager.
Philadelphia at Colorado
Phillies 7-inning total over 4 (-131) – 1 unit
Antonio Senzatela is, in my opinion, an enigma. He has a 4.88 ERA in 238 IPs at Coors Field despite throwing his fastball 64% of the time throughout his career. Two-pitch pitchers aren’t supposed to do that, but he has and still is.
Despite that, he projects to be one of if not the very worst starting pitcher today. We’re overdue for a couple double-digit-run-scoring games at the Rockies home park, but I’ll trust the spreadsheets that we get one – or at least half of one – today.
Miami at San Francisco
5-inning total under 3.5 (-125) – 1 unit
Miami total under 3 (-125) – 0.5 units
SF (-151) – 1 unit
I believe in Kevin Gausman’s renaissance, and I love chasing Pablo Lopez in starts at Marlins Park. We only get 1/2 tonight, but the consolation is that AT&T Park is one of the most pitcher-friendly fields in baseball. I think both starters have strong games, but my spreadsheets unanimously give the edge to Gausman and the Giants.