MLB Best Bets for Tuesday, May 14th

Welcome to my semi-weekly first five inning article! Twice a week throughout baseball season I’ll write up some of the more intriguing first five inning plays of the day. Handicapping pitchers is such a big part of betting baseball, and betting first fives is something I have gravitated to as a bettor.

As always, make sure to keep an eye out for Adam Burke’s columns which will appear daily. Adam is our primary baseball mind, and will be so once again throughout this season.


Top MLB Resources:

Throughout the season I will be keeping track of the results of this article, which you can view here.

MLB Best Bets

Miami Marlins at Detroit Tigers

Ryan Weathers vs Reese Olson

Detroit might be 1-6 in Reese Olson’s seven starts this season, but that is – mostly – through no fault of his.

Olson has pitched 39.1 innings this season and allowed more than 2 earned runs just once. His last two starts – both on the road against the Guardians and Yankees – were masterful. Olson pitched 11.0 innings in the two outings, allowed a combined 3 hits and 1 earned run. He has been a hidden gem that the Tigers have not taken advantage of, but they get a good opportunity to do so tonight.

Miami has been abysmal on offense all season. It ranks 29th in both wRC+ (80) and wOBA (.281). Despite owning the ninth-best strikeout rate (20.5%) the team cannot generate any sort of juice on offense. Against a pitcher like Olson who will generate a high rate of ground balls (53.6%) and allow his defense to work, this lineup will likely struggle as usual.

Olson clearly has an edge here, but he’ll need run support which he does not often receive. The Tigers average just 2.4 runs per game in his starts this season. They rank 24th in wRC+ (92) and 25th in wOBA (.298). Unlike Miami, Detroit strikes out at the seventh-highest rate in the league (24.1%). Luckily, they get to face Ryan Weathers.

Weathers does not have dominant swing-and-miss stuff at all. He ranks in the 23rd percentile in strikeout rate (18.3%). He generates whiffs only 25.8% of the time and hitters only chase at a 24.5% rate. Weathers also ranks well below average in barrel rate (9.3%) and hard-hit rate (40.3%).

Olson should be able to hold his own against this lowly Marlins lineup, while his own gets its crack at a below average pitcher like Weathers. I’ll lay the half-run and hope Olson does not get burned by a lack of run support again.

Play: Tigers F5 -0.5 (-120)

New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins

Carlos Rodon vs Chris Paddack

Since April 22 the Twins lead the league in wRC+ (138) and wOBA (.363) while also ranking fifth in home runs (27). This surge has led the team to a 17-3 record over their last 20 games, and there seems to be no end in sight after they jumped all over Alek Manoah and Erik Swanson in Toronto on Sunday.

One might argue that Carlos Rodon is perfectly capable of quieting these bats down, but some of the underlying metrics would paint a different picture.

Rodon has over a point difference between his ERA (3.56) and FIP (4.58). The Yankee pitcher has been getting away with allowing a ton of hard-hit flyballs. He ranks in the 20th percentile in hard-hit rate (44.4%), the 17th percentile in barrel rate (10.5%) and only 33.9% of batted balls allowed are ground balls.

That is a tough profile to bring to the table against a lineup that is hitting as well as the Twins are right now. And, that does not even factor in that Minnesota is eighth in both wRC+ (119) and wOBA (.335) against left-handed pitching this season.

Chris Paddack is a better pitcher than his ERA would indicate – he owns a 3.97 FIP – but this Yankees lineup is incredible. To make matters worse, Aaron Judge has risen and comes into this contest with a 10-game on-base streak over which he is hitting .364 (12-for-33).

So, I’ll bank on good lineups doing what they do best: score. Rodon has some flawed metrics that a good lineup like Minnesota should be able to exploit. Paddack is far from a perfect pitcher himself. Both teams should be able to generate some offense on Tuesday.

Play: F5 OVER 4.5 (-105)