MLB Best Bets Today April 12

We go from four games to 15 and a ton of interleague action heading into the third weekend of the MLB season. Weather permitting, we’ll have seven interleague games, which always carry a little extra intrigue from me because you get teams that haven’t played each other all that often and pitchers that haven’t really seen the opposing lineup and vice versa.

With a lot to think about and handicap today, it’ll be another shorter intro. Just remember that this article runs Monday-Saturday, odds are current from DraftKings at time of publish, and you should shop around for the best odds that you can find.


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Here are the MLB best bets today for April 12:

Colorado Rockies at Toronto Blue Jays (-238, 8)

7:07 p.m. ET

I stared at this play for a while and ultimately decided that the juice was worth the squeeze. Juice is literal in this context, as Rockies right-hander Ryan Feltner has a strikeout prop of 3.5 with heavy Over juice at -155 for this start against the Blue Jays.

Through two starts (one home, one away), Feltner has 14 strikeouts in 11 innings of work. He struck out 10 Rays in his home start and four Diamondbacks in his road start. Arizona has the lowest K% in baseball at 17% and they were among the league leaders last season as well, so that’s just kind of their thing.

I’ve been impressed with Feltner’s arsenal this season. His fastball velo is up over 95 mph and he’s been able to generate swings and misses up in the zone. His slider, which was his primary pitch at 31.3% last season, now has a usage rate of 42.7% with more tilt and movement, both horizontally and vertically. Pitches will move more away from Coors Field than they do in the thin air with less resistance on the baseball, so I think that helps Feltner here.

He also has a 46.2% Whiff% on his changeup, which seems to have more depth to it this season as well. Feltner’s overall arsenal looks much more impressive and he’ll get more movement on it pitching at sea level. He has a 16.3% SwStr% per FanGraphs and a 63.6% first-pitch strike rate, so he’s working ahead in the count and generating the swings and misses necessary for racking up strikeouts.

He doesn’t have a ton of data because he’s missed some time, including missed time after getting hit in the head by a comebacker last season, but Feltner’s K% on the road in his career is 22.4% compared to 17.1% at home, where he just had 10 strikeouts of the Rays.

Pick: Ryan Feltner Over 3.5 Strikeouts (-155)

St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks (-125, 9)

9:40 p.m. ET

Based on the early returns for both guys, we have a strong pitching matchup out in the desert tonight between Steven Matz and Brandon Pfaadt. However, there is one guy I prefer and it is Pfaadt, one of many playoff heroes for the Diamondbacks last season. Bear with me because this is going to be a pretty nerdy, analytical deep dive of a handicap.

Pfaadt has faced very contrasting opponents to this point, drawing the lowly Rockies at home and the juggernaut Braves on the road. Pfaadt allowed five runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings against the Braves, though he did have seven strikeouts against one walk and a 23% SwStr% in that start. The Braves are just kind of inevitable and they grouped together the extra-base hits they did get against Pfaadt, but he had a 65.8% Z-Contact% in that start. That tells me that his stuff is really good right now.

Z-Contact% means rate of contact on pitches in the zone. League average right now is 84.9%. Being able to get swings and misses on strikes as opposed to relying on chases is a highly valuable skill.

Now for the nerdier part… Pfaadt’s Baseball Savant profile is very impressive. He’s in the 94th percentile in Chase%, 79th percentile in average exit velocity, 70th percentile in K% and Whiff%, 93rd percentile in BB%, and 75th percentile in Hard Hit%. These are all really good numbers, but he’s gotten a bit unlucky to this point. He’s allowed a .289 BA with a .253 xBA. He’s allowed a .353 wOBA with a .290 xwOBA. Based on the batted ball data, Pfaadt’s wOBA is 63 points higher than it should be.

The sweeper and sinker are two culprits, as he’s allowed a .368 BA with a .248 xBA on the sweeper and a .364 BA with a .262 xBA on the sinker. Obviously his sample sizes are really small, but the quality of his stuff and his contact management metrics suggest that he’s been pitching really, really well. 

The Cardinals are 26th in wOBA against RHP at 81, which means that they are 19% below league average in that split. They’re also struck out 24.9% of the time with just a 6.1% BB%. The Cardinals have very little contact quality this season with a 35% Hard Hit% (26th) and a 6.6% Barrel% (22nd).

Matz has faced the Dodgers and Marlins, so he’s got a similar profile to Pfaadt in that respect, but most of his numbers rank significantly lower than Pfaadt’s per the Statcast data. He’s in a lower percentile in average exit velo, Chase%, Whiff%, K% (only 14.6%), BB%, Hard Hit%, and has the opposite regression signs. He has a .243 BA against with a .284 xBA. He has a .286 wOBA with a .328 xwOBA.

After finishing poorly against lefties last season, the Diamondbacks have made it a point to perform better in that split. They rank sixth with a 123 wRC+ against southpaws and have just a 14.7% K%. Two games against Kyle Freeland certainly factor in, but the Diamondbacks are actively looking to improve in this area.

So, all of that said, I like the Diamondbacks 1st 5 Run Line -0.5 at +100 in this one. I think Pfaadt is poised for a big year now that pitching coach Brent Strom unlocked his potential and believe that Matz is overperforming a bit right now.

Pick: Diamondbacks 1st 5 Run Line -0.5 (+100)

Chicago Cubs at Seattle Mariners (-122, 8)

9:40 p.m. ET

One of those aforementioned interleague games features Jordan Wicks and Bryce Miller at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. The Cubs are expecting big things from the rookie left-hander, who made seven starts and worked 34.2 innings last season in his age-23 campaign to round out the year. He’s two starts into his 2024 season and he’s drawn two very tough assignments thus far with the Rangers and the Dodgers.

He’s got 13 strikeouts in 8.2 innings with a new-look fastball that has induced a high Whiff% and lots of swings and misses in the zone. Lineups like the Rangers and Dodgers do make a pitcher work, though, as Wicks needed 85 pitches to get 12 outs against Texas (the defense didn’t help with three unearned runs) and 100 pitches to get 14 outs against the Dodgers. I would expect him to be able to work deeper into the game and have some more pitch efficiency in this one.

The Dodgers have a 118 wRC+ in the early season against lefties and the Rangers have a 112 wRC+. The Mariners are exactly league average at 100, but a lot of that has to do with a 10.9% BB%, as they only have a .337 SLG. They’re not really hitting for much power at present and they strike out a ton.

Miller was shaky in his first start against Boston, but bounced back in a big way with a very efficient seven-inning effort against the Brewers with seven strikeouts. Miller has a new splitter this season and has generated a lot of swings and misses with that pitch, but he also has a 95 mph fastball to fall back on as well. 

As a rookie last season, Miller pitched to a .292 wOBA and a 3.65 ERA over 74 innings at home. I would anticipate he fares well again at the friendly confines this season. But, the splitter should be the separator for him, as it’s his answer to neutralize a really ugly platoon split last season. Lefties had a .387 wOBA against him, while righties had a .239 wOBA. Lefties hit .329 with a .601 SLG against the fastball with a 58.5% usage rate.

This season, Miller has a 39.1% usage rate on the fastball against lefties, while throwing his splitter over 24% of the time with a 50% Whiff% and five of his eight strikeouts against them.

It is a huge change and a very good one for Miller. I also like what I’ve seen to this point from Wicks. Both bullpens are well-rested with yesterday’s off day, so the primary relievers are all available and they’ve pitched well for both teams. I like the Under 8 here.

Pick: Cubs/Mariners Under 8 (-115)