MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Friday, June 16th

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MLB schedule today has 15 games

A fully-loaded Friday is on the betting board as all 30 teams are back in action after a little bit of a lighter Thursday slate. New series begin and four-game series continue, as we’ll see five games in the NL, five games in the AL, and five interleague matchups to wrap up the work week. 

 

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After writing about the decrease in HR/FB% in the month of June, this past week provided a nice, little boost to offense, as the HR/FB% was 12.7%, back in line with what we saw in the month of May. Overall, the teams collectively batted .253/.324/.425 with a .326 wOBA from Friday-Thursday, so it was a good week for offense, but June is still slightly lagging behind the month of May.

It’s getting warmer and a little more humid, so I’ll be keeping an eye on the numbers, specifically the home run numbers, as we go forward.

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Here are some thoughts on the June 16 card (odds from DraftKings): 

Miami Marlins (-155, 8.5) at Washington Nationals

Sandy Alcantara is a big favorite on today’s card against Trevor Williams and the Nationals. The Marlins ace has not been himself this season with a 4.75 ERA, 4.11 xERA, and a 3.78 FIP, but obviously his advanced metrics show that there is still a lot of hope for his season as a whole. His K% is down almost 3% from last season and his BB% is up 2.2%, but the biggest issue for him is that his LOB% is just 60.7%, so he’s had problems with stranding runners.

He gave up one run on three hits last time out against the White Sox, so the stat line was good, but he also allowed his second-highest average exit velo of the season at 93.6 mph and tied his second-highest Hard Hit% against, so it wasn’t as great of a start as it looked. He also allowed three barrels for the second time this season.

Williams has a 4.11 ERA with a 5.21 xERA and a 5.32 FIP in his 65.2 innings of work, so his advanced metrics paint a negative picture, but that isn’t terribly shocking with a low K% and a high HR rate. Williams has a 14.4% HR/FB%, the second-highest of his career in a non-COVID season. He’s given up 13 long balls over 13 starts and seven in his last five outings. He’s only allowed 30 earned runs over his 65.2 innings, but he did give up six unearned runs three starts ago against the Dodgers in what was a pretty subpar outing.

I think this price is too high for Alcantara with the way that he’s pitching, but I’m not eager to back the Nationals here, given that they’re way better against lefties and Alcantara is not one.

St. Louis Cardinals (-115, 9) at New York Mets

Most of the market has this game lined with the Cardinals as a slight favorite over the Mets as this weekend set gets underway. It will be Miles Mikolas for the Redbirds and Tylor Megill for the Metropolitans and Megill is having a really rough season. He’s got a 5.14 ERA with a 5.85 xERA and a 5.18 FIP over his 63 innings pitched. He’s walked way too many guys with a 12.1% BB% and has not missed nearly enough bats with just a 16.9% K%.

Megill has actually done a pretty good job limiting hard contact, but we will see that from guys who walk a lot of batters because they can sometimes be effectively wild and cause hitters to be off-balance, especially when trying to protect or when making contact with a bad pitch. His 36.9% HH% is solid and so is his 7.9% Barrel%, but the walks and lack of strikeouts are a lot to ignore.

It also seems like he may be going in the wrong direction, as he has allowed 22 runs in his last four starts, including nine runs last time out to the Pirates over just 3.2 innings. That’s the opposite of Mikolas, who did give up five runs last time out to the Reds, but had allowed just 15 earned runs over his previous 10 starts. His season got off to a rough start because of the WBC, but he settled in really nicely and had a 2.24 ERA with a 3.40 FIP in that span before some regression signs caught up with him against the Reds.

No interest in this game, though, as the Cardinals seem rather disengaged and the Mets are a really big disappointment and are now taking the field without Pete Alonso on a daily basis.

Colorado Rockies at Atlanta Braves (-240, 10.5)

Yesterday’s game played out as expected, as the Braves jumped all over southpaw Kyle Freeland and AJ Smith-Shawver ran into some bumps in the road, but pitch well enough to get his first MLB win. Today’s game could also have the potential for runs, as the Rockies send out Dinelson Lamet and the Braves counter with Jared Shuster.

Lamet’s foray into starting has not gone well at all. The former starter turned reliever turned starter has allowed 11 runs in 11 innings since moving back into the rotation. His last start was his best of the bunch with three runs (two earned) on six hits over five innings of work. He struck out five and walked three out of 23 batters faced, but for the third straight outing, allowed a ton of hard contact.

In three starts, Lamet has a 52.6% Hard Hit% against and just an 8.2% SwStr%. Those are the two areas to look at in any Braves game – can they hit the ball hard and will they swing and miss a lot? I will once again note that this offense is more like league average against righties and way better against lefties, so I don’t like this matchup quite as much, but it should be another good one for the best offense in baseball this month.

The Rockies get Shuster, who will pitch on regular rest here. He went from May 31 to June 10 without an appearance because the Braves ended up not needing him, but he’s got the green light here. He’s got a 5.05 ERA with a 4.51 FIP in his 35.2 innings of work. He only has 21 strikeouts against 19 walks and has allowed 20 runs on 30 hits. He’s allowed a good bit of hard contact with a 41.4% Hard Hit% as well.

I don’t have a bet here, though. I do think a lot of runs are likely yet again, but the Braves don’t project quite the same against righties, even bad ones like Lamet.

Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers (-115, 9)

The Brewers have dropped six in a row and the Pirates have lost three in a row as we look at this battle for supremacy in the NL Central. Milwaukee is just a half-game back and the Reds are just one game back as this series gets underway. The Pirates are also just one game over .500, so we’ll see what transpires here.

It will be Dick Mountain on the bump for the Buccos, as Rich Hill draws a Brewers lineup that has been simply awful against left-handed pitching this season. Julio Teheran gets the call for Milwaukee. Teheran has actually provided quite a lift for this beleaguered rotation, as Milwaukee has dealt with a lot of injuries to starting pitchers thus far. He’s got a 1.48 ERA with a 3.47 xERA and a 3.53 FIP in his 24.1 innings of work. He is running an 89.6% LOB% with a 17.8% K% and just a .265 BABIP against, so I think you know where I’m going with this.

It is impressive that Teheran has only allowed four earned runs in his four starts, but this is far from his true talent level. He was scuffling badly in Triple-A before the Brewers acquired him, although pitching in the PCL is like pitching on the moon. Still, this is a lot of sequencing luck for a guy who doesn’t miss many bats.

Hill has a 4.23 ERA with a 5.45 xERA and a 4.40 FIP over his 72.1 innings of work. After a couple of rough outings on May 23 and 29, he’s made some nice adjustments and allowed just three runs on 11 hits in his last 13.2 innings. The old man did the same thing back in April, as he had a couple of rocky starts to begin the season with five homers allowed in his first two starts and then went on a really nice run for four starts. It looks like he’s doing a similar thing here.

The Brewers have had one of the league’s worst offenses for the better part of six weeks at this point and rank 29th in wOBA against lefties at .286. Only Colorado is worse at .284. The Brewers also have a 28.5% K% in this split, so Hill should be able to work ahead in the count and generate some swings and misses.

The Pirates are scuffling a bit through June, but do rank ninth in wOBA this month, while the Brewers rank 23rd. Milwaukee continues to strike out way too much. Also, by virtue of losing some games recently, the top guys in Pittsburgh’s bullpen like David Bednar and Dauri Moreta have been able to get caught up a bit from a rest standpoint.

The Pirates at a dog price are a good look for today.

Pick: Pirates -105

San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers (-145, 8.5)

I don’t know how many people have noticed, but the Giants have actually been one of the league’s top teams over the last 40 or so games. They are 25-16 and have really turned it up offensively, as well as on the pitching side. That isn’t a huge surprise because Farhan Zaidi runs a really good organization, but the Giants are playing at a high level right now and have put themselves in the NL Wild Card discussion.

They’ll look to keep it rolling with opener John Brebbia on the bump today. Brebbia has had a fine season with a 3.25 ERA, 2.93 xERA, and a 2.66 FIP in his 27.2 innings of work. In eight innings as a starter, he’s allowed just one run on six hits, so this has been a good role for him as well. It looks like Sean Manaea will follow, which would’ve been a better thing a few weeks ago when the Dodgers were struggling against southpaws, but they’re now a top-five offense in that split.

Still, Manaea has been pitching better of late. He just threw 4.1 no-hit innings in relief against the Cubs six days ago on the heels of a bit of a rough outing in Colorado. Prior to that, he hadn’t allowed an earned run in three straight appearances.

The Dodgers will use Emmet Sheehan to make his MLB debut. The 6-foot-5 right-hander is 23 years old and will make the leap directly from Double-A, where he posted a 1.86 ERA with a 3.21 FIP in his 53.1 innings of work. Sheehan struck out 88 batters over his 10 starts and two relief appearances. He also walked 23 guys. He came into the season as the No. 17 prospect in the organization, as he was mostly viewed as a reliever, but the Boston College product seems to be doing quite well as a starter.

Sheehan’s projection from Eric Longenhagen as FanGraphs is to be a multi-inning relief weapon, but he gets a crack here as a starter. We’ll see how he does against a really good Giants lineup, but he’s a big guy with pretty good home run prevention numbers, so it might not be a bad fit.

New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox (-120, 9.5)

Domingo German and Tanner Houck get us started in the AL, as we’ll see if German can build off another solid start last time out. He just faced the Red Sox and went six innings with just a solo homer allowed and a 5/2 K/BB ratio. German has only allowed three home runs over his last seven starts, which really is the key for him. In starts where he has allowed multiple homers, he has yielded 14 of the 28 runs he given up this season. That only accounts for three of his 12 starts.

He has a 3.49 ERA with a 4.38 FIP, but has a 2.20 ERA with a 3.74 FIP in his 41 innings pitched since the start of May. He does have a foreign substance suspension in that mix as well, but he’s now three starts removed from that and has allowed six runs on 17 hits in his 19 innings pitched over that span.

Houck’s advanced metrics paint a prettier picture than what his more traditional numbers show. He has a 5.23 ERA with a 3.86 xERA and a 4.30 FIP in his 63.2 innings of work. The right-hander is also running it back against the Yankees after giving up two runs on three hits over six innings at Yankee Stadium six days ago. He allowed two solo homers in that start.

This line seems reasonable, although I think German has been more consistent than Houck. The Red Sox aren’t missing a huge piece like Aaron Judge, though, so that should help them. I may have underestimated how the Red Sox pen has performed lately, as they do lead MLB in fWAR over the last 14 days, so I guess I fell victim to a bit of recency in that Rockies series.

Toronto Blue Jays (-145, 9) at Texas Rangers

This is a really fascinating line because it sure seems like a big number for the Blue Jays on the road against the Rangers. What Texas has done this season has been thoroughly impressive, but there may be some modest corrections happening with the Rangers. They went 2-for-10 with RISP in yesterday’s loss to the Angels and have been falling a bit in that category of late. That’s not to say this isn’t a good offense, but there were some unsustainable developments that are regressing to the mean a bit.

However, while that may be going on, this line is all about the difference between Kevin Gausman and Martin Perez. And right now, it is a huge difference. Gausman has a 3.12 ERA with a 3.47 xERA and a 2.58 FIP in his 86.2 innings of work. The right-hander has allowed a .338 BABIP as a byproduct of some hard contact, but he also has a ridiculously good 33.2% K% that has allowed him to work out of any jams that pop up. 

He was unable to do that last time out against the Twins and actually struggled badly, allowing six runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings. That seemed to be a really good matchup on paper since the Twins strike out a lot, but Gausman walked four and only struck out four out of the 23 batters faced. He’s allowed a 50% or higher Hard Hit% in each of his last three starts, so it isn’t a surprise that one of those blow-ups took place.

The crazy thing about Gausman is that he’s allowed six or more runs three times in 14 starts and those three outings account for 22 of the 35 runs he’s given up. He has five starts with at least six innings and zero runs allowed, so he’s been really good way more often than he’s been really bad. Let’s see if he bounces back here.

As far as Perez goes, the southpaw has a 4.67 ERA with a 5.14 xERA and a 4.91 FIP in his 71.1 innings of work. His K% is down, his HR rate is up, back towards where it was in 2020 and 2021, and his blow-ups have been way more frequent recently. Since May 7, Perez has a 6.69 ERA with a 5.64 FIP in his 37.2 innings pitched. He’s given up at least four runs in four of those starts, including two starts with seven runs allowed.

It may seem like a big number, but it seems fair to me. If Gausman didn’t have so many strikeouts, I’d consider the over here, but he may have a big bounce back effort in him. His spin rates and velocity look fine, so I don’t see any injury indicators to worry about.

Los Angeles Angels (-145, 9.5) at Kansas City Royals

The Royals will send Brady Singer out against the Angels, who had to really enjoy their flight from Dallas to KC. That was a huge series win yesterday over the Rangers and it sure looks like Shohei Ohtani is just fine after a good start and another big two-run blast. His velo was back up, so it looked to just be a minor hiccup and one that ultimately cost us a bet.

Today’s game against Singer should be another chance for the offense to show out, as the KC righty has had a brutal season. He enters with a 6.58 ERA, as he’s got a 61% LOB% and a .342 BABIP against. Normally I’d point towards bad luck, but he’s made his own bad luck with a 55.1% Hard Hit% that is showing mild signs of slowing down, but he has just allowed way too much hard contact on the season.

Singer has allowed an 11.2% Barrel% as well, so he just simply has not been able to locate at any point this year. In 13 starts, he’s allowed four or more runs in eight of them, and frankly, it could be even worse given some of the exit velos in his better starts. He seemed to maybe be figuring things out a bit with decent starts against the Rockies and Nationals, but then allowed four runs on six hits over 4.1 innings to the Orioles with a 94.9 mph average exit velo last time out.

Patrick Sandoval goes for the Halos today with a 4.52 ERA, 4.47 xERA, and a 4.06 FIP over 63.2 innings pitched. He’s had a huge K% decrease this season that really stands out as a concern to me, but he’s done a great job of limiting hard contact and also keeps the ball on the ground at a 49.3% clip. His HH% is just 34.9% and he has only allowed a 7.2% Barrel%. The crazy part about the low K% is that he has a 12% SwStr%, so he’s generating an above number rate of whiffs, but they haven’t translated into strikeouts just yet.

The Royals are just 24th in wOBA against lefties at .307 and have a 23.6% K%, so this could be a spot where Sandoval winds up adding to that total. The Angels are ninth in wOBA against righties at .329 and eighth in SLG at .430.

The one thing I worry about here is a letdown coming off of such a big Rangers series. It’s probably enough for me to stay off of this game. I do think the Halos win and I thought about the run line at -1.5 and even money, but doesn’t this feel like a spot where Mike Trout or Ohtani gets  a day off and that blows up the Angels’ projection for offense?

Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins (-255, 8)

Not much to say here, as the Tigers haven’t officially named a starter, but it looks like the tandem of Mason Englert and Tyler Alexander could be in line. Neither guy has pitched since Monday after throwing 45 and 51 pitches, respectively, so my guess is that’s the way that the Tigers go about this since they don’t have anybody else on the 40-man.

Joe Ryan goes for the Twins and he’s been sensational this season. However, he’s had a few hiccups in his last three starts, especially with a decreased strikeout rate in the last two and has allowed 10 runs on 12 hits in 16.2 innings. Maybe some signs that regression is creeping in, but the Tigers pitching staff is a total mess right now.

Chicago White Sox at Seattle Mariners (-135, 7.5)

We’ve got the White Sox and Mariners here at T-Mobile Park with a matchup between Michael Kopech and Bryan Woo. Woo’s MLB debut didn’t really go as planned, as he allowed six runs on seven hits to the Rangers, but he responded nicely with a good outing against the Angels with two runs on four hits and seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings pitched.

Woo has showcased a lot of swing and miss upside through two starts, even if the command profile may not quite be there yet. He’s allowed 10 hard-hit balls and two barrels in 20 batted ball events, but he steps down in class in a big way here against the White Sox. Chicago is 27th in wOBA against righties. The Rangers are second and the Angels are ninth, so this is a much more palatable matchup for the youngster.

The run that Michael Kopech has been on is rather impressive. He was getting shelled left and right earlier in the season, but now has a 4.03 ERA with a 5.29 FIP in 73.2 innings of work. Since giving up four homers to the Reds on May 7, Kopech has a 2.00 ERA with a 2.97 FIP over his last six starts. He’s only allowed three home runs and struck out 49 batters in 36 innings pitched. He’s allowed 11 walks and his Hard Hit% is down to just 29.7%. He’s been on a really, really nice run in that split against the Astros, Royals, Guardians, Angels, Tigers, and Marlins.

Those are more bad offenses than good, but still. After how bad his command was earlier in the season, this is an incredible turnaround and he draws a Mariners lineup that is 23rd in wOBA at .305 and has the third-highest K% against righties at 25.3%.

Showers are likely tonight on a cool night in Seattle, which means that the roof should be closed and it may be a tough night for hitting. I like both starters in this respective matchup and the Under 4 for the 1st 5 at reduced juice. Kopech has been gassing dudes and limiting hard contact, while Woo has shown some swing and miss upside and is really stepping down in class.

I prefer this to the full game, since the White Sox used six relievers each of the last two days and five of them pitched back-to-back days, including all of their high-leverage arms.

Pick: 1st 5 Under 4 (-105)

Baltimore Orioles at Chicago Cubs (-125, 8.5)

The lone day game today is at Wrigley Field between the O’s and Cubs and this one gets started very shortly, so I don’t have much to say. It is the second start for Cole Irvin, who has missed time twice on the injured list. He pitched last weekend and allowed one run on six hits over 5.1 innings of work in a home start against the Royals. The Cubs are a top-five offense against lefties this season, so Irvin has a much stiffer test, but his fly ball stylings will be helped by another weather day in Chicago.

Winds will be blowing in at 10-15 mph with temps in the low 60s. That should help Irvin a little bit. If the winds were blowing out, it would’ve been way worse.

The Cubs are sending out Kyle Hendricks after his near no-hit bid last time out. Hendricks is back to being himself with a low walk rate and a lot of soft contact against. His ERA will outperform his other peripherals for the most part and it looks like he’s as predictable as ever, at least through the first four starts.

Cincinnati Reds at Houston Astros (-165, 8.5)

One of baseball’s hottest teams faces one of baseball’s most consistent winners over the last few seasons as the Reds and Astros start up a weekend set tonight. It will be left-hander Andrew Abbott for Cincinnati and righty J.P. France for Houston. 

Abbott has yet to allow a run over his 11.2 innings of work, but that won’t last for long. He’s allowed six hits and walked seven while posting an average exit velocity of 94.1 mph and a 50% Hard Hit% in starts against the Brewers and Cardinals. I’m pretty certain he’ll give up his first run of the season tonight, which is a pretty thick limb to step out on. He also hasn’t generated a whole lot of swing and miss with just a 7.1% SwStr% in his two starts. Hitters haven’t really chased much, which is another reason why the walk rate looks like it does.

This will be the eighth start for France, who has a 3.54 ERA, but a 4.23 xERA and a 4.98 FIP over 40.2 innings of work. His K% is a little below the league average and his BB% is a little above, but his biggest thing is that he has allowed seven homers in his seven starts. France has been very inconsistent thus far, with his last five starts all over the map. He’s allowed six, one, four, one, and three earned runs in those starts and has actually been working deeper into games, but he walked six over 6.2 innings last time out against Cleveland and gave up seven hits, so he was really fortunate to escape with only three runs allowed.

I gave some thought to the over here, but Abbott and France are a couple of wild cards in some respects, so I stayed off it.

Cleveland Guardians at Arizona Diamondbacks (-140, 8)

We have a top-end pitching matchup here, as Triston McKenzie and Zac Gallen do battle at Chase Field. One offense is wildly better than the other, so the Diamondbacks are a clear favorite, but you can see the respect for McKenzie in the marketplace here. 

McKenzie has made one good start and one bad start since coming off of the IL. He struck out 10 over five stellar innings against the Twins in his 2023 debut with just one hit allowed. He followed that up by allowing five runs on seven hits to the Astros, as they jumped on him in the first inning by being really aggressive. Arizona has an aggressive offense that avoids strikeouts at a high rate, so I think that they are set up a little bit better against McKenzie than most.

Gallen comes in with a 3.09 ERA, 3.95 xERA, and a 2.40 FIP in his 84.1 innings of work. He’s actually got a 69.3% LOB%, which seems a bit low for a pitcher of his caliber, plus his .326 BABIP stands out on a really good defensive team. But, Gallen has allowed a 46.3% Hard Hit% on the season, so there has been a good bit of loud contact in the profile. Whether or not Cleveland can take advantage with their punch and judy hitters is another story.

Over his last five starts, Gallen has a 4.67 ERA with a 3.76 FIP in 27 innings of work. He’s given up a 52.2% Hard Hit% in that span. He hasn’t been super sharp, but this does present a good chance to get back on track. Of course, we also thought that last time out against the Tigers, but they hit him really hard. No play here, as I’m not sure which version of Gallen we get.

Philadelphia Phillies (-135, 8) at Oakland Athletics

The A’s face one of their shorter underdog prices of the season here, as they’ll send out JP Sears against Taijuan Walker. The Phillies, as I wrote about yesterday, are surging offensively here in the month of June. Guys with big track records of success are really starting to swing it well and that has pushed this team back up into the NL Wild Card discussion.

Sears has a 4.15 ERA with a 4.87 xERA and a 5.02 FIP in his 69.1 innings pitched. He’s done well from a K/BB standpoint, but he’s an extreme fly ball guy and the long ball has gotten him. He has given up 14 home runs on the season, though he’s only given up four in his last six starts. He’s got a 12.2% Barrel%, which comes with the territory as a fly ball guy, but he’s only allowed a 39.1% Hard Hit%, which is right at league average.

Walker is not having a very good season with a 4.67 ERA and a 4.87 FIP, but he has worked 12 scoreless innings in his last two starts. He’s not allowed more than three runs in any of his last five starts. I’ve talked about him before, though, and that he’s just not really a guy that I want to bet on or against. I just don’t love that profile and that’s true of this game as well.

Tampa Bay Rays at San Diego Padres (-110, 8)

Another great pitching matchup here, as the Rays and Padres square off at Petco Park. It will be Shane McClanahan for the Rays and Yu Darvish for the Padres. McClanahan comes in with a 2.18 ERA and a 3.56 FIP in his 14 starts covering 82.2 innings of work. He’s allowed more than three runs once in his 14 starts and more than two runs just twice. There are a lot of things to love about the profile, including the high strikeout rate and the swings and misses that come along with that.

On the Darvish side, he has a 4.30 ERA with a 3.77 FIP in his 69 innings pitched. A tough start in Mexico City stands out, but Darvish has also had a few rocky starts recently. He has a 4.85 ERA since that Mexico City start at the end of April, including a seven-run blow-up against the Yankees three starts ago and two starts with four runs allowed. One came at Coors Field and one came against the Royals. He has a .283 wOBA against and a 2.68 ERA in 37 innings pitched at home this season, so that should be a positive for him to be at Petco Park.

This one looks pretty close to call. After getting out to that blistering start, the Rays have leveled off a bit. The Padres are turning it up slowly, but they are a big positive regression team with RISP, so that’s something I’m still watching closely. McClanahan’s LOB% is north of 90% and ripe for regression, so maybe the Padres are able to get some big hits and give McClanahan a little bit of a hard time.

TL;DR Recap

Pirates -105
CHW/SEA 1st 5 Under 4 (-105)