MLB Best Bets Today April 15

It is something of a rare sight on Monday, as we’ve got all 30 MLB teams in action. That isn’t usually the case with travel days, but there are six games in the NL, six in the AL, and three interleague matchups, so it is a full dance card on the diamond. It is also Jackie Robinson Day so every player around the league will wear #42 to honor the legend. You know, assuming Fanatics didn’t screw that up, too.

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Here are the MLB best bets today for April 15:

San Francisco Giants (-112, 8.5) at Miami Marlins

6:40 p.m. ET

Edward Cabrera will take the hill for Miami with a rather abrupt return, taking the place of A.J. Puk, who is out with an illness. Cabrera was supposed to make another rehab start, but the Marlins needed a starter and Cabrera, who was slowed by a shoulder injury in Spring Training, gets the call. He allowed two runs (one earned) on 11 hits over 12.2 innings in Triple-A with a 12/8 K/BB ratio.

Cabrera is a fascinating arm, as he struck out 118 batters in just 99.2 innings of work, but he also issued 66 walks. Over 42% of his plate appearances last season ended with a punchy or a free pass. He also allowed 11 homers, so he was as close to a three true outcomes pitcher as you can get. As a result, he didn’t work all that deep into games and had very little pitch efficiency, but had a 4.24 ERA with a 3.77 xERA and a 4.43 FIP.

San Francisco got off to a really slow start offensively, but they’ve picked it up over the last week, posting a 116 wRC+ with a .278/.342/.439 slash. They also have a K% under 20% and a BB% over 9%.

This should be a good matchup for Kyle Harrison, the prized left-handed prospect for the Gigantes. He’s allowed nine runs on 17 hits over 17 innings of work with a 17/3 K/BB ratio. Harrison has allowed a lot of hard contact, especially in the air, which is a concern moving forward, but it’s less of a concern for two reasons today. The first is that Marlins Park actively suppresses power and ranks 22nd in Statcast’s Three-Year HR Park Factor. The other is that right-handed slugger Jake Burger is on the IL with an oblique injury.

The Marlins only have a 62 wRC+ on the season with a .209/.273/.316 slash line. They don’t walk much and don’t really hit for a lot of power. Now Burger is out, and while he was off to a little bit of a slow start, he was a righty in the middle of the order.

Another factor in play here is that the Giants pen is super well-rested. The Marlins have used Tanner Scott and Anthony Bender back-to-back days and Andrew Nardi has worked four times in six games. Given that Cabrera is working his way back, I don’t think he’ll be overextended, especially with some of the injuries already. 

Pick: Giants -112

Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Mets (-125, 8.5)

7:10 p.m. ET

The Pirates and Mets fire up a weekday series at Citi Field with this matchup between Martin Perez and Adrian Houser. Perez is off to a terrific start with a 1.89 ERA and a 3.14 FIP, but there are some metrics that point towards regression coming fairly quickly. He’s allowed four runs on 18 hits and has a 15/5 K/BB ratio, but his 8.5% SwStr% suggests that tougher times are likely coming.

So, too, does his 50% Hard Hit%. Perez is running a .298 BABIP, so he has allowed some hits, but he has an 88% LOB%. He’s limited the opposition to a .240 wOBA with men on base, which I don’t find to be all that sustainable. He’s also faced the Marlins, Nationals, and Tigers, so he hasn’t faced a tough slate of opposing offenses by any means. In terms of current rank in wRC+ against lefties, those teams are 30th, 27th, and 26th. The Mets are fourth, as they have a 126 wRC+ with a .291/.342/.475 slash to this point.

Houser had a good start against the Tigers and then got beaten around by the Braves in his last start. He’s a guy who pitches to a ton of contact and has some walk rate issues. The Pirates have a 10.3% BB% against righties to this point with a 102 wRC+. 

I’m expecting a lot of balls in play in this game. By Defensive Runs Saved, the Mets rank 30th at -15 (29th is -9) and the Pirates are 25th at -7. By Outs Above Average (Statcast), the Pirates are 27th at -6 and the Mets are 29th at -8. Balls in play, bad defense, and some decent splits all combine here with some decent weather in Queens to push me towards the Over.

Pick: Pirates/Mets Over 8.5 (-115)

St. Louis Cardinals (-185, 7.5) at Oakland Athletics

9:40 p.m. ET

Wily veterans Sonny Gray and Ross Stripling are the listed hurlers here, as Gray returns to Oakland and will make his final start at the Coliseum. Gray made 112 starts over five seasons for Oakland before getting traded to the Yankees in 2017. It will be just his second start as a Cardinal, as his season got off to a slow start due to a hamstring injury.

Gray was solid over five innings against the Phillies in his first start, but he only threw 64 pitches coming back from injury. I’d assume he’s around 75-80 pitches here, which could definitely limit his ability to work deep into this one. He navigated well, but only had a 6.3% SwStr%, so his stuff clearly wasn’t at its best and that could be a factor here in this one as well. His spin rates were a bit lower on all of his offerings and he allowed a 95.8% Z-Contact%, so I think he’s still trying to get into rhythm.

Stripling is off to a rough start this season with a 5.50 ERA, but that doesn’t really tell the story. He’s gotten very unlucky this season with a .424 BABIP and a 64.2% LOB%. His average exit velocity of 85.7 mph ranks in the 84th percentile, while his Hard Hit% of 25% ranks in the 90th percentile.

Pitching back at home against a struggling Cardinals lineup should be a good opportunity for Stripling to see some of that positive regression take hold. Oakland’s pen is performing at a high level right now, as they’ve been playing some better baseball and have won three series in a row.

I think this line is a bit high on the St. Louis side, especially with the potential for an abbreviated outing from Gray and with Stripling’s positive regression indicators.

Pick: Athletics +154