MLB Best Bets Today April 22

We start a new week in the 2024 MLB season with 11 games, as there are no interleague matchups on the docket. Six games in the NL and five games in the AL are on the ledger, beginning bright and early at Yankee Stadium with the A’s and Yanks in the game with the biggest favorite on the board.

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Here are the MLB best bets today for April 22:

Philadelphia Phillies (-115, 8.5) at Cincinnati Reds

6:40 p.m. ET

The Phillies and Reds fire up a weekday series with a matchup between Ranger Suarez and Hunter Greene. Philly has gotten excellent work from Suarez so far this season. He’s got a 61.9% GB% and a .230 BABIP against through his first 26 innings. I’m sure more batted balls will find holes, but he’s making it really easy on the defense with a 25.4% Hard Hit% to open up the season. 

Suarez ranks in the 97th percentile in Pitching Run Value, to go along with a 92nd percentile xERA, 82nd percentile xBA, 99th percentile Average Exit Velocity, 93rd percentile Hard Hit%, and an 87th percentile Chase Rate. He’s not generating a ton of swing and miss despite all that chase, but he’s getting more than enough strikeouts to get by and the soft contact across the board is the best part of what he’s done this season.

Greene grades well in a lot of the Statcast categories as well, but I have a few worries thus far. For starters, pitch efficiency continues to be an issue. In his last start against the Mariners, Greene needed 98 pitches to get just 12 outs. The Reds bullpen threw 8.1 innings yesterday and needed five different relievers, including a 51-pitch effort from Brent Suter, so he’s unavailable. I’d presume that they’d like to avoid Alexis Diaz, who has worked back-to-back days. There is a lot of pressure on Greene in this start to help the bullpen, something he talked about after his last start.

I will say this about Greene – he’s done a great job generating whiffs and working from ahead in the count. He, too, has done a good job in the contact management department, holding opponents to a 31.3% Hard Hit%. But, his velocity has dropped with each of his four starts and he sat 97.1 mph in that Seattle start after sitting 99.6 mph in his start against the Nationals to begin the year.

His spin rates were down a good bit in his last start as well, as he was down 143 rpm on the fastball and over 100 rpm on the slider. Given that he’s a two-pitch pitcher, those are two really concerning developments with the velo decrease.

The Phillies haven’t elevated a whole lot of baseballs this season, but I think this will allow them the chance and the Reds are likely to be beating the ball into the ground against Suarez. Philly’s bullpen is also in much better shape for this one after facing the lowly White Sox, which allowed Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola to work deep into games.

Pick: Phillies -115

Toronto Blue Jays (-115, 9) at Kansas City Royals

7:40 p.m. ET

The Blue Jays and Royals get a four-game series going here, as Toronto is playing pretty well right now. They dropped the series finale in San Diego, but took two of three there for the fourth straight series. It does appear that the Royals may be leveling off a little bit after the hot start that they got off to, which isn’t a very surprising development to me.

I find that the Jays have a pretty big starting pitcher advantage in this game with Yusei Kikuchi up against Brady Singer. Kikuchi has a 2.08 ERA with a 2.24 FIP in his 21.2 innings with a 29/8 K/BB ratio. He’s running a strong 51% GB% and a really strong 31.4% Hard Hit%. Kikuchi has not allowed a barrel in three straight starts and has actually allowed just six hard-hit balls over his last two outings.

Singer has a 1.54 ERA, but there are negative regression signs everywhere. He’s got a .182 BABIP against and a 100% LOB%, as all four runs he has scored have come via the long ball. After striking out 10 Twins in his 2024 debut, he only has 13 strikeouts out of his last 63 batters faced. His GB% is 57.9%, but he’s only induced nine ground balls in his last two starts after inducing 24 in his first two outings.

The ball is starting to leak up for Singer, who has allowed three barrels and 13 hard-hit balls in his last two starts (46.4%). His velo is down and I can’t help but wonder if something is going on here health-wise. If nothing else, his mechanics seem problematic with all the elevated contact and the decreased velocity. Also, he’s a two-pitch pitcher with a sinker/slider combo and the Blue Jays should be able to figure that out.

The Jays pen is back to full capacity with Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson back and healthy. I think we have two teams going in different directions here and a pretty sizable starting pitcher advantage, so I like Toronto to open this series with a win.

Pick: Blue Jays -115

Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins (-205, 8.5)

7:40 p.m. ET

Yesterday, I wrote an article about whether or not we should bet against the White Sox in every game. Today, I think the White Sox are worth the gamble on Monday night, at least for the 1st 5. Jonathan Cannon gets the start for the Pale Hose and Chris Paddack gets the call for the Twins. Paddack ran into the Orioles and gave up nine runs on 12 hits last time out, but he’s having a lot of difficulty working deep into games. He got 14 outs against the Dodgers on 87 pitches and 12 outs against the Brewers on 82 pitches.

Paddack has obviously faced better lineups than what Chicago is running out there, but he’s allowed 20 hard-hit balls and six barrels in his last two starts, so location has been a big problem. By Stuff+, he grades around average thanks to his curveball and changeup. We’ll see if he has command of those tonight against the White Sox.

Cannon looked sharp in his first start against the Royals with five innings of one-run ball. He struck out three and walked one. Cannon is 6-foot-6 with a sinker-heavy arsenal and a lot of east-west movement to his pitches, which should help him slide off the barrel against MLB hitters. The Twins are off to a really rough start offensively with a .195/.281/.329 slash. That isn’t really all that much better than the White Sox at .188/.264/.288 and the Twins have actually struck out at a higher rate.

The other thing here is that the wind will be blowing out at a pretty decent clip. Paddack is more of a fly ball guy these days and Cannon projects to be more of a ground ball guy. I think that could give a boost to the Chicago offense.

I don’t find that the gap between Cannon and Paddack, coupled with the gap between the two offenses, is worthy of being a $2 favorite. With Pablo Lopez, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober on the horizon, hopefully the White Sox make a concerted effort to pick up that fourth win by getting off to a good start.

This could be a get-right series for the Twins, but they’re not playing very well right now and I think this price has been bet up a bit too high. I realize it’s not an easy pick to make, but I think the price is good and the pitching matchup is worth it.

Pick: White Sox 1st 5 +175

Arizona Diamondbacks at St. Louis Cardinals (-112, 8.5)

7:45 p.m. ET

Brandon Pfaadt will get a second crack at the Cardinals here, as the Diamondbacks head to St. Louis to start the second series of three on this road trip. After taking two of three from the Giants, it had to be a light-hearted flight to the Arch City. St. Louis, meanwhile, has dropped four in a row, including a sweep at the hands of the Brewers at home. The vibes are not good with the Cardinals again.

Pfaadt did struggle last time out against the Cardinals, as both barrels he allowed left the ballpark for multi-run homers. I had the D-Backs 1st 5 Run Line in that one and they scored six runs in the fifth to tie it, but that wasn’t good enough for my bet and fade of Kyle Gibson. The two barrels were two of just five hard-hit balls that Pfaadt allowed. He’s got a 32.9% Hard Hit% on the season and I think he’s been throwing the ball better.

He made some adjustments prior to his last outing against the Cubs and went seven innings with two earned runs and six strikeouts. The quality of his stuff was a lot sharper with some mechanical tweaks and better spin rates on his pitches. Pitching coach Brent Strom is one of the game’s best, so I’m not surprised to see some good adjustments made.

Pfaadt has a .319 BABIP and a 63% LOB%, so he’s a positive regression candidate based on the caliber of his team’s defense and the contact management metrics we’ve seen thus far.

On the other side, Lance Lynn is sitting on a boatload of regression. He’s allowed a 45.2% Hard Hit% and a 16.1% Barrel% through four starts. He’s actually allowed nine barrels in his last three starts with a Hard Hit% of 47.1%. He’s had single-digit SwStr% marks in his last two outings against the Phillies and A’s. Those have also been his two highest outings by fastball percentage, so he’s throwing a ton of those again.

The Diamondbacks lead the big leagues in Fastball Run Value offensively with +15.2 batting runs per Statcast. The Astros are second with +12.9 and nobody else is in double digits, so the Snakes have really hit fastballs well this season. They’ve also hit sinkers really well. Sliders have been the issue, but Lynn throws under 10% sliders.

Lynn has a .299 wOBA for the season, but a .341 xwOBA. He’s not throwing very hard this season and ranks below the 50th percentile in nearly every main Statcast category except Chase% and BB%. The Diamondbacks chase at one of the lowest rates in baseball and strike out at one of the lowest rates. I think this is a bad matchup for Lynn with the regression signs involved.

This is one of those games where I had a hard time narrowing my focus. Diamondbacks 1st 5 is +100. Full game is -108. But, what I decided to go with instead is Diamondbacks Over 2.5 Runs in the 1st 5 at +130. I left in the Pfaadt stuff in case you don’t have this bet type available to you or just wanted to know more about the game.

Since the odds are from DraftKings, look for this under “Innings” on the game and scroll a good bit down the page. If you have a sportsbook or a local that doesn’t offer this, Diamondbacks 1st 5 is the alternative.

Pick: Diamondbacks 1st 5 Team Total Over 2.5 Runs (+130)