MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Monday, June 19th

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MLB schedule today has 10 games

Monday has rolled back around and that means a new week’s worth of games gets underway around Major League Baseball. It also means the return of VSiN Daily Baseball Bets, as the podcast can be heard Monday-Friday wherever you get your podcast content.

 

Ten games are on the betting board for today, with five in the NL, three in the AL, and a couple of interleague matchups, including a pretty good pitching matchup between the Mets and Astros. The other big storyline today is that Jordan Lyles is 0-14 in his 14 starts and he’s a sizable underdog to the Tigers and rookie Reese Olson. Is today the day the Royals are victorious in a Lyles start?

All that and more on today’s card.

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Here are some thoughts on the June 19 card (odds from DraftKings):

St. Louis Cardinals (-150, 9.5) at Washington Nationals

Every time I look at the betting board, the Cardinals feel overpriced. By this point, this is a team that just doesn’t look to have it this season. There are a lot of internal issues that have leaked over to the field and the offense has even been affected now, posting a 99 wRC+ in the month of June.

Today’s pitching matchup features Jack Flaherty and Josiah Gray. While the Cardinals have struggled to be about a league average group this month, the Nationals are 28th in wOBA at .286 and 28th in wRC+ at 75, so their offense has really gone in the tank. That should help Flaherty, who got rocked last time out with six runs allowed on 10 hits over 4.1 innings with three strikeouts and three walks. He’s back up to a 4.64 ERA after allowing just eight earned runs in his previous six starts.

Gray has built up a big load of regression, as he has a 3.19 ERA with a 4.34 xERA and a 4.77 FIP in his 79 innings of work. He has a low 19.5% K% and a high 10.9% BB%, but has an 84.4% LOB% and has managed to mostly work around the high walk rate and all the balls in play. That said, he’s allowed five homers over his last four starts and 11 runs in 21.1 innings of work, so the regression is seeping in. He has a 4.64 ERA and a 5.95 FIP in that span.

This is a pretty easy game to leave alone. The Nationals are better against lefties than righties, as we know, but haven’t done much against anybody this month. Flaherty is a righty and Gray has all the regression signs, but laying -150 with a Cardinals crew that is only two games better in the win column than the lowly Nats is a big price.

Chicago Cubs (-130, 9) at Pittsburgh Pirates

Osvaldo Bido will get his second crack at the Cubs as he makes his second MLB start. Bido allowed just one run on four hits with six strikeouts against three walks five days ago, but the bullpen failed him in a big way in the 10-6 loss. Bido actually got rather fortunate not to have a worse outing, as he allowed seven hard-hit balls in 10 batted ball events. The Cubs managed four singles on their hard-hit balls, as Bido ran a 50% GB%.

Bido is left-handed and the Cubs are sixth in wOBA against LHP on the season. They have a big 25.5% K%, but Bido isn’t the biggest strikeout guy. He also had major walk rate issues in the minors. He didn’t get many chases in his first start, as the Cubs swung through some pitches in the zone.

Drew Smyly takes the mound for the Cubs, as he brings a 3.59 ERA with a 3.56 xERA and a 4.33 FIP over 77.2 innings of work. Smyly has seen a reversal of fortunes recently, as he has given up 16 runs over his last 22.1 innings of work. He was doing a really good job of limiting hard contact, but that hasn’t happened to the same degree over his last few starts. He’s allowed five homers, including three to the Pirates in his last start.

There were some regression signs in the profile, as Smyly had a 2.60 ERA with a 3.60 FIP in his first 10 starts and had only allowed more than two runs once. His game-by-game spin rates from Baseball Savant look like a toddler drawing on a children’s menu, so I have no idea if there are any injury indicators here or not, but he is a guy that has been injured a lot.

Anyway, no play from me in this one, but I am curious to see how Bido does facing the same team for the second straight time. I’m also curious to see how 2021 first-round pick Henry Davis does for Pittsburgh going forward, as he’ll take over catching duties after slashing .284/.433/.547 in 187 Double-A plate appearances and .286/.432/.514 in 45 PA at Triple-A.

Colorado Rockies at Cincinnati Reds (-165, 10)

Southpaws Austin Gomber and Brandon Williamson are listed for this one at Great American Ball Park on Monday. The Reds have the longest winning streak in the league at eight games and have moved into second place in the NL Central, just a half-game behind the Brewers, who I don’t think are a very good team. Of course, they just swept the Pirates and I had two losers in that series, but still.

The Reds look to be the class of the division right now. But, they still need to find some better pitching. Williamson needs to be better. The rookie southpaw has a 5.40 ERA with a 7.24 xERA and a 6.09 FIP in his 31.2 innings of work over six starts. The Reds may even pull a switcheroo today and use an opener for him. He’s given up at least four runs in four of his six starts and only has 22 strikeouts against 13 walks. He’s given up seven homers, including five in his three home starts.

Williamson only had one strikeout last start against the Royals, which is a pretty big red flag. He’s also allowed a 50% Hard Hit% and 14 barrels, so he’s living in the middle of the zone too much when he’s not throwing uncompetitive pitches. We got lucky with him last time out when we went against Jordan Lyles and the Royals.

Fortunately for Williamson and the Reds, Gomber is worse this season. He’s got a 7.29 ERA with a 7.20 xERA and a 6.34 FIP in his 66.2 innings. Like Williams, he has a low strikeout rate and an elevated walk rate. He’s also allowed 16 home runs over his 14 starts. He just threw a “quality start” against the Red Sox with three runs allowed on six hits, but allowed an average exit velo of 95.4 mph and a 57.9% Hard Hit%, so he fell on the right side of batted ball luck.

Rain is very much in the forecast tonight on a grossly-humid evening along the Ohio River. This one may not even get played. The only thing I could see playing here is the over, but the Rockies have the worst offense in baseball against lefties. Maybe Williamson’s struggles are enough to help them with that, but I have no official play here.

Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers (-115, 8)

Merrill Kelly and Corbin Burnes make up a solid pitching matchup on a day that doesn’t feature many of them. The aforementioned Brewers are on a bit of a heater with a sweep of the Pirates after losing the previous six games, including getting swept at home by the A’s. Maybe that series says a lot about the Pirates. That’s the assumption I’m going on after learning my lesson twice in that series.

Anyway, Burnes goes today and has a 3.44 ERA with a 3.34 xERA and a 4.15 FIP in 14 starts over 83.2 innings of work. I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t think he’s being viewed fairly in the markets this season. Just because he isn’t as dominant as previous seasons doesn’t mean that he’s not pitching well. He allowed 10 earned runs in his first two starts of the season and has a 2.66 ERA with a 3.79 FIP in his last 12. If you take out the first two starts, he’s back to over a strikeout per inning pace and has a 33.7% Hard Hit%.

All in all, he’s pitched pretty well I think. His SwStr% is still 13.4% over those last 12 starts, so he’s still getting swings and misses. Maybe he isn’t getting them to the same degree as last season, but he’s being sold short and those first two ugly starts are still hanging on a little bit. He actually has a 28.5% K% in his last seven starts, so the whiffs are coming back.

I’m not sure how many he’ll strike out with the Diamondbacks and their aggressive approach, but that’s where his strong Hard Hit% should come into play.

Kelly is having a really solid season himself. He has a 3.04 ERA with a 4.05 xERA and a 3.84 FIP in his 83 innings over 14 starts. His walk rate sticks out a little bit at 10.3%, but it’s only 7.6% over his last nine starts, as he came out of the World Baseball Classic with some control issues, but corrected them as the season went along. He also has a 28.7% K% over those last nine starts.

Kelly hasn’t quite been Burnesian with his Hard Hit%, but 38.8% is a little bit better than league average and all of his other peripherals look solid. We’re seeing a lot of 7.5s on the board for the total, with the lone 8 hanging around at DraftKings. My concern with the full game is that the Brewers pen got a lot of work in the series with the Pirates, which happens when you’re winning games. 

I’d rather put my trust in the two starts, who are both having fine seasons. The Brewers offense ranks 25th in wOBA for the season and 29th since May 1. I’ll trust Burnes to perform well against an Arizona offense that is better, but it’s not like they’re facing dudes the caliber of Burnes every day.

Pick: 1st 5 Under 4 (-110)

San Diego Padres (-115, 8.5) at San Francisco Giants

Michael Wacha and Ryan Walker are the listed starters here, as Walker will serve as the opener for recently-recalled Keaton Winn, as the Giants shuffle their rotation with Alex Cobb on the IL due to an oblique injury. The Giants are back down to three actual starting pitchers, with Logan Webb, Anthony DeSclafani, and Alex Wood. So, it will be openers and then some combination of Sean Manaea, Keaton Winn, and Tristan Beck. But, the Giants are magnificently leveraging all these pitching options and have been one of the best teams in baseball over the last six weeks.

Winn threw 55 pitches over four one-run innings six days ago and then got sent down for more bullpen reinforcements. He’s eligible to return with the Cobb injury and will work in a bulk capacity tonight. The 25-year-old throws in the mid-90s with a good splitter and doesn’t have to worry as much about his shallow arsenal in this kind of role. He had a 4.32 ERA with a 4.17 FIP in 41.1 innings at Triple-A, but keep in mind that the PCL is a brutal league for pitchers.

As for Walker, there’s a chance he could work multiple innings and he’s been really good in 14.2 innings of work with a 1.23 ERA, 2.03 xERA, and a 1.84 FIP. He actually had a three-inning appearance three outings ago, so we could see the Giants push him at least two frames. He’s an extreme ground ball guy at 58.5% with a spectacular 19% Hard Hit% against.

Wacha has a 2.89 ERA with a 4.05 xERA and a 3.40 FIP in his 74.2 innings of work. He’s actually had quite a stellar season with a nice bump in K% and just a 33.5% Hard Hit%. After giving up 19 runs in his first 25.1 innings of work, Wacha has allowed all of five runs in his last 49.1 innings pitched.

Regression will find Wacha at some point, given that he has a 94.2% LOB% over his last eight starts, which date back to May 2. He’s got a .190 BABIP in that split. He does have a 30.9% Hard Hit%, so he’s certainly earned a low BABIP, but that’s really low. His spin rates are tailing down a little bit over his last couple of starts, so I wonder if maybe something is taking place there. His velo and spin rate on the cutter have had the most noticeable drops.

I like the Giants in this one. Wacha is a bubble of regression waiting to pop. The Giants are playing great right now and they’ve really figured out how to leverage all of their pitchers.

Pick: Giants -105

Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers (-140, 9)

I already teased it, but Jordan Lyles has made 14 starts for the Royals and Kansas City has lost all 14 of those games. Lyles has been the losing pitcher in 11 of those games. Last start was crazy. He allowed a single and then wiped it out with a double play in the first inning. Then he proceeded to allow five runs in the second inning. Then, Lyles didn’t allow a single runner in innings 3-6, but the Royals couldn’t come back to get the win.

The numbers for Lyles are quite hideous. He has a 6.89 ERA with a 5.03 xERA and a 5.82 FIP in his 79.2 innings of work. He has allowed four or more runs in 12 of his 14 starts. If we shrink it down, Lyles has an 8.19 ERA over his last nine starts and has allowed five or more runs in seven of them. That’s about as bad as it gets.

Reese Olson started with a couple of promising outings, but got blasted by the Braves to the tune of seven runs on five hits in 3.1 innings last time out. Olson had only allowed seven hard-hit balls in his first two starts, but allowed seven to the Braves alone. Olson definitely gets a step down in class here going from the Braves to the Royals and even from the Phillies, who he shut down back on June 8. Philadelphia has had one of the top offenses this month.

I can’t lay -140 with the Tigers, as awful as Lyles has been. The over is moderately interesting given what Lyles has done all season long and given that Olson’s command may not be MLB-ready, but the Royals offense is not performing at a high level.

Boston Red Sox at Minnesota Twins (-145, 8)

The Red Sox and Twins meet at Target Field this evening with James Paxton and Pablo Lopez on the hill. Boston definitely has to be viewed differently at home than on the road and I think this line is indicative of that. The Red Sox offense has played 39 games at home and scored 229 runs (5.9 R/G), whereas they’ve managed just 134 runs in 33 road games (4.1 R/G). That is a monumental difference and absolutely has to be taken into account.

That being said, this is a pretty big line for a rather pedestrian Twins team and a guy in Lopez that hasn’t been all that sharp. Lopez has a 4.27 ERA with a 3.17 xERA and a 3.57 FIP, so the peripherals paint a rosier picture, due in large part to a solid K/BB ratio, but his first four starts are doing some heavy lifting with the full-season numbers. Since April 22, Lopez has a 5.40 ERA with a 3.98 FIP. He’s allowed a 41.3% Hard Hit% and a 9.4% Barrel%.

Paxton has held the opposition to two or fewer runs in five of his six starts. He gave up five runs on the road at the Angels on May 24, but he’s been really good otherwise. He hasn’t faced the toughest slate of opponents, but he doesn’t really face one here either, as the Twins are 28th in wOBA against lefties at .292 and have a 27.9% K%.

I know that the Red Sox offense projects way differently on the road, but Paxton certainly seems to match up really well against the Twins, especially with all that strikeout prowess. The Twins strike out nearly 7% more often than the Red Sox, so I have to think Boston is able to put more balls in play, even against Lopez and his high K%.

This price just seems a little high and Paxton has a really good projection here with a fairly rested Red Sox pen, even coming out of yesterday’s doubleheader. It was a late night for the Red Sox with yesterday’s doubleheader, but a happy flight to MSP and they got an hour back with the time change, so I think they’re just fine in that regard.

Pick: Red Sox +125

Texas Rangers (-125, 9.5) at Chicago White Sox

The White Sox have not named a starter for Monday yet. They don’t really have any additional arms on the 40-man roster, so it looks like a bullpen day. They only used one reliever yesterday after Lance Lynn went seven innings with 16 strikeouts, so the bullpen is sort of fresh.

Andrew Heaney is getting the call for the Rangers. Heaney has a 4.05 ERA with a 4.46 xERA and a 4.79 FIP. A high walk rate and a few too many homers have hurt in the advanced metrics department, but he has only allowed three homers in his last seven starts, so he’s been better about that. He’s actually got a 3.23 ERA in his last 12 starts if you take away a disastrous first start of the season.

Not much more to add about this game, though, as we don’t know how Chicago will approach it.

Toronto Blue Jays (-155, 8.5) at Miami Marlins

Jose Berrios and Bryan Hoeing are the slated starters for this interleague tilt down at Marlins Park. Hoeing has been working in relief for the Marlins ever since he was taken out of the rotation on April 30. He hasn’t worked more than two innings in any appearance, so this game is a bit of a mess as well. He’s got a 3.12 ERA with a 3.85 FIP over 26 innings, but this is a Johnny Wholestaff sort of game for Miami.

Berrios still has that ugly 4.46 xERA, but his 3.28 ERA and 3.76 FIP both look solid over 85 innings of work. Over his last eight starts, Berrios has a 1.94 ERA, but that does come with a 4.18 FIP and a 4.49 xFIP. He has a 92.2% LOB% and a .235 BABIP against while his K% has decreased. I tried to go against him last time out and back Baltimore, but he went 7.2 shutout innings.

I’ll stay away here, but I do think that he’s building up a lot of regression, so I may find a spot to go against him again soon.

New York Mets at Houston Astros (-115, 7.5)

DraftKings has the highest line in the market on Houston here at -115, but the line was higher at open and on the overnights. The Mets have to viewed differently now that Pete Alonso is back, as he returned earlier than expected. The slugger has covered up a lot of deficiencies for the Mets lineup this season and he’ll be needed if they hope to get back into the playoff chase.

This one features Max Scherzer and Hunter Brown, with Scherzer making his 12th start of the season. He has a 4.45 ERA with a 3.62 xERA and a 4.35 FIP in his 56.2 innings of work. His last two starts have been awful, as he’s allowed 11 runs on 18 hits to the Braves and Yankees. Prior to that, it seems like Scherzer was rounding into form a bit with three earned runs allowed in a four-start stretch, but now I’m not so sure.

Brown has a 3.35 ERA with a 3.64 xERA and a 3.30 FIP in his 75.1 innings of work. The xERA has consistently been a little on the high side because of some hard ground ball contact, but the rest of his numbers look quite strong. He’s got a solid 27.1% K% and a league average BB% at 8.5%. He’s had a couple shaky outings recently and only has nine strikeouts in his last 13 innings with low SwStr%. I’m a little worried about those. I hope they’ll bounce back, but it’s something that I’m watching in this start.

It’s enough to keep me off of the Astros today, plus Scherzer always has the ability to right the ship and figure things out.

TL;DR Recap

ARI/MIL 1st 5 Under 4 (-110)
Giants -105
Red Sox +125