MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Monday, September 18th

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MLB schedule today has 11 games

Twenty-two teams will try to avoid a case of the Mondays on September 18, as we’ll have 11 games on the card. Only one day game is in the mix, as the Guardians and Royals play a random matinee to kick off their weekday set. All of the other games will conclude under the lights, as we approach the Autumn Equinox on Thursday.

 

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As the weather is cooling off, the bats might be as well. Teams only batted .243/.316/.399 this past week with a .311 wOBA. The 95 wRC+ collectively across the league means that offense was 5% below league average for the season. The K% jumped back up to 23%. I expected offense to stay hot through the rest of the year with tired pitchers and call-ups, but pitchers had the upper hand last week.

We’ll see what this week has in store, but the cooler temperatures could be playing a part to be sure.

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Here are some thoughts on the September 18 card (odds from DraftKings):

New York Mets at Miami Marlins (-155, 8.5)

Jose Butto and Edward Cabrera are the listed starters here, as Cabrera gets the straight start as opposed to being a bulk reliever like he has been in his last two appearances since getting recalled from the minors. Cabrera has only allowed two runs on two hits in 8.2 innings, but he has walked eight guys. He’s also struck out 13.

The Fish are riding a high after sweeping the Braves over the weekend. Atlanta had a major lull after clinching the NL East and now the advantage for the No. 1 seed is down to 4.5 games over the Dodgers, who clinched the NL West over the weekend. The Marlins are still 18.5 games back in the division, but their weekend has them tied with the Cubs for the final Wild Card spot, as the Cubs have dropped five in a row.

I’m not sure I’d trust Cabrera with all the walks, as that’s what got him sent down in the first place, but I have no interest in Butto against a Marlins team playing well and one that is 43-32 at home compared to 35-40 on the road. Miami’s low offensive profile lends itself better to home games, as many of their pitchers have home/road splits.

Butto has a 3.46 ERA with a 4.00 xERA and a 4.07 FIP in 26 innings at the MLB level, but his ERA and FIP were nearly 6.00 in 91 innings at Triple-A.

Philadelphia Phillies (-115, 9.5) at Atlanta Braves

As mentioned, the Braves had a rough weekend with a bit of a hangover in South Beach. They wouldn’t be the first group of guys to have hangovers deep in the Sunshine State. But, they’ll need to get back on track this week at home. This one features Zack Wheeler and Kyle Wright, as the Phillies try to put a chokehold on the NL Wild Card. They are 3.5 games up on the Diamondbacks.

I would think that the Braves would love to eliminate the possibility of playing the Phillies, who bounced them from the playoffs last season, so maybe this will be the time when they flip the switch again and get re-engaged in the action.

Unfortunately, they’ll start the series with Wright, who allowed six runs on six hits to the Phillies a week ago in his first MLB start since May 3. Wright had three strikeouts against two walks and allowed a 66.7% Hard Hit% with a 16.7% Barrel% in that start. He allowed three runs over 8.1 minor league innings before getting recalled to join the rotation. 

Wheeler did not fare well six days ago in this matchup, as he allowed six runs on seven hits, including three homers, in his five innings of work. He struck out four and walked three, so he was not sharp in any facet. He’s been good more often than not this season, but that was a pretty awful start against Atlanta less than a week ago and it can be tough for pitchers facing a lineup for a second straight start. Nothing from me in this one.

Milwaukee Brewers (-175, 8.5) at St. Louis Cardinals

Normally I’ve been skipping over these big favorites, but Adam Wainwright is on the mound here for the Redbirds, so we might as well talk about it. Wainwright was actually the winning pitcher last time out against the Orioles with two runs on seven hits over five innings. That was win No. 199, so he’s going for 200 tonight. I’m not sure we’ll see the Cardinals more invested than they will be tonight, as Waino only has two starts left at Busch Stadium for his career. He’s on track to start Friday September 29 against the Reds.

I’m not sure Wainwright gets it tonight, as Freddy Peralta has been stellar this season for the Brewers. He has a 3.79 ERA with a 3.76 FIP, but he has a 2.01 ERA and a 2.03 FIP in his last nine starts with 82 strikeouts over 53.2 innings of work. He’s allowed more than three runs just once in a start since June 11. With that kind of baseline, and the numbers for Wainwright, it looks like an uphill climb.

But, we don’t have to worry about whether or not the Cardinals want to be at the ballpark tonight. You know they’ll be out there fighting for 50 and I’ll be rooting for him tonight. Just not with my money.

Cleveland Guardians (-130, 9.5) at Kansas City Royals

In the “baseball makes no freaking sense” department, the Guardians, who looked pretty sad on a 2-5 West Coast trip swept a Rangers team that spent the early part of last week outright dominating the Blue Jays. Now Cleveland hits the road for some good BBQ in Kansas City.

Cal Quantrill gets the call in the series opener and Cleveland is laying a short number against Brady Singer. Since returning from a second IL stint, Quantrill has throw the ball well. He’s allowed three runs on 10 hits over 18 innings of work. He only has 10 strikeouts against eight walks, but he has allowed just a 31.4% Hard Hit% and an 82.2 mph average exit velocity in that span against the Rays, Angels, and Giants.

Singer has allowed six runs twice since coming off the paternity list. Both starts came against the White Sox, so that’s not a very good look. He’s also only struck out four of 50 batters faced in that span. Singer has a 5.51 ERA with a 4.26 FIP for the season. The low FIP is a byproduct of a nice BB% and a decent HR rate, but he has allowed six homers in his last four starts and has allowed 22 runs in that span.

It’s an early start, so there isn’t a whole lot of lead time, but Cleveland may not be a bad bet here. I’m not going to bet on them because I don’t really trust their paltry offense and I’m not exactly sure where last weekend came from. I will say that the Guardians and Royals have nearly scored the same number of runs (614, 616), but the Guardians have allowed 629 runs and the Royals have allowed 802.

Boston Red Sox at Texas Rangers (-162, 8.5)

Hitting a rabbit high on speed from 500 yards away is easier than trying to figure out the Texas Rangers these days. The Rangers still hold the final Wild Card spot in the AL playoff race, but after sweeping Toronto to deal a serious blow to their playoff hopes in a series full of two-game swings, the Blue Jays have jumped back over them. 

Jordan Montgomery gets the call today and the Rangers need a good effort. He did exactly that with seven shutout innings five days ago against a Toronto lineup that has hit lefties really well this season. That was on the heels of allowing 14 runs over three starts against the Twins x2 and Athletics. Montgomery only had three strikeouts out of 25 batters faced, but did an excellent job of limiting hard contact against Toronto.

The problem with fading Texas here is that the Red Sox have dropped eight of 10 and four in a row. The organization is in a state of flux and stuff like that can trickle down to the field very easily. There is also some speculation that maybe manager Alex Cora will slide into a front office role for next season, so that’s another added wrinkle.

Crawford is something of a positive regression candidate with a 4.26 ERA, 3.62 xERA, and a 4.10 FIP in 112 innings of work. His recent returns haven’t been great, as he allowed 11 runs over two starts against the Astros and Rays before throwing 4.2 innings of one-run ball against the Yankees. He struck out seven and walked three in a pretty good outing, but he hasn’t completed five innings in his last three starts, which puts a limited Red Sox pen out there missing Kenley Jansen.

The Red Sox are also missing Triston Casas, who was placed on the IL over the weekend, and Jarren Duran, who was lost for the season in late August, but was the tablesetter and also a great defensive presence for a team that isn’t great on defense.

The Rangers have no excuses today, but they’ve been impossible to figure out.

Baltimore Orioles at Houston Astros (-185, 8.5)

The Orioles clinched a playoff spot yesterday for the first time in seven years. They had already clinched a spot before walking off the Rays, but it was still a jubilant celebration in the clubhouse before heading out to Houston to open up this series with the Astros.

We’ll see John Means and Justin Verlander in the series opener and we see the O’s as a big underdog with a significant line move on Houston. While we usually see a bit of a “hangover lineup” from teams that clinch, Baltimore still has to be focused on the AL East race, which they lead by two games over the Rays, who also clinched a playoff spot over the weekend.

This will be just the second start for Means, who allowed three runs on five hits to the Cardinals six days ago. He only struck out one of the 20 batters he faced and gave up a couple of homers. The Astros remain the league’s top offense against lefties in the second half with a .379 wOBA and a 145 wRC+. (The Yankees are now second, by the way)

So, this is a tough matchup for Means. It may also be a tough one for JV. He’s got a 3.86 ERA with a 4.61 FIP since rejoining the Astros. He’s allowed five or more runs three times in his eight starts, including two of his last three, as the Yankees and A’s have both done the deed. He’s given up seven home runs in his last three starts and a 48.4% Hard Hit% with 12 Barrels. He’s allowed five barrels twice in his last three starts.

I’ve sworn off betting totals for the season because I’m not very good at them. I’ll just say that Means is a lefty against a lineup that has hit lefties well and Verlander has had no command in his last three starts.

Seattle Mariners (-175, 7.5) at Oakland Athletics

Bryan Woo and JP Sears are the listed starters as the Mariners head to Oakland in search of a slumpbuster. The M’s have dropped three in a row, seven of 10, and 10 of their last 14. This is a youngish team that seems to be tiring out, especially on the pitching side. It doesn’t help to run into a powerhouse like the Dodgers, but Seattle got swept 18-6 over the three-game series at T-Mobile Park.

Woo had eight days between starts last time after allowing five runs on four hits with zero strikeouts in 26 batters faced against the Reds. He threw 5.2 shutout innings against the Angels with eight strikeouts, so the extra rest seemed to be a positive for him. He’s on five days rest here, as that seems to be the standard nowadays with teams protecting young arms. He has a 4.16 ERA with a 3.91 FIP on the season.

Woo missed 19 days in August, but he’s only allowed one homer in his last six starts. He’s only allowed a 31.6% Hard Hit% for the season and a 5.7% Barrel%, so he’s been great with his contact management skills. Now it’s just a question of how long his young arm can hold up.

Barring a complete blow-up in the first or second inning, Sears will cross 160 innings for the season. He only threw 117.2 innings last season and 104 innings in 2021, so the A’s are really extending him out. He’s got a 4.45 ERA with a 4.62 xERA and a 5.13 FIP in his 29 starts. Sears has only allowed three runs on 13 hits in his last 17 innings of work after giving up 13 runs over two starts on August 20 and 26. I’m surprised to see him get settled back in the way that he did, given the heavy workload on his arm.

He has only allowed an 83.8 mph average exit velocity in that span, but also has just nine strikeouts in 70 batters faced. Seattle is fifth in wOBA against lefties in the second half at .359 and has a 134 wRC+. Their big issue has been a 26.6% K%, but that isn’t so much of an issue against Sears. His K% has dropped from 23% to 19.4% in the second half, where he also has a 5.59 FIP.

The Mariners pen is actually in decent shape here, despite an extra-inning game over the weekend. I think this could be a get-right game for Seattle and a game where Sears has a drop-off from not getting a lot of swings and misses in his last three starts. His contact management numbers are great in that small sample, but this has been the exception, not the norm for him with a 12.4% Barrel% for the season.

The A’s have dropped four straight by a combined score of 29-9. I would expect Woo to pitch well once again in a forgiving park, as his one bad start in his last six came in Cincinnati.

Pick: Mariners -1.5 (+102)

Minnesota Twins (-148, 9.5) at Cincinnati Reds

The Twins and Reds open up a series here at Great American Ball Park with Minnesota’s magic number down to six games to clinch the AL Central. It will be Joe Ryan for the visitors and Connor Phillips for the home squad, as the Reds obviously have a lot to play for in the NL Wild Card chase.

Ryan comes in with a 4.20 ERA, 3.44 xERA, and a 4.08 FIP for the season over 145.2 innings of work. He really struggled badly before hitting the IL after his August 2 start and has pitched pretty well since coming back. He’s allowed six runs on 17 hits in 19.2 innings with 24 strikeouts against five walks. He has allowed three homers and five barrels, but has only allowed a 34.7% Hard Hit%. 

The Reds have recalled Phillips for this start, as he comes in with eight runs allowed on 10 hits in 8.2 innings with three homers, six walks, and 10 strikeouts. In his two starts, he has allowed a 50% Hard Hit% with a 15.4% Barrel%. He’s been a fly ball pitcher at the MLB level to this point, which seems ill-advised pitching in Cincinnati. His first start was at home against the Mariners and he allowed five runs on six hits in 4.2 innings.

I gave some thought to the run line here on Minnesota, but Ryan has had decreased velocity in each of his last two starts. He also has a home run problem and some noticeable home/road splits. He’s certainly throwing the ball a lot better since coming back and the Reds have a strikeout problem here in the second half, but I’m staying off of this one.

Chicago White Sox (-125, 9) at Washington Nationals

Say what you will about Mike Clevinger the person, but he’s been an effective pitcher in his career. He’s having a pretty decent season this year with a 3.61 ERA, 4.08 xERA, and a 4.15 FIP. Even though there are some regression signs in the profile, and he did allow eight runs on 12 hits over four innings on September 2, he’s thrown the ball well in his last two outings. He’s allowed two runs on nine hits in his last 13 innings with 14 strikeouts against zero walks. 

Clevinger has only allowed a 33.7% Hard Hit% this season. If he had more strikeouts, xERA and FIP would look better and he wouldn’t be viewed as a regression candidate. But, he only has a 10.1% SwStr% on the season. 

The Nationals were playing well for a while in the second half, but they have lost 15 of 20 and haven’t won consecutive games since August 25-26. Two of their wins in that span have come in extra innings as well, so those have even been toss-up games.

Joan Adon gets the call here with a 5.92 ERA and a 5.08 FIP in his 38 innings of work. He’s allowed 11 runs in his last 14 innings with 13 strikeouts and 10 walks. The White Sox are a bad offense and guys with high walk rates aren’t impacted as much by them as others. So, maybe Adon can pitch fairly well here, but it’s not something I would bet on.

The White Sox have lost 14 of 19 themselves and have consecutive wins twice since August 5-7.

Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Dodgers (-180, 8)

Veterans Eduardo Rodriguez and Lance Lynn wrap up the card with a matchup in Chavez Ravine. The Tigers just swept the Angels and have won four in a row as they head into this series. The Dodgers just swept the Mariners and are hoping that Lynn can get things figured out in this start.

Lynn showed some positive signs last time out against the Padres, as he allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings. He still only had three strikeouts and has just nine strikeouts over his last six starts. But, the results were a lot better than what he did over his previous three starts with 19 runs allowed on 24 hits over 11 innings.

Lynn has allowed nine homers over his last four starts, as a lot of bad habits have come back into the picture. I guess we’ll see what he’s able to do here against the Tigers, a team that he faced a lot during his time with Chicago.

E-Rod hasn’t been super sharp lately, as he’s got a 4.98 ERA with a 4.54 FIP in his last six starts. He’s allowed four or more runs three times and allowed five runs in the other three starts. What’s more concerning is that he has walked 17 batters, including 15 in his last four starts. He’s also had some major issues maintaining his velocity and has had his two lowest starts by fastball velo here in the month of September. 

His spin rates may be suggestive of an underlying injury, as they’ve fluctuated a lot, but have dropped here in September. He just doesn’t look very sharp. I have nothing on this one as a result, though laying the Lynn number doesn’t sound like fun either.

TL;DR Recap

Mariners -1.5 (+102)