MLB Best Bets Today May 18

A full slate of games covers the entire day across the Major League Baseball landscape. The first pitch will be in the Bronx at 1:05 p.m. ET and the last first pitch gets tossed at 9:10 p.m. ET. Weather isn’t much of a factor in most places today, so we’ll hopefully see the games go off without a hitch on Saturday.

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Here are the MLB best bets today for May 18:

Milwaukee Brewers at Houston Astros (-175, 8.5)

7:10 p.m. ET

I’ve got a one-sided handicap here in the matchup between the Brewers and the Astros that focuses on the Houston offense. The Astros have gotten the bats going recently with 38 runs over their last seven games. Honestly, the offense really hasn’t been the main issue throughout the season, as the rotation and bullpen have had a lot of issues.

What has helped the Astros the most is that Alex Bregman has snapped out of his early-season funk. He’s slashing .370/.379/.815 this week and has a 118 wRC+ in the month of May. Given that Joe Espada kept pencilling his name in at the top of the order, the fact that he wasn’t hitting was a huge issue. He’s hitting now, and so is Kyle Tucker, who has a 211 wRC+ this month.

What the Brewers have gotten out of Bryse Wilson has been a huge lift thus far, but I don’t see much sustainability to his profile at all. He’s allowed a 43.5% Hard Hit% overall, but he’s made four straight starts and has a 52.7% Hard Hit% in that span.

For the season, Wilson is living on a .207 BABIP and a 90.9% LOB%. BABIP and LOB% are two main areas to look for positive and negative regression and Wilson’s metrics show some tough times ahead. His 2.65 ERA and 4.89 FIP show the same thing. He’s actually got a 2.21 ERA with a 5.04 FIP in those last four starts with 13 walks in 20.1 innings.

A surging Houston offense against a pitcher being chased by the Regression Monster seems like a good reason to play the Astros 1st 5 Team Total Over.

Pick: Astros 1st 5 Team Total Over 2.5 (-120)

Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers (-218, 8)

9:10 p.m. ET

Graham Ashcraft and Walker Buehler are the listed starters in the late game at Chavez Ravine. This feels like the type of start where Ashcraft’s hard contact comes around to really hurt him. The Dodgers are obviously an elite lineup, absolutely loaded with premier hitting talent, and a lot of it comes from the left side.

Lefties own a .315/.361/.528 slash with a .386 wOBA against Ashcraft in 97 plate appearances this season. The reason why the Reds used Brent Suter as an opener for Nick Martinez the other day is to try and get through the top of the order with Mookie Betts and then two elite lefties in Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman. Ashcraft gets the straight start here and I have major concerns about that.

Over his last four starts, Ashcraft has a 2.95 ERA with a 5.10 FIP. He only has 12 strikeouts in his last 95 batters faced and has allowed a 48.6% Hard Hit%, with the HH% getting higher with each successive start. He allowed a 60% HH% against the Diamondbacks last time out. He doesn’t have much margin for error in the swing-and-miss department and he’s also been a guy that has occasionally had walk issues against better lineups. This one would qualify.

This start is a step down from Buehler’s last one against the Padres, but it seems like nothing will come easy for him right now. I watched a podcast interview clip with Mark Prior and then a postgame interview with Dave Roberts and the Dodgers are, correctly, going to exercise extreme patience. But, I felt like both Prior and Roberts were pretty candid in terms of expectations. It is a process and Buehler is trying to get the best hitters in the world out when he doesn’t have premier command.

He may very well pitch better today, but he’s not a polished product. He’s been held to 77 pitches in each of his two starts, so he’s probably around 80ish today. Like I’ve talked about before, short starts put lesser relievers into the equation because teams are reluctant to use their high-leverage guys. I think that applies to the Dodgers because of Buehler and the slow process to bring him back to normal, but also to the Reds because I think Ashcraft has a hell of a time today trying to turn this lineup over.

Buehler has allowed six runs on 11 hits in 7.1 innings. If the Reds can scratch out two or three runs against him, I think this wager will be in good shape. Cincy’s middle relief is iffy and the Dodgers may be forced to turn to fringy big leaguers like recently-recalled Ricky Vanasco or Ryan Yarbrough, who hasn’t posted an ERA under 4.50 since the COVID year.

Pick: Reds/Dodgers Over 8 (-110)