MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Saturday, September 16th

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MLB schedule today has 16 games

It may be a college football Saturday, but we’ve still got 15 baseball games on the schedule as well. The regular season has 15 days left in it and there are several intriguing games on the betting board for September 16 that won’t get a lot of love or attention because we’ve hit the weekend and that means it’s time for football.

 

Like I talked about last Saturday, most line moves in MLB are driven by sharper bettors that are long-term winners. They have great influence and respect in the betting markets. Sometimes you’ll get some public involvement that moves a game in a really high-profile spot, but that won’t be the case on Saturdays or Sundays going forward. Betting handles drop a ton and sharp bettors can manipulate the markets any way they see fit. Respect all line moves, but especially respect the ones that happen on these football weekends.

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Here are some thoughts on the September 16 card (odds from DraftKings):

Atlanta Braves (-130, 9) at Miami Marlins

The Braves ran out their regular lineup on Friday and still lost 9-6 to the Marlins. Ronald Acuna Jr. left the game in the eighth, so we’ll see if he plays, but the Marlins bats jumped all over Bryce Elder and the bullpen. The game featured 15 runs, even though the teams were 6-for-23 with RISP. We’ll see if they have the bats going again tonight with Jared Shuster against Bryan Hoeing.

The southpaw Shuster has a 5.26 ERA with a 5.01 xERA and a 4.95 FIP in his 49.2 innings of work. This will be his first MLB start since August 27 and second since June 24. He allowed four runs in that August 27 start against the Giants over 4.2 innings. He has a 5.09 ERA at Triple-A this season with just 59 strikeouts against 41 walks in 15 starts over 76 innings.

Hoeing checks in with a 4.04 ERA, 4.68 xERA, and a 4.88 FIP over 62.1 innings at the MLB level. He’s pitched well in Triple-A, but has spent most of the season on the MLB roster. He hasn’t started since July 5 and allowed 12 runs on 11 hits in his last two starts. He’s been better in a relief role since, but he’s not super trustworthy and it’s fair to wonder how far he can even work into the game.

Could be another high-scoring affair here, but after illustrating once again how bad I am with totals taking Over 10.5 in Rockies/Giants last night, where the Giants were no-hit at Coors f’ing Field into the eighth, I’m not betting another total this season.

Cincinnati Reds (-115, 8) at New York Mets

Andrew Abbott and Tylor Megill are today’s hurlers, as the Reds look for another dub at Citi Field. Cincinnati won 5-3 last night and did need those relievers that I mentioned in Alex Diaz, Lucas Sims, and Ian Gibaut in a close game. All three have worked three of the last four days, so the Reds will be looking for some length from Abbott and hopefully some run support.

Abbott has a 3.64 ERA with a 3.89 xERA and a 4.12 FIP in 99 innings of work. His rookie season has been a very impressive one for the Reds and he’s been something of a savior because Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo have missed so much time. Abbott got tagged last time out and allowed six runs on four hits to the Cardinals back on September 8 and has gotten a bit of extra rest in advance of this one. He had allowed 11 runs over his previous five starts.

Megill comes in with a 5.03 ERA, 6.33 xERA, and a 5.14 FIP in his 107.1 innings of work. Recently, he has pitched well, though, as he has allowed just nine runs over his last four starts. I’m not sure how sustainable it is for a guy like Megill, especially since his 3.12 ERA in that span comes with a 5.38 FIP and he has a 44.6% Hard Hit% with a double-digit Barrel%.

Abbott has allowed a 51.5% Hard Hit% and a 12.1% Barrel% in his last five starts, so I’m not interested in either side here.

Philadelphia Phillies (-125, 9) at St. Louis Cardinals

Skipping over Nationals (Trevor Williams) as a big dog against the Brewers (Corbin Burnes)…

It will be southpaw Ranger Suarez and right-hander Miles Mikolas for Game 2 of this series, as the Phillies locked down a 5-4 decision last night. They led 4-0 after one, but only scored one run the rest of the way and narrowly held on for the win.

They’ll hope for an easier path today. Mikolas has a 4.75 ERA with a 5.46 xERA and a 4.32 FIP during his worst season since returning from Asia in 2018. He’s actually running a 6.94 ERA with a 6.58 FIP over his last six starts with 27 runs on 42 hits in 35 innings of work. He only has 17 strikeouts and only has two strikeouts in each of his last three starts. To make matters worse, he’s allowed nine home runs and a 52% Hard Hit% with a 13.4% Barrel%. The Phillies offense should be set up nicely in this one.

Suarez has a 3.93 ERA with a 4.38 xERA and a 3.92 FIP over 107.2 innings pitched. He’s allowed five runs on seven hits in 10.1 innings with 15 strikeouts against five walks in two starts since coming off the IL on September 3. He has only allowed eight hard-hit balls in that span with starts against Milwaukee and Miami.

The Cardinals rank 21st in wOBA against LHP since August 1, as they’ve really struggled to hit for power. They have a .266 BABIP in that split, so they’ve gotten a little bit unlucky, but those aren’t the numbers that we’re used to seeing from them.

The Phillies, meanwhile, have been punishing lefties and righties since the start of August. They are actually second to the Braves at .366 in wOBA against RHP and also second in wRC+ at 130.

I like the Phillies for the 1st 5 here. They used five relievers yesterday and Craig Kimbrel threw 33 pitches, while Jose Alvarado threw 24. Both guys were rested, but that was a pretty tough workload on Friday night. I’m also getting a few cents better on the 1st 5 and my goal here is fading Mikolas against that Phillies lineup.

Pick: Phillies 1st 5 (-120)

Chicago Cubs (-112, 9) at Arizona Diamondbacks

Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies are the listed starters here after the Diamondbacks got to Justin Steele and effectively handed the Cy Young to Blake Snell. The Cubs will be looking for a bounce back game here in what is a vital series for the NL Wild Card chase.

This is a bit of an interesting handicap because Hendricks just faced the Diamondbacks, but Davies happened to miss Chicago and instead faced the Mets. Hendricks allowed two runs on seven hits over 5.2 innings at Wrigley Field against the Snakes six days ago. He only allowed a 15.8% Hard Hit% with three hard-hit balls in 19 batted ball events in that one. It was a solid bounce back effort for Hendricks, who allowed five runs on seven hits to the Giants in his previous start. Prior to that, he had only allowed more than three runs once in his previous nine starts. That start was against Atlanta.

For the season, Hendricks owns a 3.71 ERA with a 3.90 FIP. He’s allowed just a 30.7% Hard Hit% and a 6.5% Barrel% in his 21 starts.

Davies allowed three runs on four hits in four innings to the Mets and gave up a ton of hard contact. The Mets ultimately blew the victory, but they hit Davies hard, despite not capitalizing much with three barreled balls and seven hard-hit balls in 10 batted ball events. Since returning to the rotation on August 26, Davies has allowed 10 runs on 19 hits in 18 innings and a 46.2% Hard Hit%.

With yesterday’s loss, the Cubs gave the bullpen another day off. Marcus Stroman ate a few innings last night over 31 pitches after Steele’s exit. Julian Merryweather and Mark Leiter Jr. haven’t pitched since Sunday, so they’ll definitely pitch today in some capacity, whether it’s a save situation or to stay sharp. Only three actual relievers have been used since Tuesday. Stroman came back in relief because there isn’t enough time for him to build up as a starter.

With an all hands on deck approach and what appears to be a good offensive projection against Davies, I’ll lay the short Cubs price tonight.

Pick: Cubs -112

Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays (-148, 8.5)

Chris Bassitt was hammered in his last home start by the Rangers. That has been a rarity, as Bassitt has been substantially better at home than he has been on the road. Even with five runs on nine hits at home in his last start, Bassitt still has a 3.12 ERA at Rogers Centre. For the season, he has a 3.83 ERA with a 4.48 FIP in 178.2 innings of work. 

What’s interesting is that Bassitt has actually allowed four or more runs four times in his last five home starts, so the numbers have been steadily on the rise for him. The Red Sox will try to capitalize here, but things are pretty uncomfortable in and around the team right now, as the Chaim Bloom situation seemed to catch everybody off-guard and the team has no playoff hopes remaining.

Boston will send out Chris Sale here. He allowed seven runs on six hits over four innings in his last start. Since returning on August 11, Sale has a 5.53 ERA with a 4.38 FIP in 27.2 innings of work. He’s maxed out at five innings, so the Red Sox will be looking for some help from the bullpen here.

It’s an early start and a spot where the Jays are probably a lot more invested, so it’s pretty easy for me to pass on this one with Bassitt’s recent form and a number to lay. This line also jumped with Triston Casas out of the lineup.

Texas Rangers at Cleveland Guardians (-125, 8)

Lucas Giolito spent six weeks not being able to get anybody out and then he struck out 12 Rangers last night in a blowout win for a hapless Guardians team . Dane Dunning and Tanner Bibee are the slated starters for today’s tilt and money has come in heavy on the Cleveland side. Bibee has been tremendous at home this season and Dunning is a pretty big regression candidate in the eyes of the betting market.

Bibee’s been generally good with a 3.03 ERA, 3.70 xERA, and a 3.59 FIP over 24 starts covering 136.2 innings of work. He’s got over a strikeout per inning and all of his peripherals look quite strong. He has not allowed more than three runs in a start since June 13 with a 2.55 ERA over his last 15 starts.

At home, Bibee has held the opposition to a .197/.278/262 slash with a .249 wOBA in 63 innings of work. He’s got a 2.14 ERA with a 2.91 FIP. He’s only allowed two homers at home compared to 11 on the road. Walks have been an issue at times, including five walks two starts ago against Minnesota, but he’s done well with his contact management and other metrics to overcome it.

Dunning has a 3.91 ERA with a 4.56 xERA and a 4.39 FIP. He’s got a 76.4% LOB% with a low K% and those are among the reasons why he is a regression candidate. And that regression has hit recently. Over his last five appearances, Dunning has allowed 22 runs on 34 hits in 24.1 innings of work. He’s allowed seven homers and a .380 BABIP with a 48.7% Hard Hit% and an 11.5% Barrel%.

Even though Bibee looks to have a much stronger set of numbers than Dunning, I’m still not in love with taking them here, especially with the big line move taking out some of the equity.

Tampa Bay Rays (-125, 7.5) at Baltimore Orioles

Tyler Glasnow and Grayson Rodriguez are the listed starters for this big AL East matchup. The Rays rolled to a 7-1 victory yesterday and the lead in the East is down to zero. The teams are tied, with Baltimore mere percentage points ahead. The Orioles do have two games in hand, though, so they still control their own destiny for now.

This is a great matchup with Glasnow and Rodriguez. Glasnow has a 3.15 ERA with a 3.72 xERA and a 2.93 FIP in 105.2 innings of work on the season over 18 starts. His peripherals look spectacular and he has only allowed more than three earned runs twice in his last 13 starts.

This is the biggest start of Rodriguez’s career. Ignore the full-season numbers because they don’t tell the story of what he’s done since getting recalled. He has a 2.95 ERA with a 3.11 FIP in 58 innings over his last 10 starts. He just allowed four runs in a start for the first time since his first start back, which came against the Dodgers.

The Rays got two more scoreless innings from the pen yesterday, so they’ve now gone 36 innings without allowing an earned run. Baltimore only had two hits yesterday. I do really like Rodriguez, but I wonder if this spot is maybe a little bit big for him.

If it isn’t, though, this comes down to the bullpens and I’m not in love with laying the Rays number, despite their tremendous success in the late innings. Nothing from me in this one.

Houston Astros (-148, 9.5) at Kansas City Royals

No play here, but dropping this in there with Cole Ragans on the hill for the Royals. Ragans has been absurdly good, but the Astros have been extremely good against lefties here in the second half. Ragans has a 1.69 ERA with a 1.93 FIP since joining the Royals and a 69/17 K/BB ratio in those nine starts.

The Astros are the best lineup in baseball against lefties. Ragans walked six last time out and had those three wild pitches in a row against the Jays. Guess we’ll see if he can keep it rolling.

Detroit Tigers (-130, 8.5) at Los Angeles Angels

Shohei Ohtani has left the Angels and cleaned out his locker. The never-ending soap opera in Anaheim is just unbelievable at this point in time. We’ve seen a huge swing in this line towards the Tigers, even though they are starting Sawyer Gipson-Long, who has one five-inning MLB start to his name. He allowed two runs on four hits with five strikeouts and zero walks six days ago.

Truth be told, there is not a number I’d take the Angels at today, but I’m not laying this Tigers price. It’s a huge mess that GM Perry Minasian has to clean up.

New York Yankees (-118, 9) at Pittsburgh Pirates

Wow. Luke Weaver is expected to start for the Yankees here against Luis Ortiz. Ortiz has a 4.66 ERA with a 7.05 xERA and a 5.54 FIP in his 73.1 innings of work, yet he’s competitively lined in this game because of the presence of Weaver, who has a 6.77 ERA with a 5.79 xERA and a 5.75 FIP in his 110.1 innings of work.

What a dumpster fire of a game. I’m a little surprised the total is only 9 here, but I want no part of anything about this one.

Los Angeles Dodgers (-142, 8) at Seattle Mariners

Clayton Kershaw and Bryce Miller are the listed hurlers here, as the Dodgers look to make it two in a row over the M’s. Miller allowed five runs on nine hits last time out against the Rays. He had allowed a total of nine earned runs over his previous six starts.

Kershaw hasn’t pitched in 11 days, as the Dodgers are doing everything that they can to monitor his ongoing shoulder injury. He’s got a 2.86 ERA with a 6.67 FIP in his five starts since coming back. He’s allowed six homers, but only seven runs. He’s allowed 10 walks against 18 strikeouts. It is a very precarious situation that the Dodgers are trying to manage here. He hasn’t worked more than five innings in any start and I’d be surprised to see even that much here.

I see Kershaw Under 14.5 Outs at +140 at DraftKings and I like that bet. I know he’s gone exactly five innings in four of his five starts since coming back and the other one was cut short by rain, but he hasn’t pitched in 11 days now and I think it’s a worthwhile gamble at plus money since his maximum will be 15 outs. If the Mariners can make him work a bit, I think he’ll be out earlier. He threw 84 pitches last time out and failed to break 90 mph. I think he’ll be more like 70-75 pitches here, so if he’s not efficient, he could very well stay under.

TL;DR Recap

Phillies 1st 5 (-120)
Cubs -112