MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Thursday, June 22nd

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MLB schedule today has 8 games

It is a small MLB card and half of it will be over by the early afternoon (PT) with four of today’s eight games starting in the early-morning hours. Those are all 1 p.m. starts for those of you on the East Coast, but it will be a diminished day on the diamond with a lot of travel days in advance of weekend series.

 

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With the early games, there’s no time to waste in hopes of getting this out quickly, so let’s get to the action.

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Here are some thoughts on the June 22 card (odds from DraftKings):

Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies (-120, 8)

Yesterday’s rainout pushed Aaron Nola back, but it did not push AJ Smith-Shawver back. The Braves will leapfrog him and roll with Bryce Elder in this early game at Citizens Bank Park. Elder has experienced a bit of regression recently, but has also improved some of his advanced metrics in the process. 

He comes into this start with a 2.60 ERA, 3.91 xERA and 3.81 FIP. He has a 20.7% K%, which is roughly around league average for starters. His 57% GB% is a tremendous asset and it’s why his 44.4% Hard Hit% hasn’t been that harmful, but that’s the number that has really improved, as he was up closer to 50% not that long ago. He’s started to induce weaker contact, thus lowering his xERA, but he’s still had a couple of rough outings recently against the Mets and Nationals.

Still, it’s hard to manufacture enough hits in today’s game to score a lot of runs against ground ball guys and he’s only allowed eight homers, though five have come in his last five starts. I still think a 2.60 ERA is optimistic for him, but it’s gradually regressing and that’ll likely be how it goes going forward.

Here’s what I wrote about Nola yesterday:

Nola has a 4.66 ERA with a 3.65 xERA and a 4.17 FIP in his 94.2 innings of work. His low 61.9% LOB% is what is hurting his ERA the most, as his K% is the lowest it has been since his rookie year in 2015. He’s also really struggling lately, as he has allowed 22 runs over his last five starts, including a rough outing against Atlanta. In that span, he has a 5.34 ERA with a 4.66 FIP and has given up seven homers. He does have 40 strikeouts, though, so maybe he’s coming around from a K% standpoint.

It’s a cooler day in Philly with temps in the 60s and winds blowing in from RF, so not exactly conducive to offense. I don’t really like anything here and wouldn’t if it was a 7:05 game either.

San Diego Padres (-135, 8) at San Francisco Giants

The Giants won again yesterday by a 4-2 count as Sean Hjelle threw four innings of shutout relief and picked up the win. The Giants used six relievers yesterday, including Camilo Doval for the fourth time in six days, so I’d assume he’s unavailable for today’s game. Tyler Rogers might be as well after working back-to-back days. Given that the Giants are sending out Alex Wood, it looks a little bit dicey on the whole.

Wood did throw five shutout innings against the Dodgers last time out. He’s maxed out at 5.2 innings, but that was his first start since returning from a second stint on the IL. He was actually extremely efficient with his 67 pitches and I’d assume he’s somewhere around 75-80 today, which could get him through five innings or maybe even more if he is effective. As mentioned yesterday in regards to Sean Manaea, the Padres did enter that game with a top-10 offense against lefties from a wOBA standpoint, but they didn’t even see Manaea, as the Giants smartly stayed away.

However, Wood is a lefty and he’ll be expected to work as much of this one as he can, so we’ll see how that works out. He has a 4.11 ERA with a 4.25 FIP in eight starts and one relief outing, but like I said, this is his second start back from another IL stint.

There have been a lot of issues for the Padres this season, but Blake Snell has not really been one of them. Snell has a 3.48 ERA with a 4.55 xERA and a 4.21 FIP in his 75 innings of work. He’s got a huge K% and a high BB% and this season has added a few more homers to his tab, but he’s been very good for a whole now.

He allowed six runs on May 19 to the Red Sox, but he has a 2.76 ERA with a 3.81 FIP in his last 11 starts. If we cut that back to his last five starts, he has allowed just two runs on 14 hits over his last 30 innings pitched. Snell has allowed one homer in that span with a 45/13 K/BB ratio and has faced the Nationals, Marlins, Cubs, Rockies, and Rays, so four offenses that have either been good all season or have had good numbers at one time against lefties.

The Padres pen is also up against it a little bit, as Josh Hader, Nick Martinez, and Steven Wilson would all be working a fourth time in six days and Tim Hill would be working his third time in four days. With the -135 price tag, that’s a lot, given that Snell is usually a five-and-dive guy.

I do lean Padres today, but that price does seem a little bit stiff to pay.

Pittsburgh Pirates at Miami Marlins (-155, 7)

The Pirates and Marlins fire up a four-game series in South Florida with Mitch Keller and Braxton Garrett in the only night game on the NL side. Keller was not very good last time out against the Brewers and allowed four runs on five hits in five innings. Over his last five starts now, Keller has a 6.14 ERA with a 4.91 FIP. He’s allowed at least four runs in four of those five starts. Even though he still has 31 strikeouts in those 29.1 innings pitched, his BABIP sits at .338, his LOB% is 67.5% and he’s given up five home runs.

His Hard Hit% is up to 41.2% in that span and his Barrel% is 14.1%. He’s in a bit of a rut right now and he’s getting punished for just about every mistake he’s made. It also just so happens to coincide with a giant slide from the Buccos. The market is really punishing them for it, as this is a big favorite role for Miami against a guy in Keller who still has a 3.62 ERA with a 3.38 FIP in his 92 innings overall with just a 33.1% Hard Hit%.

The left-handed Garrett has a 3.88 ERA with a 4.52 xERA and a 3.43 FIP in his 69.2 innings pitched. He’s got a solid 76.6% LOB% to go with a terrific 26.6% K% and a stellar 4.8% BB%, but he’s running a .330 BABIP and a high 46.7% Hard Hit%. I keep mentioning this with Garrett, but if we take away his 11-run disaster against the Braves on May 3, he has only allowed 19 runs in 65.1 innings of work. He’s allowed four runs twice, but held the opposition to two or fewer runs in 10 of his 13 starts and one three-inning relief appearance.

That hard contact sticks out a bit to me, but he’s been able to work around it. I will say that recently, he’s faced the Reds, Giants, Rockies (at Coors), Padres, Royals, White Sox, and Nationals, so not many good offenses. The Pirates don’t really have a good offense either, though they are a borderline top-10 group against lefties.

I’ll look to fade Garrett in his next road start against a good offense. For now, I don’t have any interest in backing the Pirates or Keller with his current command hiccup.

Oakland Athletics at Cleveland Guardians (-170, 7.5)

It was imperative for Cleveland to take advantage of the weak part of the schedule over the next two weeks. So far, they’ve beaten the A’s twice, but it hasn’t been pretty with a couple of one-run decisions. We’ll see what happens on getaway day at Progressive Field with JP Sears and Logan Allen in the second of two games with all left-handed starters.

Sears is a guy that I like, but only at home. He has a 4.24 ERA with a 4.81 xERA and a 5.25 FIP because he has allowed 17 home runs in 76.1 innings pitched. He has a 72/16 K/BB ratio, which is terrific, and he’s running a .242 BABIP as an extreme fly ball guy, but he gives up a lot of home runs.

Not surprisingly, away from the pitcher-friendly confines of the Coliseum, Sears has a 5.23 ERA and a 5.31 FIP compared to a 3.09 ERA and a 5.13 FIP at home. He’s allowed nine of his 17 homers in his 41.1 innings on the road, but he’s also hit six batters and walked 11 guys to drive up his FIP. It will be humid in Cleveland, though not super hot, but the ball absolutely carries better in day games in The Land, so that’s a bad thing for Sears.

It may very well be a bad thing for Allen, too, as he comes in with a 3.95 ERA, 4.55 xERA, and a 3.81 FIP in his 54.2 innings of work. Allen has a 22% K% and a 7.9% BB%, which looks a lot better than his 3.13 BB/9, which is why I prefer BB% over BB/9. He has struggled in his last two starts, allowing five runs in each of them and 13 total hits over nine innings pitched.

I kind of saw this coming with Allen, who had 10 strikeouts against the Orioles, but has 10 strikeouts over his last three starts covering 67 batters faced. He’s been giving up more loud contact and also has allowed a homer in three straight games after allowing three homers in his first seven games.

I lean with the over here, as the ball should carry a bit better, but Cleveland is quite bad against lefties, so we’ll see if that evens it out.

Boston Red Sox at Minnesota Twins (-150, 9)

It was a struggle to get a push out of the Red Sox 1st 5 yesterday, as Garrett Whitlock’s pitch usage was beyond asinine. Against a Twins lineup that strikes out a ton, Whitlock still struck out six over seven innings, but he really didn’t use his sweeper much and that pitch probably would have allowed him to be more effective.

In any event, the Twins won a bullpen battle and can escape this series with a split today if they can win a matchup between Joe Ryan and the Red Sox bullpen. Boston will start 29-year-old Justin Garza, who has a 3.46 ERA with a 3.05 FIP in 12 appearances covering 13 innings. Garza is reportedly the opener in front of Brandon Walter, who has a 6.28 ERA with a 4.74 FIP in 61.2 innings of work at Triple-A Pawtucket. He allowed nine homers in 12 starts and one relief appearance with a .362 BABIP against and a 61.3% LOB%.

It will be his MLB debut and the minor league numbers aren’t terribly impressive, so I’m not sure this is an ideal spot for him or the Red Sox.

Ryan has a 3.30 ERA with a 2.44 xERA and a 2.96 FIP in his 84.2 innings of work. He’s struck out well over a batter per inning with an elite walk rate and a lot of good peripherals along with that. His 13.5% SwStr% is quite solid, but he has had a couple of tough outings recently. He gave up six runs on seven hits to the Tigers last time out and gave up five runs on four hits to the Astros back on May 30.

On the surface, -150 seems like a light price to pay on the Twins given the big edge with the pitching matchup, but Ryan hasn’t been quite as sharp recently. 

Kansas City Royals at Tampa Bay Rays (-365, 7.5)

The Royals start up a four-game series with the Rays, as Tampa finishes a quick stop at home before going out west again. It will be Shane McClanahan for the heavy home favorites and Jose Cuas as the opener for the Royals. The bulk options for KC today are Austin Cox and Brooks Kriske, so you can see why the Rays are such a huge favorite.

Cuas is opening for the first time, as he has a 4.15 ERA with a 5.27 xERA and a 4.33 FIP in his 30.1 innings of work this season. He’s got a big strikeout rate, but has also given up five homers in his relief work. Cox, who has made five appearances at the MLB level, has not allowed a run over 8.2 innings with nine strikeouts against three walks. He was a starter in Triple-A and had a 3.83 ERA, but a 6.80 FIP over 42.1 innings pitched. Kriske allowed a solo homer in his only MLB inning this season.

McClanahan has a 2.12 ERA with a 3.62 xERA and a 3.67 FIP over 89.1 innings of work. He does have some clear regression signs in the profile with a 91.7% LOB% and that big gap between his ERA and other metrics. Also, his K% is down about 3% from last season, though still elite at 27.2%. McClanahan only has 15 strikeouts over his last 19.2 innings pitched with 74 batters faced in that span, so that explains the K% decrease.

Also, he’s got a 39.8% Hard Hit% for the season, but a 45.6% mark over his last four starts. He’s faced the Padres, Rangers, Red Sox, and Cubs in that span, so all way better offenses than Kansas City, but he had his lowest fastball spin rate of the season last time out, a drop of 131 rpm from his previous start. He also had a velo drop and his lowest FB velo of the season with his first start under 96 mph.

The Rays are going to get a marginal reliever and a bunch of Triple-A arms today, so that should help their offensive profile. I’m also seeing some concerning signs with McClanahan, who has allowed 16 barrels in his last seven starts and a HH% of 44.5%. At least the Royals hit the ball hard and maybe that will bring some good fortunes their way.

Pick: Over 7.5 (-120)

Seattle Mariners (-115, 7.5) at New York Yankees

Bryan Woo and Domingo German start the series finale at Yankee Stadium, as New York looks for the sweep. I was on the right track to a degree about Luis Castillo, as he wasn’t very sharp over five innings yesterday, but the Mariners did absolutely nothing against Jhony Brito and the game fell woefully short of the over. Of course I happened to pick an over on a night when Giancarlo Stanton got the day off. It’s just been that kind of season. He’s struggling, but he’s a dangerous bat on a daily basis.

Woo comes into this start with a 7.30 ERA, but as you can see, he’s a road favorite in this one over German. Woo has a 2.60 xERA and a 3.68 FIP in 12.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 37.7% of opposing batters and has just a 3.8% BB% in 53 plate appearances, which is a 20/2 K/BB ratio. He allowed six runs on seven hits in his first start against the Rangers, but has allowed four runs on seven hits in his last 10.1 innings with 16 strikeouts.

German has a 4.30 ERA with a 4.55 xERA and a 4.64 FIP in his 69 innings pitched. He just gave up seven runs on seven hits to Boston last time out, but he was facing them for the second straight start and just didn’t have his best stuff. Prior to that big blow-up, German had a 3.49 ERA with a 4.38 FIP, so the regression signs in his profile came to fruition in that one.

Personally, I don’t think this is a great matchup for the Mariners. German has a decent K% at 23% and an 8.2% BB%. The Mariners didn’t strike out much against Brito, but didn’t walk yesterday either. This is just a poor offensive team this season for whatever reason. I can’t put my finger on it aside from the high K%. German can generate swings and misses at a high rate (13.5% SwStr%) and doesn’t really issue a lot of walks.

But, this line swung pretty heavily on influential money and I respect it. Woo has some terrific advanced stats and a great minor league track record, plus the Yankees offense is still pretty hit or miss on a nightly basis without Aaron Judge. Officially, no play from me. Let’s see if the line move was right.

Arizona Diamondbacks (-145, 9) at Washington Nationals

This is a one-off makeup game with Arizona taking on Washington, so that’s why it’s at the bottom of the board – it was unscheduled. The Nationals fly out for San Diego after this one, so they lose an off day in one of America’s best cities. It is a similarly bad travel situation for Arizona, as they’ll fly all the way to San Francisco after the game. Losing that travel day is a real bummer when staring at a flight in excess of five hours, but that’s the case here.

At least it’s an early game between Tommy Henry and Jake Irvin. I don’t have to dig deep into this handicap to tell you I hate it. Henry is left-handed and, while the Nationals have struggled offensively all month, it’s been the better split for them. Henry is also an extreme pitch-to-contact guy with a 4.66 ERA, 4.49 xERA, and a 5.60 FIP, so I have no interest in betting on him in really any situation.

Meanwhile, Irvin has a 5.25 ERA with a 5.38 xERA and a 5.39 FIP. He pitches to a ton of contact as well, but he also has a higher walk rate. This game is basically about which team is more invested. My guess would be Arizona since they have a division lead to uphold, but this is a dumpster fire of a true getaway day game and I hate how this was slotted in there for both teams.

TL;DR Recap

KC/TB Over 7.5 (-120)