MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Wednesday, April 12th

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MLB schedule today has 15 games

It is another full slate in the MLB world with all 30 teams in action, but we do have day games on Wednesday. Getaway days can be tricky handicaps sometimes because managers give players a day off or teams are halfway to the plane looking to head home or move on to the next city. You would hope that all players and teams are fully invested in the first month of the season, but you never quite know.

 

Top MLB Resources:

We have lots of good hitting weather around the league. I use Kevin Roth’s data at Rotogrinders for weather. Lots of wind blowing out and warmer conditions. This could be a good day to see the new rules and the alleged properties of the ball in action.

One quick note, follow me on Twitter, @SkatingTripods. I tweet out the article right as it gets posted. You can also bookmark my landing page for content here.

I got a late start with today’s card, so let’s dive right in. (Tracking sheet)

Catch a new episode of VSiN Daily Baseball Bets this afternoon.

Here are some thoughts on the April 12 card (odds from DraftKings):

San Diego Padres at New York Mets (-120, 9)

Blake Snell and Tylor Megill get us started in the National League with the rubber match between the Padres and Mets. San Diego won at a dog price last night behind Ryan Weathers and the bullpen after Max Scherzer pitched the Mets to victory on Monday. It bears mentioning that I find it a little weird to have Weathers ahead of Snell in the rotation because Snell is a five-and-fly guy that isn’t good at turning the lineup over for a third time. You really have to watch your bullpen usage on the day before his start.

Fortunately, the Padres pen is okay, though it did take Josh Hader 31 pitches to get the save yesterday, his third in five days. Nobody has worked back-to-back days and everybody should be available, but all three primary relievers were used in yesterday’s 4-2 win. Snell will need to be more efficient with his pitches and better with his command if the Friars hope to win again. He has allowed seven runs on 12 hits in eight innings of work with 11 strikeouts against five walks.

He had nine strikeouts in 4.1 innings against the Rockies, but struggled on the road against a Braves team that will hit lefties and was second in wOBA against southpaws last season. He gave up eight hard-hit balls and three barrels to the Braves in that outing after getting a little unlucky on batted balls against the Rockies. It’s a good early-season test for Snell to see how he bounces back.

For Megill, this is an opportunity to face a team other than the Marlins and we’ll see how that goes. Miami was averaging fewer than three runs per game before exploding for eight runs yesterday against Aaron Nola and the Phillies. Megill held them to two runs on nine hits over 11 innings with a 10/4 K/BB ratio. We’ll see what he brings to the table here against a different lineup. He has a 54.8% GB% through two starts in the early going. He’s only allowed 10 hard-hit balls, but he has allowed three barrels in two starts, which is an example of how important it is for him to keep the ball down.

No strong play one way or the other from me. I know that Snell had a solid 3.38 ERA and a 2.80 FIP last season, but I just have a hard time betting on him. He also had an outlier year in HR/FB% last season that I’m not sure I believe in.

St. Louis Cardinals (-175, 13.5) at Colorado Rockies

We’ve got our first total of 13 since August 18, 2021 and it features Jack Flaherty and Jose Urena. As you would expect, every total of 13 that we’ve seen has been at Coors Field. We actually went from May 12, 2005 to June 28, 2016 without one according to the KillerSports database. This is the Milwaukee Brewers at Arizona Diamondbacks (-125, 9.5)

With Brandon Woodruff on the 15-day IL, the Brewers turn to Janson Junk for the series finale against the Diamondbacks. Woody is dealing with some shoulder inflammation and we’ll see how long that keeps him out of action. Junk is 27 years old with 24.2 MLB innings to his name. It has to be an upgrade going from the Angels organization to the Brewers organization for a pitcher, so we’ll see how Junk does over the course of the season.

For now, he has two appearances over 10 innings in Triple-A with one run allowed on five hits and a 7/3 K/BB ratio. He went five innings in both appearances and didn’t showcase a whole lot of swing and miss, but is said to have more movement on his slider after his first Spring Training with Milwaukee. He has a 4.74 ERA and a 5.22 FIP in his limited MLB sample size.

For a guy like Junk, this start really comes down to batted ball luck. He doesn’t generate a lot of whiffs and the Diamondbacks don’t strike out much. Also, the good control he has exhibited in the minor leagues isn’t quite as important here because Arizona is an aggressive lineup with one of the lowest walk rates in the league. He’ll have to locate well and also get some help from the BABIP gods.

The Diamondbacks are sending out a higher-upside prospect in Drey Jameson, who was in the mix to make the starting rotation, but got sent to the bullpen instead. Jameson appeared in three games over 8.1 innings with two runs allowed on five hits. He struck out, but walked five. I’m sure he’ll be on a pitch count here. He threw 66 pitches in his first outing against the Dodgers, but 38 against the Padres and then 26 against the Dodgers. He has only thrown 75 strikes in 130 pitches, so he is a guy that can pitch behind in the count and will issue some walks. Usually shaky control guys do get moved to the pen.

Jameson was just kind of a numbers casualty because the D-Backs are paying starting pitchers like Davies and Bumgarner, but they’d have made a spot for him if they felt they had to.

Tough handicap here with two starts unlikely to work deep into the game. This will be a bullpen battle.

Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies (-190, 8.5)

Big number here with Edward Cabrera for the Fish and Zack Wheeler for the Phillies. Cabrera’s two starts against the Mets were really something. They were Jack Flaherty-esque. Cabrera walked 13 batters over 6.2 innings, but only allowed four runs on two hits with six strikeouts. He didn’t allow a hit in 2.2 innings in his April 7 start, but seven walks led to two runs. High walk rates have followed Cabrera around in the upper minors and the Major Leagues and that has obviously been the case so far this season.

Let’s see if Wheeler can dominate a lackluster lineup. Wheeler has allowed seven runs (six earned) on 12 hits in 9.2 innings of work. He’s had some control hiccups with four walks in the early going, but also has 12 strikeouts and a Hard Hit% of 35.7%. He gave up a good bit of hard contact against Texas in his first start, but got back on track against the Reds in his second.

The number looks pretty fair here. I think the totals in Philly have been rather interesting in this series. We had the Alcantara/Strahm total of 8 in Game 1, the Luzardo/Nola total that touched 8 in Game 2, and now an 8.5 here in a Wheeler start against a bad offense. I talked about this yesterday during my Sharp Money appearance, but bettors and books have adjusted to the higher-scoring environment.

Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves (-275, 7.5)

Another high number here and one of the highest of the season with Hunter Greene against Spencer Strider. It is certainly deserved, as Strider owns a 2.67 ERA with a 2.05 FIP in his 145 career MLB innings. He’s off to a decent start this season with 18 strikeouts in 11 innings. He’s walked six and allowed three runs on seven hits in starts against the Nationals and Padres. Aside from the swing and miss, he’s had some control and command issues, as he has a Hard Hit% against of 47.6%. But, this is why strikeouts are the great equalizer. He’s running an 86.2% LOB% because he has the ability to end innings with punchouts.

Greene has worked eight innings across two starts with 13 strikeouts against six walks. He does induce a lot of swing and miss, which plays well against the Braves, but he also has a bit of a home run problem if guys can time up his fastball. That does not play well against the Braves. Greene has allowed a 47.6% Hard Hit% in the early going in starts against the Pirates and Phillies.

There just isn’t a whole lot of value in a game like this. Even if Greene can go toe-to-toe with Strider, it probably won’t be for very long and the Reds bullpen is pretty scary to support.

Los Angeles Dodgers (-155, 7.5) at San Francisco Giants

We’ve got a pretty good breeze blowing out to RF at Oracle Park tonight, but it will be a cool night with temps in the mid-50s and this is a ballpark designed not to let wind have too much of an impact. As you can see, the total is just 7.5, even though breezes could kick up to 20 mph later in the game. Compare weather at certain ballparks with how the totals are being treated and you can see how the markets approach those venues.

Clayton Kershaw takes the bump for the Dodgers here. He’s made two starts against Arizona and allowed five runs on 11 hits in 12 innings with 13 strikeouts against just two walks. He’s allowed three homers in those two starts and a 40.6% Hard Hit%, but he’s done a good job of keeping the ball on the ground beyond those long balls. 

The Giants are 19th in PA against left-handed pitching with 96. In those plate appearances, they’ve batted .193 with a 38.5% K%. They only have a .260 OBP and a .273 SLG. The sample size is too small to definitively say that this will be a team with huge platoon issues against lefties, but a lot of their early-season contributors are left-handed, so it will be something I closely monitor going forward. We did have success backing Julio Urias against them on Monday.

Alex Cobb gets the call for the Gigantes here as he looks to build off of two pretty strong seasons in 2021 and 2022. Health is always the worry with him, but he’s looked good in two starts this season. He only went 3.2 innings against the Yankees on April 1, but only allowed one earned run on four hits with six strikeouts out of 17 batters. He went seven strong against the Royals with two runs on seven hits and six more punchies.

Cobb has allowed a 48.4% Hard Hit% thus far and four barrels in just 31 batted ball events after allowing just 16 total barrels in 434 BBE last season. I figured the hard-hit rate would’ve been a thing against the Yankees, but it was actually against the Royals, who had three barrels and 11 hard-hit balls in 21 BBE. I’m a little concerned with what that implies about his location and early-season command.

That said, his spin rates are up this season and I feel like maybe he’s just adjusting to a little extra movement on his pitches. I’m not concerned enough to bet against him. I think this game is also lined pretty accurately and I don’t see an edge on the total. There could be a lot of ground balls, but both guys are allowing some hard contact, so it’s a stay-away for me.

New York Yankees (-115, 9.5) at Cleveland Guardians

The rubber match of this series is a day game on a 70-degree day in Cleveland with a wind blowing out to RF, which is part of the reason why we see a total of 9.5. The other part is because the Yankees are sending out Clarke Schmidt and the Guardians are sending out Peyton Battenfield for his MLB debut. I was really hoping for Tanner Bibee, but I don’t have any pull in the Guardians front office.

The 25-year-old Battenfield had a 3.63 ERA in 153.2 innings with the Guardians’ Triple-A affiliate in Columbus, but it came with a 4.68 FIP and a 5.27 xFIP. He didn’t miss a whole lot of bats in Triple-A, which was something he did in the lower minors. I understand why Cleveland likes Battenfield. He was drafted by the Astros, then acquired by the Rays. Now he’s with the Guardians. Those are three of the smartest pitching organizations in baseball, so he’s been a targeted player in trades by three sharp teams. There has to be something to like there.

He’s 6-foot-4 with five different pitches that grade as average or slightly better. He doesn’t really have a high ceiling per the scouting reports, but there’s some deception there because you never quite know which pitch is coming. On the other hand, to be really effective, you have to be able to command several pitches per start and that’s where it can get tricky. One thing that worries me here is that he allowed a 50.2% Pull% in Triple-A last season. He was fortunate to have a 9% HR/FB% with that kind of stat.

The raw stuff for Schmidt is really good, but he needs it all to come together. Badly. He’s given up seven runs on 10 hits in 6.2 innings so far against the Giants and Orioles. He’s allowed an obscene amount of hard contact with an average exit velocity of 97.4 mph and a 73.9% Hard Hit%. The Guardians aren’t really known for hitting the ball hard or with authority, so this is an important matchup for their lineup because he has not commanded the ball well.

This game could go any number of ways. I could also see both bullpens at work early. I think a 1st 5 Over is sort of intriguing, but the article isn’t really out with enough lead time to call that a play. That’s unfair.

Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins (-155, 8.5)

It feels like a month ago that I picked against Sonny Gray because of his decreased spin rates in his first start against the Royals. Gray walked four and allowed a ton of hard-hit contact in that start and was very fortunate to escape with five shutout innings. Well, I overreacted to one start because he struck out 13 Astros over seven outstanding innings in his second start. The Astros still got the game to extras, but lost 3-2.

It must have just been some sort of mechanical issue for Gray (or maybe a tracking issue?!) because his curveball spin rate was up 339 rpm from his first start to his second. Everything was up in spin rate and a whole lot crisper. Who knows what the issue was, but I definitely missed something. He racked up a bunch of whiffs with his curveball and slider, which were his two primary pitches against Houston.

I presume we’ll see a pretty similar arsenal out of Gray here against the White Sox and that leads me to believe he’ll have some more success. The Twins have also done an outstanding job of racking up strikeouts as a pitching staff in general this season. As a team, they’ve struck out 31% of opposing batters while running just a 6.6% BB%. That’s unbelievably good.

Lucas Giolito pitched pretty well in his first start against the Astros, but then allowed seven runs on 12 hits over four innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates the next time out. Giolito gave up 10 hard-hit balls and four barrels in that start against the Buccos and looked like a completely different pitcher. His curveball spin rate was down quite a bit and he threw way too many middle-middle changeups. He gave up both homers on the changeup. He gave up five homers on the changeup all of last season.

Carlos Correa remains out of the Twins lineup, so that’s a situation to watch with several MLB-caliber players already on the IL.

No bet here with the early start. I’m sure there will be some player prop action on Gray, though.

Oakland Athletics at Baltimore Orioles (-180, 9)

Now we get into some night games in the AL. This one features Ken Waldichuk and Dean Kremer as the Orioles draw another lefty. This will be the fourth straight lefty that they’ve faced and they rank second in baseball in wOBA against LHP at .392. They trail only the Angels in wOBA and wRC+ against southpaws. 

Based on what we’ve seen from Waldichuk so far, it should be another chance for the O’s to have success. He has allowed 14 runs on 17 hits in 8.2 innings and has given up seven home runs out of just 47 batters. He’s struck out seven and walked four against the Angels and Rays. So, he’s been battered in two pitcher’s parks as well, which is not an encouraging sign going forward.

He’s given up five barrels, but only seven hard-hit balls outside of those. Still, it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t have consistent command. I watched him against the Guardians in a Spring Training start last month and he gave up a couple of screaming home runs around some bright spots. His velo is down 1.5 mph from last season. His SwStr% is down. His Zone% is down. He’s pitching behind in the count too much and doesn’t have the stuff to overcome it. It’s possible there’s an underlying injury here with decreased velo, command, and a drop in his sweeper spin rate. He’s got a low-rpm curveball, which isn’t really a useful pitch either.

Kremer has to be excited to face somebody outside of the AL East here. Kremer has allowed nine runs on 11 hits in eight innings of work with three homers allowed and just seven strikeouts against four walks. The Red Sox squared him up in his first start with seven hard-hit balls and three barrels. The Yankees didn’t have as much hard contact, but had a big three-run homer for Franchy Cordero in the fourth to put a big dent in Kremer’s day.

I spent some time this morning looking for ways to fade Waldichuk. The Orioles run line for the 1st 5 made the most sense, bringing the Orioles to -125 at -0.5 runs. Baltimore has really been pounding lefties, as guys like Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays are off to nice starts in that split. Mountcastle and Adley Rutschman are hitting well in general.

Kremer is a guy who pitched to a .273 wOBA against at home last season with a 2.84 ERA and a .239/.293/.317 slash against. He wasn’t quite as successful on the road. He’s in the friendly confines here and his offense should give him plenty of run support.

Pick: Orioles 1st 5 Run Line (-0.5) (-125)

Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays (-130, 8.5)

My sneaking suspicion and gut intuition were dead wrong about the Rays yesterday, as they rolled over the Red Sox once again to improve to 11-0. We’ll see if they can keep the streak going today with veteran left-hander Chris Sale on the bump for Boston. Taj Bradley will make his MLB debut for the Rays.

Bradley was ranked as the No. 37 prospect in baseball per FanGraphs entering the season, so he’s just another in a long list of Rays’ developmental wins. The 22-year-old was ranked as the second-best Rays prospect behind OF Curtis Mead. Bradley throws mid-to-upper 90s cheddar with a good slider. It seems like the Rays are working hard with him on a splitter or changeup and I’m sure we’ll see it flash tonight.

Bradley allowed three runs on four hits in two innings in his first 2023 start at Triple-A, but threw five innings of one-run ball in the next one. He allowed 10 home runs in 59 innings at Triple-A last season after mowing through Double-A hitters with video game numbers in 74.1 frames. I don’t know how he’ll do here as a guy that has a little bit of a shallow arsenal but has been able to overpower minor leaguers. Big leaguers are a bit better than that and a lot of Triple-A guys are either top prospects or have some MLB experience. The fact that Bradley has struggled there is a tad concerning at the start of his MLB career.

I watched Sale’s last start against the Tigers very closely because he had a noticeable velocity drop in the middle innings and his spin rate was down significantly. He was awful against the Orioles in his first start of 2023 with seven runs allowed on seven hits. He still struck out seven Tigers in five innings last time out, but the stuff wasn’t terribly explosive and the under-the-hood numbers were not pretty.

The Rays are at a pretty cheap price here given how Sale has looked, but I have enough concerns about Bradley to stay away. Nevertheless, this is a start to watch Sale closely because he may simply be done. Another bad start here and I’ll be looking to fade him pretty regularly moving forward. Just because the stat line looked passable doesn’t mean he looked good against Detroit.

I gave some thought to the Over or the 1st 5 Over here, but you don’t get a lot of 8.5 totals at Tropicana Field. We only had four totals of 8.5 at the Trop last season and they were all in April. This will be the second one this season.

Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays (-275, 8.5)

Eduardo Rodriguez and Kevin Gausman couldn’t have liked what they saw yesterday at Rogers Centre. Six home runs were hit in the new-look venue and Kevin Kiermaier robbed another one. Five of the homers were hit by the Blue Jays, who won 9-3, but it was a 4-3 game in the eighth.

Gausman had a pretty big spin rate decrease from one start to the next. He gave up three unearned runs on eight hits against the Cardinals and his spin rates looked okay, but he saw some noticeable decreases over six shutout innings against the Royals in his second outing. His splitter spin rate is up from 2022 to 2023, but his four-seam fastball and slider are down rather significant. The slider especially, though that isn’t really a go-to pitch for him. He only threw it 14.4% of the time last season and has thrown it 7.4% of the time this season.

I’m not sure what all it means. I overreacted to Gray’s spin rate decrease and it was either a mechanical or tracking issue that didn’t ultimately mean much for him. Gausman was dominant against the Royals despite the decreases and also really limited hard contact nicely. It may have just been an outlier. I guess we’ll see as he heads home to the hitter’s haven that is Rogers Centre, but at least he faces a really bad lineup in the process.

I’m rooting hard for Rodriguez, who is off to a rough start this season. He missed a good chunk of time last year dealing with a personal issue and drew the ire of Tigers fans after being one of their big free agent moves. Given that the Javier Baez move looks to be a flop, it would be nice to see E-Rod figure it out again. If his start to 2023 is any indication, it doesn’t look good. He’s allowed seven runs on nine hits with three homers, four walks, and six strikeouts.

Rodriguez has faced the Astros and the Rays, so take the numbers with a grain of salt. He also runs into the Blue Jays now. This is a good talking point because he’s eventually going to face lineups that aren’t as good and he may be mispriced in the market because of his bad numbers. A lot of bettors just look at an ERA and FIP and say a guy isn’t pitching well, but context matters. Pitching well against the Tigers and road Rockies is different than pitching well against the Astros and Braves. The inverse is also true.

I thought a bit about the Over 8.5 here, but I’m not sure how much help the Tigers would have to give me. Yesterday’s game was trending under until the Tigers threw a random reliever out there for a second inning of work and he gave up a five-spot.

Kansas City Royals at Texas Rangers (-165, 9)

Brad Keller and Nate Eovaldi are the slated starters in Texas for this one. The Royals had a chance to beat Jacob deGrom in a big underdog role with Jordan Lyles yesterday, but Scott Barlow blew up in the 10th after being staked to a 5-4 lead. The Royals had 20 at bats with RISP yesterday, but only mustered four hits. They’re getting on base and getting chances. I talked about that yesterday on my podcast, but they are the worst team with RISP from a batting average standpoint.

We’ll see how many chances they get against Eovaldi, who has allowed five runs on 11 hits in 10.2 innings of work. He’s struck out 12, only walked three, and allowed a 50% Hard Hit% to the Phillies and Cubs. Eovaldi’s velocity looks fine and he’s throwing more cutters and splitters this season than usual, which appears to be Texas’s big adjustment with him. To this point, Eovaldi isn’t getting many chases outside the zone and it has lowered his Whiff%, but he’s still racked up some strikeouts.

If not for a 64.3% LOB%, Eovaldi’s 4.22 ERA would look a lot better. That said, the .393 BABIP against is definitely some of his own doing because of the hard contact he has allowed.

Keller has allowed three runs on eight hits in 10.1 innings of work. He’s running a 63% GB% and has had good batted ball luck to stand runners, as he’s walked seven against just nine strikeouts. He’s faced the Twins and Giants to this point and allowed a 51.9% Hard Hit%. Keller is not a guy that I’m buying any stock in for this season.

Corey Seager left yesterday’s game with a hamstring issue for the Rangers, which explains why this line has moved down a bit on the Royals side. We’ve seen about a 10-15 cent move on Kansas City, likely a speculation bet that Seager may not be in the lineup today (it didn’t look great). That was the only explanation since Keller is a tomato can and the Royals have been established as one of the league’s “bet against” teams this season.

I thought about laying the big Eovaldi number or playing a 1st 5 something, but the Royals’ numbers with RISP are hanging in the back of my mind. It sure feels like they’re going to have a breakout game at some point.

Seattle Mariners (-115, 11) at Chicago Cubs

I’m skipping the Astros/Pirates game in hopes of getting this out with a few minutes for readers on the 1 p.m. ET games. Logan Gilbert is a guy that I love and the Mariners are definitely underperforming so far, but this type of weather in Chicago is not ideal for a guy like Gilbert. It is 80 degrees today in the Windy City with a breeze blowing straight out to CF.

Though he’s induced a lot of ground balls this season, Gilbert has typically been a fly ball guy in his career. He’s allowed four runs on 10 hits in two starts against Cleveland with a 13/3 K/BB ratio, but one came at home and one came on a cool day in The Land. This is a different animal from a weather standpoint and it could be a really scary one for M’s fans and backers. Gilbert also throws a high rate of fastballs. I’d rather see a deeper pitch mix on a weather day like this.

That being said, I’m not eager to count out the Mariners here. Marcus Stroman has been great in two starts and his ground ball-heavy approach should fit the weather better. However, Stroman has only allowed five hits in 46 batters and has stranded all of his baserunners. There is some negative regression built into his profile already and he’ll be a guy that I’m looking to start picking against if that trend continues. Maybe the stuff is just a lot livelier and he does have 14 K in 12 IP, but he’s never really been a big K% guy.

I have lingering concerns about the Seattle pen, which had another rough day yesterday. Neither starter worked deep into the game, so both bullpens got a workout. This is a really high variance game I think. Normally, I’d really prioritize Gilbert over Stroman, but not with today’s weather.

Washington Nationals at Los Angeles Angels (-165, 9)

The Nationals will send MacKenzie Gore to the bump against the league’s top lineup against left-handed pitching in this afternoon game at The Big A. The Angels will counter with Griffin Canning, who makes his first MLB start since July 2, 2021. Canning has battled a myriad of injuries after being a pretty promising prospect once upon a time. He had a 5.60 ERA and a 5.48 FIP in 2021 the last time we saw him.

He missed all of 2022 and threw one five-inning start at Triple-A before getting the call up this season. Canning struck out 10 over five innings in that start, so he threw the ball well, but what we get out of him is truly anybody’s guess. I will say that the Nationals profile way better against lefties than righties, as they are eighth in wOBA against LHP and 28th against RHP (29th in wRC+). Canning is right-handed, so that should help the Angels hurler here.

Gore has only allowed three runs on eight hits in 11.1 innings of work with a couple of tough assignments. He stared down the Braves in his first start and then pitched at Coors Field in his second one. He got away with a lot of hard contact at Coors, but actually threw the ball really well and kept the Braves off-balance in that first start.

With a getaway day to finish a long road trip in the midst of what will be a bad year, I&r