MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Wednesday, May 3rd

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MLB schedule today has 16 games

Sixteen games are on the schedule for Wednesday, as the Mets will play their second doubleheader in four days following a rainout last night in Detroit. Game 1 is one of three really early starts for the Hump Day card, with Brandon Pfaadt’s debut for the Diamondbacks serving as another one. We do still have a lot of night games on the board, so there will be plenty to talk about. (Tracking sheet)

 

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With a meeting at 11 and a podcast to record, let’s get right to the action.

Check out a new edition of said podcast, VSiN Daily Baseball Bets, this afternoon.

Here are some thoughts on the May 3 card (odds from DraftKings):

Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers (-110, 9)

Pfaadt’s debut isn’t the only one today. The Dodgers will send out Gavin Stone in today’s matinee against the Phillies. Stone has put up some outstanding numbers in the minor leagues since joining pro ball in 2021 after getting picked in the shortened 2020 draft. He’s been a little shakier this season with 13 runs allowed on 19 hits in 24.2 innings and the biggest thing has been a high walk rate with 12 free passes in six starts.

Stone, a Central Arkansas product, has a 2.69 ERA with a 333/81 K/BB ratio in the minor leagues over 237.1 innings of work. He’s only allowed 13 homers across 53 starts and two relief appearances. He came into the season as the 59th-ranked prospect per FanGraphs as a 6-foot-1, 175-pound right-hander who sits in the 93-95 range with a deep pitch mix and a really good changeup. It will be interesting to see how he and today’s other debutants fare at the big league level.

Stone hasn’t faced more than 19 batters in a start this season, so expect him to top out somewhere around five innings. It should be a different story for Aaron Nola, a proven workhorse at the MLB level. He’s averaging over six innings per start this season and has settled in a bit after a few rocky outings to begin the 2023 campaign. He’s allowed six earned runs over his last 21 innings of work. He still only has 28 strikeouts in 36.1 innings, which is a concern for a guy who usually has at least a strikeout per inning. However, his Hard Hit% sits at 30.6%, so he’s doing a really good job of limiting loud contact.

The line seems pretty reasonable here, but I can appreciate anybody who trusts Nola at a pick ‘em price against a minor leaguer in his debut.

Cincinnati Reds at San Diego Padres (-255, 8.5)

The Reds saved us from complete disaster with a card that I really liked yesterday. They eked out a 2-1 win in extras as the bullpen really did some solid work in support of Graham Ashcraft. They’re a major underdog today with Luis Cessa on the hill and it’s pretty easy to see why. Cesssa has had sporadic success as a reliever, but he sure as hell ain’t a starter.

In five starts this season, he has allowed 23 runs on 39 hits. To be fair, he allowed 11 of those runs in one start, but he still only has nine strikeouts out of 111 batters. He’s allowing a .404 BABIP and has a 58% LOB%, so there are some positive regression signs just because nobody has ever run a .404 BABIP or a 58% LOB% over the course of an entire season, but I also can’t see him lasting long enough in the rotation for that to come to fruition. He’s earned most of that .404 BABIP with a 47.8% Hard Hit%.

Based on Cessa’s performance, the only question here is whether or not the over is worth a bet. Seth Lugo has allowed 11 runs on 30 hits in 27.2 innings, as he’s fared well being a starter for the first time since 2017. Lugo is killing a lot of worms with a 53.6% GB% and has just under a strikeout per inning with a strong walk rate. He has allowed a 45.2% Hard Hit% and actually a higher Barrel% than Cessa at 8.3%, but I don’t see a lot of reasons to expect the Reds to hit him hard.

An easy pass in this one, but I will note that Lugo has allowed nine runs on 21 hits in his last 14.2 innings. Against a better lineup, I’d be more inclined to fade him. The repetition of starting and the arsenal depth it takes is a big change for a guy who has been a full-time reliever for a while.

Atlanta Braves (-135, 8.5) at Miami Marlins

Sandy Alcantara was better yesterday, but still not super sharp and the Marlins failed to do much of anything against Bryce Elder. Elder is emerging as a pretty big regression candidate, so we’ll have to keep that in mind moving forward.

Todays game features left-hander Braxton Garrett for the Marlins and Kyle Wright for the Braves. Garrett has been quite good for the Fish this season with a 2.45 ERA and a 2.78 FIP in his four starts and one relief appearance. He faced 10 Braves last time out over three innings and just allowed one hit with three strikeouts before a rain delay knocked both starters out of the equation. Garrett has allowed just six runs on 25 hits in 22 innings and has a 54.3% GB%. Avoiding walks and getting a lot of grounders make for a good pitching strategy.

Garrett has allowed 22 hard-hit balls in his last three starts across 41 batted ball events. Hard ground balls are less hurtful than hard fly balls and line drives and he’s already dealing with a .348 BABIP against while still posting quality numbers. It’s just tough to take any lefty against Atlanta with what they’re able to do in that split. The Braves come into this game third in wOBA at .363 and are even more dangerous when facing a guy who doesn’t rack up a lot of strikeouts.

Wright is still easing his way into the season a bit after getting a late start due to some Spring Training discomfort. He has a 4.86 ERA with a 4.87 FIP in 16.2 innings of work. He walked seven batters over his first 8.2 innings, but has only walked two in his last two starts, which is important for him because the command profile can be a little bit iffy at times. He’s allowed a lot of hard contact in his last three starts, with 22 hard-hit balls in his last 41 batted ball events.

It looked like maybe he had figured some things out with six strikeouts in three innings during that rain-shortened start against the Marlins, though the batted balls he did allow were well-struck. His GB% this season is 64% after posting a 55.6% mark last season when he had a 3.19 ERA with a 3.58 FIP.

I gave some thought to Over 8 here, but the heavy ground ball nature of these two guys would force the teams to not only string hits together, but also get them in high-leverage spots. The total did move up to 8.5 while I was writing.

Chicago Cubs (-195, 8) at Washington Nationals

Another debutant is on the bump in this game as the Nationals will send right-hander Jake Irvin to the hill. The 6-foot-6, 227-pound 26-year-old has not fared well in the upper minors after pitching very well against A-ball hitters. He missed all of the 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery and returned for 103.1 innings in 2022. He was really good against High-A batters, but stepped up to Double-A and posted a 4.79 ERA with a 3.99 FIP.

What seems most concerning is that he has allowed 14 runs on 23 hits in 22.1 innings at Triple-A this season. He’s struck out 20 and walked 11, including six over his last two starts. None of his starts meet the bare bones definition of a “quality start”, as he’s only recorded an out past the fifth inning one time.

How’s this for a crazy stat? Irvin is the only player on the active roster to have been drafted by the Nationals.

Marcus Stroman gets the call for the Cubbies and he’s a pretty clear-cut regression candidate. Stro has a 2.29 ERA with a 3.79 FIP in his 35.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 33 and walked 13 over six starts with nine runs allowed on 24 hits. The Cubs have certainly upgraded on defense, but Stroman is running a .236 BABIP with a 59.8% GB%.

Since 2015, there have been 20 pitching seasons with a GB% of 59% or higher (min. 100 innings). The lowest BABIP in that span is .256, which belonged to Dallas Keuchel of the Astros back in 2017. There have only been three seasons with a BABIP under .260 and another three seasons with a BABIP under .270. We saw some regression hit two starts ago against the Dodgers with the only three homers Stroman has allowed and five runs on six hits.

He’s given up a good bit of hard contact lately. The question is whether or not I can trust the Washington lineup against a righty enough to take an over here. They rank 28th in wOBA against righties. The Cubbies are a top-10 offense against righties and Irvin looks like a guy that could struggle.

I think I’ll look for a better spot to fade Stroman.

Milwaukee Brewers (-120, 12) at Colorado Rockies

I’ve been part of a 1-0 game at Coors Field already this season with an over and then got to watch the Brewers get shut out for five innings with a 1st 5 play against a guy with a career 6.66 ERA at Coors Field. Betting on baseball will drive you crazy sometimes and the Brewers/Rockies game was one of those times yesterday.

Kyle Freeland and Eric Lauer are today’s starters, which is of particular interest when it comes to the Brewers. Freeland has not pitched well at all of late, allowing 16 runs in his last 14.2 innings of work, but he’s left-handed. The Brewers have been among the league’s worst offenses against southpaws, coming into this game 29th in wOBA at .279 and 29th in wRC+ at 72.

The only team worse by wRC+ against lefties is the Rockies, who are 25th in wOBA at .288. They, too, draw a southpaw here in Lauer, who is on a few extra days rest after leaving his last start early with a torn nail. The nail was clearly an issue against the Tigers, as he allowed four runs on eight hits in just three innings and had allowed a 61.5% Hard Hit%. Of course, he hasn’t located well most of the season and has seen a huge drop in velocity. He has allowed a 48.1% Hard Hit% for the season and an 11.4% Barrel%.

He’s earned every bit of his 5.19 ERA and 5.75 FIP, even though he’s only had two really bad starts. He’s danced with the devil a few times and lived to tell the tale, but let’s see if he can do the same here in a start at Coors Field.

Freeland still has regression signs in his profile with a 4.32 ERA and a 5.56 FIP. All seven homers have come in his last four starts after starting the season with 12.2 scoreless innings. This is such a frustrating handicap because both lineups are unequivocally terrible against lefties. But, these are also two lefties that look ripe for a beating. I’m just not sure which way it comes or if it does.

Cleveland Guardians (-125, 7.5) at New York Yankees

Tanner Bibee has seen his velocity disappear at the tail end of each of his last two starts and got rattled by two close pitches that missed followed by a comebacker off of his glove hand and then James Karinchak added lighter fluid to the fire in yesterday’s 3-2 win for the Yankees. Both games have fallen 3-2 in this series and have not seen many runs in the early going. New York led 2-0 going into the ninth on Monday.

Are we in for another low-scoring affair here? It will be Shane Bieber on the bump for Cleveland and Clarke Schmidt for New York. The stats look good for Bieber, but the eye test says something entirely different. He’s only struck out four batters in each of his last four starts against the Yankees, Nationals, Marlins, and Red Sox. He’s got a 3.11 ERA with a 3.63 FIP because he’s only allowed two homers, but he has a 26/11 K/BB ratio in 37.2 innings, which is very un-Bieber-like. 

Bieber is also allowing a ton of loud contact. He’s had a Hard Hit% of 50% or higher in five of his six starts and has a 48.2% Hard Hit% overall. The only start he didn’t allow hard contact in came against the A’s and, well, they’re pathetic. Bieber has been a huge benefactor of Cluster Luck, a phenomenon that Joe Peta covered well in his book Trading Bases. Bieber has allowed a .257/.337/.446 slash and a .343 wOBA with the bases empty, but opposing batters haven’t taken advantage.

In 69 plate appearances with men on base, the opposition is batting .200/.232/.277 with a .225 wOBA. In 49 PA with RISP, they’re batting .178/.224/.244 with a .212 wOBA. His BABIP by split goes .288, .245, .222. Bieber has a 10.8% BB% from the windup with the bases empty, but has somehow locked down with men on base.

He’s also had major issues the first time through the order, as the opposition is batting .347/.407/.490 with a .393 wOBA. For his career, Bieber has allowed a .232/.279/.356 slash with a .276 wOBA in that split. So, I genuinely don’t know what’s going on with him and why the splits are so erratic. Once he gets through the order the first time, he’s allowed a .232 wOBA the second time and a .238 wOBA the third time.

Meanwhile, every start is a struggle for Schmidt. The raw stuff looks so good and he throws pretty hard, but he’s posted a 6.84 ERA with a 5.53 FIP. He’s given up seven homers in 25 innings. He’s also struck out 32 dudes. But, when hitters make contact, they’ve done ample damage with a 53.8% Hard Hit% and a 15.4% Barrel%. What makes this tricky is that Cleveland doesn’t hit for power and doesn’t hit the ball particularly hard, but the Guardians also don’t strike out much. Schmidt has struck out 32 of 119 batters, but 42 of the 87 batters he hasn’t struck out have reached base.

I’m going to take my chances on Over 7.5 here. Bieber will have a reckoning at some point and Schmidt’s command profile is simply not very good. Going oppo is usually a good strategy against Bieber and the Yankees have plenty of guys accustomed to going that way to the short porch in RF. 

Bieber ranks in the 4th percentile in average exit velo, 14th in Hard Hit%, 18th in xBA, 18th in K%, 22nd in Whiff%, and has those Cluster Luck splits. Schmidt ranks 4th percentile in average exit velo, 3rd percentile in Hard Hit%, 11th percentile in xBA, and 10th percentile in xSLG. If these two guys can dodge all of that, so be it.

Pick: Over 7.5 (-115)

Toronto Blue Jays (-140, 9.5) at Boston Red Sox

Nick Pivetta has only had one game against an AL East opponent so far this season and fired five shutout innings against the Rays. Since then, he has allowed 13 runs on 17 hits in his last 14.2 innings of work. For the season, he’s allowed an average exit velocity of 92.9 mph and has a 5.11 ERA with a 5.31 FIP. With a 53.6% Hard Hit%, he’s extremely lucky to only have a .281 BABIP against.

I’m not big on team vs. pitcher or batter vs. pitcher stats. The sample sizes aren’t big enough to be significant and teams change personnel. That being said, in starts last season against the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rays, Pivetta allowed 53 runs on 74 hits in 63 innings of work. In four starts against the Blue Jays, he allowed 13 runs on 21 hits with a 17/14 K/BB ratio in 19.2 innings. He was lucky it wasn’t worse. The Yankees actually hit 10 homers off of him, while the Rays and Jays only hit three each.

So, that will be a major talking point for this game, especially because he goes into this start on a low note with some bad recent outings. On the flip side, it looks like Alek Manoah may be sort of figuring things out a little bit. Maybe. After allowing 15 runs in his first four starts, including seven shutout innings against the Royals, Manoah has allowed two runs on eight hits in his last 12 innings.

He still walked four against the Mariners, but had a season-high seven strikeouts in five innings. What Manoah did last season has been nowhere to be found this season. He was a regression candidate and a lot of smart people pegged him for that, but his K% is down 3.6%, his BB% is more than double last year’s output, and his Hard Hit% is up 10%. He hasn’t had command or control this season.

Lefties and righties have both punished Manoah pretty equally, but the lefties in this Red Sox lineup are the guys to look out for and he’s issued 12 walks and allowed 16 hits to those guys.

We also have some bullpen concerns here. Kenley Jansen has missed three straight with injury, while John Schreiber, Josh Winckowski, Richard Bleier, and Brennan Bernardino have all worked three times in the last four days. Given Pivetta’s command concerns, I’m not sure he’s long for this game and that will put a tired pen into play.

The Blue Jays pen isn’t in as dire of shape, but they’ve also been really ineffective the last three days. Both games in this series have gotten to double digits and Boston has actually been the best offense in baseball over the last two weeks and we know that Toronto draws a favorable matchup.

Pick: Over 9.5 (-105)

Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox (-125, 7.5)

I’m going to pretend like yesterday’s Twins game never happened because they failed to do anything of consequence against Michael Kopech. They had one hit. They drew five walks, but they had one hit against a guy with an ERA north of 7. Joe Ryan did his part for us, but Jorge Lopez blew the game immediately in the seventh and the Twins mustered very little on offense all game long.

Let’s see what they do today against Dylan Cease, who hasn’t really looked like the guy we saw last season. Cease has a 4.15 ERA with a 4.09 FIP in his 30.1 innings of work. He’s given up five unearned runs this season as well. He’s struck out 37 and walked 15 in six starts, plus he’s allowed a 50.6% Hard Hit%. He’s honestly lucky to have the strikeout rate in his back pocket to prevent giving up even more runs. That being said, 18 of his 37 strikeouts came over his first 11.1 innings of the season. 

I don’t see any clear-cut signs of injury, though his fastball velocity is down 1.4 mph from where it was last season. Even with decreased velo, the pitch still has a higher spin rate than last season. He has had a big drop in vertical release point, particularly on his slider, which does stand out as a red flag to me, but he may just be fighting with his mechanics more than anything.

I’m not eager enough to fade Cease that I’ll back Louie Varland, who is back up after throwing six innings with eight strikeouts against the Yankees back on April 14. Since going back down, Varland has allowed six runs on 11 hits in two starts across 10 innings. He does have 25 strikeouts out of 62 batters in Triple-A, so he’s been quite good at missing bats. His five starts at the MLB level last season provided a nice cameo and he’s had strong minor league numbers all the way through.

Part of me just wants to take the Twins as an underdog because the White Sox don’t really deserve many favorite roles, but some of the value on the price has been hacked off by overnight and early-morning action.

Baltimore Orioles (-165, 9) at Kansas City Royals

Kyle Gibson is a guy that I’m watching closely because he has a 3.93 ERA and a 4.36 FIP against a collection of pretty bad teams. His first two starts were against the Red Sox and Rangers, but his last four starts have come against the A’s, White Sox, and Tigers twice. He’s not exactly setting the world on fire against some pretty lackluster teams. He draws another one here with the Royals, but I do think he’s a fade candidate as we go forward.

He had 11 strikeouts in his first start against the Tigers, but has just 16 strikeouts over his other 28 innings of work. He keeps the ball on the ground well with a 50% GB% and his .306 BABIP is plenty fair for that kind of batted ball distribution and an above average 37.3% Hard Hit%. Of course, he also hasn’t faced many teams that hit the ball all that hard. The Royals do when they’re able to make contact and they should be able to make a lot of contact today.

Kansas City still ranks fourth in Hard Hit%, but 27th in BABIP. Remember that a “hard-hit ball” has an exit velocity of at least 95 mph. The league average BA on 95+ mph contact is .503 and the league average SLG is .987. The Royals are at .447 and .830, respectively. That is 30th in batting average and 28th in SLG. I’m not saying that this is a good offense, but I am saying that this offense should be better. They are seventh in number of at bats ending with a hard-hit ball, up there with teams like the Braves, Yankees, and Blue Jays, but they haven’t had anywhere near the same outcomes. They’ve also upgraded recently with Nicky Lopez out of the lineup and top prospect Maikel Garcia in it.

It may be coming apart at the seams for Zack Greinke. Greinke has allowed 19 runs over his last four starts covering 19.2 innings of work. He’s giving up a ton of violent contact and has allowed seven homers in that span. His Hard Hit% over his last three starts is over 50% and he isn’t missing many bats.

The Orioles rank 10th in wOBA against righties on the season and Greinke’s recent struggles have come against the Twins (15th), Angels (17th), Braves (8th), and Rangers (5th). It’s going to be a bit warmer in Kansas City today than we’ve seen most evenings at Kauffman Stadium.

This is another game where I’m looking for some offense and I’ll look for it early with the 1st 5 Over 5. Hopefully the offenses can get to these guys before they settle in and when the weather is a little warmer. Also, Baltimore has one of the top bullpens in baseball and the Royals didn’t use their two best relievers, Aroldis Chapman and Josh Staumont, yesterday.

Pick: 1st 5 Over 5 (-110)

Seattle Mariners (-170, 8) at Oakland A’s

Bryce Miller and Mason Miller took turns carving in last night’s game. It was a double no-hitter into the sixth, but the Mariners ultimately prevailed 2-1 with a couple of runs in the eighth. Bryce had 10 strikeouts in 81 pitches, which is stunningly efficient, while Mason struck out six and worked around four walks in seven no-hit innings.

Logan Gilbert needs a bounce back outing and he could very well get it against the A’s. He’s allowed four runs on 12 hits in his last two starts, though he does have 14 strikeouts against one walk. He comes into this one with a 4.23 ERA, but a 3.33 FIP and a 2.94 xFIP, so there are some positive regression signs in his profile. Gilbert has 34 K in 27.2 IP and has only walked five guys. With a 36.5% Hard Hit% and a 5.4% Barrel%, he’s definitely been on the wrong side of luck to have an ERA as high as he does. I’ll be looking to play on that kind of profile going forward.

I like JP Sears. I like Sears a lot more at home. He’s got a 6.23 ERA with a 5.83 FIP this season, but he’s allowed 10 runs on 11 hits in his last two starts covering 10.1 innings. Both of those outings were on the road and the most recent one came against an Angels lineup that mashes lefties.

Sears is back at home here, where he’s allowed five runs on 12 hits in 10.2 innings of work. He’s a pitch-to-contact, fly ball dude whose skill set should play a lot better in the marine air and the spacious Coliseum. I will not like his profile at all when the A’s move to Las Vegas, but that’s a few years down the road. Nevertheless, Sears is a guy that has a chance of hanging around better at home and I’ll be curious to see if he does that here.

No play for me in this one, as the Mariners run line would really be the only consideration, but their offense is still a work in progress and Sears does project to be more effective in home outings.

Arizona Diamondbacks at Texas Rangers (-125, 8.5)

Andrew Heaney gets the call here for the Rangers, but all eyes will be on Brandon Pfaadt. The 24-year-old right-hander has a really deep arsenal and I can’t tell you how excited I am to see him under the tutelage of a guy like Brent Strom, who helped orchestrate a pitching factory in Houston. Pfaadt has missed bats at every level with some really strong control numbers. The worry here is that he has allowed a lot of homers en route to the big leagues as a fly ball guy that maybe throws too many strikes.

Pfaadt has already allowed five dingers in 25.1 innings at the Triple-A level this season, but more than half the ballparks in the PCL play like Coors Field, so I’m willing to overlook that. He did allow 19 homers in 105.1 innings at Double-A last season for the Amarillo Sod Poodles, but, again, Amarillo is at 3,700 feet in elevation. Then he pitched in Triple-A in Reno. It’s hard to keep the ball in the yard in venues like that.

In 56 starts, he racked up 408 strikeouts against just 67 walks. So, that’s what you’ll get with Pfaadt. A bunch of strikeouts, very few walks, and some home runs. It’s just a matter of whether or not the homers are solo shots or not. He was the No. 16 prospect at FanGraphs entering the season and ushers in a new era of starting pitching for the Diamondbacks, who also have guys like Drey Jameson and Ryne Nelson.

Since allowing seven runs to the Orioles in his 2023 debut, Heaney has only allowed five earned runs over 22 innings of work. He’s struck out 24 and walked eight in that span. He’s been effective more often than not when he’s been healthy, but staying healthy has definitely been the issue. The Diamondbacks are a below average offense against lefties, so Heaney has a good chance at continuing his solid run.

I could see a case in which taking the Rangers makes sense here, but Pfaadt could be special in his debut.

San Francisco Giants at Houston Astros (-150, 7.5)

Logan Webb and Framber Valdez are the slated starters here in the rubber match of the series. The Giants were one of those dogs with bite yesterday and they bit the Astros in a 2-0 win. Webb is a guy that has run into some bad luck this season. He has a 25.9% HR/FB%, as he’s given up seven homers, despite inducing a ground ball nearly 60% of the time. He has 43 strikeouts against just five walks, but those homers have really put a dent in his style. He also has a .333 BABIP against, which is tough because homers don’t count towards BABIP.

Webb has a 4.10 ERA with a 3.98 FIP and a 2.69 xFIP. xFIP assumes a league average HR/FB%, which Webb won’t have because of a smaller sample size of fly balls than an average pitcher, but he’s definitely gotten a bit unlucky on fly balls to this point. On the whole, he’s pitched way better than his 4.10 ERA would suggest.

Valdez has a 2.54 ERA with a 3.57 FIP on the young year over six starts and 39 innings of work. He’s allowed a ton of hard contact, which is why he has a 4.59 xERA. His Hard Hit% is up at 47.3% and he’s actually allowed a much higher Barrel% than normal at 9.8%. His command hasn’t been good enough to warrant a 2.54 ERA, but that’s the variance of baseball in a nutshell. Not to mention, Valdez has a 64.3% GB% and it’s still not easy to string hits together, even with the shift ban.

The Giants are still awful against lefties. They are 27th in wOBA and tied for 27th in wRC+. They have a 29.3% K% in that split. With a guy like Valdez, who is usually around a strikeout per inning, he could see a strikeout bump, which absolutely adds to his value with a high GB%. It isn’t a spot where I’d want to be on the Giants, but I think it’s a big price for Houston as well.

Pittsburgh Pirates at Tampa Bay Rays (-215, 7.5)

Is this really the Mitch Keller breakout we’ve been waiting for? The 27-year-old has a 3.53 ERA with a 3.67 FIP in his 35.2 innings of work with some newfound strikeout prowess and just a 24% Hard Hit% against. It seemed like last year laid the groundwork for this type of breakout, but I wasn’t ready to fully buy in with a huge GB% increase heading into a post-shift world. One way to counteract that concern is to get a lot more swing and miss.

Keller has done that this season. His SwStr% is still below the league average at 10.7%, but it represents a 2% increase from last season. Most importantly, this isn’t all about getting chases and swings and misses outside the zone. His 84.8% Z-Contact% is the best of his career. After walking four in his first start, he’s only walked eight in his next four starts against 32 strikeouts.

If this is the Keller we thought we’d get when he was one of baseball’s higher-rated prospects, it couldn’t come at a better time for the Pirates. To this point, I have no reason to throw cold water on it. He’s done an incredible job of limiting hard contact and the K% increase looks pretty sustainable for now.

The problem for Keller and the Pirates today is that they have to go up against Shane McClanahan, who has allowed eight runs in 34 innings this season. He’s got a 42/14 K/BB ratio and the walk rate problem seems to be a thing of the past with five free passes in his last 17 innings. McClanahan also seems to have put last season’s injury concerns behind him. 

Good pitching matchup. Could see another low-scoring environment. I just don’t think there’s a lot of value on the side one way or the other.

New York Mets (-165, 9) at Detroit Tigers Game 1

New York Mets (-210, 8.5) at Detroit Tigers Game 2

We’ve got a doubleheader in Motown today. I won’t have plays on either game, but here are some quick notes:

Game 1

Joey Lucchesi and Joey Wentz start Game 1. Here’s what I wrote about Lucchesi yesterday:

Lucchesi makes his third start for the Mets and draws a Tigers team that has struck out in over 30% of plate appearances against lefties. The Tigers actually have a .304 wOBA and a 94 wRC+ despite that monstrous K%, as they’re running a .353 BABIP against lefties. That will come down and that will depress their numbers in this split.

Lucchesi has a 2.19 ERA with a 3.47 FIP in his two starts. He does have a 45.2% Hard Hit%, so xERA isn’t a huge fan of his performance to this point. We&r