MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Wednesday October 11th

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MLB schedule today has 3 games

The plan was to have four games on Wednesday, but now we are down to three, as the Texas Rangers swept the Baltimore Orioles to punch a ticket to the ALCS. They’ll await the winner of the Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins series, which could be over today.

 

On the National League side, the Arizona Diamondbacks enter the day with a chance to knock out the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves play a very important swing game in Pennsylvania. We’ve got a big gap in the middle of the day with no need for Game 4 in the Rangers/Orioles series.

Update: Astros/Twins was flexed to later in the day with no need for Orioles/Rangers; will update the article accordingly in the morning.

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Here are some thoughts on the October 11 card (odds from DraftKings):

(odds as of 8:25 p.m. PT)

Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins (-125, 8)

Joe Ryan and Jose Urquidy are the listed starters here, as the Astros opted to use Hunter Brown in mop-up relief on Tuesday, which meant that Urquidy was the plan all along. I think there was a lot of question as to who would get the Game 4 call between J.P. France, Urquidy, or Brown, but it appears that Houston made the decision rather early.

On the Minnesota side, with Bailey Ober starting in Game 1, that set up Ryan to get the Game 4 start at Target Field and it turns out that he’ll be pitching in hopes of saving his team’s season. Ryan vs. Ober had to be a tough call for the Twins in Game 1, but they opted for Ober, likely due to the fact that his reverse platoon splits were a little more manageable and he had pitched better of late.

Ryan finished the regular season with a 4.51 ERA, 3.53 xERA, and a 4.13 FIP in 161.2 innings of work, but he had a miserable stretch from June 27 to August 2 that ultimately sent him to the IL. He allowed 31 runs on 48 hits in 32.1 innings and 17(!!) of those hits were home runs. He still posted a 52/10 K/BB ratio in those seven starts, but the balls that the opposition made contact with were hit very hard. 

He came back on August 26 and allowed six earned runs over his next four starts before allowing 13 runs in his final 16 innings of work. Ryan allowed righties to post a .269/.300/.530 slash with a .348 wOBA and they hit 23 of the 32 homers that he allowed. He was significantly better at home, which may have been the root cause of Ober’s Game 1 start, but Ryan definitely had major issues against righties.

Urquidy only made 10 starts and 16 total appearances for the Astros over 63 innings of work. He posted a 5.29 ERA with a 4.70 xERA and a 5.38 FIP, so I’m surprised that he got the call to start Game 4. He did threw nine shutout innings over his final two appearances, but only struck out four of the 32 batters that he faced. What has really helped the Astros in this series and helped opposing pitchers against the Twins throughout the season is the strikeout. Urquidy only had 45 in 63 innings out of 275 batters for a 16.4% K%.

We saw Minnesota’s inability to make contact be a huge problem against Cristian Javier on Tuesday, but this is a different beast. With Urquidy, the Twins should be able to put balls in play and that gives them a much better offensive chance after leading the league in strikeouts and K%.

I like the 1st 5 Over here. I don’t necessarily want to get involved with the bullpens and the higher-strikeout arms, but Ryan has had command concerns and the Astros have been one of the best organizations in terms of strikeout avoidance over the last several seasons. For the Twins, they actually have a matchup against a guy who doesn’t miss a lot of bats, which should be favorable for them.

Update: Line has been confirmed as 1st 5 Over/Under 4.5 (-115/-115), so I like the Over 4.5 here. Shop around and look for better vig, but that is officially on the card for today.

Note: With Baltimore eliminated, the game was flexed to 7:07 p.m. ET.

Pick: 1st 5 Over 4.5 (-115)

Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies (-122, 9)

With the early game in Minneapolis, I opted to do the article and podcast on Tuesday night, which is a bummer because the Braves had not yet named a starter. The options at that time were Bryce Elder, AJ Smith-Shawver, or an opener in front of one of those guys. At some point, Elder is going to have to pitch and my guess is that he ends up starting this game for the Braves. We knew all along that Aaron Nola would start for the Phillies.

Obviously I can’t advocate a play here with no starter officially named for the Braves, since I’ve preached about selecting Listed Pitchers all season long, but I can fill you in on the options and you can decide for yourself.

Elder finished with a 3.81 ERA, 4.55 xERA, and a 4.42 FIP in his first full MLB season. He worked 174.2 innings over 31 starts and the one major positive for him is that he kept the ball in the yard. He tilts towards the ground ball side as a pitch-to-contact guy, but he only allowed 19 homers on the year. 

The reason why the Braves weren’t committed to starting him is because it was a tale of two halves. Elder had a 2.97 ERA and a .296 wOBA against over 106 innings in the first half, but a 5.11 ERA with a .327 wOBA against in 68.2 innings in the second half. He did not pitch well at all in July, August, or September and actually allowed a .369 wOBA over the final month of the regular season.

To me, Elder makes way more sense than Smith-Shawver, simply because the latter allowed seven homers in just 25.1 innings of work. To me, I’d take my chances with the ground ball guy given the postseason run environment that is heavily tilted towards home runs. I do think there’s a chance that the 20-year-old Smith-Shawver is part of a piggyback or something to that effect. 

Despite his playoff success and his excellent start in the Wild Card Round, I am not enamored with Nola in this game. He sits about 93 mph with the fastball, which doesn’t help against the Braves, given their decreased offensive numbers against high velocity. Also, Nola, who had a big K% decrease from 2022 to 2023, allowed 32 homers in 193.2 innings of work. Nola’s K% dropped from 29.1% to 25.5%, which was still well above average, but I just don’t think his stuff profile is on par with Wheeler’s or some of the other arms out there.

He only struck out three Marlins over seven shutout innings in the Wild Card Round, but did mostly limit hard contact. He was substantially better at home than he was on the road, so maybe that’s a feather in his cap here, but I am skeptical in this start. He also struggled to pitch out of jams and strand runners with a 66.4% LOB%.

I think this is a tough handicap, not just because of the Braves situation, but also because Nola has some boom or bust signs in this start.

Los Angeles Dodgers (-148, 9.5) at Arizona Diamondbacks

The Dodgers turn to Trade Deadline acquisition Lance Lynn in hopes of keeping their series alive, while the Diamondbacks go with 24-year-old, homegrown rookie Brandon Pfaadt. Pfaadt’s first career MLB playoff start did not go well, as he allowed three runs on seven hits in 2.2 innings of work, but the offense and the bullpen bailed him out in the Game 1 win over the Brewers.

Pfaadt had a 5.72 ERA with a 4.61 xERA and a 5.18 FIP over 96 innings in the regular season, but he did improve as the year went on and as pitching coach Brent Strom sunk his fangs in. After his return to the rotation on July 22, Pfaadt posted a 4.22 ERA with a 4.35 FIP in 70.1 innings over 12 starts. While those numbers are not awesome, they’re better than what he had done previously.

Where the Diamondbacks luck out a bit here is that there were off days between Games 1 and 2 and also Games 2 and 3, so the bullpen can handle a big workload here, especially with Merrill Kelly slated to go in Game 4. Diamondbacks relievers have allowed two runs on 11 hits in 15.2 innings with 18 strikeouts so far this postseason, as that bullpen has been a real weapon. They’ll need to be again with what seems like a potential early exit for Pfaadt.

Lynn has not pitched since September 29. He had a 5.73 ERA with a 5.53 FIP for the season and allowed 44(!!) homers in 183.2 innings of work. After joining the Dodgers on August 1, Lynn had a 4.36 ERA with a 6.16 FIP, as he allowed 16 homers in just 64 innings of work. He allowed nine earned runs over his final four starts, but those were against the Padres, Tigers, and Giants twice. The Arizona lineup has really turned it up in the postseason, jumping on both Clayton Kershaw and Bobby Miller in this series.

As much as the Dodgers pitching has gotten virtually all of the flack in this series, the offense is 10-for-63. Now, the Dodgers have only struck out 16 times, so there has been some batted ball variance in the mix, but still. They’ve only hit one homer in two games and haven’t made a whole lot of violent contact. The offense needs to get going and get going very fast.

I really liked the way that Dave Roberts leveraged his bullpen after the early exit from Miller, as Evan Phillips, Brusdar Graterol, Ryan Brasier, and Joe Kelly all threw at least 23 pitches and multiple innings. He couldn’t let the game get away any farther and really didn’t, as Brasier allowed a solo homer to Lourdes Gurriel Jr., but that was it.

I think that helps going into this game that those guys had an appearance to shake off the rust, but let’s see if they have a lead to protect in this one.

The other note here is that the Diamondbacks stole four bases and were only caught once. They didn’t attempt any steals in Game 1, but really didn’t have to after taking the huge lead. Their ability to wreak havoc on the basepaths is a big deal here, if they’re able to get on base.

I don’t have a bet here, but I do think the Dodgers at this price with Lynn on the mound is a bit of an ask. This will likely become a bullpen game, at which point I think the Diamondbacks can probably hold their own, at least with the way that they’ve been pitching in the postseason. I don’t hate looking for a live spot if Pfaadt struggles early to look for the D-Backs to get back into the game.