MLB Best Bets Today | Predictions, Player Props, Picks (Monday, May 20)

MLB Best Bets Today | Predictions, Player Props, Picks (Monday, May 20) article feature image

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We have 12 MLB games scheduled for Monday, May 20, including a doubleheader between the Padres vs Braves and an afternoon game between White Sox vs Blue Jays.

Our staff of MLB betting experts has identified three MLB Best Bets, including two pitcher props (Padres vs BravesRed Sox vs Rays) and a side (Tigers vs Royals).

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MLB Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our MLB betting staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

GameTime (ET)Pick
12:20 p.m.
6:40 p.m.
7:40 p.m.
Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our MLB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Padres vs. Braves

Monday, May 20
12:20 p.m. ET
Reynaldo Lopez Under 4.5 Strikeouts (-138)

By John Feltman

Reynaldo Lopez is having a career year, entering Monday with a 1.34 ERA.

But it feels like smoke and mirrors.

Lopez's expected ERA is 3.74, a little more than double his current ERA. He's still walking too many batters, and for some strange reason, many hitters are taking strikes in the zone against him.

His zone strike rate is very concerning, as hitters will start hacking at those pitches. Once that occurs, I would expect his strikeout rate to drop

I think Lopez is a fine pitcher, but nowhere near his current numbers.

Conversely, the Padres boast a disciplined lineup, especially against right-handed pitching, striking out at the fourth-lowest rate among MLB lineups.

Lopez may be asked to get more length today since it is a double-header, but I expect his pitch count to climb due to his inability to limit the walks.

Expect a lot of contact from the Padres bats in the early going, which gives me confidence that Lopez will stay under 4.5 strikeouts.

Pick: Reynaldo Lopez Under 4.5 Strikeouts (-138)

Red Sox vs. Rays

Monday, May 20
6:40 p.m. ET
Tanner Houck Over 5.5 Strikeouts (-105)

By Sean Paul

Hopefully, all the MLB best bets readers followed along and tailed Alek Manoah's over 5.5 strikeouts against the whiff-happy Tampa Bay Rays.

Get ready. We’re heading back to the well on Monday.

The Rays welcome the Boston Red Sox Red Sox into Tropicana Field for four games. A star-studded pitching duel between Taj Bradley and Tanner Houck headlines the first game.

I’m all over Houck over 5.5 strikeouts against the Rays, who strike out at the seventh-highest rate among MLB lineups (24%).

Houck faced the Rays in his last start, striking out seven hitters in 5 2/3 innings on a career-high 112 pitches. The 27-year-old Houck looks the part of an American League All-Star, boasting a 2.17 era with a 2.23 FIP and 8.84 K/9. Plus, Alex Cora letting Houck throw 112 pitches shows trust, which helps if he gets into jams. Cora won’t pull the plug on Houck unless he needs to.

You can grab over 5.5 K’s at +110, but 8+ strikeouts on the alt +390 line could also be in play.

Pick: Tanner Houck Over 5.5 Strikeouts (-105)

Tigers vs. Royals

Monday, May 20
7:40 p.m. ET
Tigers ML (+100)

By Mike Ianniello

Tigers starting pitcher Reese Olson doesn't get the same fanfare as his rotation mates, but he is quietly turning into a high-end starting pitcher.

In his debut season, 2023, Olson racked up 103 strikeouts over 103 2/3 innings (21 appearances, 18 starts) and had a more than serviceable 3.99 ERA.

He had to battle this spring to earn his spot in the 2024 rotation, but he’s flourished with a 2.09 ERA over eight starts. Despite allowing just 11 earned runs in more than 47 1/3 innings, he hasn't gotten any run support and has an 0-4 record. The Tigers have scored just 17 runs in Olson’s starts.

Olson has a five-pitch mix, primarily relying on his fastball, slider and changeup. Each pitch has held opponents below a .145 batting average, and his changeup sports a 48.8% whiff rate. He induces ground balls 54.6% of the time and has cut his barrel rate in half from last season.

Olson is a pitcher I am very high on.

Meanwhile, Royals starting pitcher Michael Wacha is a pitcher I often look to fade.

Wacha overperformed his metrics greatly in each of the last two seasons. In 2022, he posted a 3.32 ERA but had a 4.56 expected ERA. In 2023, he had a 3.22 ERA and a 4.27 expected ERA. His good fortune appears to have finally run out.

He fails to miss bats, and his walk rate keeps rising. While he has a good changeup, Wacha’s fastball has been crushed to a .413 average and .470 wOBA. In his nine starts, Wacha has allowed at least two runs in seven of them.

Olson has one bad start this season. Otherwise, he has allowed just one run or fewer in six of his eight starts. He has surrendered just two earned runs in his last four starts, racking up 23 strikeouts. He posted eight scoreless frames in his last outing.

When these two teams met less than a month ago, Olson allowed just one run and three hits over seven innings and struck out eight.

Wacha finally has his ERA up where his expected indicators have been for the last few years. He has allowed 51 hits with just 44 strikeouts this season. Detroit tagged him for four runs with a pair of home runs less than a month ago.

The Tigers lineup has been hitting the ball well over the last month, and the trio of Riley Greene, Kerry Carpenter, and Spencer Torkelson makes for a dangerous top-of-the-order combination.

This matchup plays into the favorable splits for Detroit, as the Tigers are much better against right-handed pitchers. They rank third in the league in wRC+ against right-handed pitching over the last two weeks.

Detroit has the better bullpen and starting pitcher, and I also give them a slight edge on offense. With the way the offense has been hitting right-handed pitchers recently, they should finally give Olson enough run support to earn a victory.

Pick: Tigers ML (+100)

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