MLB Betting Picks (Wednesday): How Our Staff Is Betting White Sox vs. Indians, Cubs vs. Reds, More
Patrick Smith/Getty Images. Pictured: Lance Barksdale
The past 24 hours have seen baseball’s headlines dominated by Marlins COVID concerns and Joe Kelly memes, but there’s still plenty to digest in the MLB betting world.
Our experts have broken down several matchups on Wednesday’s 14-game slate, and in doing so have picked out their favorite plays of the day, which you’ll find below.
Odds as of 11:40 a.m. ET.
Advanced Stats Glossary
FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck. xFIP is a regressed version of FIP that adjusts or “normalizes’ the home run component based on park factors.
wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.
wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average is a catch-all hitting metric with more predictive value than on-base percentage. An average MLB hitter can be expected to post a .320 wOBA. xwOBA is a regressed version of wOBA that accounts for variables like park factors.
Stuckey: White Sox Moneyline (-114) at Indians
The White Sox have been a sight for sore eyes so far this season, getting off to a 1-4 start. They were swept in a double-header yesterday in Cleveland, although to be fair, they could’ve easily won each game. I’m assuming you’ll get the most ideal lineup tonight which hasn’t necessarily been the case every night for Renteria’s bunch. There’s also hope that Eloy Jimenez can return to action.
But mainly, I just see value in this number at anything below -120. Zach Plesac is on my early fade list. His rookie numbers looked decent on the surface (8-6 3.81 ERA) but an xFIP north of 5 tells a different story. Also, for what it’s worth, take a look at how each of these starters fared against each respective opponent in 2019:
- Plesac in 2 starts vs. White Sox: 0-2 5.25 ERA (7 ERs in 12 innings)
- Giolito in 2 starts vs. Indians: 2-0 0.00 ERA (0 ERs in 14.2 innings with 17 K to just 3 BB)
I expect Giolito to bounce back from a disastrous first start, but again, this just comes down to the number for me. Hopefully, the Sox can actually take advantage of some scoring opportunities they’ve failed to capitalize on so far this year.
I’ll also sprinkle about half of my bet on First 5 -120.
Collin Wilson: Cubs vs. Reds Under 9.5 (-124)
Happy Lance Barksdale Day! There is plenty on the Wednesday board that I like but don’t necessarily love, but overall it’s a huge day for umpire trends.
Jim Reynolds in Oakland is 242-228 (-30.91 units) on home teams and 215-232 (-27.24 units) to the under. Manny Gonzalez in Toronto and Jerry Meals in Minnesota support the strongest over trends of all umpires in MLB.
But the biggest umpire trend comes to Cincinnati, where Barksdale brings a record of 284-185 (54.36 units) for home teams and 245-196 (32.89 units) to the under.
The side is priced correctly, but with a total projection of 8.9 there is small value in taking an under. Kyle Hendricks could not have looked any better in his opener for the Cubs, throwing a complete game and issuing zero walks. Sonny Gray made quick work of the Tigers in his opener for the Reds, allowing just one earned run through six innings.
Lance Barksdale has a storied history with unders, and if the umpire from the World Series shows up this could be a quick game.
BJ Cunningham: Royals Moneyline (+123) vs. Tigers
Danny Duffy’s first start wasn’t great, but it wasn’t all that bad either. He allowed two earned runs on three hits in 4.1 innings. His fastball and curveball were working well, as he didn’t allow a hit off of either. The only pitch that got him into trouble was his changeup, which actually was his best offering last season.
Duffy had around a .320 wOBA against on all four of his pitches in 2019, meaning they all grade out about average by MLB standards. The good news for Duffy is the Tigers ranked in the bottom five last season against left-handed pitching in terms of wOBA and wRC+.
Matthew Boyd got tagged in his first start of the season, allowing four earned runs on six hits over five innings. The Reds were able to get to his fastball and sinker, collecting five hits, including a double and home run.
Boyd mainly throws his fastball and slider. His fastball isn’t great — it sits at 92 MPH with little movement — and opponents feasted on it in 2019, hitting 25 home runs and accumulating a .354 wOBA.
Boyd excels using his slider, though.
In 2019, that slider produced a 43.5% whiff rate and 113 strikeouts. He’ll need to use it a lot, too, because the Royals were one of the worst teams in baseball against sliders a year ago.
Boyd projects out slightly better than Duffy, but the Royals lineup grades out better than the Tigers. With bullpens being pretty much a wash, I project this line at Tigers -107. So I’m going to back Duffy and the Royals at +123 and would bet it down to +119.