MLB Expert Picks: Odds, Predictions for Dodgers vs. Orioles, Padres vs. Blue Jays
David Berding/Getty Images. Pictured: Padres pitcher Yu Darvish.
Welcome back to the Wednesday MLB slate breakdown. We finally have a handful of afternoon games coming out of the All-Star break with six games in the afternoon and nine at night.
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Dodgers vs. Orioles
1:10 p.m. ET · Julio Urias vs. Dean Kremer
Julio Urias has been solid ever since he returned from injury. He had one bad start against the Royals but has since settled down and pitched really well. In his last start against Mets, he went six innings and gave up only one hit and one walk.
For the season, Urias holds a 3.85 xERA, but if you look back at his career, he's always been below a 3.5 xERA pitcher. Even last season, he was at 2.81.
The reason he's been so good for an extended period of time is because of his slurve.
His fastball has been below average this season with opposing hitters owning a .360 xwOBA against it, but his slurve is generating a lot of weak contact and has equated to a .286 xwOBA. That pitch is one of the main reasons why he's in the 87th percentile for hard-hit rate allowed.
Julio Urías, Nasty 84mph Slurve…and Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/GbAoRbg8lL
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 11, 2023
He'll be facing Dean Kremer, who has been a disaster for the Orioles this season.
Kremer has been significantly worse than his already-bad numbers look on paper. His ERA sits at 4.59, but his xERA is up at 5.37. He’s in the bottom 10 percentile among MLB starting pitchers in xwOBA, xSLG and xBA.
Kremer is a very straightforward pitcher, with his three main pitches being a fastball, sinker and cutter. All three of those pitches are allowing an xwOBA over .350. He's failed to keep the ball off the sweet spot, allowing an insanely high 11% barrel rate.
The Dodgers offense has also been hitting the ball well over the past month, putting up a .344 wOBA and 1118 wRC+.
I have Urias and the Dodgers projected at -201 for the first five innings, so I like the value on them at -160 (bet365) and would go as high as a -176.
Pick: Dodgers F5 ML -160
Astros vs. Rockies
3:10 p.m. ET · Brandon Bielak vs. Austin Gomber
Even with this total set at 12, I think it's far too low given these two starting pitchers on the mound.
Brandon Bielak spent most of his career in the bullpen before making the switch to the starting rotation this season. Let's just say the transition hasn't gone well because Bielak has been getting shelled.
He may only have a 3.79 ERA, but his xERA is almost two runs higher at 5.73. Then, when you dig into his Statcast metrics, it looks even worse. He's a pitcher screaming for negative regression.
Image via Baseball Savant
What Bielak has done this season is become less reliant on his fastball and started to make his changeup his main secondary pitch after barely throwing it last season. The results have not been good for his fastball, as it's allowing a .381 xwOBA.
Colorado has been really good this season against right-handed fastballs and changeups, putting up a .353 xwOBA and +22.5 run value. Bielak did just go seven scoreless innings against Colorado on July 4, but his xFIP for that start came in at 4.54.
Meanwhile, Austin Gomber has flat-out stunk this season, and it's honestly shocking that he's still in the Rockies' rotation.
He's currently sitting with a 6.19 ERA, and the underlying numbers suggest he's just that bad. His xERA sits at 6.25, with one of the highest xwOBAs in baseball at .379.
Here's the problem: Gomber is a fly-ball pitcher who pitches at Coors Field, which is the worst environment for fly balls. His HR/FB rate this season sits at 18.4%, which is the third-highest in MLB. He also owns a 1.97 HR/9 rate.
Gomber is way too reliant on a below-average fastball that averaged only 90.9 mph. He throws it 44.1% of the time, and opposing hitters have over a .450 xwOBA against it. Then he offers a well below-average changeup and curveball that have both been shelled as well.
Houston is a top-10 offense in baseball in terms of wRC+ against left-handed pitching.
I have 13.8 runs projected for this game, so I like the value on over 12 runs at -115 (bet365).
Pick: Over 12 (-115)
Padres vs. Blue Jays
3:10 p.m. ET · Yu Darvish vs. Jose Berrios
Yu Darvish is a big-time positive regression candidate with an ERA of 4.65 and an xERA down at 3.63.
Where Darvish has gotten unlucky is with his fastball, which is allowing a .350 wOBA but only a .296 xwOBA. He's in the 70th percentile or above in average exit velocity allowed, hard-hit rate allowed and barrel rate allowed, so he's doing a good job of generating weak contact.
Darvish also mixes his pitches better than anyone in baseball considering he has seven different pitches and throws each of them at least 10% of the time.
On paper, you would think it's been an improved year for Berrios, who has a 3.42 ERA. However, when you dig into his expected and Statcast metrics, it tells a completely different story.
Berrios is sitting with a 4.57 xERA, over a full run higher than his actual ERA. His Statcast metrics for average exit velocity allowed and hard-hit rate allowed are good, but he's struggling to keep the ball off the barrel, which means he's allowing a high xSLG and xwOBA.
Image via Baseball Savant
This is a good spot to back a pitcher due for positive regression against one who's due for negative regression. With the true talent level of both of these offenses being essentially even as well, I think the Padres should be favored for the first five innings.
I have San Diego projected at -127 for the first five, so I like it at +102 (FanDuel) and would play it up to -112.