MLB Odds & Picks: 4 Best Bets, Including Indians vs. Tigers, Padres vs. Brewers & Mariners vs. Athletics (Monday, May 24)
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images. Pictured: Oakland’s Seth Brown and Sean Murphy.
- Indians-Tigers, Padres-Brewers, Mariners-Athletics.
- Our staff has found betting angles on three games tonight.
- Continue reading for our best bets from Monday's MLB slate.
Our analysts have found angles on three different games with four bets total. Continue reading for our four best bets from Monday’s MLB schedule.
MLB Odds & Picks
Cleveland Indians vs. Detroit Tigers
Sean Zerillo: When Spencer Turnbull completed his no-hitter last Tuesday in Seattle, I didn’t see it as a completely random occurrence, but more as a validation of a pitcher who has made definitive improvements to his craft and turned into an effective arm at the MLB level.
Turnbull has underperformed relative to his FIP (4.33 ERA, 3.64 FIP) for the entirety of his MLB career. However, other indicators like xERA (~5.00), xFIP (4.42), and SIERA (4.54) have aligned more closely with his actual performance.
In a six-start sample this season, Turnbull’s expected indicators all sit at career-best marks (3.10 xERA, 2.77 FIP, 3.86 xFIP, 3.78 SIERA).
Some data suggests that the righty has all but eliminated his four-seam fastball (career 39.3% usage vs. 8.8% in 2021) from his arsenal while deploying a cutter more than 30% of the time this season, leading to a career-best 54.2% groundball rate, and a 22.4% hard-hit rate (37.4% career).
I cannot fully confirm the repertoire change — we have some pitch classification confusion going on depending upon which resource you use — but if you don’t believe me, check out the pitch that Turnbull used to strike out Sam Haggerty in the ninth inning of the no-hitter; four-seam fastballs typically don’t move like 93-mph sliders. MLB (and Statcast) classified the pitch as a four-seamer, but the catcher used a “Hook ’em Horns” sign for that pitch; unlike the final pitch of the game, where he clearly signaled for the four-seamer by using only his index finger.
Regardless of his current pitching usage, Turnbull has continued to limit the long ball, which might be his best skill, allowing just 0.63 HR per nine innings for his career on an 8% HR/FB rate. For context, the MLB average over that span is around 1.25 HR/9, on a 13.4% HR/FB rate.
Cleveland rookie Sam Hentges has gotten roughed up (6.46 ERA, 7.56 xERA, 7.19 FIP, 5.56 xFIP, 4.89 SIERA) through his first six MLB appearances, and projections aren’t very high on the 24-year-old (FIP projections of 5.11, 5.16, 5.59, and 6.00).
San Diego Padres vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Matt Trebby: I’m not ready to say the Brewers found their bats on Sunday against the Reds since their success at the plate came with a struggling Luis Castillo on the mound, but the 9-4 win was a step in the right direction.
On Monday, they return to Milwaukee for a four-game series against the Padres, who send Blake Snell to the mound opposite Brandon Woodruff.
Snell has been good this season for San Diego, although he’s averaging less than 4 1/2 innings per start. The southpaw’s 3.79 ERA is right in between a 4.35 xERA and 3.32 xFIP.
Woodruff, meanwhile, has had no problem eating innings for the Brewers, averaging about 6 1/3 per start. He has a 2.50 xERA and 2.98 xFIP, which indicate his 1.98 ERA may rise a bit, but there’s no doubt he’s pitching at a Cy Young level to start the season.
Last time out against the Royals, Woodruff struck out a season-low four over 7 2/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) in a hard-luck loss. It was clear he did not have his best stuff on the night, and he returns to American Family Field (still feels weird to type), where he has thrived of late. The right-hander has allowed four runs over his last three home starts, spanning 19 2/3 innings.
Snell, meanwhile, has a 6.75 road ERA this season, mostly because he has walked 13 over 14 2/3 innings.
This game is listed as close to a pick’em, and I don’t love picking games based solely on the starting pitching matchup. This one, though, is very lopsided and gives Milwaukee a big edge. The Brew Crew’s lineup is due for some more positive regression, as well, so I’m backing them to take the series opener from Snell and the Friars.
San Diego Padres vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Brad Cunningham: Blake Snell has kind of struggled so far in 2021 as he has a 4.35 xERA through his first nine starts, which is actually the highest mark of his career. He’s having some issues with his control because his BB/9 is a shockingly high 5.58. The pitch he’s struggling with the most is his fastball, as opponents have been able tag it for a .425 xWOBA. To make matters worse for him, he’ll be facing a Brewers lineup that’s been crushing fastballs this season, ranking ninth in MLB with 12.4 weighted fastball runs this season.
Brandon Woodruff has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, posting a 1.58 ERA and 2.50 xERA so far this season. His entire pitch arsenal has been awesome as all of his pitches are allowing a wOBA under .270. His fastball has been especially dominant: Opponents are hitting under .100 against it, while also racking up 39 strikeouts and a 31.2% whiff rate. That will come in handy against a Padres lineup that ranks 23rd in MLB against fastballs.
Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland Athletics
Kenny Ducey: I’m just not sure what we’re doing here with a total so low.
Oakland has the fourth-highest wRC+ against left-handed pitching this season at 119, and gets an incredibly hittable lefty in Yusei Kikuchi, who is allowing hard hit balls at a 46.9% clip. While the A’s aren’t exactly the best team at hitting the cut fastball, they’re striking out at a clip that’s below average against lefties and shouldn’t afford Kikuchi many of the swings and misses he relies on to get out of jams. I believe the A’s will make contact here and as long as they do that, it’s going to be a long night for the lefty.
On the other hand, Frankie Montas has been one of my favorite pitchers to fade all year long. He throws an incredibly hittable fastball, and leaves his sinker far up in the zone. Though the Mariners have been cold at the plate for the last month, they have some guys on their team like Kyle Seager who can do real damage against sinkers.
I think this could be a big breakout game for a Mariners lineup against a struggling righty, but at the very least two or three runs should be attainable here. With that, I think this game should go over.