MLB Odds & Best Bets: Our 4 Top Picks, Including Giants vs. Reds, Blue Jays vs. Red Sox & Rangers vs. Yankees (Tuesday, May 18)
Kathryn Riley/Getty Images. Pictured: Eduardo Rodriguez
- Reds-Giants, Red Sox-Blue Jays, and Yankees-Rangers all have the eyes of our MLB analysts.
- Each analyst has shared a full breakdown complete with a pick for all four games.
- Find out which sides they're taking below in our best bets.
Tuesday’s slate is a full one, with 15 games all set to take place under the lights. Our MLB analysts have identified three games on which they recommend wagering, with four bets in total. Keep reading for our staff’s four best bets for Tuesday.
MLB Odds & Picks
San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds
Brad Cunningham: Anthony DeSclafani returns to face his former team tonight and the 31-year-old has been fantastic in his first season with the Giants. He’s posted a 2.81 xERA and 3.56 xFIP, which are better numbers than he ever posted in Cincinnati.
The reason he’s been so good is because his slider has been amazing. He’s using it more often than any other pitch (33.6% per Baseball Savant), which is a change from last season, and opposing hitters have not been able to figure it out. He’s allowing only a .185 wOBA against it and it will come in handy against this Reds lineup because that is the pitch they struggle the most against, ranking 22nd in baseball with -7.2 weighted slider runs this season. Additionally, he’s throwing his fastball 10% less often than he did last season, which has made a world of a difference as opposing hitters wOBA against it has dropped almost 300 points from 2020.
Luis Castillo is really struggling to start 2021. He has a 7.11 ERA, 4.75 xERA, and 4.27 xFIP, which are by far the worst numbers of his career. He’s not getting the swings and misses likes he’s used to and his K/9 rate has dropped from 11.44 in 2020 all the way down to 6.99 in 2021. His biggest issue is opposing hitters are getting to his fastball and sinker, as both pitches are allowing a xwOBA over .370. In fact, Castillo’s whiff rate on his fastball is down almost 20% from last season, which tells me he’s struggling with his location. He’ll be facing a Giants lineup that is ninth in MLB against fastballs and in the top half of baseball in wOBA and wRC+ against right-handed pitching.
San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds
Kenny Ducey: Boys and girls, it’s a beautiful day to fade Luis Castillo. The righty has really struggled this year, pitching to a 7.71 ERA and making his dominant seasons seem like a distant memory. While some might look at his 4.81 xERA, 4.27 xFIP or 51.2% strand rate as indicators that he’s set for a turnaround, there are so many reasons for me to believe that he’s just not the same pitcher anymore.
Sure, these numbers point to the fact that he won’t have an ERA hovering around eight runs all season long, but how much better can it really get? The gopher balls that have done him in for years have returned after a brief absence in last year’s abbreviated season, his strikeout rate is at an alarming 16.3%, and he’s pitched to a .387 xwOBA on contact, which would be his worst season in the Statcast era. That’s because balls are traveling an average of 89 mph off the bat against Castillo.
His velocity is down across the board, and so are his whiff rates. Because of this, I’m a really big fan of a Giants team that’s had some bouts with strikeouts this year, and should find a bit of an easier time against Castillo’s very-hittable arsenal. The Giants are also first in home run to fly ball ratio, and third in homers, leading me to believe the home run issues that the righty have faced aren’t going away in this one.
With all of that said, getting San Francisco as a dog in this spot it hard to pass up, especially with Anthony DeSclafani and his 2.14 ERA on the hill against a cold Reds offense.
Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Sean Zerillo: Eduardo Rodriguez has tweaked his pitch mix since the start of the 2019 season (he missed all of 2020), throwing fewer four-seam fastballs (down from 50.1% career to 27.7% in 2021) in exchange for more cutters, changeups, and sliders.
His velocity is actually down a tick this season (92.2 mph vs. 93.4 mph career) but Rodriguez has better command over the strike zone than ever before, with career-high marks in first-pitch strike rate (66% vs. 61.1% career), zone% (54.7% vs. 49.7% career), and called-strike plus whiff rate (29.5% vs. 26.6% career).
Rodriguez’s walk rate this season (4.4%) is nearly half of both his 2019 mark (8.7%) and career average (8.1%), and his expected ERA indicators (3.31 xERA, 3.28 xFIP, 3.37 SIERA) are all career-bests.
I projected the Red Sox at around 49.5% both for the first five innings (F5) and full game for Tuesday, and I’m betting them in either half at +110 or better.
New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers
Jeff Hicks: The Yankees could not solve Jordan Lyles Monday night, which is something. Tonight, they get Mike Foltynewicz as he rebounds from a year-plus of struggles. The problem for Texas is he is not rebounding well, especially early in games. Folty has a .262 average against, 4.12 xFIP, and his highest walk rate the first time through the batting order. The Yankees also scored the first run of last night’s game before going cold.
Jameson Taillon is due for positive regression on the Yankees’ side. His ERA is nearly two runs higher than his xFIP and 2.40 runs higher than his xERA. He is also better against hitters the first time through. His 17.1 Hard Hit percentage nearly doubles the second time through the lineup and more than triples the third go-round. His HR/9 is also at its lowest the first three innings.