MLB Best Bets: 2 Picks From Saturday Afternoon’s Slate, Including Pirates vs. Braves
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Ozzie Albies
- It's a loaded Saturday afternoon in Major League Baseball with 10 games before the lights come on.
- Among those games are a pair of big National League showdowns that our experts are targeting.
- Continue reading for our picks and full analysis below.
Of those 10 games, we’ve got two games that our analysts are targeting in particular. They are: Madison Bumgarner and the Diamondbacks against Zack Wheeler and the Phillies, and Zach Thompson and the Pirates against Kyle Wright and the Braves.
Be sure to check back with the Action Network later this afternoon for our picks on the evening slate. But for now, here are our best bets from Saturday afternoon’s MLB slate.
MLB Odds & Picks
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Jules Posner: The Phillies are in the midst of an eight-game win streak and they should have a good shot at extending that streak to nine games Saturday afternoon.
Zack Wheeler returns to the mound and he’s been dominant at home this season. Over 36 1/3 home innings, Wheeler has posted a 1.73 ERA and a 2.21 FIP. He’s very comfortable pitching at home and that’s been the theme over his career with the Phillies.
The cracks in Madison Bumgarner’s game finally started to show in his last start at Cincinnati where the Reds chipped away at him for eight hits, while he surrendered four earned runs over five innings. It was the first road start where Bumgarner finally regressed to his peripherals.
Although the Phillies’ offense hasn’t been particularly strong against LHP at home over the past month, they are playing inspired baseball since the departure of Joe Girardi. They’ve also returned to relative offensive health with the return of Didi Gregorius.
The Diamondbacks’ offense has cooled off considerably from how they were performing around this time last month and Wheeler is a tough matchup for even the best offenses.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Atlanta Braves
DJ James: Zach Thompson has been shockingly solid for the Pittsburgh Pirates, at least peripherally. He will go against Kyle Wright and the Atlanta Braves on Saturday afternoon.
Wright has a 3.32 xERA and 2.39 ERA, so he will eventually negatively regress a little, but he is still good. Pittsburgh holds a wRC+ of 81 in the last month. Atlanta is also below average at a 96 mark.
Thompson limits hard contact. He ranks in the 79th percentile in average exit velocity and the 61st percentile in hard hit percentage.
Wright may be in the 45th percentile in average exit velocity, but he ranks in the top 30% of the league in hard hit percentage. He also walks batter over 8% of the time, but this should be the only concern with him.
The bullpen for the Pirates is a little weak, but Thompson can go deep enough into the ballgame to mitigate some of that damage. Take the under at 8.5 and play to 8 (-110). These pitchers are too strong, and these hitters are too weak against righties.