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MLB Odds & Picks: Our Expert’s Projections for Every Game (Tuesday, April 26)

MLB Odds & Picks: Our Expert’s Projections for Every Game (Tuesday, April 26) article feature image

Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Jose Ramirez.

  • Tuesday's MLB slate features 15 games, meaning all 30 teams are in action.
  • Sean Zerillo shares his projections and bets for every game on the slate.
  • Check out his top bets for each game on Tuesday's slate below.

Tuesday features a 15-game MLB slate, but before we dive into my favorite bets, I want to discuss an adjustment that I have had to make to my model in response to early-season data.

Through Sunday, MLB scoring was at 8.04 runs per game — more than an entire run lower than last season (9.06) — and an 11.2% decrease, year over year. Additionally, home runs are down from 1.22 per game last season to 0.89 this April for more than a 25% decrease.

Although scoring will increase with hotter temperatures this summer, a confluence of factors — including new baseballs, humidors in all 30 parks, a shortened spring training and temporarily expanded rosters (more bullpen matchups) — are toying with hitters thus far.

The ball and the humidors have a quantifiable effect. The average flyball distance is down six feet, relative to last season, and more than 20 feet, relative to the home run bonanza we experienced (with juiced-up baseballs) in 2019.

Unders are cashing at a historic rate (61.1%) by close to a half a run per game (0.48 margin), and a consistent $100 bettor would be up +$3800 this season, with a 16% ROI.

Books have quickly taken notice. As my colleague, Anthony Dabbundo, pointed out, the average total from April 7-17 was 8.79 but dropped to 8.01 from April 21-24.

The average total for Monday’s seven-game slate was 7.85, while the 14 totals listed (Seattle-Tampa Bay current off the board) for Tuesday average out to 7.92.

Putting that all together, scoring is down 11% relative to last season, and books have dropped their totals — less than two weeks into the season — by about 10.2% compared to previous levels. You can trust that I have aggressively similarly adjusted my projection model.

You can find my projections for every MLB game in the Action Network App (on both the PRO Projections tab and the game pages) and our Projections Hub (which you should bookmark).

Using those projections, where can we find actionable value on Tuesday?

Odds tables via Caesars. You can shop for the best MLB lines all season long via our MLB odds page.

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Brandon Woodruff vs. Mitch Keller

Brewers Odds -180
Pirates Odds +160
Over/Under 7 (-115/-105)
First Pitch 6:35 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Brewers probability: 57.2% (fair odds of -134)
  • TBD probability: 42.7% (+134)
  • Projected total: 7.13

Mitch Keller seemed like an excellent post-hype breakout candidate coming into the 2022 season after changing his mechanics and adding velocity while working in the pitching lab at Tread Athletics.

The former second-round pick and No. 12 overall prospect (in 2018), per Baseball America, has always had arm talent. Increasing his fastball/changeup velocity (both +2.5 mph relative to last season) raises his floor substantially.

Keller now throws the second-fastest changeup in baseball behind Miguel Castro (92.6 mph) and ahead of Sandy Alcantara (91.9). Moreover, he added a sweeper to his arsenal, though there appear to be some pitch classification issues in publicly available data.

Updated projections have already dropped Keller’s FIP projection from high 4s (in the preseason) to 4.14 to 4.49 after a few starts. And his expected indicators (2.81 xERA, 3.13 xFIP) point to his significant upside, especially with his improved curveball and changeup bumping his groundball rate near 54% in the early going (career 41.4%).

Additionally, the Pirates have a few live arms in their bullpen, including co-closers David Bednar (2.53 xERA last season; 2.37 through eight innings in 2022) and Chris Stratton (1.09 xERA), and fireman Wil Crowe (1.67 xERA).

Wil Crowe was untouchable. 🔥

— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 10, 2022

With Keller and a rested bullpen, the Pirates can go pitch for pitch with Brandon Woodruff (3.34 Model Weighted ERA) and the Brewers bullpen for a night.

In the first five innings, I projected the Pirates at +144 and would need a number closer to +155 to bet them in the first half.

You can bet their full game moneyline (projected +134, or 42.7% implied) down to +145 (40.8% implied), at roughly a 2% edge compared to my projection.

I might also target the over on Keller’s strikeout prop (projected 5.27), mainly if I can get over 4.5 juiced or over 5 at plus money when lines come out.

Recommended Bets

  • Mitch Keller, Over 4.5 Strikeouts (+116) at Fanduel (Bet to 5 (+100))
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (+160) at Caesars (bet to +145)

San Diego Padres vs. Cincinnati Reds

Joe Musgrove vs. Reiver Sanmartin

Padres Odds -175
Reds Odds +155
Over/Under 8 (-105/-115)
First Pitch 6:40 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Padres probability: 56.7% (fair odds of -131)
  • Reds probability: 43.3% (+131)
  • Projected total: 8.44

This season, the Reds have scored the fewest runs of any team (42) despite ranking 26th out of 30 in total plate appearances. Their 38-point differential between expected wOBA or xwOBA (.288) and actual wOBA (.250) points to better offensive output in the future.

Moreover, the Great American Ballpark is one of the better venues for hitters, with a top-three park factor and run-scoring environment between 9% to 13% above an average park, depending upon weights.

Runs could be hard to find against Joe Musgrove (3.87 xERA, 3.65 xFIP in 2021; 2.75 and 1.85, respectively, in three starts this season), who has morphed into a solid No. 2 starter in the past two years.

I also give the Padres significant advantages offensively, defensively and bullpen. San Diego leads all teams in both Defensive Runs Saved (+16) and Outs Above Average (+120) through Monday.

Jake Cronenworth (+5 DRS) and Manny Machado (+5) have cleaned up grounders at an unprecedented rate, helping Padres pitches to an MLB-best .240 BABIP (which is unsustainable).

Reds’ starter Reiver Sanmartin is a soft-tosser (30-grade fastball, average 89 mph) with seemingly limited upside. Still, he has a high floor (projected FIP range 3.80 to 4.50) with above-average command of a four-pitch arsenal, which he mixes almost evenly.

Sanmartin has increased his changeup usage this season, making his mediocre fastball more effective.

First two whiffs of Reiver Sanmartin's career! 🔥

— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 27, 2021

I project value on both the Reds and the over for Tuesday — and until their offense begins to produce runs consistently, I suspect that you’ll find value on both bets on a game-to-game basis.

While I doubt that you’ll find value on this game in the first half, I would bet the Reds’ full game moneyline down to +142 and the over 8 up to -105.

Recommended Bets

  • Cincinnati Reds (+155) at Caesars (bet to +142)
  • Over 8 (+100) at DraftKings (bet to -105)
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Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays

Nick Pivetta vs. Kevin Gausman

Red Sox Odds +165
Blue Jays Odds -185
Over/Under 8 (-115/-105)
First Pitch 7:07 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Red Sox probability: 41.5% (fair odds of +141)
  • Blue Jays probability: 58.5% (-141)
  • Projected total: 8.21

While I was higher on the Blue Jays than most coming into the season (projected 95.4 wins; 97 from Davenport, 90.4 from PECOTA, 92.4 from FanGraphs), the betting market has consistently forced me to take a stand — on a game to game basis — against my most considerable World Series future.

I try to put my preseason futures out of my mind once the regular season starts and focus on individual game projections. Still,  I don’t love consistently betting against a team that I have a bunch of preseason money invested in.

Nick Pivetta was a revelation last season (3.81 xERA) for the Red Sox. Although I’m slightly concerned about decreased velocity (down from 94.8 mph to 93.2 mph) on his season line, Pivetta sat at 93.5 mph in his last start, a level where he lived for part of last summer.

Pivetta showed an increased focus on a high fastball/low breaking ball approach after moving to Boston.

The righty has shown spotty command (nine walks allowed in 11 2/3 innings) to start his 2022 campaign, but Boston offers significant value on Tuesday if he reverts to last season’s effectiveness.

Nick Pivetta saves the day with 4 shutout innings and 7 strike outs!

— Boston Strong (@BostonStrong_34) October 11, 2021

Pivetta’s called strike plus whiff rate (26.1%) is down slightly from last season (27%), as is his zone percentage (44% to 40.4%). Still, his overall profile has nothing particularly concerning, aside from the slight velocity dip; but that hasn’t hindered his ability to generate swinging strikes.

Conversely, Kevin Gausman hasn’t walked a single batter through his first three starts and 18 2/3 innings. He’s improved upon his West Coast breakout (3.52 xERA over 45 appearances with the Giants from 2020-21) in his short stay in Toronto (3.03 xERA, 1.84 xFIP).

Based on the model’s prior weights, my most optimistic projection for Boston is +131 (and +134 for the first five innings). In contrast, my most conservative projection puts those lines at +145 and +159, respectively. Even using my worst-case scenario, you’re still getting projected value on Boston here.

Ultimately, I set the projections at +141 for the full game and +152 for the first five innings, and I would split those bets down to +153 and +165, respectively.

Recommended Bets

  • Boston Red Sox (+168) at FanDuel (bet to +153)
  • Boston Red Sox F5 (+165) at Rivers (bet to +165)
  • Over 7.5 (-110) at Caesars (bet to -110)
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Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox

Daniel Lynch vs. Dallas Keuchel

Royals Odds +130
White Sox Odds -150
Over/Under 9 (-105/-115)
First Pitch 7:10 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Royals probability: 43.5% (fair odds of +130)
  • White Sox probability: 56.5% (-130)
  • Projected total: 9.40

Before I saw the listed total, I blindly assumed that I’d be on the overs in this matchup.

My model is about as low as you can be on both Dallas Keuchel (6.15 xERA in 2021) and Daniel Lynch (6.35), who have both reverted toward projections this year (4.46 xERA for Keuchel, 4.35 for Lynch).

Additionally, the White Sox have underperformed to a more severe degree than any other offense (.349 xwOBA,278 actual wOBA), ranking as a top-six club in expected production but a bottom-five team in actual production.

Both teams hit better against lefties than they do against righties.

Since the start of last season, the White Sox have posted a 104 wRC+ against righties (7th), compared to a 115 wRC+ against southpaw pitching (2nd). Likewise, the Royals rank 25th against righties (85 wRC+) but 20th against lefties (97 wRC+).

And given their current rosters, I project the Royals as 10% better and the White Sox more than 30% better against lefties (projected 106 wRC+ and 139 wRC+, respectively) as compared to righties (96 wRC+ and 103 wRC+, respectively)

Lynch is a tall young southpaw with projectable upside. Still, he’s a two-pitch guy (fastball/slider) who has struggled against right-handed hitters (.386 wOBA; compared to .185 vs. lefties). And the White Sox can feed him nine right-handed or switch-hitting bats.

Keuchel doesn’t have an individual indicator that has forced his level to drop, but his skills have deteriorated over time. After winning the AL Cy Young award in 2015 (2.7 xERa, 2.75 xFIP), Keuchel’s indicators fell towards 3.5 in the two subsequent seasons and have held north of 4 (and typically higher than 4.5) in the past four seasons.

I would consider a bet on the Royals at +141 (41.5% implied) or better, at a 2% edge compared to my projection.

Still, I prefer the over 8.5 and the F5 over 4.5 in this matchup. I would bet those totals up to 8.5 (-122), or 9 (-103) for the full game, and up to 4.5 (-125) or 5 (-105) for the first five innings).

Recommended Bets

  • Kansas City Royals (+145) at Rivers (bet to +140)
  • Royals/White Sox, F5 Over 4.5 (-122) at FanDuel (bet to -125)
  • Royals/White Sox, Over 8.5 (-115) at Caesars (bet to -125)
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Cleveland Guardians vs. Los Angeles Angels

Triston McKenzie vs. Patrick Sandoval

Guardians Odds +140
Angels Odds -160
Over/Under 8.5 (+105/-125)
First Pitch 9:38 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Guardians probability: 42.2% (fair odds of +137)
  • Angels probability: 57.8 (-137)
  • Projected total: 7.93

Let’s end the slate with a couple of starting pitchers I’m high on and a corresponding F5 Under 4.5 (projected 3.91) in Anaheim.

Patrick Sandoval was a pleasant surprise for the Angels’ pitching staff last season (3.55 xERA, 3.79 FIP). He has stayed hot in 2022 (2.59 xERA, 3.99 xFIP), with eight shutout innings over two starts following a stress fracture in his back which ended his 2021 campaign prematurely.

It’s encouraging to see Sandoval’s velocity immediately return to previous heights (average 93.2 mph in 2022) after dipping to 91.7 mph in two of his final five starts last year.

Sandoval’s changeup was particularly effective, ranking as the fourth-best changeup amongst starting pitchers on a per-pitch basis — just below Walker Buehler, Jacob deGrom, and (obviously) Chi-Chi Gonzalez (!?). The offspeed pitch generates a high number of whiffs.

What a performance from Patrick Sandoval.

8.2 IP 1 H 0 R 1 BB 13 K

He generated 13 misses on 18 swings (72.2%) against his changeup.#WeBelieve

— Inside Edge (@IE_MLB) July 25, 2021

Scouting reports showed Sandoval with four average offerings and slightly below-average command, but he appears to have surpassed all expectations thus far, and his slider has also proven effective.

Triston McKenzie burst onto the scene during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, posting the highest strikeout rate (33.1%) for a rookie starter since Stephen Strasburg — albeit in 33 1/3 innings.

At 6-foot-5 and 165 pounds, McKenzie’s long-term durability remains a mystery. Still, when he’s on the mound, he’s a relatively electric pitcher who projects for above-average command with a pair of above-average breaking balls.

Interestingly, McKenzie has increased his fastball usage in consecutive seasons (53.3%, 61.4%, and 72.7%). I suspect he’s still trying to find his command after a shortened spring (six walks allowed in 11 1/3 innings). While McKenzie limited walks in the minors, he’s struggled to find the zone for the beginning of consecutive seasons.

McKenzie’s walk rate in the second half of 2021 (7.3%) mirrored his walk rate in the high-minors after a disastrous first half (18.9% walk rate). I expect him to settle in this year, too, eventually.

I would bet the Guardians’ moneyline at +149 (40.2% implied) or better. And I would consider an under 8.5 at -11 or better.

For now, I prefer the F5 under 4.5, compared to my projection of 3.91. You can place that bet up to -125.

Recommended Bets

  • F5 Under 4.5 (-112) at Rivers (bet to -125)

Bets (April 26)

  • Astros/Rangers, Under 9.5 (-110) at Caesars (bet to -116)
  • Athletics/Giants, Over 6.5 (-115) at Wynn (bet to -115)
  • Boston Red Sox (+168) at FanDuel (bet to +153)
  • Boston Red Sox F5 (+165) at Rivers (bet to +165)
  • Cincinnati Reds (+155) at Caesars (bet to +142)
  • Colorado Rockies (+154) at Caesars (bet to +147)
  • Detroit Tigers F5 (+125) at MGM (bet to +123)
  • Dodgers/Diamondbacks, Under 10 (-110) at Caesars (bet to -114)
  • Guardians/Angels, F5 Under 4.5 (-112) at Rivers (bet to -125)
  • Kansas City Royals (+145) at Rivers (bet to +140)
  • Marlins/Nationals, Over 7.5 (+100) at MGM (bet to -110)
  • Miami Marlins F5 (-118) at FanDuel (bet to -118)
  • Mitch Keller, Over 4.5 Strikeouts (+116) at Fanduel (Bet to 5 (+100))
  • Orioles/Yankees, Over 7.5 (-114) at FanDuel (bet to 8 (-108))
  • Padres/Reds, Over 8 (+100) at DraftKings (bet to -105)
  • Parlay (+120) at DraftKings: Dodgers F5 (-185) and Yankees F5 (-230)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (+160) at Caesars (bet to +145)
  • Red Sox/Blue Jays, Over 7.5 (-110) at Caesars (bet to -110)
  • Royals/White Sox, F5 Over 4.5 (-122) at FanDuel (bet to -125)
  • Royals/White Sox, Over 8.5 (-115) at Caesars (bet to -125)
  • St. Louis Cardinals (+108) at Wynn (bet to +106)
  • Tampa Bay Rays F5 (-120) at MGM (bet to -122)
  • Tampa Bay Rays (-122) at Rivers (bet to -127

Watching (April 26)

  • Cleveland Guardians (wait for +149)
  • Detroit Tigers (wait for +131)
  • Guardians/Angels, Under 8.5 (wait for -111)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates F5 (wait for +155)
  • Oakland Athletics (wait for +240)

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