MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions | Expert Projections for Monday, April 10

MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions | Expert Projections for Monday, April 10 article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Judge, Masataka Yoshida and Roansy Contreras.

Welcome to Opening Pitch, my column you'll find daily throughout the 2023 MLB season.

My goal for Opening Pitch is to highlight my top daily projection edges for MLB moneylines and totals, share my favorite bets and provide some betting notes and analysis, mainly as I react to opening and overnight lines while using my baseball betting model.

I will look to release a new version of Opening Pitch daily between midnight and 3 a.m. ET; after I enter my overnight bets in the Action Network App and update the MLB projections. Hopefully, you will use it as your morning betting guide to get ahead of the baseball markets.

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

You can also shop for the best lines on our odds page.

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Expert Picks for Monday, April 10

Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins

Dylan Cease vs. Kenta Maeda
First Pitch: 2:10 p.m. ET

Maeda left his start early last Tuesday — his first since 2021 — due to arm fatigue. Maeda was excellent in that outing against the Marlins (5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 9 K) and seems poised to re-assert himself as one of the best five-and-dive starters in baseball if he can stay healthy.

Still, I show value on Monday's White Sox F5 (first five innings) moneyline; you can bet Chicago in the first half up to -116. I projected that line closer to -126.

Dylan Cease doesn't get enough love for becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball last season (2.7 xERA or expected ERA, fourth among qualified starters), finishing second in futures/mlb-al-cy-young-odds">AL Cy Young voting (with some down-ballot votes for AL MVP, too).

Maeda finished second in AL Cy Young voting during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and could potentially regain that peak form (2.75 xERA in 11 starts). Still, it's likelier that he regresses closer to his career averages (3.68 xFIP) and pitches closer to a No. 3 starter throughout an entire season, a couple of tiers below Cease.

New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Guardians

Domingo German vs. Shane Bieber
First Pitch: 6:10 pm. ET

If you have been tailing my bets, reading this column, or both, you know that we have bet on the Guardians a bunch already this year — both in the futures market and on a game-to-game basis.

I would venture to guess that they were my most selected team over the first 10 days of the season. And we essentially bet against the Yankees during their three-game series in Baltimore.

In the preseason futures markets, I was high on both teams. Still, I'm happy to bet against Cleveland here for the first time all year with its presumptive ace on the hill for his third start.

Shane Bieber was a pitcher we bet against a lot last season — especially early on. I highlighted his obvious usage of sticky stuff and his small sample success (1.63 ERA, 2.62 xERA) while facing a Central-Divison-only schedule during the pandemic-shortened season where we backed Bieber to win the AL Cy Young, and he cashed those tickets.

Still, that 2020 campaign remains the outlier relative to Bieber's career averages (3.51 xERA in 2022; 3.73 in 2021; 3.83 in 2019; 4.21 in his 2018 rookie year). And his velocity has plummeted in time since:

Bieber's four-seamer got shelled last season (.315 expected batting average or xBA; .513 expected slugging percentage or xSLG) but he has moved away from the fastball and toward his cutter this year through two starts, potentially as a precaution against the declining fastball velocity.

Bieber is still an extremely effective pitcher. He has excellent command and mixes his arsenal well. And permitting more balls in play with excellent team defense behind you isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Still, with a league-average defense behind him, Bieber would rate closer to an average starter (3.54 projected ERA from Steamer; 4.05 from the BAT) than a Cy Young winner. The underlying metrics are missing something with Bieber — maybe it's just team defense. Still, he regularly outperforms his expected ERA by at least a half of a run:

  • 2019: 3.28 ERA, 3.83 xERA
  • 2020: 1.63 ERA, 2.62 xERA
  • 2021: 3.17 ERA, 3.73 xERA
  • 2022: 2.88 ERA, 3.51 xERA

Some players break models. Bieber seems to be able to do that to a degree.

He strands runners at a slightly higher rate (roughly 3-4%) than the league average; however, Bieber has carried a .305 BABIP — higher than the league mark in recent years — so you can't blame the ERA differential on defense or situational pitching alone.

Still, I have difficulty projecting Bieber as a significantly better pitcher than those underlying metrics.

The Yankees are a rare team that can match Cleveland in defensive excellence, and they also have a far superior offensive lineup.

Moreover, the Guardians' bullpen is pretty worn down after a grinding series and a long extra-inning game on Sunday against the Mariners.

You can bet the Yankees at +135 or better.

Additionally, you can bet Under 7.5 to -113, with Progressive Field set for unfavorable hitting conditions on Monday (projected total 6.9).

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Houston Astros vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Framber Valdez vs. Roansy Contreras
First Pitch: 6:35 p.m. ET

The Pirates lost their budding star, Oneil Cruz, for a significant stretch — if not the entire season — after a brutal injury on Sunday, potentially killing the positive vibes surrounding a young and fun team off to a 6-3 start.

The Astros are 4-6 and playing with a relatively depleted lineup. Their pitching depth should keep them in the hunt no matter what, but they seem extremely vulnerable on a game-to-game basis.

If you've been following my stuff long enough, you have probably won a bunch of money betting on Framber Valdez, but we will have to bet against my guy for the third consecutive time this season after beating him with Dylan Cease and Matt Manning.

Valdez is more of a No. 2 type starter in terms of pure effectiveness; however, his longevity (averaging 6.5 innings per start in 2022) is a rarity in modern baseball. Valdez is a groundball unicorn (career 66.2%) who rarely allows homers (0.68 HR per 9 innings), and he regularly pitches deep into his starts. That alone is reason enough to bet him as the Pitching Wins leader every season.

However, I am also high on Roansy Contreras as a pitching prospect. The 23-year-old had a relatively effective debut season (4.43 xERA in 95 IP) and seems poised to take a step forward this season. ERA projections put his range between 4.1-4.7, but I think he can eclipse where he finished in 2022 (3.79 ERA) with three above-average pitches (fastball, slider, curveball):

Roansy Contreras pitching tonight

— Kody Duncan (@KodyDuncanPGH) April 4, 2023

Bet the Pirates to +153, and play the Over up to 8 (-112). The Pirates are in a more favorable split against lefties, and I projected the total at 8.6 after adjusting for wind and weather.

Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Nick Pivetta vs. Jalen Beeks
First Pitch: 6:40 p.m. ET

The Rays are off to a historic 9-0 start, but they have also faced one of the easiest schedules you could ask for to begin a season — nine games against the Athletics, Nationals and Tigers.

The Rays' average consensus price in those nine games was -250, or 71.4% implied. Even after configuring for vig, that is still roughly an average line of -228 (69.5%).

If you extrapolate that out, a team at that implied percentage (69.5%) over a nine-game stretch has about a 3.8% chance of winning all those games. Or, roughly, one in 26 times.

What's far more impressive is that the Rays have easily covered the run line in each game, too. They haven't just won against lesser competition, they have dominated.

The Tampa Bay Rays are the first team since 1884 with a run differential of more than 50 over their first nine games of the season, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.

In 1884, the mound was 50 feet from home and it was the first year pitchers were allowed to throw the ball overhand.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 9, 2023

Still, I projected Boston closer to +120 for Monday; I bet the Red Sox at +132 or better.

Additionally, play their F5 moneyline to +124.

Additionally, the total seems too high for a game at Tropicana Field.

Since 2005, games at the Trop with a total of 8.5 or higher have gone Under at a 54.5% clip (335-279-24). A consistent $100 bettor would be up $3,460 with a 5.4% ROI (Data via Action Labs).

I set the total around 8.1 for this matchup; bet the Under 8.5 to -105.

Cincinnati Reds vs. Atlanta Braves

Graham Ashcraft vs. Bryce Elder
First Pitch: 7:20 p.m. ET

I am high on Graham Ashcraft as a starting pitcher. If Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene project as potential top-of-rotation pitchers, Ashcrast is a high-floor No. 3. The righty carried a 4.02 xERA over 19 starts during his rookie year (105 IP). He gets strikeouts at a decent clip, limits walks and generates groundballs (54.4% career). I view his inevitable talent level as something closer to a 3.5 ERA pitcher rather than his current slate of projections (range for 4.53-4.89, albeit factoring in his home park).

I have never held a high opinion of Bryce Elder, personally. Still, I trust Atlanta's player development staff more than any other organization, and he looked sharp in his first start against a loaded Cardinals lineup. Projection systems view Elder as the superior pitcher, but both my projections and the betting market seem to prefer Ashcraft comfortably. Still, I don't see value in betting on the underdog.

Favorable pitching conditions for Monday (temperatures in the high 50s with the wind blowing in from left field) forced me to knock my projected total for this matchup down to 8.2.

Bet Under 9 to -120, or play 8.5 to -102.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants

Julio Urias vs. Logan Webb
First Pitch: 9:45 p.m. ET

Oracle Park will see winds blowing straight out to center field on Monday night (11 mph at game time), and I like the angle on the Over in a game between two All-Star pitchers.

I projected the total at 8.2. You can bet Over 7.5 to -116.

I don't mind having a card where I'm betting Unders in a game between prospects — like Ashcraft and Elder — or Overs on a game between established starts, like Urias and Webb.

Both feel like naturally contrarian plays, and I'm often happy to see my model spit out bets that also make me slightly uneasy.

Zerillo's Bets for Monday, April 10

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  • Boston Red Sox F5 (+130, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +124)
  • Boston Red Sox (+140, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to +132)
  • Boston Red Sox / Tampa Bay Rays, Under 8.5 (+100, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to -105)
  • Cincinnati Reds / Atlanta Braves, Under 9 (-110, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -120 or 8.5, -102)
  • Chicago White Sox F5 (-110, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -116)
  • Colorado Rockies (+130, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +126)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers / San Francisco Giants, Over 7.5 (-112, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -116)
  • New York Yankees (+135, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +135)
  • New York Yankees / Cleveland Guardians, Under 7.5 (-105, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -113)
  • Parlay (+175, 0.5u) at BetMGM (parlay t0 -220 and -135): Los Angeles Angels F5 (-200) / New York Mets F5 (-120)
  • Philadelphia Phillies (+110, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +110)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (+168, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +153)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates / Houston Astros, Over 7.5 (-115, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to 8, -112)
  • Seattle Mariners / Chicago Cubs, Under 9 (-115, 0.25u) at Caesars (bet to -122 or 8.5, -104)

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