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Monday MLB Expert Picks, Predictions, Odds on April 3

Monday MLB Expert Picks, Predictions, Odds on April 3 article feature image

Pictured: Jake McCarthy, Austin Hays and Jeremy Pena.

  • There's plenty of action to be found on Monday’s 15-game MLB slate.
  • Our expert baseball analyst has spotted a number of games with value.
  • Continue reading for Sean Zerillo's betting picks for Monday.

Welcome to Opening Pitch, my new column that 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 and picks 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.

Let’s jump into Monday’s full 15-game slate.

Expert Picks for Monday, April 3

San Francisco Giants vs. Chicago White Sox

Anthony DeSclafani vs. Michael Kopech
First Pitch: 3:10 p.m.

The two starting pitchers had drastically different 2022 seasons; Kopech had an excellent season transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation (119 1/3 IP, 25 starts) — although he overachieved (3.54 ERA, 3.94 xERA, 4.83 xFIP).

DeScafalni posted awful results over five starts (6.63 ERA, 5.59 xERA, 4.14 xFIP), and his 2021 season (3.17 ERA, 3.89 xERA, 3.95 xFIP) seems like the outlier compared to his 2022, and 2020 seasons (7.22 ERA, 6.44 xERA, 5.63 xFIP).

The gap in Model Weighted ERA for the two starters is less than half of a run (3.82 vs. 4.26), and I view the White Sox offense as significantly better against lefties than righties, yet I still see an edge on the White Sox first-five innings, or F5 moneyline.

Kopech wasn’t particularly sharp this spring, but I would bet Chicago’s F5 moneyline up to -135 at a two percent edge compared to my number (-147, or 59.5% implied). Their full-game moneyline comes into betting range below -125.

Pick: White Sox F5 ML (-135 or Better)

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Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds

Drew Smyly vs. Connor Overton
First Pitch: 6:40 p.m. ET

I see several ways to bet on the Reds and the Overs in various combinations for this matchup.

Ultimately, I found the most significant edges on the following bets: the Reds F5 team total Over 1.5; and their full game moneyline.

Some alternative options include Cincinnati’s F5 moneyline, the F5 Over 4.5, or the full game Over 8.5.

Although Smyly is the more recognizable name, I project Overton as the slightly superior starter, and the bullpens are (surprisingly to me) relatively equal on paper.

Chicago is a top 10 defensive and baserunning team, while Cincinnati is a bottom 10 team in both categories; however, the Reds do project better against lefties than righties, and I don’t mind the matchup against Smyly.

I projected Cincinnati’s F5 team total at 2.48; and was able to bet Over 1.5 (-145) at DraftKings. Bet the Reds F5 team total Over 1.5 up to -160, or 2 (-120). Otherwise, I would look to bet the F5 Over 4.5 to -114 or the Reds F5 moneyline to +101.

When I project edges on both the side and the total in the same matchup, there is typically a correlated derivative market (team totals) with a more significant edge, which makes the decision simple.

I set my F5 team total price targets at numbers comparable to the current best available edges on the Reds and Over in the F5 market. All things being equal, at that point, I would rather you lay -114 or take plus money on the F5 Over F5 Reds moneyline than betting over-juiced team totals.

I wouldn’t double down and play multiple F5 bets on the Reds or the total, however, since our F5 team total already correlates to both.

In the full-game markets, bet Cincinnati’s moneyline to +102, and wait for -105 or better to play Over 8.5 (projected 8.9).

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Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Boston Red Sox

Johan Oviedo vs. Kutter Crawford
First Pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET

All three games in the Red SoxOrioles series flew over the total, despite chilly temperatures in Boston over the weekend.

Although Pittsburgh’s offense pales compared to the Orioles’ deep lineup, I expect a bounce-back season from Bryan Reynolds (who struggled with injuries in 2022), and Oneil Cruz appears more mature. Some rare offseason additions (Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Santana and Ji Hwan Bae) help to bolster a lineup featuring some other underrates talents, including defensive stalwart Ke’Bryan Hayes, the sneakily powerful Jack Suwinski, and the high floor Canaan Smith-Njigba.

Pittsburgh can hit a little, and I’m not particularly fond of either starting pitcher.

Most projection systems have both starters in the 4.5 ERA range for 2023; most view Oviedo as the superior pitcher, but that’s not the case in my model, where Crawford projects significantly better (by roughly a half run).

I projected the F5 total at 5.47 and the full game total at 9.87, and you can bet Over 9.5 to -105.

Additionally, flat bet Boston’s F5 moneyline up to -145.

Baltimore Orioles vs. Texas Rangers

Kyle Bradish vs. Jon Gray
First Pitch: 8:05 p.m. ET

Bradish was a model favorite last season, which appears to be the case again to start of 2023. He posted a 4.49 xERA in 23 starts during his rookie season, but Bradish has big stuff and considerable potential with a four-pitch mix.

After leaving Coors Field, Gray posted solid numbers in 2023 (3.96 ERA, 3.69 xERA). He’s a known commodity (3.75 xFIP); and a clear mid-rotation starter. Still, despite limited MLB action, I project Bradish as a comparable starting pitcher (from a per-game production standpoint).

Kyle Bradish fans a career-high 11 without issuing a walk for the @Orioles!

— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 11, 2022

Aside from a potentially even starting pitching matchup, the teams are relatively comparable offensively and defensively. Baltimore has the superior bullpen, and also projects better against righties and lefties, but I would say the opposite is true for the Rangers. So, Baltimore has the better of the offensive splits.

For Monday, you can bet the Orioles F5 moneyline down +116 or their full game line down to +113 (reduce the risk below +122).

I expect both organizations to make noise in the wild-card hunt this season — and this should be a fun series between two up-and-coming teams.

Detroit Tigers vs. Houston Astros

Matthew Boyd vs. Hunter Brown
First Pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET

Since I am firing at the opener or at least overnight lines every day of the MLB season, I often come across noticeable edges too good to pass up based on the number, even if the number is limited to just one or two books.

That’s why I (or any serious bettor) would recommend spreading your bankroll to as many accounts as possible; you can take advantage of pricing across the betting market (in addition to the promotions from the various books).

I was able to bet the Astros F5 moneyline at -177 (at BetRivers) around 11 p.m. ET on Sunday, and I immediately entered the bet in the Action App. As of publication (2 a.m. ET on Monday), the line is still available, and you can bet Houston’s F5 line up to -195; however, the best line at any other book at the time of publication is -194 at FanDuel; still in range for a bet, but at the edge of my price target.

Editor’s note: As of 8 a.m. Monday the F5 moneyline was -178 at FanDuel and -200 at BetRivers.

Pick: Astros F5 ML (-194 or Better)

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I am incredibly high on Hunter Brown for 2023; he was an easy AL Rookie of the Year bet after the Lance McCullers Jr. injury opened up a rotation spot, and on a per-game basis Brown projects with the elite pitchers in baseball. Out of the gate, I view him as on par with other higher-end No. 2 type starters in the league, like Shane Bieber, Zac Gallen, Blake Snell and Logan Webb.

Wow! What a debut for Hunter Brown! Six shut-out innings.

IP: 6
H: 3
ER: 0
BB: 1

— APOLLO MEDIA (@ApolloHOU) September 6, 2022

Boyd could return to career heights and a similar level as Brown (3.56 xERA over 31 starts in 2018) following flexor-tendon surgery; however, the odds (and a career 4.90 ERA, 4.63 xFIP) are stacked against him.

Moreover, as I typically reference, the Astros project better against lefties than anyone; Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker show neutral splits, and adding Jose Abreu to the mix will prove extra intimidating for lefties in the playoffs once Jose Altuve returns.

The Tigers also rate slightly better against lefties than righties, so Houston is getting the better of the starting pitching matchup, offenses, and splits on both ends.

Hopefully, you can get the best of their F5 number.

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres

Ryne Nelson vs. Ryan Weathers
First Pitch: 9:40 p.m. ET

Ryan Weathers has long been a model fade for many of his 19 MLB starts (5.49 ERA, 4.77 xFIP in 31 appearances, and 98 1/3 IP), and Ryne Nelson has three above-average pitches — projects as the superior starter.

The Padres have advantages offensively and in the bullpen, but the Diamondbacks rank as a clear top-five (if not top-three) defensive and baserunning team. San Diego is top 10 but a tier below.

I expect to bet on Arizona a bunch this season, especially against the best teams in the National League. The Snakes split a four-game set against the Dodgers but cashed tickets underdog tickets of +164 twice. If you bet one unit on Arizona in all four games, you would be up 1.28 units at a 32% ROI just from the opening weekend.

For Monday, you can bet Arizona’s F5 moneyline to +111 and their full game moneyline to +124.

What is QuickSlip?

QuickSlip is an Action Network feature that allows users to automatically pre-load their bet slip at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Zerillo’s Bets for April 3

For additional bet notifications, follow me in the Action Network App. 

  • Arizona Diamondbacks F5 (+120, 0.5u) at BetMGM
  • Arizona Diamondbacks (+128, 0.5u) at FanDuel
  • Baltimore Orioles F5 (+128, 0.5u) at BetRivers
  • Baltimore Orioles (+130, 0.75u) at WynnBet
  • Boston Red Sox (-140, Risk 0.5u) at FanDuel
  • Chicago White Sox F5 (-122, 0.5u) at FanDuel
  • Chicago White Sox (-125, 0.5u) at WynnBet
  • Cincinnati Reds F5 Team Total Over 1.5 (-145, 0.5u) at DraftKings
  • Cincinnati Reds (+110, 0.5u) at WynnBet
  • Houston Astros F5 (-177, 0.5u) at BetRivers
  • Minnesota Twins F5 (-125, 0.5u) at BetMGM
  • Pittsburgh Pirates / Boston Red Sox Over 9.5 (-105, 0.5u) at DraftKings

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