MLB Picks Today | Odds, Expert Projections for Friday, June 30

MLB Picks Today | Odds, Expert Projections for Friday, June 30 article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Henry Davis, Pablo Lopez, Spencer Torkelson

Welcome to Opening Pitch, my 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 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 Friday, June 30

Cleveland Guardians vs. Chicago Cubs

Cal Quantrill vs. Justin Steele
First Pitch: 2:20 p.m. ET

Justin Steele (3.14 xERA) should give the Cubs a significant starting pitching advantage over Cal Quantrill (5.82 xERA) and the Guardians.

As I highlighted in my London Series betting preview, Steele seems like a two-pitch guy (four-seam fastball or slider >90% of the time) but takes multiple viewings to appreciate fully. His strikeout rate isn't outstanding, but he has good command, generates a healthy number of ground balls (50.4% career), and rarely serves up home runs (0.81 HR/9) due to a meager barrel rate (4.9%). His slider is elite (128 Stuff+), but pitching models seem to have trouble grasping the quality of Steele's fastball (87 Stuff+). Still, it consistently generates positive outcomes.

Quantrill is coming off of the IL after a shoulder injury and seeing his K-BB% (5.3%) halve year over year (10.5% in 2022). Among 192 qualified starting pitchers (min. 20 innings pitched) this season, Quantrill ranks 169th in Pitching+ (94). Steele ranks 62nd, but as I mentioned, Stuff+ isn't accurately assessing his fastball.

Cleveland's offense presents a much easier matchup for Steele than his London meeting with the southpaw-smashing Cardinals. The Guardians rank 26th against lefties this season (88 wRC+) after finishing 27th last season.

I projected the Cubs as -220 favorites for the first five innings (F5) and -170 favorites for the full game. Bet Chicago in both halves, to -200 (F5) and -160 (full game).

Additionally, I projected the total at 7.76; bet Under 8.5 to -118.

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Freddy Peralta vs. Osvaldo Bido
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET

Underlying metrics suggest that Freddy Peralta (4.15 xERA, 4.25 xFIP) has regressed compared to the past couple of seasons (2.66 xERA, 3.66 xFIP in 2021; 2.70 xERA, 3.66 xFIP in 2022). His strikeout rate has declined for the second-consecutive season, and Peralta is getting barreled up (9.3%) frequently, leading to a career-worst 1.55 HR/9 (career 1.07) and 15.2% HR/FB rate (11% career).

Pitch models say that Peralta has the same caliber of Stuff (107 Stuff+) as last season, and his arsenal only declined by four points (down from 111) between the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Still, Peralta sat at 93.6 mph in his last start (5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K) — his lowest reading since May 15 — and it's difficult to see a return to peak form. All of his pitches have returned a negative pitch value this season after finishing in positive territory last year.

Osvaldo Bido (3.40 xERA in 15 2/3 innings) wasn't expected to be a significant contributor (projected FIP range 4.32 to 5.24). He's 27 years old, and pitching models rate his entire arsenal below average.

Milwaukee has the better bullpen in this matchup. I rate these two offenses somewhat comparable, which aligns with their rankings against right-handed pitching for the season (90 wRC+ for Pittsburgh, 88 wRC+ for Milwaukee).

The Pirates' best hitter, Bryan Reynolds (122 wRC+), took batting practice on Thursday and is eligible to return from the IL on Friday.

Assuming Reynolds plays, I make the Pirates very slight underdogs (roughly 48.5%) in both halves; bet their F5 moneyline to +113 and their full game line to +116.

Without Reynolds in the lineup, I would set those targets closer to +120 and +125, respectively.

Minnesota Twins vs. Baltimore Orioles

Pablo Lopez vs. Dean Kremer
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET

Despite an improved arsenal and enhanced underlying indicators, Pablo Lopez is carrying his worst ERA (4.41) since 2019. Everyone has decided that the Marlins won the Luis Arraez-Pablo Lopez deal, but Lopez has made some noticeable improvements.

Lopez added a sweeper to his arsenal (21.2% usage rate) and gained more than a tick on his fastball velocity, leading to an explosion in his Stuff+ (95 to 101) and Pitching+ (102 to 110) numbers. Last season, Lopez ranked 63rd out of 235 qualified starters (min. 20 innings) in Pitching+; this season, he ranks fourth out of 192 pitchers — tied with Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler and George Kirby and behind Jacob deGrom, Spencer Strider and Drew Rasmussen.

Lopez's strikeout rate (30.1%) is a career-high (12th best among that group of 192 pitchers) and nearly six percent above his career average (23.3%) — yet his ERA is more than a run higher than his expected mark (3.11); he's due for better results in the future.

Dean Kremer (4.50 ERA, 5.71 xERA) is on the other end of the luck spectrum; he should have worse results. Still, Kremer should pitch better going forward. He retains an above-average fastball and slider (103 and 116 Stuff+, respectively) and projects as a league-average starter (100 Pitching+).

He should have a difficult matchup against a Twins offense that ranks much better against righties (102 wRC+, 11th) than lefties (85 wRC+, 28th).

Even though I expect both pitchers to have better results over the remainder of the season, I still project a substantial difference between the pair (1.3 runs on a model-weighted ERA), and would bet the Twins to -128 for the first half (F5) and -110 for the full game (projected -139 and -118, respectively).

Additionally, bet Over 8.5 to -115. I set the total at 9.18, given the favorable offensive conditions.

Detroit Tigers vs. Colorado Rockies 

Michael Lorenzen vs. Austin Gomber
First Pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET

The Tigers have performed better against lefties (94 wRC+, 24th) than righties (82 wRC+, 29th) — a trend that dates back to last season when they were a league-average team against lefties (100 wRC+) and historically bad against righties (74 wRC+, 30th).

Detroit can send out nine right-handed bats against any southpaw. Splits aren't particularly problematic for Austin Gomber (career 4.37 xFIP vs. righties, 4.44 vs. lefties), but it's still worth noting.

Gomber (6.86 xERA) has struggled as much as any regular starting pitcher this season. His K-BB% is down drastically and on a three-year decline (from 14.8% in 2021 to 11.5% in 2022 and now 6.9% this season). Pitching models place him 181st out of that group of 192 starters (78 Stuff+, 97 Location+, 92 Pitching+).

Michael Lorenzen (101 Pitching+, T-67th; 103 Stuff+, 101 Pitching+) is a significantly better arm, though it remains to be seen if he can spin his slider at Coors Field. Lorenzen only has one career start at Coors, but he hasn't had much success (7 2/3 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 2 BB, 5 K) in a limited sample.

I don't project value on the full game line; Detroit's bullpen was over-extended in Texas, with Matthew Boyd, Will Vest and Reese Olson all sustaining injuries.

However, you can bet the Tigers' F5 moneyline up to -133 (projected -143) and hopefully avoid their relievers.

Additionally, I set the total at 11.36 with unseasonably cool temperatures (67 degrees at first pitch) and six-mph winds blowing in at Coors Field. Bet Under 12 to -120, or Under 11.5 to -102.

New York Yankees vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Luis Severino vs. Matthew Liberatore
First Pitch: 8:15 p.m. ET

After getting a late start to his season due to injury, Luis Severino came out firing (96.7 and 98 mph in his first two starts) before experiencing a velocity dip (95-96.2 mph in his three subsequent starts) and then rediscovering his elite heat (97 and 97.3 mph in his past two outings).

Severino has allowed eight home runs in 36 innings (2.00 HR/9; 1.09 career), seen his K-BB% halve (10.4%) compared to last season (20.2%). His xERA currently sits at 6.49, contrasting his ace-level results (2.94 xERA) from 2022.

Pitching models still view Severino as an above-average starter, even if his arsenal (105 Stuff+) is slightly reduced compared to last season (108 Stuff+).

Pitching models view Liberatore as a significantly below-average arm (86 Stuff+, 89 Location+). And to revert to that same list of 192 pitchers one final time, Liberatore ranks 191st with an 89 Pitching+ figure. Only Jared Shuster (86 Pitching+) ranks worse.

Liberatore has pitched to a 5.81 ERA, 6.18 xERA and a 5.26 xFIP in 16 career appearances and 62 innings. He's been functional against lefties (4.66 xFIP; .622 OPS allowed) but downright dreadful against righties (5.48 xFIP, .958 OPS allowed).

Before their outburst against the A's the past couple of days, the Yankees had had the league's worst offense since early June — when Aaron Judge went on the IL. And when Judge missed time earlier in the season, they ranked 28th in wRC+ during his absence.

Still, they can feed Liberatore eight right-handed bats, and even though I projected the total at 8.51 and like the Under to 9 (-107), I was hesitant to bet it pre-game.

If you're patient and wait until Liberatore leaves what might potentially be a competitive game, you might snag a live Under 9.5 (or 11.5 if there's a bunch of early scoring) as the game turns to the bullpens.

Zerillo's Bets for Friday, June 30

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  • Chicago Cubs F5 (-175, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -200)
  • Chicago Cubs (-145, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -160)
  • Chicago Cubs / Cleveland Guardians, Under 9 (-122, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to 8.5, -118)
  • Chicago White Sox / Oakland Athletics, Under 10 (-115, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -120 or 8.5, +100)
  • Cincinnati Reds (+122, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +118)
  • Detroit Tigers F5 (-130, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -133)
  • Detroit Tigers / Colorado Rockies, Under 12 (-115, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -120 or 11.5, -102)
  • Houston Astros (+150, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +150)
  • Houston Astros / Texas Rangers, Under 9.5 (-120, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to 9, -115)
  • Los Angeles Angels / Arizona Diamondbacks, Under 9.5 (-110, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to -112)
  • Miami Marlins (+165, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +158)
  • Miami Marlins / Atlanta Braves, Under 10 (-105, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to -112)
  • Minnesota Twins F5 (-110, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -128)
  • Minnesota Twins (+110, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -110)
  • Minnesota Twins / Baltimore Orioles, Over 8.5 (-110, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -115)
  • New York Mets (+125, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +120)
  • New York Yankees F5 (-110, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -110)
  • New York Yankees / St. Louis Cardinals, Under 9.5 (-115, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to 9, -107)
  • Parlay (+191, 0.25u) at WynnBet: Chicago Cubs F5 (-180) & Minnesota Twins F5 (-115)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates F5 (+118, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +113)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (+130, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +116)
  • San Francisco Giants / New York Mets, Over 9 (+100, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to +100)
  • Washington Nationals / Philadelphia Phillies, Over 9 (-115, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -116)

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