MLB Picks Today | Odds, Expert Projections for Friday, May 26
Getty Images. Pictured: Bobby Witt Jr., Anthony Volpe, Riley Greene.
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.
Expert Picks for Friday, May 26
Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox
Joey Wentz vs. Lance Lynn
First Pitch: 6:40 p.m. ET
Through 10 starts, Lance Lynn has posted the worst expected ERA (xERA) of his career (5.08). Pitch model data says that Lynn’s stuff is about seven percent worse than last season, while his command remains on par with last year. He’s seemingly earned every bit of his .344 BABIP and 1.88 HR/9 rate (career averages of .299 and 0.93). Still, I expect Lynn to pitch to something closer to a mid to low 4s ERA the rest of the way.
Joey Wentz (5.79 xERA) has both lesser stuff and command than Lynn, and he puts the White Sox into their superior offensive split (16th vs. lefties, 26th vs. righties), which makes the F5 (first five innings) Over appealing. I set the first-half total at 4.9; bet F5 Over 4.5 to -115. Wentz has high blowup potential.
However, if Wentz doesn’t implode, the Tigers‘ bullpen can keep this game competitive (18th in xFIP; Chicago 23rd), even though my model shows a bullpen advantage for the White Sox. I set Detroit as +114 underdogs; play their moneyline to +124.
San Diego Padres vs. New York Yankees
Joe Musgrove vs. Randy Vasquez
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET
The Yankees are promoting former international signee Randy Vasquez for a Friday start in the Bronx. The 24-year-old righty pairs a plus curveball with big fastball velocity and spotty command, evidenced by an 11.7% walk rate at Triple-A this season (23 walks in 42 2/3 IP).
Unless his command improves dramatically or his sweeper turns into an above-average major-league pitch, I expect Vasquez to end up as a good bullpen piece, with his ceiling being Seth Lugo.
FIP projections put Vasquez between 4.3 and 4.9 in terms of true talent; I’m using something on the more pessimistic end of that range, and I still favor the Yankees for Friday.
I projected the Yankees as -110 favorites; bet their moneyline down to -104, and increase your stake until +105.
Joe Musgrove (4.35 xERA) is still rounding into form after a spring training injury, and I see the two bullpens as relatively equivalent.
Additionally, without Manny Machado in their lineup, I see the two teams as relatively equal on offense, with a baserunning and defensive advantage for the Yankees.
Washington Nationals vs. Kansas City Royals
Patrick Corbin vs. Jordan Lyles
First Pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET
While I love to fade Patrick Corbin directly, I like the Royals‘ full-game moneyline in this matchup due to a bullpen advantage. Royals relievers rank 11th in strikeout minus walk rate and 17th in xFIP compared to a Nationals bullpen that ranks in the bottom four by both measurements.
And the Kansas City bullpen should be fresh after an off day — amid a six-game homestand — while the Nationals had to travel from Washington, D.C., after using almost all of their critical relievers on back-to-back days or twice in three days in a wasted comeback against the Padres.
Bet the Royals to -118, and play Over 9 to -120.
You can also target the Royals live after the starters exit; the Nationals might run out of relievers in the late innings.
New York Mets vs. Colorado Rockies
Max Scherzer vs. Conor Seabold
First Pitch: 8:40 p.m. ET
I have discussed Scherzer’s recent injury history in detail throughout the season — and we have bet against him regularly. The question is how long he has left and how effective he will be on Friday.
After allowing six runs to the Tigers on May 3 — and getting scratched from his subsequent start — Scherzer returned on 11 days rest, averaging 94.1 mph on his fastball, his highest mark of the season. However, that fastball velocity dipped to 92.6 mph — a season-low — and his lowest mark in an individual start since 2017.
My gut says that he might have gotten an injection during that 11-day break, which provided temporary relief, but that might have worn off before his recent outing.
Scherzer has also never taken well to Coors Field. In six career appearances in Denver, Scherzer is 0-3 with a 6.39 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP (31 IP, 41 H, 6 HR, 9 BB, 35 K). Perhaps the slider — his best pitch — is neutralized in the thin air in Colorado, as it is for so many pitchers in baseball, which has led in part to the rocky results.
I bet an Over 10.5 early but would play Over 11 (to -111) if it comes back into range. Otherwise, bet the Rockies on the moneyline to +172.
Zerillo’s Bets for Friday, May 26
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- Baltimore Orioles (-120, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -124)
- Boston Red Sox / ArizonaDiamondbacks, Over 8.5 (-110, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to -115)
- Cincinnati Reds / Chicago Cubs, F5 Under 3.5 (-112, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -115)
- Colorado Rockies (+190, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +172)
- Colorado Rockies / New YorkMets, Over 10.5 (-120, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to 11, -111)
- Detroit Tigers (+125, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to +124)
- Detroit Tigers / Chicago White Sox, F5 Over 4.5 (-105, 0.5u) at BetMGM (bet to -115)
- Kansas City Royals (-115, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -118)
- Kansas City Royals / Washington Nationals, Over 9 (-115, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -120)
- Miami Marlins (+125, 0.5u) at DraftKings (now need +128 or better after updated projected lineups)
- MinnesotaTwins (+130, 0.5u) at DraftKings (now need +137 or better after updated projected lineups)
- Minnesota Twins / Toronto Blue Jays, Under 8.5 (-120, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to 8, -112)
- New York Yankees F5 (+110, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +108)
- New York Yankees (+110, 0.75u) at WynnBet (bet to -104, reduce risk below +105)
- Pittsburgh Pirates / Seattle Mariners, Under 7 (-105, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -108)
- Philadelphia Phillies F5 (+128, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +121)
- Philadelphia Phillies (+135, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +132)
- San Francisco Giants / Milwaukee Brewers, Over 8 (-110, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to -118 or 8.5, +100)
- St. Louis Cardinals (+110, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +108)
- Tampa Bay Rays (-108, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -113)
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