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MLB Picks Today | Odds, Predictions for Thursday (May 11)

MLB Picks Today | Odds, Predictions for Thursday (May 11) article feature image
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Getty Images. Pictured: Domingo German and Ketel Marte

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 Thursday, May 11

New York Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds

Kodai Senga vs. Derek Law
First Pitch:12:35 p.m. ET

Senga has underwhelmed through six major league starts, with a 15.6% walk rate as he adjusts to a new baseball, a new strike zone and a new level of opposition. He sports a 3.38 ERA but has been fortunate with a .256 BABIP and an 87.5% strand rate, compared to major league averages of .295 and 71.5% in those categories. Senga should have an ERA closer to 4.71, his current xERA or expected ERA per Statcast.

The Reds will attempt to cobble together the final game of this series by using Derek Law (5.86 xERA; career 4.36 xFIP) as an opener ahead of Ben Lively, who spent all of 2022 in Triple-A after coming back from a stint in Korea. Lively’s metrics and underlying data from Triple-A are incredibly discouraging, and it’s hard to project him as anything better than what he has shown in his 120-inning MLB sample (career 5.50 xFIP).

While the wind is blowing in on Thursday afternoon in Cincinnati (5.5 mph at first pitch), warm temperatures (as high as 79 degrees during the game) should help to neutralize some of that negative effect.

I projected the total for Thursday at 10.65; bet Over 10 to -115.

The Reds are just looking to eat innings in games not started by Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo or Graham Ashcraft. And we can take advantage of Senga’s relative ineffectiveness and likely regression.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees

Drew Rasmussen vs. Domingo German
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET

Strikeout rate tends to stabilize more quickly than other statistics. Through seven starts, Domingo German has posted a 28.2% strikeout rate — the highest mark since his rookie season — while using his curveball, his best pitch, more than ever before.

Since 2018, German’s curveball has carried a whiff rate of around 40%, with a sub-.200 expected batting average. Over that span, he tossed the pitch 36.4% of the time — the fourth-highest rate among more than 100 qualified starters who deploy the pitch. On a per-pitch basis, German’s curveball ranked 14th in the same group. But he’s never leaned on it nearly this much:

Neither his fastball nor sinker is particularly effective. Still, German does have a plus changeup, and I wonder if he eventually deploys it more frequently against lefties. He should consider doing so against the Rays, who have mashed against four-seamers, sinkers and cutters but rank far closer to average against offspeed stuff.

To reiterate a point I made the other day: The Rays are also due for significant offensive regression, with a league-leading .371 wOBA that is 18 points above their expected mark (.353 xwOBA or expected weighted on-base average). Conversely, the Yankees have underperformed by a similar amount (.302 wOBA, .322 xwOBA) and are due for better luck over the remainder of the season.

I give the Rays the starting pitching advantage since I put Drew Rasmussen (3.06 xERA) a tier or two ahead of German (4.20 xERA). But I’m far less sure that they have a bullpen edge, which you might have blindly assumed.

Shockingly, the Rays’ bullpen ranks 28th in baseball in strikeout minus walk rate or K-BB% and 27th in xFIP (4.68), while the Yankees have a top-10 bullpen by both measurements. Even if the Rays generate extraordinarily weak contact with their relievers, their bullpen cannot sustain a .239 BABIP over an entire season. And their best arm, Pete Fairbanks, is currently on the IL.

While I set Rasmussen and the Rays as first-half favorites (-114 for the First Five Innings, or F5), I expect the Yankees to win the game 50.8% of the time (-103 implied odds); you can bet the Bombers down to +105 for Thursday’s home game in the Bronx.

San Francisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

Alex Cobb vs. Tommy Henry
First Pitch: 9:40 p.m. ET

We might have bet against Henry in some fashion in all three of his starts this season after posting a 4.87 xERA over nine starts last year while carrying FIP projections comparable to a back-end starter (projected range of 4.43 to 5.27).

A 43:28 strikeout rate in 12 major league starts, and 62 2/3 innings is extremely discouraging; still, Henry can generate weak contact to a degree, and Statcast would say that he’s been a bit unlucky to date, carrying a 5.31 ERA — significantly higher than his cumulative 4.56 xERA. While Henry has an xFIP (5.33) that aligns with his ERA projection, I feel he’s a pitcher far more accurately measured by a batted-ball metric like xERA — which might make him slightly undervalued in the betting market.

Mostly, the Diamondbacks need to get this game to the late innings, with a chance to make things closer to a coinflip in the bullpens. Alex Cobb (3.78 xERA; 3.18 last season) undoubtedly gives the Giants the starting pitching advantage. The Giants’ bullpen has vastly outperformed Arizona this season, but there is a significant difference between these teams in speed and defensive quality.

The Diamondbacks (+24 Defensive Runs Saved, 1st) have generated positive defensive value at every position aside from left field (-1 DRS). Conversely, the Giants (-8 DRS, 23rd) have only improved slightly compared to last season when they ranked 30th (-53 DRS). The Giants need to find a way to move the 36-year-old Brandon Crawford off of shortstop (-12 DRS since the start of last season).

Arizona is young (average age 27.9, 27th), fast and built to win under the new rules. The Giants’ position player group is getting younger as they add pieces like Casey Schmitt and Brett Wisley to the lineup. Still, players like Wilmer Flores, J.D. Davis, Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto are very stiff defenders with — in the aggregate — average power for regulars in corner spots at the MLB level.

If I could find a way to buy stock in the Diamondbacks as an organization — not for this year but for the next three to seven years — they would be my No. 1 target among the 30 teams.

Instead, we’ll have to pick our spots to invest daily. And even though pitchers like Henry are the type of depth pieces they eventually need to upgrade into better players if they genuinely want to compete for an NL West crown, the Diamondbacks still have enough talent on their roster to hide their remaining blemishes.

I projected Thursday’s matchup around a pick’em; I bet the Snakes at +110 or better.

Zerillo’s Bets for Thursday, May 11

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

  • Arizona Diamondbacks (+120, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +110)
  • Minnesota Twins (+115, 0.5u) WynnBet (bet to +110)
  • New YorkMets / Cincinnati Reds, Over 10 (-110, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -116)
  • New York Yankees (+110, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +105)
  • Oakland Athletics (+205, 0.24u) at Caesars (small to +193)

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