MLB Predictions Today | Odds, Picks, Expert Projections for Thursday, May 4
Getty Images. Pictured: Tony Kemp, Lucas Giolito and Alan Trejo.
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 Thursday, May 4
New York Mets vs. Detroit Tigers
Justin Verlander vs. Eduardo Rodriguez
First Pitch: 1:10 p.m. ET
The Mets lost both ends of their doubleheader in Detroit on Wednesday and will look to stay above .500, with Justin Verlander making his season debut after sustaining a muscle strain late in spring training.
While Verlander had a phenomenal 2022 season, en route to winning the AL Cy Young, his ERA (1.75) he certainly overachieved (2.66 xERA or expected ERA, 3.23 xFIP), thanks to an 80.5% strand rate (75.4% career), a .240 BABIP (.278 career), and a 6.2% HR/FB rate (8.9% career); all of which should regress this season, especially without the shift and with a lesser defensive team playing behind him.
While Verlander still projects as an ace (2.95 Model Weighted ERA), and the Tigers are abysmal against righties (27% below average over the past two seasons), I still see value in Detroit to sweep the series behind Eduardo Rodriguez (2.97 xERA), who looks back in form following a strange 2022 campaign.
Parte de la actuación de Eduardo Rodríguez ayer ante #Guardians
8.0 entradas en blanco de 5 hits, 10 ponches y sin boletos 🔥🔥🔥
1ra victoria de la temporada y bajó a 3.00 su efectividad.
¡Bien ahí @eduardorod5! 💪🏼
— Magallanes BBC (@Magallanes_bbc) April 19, 2023
Rodriguez signed a five-year deal with the Tigers before the 2022 season but struggled through a ribcage injury and personal issues — leading to a multi-month absence and his worst underlying indicators (4.20 xERA) since his rookie season.
I’m willing to completely throw out last season’s results and confidently rate Rodriguez as a mid-rotation starter (3.93 Model Weighted ERA) in his current form.
I’m not surprised to find value in betting against Verlander with a terrible team. Regardless of the opponent, I assumed the line would be overinflated in his first Mets start.
I projected the Tigers closer to +140 in this matchup; bet Detroit’s moneyline down to +154.
Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox
Pablo Lopez vs. Lucas Giolito
First Pitch: 2:10 p.m. ET
We have discussed Pablo Lopez previously, but I want to re-emphasize his new pitch mix, which has led to a career-best 14.8% swinging strike rate (SwStr%), 25% strikeout minus walk rate (K-BB%), and 29.5% called strike plus whiff rate (CSW%) through six starts. Among 125 starting pitchers who have tossed at least 20 innings, Lopez ranks 8th, 9th, and 27th in those three categories, and I would expect him to have a career-best season behind improved velocity and his new sweeper.
Lopez also has a favorable matchup against the White Sox, who projects far better offensively against lefties (97 wRC+) than righties (83 wRC+).
Lucas Giolito was a pitcher we bet against a lot last season (4.23 xERA). Still, the big righty is showing signs of recovery from a down season, halving his walk rate to a career-best 4.1%, and I expect his results to fall somewhere between his 2021 peak (3.27 xERA) and his down season last year. Coincidentally, Giolito’s current mark (3.78 xERA through six starts) falls right in the middle of those two seasons.
He’s never returning to the dominant form we saw in 2020 (3.05 xERA, 24% K-BB%) in a short season against an all-Central Division schedule. Still, Giolito can serve as an effective mid-rotation arm and solid innings eater if he continues to limit walks. It’s shocking to see that development path for a guy who saw command as his biggest obstacle early in his career (11.6% walk rate in 2018), but we’ve also seen Noah Syndergaard lose five-ticks off his fastball and become a pitch-to-contact guy in the same timeframe. Pitchers have strange career arcs.
I projected the White Sox as +107 underdogs for Wednesday; back Chicago to sweep the series at +116 or better.
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Colorado Rockies
Wade Miley vs. Connor Seabold
First Pitch: 3:10 p.m. ET
Miley and another southpaw cutter specialist, Kyle Freeland, frustrate me; whenever I need them to give up runs, they toss gems, and whenever I back them, they blow up.
The model recommends an actionable edge on the Rockies for Wednesday, down to +125 or better (projected +116).
Miley is approaching his 300th career start, and it’s fair to say that he’s been underappreciated for a large part of his 13-year career, which has spanned nine different teams. He’s racked up nearly 20 WAR while posting solid results (4.09 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 4.07 xFIP, 4.31 SIERA) across 1,647 MLB innings.
Still, Miley is on a good run of luck, carrying a BABIP of around .250 over his past 14 appearances (.303 career). He doesn’t walk many hitters, but he also doesn’t generate a lot of strikeouts either, leaving him vulnerable to string luck from opposing teams unless he can generate a double play (career 49% groundball rate).
That’s a particularly dangerous recipe at Coors Field, which has the highest BABIP of any park due to the enormous outfield territory.
I am not exceptionally high on Connor Seabold (career 5.43 xFIP in 35 innings), and the Rockies continue to stretch him out as a starter, but I have to back the Rockies as the value side.
Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland Athletics
George Kirby vs. Drew Rucinski
First Pitch: 3:37 p.m. ET
I didn’t intend to have three bets correlating to the Athletics and Drew Rucinski limiting runs on Wednesday. Still, I haven’t bet on Oakland games much of late (aside from that easy Miller vs. Miller under the other night), and these projections stood out. In the past, I felt like the model would be showing value on the A’s every day; but that hasn’t been the case this season, so I’ll try to trust its selectivity with these lesser teams.
Rucinski came over from the NC Dinos in the KBO this offseason, where he posted excellent results over four seasons. His MLB career is limited (59 innings), and some of the data dates back to his 2014 debut. For his career, Rucinski owns a 4.84 xFIP and a 4.44 SIERA. Based on his KBO data, I put his actual talent level between those numbers.
Still, one piece of information that juts out: Rucinski averaged just 89.1 mph on his fastball in his 2023 debut for Oakland, a substantial decline from where he sat in the KBO last season (92.5 mph). However, his slider (84.3 mph) has increased by three ticks relative to previous levels, while his splitter stayed relatively similar.
Today's #KBO K leader was @DrewRucinski of the #ncdinos:
8 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 9 K
The sinker was virtually un-hittable today. Through 4 starts, Rucinski has a 2.49 ERA. pic.twitter.com/j3Bu5M9ZwY
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) May 23, 2020
He should get decent pitching weather on Wednesday — 57 degrees at first pitch — which is more critical for ball flight in Oakland than the wind (7 mph out to center field).
Compared to my numbers (projected +172), Oakland looks like another undervalued home team for Wednesday, and I would bet the A’s moneyline down to +188.
Additionally, I set the totals at 3.91 and 7.82 and would bet the Under in both halves to 4.5 (-130) and 8.5 (-115), respectively.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Boston Red Sox
Kevin Gausman vs. Brayan Bello
First Pitch: 3:37 p.m. ET
Fenway Park has one of the higher run-scoring environments in baseball but should see favorable pitching conditions on Wednesday — temperatures in the high 40s with winds blowing in from left field at first pitch.
Kevin Gausman is highly reliable (sub 3.5 xERA since 2020) and rarely implodes. I’m far more concerned about betting on Brayan Bello (career 4.16 xERA) in cold weather due to his erratic command (career 9.8% walk rate). Still, while Bello has posted some shaky innings this season, his strikeout minus walk rate (15.3%) is up five percent compared to his rookie season, and he looks ready to take a step forward.
please keep Bryan Bello in the rotation all year
he's gonna be a stud pic.twitter.com/pvlbVubsXc
— Lorenzo (@wegoticezo) April 29, 2023
On a weather-neutral day at Fenway, the number would be closer to 10.5.
I projected Thursday’s total at 8.6; I bet Under 9 to -105.
You can also back the Red Sox at +155 or better.
Zerillo’s Bets for Thursday, May 4
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- Chicago Cubs F5 (-170, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to -180)
- Chicago White Sox (+120, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +116)
- Colorado Rockies (+130, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +125)
- Detroit Tigers (+160, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +154)
- Miami Marlins F5 (-112, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -115)
- Oakland Athletics (+205, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +188)
- Oakland Athletics / Seattle Mariners, F5 Under 4.5 (-114, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -130)
- Oakland Athletics / Seattle Mariners, Under 8.5 (-110, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet t0 -115)
- Toronto Blue Jays / Boston Red Sox, Under 9 (-105, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -105)
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