MLB Picks Today | Odds, Expert Projections for Saturday, July 15
Getty Images. Pictured: Gaving Williams, Shohei Ohtani, Ji-Man Choi
- Sean Zerillo breaks down his expert MLB picks and projections for Saturday.
- He's identified several edges for July 15's slate of games.
- Find expert bets for Giants vs. Pirates and White Sox vs. Braves and Astros vs. Angels below.
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 also shop for the best lines on our odds page.
Expert Picks for Saturday, July 15
San Diego Padres vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Blake Snell vs. Taijuan Walker
First Pitch: 1:05 p.m. ET
Since early June, his fastball velocity (96.2 mph) has been about a tick higher than his prior 12 starts. Still, Snell is also deploying his curveball and changeup more frequently, at the expense of his fastball — which has permitted a .287 expected batting average (xBA).
Blake Snell strikes out 11
Blake Snell allows no runs and strikes out 11 batters across six innings in his start against the Mets
— San Diego Strong (@PadresStrong) July 9, 2023
Snell's curveball (+12 Run-Value) has never been better. The pitch has a 0.88 xBA, .130 xSLG or expected slugging percentage, and a .117 xwOBA.
And our longshot NL Cy Young ticket is live if he maintains this form.
Taijuan Walker (4.03 xERA) has been better of late after a shaky start to his Phillies career. Still, I project Snell as a substantially better pitcher – and he also forces the Phillies into their lesser offensive split (97 wRC+, 21st vs. lefties).
I projected the Padres as -142 favorites for the First Five Innings (F5); bet San Diego's F5 moneyline to -130.
Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago Cubs
James Paxton vs. Marcus Stroman
First Pitch: 2:20 p.m. ET
James Paxton (3.15 xERA) looks the healthiest he has been since 2019, and his velocity (95.7 mph) has primarily held up over ten starts.
Among the 202 starting pitchers who have tossed at least 20 innings pitched this season, Paxton ranks 12th in strikeout minus walk rate, or K-BB% (22.7%), on par with his peak results (25.7% in 2018, 20.7% in 2019).
Among that same group of starting pitchers, Paxton ranks 21st in CSW% or called-strike plus whiff rate (29.8%) and owns the best mark of his career in that category.
The Cubs present a reasonably difficult matchup, ranking 12th against lefties (108 wrC+) compared to 19th against righties (94 wRC+).
Still, I project Paxton and the Red Sox as slight favorites in both halves against Marcus Stroman (3.81 xERA) and the Cubs; -117 F5 and -109 full game.
Bet Boston to -107 in the first half (F5) and +100 for the full game.
Cleveland Guardians vs. Texas Rangers
Gavin Williams vs. Andrew Heaney
First Pitch: 4:05 p.m. ET
Andrew Heaney (4.94 xERA, 15.3% K-BB%) has lost the career-best form he discovered with the Dodgers last season (3.39 xERA, 29.4% K-BB%).
Pitching models see the same league-average pitcher as last year — albeit with slightly worse command and increased changeup usage. He'll have an opportunity for a decent effort against a Guardians offense that ranks 27th against Southpaw pitching (88 wRC+).
The same models are much higher on Gavin Williams (102 Stuff+, 107 Location+), who has posted a 4.35 xERA across four starts. He gets a far more difficult draw against a Rangers offense that ranks in the top three against both righties (118 wRC+) and lefties (133 wrC+).
— Guardians Pitching Highlights (@GuardsPitching) July 9, 2023
My model is higher on Williams than the overall betting market, selecting him as a value play in all but one of his starts.
Back Cleveland to +123 in the first half and +137 for the full game.
Additionally, bet Under 9 to -122, or Under 8.5 to -104, compared to my projected total of 8.15.
San Francisco Giants vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Alex Cobb vs. Johan Oviedo
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET
Alex Cobb underachieved last season (3.73 ERA, 3.15 xERA) but has overachieved this year (2.91 ERA, 3.97 xERA), with an 80.3% strand rate in stark contrast to his 68% mark from 2022 (career average 72.7%).
Johan Oviedo (4.62 xERA) has put together some quality efforts this season. However, pitching models view Oviedo as a below-average arm (95 Stuff+, 97 Location+) and a Giants offense that ranks much better against righties (103 wRC+, 13th) than lefties (94 wrC+, 24th) — who walked five times against Oviedo on May 30 — may wait him out again.
I bet the Pirates and the Over for the Saturday evening matchup at PNC Park. Back the Buccos to +127 (projected +117) and play Over 8.5 to -112 (projected 9.08).
I'm lower on Cobb than the betting market, but the Over also provides some insurance for the Pirates' moneyline in the event of an Oviedo implosion.
Chicago White Sox vs. Atlanta Braves
Lance Lynn vs. Spencer Strider
First Pitch: 7:15 p.m. ET
After a brief velocity dip and performance dip in early June, Spencer Strider responded with a 39:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his past four starts and 26 innings pitched (1.38 ERA, 2.15 xFIP).
He could dominate a White Sox lineup that ranks 27th against right-handed pitching (85 wRC+) and 20th in strikeout rate (23.3%). Strider is the second-best pitcher in baseball per Stuff+ (127) and Pitching+ (114).
Lance Lynn (6.03 ERA, 4.50 xERA) has had a bizarre season, permitting 22 home runs in 103 innings pitched. Lynn's HR/FB rate (20.8%) is nearly double his career mark (10.8%), but you can't blame pitch clock fatigue; Lynn has permitted 11 home runs and a 7.60 ERA the first time through the opposing order.
Pitching models still view Lynn as an above-average arm (93 Stuff+, 104 Location+, 101 Pitching+), and I'm inclined to agree; that his home run rate seems entirely unsustainable, and his K-BB% (19.7) aligns with recent seasons when Lynn consistently posted sub-four ERAs.
Back the White Sox small at +270 or better (projected +243) and bet Under 9 to -122 or Under 8.5 to -103, compared to my projected total of 8.16.
Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels
Framber Valdez vs. Reid Detmers
First Pitch: 9:07 p.m. ET
The underlying metrics for Framber Valdez (3.86 xERA, 20.3% K-BB%, 28.7% CSW%) are remarkably similar to those for fellow lefty Reid Detmers (4.14 xERA, 20.5% K-BB%, 29% CSW%).
Pitching models view them very comparably, too, putting Detmers at 104 Stuff+, 101 Location+, and 101 Pitching+, compared to 109 Stuff+, 97 Location+, and 101 Pitching+ for Valdez.
However, Detmers is five years younger and entering his prime, while Valdez is far more established. In his past six starts, Detmers has posted a 33.8% strikeout rate and a 25.9% K-BB%, and it appears he might be peaking.
Although both teams are missing key starts on offense, the Angels (113 wRC+) have performed better than the Astros (110 wRC+) against lefties this season; and I make their offense about four to six percent better when both of these current lineups are facing a lefty.
Bet the Angels at +106 (F5) and +111 (full game) or better on Saturday night.
Zerillo's Bets for Saturday, July 15
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- Boston Red Sox F5 (-104, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -107)
- Boston Red Sox (+104, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +100)
- Chicago White Sox (+280, 0.25u) at FanDuel (small to +270)
- Chicago White Sox / Atlanta Braves, Under 9 (-118, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -122 or 8.5, -103)
- Cleveland Guardians F5 (+124, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +123)
- Cleveland Guardians (+140, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +137)
- Cleveland Guardians / Texas Rangers, Under 9 (+100, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -122 or 8.5, -103)
- ColoradoRockies (+145, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +145)
- Colorado Rockies / New York Yankees, Under 12 (-110, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -117)
- Detroit Tigers (+188, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +176)
- Kansas City Royals, Game 1 (+245, 0.25u) at FanDuel (small to +200)
- Kansas City Royals, Game 2 (+195, 0.25u) at WynnBet (small to +170)
- Kansas City Royals / Tampa Bay Rays, Under 9.5 (-105, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -115)
- Los Angeles Angels F5 (+110, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +106)
- Los Angeles Angels (+118, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +111)
- Milwaukee Brewers / Cincinnati Reds, Over 9 (-120, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -122 or 9.5, -102)
- Minnesota Twins / Oakland Athletics, Under 8.5 (-115, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -115)
- New York Mets F5 (-112, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -112)
- Pittsburgh Pirates F5 (+135, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +133)
- Pittsburgh Pirates (+135, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +127)
- Pittsburgh Pirates / San Francisco Giants, Over 8.5 (+100, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -112)
- San Diego Padres F5 (-122, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -130)
- Washington Nationals (+175, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +170)
- Washington Nationals / St. Louis Cardinals, Under 9 (+100, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -115)