MLB Picks Today | Odds, Expert Projections for Wednesday, August 9
Getty Images. Pictured: Brayan Rocchio, MJ Melendez, Mookie Betts.
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 Wednesday, August 9
Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers
Bailey Ober vs. Alex Faedo
First Pitch: 6:40 p.m. ET
We pointed to Alex Faedo as a potential breakout candidate earlier this season. The former No. 18 overall pick has shown both improved results (3.97 xERA, 15.4% K-BB%) and pitch modeling metrics (93 Stuff+, 105 Location+, 102 Pitching+) compared to his rookie season (5.53 xERA, 7.8% K-BB%, 94 Stuff+, 96 Location+, 94 Pitching+).
Faedo missed the 2021 campaign following Tommy John surgery and likely wasn't fully healthy last year, where Detroit mostly let him develop at the MLB level. He's more comfortable throwing the ball in the strike zone this season, and his first-pitch strike rate is up nearly 10 percent — to 69.9% — which ranks among the league leaders (Pablo Lopez at 70.7%, Max Scherzer at 70%, George Kirby at 69.1%).
Bailey Ober has shown better results than Faedo (3.75 xERA, 19.4% K-BB%), but pitching models view them as similarly effective arms (82 Stuff+, 105 Location+, 101 Pitching+); and would give Faedo the higher ceiling since Ober doesn't have a single above-average offering.
Houston Astros vs. Baltimore Orioles
Cristian Javier vs. Jack Flaherty
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET
Both starting pitchers in this matchup have underperformed relative to their respective name values this season.
I misjudged Javier as a potential AL Cy Young candidate, coming off a 2.43 xERA last season. His strikeout rate has fallen by more than 10 percent — causing his xFIP to increase from 3.53 to 5.11 — and his xERA has climbed by more than two runs to 4.72. Additionally, his pitch modeling metrics have fallen to below-average levels (99 Stuff+, 98 Location+, 99 Pitching+) after ranking among the elite last season (116 Stuff+, 101 Location+, 106 Pitching+).
Similarly, Jack Flaherty has shown subpar pitch modeling metrics (93 Stuff+, 98 Location+) and results (4.56 xERA, 11.4% K-BB%) this season; the continuation of a four-year trend since a career-best 2019 campaign (2.75 ERA, 3.38 xERA, 22.8% K-BB%), where he looked like a perennial Cy Young contender.
I set Wednesday's total at 9.68 runs; bet Over 9 to -116.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland Guardians
Kevin Gausman vs. Logan Allen
First Pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET
Kevin Gausman has pitched himself into the AL Cy Young conversation, with the league lead in WAR (4.0) and strikeouts (177) — ahead of Framber Valdez (3.7) and Pablo Lopez (173). He also ranks second among all qualified starters — behind Spencer Strider — with a 26.5% K-BB rate.
Gausman's results are the product of quality and volume. On a start-to-start basis, however, I don't see as substantial a difference between Gausman (3.67 xERA, 108 Stuff+, 104 Location+, 107 Pitching+) and Logan Allen (4.50 xERA, 86 Stuff+, 102 Location+, 100 Pitching+) as you might anticipate. And since the start of July, that gap has narrowed (1o2 Pitching+ for Gausman, 99 for Allen).
I modeled the Guardians as +122 underdogs for Wednesday, and I set the total at 8.58 runs, with winds blowing out to right field.
Bet Cleveland down to +130, and play Over 8 to -112.
Kansas City Royals vs. Boston Red Sox
Jordan Lyles vs. Nick Pivetta
First Pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET
Jordan Lyles (3-12, 6.24 ERA) has won consecutive games after recording an 0-11 record over his first 13 starts of the season. The veteran righty has been extremely unlucky this season (4.94 xERA), with a 55.7% strand rate (66.8% career), despite a low BABIP (.264 vs. .302 career).
Pitching models view Lyles (83 Stuff+, 103 Location+, 97 Pitching+) as the same pitcher he was last year in Baltimore (88 Stuff+, 100 Location+, 97 Pitching+) when he carried a 4.42 ERA alongside an identical 4.94 xERA. I still view Lyles as a capable No. 5 starter as opposed to the replacement-level results he has shown this season.
Nick Pivetta (4.00 xERA, 118 Stuff+, 101 Location+, 106 Pitching+) is pitching as well as he ever has at the MLB level (career-best 29.1% K% and 19.7% K-BB%) and should give Boston the clear pitching advantage in this matchup.
Additionally, I set the total at 10.12 runs, even with the wind blowing out to right field. Bet Under 11 to -124 or Under 10.5 to -105.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Bobby Miller vs. Merrill Kelly
First Pitch: 9:40 p.m. ET
Bobby Miller has quickly become one of my model's favorite pitchers — regularly recommending him as a value selection across his 12 rookie-year starts and showing a substantial edge for Wednesday's matchup in Arizona.
Miller has posted a solid 3.65 xERA and 16.9% K-BB%, but the pitch modeling metrics pop (124 Stuff+, 103 Location+, 111 Pitching+). Among 151 different starting pitchers who have tossed at least 50 innings this season, Miller ranks fifth in Stuff+ and third in Pitching+, behind only Spencer Strider and Zack Wheeler in the latter category.
Each of Miller's five offerings has an above-average Stuff+ rating, and he mixes in all those pitches between 15% to 25% of the time. Miller is highly refined with an incredibly diverse arsenal for a 24-year-old pitcher.
I set Miller as a -149 favorite in the First Five Innings (F5) and have the Dodgers at -135 for the full game. Bet the Dodgers to -138 in the first half (F5) and play their full game line to -125.
Zerillo's Bets for Wednesday, August 9
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- Cleveland Guardians F5 (+150, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to +147)
- Cleveland Guardians (+135, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +130)
- Cleveland Guardians / Toronto Blue Jays, Over 8 (-105, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -112)
- Detroit Tigers F5 (+145, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +138)
- Detroit Tigers (+140, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to +130)
- Houston Astros F5 (+120, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to +114)
- Houston Astros (+120, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +114)
- Houston Astros / Baltimore Orioles, Over 9 (+100, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to -116)
- Kansas City Royals (-210, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to +197)
- Kansas City Royals / Boston Red Sox, Under 11 (-118, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -124 or 10.5, -105)
- Los Angeles Dodgers F5 (-118, Risk 1u) at FanDuel (bet to -138, reduce risk at -126)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (-125, 0.5u)) at WynnBet (bet to -125)
- Miami Marlins / Cincinnati Reds, Under 10 (-110, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -110)
- Oakland Athletics (+235, 0.25u) at FanDuel (small to +212)
- New York Mets (+105, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +104)
- San Diego Padres F5 (-145, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -145)
- St. Louis Cardinals / Tampa Bay Rays, Under 9.5 (-110, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to -116)
- Washington Nationals / Philadelphia Phillies, Over 9 (-110, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -110)