MLB Picks Today | Odds, Expert Projections for Wednesday, July 19
Getty Images. Pictured: Graham Ashcraft, Carlos Correa, Andrew Benintendi.
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, July 19
San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds
Ross Stripling vs. Graham Ashcraft
First Pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET
I might have a toxic relationship with Graham Ashcraft. The 25-year-old righty regularly shows up as a model recommendation. He had an under-the-radar rookie season (4.02 xERA in 105 innings) but has seen his groundball rate dip (from an elite 54.5% down to 48.6%) and his home run rate increase (from 0.94 HR/9 to 1.33 HR/9) — causing his xERA (5.51) to implode.
Despite a mediocre K-BB% (career 7.8%), Ashcraft has a high-spin fastball that generally avoids the barrel of opposing hitters. His slider is a pitch model darling (165 Stuff+). It is highly effective (.229 expecting batting average or xBA against the pitch) and the same models like his cutter (114 Stuff+) too, but his sinker (67 Stuff+, .478 xBA) has gotten torched. Ashcraft needs a third pitch to complement his cutter and slider.
Graham Ashcraft's 5Ks thru 5. pic.twitter.com/nJ41UxKaB1
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 30, 2023
Ross Stripling is a better pitcher than his underlying results (5.33 xERA) might indicate, but he's dealt with a significant home run issue (2.36 HR/9) this season. His Stuff+ is down slightly (from 98 to 93) year over year, but Stripling has maintained excellent command (career 5.7% walk rate) and should see better results as his home run rate (26.7% HR/FB rate; 15% career) normalizes.
Still, I see an edge on the Reds in both halves of Wednesday's contest; bet Cincinnati to -115 in the first five innings (F5) and -110 for the full game.
Chicago White Sox vs. New York Mets
Touki Toussaint vs. Justin Verlander
First Pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET
Justin Verlander's statistical profile is finally starting to crack at age 40. The future Hall-of-Famer has seen his walks increase and his strikeout dip to 12.2% K-BB%, below the major league average (14.1%).
Verlander has lost six to seven percent off of his strikeout rate in each of his past two seasons, and his walk rate has essentially doubled compared to 2022, as his xERA has inflated to 3.66 — still above average, but significantly below prior elite levels (range 2.34 to 2.79 from 2018-2022).
Verlander stands at 108 Stuff+, 103 Location+, and 102 Pitching+, compared to a split of 118/107/109 during his 2022 Cy Young campaign in Houston.
Touki Toussaint (4.96 xERA) has never found his footing at the MLB level, with a dreadful 14.1% career walk rate, and his command hasn't improved this season (22 K, 18 BB in 24 innings).
Still, I projected the White Sox closer to +170 in this matchup against a scuffling Verlander. Bet Chicago at +183 or better.
Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners
Kenta Maeda vs. Luis Castillo
First Pitch: 9:40 p.m. ET
Luis Castillo (2.96 ERA, 3.8 xERA, 3.7 xFIP) is an obvious regression candidate, primarily due to his .250 BABIP (.281 career). Since joining the Mariners, Castillo has increased his four-seam fastball and slider usage at the expense of his sinker and changeup, leading to a career-high fly ball rate (41.5%, vs. 30% career) and his worst home run rate (1.36 HR/9) since 2018 (1.07 career).
Additionally, Castillo has lost a tick on his fastball (96.3 mph), the continuation of a downward trend over the past few seasons:
In 65 innings with the Mariners last year, Castillo had a 103 Stuff+ Rating (112 Fastball, 115 Slider, 104 Changeup). His Stuff+ has dropped to 96 this season (98 Fastball, 114, Slider, 82 Changeup).
Kenta Maeda has posted similar underlying metrics in eight starts this season (3.85 xERA, 18.8% K-BB%) as he did before Tommy John surgery in 2021 (3.73 xERA, 17.9% K-BB%).
Pitching models love his splitter (128 Stuff+) and view his overall pitch mix – and command – comparable to what Castillo can offer (101 Pitching+).
Bet the Twins in both halves to +128 (F5) and +130 (Full game) and play the Over up to 7.5, -108 (projected 8.14) for Wednesday night.
Zerillo's MLB Bets for Wednesday, July 19
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- Arizona Diamondbacks F5 (+194, 0.25u) at FanDuel (small to +192)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (+190, 0.25u) at FanDuel (small to +183)
- Chicago White Sox (+190, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +183)
- Cincinnati Reds F5 (-110, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -115)
- Cincinnati Reds (+105, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -110)
- Cleveland Guardians F5 (-120, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -121)
- Detroit Tigers / Kansas City Royals, Over 8 (-115, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to 8.5, -105)
- Los Angeles Dodgers F5 (-150, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -155)
- Miami Marlins F5 (-108, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -110)
- Miami Marlins (+100, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -105)
- Milwaukee Brewers (+165, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +155)
- Minnesota Twins F5 (+144, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +128)
- Minnesota Twins (+145, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +130)
- Minnesota Twins / Seattle Mariners, Over 7 (-120, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to 7.5, -108)
- Oakland Athletics (+195, 0.25u) at WynnBet (small to +175)
- Oakland Athletics / Boston Red Sox, Under 8.5 (+100, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -105)
- San Diego Padres / Toronto Blue Jays, Under 9 (-105, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -117)
- Tampa Bay Rays / Texas Rangers, Under 9.5 (-120, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to -125 or 9, -105)