MLB Odds & Predictions Today: Picks for Angels vs Cardinals, Brewers vs Rockies & More (May 3)
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Shohei Ohtani (Angels)
Welcome back to the Wednesday MLB slate breakdown. We only have five day games on Wednesday, with most matchups scheduled for the evening.
The biggest storylines today include Aaron Nola trying to help the Phillies avoid a sweep against the Dodgers and two of the hottest starting pitchers in baseball meeting for a showdown in Tampa Bay.
Be sure to check out our MLB odds page for up-to-the-minute odds changes across multiple sportsbooks, as well as our MLB Projections page, which helps you find the best value across the board.
Follow all of B.J. Cunningham’s bets in the Action Network app! Click here.
Pirates vs. Rays
6:40 p.m. ET · Mitch Keller vs. Shane McClanahan
Yeah, we can’t be setting totals at 7 when the best offense in MLB is involved.
Mitch Keller has taken a giant step forward to becoming the Pirates‘ ace, but he’s nowhere near the “elite” category yet.
Keller is sitting with a 3.9 xERA and is starting to get a lot more swings and misses with his K/9 rate now above 10.
He’s added a cutter to his arsenal, which is now his most thrown pitch. Even though it’s been getting hit pretty hard, it’s helped disguise his fastball a lot better, as opposing hitters only have a .193 xwOBA against it (it only has a Stuff+ rating of 100, though).
On every other pitch, Keller is allowing a xwOBA over .300.
The Rays are the best team in baseball against right-handed pitching, with a .372 wOBA and 145 wRC+. They also are far and away the best fastball hitting team in baseball, with a +48.5 run value.
Shane McClanahan is once again putting up incredible numbers, with a 2.84 xERA through six starts. His changeup and curveball have been unreal, as opposing hitters are averaging under a .190 xwOBA on both pitches and both have over a 112 Stuff+ rating.
However, his fastball hasn’t been that dominant, allowing a .387 xwOBA.
Pittsburgh is sixth in MLB with a +11.2 run value against fastballs this season. It also has a combined +15.6 run value against changeups and curveballs, which is the best mark in baseball.
I have 8.4 runs projected for this game, so I like the value on Over 7 runs at -110 (FanDuel).
Pick:Over 7 Runs (-110)
Royals vs. Orioles
7:40 p.m. ET · Kyle Gibson vs. Zack Greinke
Both pens got roughed up in a 18-run game on Tuesday — the Royals had to use five arms and the Orioles had to use four.
That’s not great news when Kyle Gibson and Zack Greinke are heading to the mound.
Gibson may be sitting with a 3.93 ERA, but his xERA is at 4.86. Additionally his Stuff+ is at 94, and he owns a Pitching+ rating at 95.
The problem is that he doesn’t have much velocity on any of his pitches, so he has to be absolutely perfect, otherwise those pitches get tagged. That’s why his average exit velocity allowed is in the bottom half among starting pitchers.
Greinke has been a disaster himself, as his xERA is at 6.00 through six starts, which is the highest of his career.
The problem he has is he throws maybe the slowest of anyone in baseball, with a fastball averaging 90 mph.
He also is throwing his curveball more than any other pitch because it’s the only one that still has life; it’s the only one of his pitches with a Stuff+ rating over 100.
Greinke is allowing the highest barrel rate and average exit velocity of his career, and it’s not going to get better anytime soon without any velocity.
I have 10.4 runs projected for this game, so I like the value on Over 9 runs at -105 and First Five Innings Over 4.5 runs at -115 (FanDuel).
Pick:Over 9 Runs (-105) & First Five Innings Over 4.5 Runs (-115)
Angels vs. Cardinals
7:45 p.m. ET · Shohei Ohtani vs. Miles Mikolas
This line is far too low for a pitcher of Ohtani’s caliber.
Shoehi is second to only Jacob deGrom in Stuff+ among qualified starting pitchers and owns a 2.82 xERA through six starts.
This season, he’s throwing his sweeper over 48% of the time, which is up 10% from last season. That’s maybe why he’s in the 95th percentile in average exit velocity allowed and average expected batting average allowed.
He’s thrown his sweeper 251 times and opposing hitters only have gotten five hits off of it for a .082 batting average allowed.
Shohei Ohtani getting a swinging K on a Sweeper in the middle of the other batter's box. 😯 pic.twitter.com/M51Vxu4QzQ
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 27, 2023
Dating back to the start of last season, the Cardinals have a .218 xBA and over a 28% strikeout rate against right-handed sweepers. And it’s only going to get more difficult going up against the best one in the game.
Meanwhile, Miles Mikolas has been really bad this season, posting a 6.6 xERA through his first six starts. The main problem for him is he hasn’t been able to keep the ball down in the zone, which is where he’s most effective.
Mikolas has a four pitch mix of fastball, slider, sinker and curveball, with all four of those pitches designed to stay under the barrel and produce a ground ball.
He’s been around a 47% ground ball pitcher for his career. This season, though, his ground ball rate is at 33.9%. So, it should be no surprise that his barrel rate allowed, hard hit percentage allowed and average exit velocity allowed have all skyrocketed.
We also need to have a conversation about the Cardinals as a whole. They were the favorites to win the NL Central, but so far they’ve shown that they’re really just an average team and shouldn’t be considered with some of the elites of the National League.
This tweet from Eno Sarris sums up the Cardinals perfectly.
St. Louis ranks:
24th in rotation Stuff+
24th in rotation K%
21st in rotation ERA-
16th in bullpen Stuff+
5th in bullpen K-BB%
11th in wRC+
12th in wOBA
10th in Barrels
13th in Outs Above Average
11th in DRS
Seems like problem is clear. Not sure solution coming this year.
— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) May 3, 2023
I have the Angels projected at -163, so I like the value on them at -136 for the full game (BetRivers) and at -144 for the first five innings (FanDuel).
Pick:Angels -136 & First Five Innings -144
Brewers vs. Rockies
8:40 p.m. ET · Eric Lauer vs. Kyle Freeland
Brewers‘ Eric Lauer has had a bad start to 2023. But since he’s become a full-time starter in the past two seasons, his xERA has been sitting right around 4.00, making him a perfectly average MLB starting pitcher.
Lauer had one of the better left-handed fastballs in MLB. He averaged just 93.3 mph on it and opposing hitters had only a .188 xBA and .271 xwOBA against it last season. He also produced close to a 30% whiff rate on it last year.
This season, it’s been a much different story, as the velocity on Lauer’s fastball has dropped significantly — down to an average of 90.5 mph.
Hitters have a .298 xBA and .412 xwOBA against it, so it’s no surprise to see Lauer drop off after losing the effectiveness of his biggest weapon.
Not to mention, Lauer has consistently been a fly ball pitcher throughout his career, and this season, he has his highest fly ball rate at over 45%.
That’s not good news when you’re pitching at Coors Field with the wind blowing out at eight mph.
Rockies‘ Kyle Freeland is starting to regress to what he is, which is a below average starting pitcher. He had three good starts to begin the season — allowing only two earned runs combined — but his xERA was sitting close to 4.00 and then fell off a cliff.
In his last three starts, he’s given up a combined 16 earned runs.
His problem is that his pitches just don’t have the type of movement and velocity to give hitters trouble. Last season, among qualified starting pitchers, Freeland was second to last in Stuff+ at 77. This season, he’s only sitting at 60, which is last among qualified starting pitchers by a pretty decent margin.
So, even though both of these offenses have struggled against left-handed pitching, the total is too low for me with these two starters on the mound.
I have 12.6 runs projected, so I like the value on Over 12 runs at +100 (DraftKings) and Over 6.5 runs for the first five innings at -114 (FanDuel).
Pick:Over 12 Runs (+100) & First Five Innings Over 6.5 Runs (-114)
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