MLB Odds Today | Expert Picks, Predictions for Mariners vs Braves, Twins vs Angels, More (Friday, May 19)
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images. Pictured: The Red Sox celebrate.
A full 15-game slate in Major League Baseball begins at 6:35 p.m. ET as NL Cy Young frontrunner Zac Gallen and the Diamondbacks visit Johan Oviedo and the Pirates.
There’s one battle of first place teams this weekend as the Brewers begin a three-game series against the Rays in Tampa, while a key AL East clash between the Blue Jays and Orioles begins in Toronto begins at 7:07 on Apple TV+.
A number of key players are expected back with their teams tonight, including Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner, Mets starter Carlos Carrasco and Astros second baseman José Altuve.
Here are my thoughts and best bets for some of the 15-game slate:
Guardians vs. Mets
7:10 p.m. ET · Cal Quantrill vs. Carlos Carrasco
The weather conditions are not suitable for offense at Citi Field on Friday night, even though the starting pitchers for both sides are not particularly good. Home runs have been Carlos Carrasco’s biggest problem for the last two seasons, but now he gets to face a Guardians lineup that ranks in the bottom three in wRC+, bottom two in isolated power and is unlikely to have José Ramirez back in the heart of the order on Friday after he temporarily left the club and was placed on the bereavement list.
Carrasco had seen a dip in his velocity prior to the injury, but the stuff looked considerably better in his last rehab start now that the elbow is healthier again. Carrasco is opposed by Guardians right-hander Cal Quantrill, who also has mediocre underlying numbers but also gets to face a lineup that is severely lacking power.
Even though the Mets have the current MLB home run leader with Pete Alonso, they sit seventh worst in isolated power and are a league average offense (101 wRC+) overall. There’s a slight wind out to center tonight, but it’s not nearly as impactful as the temperatures in the mid-50s, which is unseasonably cool and has a dampening effect on the run environment.
I’d bet the under 9 at -120 or better and look to play a live under once the starters depart from this game too. Both bullpens project as above average groups with the Guardians bordering on elite.
Bet: Under 9 (-120 or better)
7:20 p.m. ET · Bryce Miller vs. Bryce Elder
Bryce Elder is a major negative regression candidate (1.94 actual ERA, 4.56 xERA) and he doesn’t have the stuff to continue to get away pitching as he’s been. Elder has the third-lowest zone rate among all qualified starts.
Similar to Jose Quintana of last season, Elder manages to nibble around the edges of the plate and avoid getting crushed. The Mariners’ lineup does have a few free swingers, but they’re also generally pretty patient overall and will draw walks at above average rates.
If the Mariners are patient enough, they’ll draw walks and take advantage of Elder’s approach to live outside the zone. When Elder has come into the zone, he’s been hit hard. His Stuff+ is sub 90, while Bryce Miller’s fastball is one of the best in MLB already.
Miller didn’t have great numbers in Double-A, but he’s pounding the strike zone and trusting his stuff to miss the bats inside of it. So far, so good. Miller has an elite strikeout rate and has paired it with almost no walks thus far.
Atlanta’s lineup has plenty of swing and miss along with its elite power. The Braves may tag Miller for a couple homers, but the Mariners will have more traffic on the bases against Elder and the Mariners also have the better bullpen.
At +125 or better, I’d bet the Mariners to pull the small road upset against the World Series favorites.
Bet: Mariners ML (+125 or better)
8:15 p.m. ET · Tony Gonsolin vs. Steven Matz
Steven Matz has troubling underlying indicators, but the Dodgers’ relative weakness against left-handed pitching makes them vulnerable in this matchup.
The Dodgers are once again one of the most dominant offenses in baseball against righties (2nd in wRC+), but are mediocre when facing southpaws (21st in wRC+). There’s a constant battle going on about the true quality of Tony Gonsolin, who has mediocre strikeout rates, mediocre whiff rates and relies on inducing weak contact consistently to beat projection systems for him.
He’s outperformed his xERA every single year he’s been a starter in MLB. His xERA is down to 3.30, but his 4.57 xFIP and 4.42 Pitching+ projected ERA make me skeptical of continuing to believe he can maintain elite BABIP rates. His track record must be respected, but Gonsolin has just a 94 Stuff+ and that’s making me consider him more risky from a projection standpoint. His career low strikeout rate in 2023 only makes him even more vulnerable.
The Cardinals’ offense finally has Nolan Arenado and Willson Contreras out of their early season slumps, and while they continue to project well against lefties, the improvements from Lars Nootbaar and Nolan Gorman have raised the Cardinals ability against righties too. This lineup can mash and given the hand splits, is the better group on Friday night.
Bet: Cardinals ML (+110 or better)
9:38 p.m. ET · Joe Ryan vs. Reid Detmers
Joe Ryan is now the fourth favorite for AL Cy Young behind Gerrit Cole, Shane McClanahan and Shohei Ohtani. Ryan should be priced right up there with those three aces on a game-to-game basis, and that’s not the case with this line on Friday night. Ryan’s K-BB% is fourth best in all of MLB and he has three pitches that generate a Stuff+ of 110 or better, per Eno Sarris’ model on FanGraphs. His fastball has gained another tick in velocity and his splitter is generating excellent whiff numbers.
While Reid Detmers has command and walk issues at times, Ryan’s zone rate is also sixth highest in MLB this year among starters. He’s consistently filling up the zone and trusting his stuff to generate swings and misses.
Zone contact rate is one of the best pure indicators of stuff and future predictors of strikeouts in the entire league. Ryan also ranks sixth in that stat behind only Zack Wheeler, Ohtani, Hunter Greene, McClanahan and Spencer Strider.
I’m more bullish than the market on Detmers, too, who has added velocity on his two best pitches — the fastball and slider. It’s improved his Stuff+, seen him strike more batters out and generate more swings and misses. It’s all trending in the right direction for Detmers, but he’s still not in the same tier of pitcher as Ryan yet.
I’d bet Minnesota at -130 or better in the first five innings.
Bet: Twins F5 ML (-130 or better)
9:40 p.m. ET · James Paxton vs. Blake Snell
James Paxton had decent Stuff+ numbers in the minors and combined it with excellent strikeout rates. The command was nowhere to be found with 6.6 BB/9 in Worcester, but Paxton was quite impressive in his season debut last week. Whether or not the command stays start to start is a real question, but the Stuff+ rating was more than good enough for me to be interested in his second start against the enigmatic Blake Snell.
I like Snell generally, but the bat-to-ball skills of this Red Sox lineup and the plate discipline isn’t a great matchup for the Padres’ lefty. The Red Sox should be able to work a ton of long at-bats and either take or foul off a lot of his offerings to get him out of the game early.
With both pitchers difficult to accurately project, I like Boston +120 or better. Paxton’s ceiling is high if he has the good command again. The fastball command was a bit too right down the middle for my liking in the first outing, but he still had a 45% K rate and a 3.63 xERA despite getting barreled twice in the start.
Bet: Red Sox ML (+120 or better)
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