MLB Daily Betting Model, 5/8: Can Yusei Kikuchi Win His Yankees Stadium Debut?
Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Yusei Kikuchi
- Sean Zerillo's MLB model helps to find edges in betting moneylines and over/unders for the full game and First 5 (F5) innings.
- He analyzes the full slate of games on May 8 with his model below, and highlights Pirates-Rangers (12:35 p.m. ET) and Yankees-Mariners (6:35 p.m. ET) as potential edges.
- Plug in your odds to the spreadsheet at the bottom of this article to see where you might have an edge.
On Tuesday, Mike Fiers recorded the 300th no-hitter in baseball history (postseason included) and the second of his career.
Along the way, his teammates picked him up a few times:
A no-no isn’t possible without the help of your friends.
Which play was better?
— MLB (@MLB) May 8, 2019
Per MLB Stats, “Fiers threw 131 pitches to complete the no-hitter. That’s the most since … Mike Fiers threw 134 in his 1st no-no in 2015.”
Meanwhile in San Diego, Pete Alonso channeled the spirit of Bartolo Colon and hit one of the most violent home runs of the season (114.7 mph with an estimated distance of 449 feet):
In the same game, Robinson Cano reached 2,500 career hits and should rank third all-time in hits among Dominican-born players by the end of the 2019 season:
Recapping Yesterday’s MLB Model
At writing yesterday, the model would have gone 2-2 against full-game moneylines (calling the Royals and Giants upsets), and 2-1-1 against moneylines for the first five innings (F5).
My actual picks went 3-1-1. I was up 0.9 units for the day.
It was an extremely positive day in terms of generating Closing Line Value (CLV).
I gained 15 cents on the Braves F5 runline (-120 to -135), 13 cents on the Pirates F5 moneyline (-122 to -135) 12 cents on the Marlins F5 moneyline (+140 to +128), 10 cents on the Marlins F5 runline (-110 to -120), and two cents on the A’s moneyline (-120 to -122).
On Deck for Wednesday, May 8
The model recommends four full-game moneylines and three moneylines for the first five innings (F5) on Wednesday.
As of writing, the 4% trigger threshold officially marked the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins and New York Mets as the full-game plays. It also likes the Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals as F5 plays.
Chris Sale’s average fastball velocity was back up to around 93 mph in his last start against the White Sox, and I’m not really interested in taking the Orioles against him, even at odds of over +250.
The Marlins and Royals have received early sharp action and might be more viable underdog plays, but I’m also not touching those teams.
I played all three F5 lines (Pittsburgh, Toronto and Washington), and firmly believe that the Nationals (with their leaky bullpen) are a team that you should only play in the first half of their games (if you play them at all).
I also took the Mets full game line, with Wilmer Font making his debut after being dealt by Tampa Bay. Font was also traded twice last season, from the Dodgers to Oakland then to Tampa Bay, changing his pitch mix along the way.
After primarily throwing his four-seam fastball and slider with the Dodgers, the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Venezuelan has expanded his pitch mix over the past two seasons, upping his combined slider and curveball usage to 45%, and mixing in a sinker 15% of the time too.
The Mets are hoping that Font can serve as a swingman, working as a starter until Jason Vargas returns from injury when Font will likely shift to the bullpen and work as a long reliever. Whatever his role, Font doesn’t lack in confidence:
Wilmer Font, with a 98mph Fastball right down Broadway that Judge tries to send Arial, but fails to Impact.
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 17, 2018
Trent Thornton has pitched with confidence for the Blue Jays. Acquired from the Astros for Aledmys Diaz, the 25-year-old Thornton is 0-3 over seven starts but owns a solid 38:14 strikeout to walk ratio over his first 35.1 major league innings.
Thornton has a five-pitch mix — four-seam fastball, cutter, splitter, curveball and slider — with average command, but he does throw an above average fastball:
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 4, 2019
Barring injury, he’s likely going to continue to improve and stick in the big leagues for a while.
Yusei Kikuchi is making his first career start in New York against the Yankees, and he’s also coming off of the best outing of his MLB career (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 10 K vs. Cleveland on May 3).
Kikuchi is at his best when he can dominate with his fastball-slider combination:
Yusei Kikuchi, 93mph Fastball (called strike) and 87mph Slider (Swinging K), Overlay. pic.twitter.com/wxogPAgHZY
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 4, 2019
Based on Quality of Pitch (QOP) — a metric that combines speed, location and movement — Kikuchi ranks in the Top 22% of MLB pitchers; above average, but not elite.
This aligns well with his batted ball data, with his xwOBA at .305, slightly above major league average (3.18). That xwOBA translates to an expected ERA of 4.16, right in line with his preseason composite projection (4.17).
Lastly, the Pirates bet is more of a bet against Shelby Miller, with his 13:20 strikeout to walk ratio this season.
Miller is mostly pumping in fastballs (71% up from 60% career), and his opponents are both laying off outside of the zone (20.2% o-swing vs. 27.7% career) making contact outside of the zone when they do offer (80.4% o-contact, up from 70.4% career).
Miller has earned every bit of his 7.99 ERA, pitching to a 7.59 xFIP. As a result, I’m considering playing the Pirates a second time — perhaps on the full game line.
Bets (So Far) for May 8
- Pittsburgh Pirates (-130) F5 Moneyline
- Seattle Mariners (+122) F5 Moneyline
- Toronto Blue Jays (+100) F5 Moneyline
- Washington Nationals (+165) F5 Moneyline
Zerillo’s Full MLB Model, 5/8
Download the Excel doc with my projections to input odds from your sportsbook. These projections cover the full game and First 5 moneylines and over/unders. A sample of one of the sheets is below.