MLB Picks Today | Odds, Expert Projections for Monday, June 5
Ed Zurga/Getty Images, John Fisher/Getty Images and Quinn Harris/Getty Images. Pictured (left to right): Bobby Witt Jr. of the Kansas City Royals, Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers and Dansby Swanson of the Chicago Cubs.
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 Monday, June 5
Kansas City Royals vs. Miami Marlins
Carlos Hernandez vs. Braxton Garrett
First Pitch: 6:40 p.m. ET
Carlos Hernandez will open for the Royals on Monday. The righty has shown explosive stuff — and significant skills growth — pitching out of the bullpen this season.
He's primarily struggled with his command across 23 major league starts. Still, Hernandez's velocity plays up in the bullpen, sitting near triple digits (average 99.1 mph this season) and ranking in the top 10 for fastball velocity among all pitchers (Jhoan Duran first at 101.9 mph; rookie Ben Joyce second at 101.7 mph).
Among the same group of 649 pitchers to take a Major League mound this season, Hernandez ranks 18th in Stuff+ (130) and 24th in Pitching+ (112). His fastballs play better out of the bullpen, but his command has also seen significant improvement (from 95 to 104 in Location+) and shown significant growth in his strikeout and walk numbers.
Long-term, he's probably better off in the bullpen. Still, hopefully, Hernandez can give us two clean innings at the start of a bullpen game.
Even after swapping out his four-seamer for more sinkers and cutters, Braxton Garrett (98 Pitching+) still projects about as good as he was last season (4.05 xERA or expected ERA) despite lesser results (5.16 xERA) so far this year.
The Royals are in their superior offensive split, ranking 18th against lefties (103 wRC+) compared to 29th against righties (79 wRC+). I projected their moneyline closer to +125, bet the Royals down to +137, and will look to add an F5 wager in the morning.
Detroit Tigers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Joey Wentz vs. Aaron Nola
First Pitch: 6:40 p.m. ET
On a weather-neutral night at Citizens Bank Park, I would set this total almost precisely at nine (8.99). However, with 9.5 mph winds blowing in from left field at first pitch, I set the number closer to 8.3; bet Under 9 to -117.
Aaron Nola has shown some skills slippage this season (xERA up from 2.74 to 3.80; K-BB% down from 25.5% to 15.6%), notably the second and third time through the order (24.5% first time through the order; 10.4% second and third time through). His Stuff+ has also dropped by nine points (from 106 to 95) year over year.
Joey Wentz (5.62 xERA) also doesn't inspire much confidence for run prevention.
However, both teams are in their lesser offensive split; the Phillies rank 27th against lefties (90 wRC+), while the Tigers are 26th against righties (81 wRC+), compared to 13th and 23rd, respectively, for the two clubs in their opposite split.
Unfortunately, because it's a new series, we won't know the plate umpire until closer to first pitch, but the wind and splits are still enough to bet the Under for now.
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds
Julio Teheran vs. Andrew Abbott
First Pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET
I was admittedly surprised when the model first imported Julio Teheran as a probable starter after stints in the Atlantic League and the Mexican League last season. Still, the 32-year-old, two-time All-Star has shown surprisingly good stuff in his return to the majors.
Despite sitting in the low 90s, Teheran's four-seamer (118 stuff+) and sinker (106) have shown incredible movement, and he has complemented the fastballs with an above-average changeup (108 Stuff+) and solid command (105 Location+). Teheran's 3.41 xERA and 3.91 Pitching Model ERA indicate his talent level more than the current projection market (projected FIP range 5.31 to 5.86).
Projections are far more optimistic about the Reds' Andrew Abbott (projected FIP range of 4.23 to 4.69). Abbott has an above-average fastball and curveball but fringe command. He posted a 10% walk rate in Double-A last season and a 9% walk rate in Triple-A this year.
The southpaw can generate big strikeout totals (strikeout rate north of 30% at every minor league level), but he'll give up a fair share of walks and home runs too.
I projected the Brewers as slight favorites in both halves of this matchup. Play Milwaukee's F5 (first five innings) moneyline to -108, and bet their full game line down even money.
Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres
Kyle Hendricks vs. Blake Snell
First Pitch: 9:10 p.m. ET
Although he's had much better results in his past two starts (11 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 7 BB, 13 K), pitching models haven't seen much improvement from Blake Snell throughout his first 11 starts of the 2023 season (5.58 xERA).
This season, Snell has posted the following ratings: 108 Stuff+, 93 Location+ and 96 Pitching+. Last season, Snell finished at 119/100/106 by the same three metrics, and in his past two starts, he's at 118/91/97.
To summarize, Snell's stuff has progressed to where he was last season, but his command remains well below average, and he's permitting far too many walks (career-high 13.7% walk rate).
Even that last start — with elite stuff but subpar command — would give Snell a full-season ERA of around 4.4, the equivalent of a No. 4 starter and a far cry from where he finished last year (3.19 xERA).
The Cubs present a difficult offensive matchup for Snell, ranking seventh in both wrC+ (116) and walk rate against left-handed pitching this season.
I don't know what the Cubs will get from Kyle Hendricks, however. He holds an xERA of around five across 48 starts the past two seasons and has gotten lit up through two starts (6.68 xERA) this year. Hendricks' Stuff+ (61 this year, 71 last season, 77 in 2021, 87 in 2020) is on a four-year decline. He's like a position player pitching with good command (104 Location+).
I projected the Cubs closer to +140; you can bet their moneyline at +150 or better.
I prefer the Over 8 (to -115) for a game I projected for 8.66 runs with the wind blowing out to right field, two struggling starters and a road team in an enticing offensive split.
Zerillo's Bets for Monday, June 5
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- Brandon Bielak, Over 3.5 Strikeouts (+110, 0.25u) at BetMGM (bet to +100)
- Chicago Cubs (+150, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +150)
- Chicago Cubs / San Diego Padres, Over 8 (-110, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -115)
- Detroit Tigers / Philadelphia Phillies, Under 9 (-115, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -117)
- Kansas City Royals F5 (+135, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +125)
- Kansas City Royals (+155, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to +137)
- Milwaukee Brewers F5 (-102, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -108)
- Milwaukee Brewers (+100, 05u) at WynnBet (bet to +100)
- Yordan Alvarez, Over 1.5 Total Bases (+115, 0.25u) at BetMGM (bet to +100)