MLB Predictions Monday | Expert Picks, Odds, Preview Today (June 17)

MLB Predictions Monday | Expert Picks, Odds, Preview Today (June 17) article feature image
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Welcome to Opening Pitch, our daily column that you'll find throughout the 2024 MLB season.

The goal for Opening Pitch is to highlight top daily projection edges for MLB moneylines and totals, share favorite bets and provide some betting notes and analysis.

As a reminder, you can find all my bets in the Action Network App and get live alerts every time I log a new bet.

You can find expert projections for every MLB game on Friday in the Action App (on both the PRO Projections tab and the game pages) and our Projections Hub.

You can also shop for the best lines on our MLB Odds page.

Here are my favorite bets for Monday, June 17.

MLB Predictions Monday | Expert Picks, Odds, Preview Today (June 17)

Monday, June 17
6:40 p.m. ET
BSOH
Reds Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+1.5
-126
8
-110o / -110u
+158
Pirates Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-1.5
+105
8
-110o / -110u
-188
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Carson Spiers (CIN) vs. Paul Skenes (PIT)

Paul Skenes has moved to second in NL Rookie of the Year odds after six starts (33 1/3 innings, 1.0 WAR). There should be a greater separation in odds between Skenes and Shota Imanaga (76 IP, 2.2 WAR), who has thrown twice as many innings as Skenes while accumulating more than double the WAR.

Imanaga tossed 159 professional innings in Japan last season; Skenes accumulated 129 between college and the Minors and is already at 60 pro innings in 2024. Assuming Skenes' limit for 2024 is around 150 innings, he may get shut down in September while Imanaga should pitch through the entire season.

That said, on a per-inning basis, Skenes may already be the best starting pitcher in baseball. He has posted a 112 Pitching+ figure and a 30.8% K-BB%, each the highest among starting pitchers who have tossed 30 innings or more (Jared Jones at 111, Nick Pivetta at 110, Corbin Burnes and Zack Wheeler at 109, Tanner Houck at 108, Tarik Skubal at 107).

Pitching models might underrate his splitter (99 Stuff+), which Skenes throws more than 30% of the time and has produced better results (.185 xBA, .306 xSLG) than any other offering.

Public projections don't expect much from Carson Spiers (projected FIP range of 4.65 to 4.85). Still, the righty has shown a dominant slider (141 Stuff+) and excellent command (107 Location+) in the Reds bullpen. He tossed 5 2/3 shutout innings in his last outing against the Cubs.

Spiers is a fly-ball pitcher who generates a healthy number of popups, and he keeps the Pirates in their lesser split (28th vs. righties, 15th vs. lefties, per wRC+).

I projected this total at 7.48 runs.

Bets: Under 8 (-110 or better)

Pick: Under 8 (-110 or better)
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Monday, June 17
6:40 p.m. ET
BSFL
Cardinals Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-1.5
+116
7.5
-100o / -122u
-156
Marlins Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+1.5
-140
7.5
-100o / -122u
+132
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Sonny Gray (STL) vs. Braxton Garrett (MIA)

Braxton Garrett has been extremely unlucky this season with a 54.7% strand rate compared to a career mark of 73.6%, leading to a 6.1 ERA nearly two total runs higher than his expected mark of 4.26.

Pitching models (88 Stuff+, 95 Pitching+) and Statcast metrics (4.05 xERA in 2022, 4.58 in 2023) have never seen Garrett as an above-average arm. However, he carried a 3.63 ERA alongside a 3.64 FIP and 3.45 xFIP across 47 starts between the 2022 and 2023 seasons, and there's very little that has changed in his profile through six starts in 2024.

Garrett's walk rate (2.9%) is at a career low, and his ground-ball rate (52.5%) is sitting at a career-high rate, as his sinker has also climbed to a career-high usage rate (35.2%):

Offensively, the Cardinals have been above average against righties (103 wRC+) but near the bottom of the league against southpaws (78 wRC+, 29th), a reversal of team splits from recent seasons. With Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt anchoring their lineup, the Cardinals have typically mashed left-handed pitching.

Goldschmidt has handled lefties better this season (111 wRC+ vs. 79 wRC+ against righties). Arenado, meanwhile, has shown inverse splits (68 wRC+ vs. lefties, 112 vs. righties) in a disappointing campaign.

The Marlins rebounded from a rough March and April (7-24) before a winning May (14-13). However, June (2-11) has been more abysmal than April — the Fish look to snap a five-game skid on Monday.

Bets: Marlins Full-Game Moneyline (+120 or better)

Monday, June 17
7:07 p.m. ET
SNET
Red Sox Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+1.5
-210
7.5
-118o / -104u
+108
Blue Jays Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-1.5
+172
7.5
-118o / -104u
-126
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Nick Pivetta (BOS) vs. Yusei Kikuchi (TOR)

After playing on Sunday Night baseball, the Red Sox are at a rest and travel disadvantage for Monday's matchup with the Blue Jays after arriving in Ontario early Monday morning.

Given the handedness of both starters, the offensive splits are relatively neutral — benefitting Toronto. Toronto ranks 17th against right-handed pitching while Boston is 16th against lefties. The teams rank 25th and 8th, respectively, against lefties and righties; if you flipped the handedness for both pitchers, the Red Sox would have a substantial offensive advantage.

They won't throw a southpaw in this series against the Blue Jays, but the Red Sox will face the right-handed Chris Bassitt and Kevin Gausman on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Blue Jays are the far superior defensive club, leading MLB in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and ranking second in Outs Above Average (OAA). The Red Sox rank 12th and 24th, respectively, in those two defensive measurements.

Daulton Varsho (+27 DRS in 2023, +13 in 2024) has led all players in DRS over the past two seasons.

I view Yusei Kikuchi (3.4 xERA, 110 Stuff+, 106 Pitching+) and Nick Pivetta (138 Stuff+, 110 Pitching+) as comparable starters.

Pivetta's Stuff+ was down to 128 in his last start (107 Pitching+), with his sweeper sitting at a season-low velocity level (81.7 mph), nearly two ticks off of his season-high and 1.5 mph below his season average (83.1 mph) for his best pitch. Pivetta dealt with a flexor strain earlier this season and has posted even strikeout and walk numbers in two of his past four outings. I'm a bit concerned about his health with the dip in slider velocity and the increase in walks.

Kikuchi's pitch modeling profile has never looked better. His changeup has improved from 82 Stuff+ to 101, year over year. He permitted a .493 xSLG on the offspeed pitch in 2023 — that figure is down nearly 200 points this season (.296 xSLG).

Bets: Blue Jays F5 Moneyline (-135 or better) | Blue Jays Full-Game Moneyline (-133 or better)

Monday, June 17
8:40 p.m. ET
SportsNet LA
Dodgers Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-1.5
-126
11.5
-122o / -100u
-178
Rockies Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+1.5
+105
11.5
-122o / -100u
+150
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

James Paxton (LAD) vs. Cal Quantrill (COL)

Mookie Betts will miss an extended period after fracturing his hand on Sunday, which will likely kill his NL MVP chances.

Shohei Ohtani (3.1 WAR) is the new NL MVP favorite, ahead of Bryce Harper (2.7 WAR). Ketel Marte (3.2 WAR) has a lead on both in the most important statistical category while Marcell Ozuna (2.9), Jurickson Profar (2.8), Will Smith (2.7), Willy Adames (2.7), William Contreras (2.6) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (2.6) round out the current NL top 10 for position player WAR.

Surprisingly, Francisco Lindor ranks 13th despite his poor start to the season. A pair of updated end-of-season projections have Marte (+4000), Tatis (+1000) and Lindor (+20000) each finishing in the top five for NL WAR.  I also like William Conteras (+2000) as I've been waiting for an excuse to bet on him for MVP all year.

As for Ohtani, he has more to do offensively since he doesn't accumulate defensive value.

I'm also curious to see how the Dodgers rebuild their lineup without their leadoff hitter. Here is the OPS by batting order spot for the Dodgers this season:

  • 1st (.886)
  • 2nd (.957)
  • 3rd (.864)
  • 4th (.858)
  • 5th (.874)
  • 6th (.650)
  • 7th (.575)
  • 8th (.633)
  • 9th (.581)

Betts missed one game this season; Ohtani led off, followed by Freddie Freeman, Will Smith and Teoscar Hernandez. After those bats, Andy Pages, Gavin Lux, Enrique Hernandez, Miguel Vargas and Miguel Rojas were the final five hitters in the Dodgers order.

Rojas (career .668 OPS) is a better defender than Betts — but a significant downgrade offensively. Additionally, consider that Cavan Biggio (career .723 OPS; .601 in 2024) is currently playing for an injured Max Muncy (.798 OPS in 40 games) and you realize how genuinely shallow this Dodgers lineup is — beyond the top four or three spots (when Will Smith sits) — for the foreseeable future.

I've wasted enough words on James Paxton (5.04 xERA, 1.2% K-BB%, 74 Stuff+, 88 Pitching+) in prior versions of this column. Everything about Paxton's profile remains at career-worst levels aside from his .251 BABIP (.300 career), and it's a red flag that Cal Quantrill (4.09 xERA, 8% K-BB%, 94 Stuff+, 95 Pitching+) has superior underlying indicators.

Bets: Rockies Full-Game Moneyline (+145 or better)

Zerillo's Bets for Monday, June 17

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  • Cincinnati Reds / Pittsburgh Pirates, Under 8 (-106, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -110)
  • Colorado Rockies (+170, 0.5u) at ESPNBet (bet to +145)
  • Detroit Tigers / Atlanta Braves, Under 8 (-110, 0.25u) at Caesars (small to -110)
  • Miami Marlins (+139, 0.5u) at WynnBet (Bet to +120)
  • New York Mets / Texas Rangers, Over 8 (+100, 0.25u) at Caesars (bet to -110)
  • San Francisco Giants / Chicago Cubs, Under 10.5 (-112, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -119 or 10, -101)
  • Toronto Blue Jays F5 (-125, 0.5u) at BetMGM (bet to -135)
  • Toronto Blue Jays (-120, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -133)

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