MLB Predictions, Odds Saturday | Expert Picks, Props, Previews (May 4)

MLB Predictions, Odds Saturday | Expert Picks, Props, Previews (May 4) article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon Pfaadt.

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.

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

Here are my favorite bets for Saturday, May 4.

MLB Predictions, Odds Saturday | Expert Picks, Props, Previews (May 4)

Rockies vs. Pirates

Saturday, May 4
4:05 p.m. ET
MLB Network
Pick: Bryan Reynolds Over 1.5 Hits + Runs + RBI (-135)

Austin Gomber (COL) vs. Jared Jones (PIT)

It’s no secret the Pirates offense is sputtering. They have failed to score more than two runs in each of their last five games — all losses — and have just three wins over their last 17 contests.

Bryan Reynolds is hitting just .229 over the last two weeks, but it’s the matchup on Saturday that I'm buying on the switch-hitting outfielder. Austin Gomber takes the mound for Colorado, and while he’s improved a touch from last season, his expected metrics remain in the mid-4s.

Gomber has benefitted from batted-ball luck (.260 BABIP) and a career-high 81.3% strand rate. He is still being barreled nearly 11% of the time and possesses little swing-and-miss potential. The southpaw ranks in the bottom 15% of pitchers in K%.

While Reynolds has struggled against right-handed pitching — slashing .195/.314/.287 — he has found a lot more success against lefties. Not only is Reynolds batting .368, but he has three more RBI against southpaws than he does right-handers. Oh, and it’s come in 49 less at-bats, too!

I expect the Pirates offense to find more success on Saturday with Reynolds playing a huge role.

Orioles vs. Reds

Saturday, May 4
6:40 p.m. ET
Pick: Adley Rutschman Over 1.5 Hits + Runs + RBIs (-155)

John Means (BAL) vs. Andrew Abbott (CIN)

Gunnar Henderson’s hot start has thrusted him into MVP conversation, but don’t forget about Adley Rutschman. The switch-hitting catcher is off to a blistering start at the plate, batting .310 and ranking in the 93rd percentile of all hitters in xBA.

He is a hard guy to strike out and has posted a career-best xSLG (.510) and barrel rate (9.7%). Rutschman is taking that next step and draws an extremely favorable matchup against Reds left-hander Andrew Abbott.

Abbott ranks in the bottom 7% of all pitchers in both chase and whiff rate, relying on generating weak contact for outs. Through his first six starts, he’s dropped his hard-hit rate by over 10% — which’ll likely negatively regress. He has also benefitted from a .233 BABIP.

This is a perfect opportunity for the Orioles offense to do some damage against Abbott as they are second in wRC+ (138) and first in isolated power (.208) against left-handed pitching.

There are plenty of other players to look at if you like the Orioles offense. From their team total over 4.5 (-120), to players like Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander — who have proven track records against southpaws — you can take your pick.

I personally am going with Rutschman to do some damage here. He is hitting .449 against southpaws with an OPS of 1.164.

While his props aren't available yet, I am targeting either over 1.5 total bases or hits+runs+rbi, depending on the number.

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Mets vs. Rays

Saturday, May 4
7:15 p.m. ET
Pick: Christian Scott Over 4.5 Strikeouts

Christian Scott (NYM) vs. Zack Littell (TB)

The Mets called up one of their top prospects in Christian Scott following the move of Adrian Houser to the bullpen. The right-hander has elite swing-and-miss potential, striking out 36 batters across 25 1/3 innings with Triple-A Syracuse.

Digging deeper into Scott, his minor-league numbers are impressive. He has elite control to go with a high strikeout rate — just six walks — and has allowed a total of just 12 hits. The issue has been the long ball, with seven of those 12 hits going for home runs. Opponents are hitting .136 against the 24-year-old.

This is a good spot to buy Scott given the unknown surrounding him. I personally love to bet on the potential of pitchers and few come in with such elite strikeout numbers like Scott does.

That brings me to the matchup against the  Rays. Yes, Tampa Bay team did just go for 10 runs in the series opener, but it was against Jose Quintana, who has his own load of issues.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the Rays really struggle at the plate, specifically against right-handed pitching. They rank fourth worst in strikeout rate (27.5%) and bottom five in wRC+ (79) in that split.

Obviously, there’s a big jump in talent to the Major Leagues, but Scott has struck out seven or more batters in four of five starts. His ceiling is evident — season-high 10 strikeouts in five innings on April 10 — and I’m willing to bet on the rookie’s debut given the Rays’ recent offensive struggles against righties.

I wouldn’t even blame you if you laddered him, either.

Padres vs. Diamondbacks

Saturday, May 4
8:10 p.m. ET
Pick: Diamondbacks F5 ML (-114)

Michael King (SD) vs. Brandon Pfaadt (ARI)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last month of betting, it’s that taking the bullpens out of the equation makes life less stressful. Arizona’s bullpen in particular ranks 27th in xFIP and is not trustworthy given the injuries on the back end.

I am looking to buy Brandon Pfaadt, who has been unlucky through the first month of the season. Across six starts, the right-hander has a 4.63 ERA, but his expected metrics sit about a run-and-a-half lower (3.20 xFIP, 3.10 xERA).

Pfaadt has always had elite command, but he has seen both his hard-hit rate (36.7%) and barrel rate (7.1%) significantly improve. He is also striking out batters at a nearly 4% higher rate.

The improvements have come with a change in his pitch mix. Rather than throwing his four-seam fastball nearly half the time, that number has dropped over 12%. He is throwing his sweeper a tad more and has doubled his sinker usage.

The difference between him and Michael King is enough for me to back Pfaadt and the Diamondbacks over the first five (F5) innings at (-114). King has struggled since being stretched out as a starter, ranking in the bottom 15% of all pitchers in chase rate and BB%.

King carries a 5.14 xERA into this matchup with a career-worst 43.6% hard-hit rate and 11.9 barrel%. King is also sporting a .242 BABIP, which should even negatively regress toward his career average of .290.

The offenses are about as split even as it comes — Padres 109 wRC+, Diamondbacks 106 — and the same goes for isolated power (.143 vs. .142).

There’s a clear edge in Pfaadt’s favor from a pure numbers and underlying metrics perspective, thus leading me to an Arizona F5 bet.

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