MLB Predictions & Picks Today | Odds for Tigers vs Red Sox, Padres vs Diamondbacks, More (Friday, August 11)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images. Pictured: Blake Snell
Chris Sale makes his long-awaited return to the rotation for the Red Sox as they begin a series with the Tigers on Friday night at Fenway Park to highlight a full 15-game MLB slate.
Arizona's recent slide has them sitting outside the playoff spots and right next to San Diego in the NL standings. That makes their upcoming series against one another all that more important in Arizona this weekend.
The Phillies welcome Dallas Keuchel and Minnesota to Citizens Bank Park for a three-game series between two likely playoff teams.
Here are my MLB predictions, picks and best bets for Friday, August 11, including picks for Tigers vs Red Sox and Padres vs Diamondbacks.
MLB Predictions & Picks for Friday, August 11
Dallas Keuchel didn't register a single strikeout in his MLB return against the Diamondbacks on Sunday. He also did an excellent job limiting hard contact, produced a bunch of ground balls and allowed one run through five innings.
On one hand, Keuchel was one of the worst MLB pitchers and bounced around the league for three teams because he was so bad last year. He did spend some time this offseason at Driveline and then followed it up with really impressive minor-league numbers in the Minnesota farm system.
The Stuff+ metrics on Keuchel are quite bad, but can the Twins lefty beat the market projections by pitching to a lot of ground ball contact? It's an interesting thought experiment and makes him difficult to project as he starts against red-hot Philadelphia on Friday night.
The Phillies' lineup may be without Bryce Harper, who left the game due to back spasms on Thursday and manager Rob Thomson listed as "day-to-day." The Phillies' lineup doesn't project nearly as well against left-handed pitching overall, and will likely start Weston Wilson, Johan Rojasand Edmundo Sosa at the back-end of the lineup. All three project well below average at the plate.
Cristopher Sanchez has really impressed as a starter, but he has a clear home run suppression problem and that's a danger against a Minnesota lineup that remains elite at barreling the ball when it makes contact. The Twins strike out a lot, but they have the power to get to Sanchez.
They're also likely to hook Keuchel before Philadelphia hooks Sanchez because of extra bullpen rest. Minnesota's bullpen and lineup aren't all that different from the Phillies, so I can't really get to the +140 price available, even with Keuchel out there.
Chris Sale is back in Boston, but the real story of this matchup is the performance of Tigers lefty Tarik Skubal.
He's throwing harder than ever with his fastball velocity up two mph since returning from injury. His strikeout rate and swinging strike rate are through the roof and at a career-high 31.1% with the former.
He's managed to achieve this while still suppressing homers, which was a problem for him early in his career. Skubal has cut down on the walks thus far this year, too, and a result has a 2.29 xERA.
He's only had one poor start, at Kansas City, since returning from injury when he had some brutal BABIP luck in one of the most BABIP-friendly parks in the entire league.
Sale has looked impressive in his two rehab starts in the minor leagues, but he's also not going to be fully dialed up from a workload and pitch count perspective. That likely means Boston heads to the bullpen first, which is a downgrade from Sale's projection.
The Red Sox lineup also doesn't look nearly as fearsome against left-handed pitching when you consider that Rafael Devers, Masataka Yoshida, Triston Casas and Alex Verdugo all end up in bad platoon splits. Boston still has a great offense either way, but the projections don't like them as much against southpaws.42.392000135
I'd bet Detroit at +120 or better.
Blake Snell has provided the full Blake Snell experience this season. His drop in stuff, strikeout rates and swinging strike rates early in the season led some to believe he was in decline as a pitcher.
He followed that poor start to the season with ace-level dominance and is now the Cy Young favorite in the National League. There's good money to be made betting on Snell when everyone is counting him out, and betting against Snell when he's nearing the end of his peak command and stuff that he finds for a few months every season.
Right now is one of the times to look to bet against him. Snell has had some ridiculous strand rates in the last month, but the constant traffic on the bases is sure to catch up with him going forward. Snell has 28 walks in his last 31 innings spanning his last seven starts.
Snell's rolling zone rate and walks per nine tell a clear picture of what's gone wrong for the Padres' lefty. The Diamondbacks rank in the bottom six in all of baseball in chase rate offensively, which means they're not an offense that will be consistently swinging at Snell's pitches outside of the zone.
Snell's first pitch strike rate has been much more inconsistent in the last month, and the result is falling behind in a lot of counts. It limits his ability to go deep into games — and really stretches a mediocre San Diego middle relief — while also meaning that one or two big swings can completely blow the game open.
The market has shown consistent love for Snell because of the excellent strikeout numbers, but his K-BB% has plummeted in the last six weeks from Spencer Strider-level elite down to replacement level elite.
Ryne Nelson has quite poor underlying numbers from an xERA and K-BB% perspective, but his Stuff+ and Pitching+ suggest better days are ahead. There remains a lot of Padres love in the market but I'm happy to play against them at +135 or better.