MLB Underdog Picks Today | Expert Predictions for Rangers vs Royals, Diamondbacks vs Cardinals on Tuesday, April 18
Joe Puetz/Getty Images. Pictured: Ketel Marte
The Payoff Pitch crew went 2-0 in their underdog picks from Monday’s slate, and they’ll look to keep the momentum rolling on Tuesday’s whopping 17-game Major League Baseball slate.
As a reminder, the Payoff Pitch podcast MLB experts break down their favorite picks from the day’s slate every Monday, Tuesday and Friday, including each analyst’s favorite underdog on the slate, and they’ve got two more to recommend today.
You can read about their picks below, and be sure to subscribe to Payoff Pitch for MLB picks and predictions all season long.
Rangers vs. Royals, 7:40 p.m. ET
Nathan Eovaldi vs. Brad Keller
Anthony Dabbundo: I don’t love a ton of the underdogs on the board, so this one barely even fits our criteria is a plus-money underdog but I do like the Royals here.
Brad Keller has really figured some things out. I joked that he’s back and then realized he was never actually good until now, so I guess this is really his breakout party, but it’s all backed up by the data. Keller has seen a rise in Stuff+, he’s throwing a new sweeper that’s getting a ton of whiffs, his curveball has looked really good and his fastball velocity is up.
I’ve generally liked Nathan Eovaldi, too, but he’s generally had a home run problem and the wind is blowing out to right field tonight, so that’s a little concerning.
I like the improvements that Keller has made and I think the market is slow to pick up on them, so I’m going to take the Royals. They’ve lost four in a row, but I don’t think they should be an underdogs at home given Keller’s improvements.
Diamondbacks vs. Cardinals, 7:45 p.m. ET
Drey Jameson vs. Jordan Montgomery
Sean Zerillo: Happy Drey Jameson Day to all who celebrate.
We don’t usually talk about athleticism for pitchers, but when you’re 6-feet tall and can throw 99 mph you are clearly a good athlete because all of that power is generated from your lower half.
I’ve talked a lot about fact that Jameson — on a team with some of the fastest guys in baseball — could beat any of them in a sprint. He had 80-grade sprint speed in college, so again that explosiveness and power is coming from the lower half. He has a dominant fastball/slider combination; both are elite offerings. He needs to figure out a third pitch either his curveball or his changeup needs to bring one up a level if he wants to be a full-time starter.
But in terms of getting through a lineup once, throwing 3-4 dominant innings, he can be extremely effective. The Diamondbacks intended to use him in that type of fireman role this year where if Madison Bumgarner or Zach Davies got in trouble early in their starts, they bring him in as the piggyback to basically shut it down and keep the game close. Injuries forced them to put Jameson in the rotation.
I’m curious to see how he continues to develop, but he already projects very effective for me on a per-inning basis. And in this matchup with Jordan Montgomery, even though I give the Cardinals a slight pitching advantage both for the F5 and the full game behind their bullpen, I still like the Diamondbacks in this matchup because of their speed and defense.
They actually project better in terms of speed and defense than the Cardinals do. The Cardinals, surprisingly, have fallen off a bit defensively in my model. We’ll see if that flips because they seem like they should be one of the best defensive teams, but the D’backs have overtaken them in those areas in my opinion.
So the Diamondbacks down to +140 is my favorite underdog of the day. I also like their future odds to make the playoffs.
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