MLB Underdog Picks Today | Odds, Predictions for Astros vs Rays, Royals vs Diamondbacks on Monday, April 24

MLB Underdog Picks Today | Odds, Predictions for Astros vs Rays, Royals vs Diamondbacks on Monday, April 24 article feature image

Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Bobby Witt Jr.

Monday's MLB slate sees 11 games and 22 teams in action across this evening, and our Payoff Pitch analyst are keying in on two underdogs with a ton of value.

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.

Astros vs. Rays, 6:40 p.m.

Jose Urquidy vs. Taj Bradley

B.J. Cunningham: I like the Astros tonight. I think the number on the Rays here is just a tad too high.

Taj Bradley is going to be on the mound and obviously he’s a very highly touted prospect. He’s been excellent in his first two starts in the big league. However, I think we need to take a step back and ask ourselves what he was projected to be around at the beginning of the season, which was around a 3.80 ERA-type pitcher, which is very good; he’s just at 1.50 expected ERA through two starts.

I don’t know if he’s necessarily that good, and this is what tends to happen with prospects coming up as teams get more data, they see more pitches against them, and eventually they start to revert back to what they were projected to begin the season.

Now, he has made two pitches: the fastball and the cutter. The cutter is kind of a blend between a cutter and slider. It's got really good late action on it. And one of the reasons he’s been so highly touted is not necessarily that his stuff is this outstanding or out of this world, it’s that he has some of the best command of a prospect coming up in a really long time. He’s never been above a 2.7 walk per 9 rate through the minors. So far this season, only 62 of his 162 pitches have been outside of the strike zone, however, he’s only gotten batters to swing at 16 of those 62 pitches.

Houston is middle of the pack in chase rate, but with Bradley being a heavy fastball-cutter-type pitcher, this is a good matchup for the Astros because Houston dating back to last season against right-handed fastballs and cutters has a .272 expected batting average and .366 expected weighted on base average and a +51.1 run value.
Jose Urquidy is going to be on the mound for the Astros and he overperformed his actual ERA last season. He’s been solid through four starts this season — around a 3.6 expected ERA. He’s also a pitcher who’s pitched a lot better away from home than he has in Minute Maid Park.

If you look into why he overperformed last season, it pretty much boils down right to his fastball: he threw it 53% of the time and hitters hit it very hard but he got incredibly lucky on it. This season, he’s only throwing his fastball 30% of the time. He’s starting to utilize his sweeper a lot more often, which is an incredibly effective pitch for him because opposing hitters only have a .176 expected batting average against it.

The Rays also typically have bullpen advantages over pretty much every team in MLB with the depth that they have, but Houston actually leads the MLB with a 116 Stuff+ rating and 105 Pitching+ rating, while the Rays so far this season have only 97 Stuff+ and 100 Pitching+.

So, I think the Rays are overvalued here. I only have them projected at -108, so I like the Astros at +130.

Royals vs. Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET

Brad Keller vs. Tommy Henry

Charlie DiSturco: I’m going with the Kansas City Royals here. Last week, I went on the podcast and said the Oakland Athletics at +180  were a great bet, and they ended up winning in the top of the ninth with a go-ahead home run, then Jeurys Familia, a former Met, closed the door.

The Athletics now have four wins, and I’m going to do one better here: I’m going to go with a team with five wins here for my underdog pick. I’m taking the Kansas City Royals on the moneyline against the ArizonaDiamondbacks.

This number is probably flipped if you take away how this season has started. The Diamondbacks are at the top of the NL West. The Royals have just five wins this season, but Brad Keller has really taken a step forward and it’s been an underlying trend that we’ve seen here. We’ve seen heavy improvements year over year, and this year while he has slight control issues, his expected batting average and expected slugging have taken significant improvement: at .253 last season to a .203 expected batting average this year and a .405 expected slugging all the way down to a .339 this season.

A lot of that has to do with the change in his arsenal: He added a curveball that he’s throwing 28% of the time and primarily before that he was using his slider a lot. He’s pulling back on that slider, taking away from that horizontal movement which is what he normally had with the sinker or fastball or slider, and he’s added this vertical movement with the curveball. That has really changed how he’s played overall throughout this season.

Obviously it’s a very early and limited sample size, but I like him at plus money here against Henry. I don’t understand how the Royals are not a slight favorite here. Maybe it’s because it’s in Arizona, but Henry is abysmal when you look at his numbers from last season, and it’s his first start this year. I’m not expecting anything to change. A double digit barrel rate. A double digit walk rate. His strikeout rate is low. He doesn’t get chases, so the ball is going to get put in play.

The biggest thing here and why I also like Keller in this matchup: His biggest issue is control at times, and Arizona is second to last in walk rate. So they’re looking to swing, they’re not looking to take those free passes. Keller’s stuff is improving and way better than Henry's. So I’m going to take the Royals here at +120 all the way down to even money. This is a game where I think they should be favored, so I love getting them here at plus money.

Payoff Pitch Underdog Picks for Monday, April 24

  • Astros Moneyline (+130 or Better)
  • Royals Moneyline (+100 or Better)

At FanDuel, this parlay would pay out at +419 at the time of this writing.

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