MLB Underdog Picks Today | Odds, Predictions for Athletics vs. Blue Jays, Pirates vs. Marlins (Friday, June 23)
Ben Green/Getty Images. Pictured: James Kaprielian
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.
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Athletics vs. Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m.
James Kaprielian vs. Chris Bassitt
Charlie DiSturco: The Oakland Athletics have fallen back down to earth. They've lost eight in a row, and kind of look like the same old Oakland Athletics after their win streak. However, I think this number is way too high, given the pitching matchup and the fact that Chris Bassitt is on the mound.
Bassitt's Stuff+ is 90; he ranks below average in just about every pitch he has in his arsenal. It's a deep arsenal, but they're all below average. His xERA and xFIP are both half a run higher than actual. His strikeout rates are down, his walk rate is up, and his barrel rate has jumped up 3%. There are a lot of concerns with Bassitt — he's a completely different pitcher from when he was with the New York Mets. Last year, he had a .227 xBA and .359 xSLG. This year, he has a .253 xBA and a .430 xSLG, which is a concerning jump.
He's a Jekyll and Hyde pitcher. I pulled the numbers from the last four stretches he had. He started with 23 shutout innings pitched, then gave up 13 runs, nine earned, in 10.1 innings, then he went 15.2 innings of two runs. In his last two starts, he's pitched 6.2 innings of 13 runs, 11 earned. His defense hasn't been doing him any favors, he hasn't been pitching that well, and now this number is +260? It's too high for me to pass on this.
I'm playing this small just because it's the Athletics. They don't have a great bullpen and Kaprielian is on the mound — I'm not that high on him in general. However, I do think he has some positive regression coming. His xERA is in the mid-fours or the low-fives, while his actual ERA is up in the mid-sixes. He's taken a step forward with his strikeout percentage, and his left-on-base rate is a lot lower than his career average.
Toronto, over the last 14 days, is 21st in WRC. Bo Bichette is nursing a thumb injury, and we have no update on him. Even if he comes back, his power or hitting could be mitigated. Vlad Guerrero Jr. has been a different hitter since he's had right knee soreness. He's not hitting for power, and he's not hitting that well. Alejandro Kirk is on the injured list. When you look at how the Blue Jays offense has been faring, it's not great. Bassitt is a concerning pitcher, so it's enough for me to take a stab on the Athletics here. I'm throwing half a unit on it at +260, which is just too much for me not to take it.
The A's have the advantage at this number. However, I can't fathom putting a whole unit behind Kaprielian and the A's right now.
Pirates vs. Marlins, 6:40 p.m.
Luis Ortiz vs. Jesús Luzardo
Anthony Dabbundo: I'm taking the Pirates small here.
The Marlins syndicate has struck again; it's the second straight day the Marlins have gotten absolutely nuked in the market. They opened -120 against Mitch Keller yesterday with Braxton Garrett on the mound and closed closer to -150 or -160. That is a huge move, given that the market is pretty efficient generally with these openers now. You don't see those kind of openers, especially when multiple books are opening at -120 and keeping it there overnight and the morning after. Today, the Marlins opened a little high maybe, at -175, and now they've been bet up again where you can get the Pirates as high as +160 or +165.
Luis Ortiz has had command issues, but his Stuff+ is still very good. The Stuff+ says that, on any given day, he can dominate a lineup. You also get the Pirates in their better split against left-handed pitching, with Luzardo on the mound.
Luzardo had a dominant start to the year, but you've started to see a little bit of regression in his numbers. He probably was not going to keep up the performance he was having early in the year. He got blown up once, and he was a little shaky against the Nationals in his last start.
There are some angles here for Pittsburgh, and the Marlins bullpen is far from elite. It's an average bullpen, so once Luzardo is out of the game, this game gets a little bit closer to even as well. So at +160 or +165, I'm going to take a half-unit bet on the Pittsburgh Pirates with Ortiz and hope his Stuff+ is good and his command is decent today.
Payoff Pitch Underdog Picks for Day, Date
- Athletics Moneyline
- Pirates Moneyline
At FanDuel, this parlay would pay out at +880 at the time of this writing.
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