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Wednesday MLB Odds, Picks & Preview: Expert Betting Breakdown for Today’s Full 15-Game Slate (June 8)

Wednesday MLB Odds, Picks & Preview: Expert Betting Breakdown for Today’s Full 15-Game Slate (June 8) article feature image

Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Nola.

  • Our MLB analyst breaks down his favorite bets for Wednesday's full slate of 15 MLB games.
  • He has five best bets across four different games, including two picks for Diamondbacks vs. Reds.
  • Check out Anthony Dabbundo's picks and analysis below.

All 30 teams in Major League Baseball take the field on Wednesday in a full 15-game card. Detroit-Pittsburgh and Toronto-Kansas City will provide some afternoon action, but most of the games on Wednesday begin after 6:40 p.m. ET when Arizona visits Cincinnati.

You can find my colleague Sean Zerillo’s projections for every MLB game in the Action Network App (on both the PRO Projections tab and the game pages) and our Projections Hub (which you should bookmark).

Here are some of my favorite angles and games I’m targeting across the Wednesday card.

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Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds, 6:40 p.m. ET

Merrill Kelly vs. Mike Minor

Remember all of the jokes about the Reds when they began the 2022 season with a 3-22 record? Cincinnati has played to a 17-13 record since that start, including a winning record in May. Now, they’ve got a chance to win a third consecutive game against the Diamondbacks. Unlike the more favorable pitching matchups against Madison Bumgarner and Tyler Gilbert of the last two days, the much improved Merrill Kelly takes the mound for Arizona on Wednesday.

Kelly was a pitcher I highlighted at the beginning of the season as a pitcher I was looking to bet on. He’s largely been successful as a part of an improved Arizona pitching staff under the direction of new pitching coach Brent Strom.

He’s improved his fastball velocity by almost a full mph and while it hasn’t translated to more strikeouts — his K rate is the same as 2021 — his fastball isn’t getting barreled nearly as much. Kelly has a career low in hard-hit rate as he’s throwing fewer curveballs and sinkers in lieu of focusing on his changeup and cutter.

Kelly sits with a respectable 3.66 ERA. His expected indicators all sit comfortably under 4.00 with a 3.79 xERA and 3.41 FIP.

Kelly is opposed by Mike Minor and I’m not sure what Minor has left to get major league hitters out anymore. His first start registered a 65.8 Stuff+ rating, per Eno Sarris of The Athletic’s model. 100 is considered average and there’s only one regular starter that has a lower metric than that. Stuff+ examines the physical qualities of the pitch from movement to spin to velocity.

The 34-year old left-hander was barreled three times in 14 batted balls. His hard-hit rate in his first start was 50%. That first start came against Washington, a decent lineup but not one of the league’s best.

I’d play Arizona in both the full game and first five innings at -110 or better. I think the Snakes should be favorites given the clear pitching edge and uncertainty of whether Minor is still good enough to be a MLB starter.

Recommended bets

  • Arizona first five innings (-110 or better)
  • Arizona moneyline (-110 or better)
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Seattle Mariners vs. Houston Astros, 6:40 p.m. ET

Logan Gilbert vs. José Urquidy

Early in the season, I joked that I’d only be betting the Mariners when Logan Gilbert was pitching. Seattle was and remains a team that I am consistently lower on than the market, mainly because of my questions about the lineup’s depth and the overpriced starting rotation. Gilbert has lived up to and perhaps even surpassed expectations at this point in the season. His Stuff+ rating doesn’t exactly jump off the page at 97.2 — right at the league average for starting pitchers.

But Gilbert has displayed plus command and has a solidly above average K/BB ratio. That’s one of the most predictive and sticky metrics for a pitcher to control. Take away all batted ball events and Gilbert is in the 69th and 62nd percentile for strikeouts and walks, respectively. Even more impressive from Gilbert is that he’s cut his barrel rate from 8.8% last season down to 4.7% this year. Given that the league average is 7.4%, Gilbert has turned most of his batted ball profile into a good one too.

He’s maintained his called strike + whiff % right at last season’s number and managed to improve his zone contact percentage. Hitters are making less contact with Gilbert’s pitches inside the zone, when compared to both last season and the MLB average. Missing bats in the zone is a major key for any pitcher, especially given Gilbert’s occasional problems with hard-hit rate.

As much as I like Seattle on Wednesday because of Gilbert’s development in year two as a starter, this bet is also a fade of the struggling José Urquidy. Urquidy’s xERA sits at 6.11. Even in the year of the dead ball, the Astros right-hander is allowing 1.59 HR/9, the highest mark of his career.

His ground ball rate is right around his league averages and his HR/FB rate is actually down from last year. He’s surrendering a ton of hard contact and his barrel rate allowed has surpassed 10% for the first time in his career. He’s sitting at 11.7% and his average exit velocity is in the bottom seven percent of the league.

Urquidy can always rely on his elite walk rate, but he’s striking out fewer batters and his career high 4.76 ERA seems to be flattering him at this point.

I’d play Seattle at +120 or better in this game because the Mariners should be able to slug effectively against Urquidy. The Mariners maintain a well above average bullpen behind Gilbert as well.

Recommended bets

  • Seattle moneyline (+120 or better)

Texas Rangers vs. Cleveland Guardians, 7:10 p.m. ET

Dane Dunning vs. Shane Bieber

Shane Bieber looked like vintage Bieber in his last start against Baltimore. The Guardians righty tossed seven innings, allowed just two runs and struck out 11. His ERA is now down to 3.12 and yet I still have question marks about Bieber when he faces better lineups. The Orioles and Tigers haven’t had a ton of success against him in his last three starts, but Texas has a solidly better lineup than those two squads. Marcus Semien has finally rounded into form this year, Adolis Garcia has found his power once again and Nathaniel Lowe is showing signs of breaking his early-season prolonged slump.

Let’s look under the hood at Bieber. Average fastball is down 2.0 mph from last season. Strikeout rate has dipped from 33.1% to 25.1%, an eight percent decline. His swinging strike rate has dropped nearly three percent. His barrel rate continues to be marginally below league average.

Bieber is still a good pitcher, but he’s not the pitcher that he was in 2020 and he’s certainly not the pitcher that he’s been priced at for most of his starts in 2022. Since the sticky stuff crack down in the middle of 2021, Bieber hasn’t had the same spin rate on his curveball and the result has been fewer whiffs with his best secondary pitch.

Without an overpowering fastball or a knockout breaking pitch, Bieber will struggle more against good lineups. Toronto tagged him for seven runs earlier in May.

Sarris’ model has picked up the decline in Bieber’s stuff too. His Stuff+ is 93.1 this season, comparable with Lucas Giolito and Ryan Yarbrough (that should concern you about Giolito too).

Bieber is countered by Dane Dunning of Texas. Given that Bieber projects as a pitcher with an ERA in the high 3s, Dunning really isn’t much worse with his 4.06 xERA and 3.74 FIP. Dunning doesn’t have the stuff ratings, but he does have comparable ratings when it comes to barrels, strikeouts and walks.

Dunning has seen a five percent drop in his hard-hit rate allowed and while the Guardians’ offense doesn’t strikeout, they can be prone to lots of weak contact when the offense isn’t going well.

I like Texas as a solid underdog on the road on Wednesday as I’m once again fading Bieber as an overvalued favorite. There’s a ton of regression coming for Bieber, who simply doesn’t have the stuff to be a 3.12 ERA pitcher right now. Better lineups will take advantage of him, even if Baltimore and Detroit did not.

Recommended bets

  • Texas moneyline (+130 or better)

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 8:10 p.m. ET

Aaron Nola vs. Adrian Houser

Aaron Nola and Adrian Houser are two pitchers trending in opposite directions at this point in the 2022 MLB season. Their surface level indicators aren’t that far off — Nola has a 3.92 ERA and Houser sits at 3.51. Just looking at those numbers, you’re probably wondering why Philadelphia is a road favorite on Wednesday night.

The expected indicators tell a very different story of these two pitchers. Nola has performed almost a full run worse when you consider his 2.81 xERA. Houser has been a full run better at 4.55 xERA. Those numbers are much more reflective of these two pitchers and given that Nola had a poor start to the 2022 season and Houser has been hit hard in his last two starts, the current gap between these two starters could be even larger.

Milwaukee does have a considerable defensive edge — Philadelphia is dead last in defensive runs saved — and a major bullpen edge as well. But in the first five innings, Philadelphia has a clear edge on Wednesday night with the superior lineup and better starter.

Nola has struggled the third time through the order — evidenced by his poor showings against Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles in the sixth inning and beyond. But his OPS allowed the first and second times through the order is .443 and .704, respectively.

His strikeout rate is above 30% for the second time in his career, he’s walking fewer hitters than ever and his first pitch strike rate is amongst the best in MLB. Nola has been one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball for more than a year now and there’s positive regression coming for him in a big way.

Houser doesn’t strike enough people out to manage to avoid Philadelphia’s barrel hunting lineup. Even though Houser’s barrel rate is well above league average, his K/BB ratio suggests more troubling is looming for the Milwaukee right-hander.

I’m taking Philadelphia in the first five innings, -140 at FanDuel. I wouldn’t play it past this number.

Recommended bets

  • Philadelphia first five innings (-140 or better)

Bets (June 8)

  • Philadelphia first five innings (-140 or better)
  • Texas moneyline (+130 or better)
  • Seattle moneyline (+120 or better)
  • Arizona first five innings (-110 or better)
  • Arizona moneyline (-110 or better)

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