Full disclosure: I’m moving on Friday, so baseball won’t exactly be on the forefront of my mind. I’m also writing these picks out on Thursday night, so don’t get mad if the lines have changed a little bit. We’re on a bit of a heater, anyway, so just let the good vibes carry through.
After going 2-0 with two plus-money bets on Thursday, we’re 15-9 and up 6.3 units on article plays for the season. Let’s hope for some more winners.
Seattle Mariners at Toronto Blue Jays
Under 8.5 (-105)
While I’ll fully admit that Alek Manoah hasn’t looked quite like himself so far in 2023, this total feels a run too high. Manoah might be rocking a 5.13 ERA and a 5.77 FIP through his first five appearances, but he’s also directly on the heels of his best outing of the season, tossing seven scoreless innings in the Bronx with just a single walk. That last bit is especially important, as the right-hander’s biggest issue has been a 13.2% walk rate. I’d expect him to string together consecutive quality starts against a Mariners lineup that’s underwhelmed to this point in the calendar. Seattle entered action on Thursday with a .301 wOBA, then proceeded to get shutout by Matt Strahm and the Phillies.
On the other side of this pitching matchup we find Luis Castillo, who has looked untouchable so far in April. Not only is the ace sporting a pristine 1.52 ERA and 1.65 FIP, but he’s yet to allow a home run in 2023. On top of that, he’s been dominant when facing RHBs, limiting opponents within the split to a paltry .148/.164/.204 slash line in five starts. Toronto might’ve added a few left-handed bats this offseason, but its most dangerous hitters — Matt Chapman, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and George Springer — are all righties. Remember, it was just last October when Castillo held the Jays scoreless in the Wild Card round for seven-plus frames. He liable to do it again on Friday.
Atlanta Braves at New York Mets
Team Total: Braves Over 4.5 Runs (+110)
As you might expect from a lineup with this much talent, the Braves have been really, really good against left-handed pitching in 2023. How good? Well, coming into Thursday, Atlanta’s .389 wOBA within the split was the second-best mark in all of baseball. The team was also ranked third in both OPS (.900) and wRC+ (143). So, you know, like I said, the Braves have been really, really good against lefties.
David Peterson has not been so good. The southpaw can somewhat blame an inflated .366 BABIP for his woes so far this season, but the larger red flag has been his inability to keep opponents in the park. To wit, in his last two starts, Peterson has surrendered five home runs and 13 earned runs across just 11.0 innings. For 2023 as a whole, Peterson is sitting in the 17th percentile in opponent expected slugging (.509) and the 22nd percentile in barrel rate (11.5%). Considering we’re talking about a pitcher that already owns a career 10.3% walk rate, you can see where the crooked numbers on the scoreboard are coming from. Look for more of the same from Atlanta at Citi Field as we head into the weekend.
Tampa Bay Rays at Chicago White Sox
Lucas Giolito Under 17.5 Outs Recorded (+145)
While I can certainly appreciate Giolito’s willingness to eat innings — he’s thrown at least 100 pitches in three straight starts — betting on a pitcher to perform poorly against the Rays feels like the smart money at the moment. Coming into Thursday, prior to laying a 14-spot on Dylan Cease and the White Sox bullpen, Tampa ranked first in the league in OPS (.842), wOBA (.365) and wRC+ (140) against right-handed pitching. The Rays are also the lone team in MLB averaging over four runs per game in the first five innings (4.24), which definitely correlates to inflated pitch counts and short outings for opposing starters. At a numbers this nice, that’s more than enough for me to invest.
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