April 23, MLB Picks Today, Best Bets, Odds, Predictions for Tuesday

Yandy Diaz and Randy Arozarena
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 11: Randy Arozarena #56 of the Tampa Bay Rays is congratulated by Yandy Diaz #2 after hitting a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the fourth inning in game one of the American League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 11, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

We lost 0.05 units yesterday. Losing anything stinks, but it was a minimal losing day.

The freaking Diamondbacks. Again, Brandon Pfaadt does enough to give them a chance to win the game, and the bullpen blows it in the end. Not to mention, they need to score with runners in scoring position.

Luckily, the Phillies and Reds game stayed under. It got weird at the end with a three-run home run in the ninth inning, but it was really never a sweat.

We move toward today. I only have one pick, but it’s a pick I really like.

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These picks are available on BetMGM. Code “JustBaseball” for a first bet offer up to $1500.

2024 Record: 27-31 (-5.90 U)

Detroit Tigers vs. Tampa Bay Rays @ 6:50 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Kenta Maeda vs. Ryan Pepiot

Kenta Maeda is on fade watch, similar to Alex Wood. I’ve been a big Ryan Pepiot fan for a while, and this feels like a great spot to back him.

We’ve seen a velocity drop with Maeda. He was never a hard thrower, but he averaged 91 MPH on his four-seamer last season. This season, that velocity is down to 89.3 MPH. Every single off-speed pitch is down as well.

Maeda is rocking a 7.64 ERA and 6.27 xERA, but his competition has been super easy.

He faced the White Sox and got destroyed. He pitched well when he faced the Twins without Correa, Lewis, Kepler, or Buxton. He faced the A’s and allowed three runs in 5.2 innings. He finally got a good opponent in the Rangers, and they destroyed him for five earned runs in 2.2 innings.

His command is the worst of his career so far. His strikeout rate has almost been cut in half. He’s not doing anything at an average level except average exit velocity, and like I said, he hasn’t had a challenging schedule.

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Today, he faces a Rays offense just shut down by Tarik Skubal, which is why we are getting some value on them today. Maeda has four starts, three of them against three of the four worst teams against right-handed pitching.

The Rays offense could be better, but it’s much more potent than those three teams. They have a 101 wRC+ this season against righties, which is good for 15th in the league.

Maeda is also struggling against right-handed bats, as they are hitting .364 against him compared to lefties at .231. The Rays lineup is very right-handed dominant; they usually push six right-handers.

Ryan Pepiot lines up on the other side. His 2.97 xERA, 3.26 SIERA, and 3.45 xFIP tells me his 4.37 ERA has been flukey. Beyond the numbers, if you watch Pepiot, you know he has incredible stuff. He was acquired as the big piece in the Tyler Glasnow trade from the Dodgers.

This Tigers offense still doesn’t impress me against right-handed pitching. They hit up Littell, but he didn’t look like he had his regular command last night. He doesn’t have good stuff, so he can get hit up if he’s not locating.

The only offense he’s faced worse than the Tigers against righties is the Rockies, which Pepiot threw six scoreless innings against them at Coors Field.

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Pepiot relies on three pitches: his four-seam fastball, slider, and changeup. The Tigers are below average at hitting both breaking balls, but they’ve succeeded against four-seamers. Pepiot is garnering a 41% whiff rate on his fastball (absurdly good), and opponents are hitting .081 against it. I’ll tip my cap if the Tigers can square up this elite fastball.

These two starters are going in opposite directions. The Rays bullpen has not been good, and I love the Tigers bullpen, so I’m taking the Rays to get a lead early.

The Pick: Rays First 5 Innings -0.5 (-105) Risk 1.05 U