MLB, College Baseball Best Bets, Odds, Predictions for Friday, May 31, 2024

Tennesse Volunteers 2021
Tennesse Volunteers 2021 Photo: Courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

That was a fun one yesterday. We took the Astros at +120 and it was never in doubt. Alex Bregman hit a two run home run early and that was enough, but they tacked on four runs anyway. An easy 4-0 win as an underdog when running cold is a great feeling.

Today, I’m back with a strikeout prop in MLB that’s plus money, and I have a pick for the College Baseball Tournament. Let’s roll.

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

2024 Record: 55-64 (-11.52 U)

Chicago White Sox vs. Milwaukee Brewers @ 8:10 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Erick Fedde vs. Tobias Myers

When first surveying the board, my eyes gravitated towards backing Tobias Myers and the Brewers. I’ve been impressed with the improvements Myers has made, and he gets an easy matchup at home. However, the Brewers are expensive to back today, and Erick Fedde is the White Sox’s best pitcher. Instead of fading Fedde, I will back Myers to rack up strikeouts.

The last time we backed Myers was when he faced off against Sonny Gray, and the Brewers won 7-1. Meyers only threw four innings, but he racked up six strikeouts and only allowed one run. He did walk four batters, but the Brewers let him throw 84 pitches before removing him.

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Myers has not been stretched out beyond that many pitches, but they should give him more runway in this one. The Brewers bullpen is in a rough rest spot. Only Hoby Milner hasn’t thrown over the last two days, but he threw the two days before. Trevor Megill is still day-to-day, so they don’t have anyone else throwing less than 20 pitches in the last three days.

Eventually, they will go to their bullpen, but they almost have to give Myers a run if he’s pitching well. I’m projecting 80-85 pitches, which should get him to five innings.

Myers has a five-pitch mix: four-seam fastball (36.7%), cutter (27.6%), slider (13%), changeup (11.5%), and curveball (8.8%). When we look at how teams around baseball have fared against these pitches from a right-hander, the White Sox have the worst xwOBA in the league.

Slider – .247 xwOBA (last)
Curveball – .276 xwOBA (13th best)
Changeup – .253 xwOBA (2nd worst)
Four-seam – .329 xwOBA (7th worst)
Cutter – .298 xwOBA (2nd worst)

Myers’ changeup and slider are nasty. Those are hit put-away pitches, and they both have a whiff rate of 30% or higher. The White Sox have the 11th-highest whiff rate against those two offspeed pitches.

Meyers should also rack up whiffs with his fastball. A jump in spin rate to nearly 2300 RPM has been seen, which gives it that rising effect at the top of the zone. The White Sox tend to get blown away by these pitches, as they have the worst run value in the league against four-seamers because they swing and miss so much. When they do hit them, it’s the seventh worst by xwOBA.

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Myers has made six appearances but only two at home. He went over this number against the Cardinals and Yankees in both home starts. Over the entire season, the Cardinals strike out more than the White Sox do. However, over the past two weeks, the White Sox have had the second-highest strikeout rate in the league, at 28%, while putting up a 62 wRC+.

It makes sense that he prefers pitching at home. According to Baseball Savant’s Park Factor, American Family Field ranks as the second easiest park to strike out hitters. He’s also a rookie; typically, they like pitching better at home.

Knowing the White Sox don’t match up well and the Brewers bullpen isn’t in a good spot, we should get some length from Myers. If we get five innings, he should cruise to five strikeouts or more. Even if he only gets four innings, I still think we have a great shot. I would play this to -120.

The Pick: Tobias Myers Over 4.5 Strikeouts (+105) Risk 1 Unit

Northern Kentucky vs. Tennessee @ 7:10 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Chris Stamos vs. Tanner Gillis

Regionals start today, and I’ve identified a game that could produce 20+ runs. It’s tied for the highest total on the slate for a reason: we should see fireworks. Let’s talk college baseball.

Chris Stamos will start for Tennessee today. He’s likely an opener, and he’s done well this year, pitching to a 3.34 ERA while striking out 32 hitters in 29.2 innings. He’ll only go a few innings before they hand it off to AJ Causey, a right-hander with great stuff but a 4.10 ERA. Causey is not the staff’s ace, as they want to save Drew Beam against the four seed.

While Tennessee is still set up well pitching-wise, NKU is here due to their potent offense. Northern Kentucky was fifth in the country in runs scored (9.51), sixth in batting average (.319), fourth in OBP (.436), and 13th in SLG (.546).

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NKU scored 15 runs or more in 12 of their games this year and had seven games with over 20 runs. They have five players in their lineup with an OPS over 1.000, and six are hitting over .315. If they didn’t get such a tough draw, they could have been a sneaky team to make some noise in this tournament. They will hit, but Tennessee might hit this over by themselves.

Tennessee is arguably the best offense in the country, and they are the number one team against right-handed pitching. They get Tanner Gillis, the right-handed ace for NKU. He’s pitched to a 4.66 ERA in 72 IP with 80 strikeouts. He’s a fine arm but hasn’t faced an offense this good. He faced Georgia at the beginning of the year and allowed ten runs in three innings.

The Volunteers rank second in SLG (.600), 19th in AVG (.311), 25th in OBP (.414), and third in home runs per game. They are averaging 9.07 runs per game, which is absurd considering their competition.

This game is being played in Knoxville, a launching pad for hitters. It’s one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in college baseball because the ball flies. It’s easy to get one out if you lift the ball, and that’s all these teams do.

The tournament has no mercy rule, which can often hurt these big totals. They would call it if Tennessee got up by ten during the regular season. Not in this tournament; we’ll see all nine innings. The Volunteers get close to hitting this alone, but NKU should also hit a few home runs. Take this up to 15 at -110.

The Pick: NKU vs. Tennessee Over 14.5 (-115) Risk 0.575 Units