MLB Picks Today, Best Bets, Odds, Predictions for April 1, 2024

Shota Imanaga
OSAKA, JAPAN - MARCH 09: Pitcher Shota Imanaga #21 of Japan throws in the bottom of 1st inning during the game one between Japan and Mexico at Kyocera Dome Osaka on March 9, 2019 in Osaka, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

It’s been a frustrating start to the season. I want to come out hot out of the gates, but it’s been the opposite. We haven’t seen a ball bounce our way yet, and confidence can dwindle when concentrated over a few days.

While we are off to a rough start, we have so much baseball to go. I’m excited to turn the page to a new month and continue to battle. I love these four picks today.

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

2024 Record: 5-10 (-4.8 U)

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Washington Nationals @ 4:05 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Marco Gonzales vs. MacKenzie Gore

The Pirates’ 4-0 start to the season has me seeing inflated lines. The Nationals are coming off a competitive road series against the Reds. While they did lose two of three, they were ahead in game three of the series before they gave it up in the ninth inning.

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The Pirates are coming off a miraculous series against the Marlins. The Marlins had multiple leads in the series and blew them all. When I watched the Pirates this past weekend, I did not see a team that deserves a 4-0 start. On top of this, they send Marco Gonzales to the mound.

The Pirates grabbed him this off-season for a PTBNL. The Braves also added cash in the deal, so the Braves sent Marco Gonzales AND cash for a player who could end up being nothing. No offense to Marco, but that’s not a pitcher I want to back.

Gonzales is also coming off a brutal spring training. He threw 16 innings to an 8.64 ERA with only ten strikeouts. He’s facing a Nationals lineup that performed better against lefties than righties last year. Facing right-handed pitching, the Nationals were a bottom five lineup. Facing left-handed pitching, they were tied with the Minnesota Twins, putting up a 100 wRC+. It’s not great, but it’s better than the Pirates.

The Pirates offense got a lot of work this weekend against left-handed pitching, but there isn’t a lefty in the Marlins rotation outside of Luzardo who compares to Gore. Miami was also 2-2 against the Pirates through the first five; the bullpen blew it.

The Pirates offense last year wasn’t potent against lefties, and they didn’t add any reinforcements. The Pirates rocked an 89 wRC+, tied for third to last in baseball last year against southpaws. Oneil Cruz and Jack Suwinski are big bats against righties but not so much against lefties.

Gore is a pitcher that I was planning on backing early in the season. April was his best month last year, pitching to a 3.00 ERA. He started his season with a dominant performance against the Braves last year His stuff early on was the best of his season, and when he’s on, he’s an excellent pitcher. He’s only racked up 22 PA against this Pirates’ current roster, but he’s held them to a .125 batting average against with a 31.5% strikeout rate. His stuff also looked strong in spring, racking up more whiffs than he normally averages.

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I have the better starter, an offense in their preferred split, and it’s the home team, so we get the last crack with the bat. At a plus price, it’s a must-play for me. Play to +100.

Projection: Nationals First 5 Innings Lead (-110)

The Pick: Nationals First 5 Innings -0.5 (+110) Risk 1 U

Kansas City Royals vs Baltimore Orioles @ 6:35 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Michael Wacha vs. Dean Kremer

We bet on the Orioles yesterday, and it never had a chance. The Royals are coming off an 11-0 win over the Twins. I already wanted to fade Wacha against this Orioles team, but the difference in scores yesterday created some value on the Orioles ML.

Michael Wacha has below average numbers against the orioles current roster. Through 116 PA, the Orioles are hitting .330 against him with a .389 xwOBA and a .571 xSLG. The middle of the lineup does a ton of damage against him. Cedric Mullins, Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hayes, and Anthony Santander are all hitting .350 or better and all have a home run against Wacha.

It’s partly because the Orioles are a great offense against changeups. Five of their hitters were above average against the pitch in 2023. Wacha also comes into the season not quite at 100%. He left his final spring start with a finger issue. He got an X-Ray, and it came back okay, but it did come on the pitching hand. If he’s 100%, I still like the Orioles, but there is always a chance he’s not fully ready to go. He also only threw nine innings in spring.

Dean Kremer lines up on the other side. While the Royals destroyed the Twins yesterday, we must remember they were the worst offense in the American League against righties on the road last year. They were tied with the Rockies with a 78 wRC+. Kremer also put up a strong spring, pitching to a 3.24 FIP, and racked up more strikeouts than usual.

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Baltimore has a top ten offense against righties at home facing the worst offense last year against righties. The Orioles are the much better team, coming off a loss, facing a team that won 11-0 yesterday. The Royals were 23-58 on the road last year, one better than the Rockies, one worse than the A’s.

The Orioles have the advantage in every aspect of the game. Take them to -160.

Projection: Orioles ML (-185)

The Pick: Orioles ML (-150) Risk 1.5 Units

Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays @ 6:50 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Dane Dunning vs. Ryan Pepiot

I’m sticking to my guns. I hate fading the Rangers, but Ryan Pepiot is a player I’ve hyped up since the start of last season with the Dodgers. He was the main piece that the Rays got in the trade for Tyler Glasnow, and I immediately felt the Rays would win the deal in the long run. That’s how much I love Ryan Pepiot.

Ryan Pepiot always had fantastic stuff; the problem was he needed to figure out where it was going. In 2022 with the Dodgers, he pitched to a 3.47 ERA despite 27 walks to 42 strikeouts. He clearly worked on it in the offseason, and then he gets another chance with the Dodgers in August. He posts a 2.14 ERA, 3.23 xERA, and 3.57 SIERA while only walking 3.8% of hitters.

Dane Dunning lines up on the other side. At this point, I know who Dane Dunning is. He’s a fine back-of-the-rotation starter who keeps his team in the game. He posted a 4.48 xERA and 4.52 SIERA last season, telling me he likely won’t post a 3.70 ERA again. I prefer Pepiot by a decent margin in this matchup, especially when Dunning’s career ERA on the road is a full run worse.

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It may not have looked like it, but the Rays were better against righties than the Rangers were last year. The Rays put up a 117 wRC+ against righties while the Rangers were at 114. However, the Rays wRC+ stays at 117 when at home against righties, while the Rangers drop to 101 on the road.

I’m also slightly buying into the revenge factor. The Rays went with a bullpen game in game four of the series against Toronto to line up Pepiot and Eflin for the first two games of this series. I think they want this one bad.

The Rays have the superior bullpen, superior pitcher, and they are at home. The Rangers offense, while worse last year, I still think is better than the Rays, but not by much. The Rays are incredible at Tropicana Field, going 53-28, tied with the Dodgers for the best home record. The Rangers were just 40-41 on the road last year.

Take the Rays to -130.

Projection: Rays ML (-145)

The Pick: Rays ML (-120) Risk 1.2 Units

Player Props

Shota Imanaga Over 5.5 Strikeouts (-105) Risk 0.525 U to win 0.5 Units

I already had this bet penciled in since the season began. I was basically going to take his strikeouts in his first game no matter what, but now with wind blowing in and he’s facing the Rockies, I’m definitely biting.

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Imanaga struck out 25 batters in 12 innings during spring training. We think he’s going to exceed his projected strikeout rate of 24.4%. The reason he didn’t sign a huge contract was due to his age and he has a home run problem. Today, Wrigley is experiencing high winds which will help him make his way through this Colorado lineup.

The Rockies struck out at the second-highest rate against lefties last year at 25.7%. Take this to -115. Check out more information on Shota Imanaga.