MLB Picks Today, Best Bets, Odds, Predictions for August 18, 2023

Shohei Ohtani
HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 11: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels stands in front of the American flag as it unveiled from the left field bleachers as part of a ceremony remembering the victims of 9/11 before playing the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 11, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Throwing that stupid tin foil hat today. It was always the over in Miami vs. Houston or the Marlins team total. We learn and move on.

Today, I have my three favorite picks to end the work week. Let’s get after it.

2023 Straight Plays Record: 135-141 (-3.29 U)

I’m using BetMGM lines only this year. Here’s a link to get started with a first bet offer of up to $1000.

All prop entries will be on PrizePicks: Here’s a link to get a 100% deposit match.

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New York Mets vs. St Louis Cardinals @ 8:15 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Joey Lucchesi vs. Zack Thompson

If we’ve learned anything about betting on the Cardinals this season, do not trust the bullpen. However, I can trust the Cardinals to hit a lefty, which is funny because they barely mustered up anything against Quintana. Maybe I have a sick brain, but that makes me love this spot even more.

Joey Lucchesi (6.87 xERA) was a direct fade candidate before being sent down to AAA earlier this year. I assume he’s being called up for a couple of reasons. For one, he’s had some solid starts in the minors, and the Mets are out of pitchers. However, we dove deep into the data from the minor leagues this morning, and it doesn’t inspire confidence.

He threw 70% fastballs in AA because he couldn’t land his off-speed pitches. He was able to get minor-league hitters to hit into weak contact. Good luck doing that against the Cardinals.

The Cardinals had a small blip on the radar yesterday against Quintana, but they’ve still been fantastic hitting lefties. They are rocking a 125 wRC+ this month against lefties and a 116 wRC+ in August. Against lefties at home this season, the Cardinals have a 128 wRC+, ranking fourth in baseball to the Dodgers, Braves, and Rangers. This is still a prolific offense against left-handed pitching.

On the flip side, we have Zack Thompson (3.73 xERA). He’s been impressive for the Cardinals, so they started to stretch him out to four-inning spurts. He’s thrown back-to-back four-inning/one-run outings against the Royals and Rockies. The Mets have faced a couple of lefties since the trade deadline, and the only one they had success against was Drew Smyly. They got shut down by Bailey Falter and Cole Ragans. I don’t know how they have a 116 wRC+ since August 1 against lefties.

Even if the offenses are a push in the last two weeks, Thompson is the better pitcher than Lucchesi by a sizeable margin. The Cardinals get to face two lefties in a row, and Lucchesi’s issues in the minors are concerning. I’m not laying the juice, but I think the Cardinals’ first five ML should be -165.

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The Pick: Cardinals First 5 ML (-140) 1.05 U to win 0.75 U

Tracked on Pikkit

Chicago White Sox vs. Colorado Rockies @ 8:40 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Michael Kopech vs. Peter Lambert

We really like to play this spot when the matchup is right. A team traveling into Colorado while the Rockies are amid a homestand. It takes the road team a bit to adjust while the Rockies are ready to roll. We know the Rockies are terrible, but they aren’t much worse than the White Sox.

Peter Lambert and Michael Kopech aren’t much different right now, either. The ERA’s are slightly different, but the xERA’s are almost even. Kopech is rocking a 5.64 xERA, and Lambert is at a 5.68.

In the last month, the Rockies rank last in Major League Baseball against right-handed pitching, and the White Sox rank 27th by wRC+. However, wRC+ is a park-adjusted stat, so the Rockies get no credit for hitting at home. If we look at OPS, the Rockies have a .717 OPS at home, while the White Sox have a .692 OPS on the road.

Since August began, the Rockies OPS rises to .801 while the White Sox falls to .670. Eloy Jimenez is day-to-day, so he won’t be 100% if he plays.

Kopech is allowing a lot of hard contact, sitting in the 26th percentile in Hard-Hit rate and the 12th percentile of Barrel rate. The Rockies are actually hitting the ball hard, ranking third against righties in the last 30 days. A pitcher who allows a lot of hard contact facing a team who’s hitting the ball hard in Coors Field doesn’t sound like a good recipe.

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I’d prefer to involve the bullpens because the White Sox are not used to playing at Coors, and the Rockies bullpen is rested. The White Sox gutted their bullpen, trading away Kendall Gravemen, Kenyan Middleton, and Joe Kelly. They leave much to be desired back there and always seem to blow leads.

Michael Kopech is also -105 to go over 3.5 ER, while Lambert is -160 to under 3.5 earned runs. I’m not overthinking this one; I’m playing this spot for the Rockies. I made the Rockies -130 on the full game ML, so play them up to -115.

The Pick: Rockies ML (-110) 1.1 U to win 1 U

Tracked on Pikkit

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Angels @ 8:40 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Erasmo Ramirez vs. Tyler Anderson

My guess is that the Angels looked at this series against the Rays and are sitting there thinking we have to win this game. They face Efflin tomorrow, then Glasnow on Sunday. They have to jump on Erasmo Ramirez to stay even within striking distance of the playoff picture.

I believe we are buying the Angels at their absolute lowest point. Nobody believes in them anymore, and the Rays are still the Rays. We have two pitchers with an ERA over five, and the game is a pick-em. I think that’s very telling.

The Rays are in a tailspin against left-handed pitchers. In the last 30 days, they have a 69 wRC+ (nice). That ranks 28th out of 30 teams, only ahead of the Giants and Guardians. They face Tyler Anderson today, who isn’t very good but is better than his 5.28 ERA would indicate (4.78 xERA). None of the Rays’ bats have seen him before, which is good for Anderson. He thrives on soft contact and getting hitters outside of their approach. When you haven’t seen him before, that’s where he can be moderately effective. I’m not saying he’ll throw a gem, but I think something close to a quality start (6 IP, 3 ER) is in order.

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Erasmo Ramirez, on the other side, is a fill-in. He hasn’t been any good for the Rays so far, and the Angels have seen him before. Through 45 PA, Ramirez has surrendered a .308 opponent average, a .373 xwOBA, and a .520 xSLG. His 5.25 xERA is terrible, and he’s only striking out about 11% of batters this year. The Angels aren’t a horrible matchup for him, but they do have a 110 wRC+ against righties at home in the last 30 days.

Both bullpens aren’t any good, but there isn’t really an edge. Both are side-by-side in SIERA, and both had rest days. However, I do think the Angels will use their best arms for this one considering this feels as “must-win” as possible. Carlos Estevez, Reynaldo Lopez, Matt Moore, and Jose Soriano are all good enough to limit damage after Anderson exits the game.

The model is obsessed with this one, making the Angels -158 on the ML. I wouldn’t go that far, but I do make them -125 in this game. I think they have the better starter, no real edge in the bullpen, and they are hitting better against righties than the Rays are against lefties. I could go with the first five, but I have more faith in the good Angels bullpen arms shutting it down rather than a Tyler Anderson masterclass.

The Pick: Angels ML (-110) 1.1 U to win 1 U

Tracked on Pikkit

PrizePicks Entry 0.2 U to win 0.4 U

First Leg: Tyler Anderson Over 5 Strikeouts

The Rays strike out so much against lefties; that’s been the downfall. They have the third-highest strikeout rate against lefties (28.5%) and they chase a lot. That’s not what you want to do against Anderson. He nibbles outside the zone and wants you to chase his pitches. With how the Rays approach lefties, Anderson should rack up the strikeouts.

Second Leg: Charlie Blackmon Over 1.5 Bases

This one caught my eye. Among all Rockies hitters, Blackmon has the best odds to go over 1.5 bases. That might not sound like much on the Rockies, but considering Nolan Jones, Brendan Rodgers, and others have been as prolific. Kopech doesn’t discriminate against righties or lefties; he gets bombed by both. Kopech will give him fastballs, sliders, and changeups. Blackmon demolishes fastballs, rocking a 10 RV. He’s also rocking a 1 RV against changeups and a 3 RV against sliders. His issue is he can’t hit lefties, he can’t hit curveballs or sinkers, and he can’t hit on the road. This is his matchup, a righty at home throwing pitches he likes. Then we have a bad White Sox bullpen coming in after him.

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