MLB Picks Today, Best Bets, Odds, Predictions for Friday, May 17, 2024

Corey Seager and Marcus Semien
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 06: Corey Seager #5 of the Texas Rangers and Marcus Semien #2 watch a replay in the ninth inning of the game against the Chicago White Sox at Globe Life Field on August 06, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)

Criswell was a horrific beat. He had two strikeouts in the first inning, then lost control of the baseball. I almost punched my television after hearing the Red Sox booth continue to say, “This is so unlike him,” “We haven’t seen this version of Criswell yet,” and so on. He had four two-strike counts in his final inning and couldn’t put any of them away for that fourth strikeout.

Luckily, Littell went under his pitching outs line. We had another losing day, but it should have been a sweep.

Now that I got that complaining session out of the way, let’s move to today. I limited the risk on these three picks as I need to see some go through the net before I go back to my normal unit structure.

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

2024 Record: 49-59 (-11.76 U)

Minnesota Twins vs. Cleveland Guardians @ 7:10 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Simeon Woods-Richardson vs. Triston McKenzie

We’ll start with a player prop. I watched the entire Twins series against the Yankees. The Twins are often a team that goes through incredible hot stretches followed by horrible cold stretches. The Yankees’ pitching is awesome, but the Twins had horrible ABs all series long. I’m willing to bet that continues today against McKenzie.

Ad – content continues below

We are attacking the hits-allowed market for a few reasons. For starters, I expect McKenzie to go only a short time. His pitching outs line is juiced towards the under at 15.5, and the Guardians bullpen is completely rested.

McKenzie has a command issue and has a terrible 13.6% walk rate, so his pitch count should also be elevated, considering the Twins have a solid walk rate. The Twins should get some free passes, but I expect few hits.

Through 109 PA against the Twins’ current roster, Minnesota is only hitting .175 against McKenzie. While the quality of contact numbers is solid, I’ve learned the hard way that you sometimes throw those out the window against McKenzie.

The Guardian’s defense behind him is as good as it gets, and I routinely see hard-hit balls being caught by outfielders. In that significant sample, I’m looking at the .175 average against.

It feels like a low line, but McKenzie is routinely under this. Triston McKenzie has failed to exceed 4.5 hits allowed in eight of his last ten games (3.6 hits allowed/game average). He faced the Twins once last year and only allowed one hit. He’s also been under this number in six of his eight starts this year.

McKenzie is allowing 0.8 hits per inning on average. This is a simple math play if he’s projected to go five innings. Even if he goes longer than that, we should expect him to limit the hits against a Twins offense that hasn’t hit him and looks to be in a funk offensively.

Ad – content continues below

The Pick: Triston McKenzie Under 4.5 Hits Allowed (-110) Risk 0.55 Units

Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers @ 8:05 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Tyler Anderson vs. Andrew Heaney

When I saw this matchup, a final score image popped into my head: Rangers win 9-8. The last time Anderson threw in Texas, the score was 9-6. I think this is one of those games where we see runs in every inning. A classic AL West slugfest.

I’m ready to start fading Tyler Anderson. His strikeout rate is in the 21st percentile. His walk rate is in the 34th percentile. He’s in the 18th percentile in ground-ball rate and the 20th in the barrel rate. He’s above average in hard-hit rate, but when he’s squared up, it goes a long way. Feels like a perfect matchup for a Rangers team.

His 2.79 ERA isn’t real. Every single ERA estimator and projection model is between 4.5 and 5. xERA, FIP, xFIP, SIERA, it doesn’t matter. They all tell the same story, and it makes total sense. His four-seam and cutter both have an xwOBA of .384 or higher. Those are two of his three most used pitches. He can’t skate on this changeup all year.

He also has below-average numbers against the Rangers. No wonder his earned runs line is at 2.5 and majorly juiced towards the over. Leody Taveras, Corey Seager, and Jonah Heim are hitting over .375 against Anderson in their career. If you include Ezequiel Duran, four projected starters have a .400 xwOBA or higher against him. Overall, the Rangers’ bats hit .289 against Anderson.

Heaney isn’t safe, either. The Angels lineup against lefties is better than people think. They are a top-ten offense this year against lefties, sitting with a 112 wRC+. That includes Mike Trout, but they have a 128 wRC+ in May, which is good for sixth in the league.

He’s also been worse at home. Andrew Heaney has exceeded 2.5 earned runs in five of his last six games at home (3.3 earned runs/game average). He’s rocking an ERA near six in home games, and last year, his ERA was over four, and his WHIP was higher at home as well. Angels hitters through 28 PA are hitting .370 against Heaney.

Ad – content continues below

After both starters exit, we should continue to see runs pour in. Both bullpens have been dreadful this season. The Rangers rank 29th in ERA, and the Angels rank 30th. By ERA, these are the two worst-performing bullpens in the sport.

Globe Life Field ranks as the fifth-best run-scoring environment by Baseball Savant’s park factor. We don’t have any wind or rain to worry about in a dome. Expect runs. Take to -115.

The Pick: Over 9 Runs (-105) Risk 0.525 Units

Colorado Rockies vs. San Francisco Giants @ 10:15 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Ryan Feltner vs. Kyle Harrison

The Colorado Rockies have won seven in a row, and I want a piece, especially at this price. Half of the Giants’ lineup is on the IL, and while they are the better team, this line is out of whack. The Giants are 20-25. They are a below-average team without some of their best players. Why would they be this big of a favorite against a team on a heater?

Ryan Feltner is a fine pitcher to back in this matchup. He’s due for some positive regression, as his xERA is 3.23, a total of two runs better than his actual ERA at 5.20. He doesn’t walk batters and doesn’t allow hard contact. His strikeout rate is also the highest of his career. He’s also rocking a 48.2% ground-ball rate, putting him in the 74th percentile. His profile looks good, and I like what I see while watching him.

The Giants rank 19th in wRC+ against right-handers over the whole season and the past two weeks. They have a .648 OPS in May against righties, ranking 20th. Michael Conforto (.821 OPS), Patrick Bailey (.792 OPS), Jorge Soler (.655 OPS), and Jung Hoo Lee (.641 OPS) are all on the IL. Those are four of their best hitters, and all of them are out. Feltner’s ER line is juiced towards the under for a reason.

I’ve been pretty disappointed with Kyle Harrison. I was excited to back him this season, but he’s been underwhelming. Outside of the extension he gets off the mound; every savant bubble is blue. This means he’s below average in every metric they can quantify.

Ad – content continues below

I thought he could be effective at home, considering home runs are an issue. It hasn’t mattered; it goes a long way when batters square him up. He has allowed three earned runs or more in three of his four home starts. He faced the Nationals (26th), Diamondbacks (2nd), Pirates (12th), and Reds (20th). Those are all where the teams rank by wRC+.

In my opinion, the Giants have the better bullpen, but the reality is that they rank 27th in bullpen ERA. The top guys are great, and if the Giants have a lead, the game is probably over anyway. However, they aren’t impenetrable, especially with a Rockies team that keeps finding ways to win.

The Rockies bullpen is in a better rest spot and ranks 23rd by ERA. The numbers say the bullpens aren’t much different, but I realize the Giants bullpen will be better in the long run, but maybe not today.

Feltner has a better xERA than Harrison. The bullpen matchup slightly leans toward the Giants, but the Rockies have the hotter offense right now. Considering this game is more of a coin flip, the Rockies being +145 is overvalued. It’s worth a stab to keep the win streak alive.

The Pick: Rockies ML (+145) Risk 0.5 Units

Curious where I get my data? Click the link below to get started!