MLB Picks Today, Best Bets, Odds, Predictions for March 31, 2024

Three MLB Picks for Sunday, March 31!

José Ramirez of the Cleveland Guardians poses for a photo during the Cleveland Guardians Photo Day at Goodyear Ballpark.
GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 22: José Ramirez #11 of the Cleveland Guardians poses for a photo during the Cleveland Guardians Photo Day at Goodyear Ballpark on Thursday, February 22, 2024 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

It was not the start we hoped for. We were on the wrong end of some tough luck yesterday, but that’s baseball. Sometimes, the All-Star closer blows a two-run lead in the ninth inning (thanks, Alexis Diaz). Sometimes, a manager lets a pitcher go five innings even though they’ve allowed 12 hits and six runs (nice work, Severino). Sometimes, a pitcher is removed after throwing five scoreless innings with only 68 pitches (I’m sorry, Yamamoto).

Whatever. Things happen. Back on the saddle, three picks for Sunday. I’m ready for battle.

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

2024 Record: 4-8 (-3.1 U)

Los Angeles Angels vs Baltimore Orioles @ 1:35 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Reid Detmers vs. Tyler Wells

There is a chance I’m late to the party, but I can’t help myself from getting involved with this Orioles team. They look like the best team in baseball, and their opponent looks like a bottom-five team.

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I’ve been a believer in Tyler Wells for the past few seasons. The market has never really given him the respect he deserves. He’s not a high strikeout guy, and he doesn’t have electric stuff, but he continually turns in solid performances.

I also think the Orioles believe in him. Tyler Wells was demoted last season after fatigue got the best of him. He was having a near All-Star first half, pitching to a 3.18 ERA before a 7.07 ERA in the second half. The Orioles have established starters such as Dean Kremer and Cole Irvin, but they decided to go with Wells in game three.

Reid Detmers lines up on the other side. Detmers has trouble pitching on the road. I only bring up these splits when they are drastic; Detmers has a 5.10 ERA and 4.68 xFIP on the road compared to a 4.09 xFIP and 3.81 ERA at home.

The Orioles had the eighth-best offense by wRC+ against lefties last year, but this offense is better. They destroyed Sandoval, then Jose Suarez came in, and the result was the same.

Even if Detmers pitches well, I have zero faith in this Angels bullpen. Mike Trout will probably get his today, as he is 3-5 against Wells in his career, but that’s most likely it.

This writeup is shorter than usual because you didn’t need to read this to be on the Orioles. Everyone is on it, so we lose or win together.

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Projection: Orioles ML (-185)

The Pick: Orioles ML (-155) Risk 1.55 Units

Oakland A’s vs Cleveland Guardians @ 4:07 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Carlos Carrasco vs. Paul Blackburn

Has anyone been watching this series? It’s been so exciting. The Guardians bats are hot, and the A’s have contributed enough for me to see the light with their offense.

Today, Carlos Carrasco faces off against Paul Blackburn. I am lower than the market on both of these guys, as neither has strikeout stuff nor great matchups today.

Carlos Carrasco found a spot with Cleveland after one of the worst seasons in baseball last year. I didn’t understand the pick-up when it happened, but they need him with Gavin Williams on the shelf. He put up a 6.80 ERA and 6.77 xERA, which put him in the second percentile in baseball. I’m unsure what the Guardians saw in him, especially now that he’s 37 years old. What is there to help him with?

His fastball velocity is at a career low. His slider doesn’t have the same bite, illustrated by a .333 opponent batting and a .366 xwOBA. He allows hard contact, doesn’t strike anyone out, and has command issues. I know it’s the A’s, but they’ve put up seven runs in their past two games against two far superior pitchers. I have faith they can get to Carrasco.

Paul Blackburn lines up for the A’s. I view Blackburn as an average five-starter in Major League Baseball. He had an excellent first half in 2022 that garnered an All-Star nod, but that’s about it. He put up a 4.50 SIERA last season while putting up below-average strikeout and walk numbers.

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Blackburn has almost no history against the Guardians, but two hitters in the Guardians lineup have been successful. Jose Ramirez and Josh Naylor are a combined 10-18 (.555) with three doubles and a home run. Steven Kwan and Andres Gimenez are also swinging hot bats right now. The thick of this Guardians lineup should do damage against Blackburn.

The A’s bullpen situation isn’t great. They have thrown everyone in this series, and their two quality arms (Mason Miller and Lucas Erceg) both threw over 20 pitches yesterday. The Guardians’ bullpen situation is in a fine spot, but I expect most of the runs to come against Carrasco.

The A’s should score early and often. The Guardians keep it close against Blackburn, and then they score as he exits. This feels like one of those games that’s 4-4 as we head to the later innings, which would hit this over.

Are we getting baited here with a relatively low number? It’s possible, as these games have been high-scoring. The market still needs to adjust to the Guardians offense, and it’s still the A’s in the eyes of many.

It’s also a beautiful day in Oakland. 63 degrees with no wind. It’s a big ballpark, but both pitchers allow a lot of contact. Expect some bloop hits and balls in the gap that will bring runners home. Play this up to 8 (-120).

Projection: 8.6 runs

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The Pick: A’s vs. Guardians Over 8 (-110) Risk 1.1 Unit

San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres @ 4:10 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Daulton Jefferies vs. Michael King

As a Yankee fan, I was sad to see Michael King go in the trade for Juan Soto. After watching Juan Soto for five seconds, I don’t regret it, but it was a big piece to give up. He was the main piece in that trade for a reason.

King was fantastic for the Yankees last year. He pitched to a 2.75 ERA and 3.48 xERA, with a strikeout rate near 30% and a hard-hit rate in the 85th percentile. Once he entered the Yankees rotation towards the tail end of the year, he threw 35.2 IP to a 2.01 ERA.

He’s legit, and I believe we are getting a discount here after a bad performance in Korea. In three innings of work, the Dodgers roughed him up. Walking three, he didn’t have his usual command, and it came back to bite him. We are buying low on a starter who can compete for the best in the Padres rotation.

Matt Chapman and Michael Conforto have been the Giants’ hottest hitters to start the year. King has faced them both, and King has dominated the matchup. Those two combined are 1-17 with five strikeouts.

Daulton Jefferies is making his first MLB appearance since 2022. That season, Jeffries posted a 4.31 SIERA and 4.33 xFIP with the Oakland A’s. He’s thrown 56 innings in his career to a 5.75 ERA. Jefferies is a sinker-baller who gets ground balls at a slightly above-average rate. He’s always posted a well-below-average strikeout rate, but he keeps the ball in the zone. With below-average stuff and a long break from baseball, I see him having a bad outing.

The scores in this series look worse than the games were. The Padres bullpen has been the issue, posting an 8.43 ERA so far this season. We are taking them out of the equation and tailing their best chance at run prevention: Michael King.

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The Padres’ bats have been excellent. They average five runs per game, but it’s been the pitching that’s done them in. King delivers a solid performance, while Jeffries struggled to make it through five innings. After two straight losses, I’ll buy low on King and low on the Padres.

Projection: Padres First 5 Innings Lead (-125)

The Pick: Padres First 5 Innings -0.5 (+100) Risk 1 Unit