1-0 on game picks! We cashed yet another over in a Rays game. That offense is special, and we are returning to it in a different way today.
We lost our PrizePicks entry again. I fell into the discount trap with Joe Ryan after he went his first three innings without a strikeout. Austin Nola didn’t even play. It was a disaster entry, but luckily it was only 0.1 U, so it didn’t make much of a dent after the Rays vs. Blue Jays over hit later in the day.
It’s a shorter slate today, but I do see two plays that I really like. Let’s keep building.
2023 Straight Plays Record: 72-55 (+11.78 U)
PrizePicks Record: -2.3 U
I’m using BetMGM lines only this year. Here’s a link to get started with a risk-free $1000 bet. You can also use code “JBFANS” if you’re betting on MLB. Wager $10 on any MLB moneyline and receive $100 once the bet is settled.
All prop entries will be on PrizePicks: Here’s a link to get a 100% deposit match.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays @ 1:10 PM EST
Pitching Matchup: Alek Manoah vs. Zach Efflin
This game probably goes over yet again, but the most significant edge in this game is the starting pitching matchup, and when that edge is at plus money, we have to jump.
The difference in ERA between Efflin and Manoah is about 1.5 runs. Alek Manoah is sitting with a 5.15 ERA compared to Eflin at a 3.45 ERA. The difference in xERA is far greater, as Eflin sits with a 2.91 xERA compared to Manoah at 6.54. Manoah sits in the seventh percentile, while Eflin is approaching elite status in the 84th percentile. The difference in how these two have performed is night and day, and the Rays have the better offense and home-field advantage.
You don’t want to face Eflin in Tropicana Field this season. He’s a perfect 5-0 with a 2.40 ERA with a .202 opponent batting average. His road starts have been what’s given him trouble, rocking a 5.29 ERA. His stats during the day are also incredible, rocking a 5-0 record at a 2.70 ERA with a .187 opponent batting average. He’s rocking a 4.76 ERA and a .314 opponent batting average in night games. I just threw a lot of numbers at you to say this is the best scenario for him.
The Blue Jay’s offense is legit, rocking a 114 wRC+ against right-handers this season. They don’t hold a candle to the Rays’ offense, which sits in first with a 133 wRC+. Every single stat across the board has the Rays as the better offense against right-handers, even with a 20-run outlier performance from the Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays and Alek Manoah continue to get respect on the line because Manoah finished third in AL CY Young voting last season. He’s not even close to the same pitcher and is making an argument for one of the worst in the league at this moment. Considering playing the Rays on the run line through five innings is plus money, it’s a bet I have to take.
The model has the Rays leading through five innings in 60% of the simulations, giving them an implied first-five ML of -150. It likes the over in the full game because it has the Rays scoring the most runs of any team today. I think that edge is early, so I’m rolling with the Rays.
The Pick: Rays First 5 Innings -0.5 (+100) 1 U to win 1 U
Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers @ 6:40 PM EST
Pitching Matchup: Lucas Giolito vs. Alex Faedo
I don’t have much of a life outside of baseball, so I watched Alex Faedo’s tape last night to see if all of his expected stats back up what I see. It’s early, but I do love what I see from the first-round pick back in 2017.
Alex Faedo was considered one of the top pitching prospects in the draft, but injuries kept him from making his debut until last season. It wasn’t anything special, as he couldn’t command within the strike zone and routinely let up free passes. His 10% walk rate elevated his FIP and xERA to 5.53. This season, things have turned for the better in a limited sample.
This season, a lot has changed. The velocity and spin rates are up across the board. His fastball has an elite amount of horizontal break, and opponents only hit .214 against it with a .324 xwOBA. His slider is generating a 42% whiff rate, and opponents only hit .190 against it.
Home runs have been his issue thus far, as he’s allowed three runs in each of his three starts. He’s not allowing anything else, as he’s only allowed 12 hits and one walk in 15.2 innings. His xERA sits at 3.53, but his FIP sits at 6.09 due to the number of home runs and lack of strikeouts. I’m taking a gamble on him today; I like what I see.
Lucas Giolito will be on the other side, also turning in a solid season. His command has been much better, cutting his walk rate in half since the previous year. He’s not a very popular pitcher due to the variance year over year. Luckily, this seems like a year he’s figuring it out again. He’s faced the Tigers a number of times over the years. Through 182 PA, he’s rocking a .326 xwOBA and a .427 xSLG. Those numbers are solid, but this is a better version of Giolito than last year.
Fadeo will face a White Sox lineup that ranks 26th in wRC+ in May against right-handed pitching. If we look at the entire season, they have an 83 wRC+, good for 26th in the league once again. This is not a good offense. The Tigers’ worse split is also against righties, sitting in 28th in wRC+ against righties. These are two well below-average offenses against this split.
I’m not a fan of this White Sox bullpen, but they at least have all four quality arms ready to go in this one. Kendall Gravemen, Joe Kelly, Gregory Santos, and Kenyan Middleton. The Tigers have a good bullpen, ranking 11th in ERA and fourth in WHIP.
Maybe I dug too much, and perhaps this game goes over. The model has this game at 7.5, with the over being priced at -120. At 8.5, I’m seeing some value but not a lot. At 8, it’s worth a play but at a lower unit size. Both starters turn in solid outings, and the bullpens do the rest. Comerica Park is already a pitchers’ park, and we are seeing an 11% decrease in expected runs compared to the average based on the weather projections.
This game is going under. I feel it deep in my soul.