MLB Picks Today, Best Bets, Odds, Predictions for May 9, 2023

Ronald Acuna
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 03: Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates after he hits a two-run home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the ninth inning in game one of the National League Division Series at SunTrust Park on October 03, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

The Sunday Night Baseball System keeps printing. We move to 4-1 on that system this season after the Brewers won 9-3 last night. Our PrizePicks game has been terrible if I’m being honest. We aren’t reverse sweeping, but the constant 1-1 record on entries is making me angry. I’m going to switch up the way I’m doing them. Instead of betting on players in other games, I’m going to stick with props moving forward that match my game-pick analysis. Hopefully, that turns the tides, as the game picks have been solid lately, going 6-4 in the last ten picks.

2023 Straight Plays Record: 53-45 (+4.15 U)

PrizePicks Record: -1.8 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. Philadelphia Phillies @ 6:40 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Alek Manoah vs. Aaron Nola

We have two name-brand pitchers going, but neither has lived up to the name on their jersey this season. I believe brighter days are ahead for both starters, but today will be one of their toughest matchups. This is a matchup of two top-ten offenses against right-handed pitching in a hitter-friendly ballpark. These two could be pitching well, and I would still like the over.

Ad – content continues below

Alek Manoah does not look the same as he did last season, but it’s even worse than I originally thought. Manoah never had electrifying stuff but did a fantastic job limiting hard contact and free passes. In 2022, he sat in the 92nd percentile in Hard-Hit rate and the 70th percentile in walk rate. His Hard-Hit rate has increased by 9% this season, dropping him to the 36th percentile. He was never a big strikeout guy, but he entered the league with a 27.7% strikeout rate, now sitting at 18.1%. This number drop-off has shown much more in his xERA than the actual ERA, which is separated by two runs (4.71 ERA vs. 6.70 xERA).

He’s going up against a Phillies offense with a clear better split this season against right-handed pitching. Against righties, the Phillies have the eighth-highest wRC+ at 109 and the seventh-highest OPS at .769. The Phillies are above average against sinkers and fastballs, with a few hitters destroying sliders. That’s what they’ll see from Manoah today.

On the flip side, the Blue Jays’ offense is a train that doesn’t seem to stop anytime soon. They rank seventh in baseball in wRC+ against righties (112) and eighth in OPS (.759). They’ll go up against Aaron Nola, who has seen a decline in stuff to begin the year. He’s still throwing plenty of strikes, but he’s leaving balls in the middle of the zone and has seen a decrease in velocity. His four-seam fastball and sinker have fallen at least one MPH since last year, and the whiff rates are down across the board. His 19.2% strikeout rate and 36% ground-ball rate are the lowest of his career.

The Blue Jays’ offense won’t do him any favors and hasn’t when they’ve seen him. It’s a small sample, but in 32 PA, Nola is rocking a .419 opponent average, a .447 xwOBA, and a .672 xSLG against the Jays’ current roster.

The Phillies’ bullpen is very inconsistent. They either look great or allow a blow-up. They sit with the fifth-worst bullpen ERA at 5.20. The Blue Jays bullpen has plenty of solid arms, but they haven’t been performing from a production standpoint, sitting with a 3.97 ERA, good for 14th in baseball.

Citizens Bank Park ranks as the fourth-highest run-scoring environment today, with 8-10 MPH wind blowing out with temperatures around 70 degrees. It’s a great day for baseball.

Ad – content continues below

Runs should be scored all game, both early and late. This line has moved a lot since I sent it out to my subscribers last night, but my model still sees value at the current number. If you find 8.5, play it the same size as I did. If you can only get nine, I wouldn’t lay the juice; play for 1 U.

The Pick: Blue Jays vs. Phillies Over 8 (-120) 1.2 U to win 1 U

Boston Red Sox vs. Atlanta Braves @ 7:20 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Nick Pivetta vs. Charlie Morton

Holy regression. These two guys have performed decently well from a production standpoint, but the underlying metrics spell trouble.

Charlie Morton is still spinning an excellent curveball. It ranks as one of baseball’s best by Stuff+, leading to his 3.38 ERA as it bailed him out of innings with plenty of runners on. The problem is every other pitch he throws, his fastball and sinker, have been getting crushed. The Red Sox have been solid against curveballs, especially Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers.

Charlie Morton has a 5.24 xERA. The metric points to negative regression for a couple of reasons. For one, a starter can’t survive on one pitch for so long. While his curveball has been fantastic, if hitters start to sit on it, knowing his sinker and fastball aren’t working, major league hitters tee off. His strikeout rate has dropped by eight percent from 2022, and he’s registered the highest walk rate of his career since 2016. Morton is a former Tampa Bay Ray, so the Red Sox know what they are going up against.

Morton will face off against a Red Sox team that is not only rolling on offense but has success against him. In 92 PA against the Red Sox current roster, he’s rocking a .298 opponent batting average, a .333 wxOBA, and a .443 xSLG. Those numbers aren’t amazing, but they are above average. This Red Sox team also ranks third in baseball in wRC+ (118) and second in OPS against right-handers (.814).

Nick Pivetta is not safe, either. The quality of contact against Pivetta, who’s a former Phillie within the Braves division, is very worrisome. In 121 PA against the Braves’ current roster, Pivetta is rocking .374 xwOBA, a .285 xBA, and a .562 xSLG. This season, the contact quality against Pivetta has been terrible, sitting in the fourth percentile in Hard-Hit rate. He’s allowing a concerning level of barrels (balls hit over 95 MPH), sitting in the first percentile, meaning he sits at the bottom of the barrel. The Braves are tied with the Rays for the highest barrel rate in baseball. This won’t be pretty.

Ad – content continues below

The first five over is probably the play, but I still don’t believe in the Red Sox bullpen. Outside of Kenley Jansen, who is a former Brave, the Red Sox bullpen has plenty of overperforming arms. The Braves’ bullpen is great on paper, but they have tended to blow more leads than people might expect. I also want to play the full game because Morton may perform well enough to keep the first five between 5-6 runs. These offenses are too damn good to truly worry about bullpens, especially when they aren’t elite right now.

This total has moved since I sent it out to my subscribers at nine runs, but it’s still playable at 9.5. I need ten runs any way to win, and the SIM model has the total at 10. So even at 9.5, there is still value. If you can only find ten, I would lower the unit size. However, BetMGM still has 9.5, worthy of a full unit.

The Pick: Red Sox vs. Braves Over 9 (-120) 1.2 U to win 1 U

PrizePicks Entry

First Leg: Nick Pivetta Over 5 Hits Allowed

I think this only doesn’t hit if Pivetta gets removed for giving up grand slams. The Braves are a barrel machine that kills righties, and Pivetta allows close to the most barrels in Major League Baseball. Hitting the ball hard results in hits, and five seems more likely to happen. His over on hits is 5.5 on books, juiced towards the under. It makes sense; he has averaged five hits allowed over his past five starts. His earned run total is at 2.5, which is -165 to go over. The runs will be there as should the hits allowed.

Second Leg: Alek Manoah Under 29.5 Fantasy Score

I think the Phillies win this game on top of both pitchers not doing well. My model has the Phillies as bigger favorites than the current line, and we know so many people will jump on Alek Manoah as an underdog. This is my way of taking the Phillies without betting on them because I’m already on the over. Manoah would need a win or a strong quality start to go over 29.5 because the strikeouts aren’t there for him. His hits allowed and earned run totals are majorly juiced towards the over; this should be a tough day for him.