MLB Picks Today, Best Bets, Odds, Predictions for Saturday, May 18, 2024

Ronald Acuna Jr
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 27: Ronald Acuña Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates after stealing second base in the tenth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Truist Park on September 27, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. Acuña Jr. is the first player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs and steal 70 bases in a single season. (Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)

We’ll take a winning day! It could have been a sweep if the Rockies held onto the lead, but I won’t complain when we are in the green.

We took the under 4.5 on Triston McKenzie’s hits line. He went way longer than I thought he would, but only allowed two hits. Easy winner. We took the over between the Angels and the Rangers, which was cleared by three runs.

Today, they revealed a challenging board. I did find some value in some props in the same game. Let’s focus on two starting pitchers.

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

2024 Record: 51-60 (-11.26 U)

San Diego Padres vs. Atlanta Braves @ 7:15 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Yu Darvish vs. Bryce Elder

We are attacking two pitcher props in this game, one for each player. Let’s start with Yu Darvish.

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A part of me feels like I’m trying to catch the falling knife, but it’s a big plus money price, and he can pitch well and still go under his outs line.

To exceed 17.5 pitching outs, he has to go at least six innings. Darvish had five starts before going on the IL and only went over this line once. In those starts, his pitch count was at most 92 pitches.

He was then put on the IL with neck tightness but only missed a few starts. Since he returned on April 30th, he’s thrown 17 straight scoreless innings. This is extremely impressive, but he only went over his pitching outs line once in those three starts.

Yu Darvish has failed to exceed 17.5 outs in eight of his last ten starts. (14.9 outs/game average). The Padres need to limit his innings a bit, especially at 37. He threw two straight five-inning shutouts before his last start against the Dodgers, where he threw a seven-inning shutout. He threw 101 pitches, a season-high.

He has some excellent numbers against the Braves, as you’ll see on our cheat sheet. However, he last faced the Braves in 2022, and the last time he did in Atlanta, he went 5.2 and allowed nine hits and five earned. He’s rocking a 34% strikeout rate against them, which I don’t mind. Strikeouts commonly lead to elevated pitch counts, which the Padres want to avoid.

Over his last 32 starts, he’s been under this line in 16 (50%). In his previous 14 road starts, he’s been under this line in seven (50%). It’s basically a coin flip whether he goes six innings or not since 2023.

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The Braves offense can give him some trouble. It’s been a group that hasn’t gotten going, but it’s still the Braves. They still have the seventh-best wRC+ against righties at home this season. In May, they have a 109 wRC+ against righties at home, 9% above the league average.

He also has a 4.5% HR/FB rate, so his xFIP is 3.79. He’s due for some home runs, and I expect the Braves to hand him at least one longball.

The Padres bullpen is also in a great rest spot. Six relief pitchers have thrown 17 or fewer pitches in the last three days. They will likely bring them in quickly unless Darvish dominates. Even if he is, the Padres have shown they’ll pull him after five innings, even if he hasn’t allowed any runs.

He’s a 37-year-old with injury concerns, and the Padres need him to survive the year. +135 is too good of a price to pass up, and I’d play this down to +110.

The Pick: Yu Darvish Under 17.5 Pitching Outs (+135) Risk 0.5 Units

After looking into Yu Darvish, my eyes were drawn to Bryce Elder. He’s racked up some strikeouts lately, but he has a tough matchup today against a team that rarely strikes out.

The Padres, since adding Luis Arraez, have cut down the strikeouts. They already weren’t a strike-out-prone team, but now it’s even more so. Bryce Elder has four starts this year, averaging 6.97 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s averaging about 0.77 strikeouts per inning.

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However, every team he’s faced outside of the Guardians has struck out more than the Padres do. He only finished with two strikeouts against Cleveland.

Elder has racked up 25 PA against the Padres’ current roster and only has one strikeout. That gives him a 4% strikeout rate against the Padres. It’s a small sample, but at least he has no history of striking out these hitters.

Just in May, the Padres have the third-lowest strikeout rate against righties in the league. They only trail the Guardians and White Sox in that span at 18.8%.

Elder is in the bottom quarter of the league in chase rate, whiff rate, and strikeout rate. His slider is the out pitch, but opponents are hitting .357 against it. The Padres offense as a whole is on fire, putting up a 124 wRC+ against right-handed pitching in May. Not only do I not expect them to strike out, they should give Elder trouble on the base paths.

I do not love juicing this line towards the under, so I didn’t lay the juice. I would stick with 0.5 units down to -130.

The Pick: Bryce Elder Under 3.5 Strikeouts (-120) Risk 0.5 Units

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