MLB Picks Today, Best Bets, Odds, Predictions for Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Jordan Hicks (12) of the San Francisco Giants throws live BP during the workout at Scottsdale Stadium.
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 20: Jordan Hicks (12) of the San Francisco Giants throws live BP during the workout at Scottsdale Stadium on February 20, 2024 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/Getty Images)

Thankfully, we had a winning day yesterday. The over in Cleveland was one of the most straightforward bets of my life, as it hit in both halves after the second inning. We also hit the under in Atlanta, ending 4-2. We did lose on the Pirates and badly, as the Angels stomped all over them for a 9-0 win.

A hot streak always starts on the first day, so let’s get after it with three picks. All totals, let’s run it.

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

2024 Record: 42-51 (-10.59 U)

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds @ 6:40 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Jordan Montgomery vs. Graham Ashcraft

This is my lightest play of the day. These offenses have been downright bad, and they are both in their lesser split. The weather calls for runs, and neither bullpen is in a strong spot. If either of these starters has a bad outing, I think we can get there. It also hits the system we discussed yesterday in the Tigers vs Guardians game.

This MLB trend has hit at a 71% rate over 104 games. The team’s winning percentage is greater than their opponent’s. The O/U total is set at > 6.5. The team’s money line is >= -260. At the time of the game, the team’s percentage of going over the point total is >= 48% for the season. The team is at home. The game number of the series is = 2. The game number of the season is <= 70. The previous game went under the run total.

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We spoke about this system yesterday, and it makes sense. It involves betting on the over after a game goes under with teams that have shown they can score this year.

Both starting pitchers have great numbers against these offenses. Both offenses are in their lesser splits and rank in the bottom ten in those splits this year. As I said, this is not a bet for the faint of heart.

Jordan Montgomery is still working his way back from a delayed offseason. He’s coming off a start against the Dodgers in which he allowed six runs. While the Reds have struggled against lefties, he’s a pitcher who’s seen his strikeout rate cut in half, and his sinker velocity is down 2 MPH. He’s allowing more baserunners than ever, and his hard-hit rate is at a high career level. It’s early, but he’s hittable right now.

We talk about Graham Ashcraft all the time. He’s a good pitcher, but he’s prone to blow-ups at his home park. His ERA in home games this year is 8.44, and his home ERA last year was 5.60. The small park gives him issues, and while the Diamondbacks couldn’t hit Montas, I think they can battle with Ashcraft.

Both bullpens behind them are in the bottom ten of ERA and not in ideal rest spots.

The weather is calling for runs in a tiny ballpark. It will be 80 degrees with wind blowing up, but there is a 42% chance of rain. It will be humid, which helps the ball carry.

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I cannot debate the solid numbers of both starters against these offenses with both offenses in their worse split early. The game ended 6-2 yesterday even though both starters dominated. I’ll try it with a half unit play.

The Pick: Over 9 Runs (-105) Risk 0.525 U to win 0.5 Units

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

Pitching Matchup: Nick Pivetta vs Chris Sale

This total is too high, again. As you can see, the Braves offense is still in a major funk. They did score four yesterday, but they still don’t look like the elite offense we are used to. Chris Sale makes his first start against the team that traded him. The bullpens are still in a good rest spot, but I wanted this total at nine.

Since being traded this offseason, Chris Sale makes his first start against the Red Sox. Chris Sale is a psycho in the best way possible. I think there is a shot that this is his best start of the season. I wouldn’t call it “revenge,” but they did trade him away. Chris Sale reminds me of Michael Jordan in a way that I bet he takes it personally.

Beyond narratives, Sale is pitching so well right now. His 2.81 xERA is lower than Reynaldo Lopez’s yesterday and lower than his solid 3.44 ERA. The Red Sox have been hitting lefties well, but it’s a small sample, even if we go back three weeks. Overall, this season, they have a 109 wRC+ against lefties, which is good for 12th in baseball. If they are so good, why does Chris Sale have a 1.5 earned run line with a 17.5 pitching outs line juiced towards the over?

The books think Chris Sale exacts revenge, as do I.

I wanted to bet on the Braves because I’m unsure what Nick Pivetta looks like. You can look at his past numbers against the Braves and hate them, but Pivetta has reinvented himself since leaving the Phillies, so I’m not putting much thought into those. The Braves offense has been in the bottom five in every metric against righties over the past two to three weeks, and I think it will continue.

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Pivetta is also making his return from the IL today. He rehabbed a right-flexor strain in his elbow, which is often worrisome. I had the same worries about Frankie Montas yesterday, and he came in throwing harder than ever and dominated the Diamondbacks.

If he’s his usual self, he is an elite arm. His ERA is 0.84 coming into this, and all the underlying metrics are fantastic. His strikeout stuff is elite, and his command has been above average. That’s why he ranks among the elite in K-BB rate. That’s why this isn’t a regular unit play; what does he give us today?

The books seem unsure as well. Based on his props, they think he’ll go about five innings and allow three runs. I’m okay with that, especially since they gave Crawford a 3.5 earned run line yesterday. He went under, and I think Pivetta has a good shot at going under.

Both bullpens aren’t entirely as rested as yesterday, but they still rank in the top ten and have quality arms ready to go. The weather is the same as well: warm, but with a slight breeze coming in.

Sale and Pivetta should allow about four runs in five innings; from there, we should stay under 8.5. I did want nine, but 8.5 at +100 is a reasonable price. Play that to -110.

The Pick: Under 8.5 (+100) Risk 0.75 Units

San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies @ 8:40 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Jordan Hicks vs. Peter Lambert

The Rockies can’t hit. The Giants offense is bottom ten against righties. We have a stud ground-ball pitcher for the Giants, and a below average pitcher for the Rockies. This game is at Coors Field, but I still think the first half total is inflated.

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The Rockies legitimately can’t hit. The super system said to play the Rockies at home on the first game of the home stand yesterday. Why didn’t I play it? The Rockies can’t hit!

They are the worst offense in baseball against right-handed pitching this season. Using wRC+ is vital for the Rockies because it’s a park-adjusted stat. They rank dead last at 71 against righties.

If we use OPS, and look at righties at home, it should be much better, right? Nope. They rank 22nd in OPS against righties at home. They play on the moon and still rank lower than the White Sox in that spot.

They face off against Jordan Hicks, who has been one of the best starters in the National League to this point. His strikeout rate has dropped, but that makes sense. He’s not throwing 100 MPH out of the bullpen anymore. He is locating his electric stuff and keeping the ball on the ground at a 58.7% rate. If we ever take an under at Coors, we need groundball pitchers. That’s exactly what Jordan Hicks is.

Jordan Hicks is EV+ to go under 2.5 earned runs on Outlier as well, and that makes sense. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in six straight starts. I know he’s pitching at elevation, but I could get some outs against this Rockies offense right now.

Peter Lambert lines up on the other side. He’s not a pitcher that goes very long, averaging three to four innings per outing. I wouldn’t say I’m rushing to back him, but he has an easy matchup today.

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The Giants are the 20th-ranked team by wRC+ (96) against right-handed pitchers this year. However, in the last two weeks, that wRC+ has fallen to 82, ranking them 22nd in the league. They are striking out at the seventh-highest rate and are in the bottom ten in power metrics.

Lambert’s underlying metrics tell me he’s due for positive regression. Every ERA estimator is in the low fours compared to his mid fives ERA. His Hard-Hit rate is league average, and his ground-ball rate is above average. With those in mind, I have him allowing about two runs in four innings.

I’d prefer not to deal with the bullpens. I don’t need some random reliever coming in and allowing a home run. The Giants bullpen ERA ranks 27th, and the Rockies rank 28th. We will not be dealing with the arms that come after these starters.

It is at Coors, but I wanted to make this a two-unit play. We have to be careful with this ballpark, but I love this first five innings under. I would play this to 5 at -115.

The Pick: First 5 Innings Under 5.5 (-115) Risk 1.15 Units

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