MLB Picks Today, Best Bets, Predictions for Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Pablo Lopez
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 16: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Minnesota Twins pitches in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 16, 2023 in the Bronx, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

After the fact, Rockies ML seems like a stupid bet. It was close early, but the Dodgers destroyed the Rockies’ bullpen. That system is historically profitable; it didn’t win for us yesterday. It’s how the season has gone for me; these profitable historical systems are losing at rates I have yet to see.

It’s on me to adjust. Today, we are riding the hot hand in the Minnesota Twins—my favorite play of the last week.

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

2024 Record: 62-75 (-14.50 U)

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Minnesota Twins @ 8:40 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Aaron Civale vs. Pablo Lopez

When the Twins are playing good baseball, you ride the hot hand. This team is streaky and has been for a few years. The lineup is in lock-step with each other; either they all hit, or none do (unless it’s Royce Lewis; he hits no matter what). Today, they keep up that offensive barrage, and it’s also an excellent time to buy low on Pablo Lopez.

Among starters with at least 200 PA recorded this year, Pablo Lopez is the second unluckiest pitcher in baseball to Reid Detmers this year by the difference in xERA (3.28) to actual ERA (5.33). His 3.28 SIERA and 3.36 xFIP agree that his ERA will eventually come down.

Ad – content continues below

Why do these ERA predictors love him? For one, his K-BB ratio ranks 17th among all qualified starters. He’s not allowing hard contact, keeping the ball on the ground, and getting whiffs both in the zone and out of it. These are all the signs of a good pitcher, but he’s third in HR/9. He’s already allowed 14 home runs, tied for the most in Major League Baseball.

I don’t think about the Rays when I think of teams that can exploit his home run issues. This season, they have the league’s lowest ISO (Isolated Power) against right-handed pitching. They have the lowest SLG and have hit 43 home runs, tied for the lowest mark in the league with the Rockies and Marlins. Since June began, it hasn’t been much better, as they rank 27th in ISO, SLG, and HR against righties.

Beyond the power, it’s not a good offense against righties. They have the 24th ranked wRC+ this season, and over the last 30 days, they rank 30th in AVG, 25th in OBP, 30th in SLG, and 29th in wRC+.

Lopez has 54 PA racked up against the Rays, and it’s been fantastic. The Rays’ bats are hitting .170 with a .263 xwOBA against him. He faced the Rays once last year, throwing seven innings of one-run ball. His 2.5 earned runs line is juiced to the under, and I think he stays there. All we should need is two runs or less. I wouldn’t count out a shutout here.

Aaron Civale has issues that are very similar to those of Pablo Lopez. He’s second in HR/9, just above Lopez. He’s one of four pitchers to allow 14 home runs so far. He’s due for positive regression in that department, but based on today’s matchup, that positive regression should have to wait.

The Twins are powerful. Against righties this season, the Twins have the fifth-highest ISO, 11th-highest SLG, and have hit the ninth most home runs. That’s mainly without Royce Lewis, who has seven home runs in 12 games.

Ad – content continues below

Since June began, the Twins have been eighth in ISO and fifth in SLG and have hit twice the number of home runs as the Rays. Beyond the power, the Twins have the ninth-highest wRC+ against righties this year. Over the last 30 days, they rank 10th in AVG, 4th in OBP, 8th in SLG, and 5th in wRC+.

Civale has also been dreadful on the road this season, as hitters have posted a .296 batting average against and a 6.37 ERA. His K-BB rate is 23.2% at home and 9.3% on the road. Facing a red-hot Twins offense on the road isn’t a recipe for success.

That’s why his 2.5 earned run line is juiced to the over, anywhere from -140 to -160. A number that Civale has exceeded in four of his last five games on the road (3.8 earned runs/game average).

Minnesota has been excellent at home, posting a 22-14 record compared to an 18-18 record on the road. The Rays are 15-15 on the road and come into this game as losers of seven of their last ten. The Twins have won five in a row, winning seven of their last ten.

These two teams are going in opposite directions, and we have the starting pitching, offense, and bullpen advantage. Both teams had an off day yesterday, but the Twins have a far better bullpen. They have the better ERA, FIP, xFIP, K-BB rate, lower hard-hit rate… everything.

With the off-day, the Twins have their four horses ready to go. Staumont (0.00 ERA), Duran (3.60 ERA), Alcala (1.99 ERA), and Jax (2.30 ERA). I’ll take those four arms over most back-ends.

Ad – content continues below

I think the Twins will win this one early and often. Take the first five-run line to -120 and the Twins full-game ML to -170. Keep the risk the same; just bet at those price points.

The Pick: Twins First 5 Innings -0.5 (-105) Risk 0.53 Units, Twins ML (-160) Risk 0.5 Units