Like many MLB pitchers ramping up their arm strength after a shorter spring, this writer is off to a rusty start.
Going 1-for-3 may be a successful day inside the batter’s box, but it’s not a sustainable success rate for bettors. Although I can try to blame a rain delay for sabotaging a Jameson Taillon strikeout prop that wasn’t going to hit anyway, I’m already uncomfortably in the red after two Saturday articles.
Let’s try to rebound on a beautiful spring Saturday with 16 games scheduled. A doubleheader between the Tigers and Rockies could give Miguel Cabrera extra chances to record hit No. 3,000 if manager A.J. Hinch starts the 39-year-old twice. Fans will also get to watch April’s darling Nestor Cortes Jr. in action while seeing if early slackers Zack Wheeler and Tyler Mahle can turn the corner.
Here are some of the best bets to lock in throughout a busy MLB Saturday.
Yankees vs. Guardians: Same Game Parlay
I should start small for a bounce-back bid, but instead, I’m swinging far with a three-leg parlay in Saturday afternoon’s contest between the Yankees and Guardians. Here’s what I want for a +357 slip on FanDuel Sportsbook:
- Nestor Cortes: Over 5.5 Strikeouts (-130)
- Franmil Reyes to Record a Hit (-150)
- Yankees Moneyline (-196)
This started with a separate interest in Cortes’ strikeout line and Reyes getting a knock, available separately for -130 on DraftKings. However, the payout wasn’t bountiful enough to choose one or both alone.
After tallying 12 strikeouts against the Orioles last Sunday, Cortes is averaging 6.6 strikeouts per start in his last dozen outings dating back to last August. This is far from a slam dunk, as Cleveland has a paltry 21.1% team K rate behind only four strikeouts each for José Ramírez and Steven Kwan. But I’m banking on a red-hot pitcher who has carried over last year’s velocity gains. Cortes should keep rolling against a Cleveland offense that’s fallen back to earth after beating up on Kansas City and Cincinnati.
While Reyes started ice-cold, his bat has awakened with home runs in consecutive games. There aren’t many more dangerous hitters than The Franimal when he’s on a roll.
Another strong start from Cortes should also yield a Yankees triumph at home. Their bullpen has posted a 2.08 ERA and 2.81 FIP in 65 innings, and their lineup boasts too many big boppers to stay cold. I discussed my skepticism of Cal Quantrill last week, and those worries remain after he’s recorded four walks, four strikeouts, and a 23.4% CSW rate while allowing four barrels through two starts.
Pick: Cortés Over 5.5 Ks, Reyes hit, Yankees moneyline (+357 on FanDuel)
Brewers vs. Phillies: Run Line
Wheeler will eventually find his footing, but he’s not there yet.
The righty is essentially in spring training mode after right shoulder soreness and the flu halted his exhibition schedule. While he got through 4.2 innings against the Mets with just one run allowed to his former team, the 31-year-old then surrendered seven to the Marlins last Sunday. He posted just three strikeouts in each of those outings with a fastball velocity 2.5 mph down from last season’s average. That dip has caused a bleak 6.9% swinging-strike rate and 83.9% contact rate.
Some in the fantasy realm have claimed the industry is putting too much weight on those early trends. From a season-long standpoint, they’re probably right. I’m not panicking about Wheeler’s long-term outlook; he just needs some time. However, that doesn’t mean I’m confident in him rediscovering last year’s ace form today.
If the Brewers do their part against Wheeler, the Phillies should contribute their share of runs to hit the run line’s over at Citizens Bank Park. To nobody’s surprise, Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos have vaulted their lineup into elite territory. Philadelphia is fourth in team wOBA and gets a beatable adversary in Adrian Houser. While Milwaukee’s righty has allowed three runs in his opening starts against Baltimore and St. Louis, he’s also issued six walks to just seven strikeouts.
Philadelphia started the series with a 4-2 victory, but eight of the NL East squad’s 14 games have fostered eight or more runs.
Pick: Over 8 (-102 on FanDuel, -105 on DraftKings)
Cardinals at Reds: Moneyline
The oddsmakers must trust Mahle to bounce back from a seven-run shellacking against the Dodgers. He probably will. After all, this is the Mahle experience. He allowed five or more runs in five outings last year but only surrendered four in the ensuing four follow-up starts. (He gave up five to the Pirates in the final game of the 2021 season.) We’ve seen the righty fluctuate from ugly to awesome, so he can do so against a pedestrian Cardinals offense.
Everyone else is the problem.
Cincinnati has lost ten straight games since Reds’ president Phil Castellini scoffed at fans’ frustrations over an offseason teardown. Every defeat was decided by at least two runs, giving the Reds an MLB-worst minus-39 run differential this season. They’re collectively batting .184/.255/.278 with the game’s worst wOBA (.247) and wRC+ (53).
Even if he pitches well, Mahle likely won’t get much run support from a decimated lineup that watched Castellanos leave, traded Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez to Seattle, and have lost Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson to early injuries. Mahle also won’t get much help from a bullpen posting a 4.20 ERA with an MLB-low 9.3 K-BB% through 14 abysmal games.
Even with Mahle pitching at home, picking the Reds to lose at near-even money is too tempting to forgo.
Pick: Cardinals (-104 on FanDuel, -110 on DraftKings)
Andrew Gould Overall Record: 2-4
Net Money (Assuming all wagers are $100): -$165.85
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)