A full day of baseball gets underway at 1:05 p.m. ET, and our staff’s betting card doesn’t wait much longer than that to go live.
Including a pick on Cardinals vs. Cubs (2:20 p.m. ET), here are our four favorite spots on Wednesday’s loaded slate.
Advanced Stats Glossary
FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck. xFIP is a regressed version of FIP that adjusts or “normalizes’ the home run component based on park factors.
wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.
wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average is a catch-all hitting metric with more predictive value than on-base percentage. An average MLB hitter can be expected to post a .320 wOBA. xwOBA is a regressed version of wOBA that accounts for variables like park factors.
Note: Odds as of 11:30 a.m. ET.
Stuckey: Cardinals Moneyline (-121) vs. Cubs
Let’s tone it down a little bit with the Alec Mills love. Yes, his surface numbers are outstanding this year, but he’s faced three struggling offenses (Brewers, Royals and Reds) and had Lady Luck on his side.
His ERA sits at 2.84, but his FIP and xFIP are both over 4.00 and he projects out long term as about a 5.00 ERA guy. His changeup can be very effective and he’s got a lot of soft contact this year, but stats like a .163 BABIP are unsustainable.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals will counter with their ace, Jack Flaherty, who has pitched very well against the Cubs throughout his career (2.7 ERA in 10 games, nine of which were starts).
There are some concerns with him coming off such a long layoff, having not pitched since Opening Day, but it gives me confidence knowing the Cardinals have the bullpen advantage in a seven-inning game. Give me the Redbirds here.
BJ Cunningham: Rays Moneyline (+156) vs. Yankees
Cole has been fine through his first five starts as a Yankee, posting a 3.46 xFIP, but there are a couple areas in his pitching arsenal fans should keep an eye on.
He’s gone to his fastball more often in his first three starts (57.8 percent) than he did last season (51.6%). His whiff-rate on that fastball has also gone way down, from 37.6% in 2019 to 21% this season. Context is key here because it is a small sample size, but it’s something to look out for going forward.
Glasnow is on his way to becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball. He posted a 2.94 xFIP last season, which ranked fourth in baseball. Glasnow’s effectiveness derives first and foremost from his fastball, which averages nearly 97 miles per hour and can top out at over 100 mph.
But it’s not just about his velocity. Glasnow also demonstrates elite control with his heater. Furthermore, he throws it more than any other starting pitcher I’ve looked at, using it more than two-thirds of the time. Such high usage is justifiable, because Glasnow allowed only a .195 batting average and produced a 22.4% whiff rate with his fastball in 2019.
He also has an elite curveball that was nearly untouchable in 2019, allowing a meager 1.69 wOBA to opposing batters and producing a staggering 43.5% whiff rate.
The Rays have the fifth-best wOBA in baseball at .335 and have been red hot over the past week with a .402 wOBA.
Tampa Bay got to Cole the last time these two faced, tagging him for three runs in 4.2 innings of work. I like the +156 price with their red-hot offense and Glasnow on the mound.
Collin Wilson: Tigers vs. White Sox Under 9 (-105)
Happy Lance Barksdale Day! We, at The Action Network, celebrate all MLB umpires, but none may be better at putting money in your pocket than Lance Barksdale.
The umpire’s lifetime record is 245-200 (55.1%) to the under in his career, good enough for +32.89 units. With a strike zone as questionable as a Southside night trip on the L, Barksdale lives by getting in and out of baseball parks as quick as possible.
Neither the White Sox nor Tigers are great against right-handed pitching. Chicago is 17th in wRC+, while Detroit comes in at 27th against righties. Interestingly enough, the White Sox have a BABIP of seventh against righties, indicating that their offensive ranks have been boosted by a bit of luck.
The Tigers face Dane Dunning, a prospect who has not pitched higher than Double-A and is returning off a UCL injury from 2019. His velocity in bullpen and batting practice sessions has touched the low 90s. The same can be said for Casey Mize, a Tigers prospect who has not pitched above Double-A.
Lance Barksdale behind the plate will help these youngsters cash an under ticket.
Danny Donahue: Diamondbacks vs. Athletics Under 8.5 (-118)
A simple system with a huge sample size and strong year-over-year consistency brings me this pick tonight.
Riding a six-game win streak, the D-backs have climbed into the National League playoff picture at 13-11. The A’s, meanwhile, despite dropping the first two meetings with Arizona, still hold one of baseball’s best records at 16-8.
When two strong teams meet, there’s a tendency for public bettors to hit the over, with the simple expectation that good teams will score runs. But, perhaps because of that, there’s actually been value in taking the opposite approach.
Since 2005, in matchups of two above-.500 clubs where the over receives at least 65% of bets, the under has gone 1371-1120-117 (55.0%), winning 201.8 units for a 7.7% return on investment.
Entering this season, the system has profitable in nine straight years, and 12 of the 15 for which it has tracked results.
I should note that the wind is blowing out in Oakland tonight, and while I’m a sucker for weather-based betting, outward wind at the Colosseum has yet to show too strong of a correlation to the over (36-32-4 with 8+ mph since ’05).