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Free MLB Betting Picks - Today's Best Bets, Expert Predictions, Odds (8/18/22)

Folks, it's Jacob deGrom day! After essentially going a year without being able to watch deGrom continue a stretch of dominance that may be the best peak performance in MLB history, we ought to cherish every time deGrom comes to the mound. Surely, Mets fans feel the same way, though I'm not sure that same sentiment holds true in Atlanta.

Welcome back, RotoBallers! In this article, I'll be providing my MLB favorite betting picks on Thursday, August 18th, 2022, for the 11-game 6:40 PM EST slate. Personally, my approach stems a bit more on the analytical side; I utilize a projection model I created utilizing projections from THE BAT X and Fangraphs Depth Charts to estimate the true talent of each lineup and pitching staff, adjusting for the team's pitcher. Based on the expected run differential each team is supposed to have in a game, we can compare this to see how much a team should theoretically win by, which allows us to translate that into a win probability, which leads to an adjusted money-line. For game totals, the implied runs scored and runs allowed for each team (with today's starting pitcher) are used, along with Baseball Savant park factors. This is not the "end all be all," but having some objective system to identify potential sources of value can be extremely helpful!

Today, we will be looking at the best side and total bets for today's slate. It's an interesting slate of games with several significant matchups for playoff purposes, making it an exciting day. What games should you keep an eye on? Let's dive right into today's action!

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MLB Betting Projection Model Results

*NOTE: Negative Diff indicates that the home team is projected to win, and vice versa.

 

Today's MLB Betting Picks - Cubs @ Orioles

O/U: 9 | Moneyline: BAL -145

CHC: Adrian Sampson| BAL: Spenser Watkins

Are the Orioles seriously going to mess around and make the postseason? With a 61-56 record entering Thursday, Baltimore sits 1.5 games out of a spot in the AL wildcard, which would be quite a transformation for a team that has finished with the worst record in each of the past two full seasons. Perhaps that miracle will become a reality but expect a step back today.

Who doesn't love a one-game series? To be fair, unlike several of the other scheduling quirks this year, this one is due to a previous rainout, but there's still some humor with a team having to fly out simply to play one game before flying back home. Now, you may not peg the Cubs as the team ready to throw some cold water on the Orioles' miraculous turnaround, yet consider this a team with more talent than their record (49-67) would indicate.

Over the past 30 days Chicago, with the 14th-best weighted-runs-created-plus (wRC+) in baseball, has been a completely competent offense, demonstrating the ability to hit for plenty of power (8th in isolated power/ISO). Now, what has dug them in is a high propensity for striking out, but that is what makes this matchup perfect for them.

Among pitchers with at least 70 innings pitched this season, only four have a lower strikeout rate than Orioles starter Spenser Watkins (14.7% K). Meanwhile, of that sample, he also ranks in the bottom-11 in skill interactive ERA (4.87 SIERA) and K-BB (7.7%), and ZiPs projects him for a 5.88 ERA for the rest of the season. Consider this a time for the Cubs to continue to see their bats come alive.

To be fair, Baltimore has been very productive offensively as of late. At the same time, Chicago has the upper hand in the pitching matchup here. Quietly, in his second year back from the KBO, Adrian Sampson (4.25 SIERA, 3.60 FIP) has been very reliable for the Cubs, allowing three earned runs or fewer in six of his past seven starts.

By reversing the usage of his four-seamer and sinker, as well as slight tweaks in some of his pitch shapes, he's perhaps unlocked a better version of himself; someone who limits walks (6.2% BB), gets enough swings-and-misses (23.1% whiff), and keeps hitters off balance with five different pitches.

Sure, that's not the profile of a game-one starter, yet someone completely reliable in a pitcher-friendly ballpark. Ultimately, that should be enough to compensate for any marginal offensive gap there is between these two teams, which, for a team priced as a notable underdog, ought to make the Cubs quite appealing here. At least for one day, let's turn it back to 2016!

Pick: Cubs Moneyline (+129), WynnBet Sportsbook

 

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Today's MLB Betting Picks - Red Sox @ Pirates

O/U: 8.5 | Moneyline: BOS -189

BOS: Josh Winckowski| PIT: JT Brubaker

How often are you going to see two AL East vs NL Central games in one day? Well, that's an odd coincidence. Speaking of which, could you imagine being told before the season the Orioles would have a better record than the Red Sox, a team that just came within two games of the World Series in 2021, in the middle of August? Yeah, that might have been difficult to believe.

Unfortunately for Boston, who still has a fighter's chance of the postseason as a .500 team, things aren't trending up in a hurry. Over the past 30 days, they rank in the bottom five in wRC+, ranking near the bottom of the league in walk rate (6.5%) and strikeout rate (24.9%). Naturally, that is not an ideal combination for getting on base, and, thus, scoring runs. Of course, since they're facing a Pirates team with the third-worst wRC+ this season and only two players projected by THE BAT X to be above-average offensively, it's also very likely they can come through in a low-scoring game.

In fact, that's exactly what this game is shaping up to be. Josh Winckowski may not miss a lot of bats, but he also induces a ground ball on more than half the batted balls against him and thrived in Triple-A (21% K-BB) this season; as someone who throws strikes and limits home runs by virtue of the ground balls he gets, he has plenty of avenues to success against a hapless Pittsburgh offense.

Meanwhile, with Jose Quintana traded, a strong case can be made that JT Brubaker is the Pirates' best starter; he's held his own with a 4.05 SIERA, 3.80 FIP, and 13.9% K-BB, and has benefited from the shift from a traditional four-seamer with insufficient shape to a sinker with more curveballs, leading to less-favorable curveballs.

The weaknesses of both bullpens concerns me, but for two offenses that have struggled as mightily – bottom-five in wRC+ over the past 30 days – as these two, 8.5 runs is a lot against two quality pitchers in a ballpark that suppresses home runs (8th-lowest home run park factor) like PNC Park does. It may be a sweat, but, hey, that's the fun of it all!

Pick: Red Sox Pirates Under 8.5 Runs (-110), BetMGM Sportsbook

Good luck, RotoBallers! Stay tuned for more great DFS and betting content throughout the week! For more baseball content, you can follow me at @talkmvp.



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