All 30 teams in Major League Baseball take the field Wednesday in a full 15-game card. There are a handful of games to provide some afternoon action, but 11 of the games on Wednesday begin at 6:40 pm ET or later.
You can find my colleague Sean Zerillo‘s projections for every MLB game in the Action Network App (on both the PRO Projections tab and the game pages) and our Projections Hub (which you should bookmark).
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Here are some of my favorite angles and games I’m targeting across Wednesday’s evening MLB card.
The Beltway Series concludes on Wednesday night with the second of two games, as Patrick Corbin of Washington takes on Baltimore right-hander Tyler Wells.
I think I’ve bet on Wells in almost every start he’s made this season, and that’s not going to change on Wednesday night.
Wells has displayed excellent command with his 5% walk rate, and his batted ball profile remains above average for MLB pitchers. He’s slightly better than league average in xwOBA, barrel rate and hard-hit rate allowed.
He doesn’t have overpowering strikeout stuff, but he has four usable pitches and above-average spin rates on most of them. He won’t generate a ton of swings and misses but is well above average at getting hitters to chase pitches outside of the zone. Washington is 10th in chase rate, so Wells should be able to induce a bunch of weak contact.
Wells’ xERA sits at 3.66, and I’m pretty confident that he’s a sub 4.00 ERA pitcher at this point in his young career.
I don’t think Corbin, his counterpart, is anywhere near that anymore. Corbin’s fastball is one of the worst in all of baseball this season, per Eno Sarris of The Athletic’s Stuff+ model that judges pitch shapes and velocity.
Corbin’s defense hurt him in his last start with a two-out error, but he still allowed seven runs (all unearned) immediately thereafter.
His slider used to be his most effective pitch, but his whiff rate on that pitch has dropped every year since 2019. His fastball and sinker are both allowing an xwOBA of .438 and .427, respectively.
You’d probably think he was due for some positive regression with a 6.59 ERA, but the underlying metrics haven’t been much better. He’s allowed a barrel rate over 10% and has an xERA of 6.34.
The gulf in quality in the starting pitchers only points me in one direction — Baltimore.
Recommended Bet: Orioles F5 ML -145 (-150 or better)
Tarik Skubal did get roughed up for five runs in five innings in his last start for the Tigers. But the lefty has three established pitches and is arguably the most improved pitcher in baseball in 2022.
At age 25, Skubal has changed his pitch mix to more of a sinker/slider combination. It better hides his mediocre fastball, and the results are impressive.
Hitters had a .429 xwOBA against his fastball last year, a pitch he threw more than half of the time. This season, his fastball usage has dropped to 27.6%. Hitters are seeing it less and hitting it less, too. The xwOBA allowed comes in at .341, and all of his other pitches are sub .300.
His strikeout rate has been stable in each of his three seasons in the big leagues, but he’s cut his walk rate almost in half from 8.2% in 2020 to 4.7% in 2022. The improved control and pitch locations means that he’s getting barreled a lot less, and his xERA has dipped from 5.58 last season to 2.95 this year.
His FIP (2.48) and xFIP (3.02) are also clear indicators that Skubal’s first half of the season is no fluke.
Michael Wacha is an impressive story with his 2.27 ERA currently, but he is a prime regression candidate right now. Wacha has allowed a HR/FB rate below 10% and is stranding 84% of batters while allowing a career-low .224 BABIP.
That’s the triumvirate of concerning regression indicators, which is being picked up in his metrics. Wacha has a 4.25 xERA and 4.23 xFIP, his Stuff+ is below average and his Pitching+ sits right around league average.
His K-BB% is actually lower than it’s been each of the last two seasons, too. As bad as the Detroit lineup is, I’ll be betting the Tigers in the first five innings.
Recommended bet: Tigers F5 ML +120 or better
Shane Baz steadied himself with six shutout innings against Baltimore after a disappointing first start to the 2022 season against Minnesota.
Of course, Minnesota is a much better lineup than Baltimore, and his matchup with the Yankees will be the toughest test of his young season. But I’m trusting Baz’s stuff here, which is as good as any pitcher in baseball.
When Baz pitched in the big leagues for the first time at the end of last season, it’s important to remember just how good he was.
The best starters in September by Pitching+, which strips away all the luck and focuses on the movement, velo, spin and location of pitches:
— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) October 4, 2021
The sample is too small on Baz in 2022 to meaningfully glean anything from those first two starts. He struggled a bit with command, but I don’t expect that to be a lasting issue.
The price here as a +120 home underdog is surprising. The Rays were just +115 at home with Shane McClanahan pitching against Gerrit Cole. Now, they’re +120 at home with a slightly worse pitcher in Baz but are now facing a considerably worse pitcher in Jordan Montgomery for the Yankees.
Montgomery is a fine middle-of-the-rotation starter with an xERA who has hovered around 4.00 each of the last three seasons. He’s been improved with his command but is also allowing more balls in play this year, and his career-low .245 BABIP is unlikely to persist.
I bet Tampa Bay on Monday and am going to do so again. As Baz stabilizes closer to what his stuff suggests he is, we won’t get this many good numbers on him in the weeks and months to come.
Recommended bet: Rays ML +110 or better
San Francisco and Atlanta have played two thrillers in the first two games of their series after Atlanta walked off on Monday and the Giants won, 12-10, on Tuesday night.
Charlie Morton looked like vintage Morton on Friday against Chicago when he struck out nine Cubs in seven scoreless innings. His strikeout numbers have made a clear recovery in recent weeks, but the veteran right-hander is still struggling with hard contact this year.
Hitters are barreling him more, hitting more balls in the air, and the results have been suboptimal for Morton’s batted ball profile. Morton has lived in the 40s in his ground-ball rate each of the last three seasons, but that number has dipped to 37.5% this season. His barrel rate is below average for the first time in the Statcast era, and his 4.45 xERA is a full run higher than the last two seasons.
Morton’s Stuff+ rating has dropped off marginally this year as he’s getting fewer outs with his best pitch, the curveball. His xwOBA allowed on the breaking ball went from .180 last season to .342 this year. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but hitters are clearly reading it more this season.
At this point in their careers, Carlos Rodon is the considerably better pitcher. His Stuff+ rating is higher, and his slider is dominant.
Take out his one blow-up against the Cardinals — who are elite against lefties — and Rodon has allowed two or fewer runs in 11 of his 12 starts. Only the Reds, who scored three on him, and the Cardinals, who scored eight, have tagged him considerably.
Atlanta has been dominant against lefties this season (126 wRC+), but I’m a bit skeptical of the predictiveness split given how much it struggled against them in 2021 (93 wRC+) and 2020 (100 wRC+).
Odds are it’s just statistical noise, and the Braves will only be league average against lefties going forward.
- Giants F5 ML +100 or better
- Giants ML +110 or better
Anthony Dabbundo’s Bets (June 22)
- Giants F5 Innings (+100 or better)
- Giants ML (+110 or better)
- Rays ML (+110 or better)
- Tigers F5 Innings (+120 or better)
- Orioles F5 Innings -145 (-150 or better)