The Major League Baseball slate on Friday includes 15 games and plenty of intriguing betting possibilities.
As a reminder, the Payoff Pitch podcast MLB experts break down their favorite picks from the day’s slate every Monday, Tuesday and Friday, including each analyst’s favorite underdog on the slate, and they’ve got two more to recommend today.
You can read about their picks below, and be sure to subscribe to Payoff Pitch for MLB picks and predictions all season long.
Cardinals vs. Guardians, 7:10 p.m. ET
Matthew Liberatore vs. Shane Bieber
Charlie DiSturco: I like the St. Louis Cardinals here at +105. It’s a short underdog, but I don’t really love today’s slate for underdogs.
But you look at the matchup: It’s Shane Bieber on the mound for Cleveland, and Cleveland’s offense is bad – the Guardians are 28th against lefties and are at the bottom toward righties, too, so it doesn’t matter whether it’s a bullpen after Liberatore.
St. Louis, on the other hand, is fifth against right-handed pitching. And Bieber, we’ve talked about this on the podcast countless times: His velocity has dipped every single year, his strikeout rate has dipped from 41% in the COVID year to 33% the year after to 25% to now 17.8% this season.
So there’s a lot of concern for Bieber, who’s in the bottom 5% of all pitchers in hard hit rate and average exit velocity. Hitters are crushing the ball. The Cardinals gave the day off to Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Willson Contreras (Thursday) against the Reds, so they are all coming in well rested against Bieber, who’s expected batting average is near .300 and expected slugging above .450, both career worsts. And his xERA up at 4.32, so it’s a bit concerning for me.
I think he’s going to regress negatively, and he’s battling some positive luck, so I think it’s all going to come back to bite him.
Liberatore came up and made his first start of the season last time out, so there’s not much of a sample size on him, but if you look at his numbers in Triple-A, all of the expected metrics have him in the low 3s. He projects as a high 3/low 4 pitcher.
He has good strikeout stuff and a high ground ball rate, so I think the biggest difference here is that Liberatore has gotten a lot better year over year. His fastball has jumped up nearly a mile and a half per hour, his curveball has been thrown 44 times at 77 mph. A high-90s fastball and a 77-mph curveball is great pitch mix. A .047 expected batting average thus far for the 40 times he’s thrown it.
So I like the Cardinals here at plus money, as I think they should be favored here. I love to fade Bieber and will continue to fade Bieber all season long, so I’m going to grab the Cardinals here as an underdog.
Mets vs. Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET
Max Scherzer vs. Connor Seabold
BJ Cunningham: I like the Rockies +185 against the Mets in Coors Field.
Max Scherzer is starting to fall off here. He’s starting to regress pretty hard. He’s got an xERA over 4 for the first time since the 2020 shortened season. His K per 9 is below 10 for the first time since 2011. So what’s wrong? He’s 38 and he was supposed to be the No. 1 starter in the Mets rotation.
Well, his velocity is down and that’s what happens when you get in your late 30s and are near your 40s. He’s down from 94 to 93 on his fastball, and his slider and his changeup, which were normally sitting around 85 mph, are now closer to 83 mph.
You look at his Stuff+, even from last year, it’s dropped from 106 to 102. So the regression is happening here for Scherzer. And now he’s going to Coors Field. He has his lowest ground ball rate of his career as well at 28%, going up against a Rockies lineup that has been good against right-handed pitching.
I understand the numbers are probably inflated because of Coors Field, but the Rockies actually have a better wOBA against right-handed pitching than the Mets do right now.
Connor Seabold will be on the mound for the Rockies, and he’s somewhat of a positive regression kid. He’s pitched a little bit in the bullpen, some as a starter – he’s only made four starts this season. His ERA is getting close to 6, but his xERA is about a full run lower. His Stuff+ is bad, but his Location+ is 103, so he’s obviously got good control over his pitches, even though they might not be that good.
A price of +185 for a team facing a pitcher like Scherzer who’s regressing, who is not the pitcher he once was, pitching in Coors Field, I think is way, way too large. So I like the Rockies at +185.
Payoff Pitch Underdog Picks for Monday, May 22
- Cardinals moneyline
- Rockies moneyline
At FanDuel, this parlay would pay out at +446 at the time of this writing.
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