MLB Picks Today – Free Expert Picks (5/18/2021)
Chief Sports Writer
Tuesday's slate has every single MLB team in action. If you're looking to catch some of the action on TV, you can see the New York Yankees at Texas Rangers on ESPN and the Cleveland Indians at Los Angeles Angels on ESPN+.
Last night, I went 1-2 again to bring my season-long record to 3-6 (-$295). Here are three more free MLB picks to finally get this baseball season on track.
Table of contents
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Tampa Bay Rays (-150) at Baltimore Orioles (+140) – Total: 9
TB: Luis Patino – R (1-1, 1.54 ERA/0.69 WHIP)
BAL: Matt Harvey – R (3-3, 4.81 ERA/1.37 WHIP)
To no one’s surprise, the Orioles are 5-13 as a home underdog this season (11-7 as road underdog). Things probably won’t get much better for them tonight with Harvey on the mound. The aging righty is coming off his worst start of the season, allowing eight hits and seven runs over 4 1/3 innings. In fact, the month of May has been a struggle for Harvey, as he’s got a 5.79 ERA over 14 innings.
For the Rays, they’ll put the young Patino on the mound. He has been fantastic this season in limited action, only allowing six hits, two walks and two runs (solo HRs) over 11 2/3 total innings. Tampa Bay has been slowly increasing his pitch count, so it’s totally possible that we get him for around 70 pitches or five innings- whichever comes first.
I feel like the Rays will jump out to early lead and never look back. Tampa Bay has been quite average in a lot of different areas this season, and that will certainly not be the case for long. Look for the Rays to cover the run line in this one.
Betting Pick: Rays -1.5 (+105)
Pittsburgh Pirates (+115) at St. Louis Cardinals (-125) – Total: 8
PIT: JT Brubaker – R (3-2, 2.58 ERA/1.12 WHIP)
STL: John Gant – R (2-3, 1.83 ERA/1.63 WHIP)
When you see a team like the Pirates as a slight underdog like this, it usually comes with good reasoning. Of course, Brubaker starting for Pittsburgh is a huge benefit to a team that desperately needs it. The righty has been especially solid away from PNC Park this season, with a 0.88 WHIP and 26 strikeouts over 22 innings.
Gant has been getting quite lucky so far, and that could very well change tonight. The Pirates implied run total (IRT) got a +0.4 increase, making it the highest boost for any team on tonight’s slate. It has been the walks that have been troubling Gant, with 27 of them in 34 innings. Perhaps, Pittsburgh starts taking advantage of those extra base runners. It’s also worth noting the St. Louis bullpen owns the highest xFIP (5.46) of any team in MLB over the last 14 days.
Betting Pick: Pirates ML (+115)
Cleveland Indians (+110) at Los Angeles Angels (-115) – Total: 7.5
CLE: Zach Plesac – R (3-3, 3.56 ERA/0.96 WHIP)
LAA: Andrew Heaney – L (1-3, 4.75 ERA/1.14 WHIP)
The Indians have really struggled against left-handed pitching this season, ranking fourth worst in wOBA (.283) and wRC+ (78)- two advanced metrics to quantify offensive success. Heaney is a crafty southpaw with some devastating stuff, as evidenced by his 49 strikeouts in 36 innings. After a rough home opener, Heaney has rebounded in his last two home starts, allowing two runs on six hits over a total of 13 innings.
Plesac is certainly one of the better arms in the Indians’ rotation, but he hasn’t been at his best on the road. In fact, the righty owns a 4.43 ERA there (compared to 2.93 at home) and only has 12 strikeouts over 20 1/3 innings.
In conclusion, I’ll be taking the Angels to continue the Indians’ losing streak which now stands at four games. LA does have the better bats and will make that count in the end.
Betting Pick: Angels (-115)