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MLB Daily Free Picks, Predictions, Odds

Apr. 22, 2021
Kevin Davis
MLB Expert

MLB Best Bets for Thursday, April 22, 2021

Kevin Davis is locked and loaded with two selections for Thursday April 22th.

American League

  • Seattle Mariners at Boston Red Sox (MLB Network, 7:10 p.m. ET)

National League

  • Arizona Diamondbacks at Cincinnati Reds (MLB Network, 12:35 p.m. ET)
  • Miami Marlins at San Francisco Giants (MLB.TV, 9:45 p.m. ET)

Odds per BetMGM - Subject to Change

Seattle Mariners at Boston Red Sox

Best Bet: Boston ML (-160)

Probable Pitchers (2021 Records)

  • Justin Dunn RHP (1-0, 3.72 ERA)
  • Nick Pivetta RHP (2-0, 3.68 ERA)

On Thursday, the Boston Red Sox host the Seattle Mariners. Both teams shockingly lead their divisions, despite being projected before the season to have losing records.

Seattle has become a trendy betting pick over the last week, but Boston is the better team. With the Red Sox having an edge in starting pitching on Thursday night, I like them to win as heavy favorites.

The best metric early in the season to look at to see how well a team is playing is not their record, but their run differential. Currently Boston has a +30 run differential meaning they have scored 30 more runs than they have allowed.

In contrast to the Red Sox, the Mariners have a -3 run differential despite having a winning record. Over the course of a long season, Seattle is unlikely to have a losing record if they have a negative run differential.

The Mariners simply have been lucky in close games this season, that is why I am taking the Flavor Flav approach and not believing the hype.

Justin Dunn. A former first round pick for the Mets, Dunn only has 62 career innings and a 4.06 ERA.

However, Dunn also has a career xFIP of 6.52 meaning that Dunn has had incredible luck in his limited MLB career. In the future Dunn may be a quality starter, but in the immediate future he is a back of the rotation pitcher.

What is xFIP? xFIP is Expected Fielding Independent Pitching and it is a great “nerd stat” for measuring how many runs a pitcher should allow over nine innings independent of fielding and ballpark effects.

Arizona Diamondbacks at Cincinnati Reds

Best Bet: Arizona First Five Innings ML (+120)

Probable Pitchers (2021 Records)

  • Taylor Widener RHP (1-0, 1.59 ERA)
  • Jeff Hoffman RHP (2-1, 2.93 ERA)

Both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Cincinnati Reds are of the same caliber despite the Reds having a winning record and the Diamondbacks having a losing record.

After winning their first two games of the series as underdogs, Arizona is going for a sweep on Thursday afternoon, and I think they will get it. While my model likes the D-Backs full game moneyline at +125, my model likes their first five innings moneyline of +120 even more because of the starting pitching matchup.

The starting pitcher for Arizona is Taylor Widener, who is quietly an NL Rookie of the Year contender. The former Yankees farmhand made 12 unremarkable relief appearances last season, but this year he has done well as a starting pitcher.

In three starts, Widener is averaging 5 2/3 innings per start, a 1.59 ERA, and only 2.65 walks per nine innings.

Cincinnati’s strength so far this season has been their lineup which leads the league in runs per game. However, last year the Reds scored the 3rd fewest runs per game in the league and their lineup is virtually unchanged.

Over the course of a full season, the Reds should produce fewer runs than the league average. With a lackluster lineup going up against Widener, I believe that Arizona should either win the game or at least be ahead by the end of the fifth inning.

Miami Marlins at San Francisco Giants

Best Bet: Miami First Five Innings ML (+120)

Probable Pitchers (2021 Records)

  • Daniel Castano LHP (0-0, 1.80 ERA)
  • Aaron Sanchez RHP (0-1, 2.45 ERA)

The Red Sox look to stay atop the AL East tonight as they welcome in the Mariners to Fenway Park. (AP)

Both the Miami Marlins and the San Francisco Giants have much in common. Both play in tough divisions and both teams are rebuilding. The Giants may have a winning record, but over the course of a full season they should end up with around 75-80 wins.

Both Miami and San Francisco are evenly matched on Thursday night, but San Francisco has a liability at starting pitcher. That is why I like the Fish to be leading at the end of the fifth inning.

Pitching for the Giants is Aaron Sanchez, who cannot be trusted. Sanchez who missed the 2020 season due to injury last pitched in 2019 where he did terribly as he had a 5-14 record with a 5.89 ERA, and a 5.15 xFIP.

This season Sanchez seemingly has gotten off to a good start as he has a 2.45 ERA, but he has been incredibly lucky. In his last start against the Marlins, Sanchez pitched five innings and only allowed one earned run. However, Sanchez also allowed five hits, and three walks.

In the long run, a pitcher like Sanchez will have a bad day if he puts that many runners on base. As a live dog, I like the Marlins chances on Thursday night against Sanchez and the Giants.

Best Bet Tracker

  • Boston ML (-160)
  • Arizona First Five Innings ML (+120)
  • Miami First Five Innings ML (+120)

Free Picks - Year to Date Record: 17-25-1, -9.98 Units, -23.2% ROI

Who is KD and how does he handicap his MLB Best Bets?

My MLB handicapping model is based on the baseball pythagorean theorem where you can predict a team's winning percentage based on how many runs they score and allow over the course of the season.

I make projections on how many runs each player scores or allows for how that team's projected roster for that day would do over the course of a full season.

Once I have a projected winning percentage for both teams, I have a formula I use to determine each team's probability of winning.

For example, I calculate what percentage of games a .500 team wins against a .400 win team.

Follow him on Twitter at @BoogieDownPicks

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