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MLB Predictions Sunday | Expert Picks, Odds, Preview Today (April 28)

Updated:2024-05-11 12:46    Views:113

Welcome to Opening Pitch, our daily column that you'll find throughout the 2024 MLB season.

The goal for Opening Pitch is to highlight top daily projection edges for MLB moneylines and totals, share favorite bets and provide some betting notes and analysis.

As a reminder, you can find all of my bets in the Action Network App and get live alerts every time I log a new bet.

You can also find expert projections for every MLB game in the Action App (on both the PRO Projections tab and the game pages) and our Projections Hub.

You can also shop for the best lines on our MLB Odds page.

Here are my favorite bets for Sunday, April 28.

MLB Predictions Sunday | Expert Picks, Odds, Preview Today (April 28)Royals vs. TigersSunday, April 281:40 p.m. ETBally SportsRoyals OddsSpreadTotalMoneyline+1.5-1767.5-108o / -112u+130Tigers OddsSpreadTotalMoneyline-1.5+1467.5-108o / -112u-154Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Michael Wacha vs. Tarik Skubal 

Michael Wacha has drastically overperformed his expected metrics for the last three years. He posted an ERA below 3.4 in both 2022 and 2023, but his expected ERA (xERA) was above 4.2 in both seasons.

This season, Wacha has a 3.85 xERA, but he's not someone who brings high velocity and his pitch arsenal is well below the major-league average, with a Stuff+ rating of 89. And while the xERA is decent, two of his five starts have come against the White Sox, who are 5-22 on the year.

The Tigers haven't set the world on fire against right-handed pitching since the beginning of 2023, but Wacha's main go-to pitch is a changeup, and Detroit is above the MLB average in terms of xwOBA against changeups from righties.

One of the best young pitchers in baseball, Tarik Skubal has the second-best odds to win the AL Cy Young Award behind Corbin Burnes. Skubal has posted a 2.12 xERA and the reason he is so good is because he has complete command over his entire pitch arsenal.

Skubal has 26.8% K/BB ratio, which is the third-best mark in baseball — and it's because of his fastball and changeup. His heater averages 96 mph and has a Stuff+ rating of 114. His changeup is elite because of how many swings and misses he gets with it.

The left-hander has a 49.3% whiff rate on his changeup when throwing it outside the zone, and 43.8% of the time his changeup ends in a called strike or a whiff, which is the best mark in MLB, according to PitcherList.

Tarik Skubal, Dirty 89mph Changeup. 👌 pic.twitter.com/Z6H06xBUY5

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 17, 2024

The Royals have been well below average against left-handed pitching, as they only have a 90 wRC+ since the beginning of last season.

Additionally, the Royals bullpen has overperformed thus far — their ERA is 3.23, but their xFIP is 4.66, which is the third-highest mark in baseball.

I have Skubal and the Tigers projected at -182, so I like the value on Detroit at -150.

Pick: Tigers ML (-150 via bet365)Nationals vs. MarlinsSunday, April 281:40 p.m. ETMASN | Bally SportsNationals OddsSpreadTotalMoneyline+1.5-1768.5-106o / -114u+122Marlins OddsSpreadTotalMoneyline-1.5+1468.5-106o / -114u-144Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Patrick Corbin vs. Ryan Weathers

Patrick Corbin has been a disaster for quite some time now and it's pretty alarming that he's still in an MLB rotation. Corbin currently owns a 5.96 xERA, which makes it four straight seasons with a mark above 5.5.

The only thing Corbin can do at this point is try to generate a high number of ground balls because he is unable to induce a respectable number of swings and misses. His strikeout rate is the lowest of his career at 5.86 and he's in the 12th percentile for whiff rate.

The problem for Corbin is that he has no velocity left on any of his pitches, and the movement on every offering is near the bottom comparatively to an average MLB starting pitcher. Corbin only has a Stuff+ rating of 79, which is the fifth worst in baseball. So, even though the Marlins have struggled to begin the season, they should be able to find success.

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Ryan Weathers has proven to be a fringe big-league starting pitcher and nothing more. He has a 3.16 ERA through his first five starts, but his xERA is over a full run higher.

Weathers' main problem has been his fastball. He has decent velocity (96 mph) and movement, but location is an issue. He has one of the highest percentages at leaving his fastball ball over the middle of the plate, which is why he's allowing a .466 xwOBA on that pitch.

The other issue is that Weathers has been tagged by right-handed hitters (.384 wOBA), though he does handle lefties just fine (.173 wOBA). The Nationals can easily platoon seven right-handed bats into their lineup to give them the split advantage against Weathers.

With these two starting pitchers on the mound, I think the total is far too low, as I have 9.7 runs projected for this game. I like the value on over 8.5 runs at +100.

Pick: Over 8.5 (+100 via ESPNBet)Pirates vs. GiantsSunday, April 284:05 p.m. ETSportsNet | NBC SportsPirates OddsSpreadTotalMoneyline-1.5+1647.5-104o / -118u+102Giants OddsSpreadTotalMoneyline+1.5-2007.5-104o / -118u-120Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Jared Jones vs. Keaton Winn

It's rare for a rookie to come up to the majors and absolutely dominate, but that is exactly what Jared Jones has done.

He leads baseball in Stuff+ at 138 and his fastball has been his biggest weapon. He averages 97.3 mph on it, and it is also getting 17.2 inches of iVB (induced vertical break), which allows him to live up in the zone and be effective.

His slider has been a weapon as well — he leads MLB with a 51.1% whiff rate on it, with a .190 xBA.

Jared Jones slider leads all pitches (min. 50 Swings) with a 51.1 Whiff% this season, because of course it does

Here is two minutes of Jones fooling batters with his slider: pic.twitter.com/VGFQsDhWhS

— Thomas Nestico (@TJStats) April 25, 2024

The fastball and slider are Jones' two main pitches as he goes to one of them about 90% of the time. And while the pitches grade out impressively, the cherry on top is that he's got amazing command of them as well. Jones has just four walks in five starts spanning 29 innings.

The Giants have struggled to hit velocity since the start of last season. They only have a .257 xwOBA against fastballs that are 97 mph or faster, which is the second-worst mark in the league. They also have the fourth-lowest xBA at .205 against sliders since the beginning of last year.

Keaton Winn is a unique pitcher because he utilizes a splitter as his main pitch — he throws it 43% of the time. The reason why his splitter has a Stuff+ of 127 is because of how much horizontal break it has. Not only is it dropping off the table, but it also has 15.3 inches of run on it.

With that being said, he's been a tad fortunate that his splitter hasn't been hit harder — he's allowed a .269 wOBA with it, but his xWOBA is a bit higher at .315.

Winn has a pretty average fastball that has decent velocity, but only a Stuff+ rating of 91. Basically what happens is that even though Winn has this amazing pitch, when guys are able to make contact against, they hit it hard because he's in the fourth percentile for average exit velocity allowed and the 15th percentile of hard-hit rate allowed.

Jones is the superior pitcher by a pretty decent edge and he has a fantastic matchup against a Giants lineup that struggles against his two main pitches. I like the value on the Pirates for the first five (F5) innings at +102.

Pick: Pirates F5 ML (+102 via BetRivers)

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