MLB Free Picks – May 31, 2018

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I tried finding pictures of Indians starter Shane Bieber, and all I could find were pictures of this guy.

Free Daily MLB Picks - May 31st

Welcome back to the LazyBets Free MLB Picks column.  We got an easy win yesterday as we suspected, with Corey Kluber shutting down the White Sox offense and the Tribe jumping all over Reynaldo Lopez for the 9-1 Indians win.   We thought Lopez’s ERA of 2.93 might be on the rise soon, and it jumped almost a full point to 3.80 after yesterday’s drubbing.  That number still has room to grow, so we might be seeing Reynaldo and the White Sox again in this space soon.

Today we’re going to stick with the the Indians as they make the hop over Lake Erie and Lake Michigan and into Minnesota, where they kick off a four game set with the Twins tonight.  The Tribe are turning to a rookie starter with a familiar name to get the series started on the right foot.

Cleveland Indians (Bieber) at Minnesota Twins (Odorizzi)

Game Time: Thursday 8:10 PM EST

Where to Watch: MLB Network, MLB.tv

Run Line: Cleveland -1.5 (+130)

Moneyline: Cleveland -115

Bet the Indians -115

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Indians Twins Pick

Oh hey, here's the right Bieber.

Indians starter Justin Bie… errr… Shane Bieber makes his MLB debut tonight in Minnesota, and despite never having seen him pitch, his minor league statistics have caught my eye.  Bieber has dominated across all levels of the minors, with a 2.19 ERA over 46 starts since 2016.  What’s even more impressive is his strikeout to walk ratio which was an absurd 16.27, thanks to an extremely low walk rate of about half a walk per nine innings.  Just for reference, the current leader in K/BB amongst qualified starters in 2018 is Corey Kluber at 8.80, nearly half Bieber’s rate in the minors.  Now obviously Bieber isn’t going to bring Kluber-esqe production right out of the gate against major league hitting, but Steamer projects him as a solid major league starter already, with an expected ERA of 4.14.

Despite having 137 more major league starts under his belt, Jake Odorizzi actually projects as a worse starter than Bieber, and it’s not particularly close.  It’s easy to see why when you look at his peripheral stats - his strikeout rate isn’t bad, but his projected walk rate of 3.34 per nine and projected homer rate of 1.66 per nine are not good, and are a dangerous combination when mixed together.  Odorizzi’s 3.34 ERA has outpaced his 4.77 xFIP this year, which suggests that he’s been a bit lucky this year. Indeed, his LOB% is 88.0%, which is good for fourth in baseball behind some familiar names - Verlander, Morton and Kluber - and he’s tied with Jake DeGrom of the Mets.  These are all pitchers with ace-level stuff and can work their way around runners on base with the best of them.  Odorizzi is probably just getting lucky.

We discussed the Indians offense in yesterday’s column - they’re currently 7th in wRC+, a solid mark but one we expect them to improve upon.   Meanwhile, the Twins offense has been pretty terrible at 24th in wRC+, and we don’t expect them to climb too much higher.  Brian Dozier and Miguel Sano will probably improve on their slow starts, but this offense mostly consists of average major leaguers without a ton of star power to push them into the top 10.

The moneyline being offered at BetOnline today is absurdly good in our eyes, possibly because bettors fear putting their money on a starter making his major league debut.  However, being able to grab the vastly superior offense and starting pitcher at a mere -115 is a steal, even if it is a road game.  I suggest you go wager on our new favorite Bieber and put the game on your second screen as you’re watching that other Cleveland team on the road tonight - and don’t forget to check our newly redesigned homepage for our NBA picks.

Good luck, let’s get a win.

Bet the Tribe (-115)

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