What do you do with a rookie pitcher midway through the evening? If you’re following the computers at OddsTrader, you bet the Over – at least when it comes to Wednesday’s matchup between the Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Guardians.
It is a bit complicated, though. There’s only a handful of Wednesday night games to choose from, and the computers aren’t entirely certain what to make of this matchup. But it’s still the most intriguing of the three totals in our Wednesday MLB picks, so let’s get right to business.
- Athletics-Guardians Over 8.5 (-120) at Bet365
- Rangers-White Sox Over 9 (-106) at SugarHouse
- Red Sox-Twins Under 8.5 (-107) at BetRivers
Wednesday, June 21, 2023 – 07:10 PM EDT at Progressive Field
The rookie pitcher in question is Gavin Williams, a 23-year-old northpaw from North Carolina whom the Guardians selected in the first round (No. 23 overall) of the 2021 MLB draft. Williams will reportedly get the call-up from AAA-Columbus to start Wednesday in place of Triston McKenzie, who’ll be out for an extended period with a sprained elbow.
When healthy, Williams has been Cleveland’s top pitching prospect, and No. 5 among all Guardian hopefuls according to FanGraphs. He’s got a solid fastball-slider combination, mixing in some curves and the occasional change-up to keep batters guessing. Williams will almost certainly have to reach into that bag of off-speed pitches if he wants to make a career of this. His violent four-seam fastball delivery led to injuries in college at East Carolina; Williams has avoided harm thus far after a year-plus in the minors, but even if he stays healthy, big-league hitters will be more likely to turn on that four-seamer.
Yes, even the Oakland Athletics are considered big-league. The A’s rank No. 27 on the FanGraphs WAR charts for hitting, but that improves to No. 18 when you look at the month of June; combine that with a similar jump in their pitching results, and Oakland is now playing more like a .500 club than a basement-dweller.
One reason for that improvement: Paul Blackburn (4.06 xFIP). He made his 2023 debut on May 29, and has pitched well aside from one bad start against the Miami Marlins, leaving the Under at 2-1-1 thus far.
As with Oakland, the Guardians have had their own troubles at the plate this year, but they’ve improved even more dramatically this month, moving from No. 24 overall to No. 8 on the FanGraphs WAR charts. This is a golden opportunity for them to jump on Williams while he’s still getting his feet wet; the OT computers say Cleveland will win this game 4.5 runs to 4.1, so a slight lean towards the Over seems reasonable on what should be a hot night at the former Jacobs Field.
MLB Pick: Over 8.5 (-120) at Bet365
Wednesday, June 21, 2023 – 08:10 PM EDT at Guaranteed Rate Field
While the A’s and Guardians have been hitting better lately, neither can touch the Rangers. Their batting order ranks second on the FanGraphs WAR charts, both in June and for the entire season up until now.
Even the White Sox have improved marginally this month from No. 29 to No. 27. And for various reasons, Guaranteed Rate Field’s park factor for runs has risen from 102 last year to 108 according to Baseball Savant.
But it’s the starting pitchers that compel us to recommend the Over for your MLB picks. Martin Perez (4.86 xFIP) has the Over at 8-5-1 this year; Michael Kopech (4.69 xFIP) has the Under at 9-5, but that’s after posting a .247 BABIP against, which is incredibly small for today’s post-shift rules.
Regression is coming. The OT computers have Texas winning 5.5 runs to 4.6 – maybe about a run too high for the Rangers, but still worth a small bet on the Over when you factor in the -106 betting odds at SugarHouse.
MLB Pick: Over 9 (-106) at SugarHouse
Wednesday, June 21, 2023 – 07:40 PM EDT at Target Field
Some online sportsbooks have the total at eight runs, which happens to be how many runs the computers have projected for this contest, Minnesota prevailing 4.5 runs to 3.5. However, BetRivers and others have the total at 8.5 as we go to press, making this our third computer-approved baseball pick for Wednesday’s evening slate.
It might even be the best pick of the litter at these odds. Both teams sport mediocre batting lineups, and Twins have their ace taking the mound in Sonny Gray (3.70 xFIP), while Boston responds with Garrett Whitlock (3.91 xFIP). Bet accordingly – the computers have spoken.
MLB Pick: Under 8.5 (-107) at BetRivers