All the signs were there: The New York Mets knew they were taking a chance last December when they signed Justin Verlander to that two-year, $86.7-million contract. Verlander was about to turn 40, he had over 3,000 big-league innings on his odometer, and he missed most of 2020 and 2021 to Tommy John surgery.
Sharp bettors pounced on the opportunity.
The Mets are just 2-4 (minus-2.62 betting units) in the six starts Verlander has made for his new employers; however, the computers at OddsTrader say they’ll beat Atlanta (36-24, plus-0.64 units) this Thursday, so, of course, we’re putting New York in our MLB computer picks as +150 road dogs.
Thursday, June 08, 2023 – 07:20 PM EDT at Truist Park
Are the Wheels Coming Off?
There will come a time – and it won’t be long – when the wheels fall off for Verlander (4.39 xFIP). But he’s already passed the Tommy John test, giving the 2022 Houston Astros one more fantastic season with 6.1 WAR and their first World Series title that didn’t involve banging on a trash can. Verlander is still 40, though.
And he didn’t make his first start for the Mets (31-32, minus-8.58 betting units at press time) until May 4 because of a strained teres major, so there was even more reason to start fading the former three-time Cy Young winner right out of the gate. Now it’s time to change tack.
Buy Low Opportunity
There’s a good chance the Mets are at a “buy low” point now that they’ve fallen under .500, and everyone in the Big Apple is sharpening their knives. Losing three straight at home to the Toronto Blue Jays was painful, but they just swept the Philadelphia Phillies the previous series.
You can’t have everything. As it happened, Verlander pitched brilliantly during the opener of that Toronto series, allowing just one run in six innings as the Mets (-124) lost 3-0. That’s the third quality start of the year for Verlander – with a pair of six-run stinkers, albeit against first-place Tampa Bay and at Coors Field against Colorado.
Atlanta won’t be an easy get either, especially with Spencer Strider (2.83 xFIP) getting the nod, but the Mets have taken Strider to the woodshed before, and the OT computers say they’re going to win this game four runs to 3.6.
Even if you flip those scores around, New York is still a value pick at +150.
MLB Pick: Mets +150 at Bet365
Thursday, June 08, 2023 – 07:07 PM EDT at Rogers Centre
Speak Of the Devil
Speaking of the Astros (30-30-1 Totals) and Blue Jays (Under 30-29-3), they’ll be wrapping up a four-game set this Thursday, and the OT computers say Houston is going to win 4.2 runs to 3.8.
Seems like a reasonable projection with Framber Valdez (2.70 xFIP) starting for the defending champs opposite Jose Berrios (3.91 xFIP).
That’s if Berrios can maintain his recent form. Things got a bit hairy for him last year, but Berrios hasn’t had a bad start since May 1, and the Under is 4-1 in his last five outings after beginning the season at 1-4-2.
Valdez has the Over at 7-5 despite his heroics; Houston has the ninth-ranked bullpen on the FanGraphs WAR charts, and they’re only No. 16 in hitting WAR, so we’re hoping for some positive regression Thursday – although having the roof closed won’t help. Make it a small bet for protection.
MLB Pick: Under 8.5 (-114) at SBK
Thursday, June 08, 2023 – 03:10 PM EDT at Coors Field
Back In Coors Field
Since we brought up Coors Field, let’s wrap up our MLB betting tour in the Mile High City, where the Over is 16-14 this year. Those 30 games in Denver have produced an average of 11.8 runs; the OT computers have the Rockies and Giants (14-14 Totals away) combining for 11.6 runs, with San Francisco prevailing 6.9 runs to 4.7.
Again, we were happier with this pick when the total opened at 11 – and you still might be able to get that price if you shop around. But this is Coors Field, after all, with a park factor of 135 for runs this year according to Baseball Savant. That’s tops in the majors if you ignore the two games the Giants and San Diego Padres played in Mexico City.
Alex Cobb (3.26 xFIP) is due up for San Fran, so don’t invest too heavily in the Over, but Chase Anderson (5.24 xFIP) should help us get to the finish line. Bet accordingly – the computers have spoken.
MLB Pick: Over 11.5 (-118) at SBK