This article is part of our MLB Picks series.
JohnnyVTV has returned. We're closing in on the first full month of the MLB season, and it has left us with much to be desired. For the final weekend of April, we go back to the board to kick off the weekend. We have several aces on the bumpski tonight, so grab an Espresso Martini and put your feet up because we're about to cash SOME WINNERS! Your honor, no objections.
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Atlanta Braves (-135) @ New York Mets (+115) | Over/Under 7.5
Well, well, well. The renewed rivalry between NL East foes is on display for the first time in 2023. The Bravos have been the class of the division since 2018 with FIVE straight NL East titles. Working his way back into form is their ace, Max Fried, who has been stellar in his three outings this year. Meanwhile, the Mets will be trotting out David Peterson. Can NYM take the first one in a huge four-game series?
Since getting banged up on Opening Day against the Nats, Fried has only made two starts. Despite returning only 10 days ago, he picked up where left off, shoving 11.2 scoreless innings in two starts against the Padres and Astros. It exemplifies great confidence going into a matchup against an opponent that he dominated last year. Max saw the Metropolitans five times in 2022, and in those contests, he tallied a 2.79 ERA, .207 OBA, and a 25 K/6 BB ratio in 29 innings. With the Mets dropping consecutive series to the Giants and Nationals, ATL is catching them at a great time. With New York losing four of their last five outings, and only scoring nine runs in those four losses, this sets up well for Fried to dot them once again.
The Mets are at a big loss in this series. Max Scherzer is serving a questionable 10-game suspension for an "illegal substance." Justin Verlander is still on the shelf with an arm injury. Kodai Senga has been very hittable in his last few tries. And Peterson has been putting on a clinic on how not to pitch. In his four starts in the month of April, he has allowed at least five runs in three of them. With a 7.36 ERA and 33 hits allowed in 25.2 innings, the Braves offense is in a butter matchup to do damage early. The Atlanta offense is scorching at the moment, ranking top 10 in team batting average, runs scored, and top five in home runs, total bases, and OPS.
I could see this game getting ugly. It should be all Atlanta early and often. They seem primed to win, cover the -1.5 run line at +125, and take the first five. Just for simplicity, I'm putting out one play here.
Expert Pick for Braves vs. Mets
- Braves ML -140 at DraftKings
New York Yankees (+180) @ Texas Rangers (-210) | Over/Under 7
After nabbing the first game of the series behind Gerrit Cole, the Yankees will draw former Mets' ace in Jacob deGrom. With the Rangers on a four-game losing streak, can they finally right the ship with the future first-ballot Hall of Famer going?
The Rangers were a team that drew a lot of interest in the futures market over the winter when JD was acquired. The hype has been somewhat warranted as the team still sits atop the AL West with a 14-11 mark on the young season. DeGrom has been as good as advertised with a 3.04 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. In the month of April, he has a microscopic 1.57 ERA to complement a 36 K/3 BB ratio across 23 innings of work. Facing a Yankee offense that has been extremely suspect as of late, this sets up nicely for the Rangers to get off the schneid. The long ball has been the only true ally for this NYY offense, as they rank sixth in the MLB (34). Nobody in this entire lineup is batting over .290, and their collective on-base percentage is a measly .308. If there was ever a time for Texas to get back in the win column, it's with one of the best pitchers in MLB history toeing the rubber.
Of the Yankees' 15 wins, six of them have come when Cole was on the bump. That means is a large contributor to over one-third of their victories. If that sounds like a lot, that's because it is. The starting pitching has been a huge problem after Cole. Sure they expected Carlos Rodon to solidify the rotation, but with him on the shelf, they have not been able to secure much meaningful depth. Going today for the Yanks is Clarke Schmidt, proud owner of a 6.30 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. Outside of one solid start against the Blue Jays, Schmidt has not gone past four innings nor allowed less than three runs. I think Texas gets to him early.
Pick: Rangers -1 (-155)