Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:00 PM EST. Odds subject to change.
Pinnacle -1½ +182 BET365 -1½ +170 Sportsinteraction -1½ +169 888Sport -1½ +170
Cleveland -1½ +182 over St. Louis
7:10 PM EST. Shane Bieber (RHP - CLE) missed most of the second half of 2021 with a shoulder issue. He didn't quite return to his elite level of performance prior to the injury in 2022 but he’s a quality starter that can be counted upon to deliver. He showed himself to be recovered from his 2021 shoulder injury last season by putting up ace-like numbers (2.88 ERA/1.04 WHIP/20% K-BB%). While still highly effective, he was a different pitcher compared to pre-injury. He compensated for lower velocity with a different pitch mix (more sliders) and improved control (5% BB%). His swing and miss rate is down this year but his performances are not. Bieber throws strikes and gets outs. His pitching IQ is top-notch.
Cleveland ranks dead last in the entire league in OPS v lefties and will face one here, which we’ll get to shortly but first we’ll discuss Cleveland’s poor hitting stats (on paper). What that OPS doesn’t reveal is that the Guardians have struck out the least amount of times in the entire league. Point being, putting the ball in play and having the lowest OPS in the league does not correlate. The Guardians offensive rankings are going to shoot up the rankings very soon and we’ll put that to the test here against Matthew Liberatore (LHP - St. L).
In preparing Liberatore for analysis, we looked at his Statcast data across a multitude of starts this season to see if the main profile concern—sub-optimal fastball velocity and pedestrian secondaries movement—had changed in any way to restore Liberatore's previous prospect status. 6'4" and 200 pounds, it always seems strange to write that a 23-year-old is a victim of prospect fatigue. That said, there has been a real velocity increase across the repertoire here in '23, especially on the fastball which now touches 97 and sits 95, up 2 mph. In terms of movement, not only hasn't there been much of any change in horizontal break, there's been even less vertical break across the repertoire. Liberatore uses a slider and change, but they're infrequent contributors compared to the fastball and cutter, though neither of these pitches grades out below average.
The cutter is the headliner here, a nasty plus bender that Liberatore uses all over the zone. Still, his swing and miss rate is below average at this level at 10%. He's running a higher walk rate due to the nature of the cutter being so dominant in the pitch mix (he misses the zone a lot with it) and if he's missing his spots he usually gets hit hard. What we like here that figures to come into play is that the Guardians are disciplined at the plate and they put the ball in play. That’s a bad combo for Liberatore, who has walked four batters in his six frames and has a first-pitch strike rate of just 52%. No reason the Guardians shouldn’t tee off on Liberatore here.
Cleveland -1½ +182 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.64)