SportsGrid MLB Model Picks for Saturday, September 2


Sep 2, 2023

The dog days of summer are upon us, and MLB action is the only sport to keep us going. As such, we’re breaking down Saturday’s action, highlighting several picks from the SportsGrid projections. We use a star rating to gauge each play’s success probability. These are some of our favorite selections from today’s MLB Game Picks.

Angels are the ‘Most Pathetic’ Organization in Baseball

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cleveland Guardians
Rays -1.5 (+140): 5-Star Rating

It’s safe to say the Cleveland Guardians have the Tampa Bay Rays number. These teams met at Progressive Field in last season’s playoffs, and the Guardians stymied the Rays. Tampa was held to a lone run over two games, spanning 24.0 innings. Cleveland picked up where it left off in last night’s series opener, limiting the Rays’ offense in a 3-2 victory. According to our projections, the Rays will come back with a vengeance tonight, and it’s worth backing them on the run line. 

The Guardians send Logan Allen to the mound for tonight’s AL showdown, benefitting the Rays. Allen’s middling results are reflected in his underlying metrics. The southpaw ranks in the 44th percentile or lower in barrel rate, chase percentage, and expected ERA. Moreover, he’s coming off one of his worst performances of the season, lasting 4.0 innings and giving up five earned runs against the Toronto Blue Jays last time out. 

Compounding those issues is a Rays lineup loaded with power bats. Tampa Bay features seven batters with at least 17 home runs, most of which are right-handed batters. Collectively, the AL East contenders rank fourth in the majors in slugging percentage, thanks partly to their 194 home runs. 

Randy Arozarena, Yandy Diaz, and Isaac Paredes could have a field day against Allen. Based on our projections, there’s a substantive advantage in backing the Rays to cover -1.5. We rate it as a five-star play. 

Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds
Reds Moneyline (-104): 5-Star Rating

The Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds are fighting for their playoff lives. Granted, the Cubbies are in a slightly more comfortable spot, coming into Saturday’s NL Central showdown with a 2.0 game cushion in the wild card race. Conversely, Cincinnati is on the outside of the picture looking in, needing a big win against their division rivals to stay close. Thankfully, there’s a significant edge in backing the underdog home side.

The Reds have a stable of talented pitchers, keeping them competitive down the stretch. Among those is Andrew Abbott, who has a few noteworthy analytics working in his favor. Specifically, his 27.1% strikeout rate puts him in the 76th percentile, with his .224 expected batting average coming in just below that in the 72nd percentile. Altogether, Abbott is operating within the boundaries of his expected ERA and should be ready to deliver against the Cubs. 

The same isn’t true for Cubs probable starter Javier Assad. The soft-throwing righty is a low-end analytics arm, ranking in the 30th percentile or lower in expected ERA and batting average. Worse, Assad falls further off the pace with his strikeout metrics, ranking in the 18th percentile in strikeout percentage and seventh percentile in chase rate. 

Although it’s not reflected in the moneyline price, the Reds have a big advantage at the plate today. As such, backing the Reds on the moneyline comes with another five-star rating. 

Baltimore Orioles vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Over 9 (-108): 5-Star Rating

On Friday night, the Arizona Diamondbacks took the series opener against the Baltimore Orioles in a low-scoring affair. We’re anticipating a few more fireworks in tonight’s battle, highlighting the value on the over. 

The AL-leading Orioles have stepped up their offensive production of late. Over the past week, the O’s have climbed the rankings with a .743 OPS, ranking 11th in the MLB. Predictably, this has profoundly impacted scoring, with Baltimore averaging nearly 6.0 runs per game.  

Likewise, the D-Backs have maintained respectable production at the plate. Arizona has put together .305 on-base and .403 slugging percentages, ranking 16th in OPS. However, a disconnect between production and output suggests the floodgates should start opening. Over that same stretch, the Diamondbacks have scored just 14 runs, putting them among the bottom three teams in the bigs. 

Arizona’s offense is due for a breakout, and we’re betting that the correction phase starts tonight. The Orioles have the batting power to keep up, ensuring this inter-league contest goes over the total.

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Thumbnail photo via Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

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