MLB Best Bets Today: Free MLB Picks for Saturday, May 21

MLB Best Bets Today: Free MLB Picks for Saturday, May 21

This article is part of our MLB Picks series.

Last article: 0-4 (-4.00 RW Bucks)
Season Record: 19-24-2 (-6.07 RW Bucks)

Last article featured several more close calls that led to a second consecutive blanking on the betting front. We'll look to bounce back Saturday while focusing on a young southpaw making his MLB debut against a team that's thrived against lefties recently and another NL battle that features a pitching matchup that could unfold quite differently than what might initially be assumed.

Cardinals at Pirates, 6:35 p.m. EDT

Starting Pitchers: Matthew Liberatore vs. Jose Quintana  

The Pick: Pirates over 1.5 runs – 1st 5 innings (-135) for 1 RW Buck (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Secondary Pick: Over 4.5 runs – 1st 5 innings (-110) for 1 RW Buck (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Liberatore will make his big-league debut after spending the last season-plus at Triple-A Memphis, where he went 12-12 but had a solid 3.99 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. The young lefty has had some trouble keeping the ball in the park, however, surrendering 24 homers in those 29 appearances (25 starts). The matchup is tricky on paper, as the Pirates have been hot against lefties at PNC Park with a .320 average, .861 OPS and .365 wOBA in May.  

Quintana has opened the season and his Pirates tenure in impressive fashion after a nightmarish 2021, as he boasts a 2.19 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 0.5 HR/9. However, his Statcast numbers hint at good fortune, as his .284 xBA, .355 xwOBA (compared to a .253 wOBA) and 4.57 xERA imply. He has a tall order as well, considering the Cardinals boast a .273 average, .361 wOBA and 134 wRC+ against lefties on the road this season.

Nationals at Brewers, 7:10 p.m. EDT

Starting Pitchers: Patrick Corbin vs. Brandon Woodruff

The Pick: Nationals over 1.5 runs – 1st 5 innings (+125) for 1 RW Buck (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Secondary Pick: Nationals 1st 3 innings (+155)  for 1 RW Buck (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Corbin has been a bit feast or famine early this season, as he's allowed five earned runs or more on three occasions but has yielded three or less in his other five starts. His numbers look about as poor on the road as they do at home, but he at least has yet to allow a homer in 16 away frames. He's struggled when deploying his trademark sinker in particular (.332 xBA, .432 xwOBA), but he faces a Brewers team that has just a .193 average, .280 wOBA and 78 wRC+ against southpaws at home in May, and whose current bats he's held to a collective .219/.242/.382 batting line in 127 career PAs.

Woodruff has a similarly impressive history against current Nationals bats (.141/.298/.172  in 51 career PAs), but Washington comes in with a .290 average, .352 wOBA and 9.5 wRAA against right-handed pitching on the road. Woodruff has endured a bit of tough luck — his 3.64 xERA is markedly lower than his actual 5.35 figure and he's been victimized by an unusually high .358 BABIP — yet he's also giving up a career-high 48.4 percent hard-hit rate that represents a huge spike from last season's 32.7 percent figure.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juan Carlos Blanco
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, NFL, CFL and Arena Football for Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.
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