Welcome to another Saturday edition of MLB Best Bets! We have a full slate of games to dive into, so let’s get into the top MLB picks today. Our first play features Walker Buehler and the Los Angeles Dodgers taking on the Cincinnati Reds. Then it’s on to the Oakland Athletics vs Kansas City Royals matchup. Plus we wrap up our betting card with a few top MLB player props to lock in for Saturday’s games.


MLB Best Bets For Today: Saturday, May 18

As always, be sure to shop around for the best odds and lines at different sportsbooks. The odds in this article below are accurate as of this writing. Without further ado, let’s check out the MLB best bets and baseball predictions for Saturday, May 18th. 

Reds vs. Dodgers Prediction Saturday, May 18th

After missing all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Walker Buehler has gotten off to a very shaky start in 2024. The Los Angeles Dodgers starter has allowed six runs over 7.1 combined innings over two outings for an ugly 7.36 ERA, 8.43 FIP, and 1.77 WHIP. Both the Padres and Marlins have hit him hard to begin the year. It’s early and a small sample size, but it’s hard to ignore Buehler’s struggles and bet against him until we’re shown otherwise.

Buehler looks like a shell of his former self right now. He’s said himself it may take 10 starts or so to ramp back up and get used to a normal workload again. Remember, he hasn’t pitched regularly in the Dodgers’ rotation since June 2022. Buehler also wasn’t particularly sharp or consistent in his minor-league rehab appearances earlier this season with a 4.15 ERA and 1.61 WHIP over six outings. Until we see it, we have to view Buehler as a below-average pitcher. 

The Cincinnati Reds admittedly have poor season-long numbers against right-handed pitching this year, but this is more of a fade of Buehler. The LA righty already struggled against a poor Marlins offense, so don’t count the Reds offense out. Plus, Cincy has been better vs righties recently with a .310 wOBA, 94 wRC+, and .697 OPS in the split over the past week. 

Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ hitters should also add to the total while Buehler coughs up some runs of his own. Los Angeles has one of MLB’s best offenses vs right-handed pitching this year with a .341 wOBA, 123 wRC+, .185 ISO, and .775 OPS. The Dodgers will face Reds starter Graham Ashcraft, who has a 4.12 ERA, 4.70 FIP, and 1.44 WHIP this season. 

Though the LA offense has been a bit up-and-down lately, it should get to Ashcraft at home here. At home, the Dodgers have an MLB-high .350 wOBA and 132 wRC+ this year. Let’s take the over for both the full game and the first five innings. Dodgers home games are 15-7-1 to the over this year (68.2%). 

Expert Reds vs. Dodgers Predictions

  • Over 8.5 Total Runs (-115 FanDuel Sportsbook)
  • 1st 5 Innings Over 4.5 Runs (-114 FanDuel Sportsbook)


Athletics vs. Royals Prediction Saturday, May 18th

One of the big surprises this MLB season has been Seth Lugo’s red-hot start. The Kansas City Royals right-hander boasts a 1.66 ERA and 6-1 record through 9 starts so far. As impressive as he’s been, the 34-year-old is bound for negative regression based on his underlying metrics. That’s the basis for today’s pick in backing the Oakland Athletics

Lugo’s 3.52 xERA and 3.25 FIP are both notably higher than that minuscule 1.66 ERA and suggest some worse outings moving forward. Diving deeper, Lugo’s .241 BABIP and 90.2% left-on-base rate are unsustainable and both are uncharacteristic compared to his career .295 BABIP and 76.3% LOB rate as a starter. Even his 7.2% HR/FB ratio is much lower than his career 13.0% rate as a starting pitcher. 

Lugo is a prime regression candidate as most of the advanced numbers tell us he’s been lucky early on this year. Normally, a matchup against Oakland would have us going the other way. Not right now, though. The Athletics are hitting right-handed pitchers well over the past two weeks with a .331 wOBA, 120 wRC+, .173 ISO, and .744 OPS in the split. 

It’s a risky proposition to trust the A’s offense and starter Ross Stripling in the same game, but the latter could have more success than you’d think today. Stripling isn’t a dominant pitcher by any means, but he also hasn’t been as bad as his current 4.98 ERA suggests. Two blowups against the Rangers this year skew the numbers a bit as he has a 2.86 ERA in his last 6 starts minus those 2 Texas outings. Stripling’s 3.88 xERA and 4.05 FIP are also notably lower than that 4.98 ERA. 

Meanwhile, the Royals have been the league’s worst offense against right-handed pitching over the past week in many key stats (.224 wOBA, 38 wRC+, .176 BA, .505 OPS). Kansas City’s lineup lacks a supporting cast outside of Bobby Witt, Salvador Perez, and Vinnie Pasquantino. If Stripling can navigate around them, a strong outing isn’t out of the question for a guy who’s allowed 2 or fewer earned runs in 3 of his last 4 starts. 

You can roll with the A’s on the +1.5 runline for some safety but worse odds. The Oakland moneyline, though, gives us a nice plus-money opportunity. Let’s also back the road A’s in the first five innings too. 

Expert Athletics vs. Royal Predictions

  • Athletics Moneyline (+155 BetMGM)
  • Athletics 1st 5 Innings +0.5 Runline ML (+100 BetMGM)


Best MLB Player Props Saturday, May 18th