Sometimes it’s important to step back and appreciate the unpredictable.
No baseball forecaster in the world could have foreseen Tyler Gilbert throwing a no-hitter in his first career MLB start. Plenty of fans and writers (raises hand) never heard of him until yesterday. Now he’s immortalized in the history books.
That’s the beauty of baseball. Sometimes it can get clouded when trying to forecast every outcome. Then again, watching Saturday night’s no-no was probably even more exhilarating fun for those who bet on the Diamondbacks for an upset win over the Padres, as I unsuccessfully attempted last Sunday. The point is, make sure any sports wagering is supplementing — rather than overtaking — your joy of the game. Winning money is fun, but not every hobby and interest needs to be monetized.
Well, anyway, here are some baseball bets for Sunday.
Brewers at Pirates: O/U 7.5 Runs
The Brewers have scored 37 runs in their last four games. The Pirates, an offensive sinkhole all season, exploded for 14 runs in the triumphant first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. (They then got shut out in the second matchup.) This NL Central bout nevertheless opened with the lowest run line on Sunday’s slate.
It’s understandable. The Pirates are still bad. Freddy Peralta is not. The righty has registered a resounding 2.26 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 119.2 superb innings. Opponents are hitting .140 against the 25-year-old, who has the lowest xERA (2.49) of any healthy starter besides teammate Corbin Burnes. Peralta has faced Pittsburgh three times since the start of July, each time tossing six innings with four combined runs allowed. The oddsmakers are wise to anticipate a similar result.
However, this game can still hit the over if he allows two runs over six innings for the third time. Buoyed by midseason acquisitions Willy Adames, Rowdy Tellez, and Eduardo Escobar, the Brewers are fourth in wOBA after the All-Star break. While Steven Brault has allowed three runs in two starts (the first at Milwaukee), he’s a replacement-level starter with a 4.63 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over 324.2 career innings. Expect more offense from the Brew Crew than they delivered in a 4-2 victory with the same pitching matchup on August 4.
Peralta’s usage could also help bettors backing the over. He’s already 90 innings over last year’s tally. Last winter, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said they planned to add 100 innings to their starters’ workload from 2020. Peralta hasn’t reached 100 pitches in a start since June 4, so another six frames may be his max rather than the expectation.
Pick: Over (-105 on DraftKings)
Reds at Phillies: Moneyline
Aaron Nola and Sonny Gray have suffered similar letdowns this season. Supposed aces, Nola and Gray enter this matchup with ERAs of 4.35 and 4.40, respectively. Yet the ERA predictors look far better for both Nola (3.44 FIP, 3.29 SIERA, 3.57 xERA) and Gray (3.74 FIP, 3.58 SIERA, 3.47 xERA). Since Philadelphia’s righty has the sturdier track record, superior peripherals, and fewer walks, the Phillies are favored to at least maintain a share of the NL East lead with another home victory.
Some may highlight Nola’s 2.97 ERA at Citizens Bank Park to back the Phillies, but Gray conversely has a 3.08 ERA away from his bandbox home venue. This knowledge may motivate bettors to take the under on an 8.5-run line, which was initially the idea here before considering the later innings. The Phillies and Reds rank 27th and 28th in bullpen ERA, so relievers could spoil a pitcher’s duel. If still interested in this area, take the under for 4.5 runs after the first five innings (-110 on DraftKings).
Let’s instead zag on the moneyline with a tempting underdog. While they’re only a game apart in the loss column, the Reds brandish a 37-run advantage in scoring margin. They’re a far superior offense, boasting baseball’s best wOBA against righties. You’ll have to scroll down to 18th to find the Phillies. Led by a red-hot Joey Votto, the Reds are also MLB’s premier offense since the All-Star break. It’d be understandable if Nola permitted four or more runs for the 10th time this season against a percolating lineup that welcomed back Mike Moustakas last week.
Pick: Reds (+124 on FanDuel, +120 on DraftKings)
Rays at Twins: Run Line
The Twins just walloped Michael Wacha in Saturday night’s 12-0 victory over the Rays. Bettors often must exude a short memory. Blowout aside, Tampa Bay still resides atop a stacked AL East with the Junior Circuit’s best record (71-46) and fourth-highest run differential (+114). Minnesota, meanwhile, merely escaped a last-place tie with Kansas City last night. The Twins are now 51-66 with a minus-75 scoring margin entering Sunday’s rubber match.
These squads send two heavily contrasted rookies to the mound. Luis Patiño is an upper-echelon prospect with electric stuff. Although he’s allowed two home runs in each of his last two starts, the 21-year-old righty has flashed sparks of dominance with 18 strikeouts in his last three starts. He’s already made five of eight career starts against division behemoths in the Yankees (twice), Blue Jays (twice), and Red Sox. With Nelson Cruz now playing for the other side, the Twins are trotting out a diminished lineup also missing the injured Byron Buxton and having traded Eddie Rosario.
Charlie Barnes is four years older than Patiño. He entered the majors to little fanfare after posting a 4.25 ERA and 11.2 K-BB% in 13 Triple-A starts. The lefty throws his fastball at an average velocity of 89.5 mph, but the real problem is a changeup that’s not fooling anyone. The pitch has yielded a .469 wOBA in his first three outings. Barnes has only six strikeouts to five walks in 13.1 frames, and righties are 15-for-45 with a .381 wOBA against him. The Rays can play the matchup with righties Yandy Díaz, Randy Arozarena, Jordan Luplow, and the recently acquired Cruz.
Ranked fourth in Defensive Runs Saved and second in bullpen ERA with a surging offense, the Rays have the edge in every area. Look for the defending AL champs to avenge last night’s rout with one of their own against Barnes and the Twins.
Pick: Rays -1.5 (+110 on DraftKings)
Andrew Gould Overall Record: 30-29 (One Push)
Net Money (Assuming all wagers are $100): +$293.98
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)