Sunday’s MLB slate isn’t exactly a fun day for pitching. All but two games have a total run line of 8.5 or higher. One of those matchups (Pirates at Cardinals) includes Steven Brault as a probable pitcher. However, the other game presents some intriguing betting opportunities supporting the rising hurlers on the mound.
Let’s take a look at some appealing wagers on a day that Mother Nature hopefully doesn’t dampen too much.
Framber Valdez to Record a Win
The Astros are heavily favored (-196 on FanDuel, -180 on DraftKings) to take down the Mariners at home. Why wouldn’t they be? Although they’re only 7.5 games apart in the AL West standings, the talent gap is far more cavernous. Houston boasts a plus-187 run differential, the AL’s highest mark, after throttling Seattle in 12-3 and 15-1 routs. The Mariners are still clinging to slight playoff hopes at 66-58, but a minus-65 scoring margin shoots down October baseball as a feasible scenario.
Houston brandishes an MLB-best 118 wRC+ against lefties entering Sunday’s showdown against Tyler Anderson. The southpaw has surrendered just seven runs in four starts since getting shipped from Pittsburgh, but a fierce offense shouldn’t fear a pitcher with a 4.10 ERA and identical FIP. On the other hand, this matchup’s Leftorium shopper gets a far friendlier draw; Seattle ranks 26th in wRC+ against southpaws (90).
Framber Valdez walks too many batters for comfort (10.5%), creating distance from a sparkling 3.16 ERA and a 3.87 FIP and 3.88 SIERA. That’s still good enough to get the job done.
Too many variables surround a pitcher win to wager much of your bankroll. It’s nevertheless an opportunity to get action on the Astros at better odds than an outright win, or even a 1.5 run line (+100 on DK, -102 on FD). This type of bet is only considerable when a workhorse is pitching for a favorite. Valdez checks both boxes. He’s averaging 6.1 innings per start this season and finished at least five in 13 of 15 turns. (One of the outliers was a four-inning start in his season debut on May 28 after missing the first two months with a finger fracture.) Valdez has also limited the opposition to three runs or fewer in a dozen starts, so he should give his stout lineup every chance to take an early lead for his bullpen to secure.
Pick: Yes (+120)
White Sox at Rays: Moneyline
Chris Archer is returning from the 60-day IL to make his first MLB appearance since April 10. As much as I’d like to see my long-time Fantasy Kryptonite complete a successful comeback, it’s not looking great. His ERA increased in each of the last four seasons, elevating to 5.19 in 2019 before missing 2020. Archer comes back to face the White Sox, who are third in home runs this month (33) with Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert back in the fold.
The White Sox are still underdogs in this battle of AL pennant hopefuls.
Upon closer inspection, the line makes more sense. The Rays are 40-23 at home, and the White Sox are 30-29 on the road. Tampa Bay possesses an MLB-best 123 wRC+ since the All-Star break, and Archer will likely only make a brief cameo before turning to a prolific bullpen. Also, on the topic of polarizing pitchers who have flashed ace upside over the years only to eventually implode, can we trust Reynaldo López yet? He’s allowed a grand total of three earned runs this season and yielded three hits over an ongoing 10-inning scoreless streak. He also has a .148 BABIP and an untrustworthy track record.
All that said, I’m still backing Chicago. The Pale Hose may only need one turn through the batting order to inflict damage against Archer. And while López is pitching over his head, he’s also throwing a lot harder. Even when working his first full start (five innings) of the season Tuesday, he threw his four-seamer at an average velocity of 95.9 mph. The same pitch that yielded a 199 wRC+ at a 94.3-mph average velocity last year is down to a 19 wRC+ in limited action this season.
This at worst feels like a toss-up, and that’s only because home-field advantage giving Tampa Bay a boost.
Pick: White Sox (+110 on FanDuel, +105 on DraftKings)
Logan Webb Strikeouts: O/U 4.5
Logan Webb started August by tallying just three strikeouts in a quality start against the Astros, MLB’s toughest lineup to strike out. Since then, he’s procured nine, eight, and eight punchouts in his last three turns. As of Sunday morning, DraftKings has set the line at 4.5.
Quietly one of the game’s most underrated aces, Webb wields a 26.1% strikeout rate. That’s right behind the opposing Frankie Montas, whose line is instead 6.5 at even odds. For what it’s worth, that’s still not a bad bet either. Oakland’s righty has 47 strikeouts in his last six starts with a trio of 10-strikeout gems in July. These burgeoning aces also make the 8.0 run line (-105 on DraftKings) a tempting endeavor.
But let’s focus on Webb. Although DraftKings is trying to scare bettors away with -130 odds, the chances of the 24-year-old righty reaching the over remain too high to pass. Since he’s striking out over a batter per inning (9.55 K/9), Webb can easily get the job done in five or six frames. Luckily, Webb has completed the sixth inning in each of his last five starts. He also allowed two runs or fewer each time, lowering his ERA to 2.92 with a sterling 3.22 FIP and 3.28 SIERA. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge if the line jumps to 5.5.
Pick: Over (-130 on DraftKings)
Andrew Gould Overall Record: 31-31 (One Push)
Net Money (Assuming all wagers are $100): +$217.98
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)