The oddsmakers seem fairly confident in Sunday’s MLB outcomes. At -125 to beat San Francisco, Atlanta is handily the least favored of the favorites. No other favorite has a moneyline below -150 on DraftKings.
That could change by the time action commences at 1:05 p.m. ET, as bettors will sense an opportunity to exploit baseball’s volatility for a huge potential payout. However, there aren’t many good reasons to back Sunday’s underdogs beyond the game’s unpredictability. And you probably don’t want your betting advice article to shrug and say, “You can’t predict baseball.”
Cubs at White Sox: Moneyline
Shrugs … You can’t predict baseball?
This crosstown rivalry is undoubtedly one-sided. As the White Sox prepare for the playoffs, the Cubs are looking ahead to a tone-setting offseason. After suffering a surprising 7-0 loss Saturday, the Pale Hose are heavily favored to take the series rubber match at home. While Kyle Hendricks has endured the worst season of his career, Dylan Cease has taken the next step in a breakout campaign.
Hendricks has a 4.09 ERA. Cease has a 3.92 ERA. The Cubs are 16-10 when Hendricks starts. The White Sox are 15-11 in Cease’s starts.
Those numbers obviously don’t tell the whole story. Given the mountainous mismatch in strikeouts, there’s a larger divergence between the two starters’ FIPs (3.58 for Cease, 4.63 for Hendricks). While the Cubs gutted their lineup at the trade deadline, the White Sox are the healthiest they’ve been all year. Of course, the White Sox also boast the better bullpen after acquiring Craig Kimbrel from the Cubs.
It’s also not far-fetched to envision the NL squad stealing another win. Although Hendricks has been downright brutal at times, he’s also collected 18 quality starts — including one against the White Sox on August 6 — in 26 tries. Cease hasn’t permitted more than three runs in a start since the All-Star break, but he previously allowed six runs on three separate occasions.
Are the Cubs likely to upset their Chicago foe? No, but that’s generously baked into the odds.
Pick: Cubs (+210 on FanDuel, +200 on DraftKings)
Reds at Marlins: Run Line
Jesús Luzardo isn’t done just yet. Nobody’s story is fully written at age 23. Maybe the once-promising prospect will find a flaw in his delivery, repair his floundering fastball, or recover physically and mentally during the offseason.
But right now, he’s lost.
Since getting traded to the Marlins, Luzardo has gotten lambasted to 31 hits, 17 walks, and 24 runs in 22.1 innings. Opponents have a .453 wOBA against him in August. Bryce Harper’s .417 wOBA leads all qualified hitters this season. Speaking of wOBA, the Reds top that leaderboard against righties and after the All-Star break. Baseball’s coldest pitcher will encounter baseball’s hottest hitter unless Joey Votto gets a day off.
Tyler Mahle is far from perfect, but he’s far better. He’s had a “three steps forward, one step back” campaign, allowing five or more runs in four starts. All in all, he still wields a 3.69 ERA with 169 strikeouts in 141.1 innings. More importantly for this game, all of those blowup outings occurred at Great American Ball Park, where he has gotten pummelled to a 6.00 ERA. On the road, that ERA shrinks to 1.84.
This discrepancy is almost entirely home-run driven; he’s served up 17 of his 20 long balls at home. That makes sense given his unforgiving venue. Per FantasyPros’ Park Factors data, GABP has proven MLB’s most conducive stadium to home runs this season.
On the other hand, hitters have had the least luck clearing the fences at loanDepot park. Mahle will pitch in the best place to conceal his biggest weakness, and he’ll do so against a Miami lineup ranked 26th in wOBA against righties. Cincinnati’s bullpen is the only obstacle to cashing in on a decisive blowout. If looking to avoid that possibility, bet the over on the Reds’ 4.5-run total.
Pick: Reds -1.5 (-105 on FanDuel, -110 on DraftKings)
José Berríos Strikeouts: O/U 6.5
This is an admittedly dicey proposition given José Berríos’ recent struggles. Just as he was finally on the verge of eliminating his erratic nature, the 27-year-old has backslid to surrender a 4.81 ERA in five starts with the Blue Jays. The usually durable starter has completed just 12.1 combined innings in his last three starts, leading to a pedestrian dozen punchouts.
As a result, he only needs to reach six strikeouts on DraftKings. That’s a good deal for Berríos, who’s struck out a quarter of batters faced this season while averaging 6.04 Ks per start. He’s offered six or more strikeouts in 16 of 25 outings, so it’s the more likely outcome despite the +105 odds. The matchup also works in his favor. Detroit’s 26.0% K rate against righties trails only the Cubs as MLB’s second-highest mark. Although Berríos managed just one strikeout against the Tigers on May 8, he produced eight on July 11. Six strikeouts in six innings against a below-average offense hardly seems like an unreasonable request for a frustrating, yet productive pitcher.
Pick: Over (+105 on DraftKings)
Andrew Gould Overall Record: 32-33 (One Push)
Net Money (Assuming all wagers are $100): +$94.90
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)