Some bettors will spend the next few days diving into Home Run Derby and MLB All-Star Game props. Others burned out by an arduous daily grind may relish the much-needed breather. Either road is fine. Just like many players bowing out of the Midsummer Classic to rest, we can all use a break from time to time.
Not ready to take your foot off the pedal just yet? All 30 teams are scheduled to play Sunday before going on hiatus. Here are some intriguing bets to conclude the first half.
Phillies at Red Sox: Moneyline
Betting against Nick Pivetta failed last week. The maddening righty recorded a season-high 10 strikeouts during seven scoreless innings in Boston’s 1-0 victory over Oakland. He lowered his ERA to a respectable 4.09 — the lowest mark of his career — entering Sunday’s encounter against his former squad.
This is clearly the darkest timeline for Philadelphia, as Pivetta has proven more trustworthy than Aaron Nola three months into the season. Nola has surrendered 17 runs in his last four starts despite tallying 31 strikeouts in the process. That’s emblematic of his bizarre 2021 campaign; the 28-year-old ace has a 4.53 ERA despite his 29.5% K rate ranking 10th among all qualified starters. Of that leaderboard’s top-15 starters, Clayton Kershaw has the second-highest ERA at 3.39.
Nola has maintained his velocity, a 3.27 SIERA, and a 31.7% CSW in line with his career norm (31.1%). He’s still plenty capable of producing a gem, as demonstrated by his 7.2 scoreless frames against the Yankees on June 13 and 12 strikeouts in 5.1 shutout innings versus the Mets on June 25. Because of his struggles and treacherous opponent, Nola’s Phillies are road underdogs against a pitcher with a career 5.16 ERA.
Let’s wager on the universe restoring a small sense of normalcy right before the intermission.
Pick: Phillies (+104 on DraftKings and FanDuel)
Astros at Yankees: O/U 8.5 Runs
The Astros haven’t scored a run in their last three games. After getting shut down by Nestor Cortes Jr. and Co. on Friday, they dropped a 1-0 loss to former Houston ace Gerrit Cole last night. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ lineup has underperformed throughout the first half, registering 4.1 runs per contest with a 99 wRC+ that’s nearly the definition of league-average.
Houston’s sudden offensive drought shouldn’t take away from a remarkable first half. The Astros still lead the majors in runs (5.4 per game) with the highest wOBA and lowest strikeout rate. Even without Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa, five of their active regulars are slugging .475 or higher. (That’s not including Chas McCormick.) While Jameson Taillon is coming off his best outing of the season (7 IP, 1 R, 9 K), it marked the first time he allowed fewer than four runs in six road starts.
Eventually, we’ll have to stop assuming the Bronx Bombers will start mashing. OK, but maybe just one more time? The Yankees haven’t clobbered southpaws the way a lineup with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and DJ LeMahieu should. They’re also still an above-average offense against them, rating seventh in wRC+ and eighth in ISO. They’ll face a tough lefty in Framber Valdez, who has successfully returned from a finger injury to record a 2.86 ERA in eight starts. He also allowed five walks to Cleveland and six runs to Oakland this month after an off-the-charts June.
Unfortunately, neither sportsbook is getting duped by the first two games of this series. Both opened at -120 for over 8.5 runs, but FanDuel’s jumped to nine. There’s still more juice in pivoting to the under, but there’s a scoring outburst between these stacked squads waiting to happen.
Pick: Over (-120 on DraftKings)
Dodgers at Diamondbacks: Run Line
The Dodgers haven’t played up to expectations thus far, and yet they still possess the game’s best run differential (+139). The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, are crawling to the break at an MLB-worst 26-65 with MLB’s worst scoring margin (minus-147). Safe to say this is a mismatch, but baseball doesn’t always play out as we perceive on paper. After dropping three of four to the Marlins, the Dodgers succumbed to another upset Friday night. They then rebounded with a 22-1 onslaught Saturday. Arizona will nevertheless look to claim a minor moral victory by taking the series behind Merrill Kelly, who has posted a 2.13 ERA in his last four starts.
Anything is possible in baseball, so it’s never a terrible idea to place a small pittance on a +180 moneyline. However, you’re better off going with the Dodgers’ run line that, all things considered, could be much higher.
Last night, the NL West juggernaut’s run line towered up to -160 on FanDuel Sportsbook. That’s because they had Walker Buehler on the mound. Tony Gonsolin doesn’t command that same respect. He’s pitched just 21.1 innings since missing the first two months with right shoulder inflammation, and Tuesday marked the first time he worked more than four frames in an outing this season. At least he’s thriving in a cautious workload, recording a 2.11 ERA and 27.5% K rate. Although he’s also issued 14 walks in 2021, opponents have hit a putrid .184 against him in 108 career innings. He should excel against an Arizona offense that ranks last in wOBA against righties. Even if he only works four or five innings, Gonsolin will hand the ball off to a bullpen brandishing baseball’s eighth-best ERA (3.50).
As for Kelly, we’ve seen this story before. He bounced back from allowing 16 runs in his first three starts to cede 17 in the next seven. Then he served up five apiece in consecutive outings. It was a bit concerning to see him muster one measly strikeout in a home start against the Rockies on Tuesday, especially since his fastball velocity dipped to its lowest single-game average (91.2 mph) since May 8. Kelly could once again tumble in a hurry against Los Angeles, MLB’s third-best wOBA against righties.
Following Saturday night’s rout, the Dodgers have earned nine of their last 11 wins by more than one run. They should add to that trend as long as manager Dave Roberts doesn’t let too many regulars start their vacation a day early. Unfortunately, last night’s blowout stripped this line of some value.
Pick: Dodgers -1.5 (-117 on DraftKings, -120 on FanDuel)
Andrew Gould Overall Record: 23-22
Net Money (Assuming all wagers are $100): +$294.22
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)