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Monday MLB Picks (Aug. 17): Our Favorite Bets for Rockies vs. Astros, A’s vs. Diamondbacks, More

Monday MLB Picks (Aug. 17): Our Favorite Bets for Rockies vs. Astros, A’s vs. Diamondbacks, More article feature image

Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Archie Bradley and Stephen Vogt.

  • Looking for some quick MLB betting picks for Monday? Our staff's got you covered with four best bets.
  • Our experts are targeting four games this evening, including underdog on the moneyline, two run line plays, and a counterintuitive but intriguing first-five inning bet.
  • Read on for a complete breakdown on each of our favorite Monday MLB bets.

As far as Mondays in Major League Baseball go, today’s is a pretty full slate. While it’s often an off-day following a three-game series over the weekend, today offers 13 games from which bettors can choose (thanks in part to a Cardinals-Cubs doubleheader).

With the numerous options in play, our staff has located four teams offering value this evening — a mix of run line favorites and underdogs, as well as one with an under-the-radar starting pitcher to bet in the first five innings.

Let’s dive in.

Advanced Stats Glossary

FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck. xFIP is a regressed version of FIP that adjusts or “normalizes’ the home run component based on park factors.

wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.

wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average is a catch-all hitting metric with more predictive value than on-base percentage. An average MLB hitter can be expected to post a .320 wOBA. xwOBA is a regressed version of wOBA that accounts for variables like park factors.

Odds as of 11:30 a.m. ET.

Danny Donahue: Mets -1.5 (+114) vs. Marlins

It’s a battle of nine-win teams in the NL East tonight — the 9-6 Marlins and the 9-14 Mets.

The Mets opened in the -130s — a price that surely would’ve drawn a heavy public backing had it been offered before we’d seen these teams play this year. Of course, we have seen them play and been given plenty of reason to be wary of the Mets, and maybe some to be a bit bullish on the Marlins?

That’s the way the public seems to be treating this game, anyway, as the Marlins are the popular pick so far today, getting 58% of moneyline tickets. This line, however, is now up to around Mets -150 …

The reverse line movement is a pretty good indicator that sharps are taking the Mets, and while that doesn’t happen all that often on a favorite (since the public tends to prefer betting on the better team), it opens up a pretty profitable betting angle when it does.

Since 2005, teams that have opened at -130 or higher and seen the line move at least 10 cents in their direction while getting 45% or fewer bets on the moneyline have gone 127-40, winning 35.0 units for a 21.0% return on investment.

Taking such teams on the run line — while obviously reducing their win rate — has actually been even more profitable, shooting the ROI up to 28.7%.

It’s certainly possible that New York might not fit the 45% threshold by first pitch, but the strategy of fading an overvalued underdog should still apply. I’ll be taking some of each bet type, with history suggesting your higher expected value comes by laying the 1.5 runs.

Collin Wilson: Royals +1.5 (-118) vs. Twins

Minnesota will elect to go with a bullpen game, as Matt Wisler gets the nod after six previous relief appearances in 2020. The Twins right-hander has allowed just two earned runs through 10 innings, but an xFIP of 5.16 indicates Wisler is due for regression. Make sure to get Ryan McBroom added to your DFS lineup, as the Royals first baseman took Wisler deep on August 7.

Kansas City remains five games out of first place in the AL Central, but it holds a 4-2 record against the Twins so far this season. Lefty Kris Bubic gets his fourth start of the season after never pitching higher than A-ball last year. The former Stanford Cardinal has an xFIP 1.5 runs lower than his ERA, indicating there should be more success, as his K/9 ratio has increased with each start.

The Twins are just 22nd in wRC+ against left-handed pitching with the second-lowest mark in ground-ball percentage. Look for a fly-ball fest from the Twins, who have the lowest Park Factors for home runs in 2020.

BJ Cunningham: Rockies Moneyline (+145) vs. Astros

Colorado has been absolutely ripping the ball in 2020. It ranks fourth in MLB in terms of wOBA (.337). Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, and Trevor Story have been on fire, combining for 18 home runs and 54 RBIs to begin the year.

Kyle Freeland has been OK through his first four starts of the season, allowing a 4.46 xFIP. He doesn’t have any pitches that I would consider above-average, and he’s prone to giving up a lot of hard-hit balls. In 2019, he ranked in the bottom-20 of all qualified pitchers with a 40.5% hard-hit rate. The Astros have been hitting lefties pretty well to begin 2020, so Freeland will have a tough task ahead of him Monday.

Brandon Bielak may have a 1.76 ERA through his first 15.1 innings in the big leagues, but he’s been really fortunate, as his xFIP sits at 4.60. Bielak doesn’t project out well, either, with a FIP well over 5.0. The reason Bielak was moved into the starting rotation is due to the Astros having a multitude of injuries on their pitching staff. Under normal circumstances, I don’t think Bielak would be in their starting rotation.

The Astros’ bullpen is also a disaster right now. They collectively hold a 5.22 xFIP, which ranks 26th in MLB. They’ve been faced with a number of injuries, and it’s now down to Ryan Pressley and a bunch of rookies.

Even though Freeland is a below-average pitcher, I really like the Rockies price at +145 given how great their offense is and how much of a disaster Houston’s pitching staff is at the moment.

Stuckey: Diamondbacks F5 Moneyline (-104) vs. A’s

Oh, no. It’s the Snakes with Gallen on the mound against my precious A’s, who will apparently never lose again. So, what do I do?

Well, I am taking Gallen, who continues to perform each and every start without getting enough national attention.

Gallen gave up just two runs at Coors over seven innings in his most recent start. As a result, he broke a National League record by allowing three runs or fewer in each of his first 19 MLB starts.

And if you’re going to take on this Oakland lineup, you want to do it with a nasty right-handed starter.

That said, I’m only taking the Diamondbacks for the first five innings. It wouldn’t shock me to see the magic A’s come back late again against a very suspect Arizona bullpen that really only has one arm you trust in closer Archie Bradley. Bradley likely won’t be available tonight after pitching the past two days.

And Gallen can run up a pitch count in some innings, so he might only give you five on some nights.

The A’s will counter with Chris Bassitt, who has put up great surface numbers (2.42 ERA) to start the year but has had Lady Luck on his side with a very low BABIP and extremely high strand rate, especially for a pitcher who doesn’t have the most potent strikeout stuff. Some regression is likely headed his way, and the Snakes’ bats have recently shown some signs of life since their trip to Coors.

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