MLB Betting Picks (Sunday, August 9): How Our Staff is Betting Yankees vs. Rays and Reds vs. Brewers
Mike Stobe/Getty Images. Pictured: James Paxton.
Sunday offers MLB bettors another 15-game wall-to-wall slate beginning at 12:35 p.m. ET.
You won’t have to wait long to begin your Sunday sweat, because our experts are targeting two early-afternoon matchups to wager on the moneyline.
Odds as of 11:30 a.m. ET
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.
Stuckey: Rays Moneyline (-125) vs. Yankees
This is a pure fade of James Paxton’s arm right now. He’s either hurt or just not yet in form for this shortened season. Paxton has looked awful so far, and his drop in velocity is particularly worrisome to say the least.
His fastball is a critically important part of his arsenal, but his heater was flat in his last start. Paxton’s average velocity was down four mph from last season, and his maximum velocity only reached 93 mph compared to 100 mph in 2019. That’s pretty consistent with the velocity drop across the board for the former Mariner.
Charlie Morton has looked a little off as well — but not nearly as much as Paxton.
In a matchup featuring two of the best pens in baseball, I’ll fade the starter I’m much more worried about here, especially since the Yanks will be without Stanton in their lineup.
BJ Cunningham: Reds Moneyline (+110) vs. Brewers
Sonny Gray has gotten off to a great start in 2020. Through 18.2 innings of action, he has struck out 28 batters, allowed only eight hits and two earned runs. That has led to an incredible 1.64 xFIP through his first three starts.
Gray probably doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. He has one of the best curveball/slider combinations in the game. In 2019, opponents managed a miserable .131 batting average against his curveball and averaged .117 against his slider.
If there is one part of his arsenal that is lacking, it’s his fastball. Last season, opponents had a .409 wOBA average when facing his fastball, and Gray generated an underwhelming 17% whiff rate. He’s still somewhat struggling with his fastball in 2020, but that shouldn’t be a problem Sunday as long as he utilizes his off-speed pitches well.
The Brewers offense has been a bit quiet to begin the season with only a .294 wOBA and 87 wRC+. The need to get their star, Christian Yelich, going as he only has a .275 wOBA out of the gates. Moreover, Milwaukee’s lineup took a hit with Lorenzo Cain opting out for the season.
Milwaukee starter Brandon Woodruff has uncharacteristically struggled with his sinker in 2020, allowing opponents to hit for a .363 wOBA against his 91 pitches. Woodruff has a lethal fastball that can top out at 100 mph, and his sinker typically ranks up there with some of the best in the MLB. However, the Reds are a good fastball hitting team, so Woodruff will have to figure out his sinker and utilize his slider more often on Sunday.
I have Sonny Gray rated out better than Brandon Woodruff on Sunday. With both offenses and bullpens being fairly even, I don’t think Gray should be an underdog. I will be betting the Reds at +110, but I would only bet it down to +104.