Sunday MLB Odds & Best Bets: Our Staff’s Top Picks for Pirates vs. Cubs & Phillies vs. Braves (May 9)
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Nola.
- With 12 of Sunday's 13 games already either started or in the books, our attentions center on Philadelphia vs. Atlanta.
- The two teams played a classic last night that ended after 12 innings.
- See which side our expert likes tonight to close out the series.
On this very special Mother’s Day, we have two best MLB bets.
Check out both picks and breakdowns below, and feel free to use the table below to navigate to either game.
MLB Odds & Picks
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs
Kenny Ducey: If you just logged on for the first time in a year, you might be surprised to hear Kyle Hendricks stinks now. For the rest of us, you know exactly what time it is. That’s right, it’s time to fade.
Hendricks’ whole thing was his ability to showcase Greg Maddux-like control and pitch to contact like nobody else in the bigs can. In 2021, he’s experienced a sharp decline even the likes of Matt Kemp and Carlos Gonzalez would be impressed by.
His walk rate is up 4% to 6.5%, he’s allowing hard contact at almost a 7% higher clip, and he’s already allowed more barrels in six starts than he did in his 12 starts last year. I don’t care how inept this Pirates offense has looked. Even they should be able to get some traffic on the basepaths and score a few runs.
That brings me to my bet. I think it’s a given that Hendricks won’t make it through his outing without allowing a couple of runs, and if that’s the case, then seven runs would be hard to miss. The Cubs rank ninth in the league against lefties this year with a 118 wRC+, and even when the going was bad for them, the one thing they consistently did was mash southpaws.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves
Collin Whitchurch: Huascar Ynoa has been one of the biggest surprises of the first month-plus of the season, and Aaron Nola has been every bit as good as advertised so far this season. Sunday Night Baseball gives us an underrated pitching matchup tonight and one that should find runs hard to come by, at least early.
Nola isn’t striking out batters at the same rate we saw in 2020, but he’s still over 10 K/9 and has cut his already impressive walk rate in half. He’s been aces the first time through a batting order this year, and while his rare hiccups have come the second time through, we’re betting on him getting through at least five with minimal damage against a Jekyll and Hyde Braves offense.
The biggest threat to this total might not be Ynoa giving up a ton of runs on the mound, but damage he could do with the bat.
Acknowledgements about his hitting prowess aside, Ynoa has been a godsend for a Braves rotation that has needed the help. Outside one blowup against the Cubs in mid-April, he’s gone at least five innings and given up two runs or fewer in every start this season. The peripherals say he’s for real, and we have every reason to believe he can turn the Phillies’ lineup over twice with limited damage.
All of this adds up to a game that should be low-scoring, at least early. These two teams played a wild one on Saturday, and the bullpens are taxed. I have reservations about taking either side or the total for the full game because of that, but I’m confident that through the first five innings, these impressive starts should hold the opposing bats at bay. First five innings under 4 at -115 is the pick, and I would bet it to -120.