MLB Odds, Expert Picks, Predictions: 3 Best Bets For Monday, Including Orioles vs. Phillies & Mariners vs. Athletics (September 20)
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Olson and Jed Lowrie
The main event of the slate is Blue Jays vs. Rays in Toronto, which will see AL Cy Young favorite Robbie Ray take the mound against top prospect Shane Baz.
Our analysts have three picks on the slate, including one on that game. We also have picks on Orioles vs. Phillies and Mariners vs. Athletics.
Here are our three best bets for Monday night in Major League Baseball.
MLB Odds & Picks
|9:40 p.m. ET|
Orioles vs. Phillies
Brad Cunningham: Yes, the Baltimore Orioles have lost eight of their last nine games, but this is a good matchup for them with their ace John Means on the mound.
Means has been incredibly solid this season, posting a 4.11 expected ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .216 batting average against and a 1.76 BB/9, which is one of the best marks in the American League. His main two secondary pitches of changeup and curveball are a big reason why he’s been so effective, as they are both allowing under a .265 xwOBA to opposing hitters.
He’ll be going up against Ranger Suárez, who has made the move to the starting rotation and has been pitching fantastically, giving up only four earned runs in his last five starts. But Suárez is a lefty who mainly utilizes a sinker and changeup. The Orioles rank 11th in wOBA against left handed pitching and they have a +5.5 run value against sinker and a +7.6 run value over the last 30 days against changeups.
Blue Jays vs. Rays
Sean Zerillo: Happy Shane Baz Day.
If the Rays win the World Series this season, I suspect that Baz will end up having a very successful postseason. The former No. 12 overall pick — who came over in the Chris Archer trade from Pittsburgh — is one of the most exciting pitching prospects in the minor leagues and is No. 20 overall per MLB Pipeline.
Baz carried a strikeout minus walk rate north of 30% in the high minors this season, accumulating 113 strikeouts against just 13 walks in fewer than 80 innings.
His ERA at the MLB level projects in the 4.00-4.20 range, which would already make him an above-average starter, but I think that number undercuts his significant upside.
Baz can touch triple-digits with his fastball (70-grade) and pairs the heater without a wipeout slider (65-grade) that should dominate same-sided hitters. An average changeup (50-grade) will be his key to handling left-handed bats. The curveball (40-grade) is more of a show-me pitch.
Baz used to walk more than four batters per nine innings in the low minors, but Tampa Bay cleaned up his mechanics at its satellite camp during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and Baz to cut his walk rate in half this year.
Robbie Ray is en route to winning the 2021 Cy Young Award, and I give the Blue Jays the advantage in the starting pitching matchup. Still, the Rays have a far superior bullpen (3.75 to 4.18 Model Weighted ERA) and rate as the much better defensive team (second in Defensive Runs Saved, second in my Model Projection) compared to a below-average unit for Toronto (20th in Defensive Runs Saved).
I rate Tampa Bay’s offense significantly better against left-handed pitching than I do against righties. They have several southpaw killers in their lineup, including Yandy Diaz (career 127 wRC+ vs. LHP), Randy Arozarena (163), Nelson Cruz (152), Jordan Luplow (138), Manuel Margot (108) and Mike Zunino (102 career, 243 in 2021).
As a result, I have these two offenses projected on relative terms for Monday night, making the Rays a 51% favorite (-104 favorite) in this matchup.
I would bet their moneyline down to +105, and though it doesn’t impact my decision to play this game, it’s worth noting that Tampa Bay is the most profitable home underdog in our database, dating back to 2005 (49.1%, +$3.855 for a consistent $100 bettor, 9.9% ROI).
Mariners vs. Athletics
|9:40 p.m. ET|
Kenny Ducey: One of the most astounding things to me is that the Mariners rank fourth among all teams in home runs against left-handed pitching, yet all the way down in 26th place in wRC+. That illustrates just how bad Seattle has been at getting runners on base in these situations, as does the fact that the Mariners are striking out in 25% of their plate appearances against lefties.
It’s been a great spot to fade Seattle all year long, and I will continue that trend on Monday with Sean Manaea pitching for the A’s. The southpaw has ratcheted up his strikeout rate back above 26%, and should be feasting his eyes on this Mariners side with so many opportunities to create swings and misses.
Then there’s the A’s, who have ranked eighth in wRC+ against lefties all year with skilled bats up and down the order in handling southpaws. Their 13.1% walk rate over the past week is stupid good, as is their 15.9% strikeout rate.
Oakland has been piecing together expert at-bats, and should have more than enough against Tyler Anderson, who has allowed three homers and five walks in his last two outings and doesn’t strike very many people out. Those types of numbers won’t do him very well against a lethal offense like Oakland’s, which has powered the team to five straight wins.