MLB Odds and Expert Picks: 3 Best Bets, Including Padres vs. Cardinals, Braves vs. Giants (Saturday, Sept. 18)
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Wood
- The MLB season is winding down, but there's still plenty of action to bet on Saturday.
- Our staff is focusing on three games involving playoff contenders, beginning with the Phillies vs. Mets.
- See how they're betting that game and two others, below.
It says a lot to the level of competition in MLB that we’re in the middle of September, and there’s so much meaningful baseball being played every night.
On Saturday night, there are three matchups with value for bettors that will also have huge impacts on the postseason races in the National League.
The Phillies look to keep pace in the NL East and wild-card chases against the Mets, who are hanging on for dear life. Then we have the Padres and Cardinals clashing in a hugely exciting wild-card-race clash, before the NL East-leading Braves look to take down the NL West-leading Giants.
MLB Odds & Picks
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Phillies vs. Mets
Anthony Dabbundo: Aaron Nola has had his worst season as a pro this year for Philadelphia despite improved underlying metrics. Nola has been really bad with two outs, really bad with two strikes and has a 4.58 ERA despite much better strikeout and walk numbers. Nola has the lowest walk rate and second-highest strikeout rate of his career, but his low strand rate and increased hard-hit rate have resulted in poor results for the veteran right-hander.
But his xERA, xFIP and FIP are all between 3.35 and 3.45, suggesting he’s one of the prime positive regression candidates in all of baseball. His counterpart is Carlos Carrasco, also a positive regression candidate but starting from a much worse talent and performance point. His ERA at 5.59 underrates him (xERA 4.14) but he’s been brutal in the first inning and struggled with hard-hit rate and cannot keep the ball in the park.
I have more faith in Nola to find some form here than I do Carrasco, based on their numbers over the last few seasons. Philadelphia’s bullpen is way overused right now and can’t be trusted, but the Phillies should be marginally bigger favorites in the first five innings than the -120 implies.
Padres vs. Cardinals
Tanner McGrath: Adam Wainwright is such a stud.
Uncle Charlie has posted a 1.24 ERA over his last seven starts, and the Cardinals are 6-1 in those games. Moreover, he’s pitched a whopping 50 1/3 innings in those games, good for over seven per start.
That’s been a trend for Wainwright this season, who has pitched the second most innings of any pitcher in the league. At 40 years old no less.
Meanwhile, Yu Darvish has an ERA approaching eight since August started, and the Padres have gone just 3-7 in their last 10 games.
As these two battle for that coveted second wildcard spot, I’ll back the team and the pitcher that have been hot lately. The Cardinals should be much bigger than -125 favorites, and I’d be comfortable playing Waino up to -145.
Braves vs. Giants
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Kenny Ducey: It’s a shame, because the Braves made such a splash at the trade deadline by acquiring a pair of right-handed power bats in Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall who have seemed to work out well for them, but this team just can not hit left-handed pitching.
Entering Saturday, Atlanta ranks 22nd with a 95 wRC+ against southpaws, it has hit the 10th-fewest homers and it’s also posted just a .240 batting average within the split. The struggle has been real, and it should give Alex Wood a leg up in this matchup.
Wood will be returning off the COVID injured list, which is great news for San Francisco, considering he had a 3.18 ERA in three starts prior to being placed on the shelf. The former Braves hurler had a fast start to the year before coming back down to Earth a bit, but he’s never fallen to the point where he pitches the Giants out of games.
San Francisco’s offense, meanwhile, has been the best in baseball over the past two weeks, leading the league by hitting .302 and posting a 158 wRC+ in that time. While Charlie Morton has been good, these bats have been better, and they also rank ninth in pitch value against the curveball this year and second against the fastball. Those are Morton’s favorite pitches.