MLB Odds, Best Bets: Our Top 3 Picks for Afternoon Games, Featuring Mets vs. Astros & Nationals vs. Pirates (Wednesday, June 29)
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Mitch Keller
- Two of today's eight afternoon games have caught the eyes of our MLB analysts.
- Pirates vs. Nationals and Mets vs. Astros have particular value on this afternoon's slate, with two potential options on the former.
- Continue reading for all of our best bets from this afternoon in Major League Baseball.
We’ve got a solid day/night split of baseball on Wednesday. Eight games will take place before the lights come on, with another seven taking place after the sun goes down.
We’re focusing on the early games here, and our analysts have three bets on two of the afternoon affairs, including Pirates vs. Nationals and Astros vs. Mets.
Here are our best bets from Wednesday afternoon’s Major League Baseball slate.
MLB Odds & Picks
DJ James: Mitch Keller has been unlucky all season for the Pirates, while Paolo Espino has been a pleasant surprise for the Nats.
Keller has a 4.77 ERA against a 4.14 xERA. On top of it, he ranks in the 70th percentile in average exit velocity at 87.8 mph, which he has lowered by nearly 4% since last season.
Espino is slightly above average in most peripheral metrics. He rarely walks anyone (83rd percentile) and does not allow too much hard contact.
In fact, neither of these teams can hit righties. In June, the Nats own a 95 wRC+ mark, while the Bucs come in at 86. Both may walk at an above average clip, but that is about it. It should not even come into consideration for the Pirates, while facing Espino.
All of these signals point to the under at 9 (-105). This is far too high. Take it to 8 (-120).
Jules Posner: I am not drinking the Mitch Keller tea like some people, but I have been impressed with the way he’s been throwing the ball of late. Since returning to the starting rotation, Keller has posted a 2.96 ERA with a 3.46 FIP and three of those past five starts have been tough road assignments against the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays.
On the other side, I will never understand how Paolo Espino continues to mystify hitters, while being a serviceable starting pitcher. Espino does get to face off against the worst lineup against RHP on the road over the past three weeks in terms of wRC+, but Espino’s FIP is a full run and a half higher than his ERA at home this season, so I’m looking for some regression from him on Wednesday.
Additionally, the Nats’ bullpen has been one of the worst units in MLB over the past few weeks, meaning if Espino gets hit around, they are not likely to stop the bleeding.
Typically offenses perform better at home, but the Nats only have a 96 wRC+ at home against RHP over the past three weeks.
Sweeps are tough to come by, so look for the Pirates to take the final game of this series. Their moneyline is in plus territory and as long as it stays there, play that.
Doug Ziefel: When you look at the Mets’ lineup, their numbers are not staggering. But they’re currently the best team in the National League.
Pete Alonso leads the majors in RBI, and Francisco Lindor is not far behind him. However, the Mets have done all of this without making consistent hard contact. Only J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo and Alonso have above-average exit velocities.
This is a lineup that a veteran like Justin Verlander can take advantage of.
Even though Verlander has not lost his stuff post-Tommy John surgery, his strikeout rate has decreased significantly since he was last healthy.
Verlander is primarily a three-pitch pitcher, as he throws his fastball over 50% of the time while his slider and curveball make up the rest.
However, his fastball usage is all to set up the breaking stuff. His slider and curveball have double the put-away percentage that his fastball does. His breaking stuff still has above-average spin rates, and as a result, they each have BAAs under .190.
While the Mets may cause some traffic on the bases, expect Verlander to limit the damage.
The Astros showed they were the better club when they swept the Mets in their two-game series last week.
When they pick up another victory on Wednesday, they’ll be well on their way to another sweep.
Houston’s lineup is too much for Taijuan Walker, who is bound to regress in this matchup — especially given the amount of hard contact he allows and his glaring struggles with lefties.
On the other side, Verlander will look to execute a particular approach against this pesky Mets lineup.
In the end, the Astros get on the board early and take this afternoon matinee.
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