MLB Expert Picks Today | Odds, Projections for Monday, August 7

MLB Expert Picks Today | Odds, Projections for Monday, August 7 article feature image

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Welcome to Opening Pitch, my column that you'll find daily throughout the 2023 MLB season.

My goal for Opening Pitch is to highlight my top daily projection edges for MLB moneylines and totals, share my favorite bets and provide some betting notes and analysis, mainly as I react to opening and overnight lines while using my baseball betting model.

I will look to release a new version of Opening Pitch daily between midnight and 3 a.m. ET; after I enter my overnight bets in the Action Network App and update the MLB projections. Hopefully, you will use it as your morning betting guide to get ahead of the baseball markets.

You can find my projections for every MLB game in the Action App (on both the PRO Projections tab and the game pages) and our Projections Hub (which you can bookmark).

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MLB Expert Picks for Monday, August 7

Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Trevor Williams vs. Ranger Suarez
First Pitch: 6:40 p.m. ET

Washington's offense has performed much better against left-handed pitchers (109 wRC+, 12th) than righties (86 wRC+, 26th) this season and is both .500 and profitable on the First Five Innings (F5) moneyline against southpaw starters (18-18-1, 11.3% ROI).

Ranger Suarez has seen his underlying results dip this season (4.53 xERA vs. 3.78 last season), but his pitch modeling metrics have been below average for the past three years (97 Pitching+ in both 2023 and 2021, 96 Pitching+ in 2022). He is much more effective against lefties (career 2.64 xFIP) than righties (4.20) — a split that is even more pronounced this season (2.22 xFIP vs. righties, 4.45 vs. lefties).

Trevor Williams (5.21 xFIP, 81 Stuff+, 96 Pitching+) isn't an arm that you back with a ton of confidence; however, his advanced metrics are only slightly worse than what Suarez has posted this year.

I projected the Nationals as +152 underdogs for the first half (F5) and +162 underdogs for the full game on Monday. Bet the Nats' F5 moneyline to +165 and play their full game line to +176.

Miami Marlins vs. Cincinnati Reds

Eury Perez vs. Brandon Williamson
First Pitch: 6:40 p.m. ET

Twenty-year-old phenom Eury Perez (3.52 xERA, 110 Stuff+, 95 Loation+, 102 Pitching+ in 11 starts) will return to Miami's rotation on Monday following a workload hiatus after already surpassing a career high in innings pitched for a season.

Perez (20.5% K-BB% or strikeout minus walk rate) posted a quality start in five of his six most recent outings and displayed improved command (101 Location+, 107 Pitching+) over that recent stretch.

Brandon Williamson (5.75 xERA, 92 Stuff+, 100 Location+, 96 Pitching+) remains a curious case; the southpaw has subpar indicators (9% K-BB%), a fortunate .267 BABIP, and an ERA about an entire run lower than his expected mark, in addition to horrific numbers from the high minors.

Williamson has a plus slider (133 Stuff+), but his command is spotty and seems inconsistent from one inning to the next, rather than just from start to start. Williamson is seemingly into trouble at multiple points in his outings, alongside some quick 1-2-3 innings.

Offensively, the Marlins have performed much better against lefties (121 wRC+, 3rd) than righties (91 wRC+, 22nd) this season, and adding Jake Burger (career 154 wRC+ vs. lefties) and Josh Bell (career 107 wRC+ vs. lefties) at the deadline only helps.

Bet the Fish to -153 (F5) and -125 (full game) for Monday, compared to my projected odds of -159 and -135 in either half of this matchup.

Kansas City Royals vs. Boston Red Sox 

Cole Ragans vs. Brayan Bello
First Pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET

The Royals inserted Cole Ragans — who made nine starts for Texas last season — into their rotation following the Rangers' trade for Aroldis Chapman.

The 25-year-old lefty posted a 101 Pitching+ rating (97 Stuff+) in 11 innings against the Mets and Rays and is a name to watch going forward from what I saw in that brief sample.

Ragans averaged 97.7 mph on his fastball against the Rays, which is faster than the hardest-throwing left-handed starters (Jesus Luzardo and Shane McClanahan tied at 96.8 mph) this season. While his velocity dropped to 94.7 mph in his follow-up gem against the Mets (6 IP, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K), the decrease seemed intentional to prolong his stamina after spending much of the season in the bullpen.

Still, Ragans can get his fastball to the upper 90s when he needs it, something you see from only a handful of left-handed starting pitchers, almost all of them All-Star caliber.

We backed Ragans in that start and have consistently backed the Royals since the All-Star break. Over the past two weeks, their offense has been red hot, ranking fourth against right-handed pitching (126 wRC+) and 15th against lefties (106 wRC+).

Bet the Royals in both halves, to +138 (F5) and +159 (full game).

Additionally, I set the total closer to 9.5, bet the Under down to 10 (-108).

New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox

Gerrit Cole vs. Dylan Cease
First Pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET

While we noted Dylan Cease's rebounding strikeout rate in June (36.8%), he's regressed toward his early-season averages in six starts since (24.3% in July and early August).

Cease's expected indicators (4.20 xERA, 4.04 xFIP) may be more telling of his current true level than his results in either 2022 (2.70 xERA, 3.50 xFIP) or 2021 (3.65 xERA, 3.72 xFIP) when his strikeout rate was 5% higher, and his fastball (95.5 mph in 2023) was harder (96.8 mph in 2022, 96.7 mph in 2021).

Gerrit Cole (2.64 ERA, 3.62 xERA) ranks among the AL Cy Young favorites but is having one of the more fortunate seasons of his career (82% strand rate vs. 76.9% career; .272 BABIP vs. .295 career; 9.9% HR/FB rate vs. 12.3% career), and with an ERA an entire run higher than his expected mark, you might consider betting against his AL Cy Young chances.

Both offenses have struggled against right-handed pitching (21st and 28th in wRC+). Still, the Yankees have performed closer to league average with Judge in the lineup this season (13th before his injury, 16th since his return).

I set this total at 8.4 with 11 mph winds blowing out to right field in Chicago. Bet Over 7.5 to -120, or Over 8 to -106.

Zerillo's Bets for Monday, August 7

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  • Chicago Cubs F5 (+124, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to +119)
  • Chicago Cubs (+116, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +114)
  • Colorado Rockies (+200, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +195)
  • Kansas City Royals F5 (+150, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +138)
  • Kansas City Royals (+175, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +159)
  • Kansas City Royals / Boston Red Sox, Under 10.5 (-122, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to 10, -108)
  • Miami Marlins F5 (-132, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -153)
  • Miami Marlins (-125, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -125)
  • Minnesota Twins F5 (-166, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -175)
  • New York Yankees / Chicago White Sox, Over 7.5 (-120, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -125 or 8, -106)
  • Oakland Athletics F5 (+170, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to +154)
  • Oakland Athletics (+200, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +165)
  • San Diego Padres F5 (-120, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -120)
  • San Francisco Giants F5 (-106, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -110)
  • Washington Nationals F5 (+182, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +165)
  • Washington Nationals (+200, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +176)
  • Washington Nationals / Philadelphia Phillies, Over 9.5 (-115, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -115)

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