MLB Odds, Expert Picks: How to Bet Reds vs. Cubs, Padres vs. Rockies & More
Getty Images. Pictured: Dansby Swanson, Shohei Ohtani, Harold Castro.
- Monday's MLB slate features 10 games, and Sean Zerillo is ready to place some bets.
- Zerillo came through with plenty of bets for Monday, including picks for Reds vs. Cubs and Padres vs. Rockies.
- Read on for all of Zerillo's picks and projections for Monday's MLB games.
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 also shop for the best lines on our odds page.
Expert Picks for Monday, July 31
Los Angeles Angels vs. Atlanta Braves
Griffin Canning vs. Charlie Morton
First Pitch: 7:20 p.m. ET
My projection model remains down on Charlie Morton, who has posted a 4.65 xERA — his worst mark of the Statcast era — alongside subpar pitch modeling metrics (108 Stuff+, 97 Location+, 99 Pitching+), which pale in comparison to past seasons (101 Pitching+ in 2022, 105 in 2021).
Morton's walk rate (10.3%) is at its highest point since the 2016 season, and aside from the pandemic-shortened 2020 season his strikeout rate (24.3%) is at its lowest point since 2015. Morton's 14% K-BB% is slightly below the major league average (14.3%), down nearly 10% from his peak and 6% compared to the past two seasons.
Underlying indicators and pitch modeling metrics point to Griffin Canning (4.05 xERA, 18.5% K-BB%, 102 Pitching+) as the potentially better arm. Canning's Stuff+ numbers (94) are significantly below Morton's, who retains a higher ceiling. Still, Canning has a higher floor with superior command, but a home run issue (career 1.59 HR/9) throughout his MLB career could prove costly against the best power-hitting team in baseball (195 home runs for the Braves; the Dodgers rank second with 168).
While I still project Morton as the better starting pitcher, the talent gap is less than half the nearly one-run difference in their ERAs (3.57 for Morton, 4.46 for Canning).
I projected the Angels closer to +180 in this matchup; bet the Halos at +195 or better.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Chicago Cubs
Andrew Abbott vs. Marcus Stroman
First Pitch: 8:05 p.m. ET
The remaining divisional matchups between the Cubs and Reds could determine the NL Central winner, and I foresee a potential pitcher's duel on Monday between the reliable Marcus Stroman (3.95 xERA, 102 Stuff+, 100 Location+, 99 Pitching+) and rookie southpaw Andrew Abbott (3.36 xERA, 86 Stuff+, 102 Location+, 99 Pitching+).
Abbott's profile is much more intriguing — and poised for regression. With a .222 BABIP and a 96% strand rate, Abbott has been one of the most fortunate pitchers in baseball. He pitches backward and generates a ton of called strikes — especially early in counts — with his breaking balls. And his results (19.8% K-BB%, 4.3 XFIP) have far exceeded expectations (projected 15.5% and 4.70 by The BAT).
He will eventually have a start — or a string of starts — where the bloops fall in, or he allows a sac fly instead of recording a strikeout with one out and a runner on third. Since arriving in the majors on June 5, Abbott ranks third among 76 qualified starters in ERA but 24th in K-BB% and 48th in xFIP. He's a solid pitcher — especially for his age and experience — but a few tiers below ace territory.
I projected the Cubs as -124 favorites for the first five innings (F5) and -130 favorites for the full game in this matchup. Bet Chicago's F5 line to -115 and play their full game moneyline to -120.
Additionally, I set the total at 7.53 runs, with moderate temperatures for July (79 degrees at first pitch) and wind blowing in from right field; bet Under 8 to -108.
San Diego Padres vs. Colorado Rockies
Seth Lugo vs. Austin Gomber
First Pitch: 8:40 p.m. ET
Austin Gomber was a prime fade candidate earlier this season, but the left-hander has settled in over the past couple of months, posting a 3.60 ERA, 4.20 xFIP, and above-average 15.9% K-BB% over his past eight outings.
Gomber has leaned on his slider (96 Stuff+) more of late at the expense of his curveball (90 Stuff+) and changeup (68 Stuff+). His pitch modeling metrics over that eight-start stretch (80 Stuff+, 101 Location+, 97 Pitching+) represent an uptick from his early season form (76 Stuff+, 98 Location+, 92 Pitching+) but still show a below-average profile without a single above-average offering.
Seth Lugo (4.31 xERA, 101 Pitching+) won't blow you away as a starter, but he has proven effective after stretching out from his relief pitching days with his big curveball (111 Stuff+). Opposing hitters have a lower OPS against Lugo the second time through the order than the first time through.
Seth Lugo, Filthy 81mph Curveball. 😷
3305 RPMs pic.twitter.com/OqbffH8Lij
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 22, 2023
Like the Padres, the Rockies are also in their superior offensive split, ranking 28th against righties (84 wRC+) and dead last against lefties (72 wRC+). Last season, the Marlins finished with a 71 wRC+ against lefties — one of the worst teams against southpaw pitching in 20 years — and the 2023 Rockies aren't far behind.
I set the Rockies as +170 home underdogs in the first game of this series against a right-handed pitcher; bet Colorado at +185 or better.
Additionally, I set the total at 11.47 runs with the wind blowing in from left-center field; bet Under 12 to -110.
Zerillo's Bets for Monday, July 31
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- Arizona Diamondbacks (+135, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to +135)
- Arizona Diamondbacks / San Francisco Giants, Under 8.5 (+105, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to -102)
- Boston Red Sox / Seattle Mariners, Over 7.5 (-102, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -103)
- Chicago Cubs F5 (-110, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -115)
- Chicago Cubs (-115, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -120)
- Chicago Cubs / Cincinnati Reds, Under 8 (-106, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -108)
- Colorado Rockies (+185, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +185)
- Colorado Rockies / San Diego Padres, Under 12 (-105, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -105)
- Los Angeles Angels (+205, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +195)
- New York Yankees (+130, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to +125)
- New York Yankees / Tampa Bay Rays, /Under 9 (-108, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -112)
- Philadelphia Phillies / Miami Marlins, Under 8.5 (+100, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -105)
- Toronto Blue Jays F5 (-125, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -136)
- Toronto Blue Jays (-130, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -135)