MLB Underdog Picks Today | Odds, Predictions for Cubs vs Nationals, Phillies vs Dodgers on Monday, May 1
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Alec Bohm and J.T. Realmuto
Monday’s MLB slate is light, but that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of opportunities to cash tickets.
As a reminder, the Payoff Pitch podcast MLB experts break down their favorite picks from the day’s slate every Monday, Tuesday and Friday, including each analyst’s favorite underdog on the slate, and they’ve got two more to recommend today.
You can read about their picks below, and be sure to subscribe to Payoff Pitch for MLB picks and predictions all season long.
Cubs vs. Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET
Drew Smyly vs. MacKenzie Gore
Charlie DiSturco: I’m on MacKenzie Gore and the Nationals moneyline at +120, I love Gore. He was a top prospect coming out of the minors and he really struggled to figure it all out, but was a key piece in the Juan Soto deal. Now that he’s in Washington, he has a a 3.38 xERA this year, his strikeout rate is above 30% and he’s top 15% of all pitchers in expected slugging, barrel rate and whiff rate.
A thing that I think a lot of people have slept on for Gore is that his curveball has gotten significantly better. It’s jumped 2 mph and his expected batting average on that pitch is now .130. That was .251 last year in 2022 when he was getting hit around in that limited action. So Gore has really honed in on his off-speed. He’s forcing a lot more ground balls this year — 15% more than last year — and he’s getting a big dip in hard contact and line drives. He’s really putting it all together and as long as he doesn’t walk five or six batters in a game, the Nationals are always live when he’s on the mound. I’ve backed them over the first 5 plenty of times.
Drew Smyly is on the mound against them. Listen, Smyly has been dominant this year, but I am not so sure that a 33-year-old is going to have a career revival in Chicago. He’s thrown a sinker 10% more and has become a two-pitch pitcher with the curveball, but he doesn’t generate many whiffs, he forces balls in play and eventually that’s going to come back to bite him. His xFIP is all the way up 4.29 and he’s got a .247 batting average on balls in play. So he’s getting BABIP luck, his xFIP is all the way up there, so I’m a bit concerned with him all together.
The Nationals, as bad as they’ve been, are 12th in wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Obviously the Cubs are better than that and they’ve been playing well against left-handed pitching, but you’re going to give me the better pitcher here at plus money. I’m going to back them down from +120 all the way down to that +100 range. It’s a big number, but I think they end up winning this game.
Phillies vs. Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET
Taijuan Walker vs. Tony Gonsolin
Anthony Dabbundo: I like the Phillies tonight. It’s not a great underdog slate so it’s going to be a half-unit for me.
I’m a little concerned about Taijuan Walker. I was excited about him when I saw the Stuff+ reports from the first couple starts; really impressive numbers. The splitter looks good and he had an excellent start to his last outing against the Mariners, and then had an injury problem where he lost his arm slot, walked three straight batters, gave up a grand slam, then left the game with an injury. It was very strange because they were talking about forearm tightness, so I was a little concerned, but he threw a bullpen and was totally fine and pain free.
So I’m expecting Walker to be OK against Tony Gonsolin. Gonsolin is still working his way back into the season. They’re essentially doing spring training with him on the mound in major league games, so he’s only going to throw about 4-5 innings in this matchup.
The Dodgers’ bullpen was heavily worked yesterday, whereas the Phillies saved all of their top arms, so there is a bullpen edge for the Phillies only using Gregory Soto in the backend there. I think this game is closer to a coin flip than +145.
I’m going to take the Phills as my underdog of the day. We are one day, potentially, until Bryce Harper’s return, which we may be celebrating tomorrow depending on the doctor’s report today.
Payoff Pitch Underdog Picks for Monday, May 1
- Nationals Moneyline
- Phillies Moneyline
At FanDuel, this parlay would pay out at +413 at the time of this writing.
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