MLB Underdog Bets: 2 Monday Picks for Pirates vs. Guardians & Reds vs. Giants

MLB Underdog Bets: 2 Monday Picks for Pirates vs. Guardians & Reds vs. Giants article feature image

Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: Elly De La Cruz

  • There are plenty of underdogs with betting value on Monday's MLB slate.
  • Sean Zerillo and Charlie DiSturco broke down two underdog picks, including the Reds and Pirates.
  • Read on for both underdog picks on Monday's MLB slate below.

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.

Giants vs. Reds, 7:10 p.m. ET

Logan Webb vs. Brandon Williamson

Sean Zerillo: I'm going to take the Cincinnati Reds, calling up Christian Encarnacion-Strand. If they put the whole Encarnacion-Strand name on the back of the baseball jersey, it will be the longest name on the back of a baseball jersey in major-league history.

Encarnacion-Strand is a guy I've been waiting for a while to get the call. He projects, off the bat, to have a weighted OBP of around .340, so he is immediately an All-Star caliber hitter. He had absurd numbers in the minors.

That trade the Twins made at last year's deadline, sending Encarnacion-Strand and Spencer Steer to Cincinnati for a now-injured Tyler Mahle, would be a horrific trade even if Mahle was healthy and giving the Twins contributions. Steer was immediately a contributor for the Reds and Encarnacion-Strand looks like he's going to be a potential superstar, either at first base or DH.

The Reds can hit. Ever since Elly De La Cruz came up, they have a top-eight offense. They're also first in steals in all of baseball, and not just by a little bit. They have 17 more steals than the next closest team, with 55 overall since Elly hit the big leagues. They are the fastest team in baseball; Arizona is the only other team in the conversation.

I do like the Reds here, not only in terms of where I project them; you can bet them down to about +135.

One thing worth noting is that I think they can frustrate Webb if they get guys on base. He's allowed a career stolen base success rate of about 78%, which is higher than the major-league average and is in about the bottom 15 to 20% of starting pitchers. Webb isn't great at holding runners, so if the Reds get runners on, I think they're going to attempt to steal a lot of bases, be very aggressive on the base paths and challenge a Giants team which has been very poor defensively this season.

They have leveled up with the additions they've made to their roster. Patrick Bailey has given them quite a boost, and Casey Schmitt has helped them up the middle when he plays, but defense is still the Giants' biggest weakness. They continue to trot out Brandon Crawford occasionally at shortstop. He might be the worst active shortstop defensively at this point of his career.

There are guys who are past their prime playing defensive positions all over baseball. Crawford gives opposing teams free baserunners from time to time because he can't move to his right or complete the play as frequently as he used to.

This is a long-winded way of saying that I think the Reds are a team on the rise. The Giants are a team I bet to win the NL West at +750, and I think they can continue to be competitive. However, in almost all of these matchups this season, including the ones out in San Francisco, I was betting on the Reds.

The Reds match up well with the Giants here, and you can bet them down to +135.

Ready to place your bets? Head over to FanDuel Sportsbook for the best markets on MLB and all of the day's games and events across the world of sports!

Guardians vs. Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET

Xzavion Curry vs. Quinn Priester

Charlie DiSturco: I'm on the Pirates here at +110. I just think this line should be closer to a coin flip.

Priester is making his debut. If you don't know Quinn Priester, he is a former first round pick for the Pirates. He grades out to about a league average pitcher, at least right now; he'll obviously ease in and be better. At the Triple-A level this season, he's had about a nine K/9 rate. Walks are a bit of a concern, but he only had a 4.30 ERA with a 67% left on base rate.

The Guardians are going to start with Xzavion Curry today, who is probably only going to throw two or three innings. He is pitching way above expectation, with an xERA over two runs higher than his ERA. He is in the bottom 10% in whiff rate, xBA and average exit velocity, and he is right around the bottom 15% in hard hit rate and strikeout rate. He relies on putting the ball in play, which as a reliever is not as severe, but as you get stretched out a little bit, you become more prone to giving up a big inning.

When you look at this matchup, it's two teams with below-average offenses, with neither standing out. The Pirates got back Bryan Reynolds and are calling up all their young players. I actually think their offense will fare better as the season progresses, especially with Reynolds back in the lineup. Ke'Bryan Hayes will be the last one to come off the injured list.

The Guardians' bullpen has been a mess over the past couple of weeks. Even Emmanuel Clase has seen a decline in strikeout rate. He's struggled a bit too, and he's not the same pitcher as last year when he was an automatic closer.

This is just one of those games where, in a light slate at plus money, I think the Pirates should be closer to that +100 to -105 range. I'm happy to take the Pirates here in Priester's debut and hope they can get a lead and hold it, unlike the Guardians this weekend.

Ready to place your bets? Head over to FanDuel Sportsbook for the best markets on MLB and all of the day's games and events across the world of sports!

Payoff Pitch Underdog Picks for Monday, July 17

At FanDuel, this parlay would pay out at +387 at the time of this writing.

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