MLB Underdog Picks: 2 Monday Bets for Braves vs Angels, Rockies vs Padres
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan McMahon of the Colorado Rockies.
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.
Angels vs. Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET
Griffin Canning vs. Charlie Morton
Sean Zerillo: In each one of his starts, Charlie Morton is popping up as a guy who's worse than the betting market says that he is. He has a 4.65 xERA this season, which is way up from past seasons. His strikeout minus walk rate has dipped below the league average.
The Braves are a team I don't want to bet against every day. However, in each of Morton's starts, he pops up as a guy the model wants me to bet against because his underlying metrics are nowhere near his ERA.
His Pitching+ and Stuff+ have dropped off relative to past seasons as well.
There are a lot of cracks in Morton's profile; he's a guy I'm probably going to keep betting against the rest of the way.
BJ Cunningham: This is a big test for the Angels. They're four games out of a Wild Card spot, and they really need to start making up games in a hurry against the AL East.
Sean hit the nail on the head: Charlie Morton has been a big-time negative regression candidate with his xERA being a full run higher than his actual ERA.
I think it boils down to this with Morton: He basically has two pitches — his curveball and his fastball. He uses his curveball pretty frequently, throwing it close to 45% of the time, and he's been very good with it. The pitch has a 38% Whiff rate, a Stuff+ rate of 140, and opposing hitters only have a .245 expected weighted on-base average against it.
On the other hand, his fastball has been terrible. Opponents have a .402 expected weighted on-base average against that pitch, and it only has a Stuff+ of 75. He's really only got one pitch. When hitters can key in on that and look for a different pitch, that's when you start to struggle.
Guess what? The Angels are a great offense against right-handed pitching. They have the fourth-best weighted on-base average in baseball. They have a +17 run value against right-handed curveballs this season.
Griffin Canning will be on the mound for the Angels. He's an average Major League starting pitcher. He has a 4.05 xERA and is generating a decent number of swings and misses. He has a low BB/9 rate, but he needs to fix his home run problem to seem somewhat above average.
Taking an average Major League pitcher against what Morton's expected metrics tell is an average to below-average pitcher provides a decent amount of value on the Angels, who are also good against right-handed pitching.
Maybe the Braves will hit three home runs in the first inning and this thing will be over.
However, I project the Angels at +154, so I still think there's a decent enough edge with the best price at +185. I would not play this below +175. I think there's decent value on fading Charlie Morton.
Padres vs. Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET
Seth Lugo vs. Austin Gomber
Sean Zerillo: Unfortunately, this game moved out of range from where I bet it. If you can get the Rockies at +185, I like them quite a bit. I believe it moved down from +185 to +175. There's a model projected edge here.
Austin Gomber has been much better of late than he was earlier in the season. I was betting against Gomber pretty consistently. However, in his recent starts, I've been betting unders and betting on him. His command has been so improved from where he was earlier in the year.
He has a 101 Location+ in his last eight starts, a 16% strikeout minus walk rate over that span — which is above the league average — and a 4.20 xFIP.
He's been pretty solid for the last two months. If you look at his season-long metrics and last year's metrics, he has an ERA and xERA above six, and he looks horrid. However, over the last two months, he's been pretty effective and has been showing decent command.
Seth Lugo is the better pitcher. He has a 101 Pitching+ and a 4.30 xERA. However, there's really no reason why the Padres should be as significant favorites here as they are, even though they are better against lefties than righties.
The Rockies, as one of the worst teams in baseball along with the Royals and the A's, are a team that you might find value betting on a game-to-game basis. Pick your spots with the Rockies, but I do like them here to +185.
Payoff Pitch Underdog Picks for Monday, July 31
- Angels ML +180
- Rockies ML +172
At FanDuel, this parlay would pay out at +650 at the time of this writing.