Monday MLB Betting Picks: Braves vs. Red Sox, White Sox vs. Twins (Aug. 31)
Ron Vesely/Getty Images. Pictured: Lucas Giolito
Monday’s MLB slate features 11 games spanning almost nine hours in first-pitch times. It also has sparked a few bets from our staff, including the three below — our favorite spots of the evening.
- Nationals vs. Phillies (7:05 p.m. ET)
- Braves vs. Red Sox (7:30 p.m. ET)
- Indians vs. Royals (8:05 p.m. ET)
- White Sox vs. Twins (8:10 p.m. ET)
Note: Odds as of 11:30 a.m. ET.
Advanced Stats Glossary
FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck. xFIP is a regressed version of FIP that adjusts or “normalizes’ the home run component based on park factors.
wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.
wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average is a catch-all hitting metric with more predictive value than on-base percentage. An average MLB hitter can be expected to post a .320 wOBA. xwOBA is a regressed version of wOBA that accounts for variables like park factors.
Stuckey: Phillies F5 (-143) Full Game (-139) Moneyline vs. Nationals
If you just go by ERA, you’d think the Nationals would have a starting pitching edge with Erick Fedde (3.57 ERA) over Sam Howard (6.17 ERA). However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll notice Fedde is due for a major correction in the near future.
Fedde owns a paltry 2.38 K/9 rate — by far the lowest of any starter in baseball this year (min. 10 innings). It’s not good when you’re walking almost twice as many guys as you’re striking out. The regression should come as his xFIP/FIP suggest — both are almost two full runs higher than his current ERA. Facing a red-hot Phillies lineup could end in disaster.
The Phillies will counter with young prospect Sam Howard, who will make his fourth start of the year. His surface numbers won’t wow anyone but I like what I’ve seen so far. He has strikeout stuff and judging from his xK% and xBB%, his stuff will play in the majors.
As always, take a piece of the Phillies F5, but I’m also comfortable with taking some full game here as the bullpen seems to have settled down some after the recent acquisitions from the Red Sox.
BJ Cunningham: Braves -1.5 (-121) vs. Red Sox
The Braves have been crushing the ball over the past 14 days, with a .346 wOBA and 117 wRC+, including a 12-run outburst on Sunday Night Baseball. What’s even more impressive about the numbers over the past two weeks is half of those games were without Ronald Acuna. Freddie Freeman has been particularly hot, hitting .400 to go along with a .501 wOBA.
Max Fried has been one of the best pitchers in baseball that nobody is talking about. The 26-year-old has a 1.35 ERA and 3.55 xFIP through his first seven starts. What’s even more impressive is he hasn’t allowed a home run yet this season in 40 innings pitched. He’s been on point with all of the pitches in his arsenal, as none of them are allowing a batting average or wOBA over .250.
The Red Sox offense has been anemic over the past week, hitting .244, with a .302 wOBA. Boston has mainly struggled versus fastballs and sliders, which happen to be Fried’s main two pitches.
Boston is going with a bullpen game on Monday, which should be welcoming news for the Braves offense, because the Red Sox bullpen stinks. It has a 5.54 ERA collectively for the season and it just traded away two of their best three relievers to the Phillies. Atlanta’s red-hot offense should have no trouble feasting on Boston’s bullpen.
I think this has all the makings of a blowout, so I am going to back the Braves run line of -1.5 at -121 odds.
Danny Donahue: Indians vs. Royals Under 7.5 (112)
Banking on two teams to combine for fewer than eight runs can definitely leave you looking like a real dummy at times — I should know. But there are still reasons to feel confident in a slow night from the bats in Kansas City this evening.
One is fairly obvious: Shane Bieber has been the best pitcher in the American League to this point (1.35 ERA, 1.57 xFIP), and in his lone start vs. the Royals this season, he went six innings, gave up no runs and struck out 14.
On the other side, Brad Keller comes in sporting a 2.08 ERA but his xFIP is up at 4.63, so it’s safe to say he’s been pretty lucky thus far.
Luckily, we don’t have to fully rely on a pitcher due for regression to hold this game under the total, though. The wind at Kauffman Stadium is forecasted to be blowing straight in from center at 7-8 mph throughout the game, making this matchup a fit for one of our simplest weather-based PRO Systems:
Collin Wilson: White Sox Moneyline (-130) vs. Twins
Playing a favorite at this price is generally not in my repertoire, but for Lucas Giolito we can make an exception. The White Sox ace is on a tear, collecting 26 strikeouts over his past two starts including a no-hitter to the Pirates. The Twins strike out against right-handers in 25.4% of their at-bats, ranking eighth in MLB. But the real handicap of this game may come from the White Sox bats.
Chicago is the best hitting team in the league against left-handed pitching, ranking first in wRC+. Rich Hill gets the start for the Twins, having an xFIP of 4.99, well above his ERA of 3.55. Not only are the White Sox the best team in the league against left-handed pitching, they sport a 10-0 record against southpaws in 2020.