Our 3 Favorite MLB Picks For Saturday: White Sox vs. Cubs, More
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images. Pictured: Luis Robert
- White Sox vs. Cubs. Rays vs. Blue Jays. Astros vs. Padres.
- Find out how our baseball analysts are betting totals in that trio of games.
We may still be robbed of Saturday’s scheduled Subway Series matchup, but thanks to a Marlins-Nats doubleheader there are still a full 15 options from which bettors can choose this afternoon and evening.
Our staff has done just that, landing four top spots across the following three games tonight:
- Blue Jays vs. Rays (6:40 p.m. ET)
- White Sox vs. Cubs (8:15 p.m. ET)
- Astros vs. Padres (9:10 p.m. ET)
Check out our favorite Saturday bets below.
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.
Note: Odds as of 11:30 a.m. ET.
BJ Cunningham: Blue Jays Team Total Over 4.5 (-103) vs. Rays
I am going to continue to ride this Blue Jays offense until it starts to cool down. It’s been on fire over the past week hitting .288 with a .353 wOBA and 123 wRC+.
The Jays have been doing most of their damage versus right-handed pitching in 2020, as they have a .325 wOBA and 105 wRC+.
Aaron Slegers is a fringe major-league pitcher. He’s been bouncing back and forth from Triple-A to the majors for the past few years and has only 36.0 innings pitched in the big leagues so far in his career. According to ZIPS projections, he doesn’t rate out very well, with a 5.44 ERA, 5.58 FIP and 1.57 WHIP. He’ll have a tall task ahead of him tonight against this red-hot Blue Jays lineup.
I have the red hot Blue Jays projected to score 5.20 runs, so I think there is some value on over 4.5 runs for the Blue Jays at -103.
Collin Wilson: White Sox vs. Cubs Over 10.5 (-104)
When a run total gets into the double digits, a gambler may hesitate to hit the over. When Sean Zerillo’s projection makes the game 9.24 and the public is on the over, it’s not profitable in the long term to swim with the public fish and ignore mathematics.
But today we are public fish and we are set to take an over thanks to the two offenses, wind and home plate umpire.
Wrigley expects to have wind blowing out to straightaway centerfield, making any cheap can of corn eligible for a home run. Both the Cubs and White Sox rank in the top five for home run to fly ball ratio against right-handed pitching. The teams rank seventh and 13th in ISO against right-handers, which could lead to some fireworks during the game.
Our home plate umpire is Tim Timmons, who is no stranger to runs scored. Timmons is 223-237 (48.5%) for -25.85 units lifetime to the under, a sign that there will be base runners with a loose strike zone.
It isn’t often we ignore our principles of math projections and public steam, but in Chicago we do just that today with the over.
Stuckey: Astros vs. Padres Over 9 (-121)
I hate playing overs at Petco but park changes in recent years have at least made it a little more hitter friendly.
In regards to this particular matchup, I’m not a fan of either starter. Davies will try to locate and grind through his start with location and smart pitch mix but he can get rocked at any given moment.
Meanwhile, the Astros will counter with Brandon Bielak, whose numbers look shiny on the surface with a 3-0 record and sparkling 1.69 ERA, but the regression monster looms. He’s been extremely fortunate this year with a .196 BABIP and just under a 90% strand rate. Both are extremely unsustainable especially when you consider his worrisome K-BB rate.
And after each starter leaves the game, both pens will be extremely vulnerable. The Astros have been bitten by the injury bug hard in the bullpen. The Padres also lost their closer and have used their main relievers a ton as of late.
Two offenses that come in with a lot of confidence of late should have opportunities to feast.
Danny Donahue: Astros vs. Padres Under 9.5 (-115)
As reluctant as I am to do this, I have to disagree with Stuckey — at least at the higher number being offered in the market.
As it pertains to over/under betting in baseball, the number 9 is of huge importance. Because it’s a common final combined score (partly because it picks up most 4-4 ties), your bet will often come down to whether you’re on the right side of that number.
And with that thinking comes a pretty simple betting system.
When a total moves from 8.5 — through 9 — up to 9.5, that’s significant. And historically speaking, such a move tends to be an overreaction. In other words, when you see a number go from an opener to 8.5 to 9.5 — all else equal — it’s usually time to buy back.
In our database (since 2005), games that have seen a move of 8.5 to 9.5 have gone 94-67-1 (58.4%) to the under. Filtering out games that have wind blowing straight out (as that’s often the reason for such a significant line move) increases the win rate slightly to 60.8%.
Tonight’s Astros-Padres matchup fits the bill, as it opened 8.5 and has been bet up to 9.5 with a slight breeze blowing to right field. I’m going to trust that oddsmakers’ first guess was slightly better than most are giving it credit for.