Wednesday MLB Betting Picks: Phillies vs. Nationals, Tigers vs. Cubs, Athletics vs. Rangers (Aug. 26)

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Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Fiers

The hump day MLB card brings with it 14 matchups from which bettors can choose, and we’ve broken several of them down throughout the day.

In doing so, our experts have also landed on three top plays for Wednesday’s slate. Check out how we’re betting Phillies-Nationals, Cubs-Tigers and A’s-Rangers below.

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.


BJ Cunningham: Phillies F5 Moneyline (-120) vs. Nationals

Aaron Nola has been one of the best pitchers in baseball, posting a 2.46 xFIP through his first five starts. He’s made a stronger commitment to utilizing his changeup, as he’s throwing it 10.9% more often this season (29.5% in 2020 vs. 18.6% in 2019). That decision has paid dividends: His changeup has allowed only a .191 wOBA to opposing batters and has produced a 46.2% whiff rate. Both of those marks are drastic improvements from his 2019 metrics.

Along with Nola’s increased changeup-rate, he has also thrown his curveball less frequently in 2020. Nonetheless, it has still been a pretty effective pitch, producing a .181 opposing batting average and 38.6% whiff rate.

Nola’s commitment to throwing his off-speed pitches more frequently has also greatly improved the effectiveness of his fastball. He has allowed only three hits on 136 fastballs this season, so it’s clear that his new mix of pitches is really keeping opposing batters on their toes.

Philadelphia has also been absolutely mashing left-handed pitchers. In 179 plate appearances, the Phillies have a .358 wOBA and 125 wRC+, which is significantly higher than their numbers against righties.

Corbin has been solid through his first five starts. He’s accumulated a 3.99 ERA and 3.18 xFIP and has been really effective with his slider and sinker. However, Corbin has had some major issues with his fastball, to put in mildly. Opposing hitters have tagged it for a .503 wOBA and seven extra base hits.

The Phillies rank in the top half of MLB against fastball and sinkers, so Corbin will probably go to his slider frequently on Wednesday.

Right now, I want nothing to do with the Phillies bullpen. So I am going to back Nola and Philadelphia for the first five innings at -120.

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Danny Donahue: Tigers Moneyline (+116) vs. Cubs

Did my attempt to turn the Gambler’s Fallacy into betting value result in my team getting no-hit last night? It sure did. Am I going to use the same style of thinking to make my pick for tonight? I sure am.

Oh, and did I mention I’m going against a guy who already has a no-no in his career? This should be fun.

Most folks who bet on last night’s Cubs-Tigers game were made unhappy by the result — a 7-1 win for the unpopular underdog in Detroit. Still, though, the Tigers are just 12-16. The Cubs are 18-11. This has got to be a bounce-back spot for the Cubs after a flukey blowout, right?

Well, once again, a heavy public majority is backing the Cubbies — 75%, to be exact. But perhaps just because it feels like the Tigers should be due for a loss here, there’s some value inflated into their moneyline price. At least historically that’s been the case.

Following a “blowout” win (defined as more than five runs) as a plus-money underdog against a better team (more than 10 percentage points better win pct.), teams that opened at plus-money in the following game have actually turned a nice profit.

While they don’t have a winning record (160-201), they’ve won 40.1 units since 2005, good for an 11.1% return on investment.

And to play even further into the “fade the public’s expectation of a bounce-back” theory, filtering down to such teams that have received less than 30% of moneyline tickets — which could be the Tigers tonight — returns a 113-130 record, good for 50.6 units and a 20.8% ROI.

Stuckey Rangers Moneyline (+120), F5 Moneyline (+105) vs. Athletics

I’m going to do something I don’t like: fade the A’s against a left-handed starter. Oakland’s right-handed heavy lineup has dominated lefty starters in recent years but I just can’t not fade Mike Fiers at this price.

The Athletics have been rolling with plenty of late heroics, so the struggles of Fiers have mainly gone unnoticed, but he’s been absolutely dreadful.

His 5.81 ERA is not pretty on the surface but the advanced metrics paint an even uglier picture. He’s striking out a pathetic 4.04 batters per 9, getting fewer ground balls and allowing more hard contact. His velocity has dipped a few miles per hour across the board, so something is certainly off.

I’m holding my nose and backing Texas here. I’m splitting this with first five.

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