Back-to-back winning days! We had a great end to the week going 2-1 with our MLB Best Bets. It really should have been 3-0, but the Marlins bullpen imploded in the bottom of the ninth to sell our under-pick. The Rangers and Astros took care of business yesterday and we are now back over 20 units on the season.
Monday’s are historically challenging to handicap in MLB, but I love these two picks today. They aren’t the most exciting games in the world, but hey, I still enjoy watching these teams. Let’s get into my two favorite MLB Best Bets for the day.
2022 MLB Regular Season Record: 140-121 (53%) +20.44 units
Miami Marlins vs. Cincinnati Reds: 6:40 PM EST
Trevor Rogers (LHP, Marlins) [4-9, 5.46 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 84 IP, 78 K, 39 BB]
Nick Lodolo (LHP, Reds) [2-3, 5.81 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 26.1 IP, 38 K, 12 BB]
We head to Cincinnati for the first game of a three-game set. The Marlins are coming off an extra-innings win against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, while the Reds are coming off a 6-3 win against the Cardinals. The Reds took two of three from the Cardinals at home, as did the Marlins over the Pirates. Today, we have a solid starting pitching matchup of young left-handers, but I believe one has the advantage.
Nick Lodolo is much better than his numbers would indicate. His 4.39 xERA would tell us that, but his pedigree as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball would say the same. He’s extremely talented but has been the bearer of some bad luck to start his career. He has electric stuff, and he’ll face the worst offense in baseball against left-handed pitching that is still missing its stars in Jazz Chisholm and Jorge Soler.
Jose Quintana just shut out this Marlins offense and now ranks 30th out of 30 teams in OPS at .599. Lodolo has only thrown 26 innings so far, but the best innings have been at home, rocking a 4.19 ERA at home compared to a 10.29 ERA on the road. He’s also faced some tough competition to start the year. He’s faced the Cardinals twice, the Rays, Mets, Padres, and Guardians. That’s a tough test for a young pitcher, and now he’ll get his easiest matchup to date.
Opposing Lodolo will be Trevor Rogers, who’s also had bad luck starting the year. We should see Rogers trend in the right direction, but the Reds have had plenty of success this year against lefties. Over the entire season, they rank 20th in baseball against lefties, but the OPS is 100 points higher than the Marlins. Rogers has been much better on the road this year, but Great American Ballpark is an extreme hitters park, and Rogers’ home run problem could come back to bite him in this game.
Both bullpens are not very good, but the Marlins have had much more work over the past couple of days. They’ve thrown 15 innings the past three days and I just saw them blow it to the Pirates. They ended up winning the game, but there is nobody in that bullpen I trust at the moment. The Reds opened as -115 favorites and the line has moved to -130 despite an even amount of money on both sides. I’ll continue to fade this Marlins offense until they prove they can hit a left-handed pitcher.
The Pick: Cincinnati Reds ML (-130)
1.3 Units to Win 1 Unit
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs: 8:10 PM EST
JT Brubaker (RHP, Pirates) [2-8, 4.02 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 94 IP, 97 K, 40 BB]
Adrian Sampson (RHP, Cubs) [0-1, 3.34 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 32.1 IP, 23 K, 8 BB]
We head to Chicago for the first game of a three-game set between division foes. While the Cubs are coming off four straight wins including a sweep of the Phillies, I believe the wrong team is favored in this matchup. The Cubs opened as -165 favorites which feels massively overvalued. That line has shot down to the -155 range on BetMGM, and on other books, you can find the Cubs as low as -135. You’d think with this line movement that more money is on the Pirates, but most of it is on the Cubs. It seems that the books are welcoming as much action on the Cubs as possible, and I think I know why.
This is more of a line play than anything else because it’s challenging to pitch the Pirates to you when you look at the numbers. What I do believe however is the starting pitching matchup favors the Pirates, and the offense advantage is relatively even. Both bullpens aren’t very good, so I think this game should be closer to a pick-em. I believe I’m getting value on the Pirates due to the Cubs being the hotter team.
JT Brubaker has pitched very well against the Cubs in his career and this season. He’s been performing better on the road this year and his advanced numbers are fantastic against the Cubs’ current roster. Through 87 PA, he holds a .263 opponent batting average, a .291 xwOBA, a .316 xSLG, and a 32.2% strikeout rate. The .263 opponent batting average is a bit high, but the .223 xBA indicates the Cubs have been a bit lucky with their quality of contact. Brubaker’s 3.85 xERA reveals that his results so far are real.
Opposing Brubaker will be Adrian Sampson who’s had a nice start to the year. I’m just not sure how much longer this will last. He’s a 30-year-old who’s been up and down from the minors. While his stuff isn’t bad, he doesn’t strike out many hitters. The Pirates get into trouble against high strikeout pitchers, but they’ve been successful against more contact-oriented arms. The offense still isn’t very good, but I don’t believe they’ll need much with how good I think Brubaker will pitch.
The bullpen advantage slightly leans towards the Cubs, but I believe they’ll need to shoulder more innings than the Pirates will. I think this game will be close, but the value on the Pirates coupled with the line movement is too good to pass up.