MLB & College World Series Picks Today, Best Bets, Predictions for Monday, June 24, 2024

Elly De La Cruz
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 10: Elly De La Cruz #44 of the Cincinnati Reds takes off from first base attempting to steal second against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the first inning at Oracle Park on May 10, 2024 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

We went 1-1 on Saturday, but I made the under in St Louis a slightly larger play, so we dropped 0.28 Units.

It was one of those days where one pick was terrible, and the other was easy. The under in St Louis lost in the fourth inning. We took the Mariners through the first five innings, and they won 7-0 through five.

I had to take a day off yesterday with a fever, but I’m back healthy and ready for today’s slate. We have a smaller MLB slate, but a College World Series play is sprinkled in.

These picks are available on BetMGM. Code “JustBaseball” for a first bet offer up to $1500

2024 Record: 66-77 (-14.50 U)

Pittsburgh Pirates vs Cincinnati Reds @ 7:10 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Bailey Falter vs. Carson Spiers

Bailey Falter is not only a bad matchup for Great American Ballpark, but he’s never pitched well against the Reds. The Pirates also lost their closer in David Bednar, and their best overall reliever this season, Colin Holderman, has pitched on back-to-back days. The Reds hold the pitching advantage all the way through, which should result in a victory today.

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Bailey Falter has compiled 64 PA against the Reds’ current roster, and the numbers are horrific. Reds bats are hitting .367 against him, with a 9.4% K-Rate. The xwOBA against is .448 with a .622 xSLG. Among the top five hitters vs. pitcher matchups of the day, the Reds have three of them. Spencer Steer, Jonathan India, and Tyler Stephenson are 13-31 (.419 AVG) with two home runs and three doubles.

The only player with an xwOBA lower than .370 against Falter is TJ Friedl, who may not even play against the left-handed starter.

Beyond the matchup, Falter is not a good match for a park with small fences. His 5.12 xERA is concerning in any ballpark, but it’s his 20th percentile ground-ball rate mixed with a 27th percentile Hard-Hit rate. He allows loud contact in the air, which is not a good recipe for GABP.

The Reds are not a prolific offense against lefties or righties, but left-handers are their preferred split. They have a 96 wRC+ against lefties compared to an 85 wRC+ against righties. The Pirates, by the way, have an 80 wRC+ against righties.

Falter’s last start was against the Reds in Pittsburgh, and he tossed seven innings of two-run ball. The Reds had an insane .347 xBA during that game, and they had plenty of hits but left runners on base. Falter was also aided by wind blowing in, in a park that ranks 26th for home runs. Today, he pitches in 85-degree weather with a slight breeze blowing out, and it’s the number one park for home runs. The luck should run out.

Conversely, Carson Spiers will try and improve on his latest six-inning, four-run outing against the Pirates. He’s been decent for the Reds, rocking a 3.20 ERA and a 3.67 xERA. He’s refreshing to watch because he doesn’t walk anyone, registering a 4.7% walk rate, which puts him in the 91st percentile.

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He’s a decent fit for GABP because he hasn’t allowed much hard contact so far, sitting in the 80th percentile or better in quality of contact statistics. He’s done an excellent job keeping the ball in the park, as he’s yet to allow a home run in 25.1 innings.

Spiers velocity was slightly down in his start against the Pirates, but he extra-rested today. His last start was on the 17th, so he’s had a whole week to prepare for this one. On a hot day at home, we should see an uptick in overall stuff.

The Pirates have the second-worst offense against righties this season by wRC+. Since June began, they have ranked 24th with an 83 wRC+. In the last 30 days, 85 wRC+; over the past two weeks, it’s back to 83. It’s not an offense I’m scared of. The Reds’ offense could be better, too, but since June began, they have had 107 wRC+ against lefties.

Regarding the bullpens, the Reds have the advantage (10th in ERA vs. 26th in ERA) but have four quality arms available, while the Pirates only have two. The Reds have Fernando Cruz, Alexis Diaz, Lucas Sims, and Justin Wilson, who all have yet to throw more than 16 pitches in the last three days. The Pirates only have Kyle Nicholas and Josh Fleming, who can say the same. Colin Holderman, the best of the Pirates bunch, will likely not be available, and Bednar was put on the IL.

While the Reds lost Spiers’ last start against the Pirates, I think they will win this one. The Reds should be favorites in the -130 range, so anything to -120 is a play for me.

The Pick: Reds ML (-110) Risk 0.55 Units

Texas A&M vs Tennessee @ 7:00 PM EST

(Projected) Pitching Matchup: Justin Lamkin vs Zander Sechrist

The number one seed has yet to win the Championship since the 1999 Miami Hurricanes, but Tennessee looks like they will be the first in 25 years. They are in the -250 range, which makes sense considering how good they are, but I need a better price. Betting on the Aggies at a hefty underdog price is undoubtedly enticing, but I see Tennessee winning in a pitcher’s duel. However, I’ll be rooting for the Aggies simply because the number one streak of losing is hilarious to me.

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I decided to look towards the total. At first glance, you expect both of these elite offenses to show up in the final, but the pitching matchup tells me to lean under. The bullpen is pretty fresh, which again points me to the under. I went with the under when I saw a 10-15 MPH wind projected to blow in.

Justin Lamkin for Texas A&M has flashed elite stuff. In his last five appearances, he has a 15.8 K/9 with a 1.17 WHIP, 2.68 xFIP, and 1.28 SIERA. He’s coming off a five-inning dominant performance against Florida, striking out nine over five shutout innings on Wednesday. In the most significant start of his life, he was phenomenal, so nerves shouldn’t be a considerable factor here. We should expect four to five innings from him, but if he gets in trouble, he’ll have a short leash.

Texas A&M will be without their best reliever in Cortez, who they burned in Sunday’s game, but they still have plenty of great arms. This chart from tracks the likely arms we’ll see today. SIERA is the most important stat, as ERA can be wonky in college baseball; it’s not a proper showing of talent. As you can see, we have plenty of rested arms on both sides with low SIERA’s and xFIP’s.

Another reason I’m hesitant even to sprinkle on A&M is that I don’t see them scoring much. Sechrist has been excellent, and Connell and Snead are great options if he runs into trouble. I doubt the senior gets into trouble, as Sechrist has thrown 70 innings to a 3.34 ERA and 3.17 SIERA. The Volunteers have so much excellent pitching ready to go in this one.

These offenses have also slowed lately. Tennessee’s OPS was 1.019 this season; it’s down to .920 over the last 15 games. Texas A&M’s was .963, and that’s down to .820. Neither of these offenses is firing on all cylinders, and now they get two teams with solid arms that will be mismatching all night. 10.5 feels too high.

Game 1 ended 9-5, and Game 2 ended 4-1. We had a low-scoring match and a high-scoring game. However, Game 1 should have seen fewer runs, as Tennessee made three errors, and one of the errors directly led to two runs for A&M.

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Also, neither game has seen the wind that we have today. 10-15 MPH is blowing in from right field. We bet the over last year in the final, and LSU won 18-2. This year, we go under. I need 10.5 or better for action.

The Pick: Under 10.5 (-120) Risk 0.5 Units