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It’s Memorial Day weekend so if you’re going to do any sports betting, it pretty much has to be in the MLB. My two bets Sunday aren’t for the sexiest games but all that matters is if they cash.
Feel free to fade or follow my action on the Cincinnati Reds vs. Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Seattle Mariners tilts. For the record, my MLB 2023 record is 34-32 but the juice has cost me 0.25 units (u).
MLB Sunday Looks
- MLB odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Cincinnati Reds (23-29) at Chicago Cubs (22-29)
- First pitch: 2:20 p.m. ET.
- Ballpark: Wrigley Field in Chicago.
The Reds have won the 1st two games of this series by a combined score of 17-5. Cubs LHP Drew Smyly (5-1, 2.93 ERA) is the listed starter for Sunday. Reds RHP Graham Ashcraft (2-3, 5.57 ERA) is his opponent.
Ashcraft is a pitcher I successfully backed earlier this season because his basic stats are misleading. He has above-average contact rates with the 4th-best Stuff+ among qualified starters this season, according to FanGraphs.
The only starters with a better Stuff+ are Braves’ Spencer Strider (NL Cy Young favorite), Shohei Ohtani, and hard-throwing teammate Hunter Greene. Greene threw six-hitless innings with an 11/2 K/BB rate in Cincy’s 9-0 win over Chicago on Friday.
Ashcraft is a righty with “reverse splits”. Meaning, Ashcraft is tougher on lefties than righties. There are six righty batters in the Cubs’ starting lineup including five of their six top hitters by Baseball Reference’s OPS+.
Smyly grades in the 93rd percentile for exit velocity, 91st percentile for hard-hit rate, 80th percentile for chase rate, and 85th percentile for expected ERA (xERA) over expected wOBA (xwOBA), per Statcast.
Furthermore, Cincy’s bullpen is tied for the 8th-best FIP (“fielding independent pitching”) in MLB and Chicago is 10th, according to FanGraphs. FIP is a more predictive stat than ERA.
Lastly, there is reverse line movement in the betting market for the total. Reds-Cubs opened with an 8.5-run total and is down to 8 (-120) despite 70% of the action at DraftKings being on the Over, per VSIN.
BET: 1.2u on UNDER 8 (-120) in Reds-Cubs at DraftKings
Pittsburgh Pirates (26-25) at Seattle Mariners (27-25)
- First pitch: 4:10 p.m. ET.
- Ballpark: T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
This is the rubber-match of the Pirates-Mariners 3-game set. Pittsburgh raked Seattle 11-6 Friday in the opener and the Mariners evened the series with a 5-0 shutout Saturday.
The Pirates give hard-throwing RHP Luis L. Ortiz (1-2, 4.02 ERA) the ball Sunday. Seattle counters with LHP Marco Gonzales (4-1, 5.68 ERA) who is a starter I typically fade.
Per Statcast, Gonzales is in the 10th percentile for expected batting average and K%, 23rd percentile in xERA over xwOBA, and 4th percentile in fastball velocity. Seattle’s bullpen leads the MLB in FIP but Pittsburgh’s bullpen is 7th.
Also, the Pirates’ lineup rakes lefties. Pittsburgh is 10th in both wRC+ and wOBA vs. left-handed pitching and 8th in BB/K rate, according to FanGraphs.
This is a Pros vs. Joes game in the betting market. Roughly 60% of the money at DraftKings is on the Pirates as of 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday. However, nearly 70% of the bets are on the Mariners.
The oddsmakers are reacting to the cash column of the betting splits. Seattle opened as -145 moneyline favorites and is down -130. Basically, the sharp action is on the Pirates and the public is rolling with the Mariners.
BET: 1u on Pirates (+110) moneyline at DraftKings
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