Today marks the official start of the second half of the Major League Baseball season, as the Yankees-Red Sox game that was supposed to kick off the second half yesterday was postponed because of COVID-19 issues. It has been a while since the virus impacted games, and here is to hoping that this is an isolated incident and not something that will continue to cause disruptions over the summer.
From a betting perspective, the first half of the season had some crazy swings. In April and May, underdogs were 352-446 but were profitable by 18.6 units. In June and July, the momentum switched back to the favorites, who went 345-203 and were +32.7 units. Will any trends assert themselves early on in the second half of the season?
Here are my MLB top betting plays for Friday. (Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook)
View the best player prop bets for today’s slate with our MLB Prop Bet Cheat Sheet >>
YTD: 109-94-4 (+2.35 units)
Toronto Blue Jays -1.5 runs (-125)
At first glance, this bet looks like it carries some risk, as the Texas Rangers are 4-0 in their last four games versus a left-handed starter. However, with Robbie Ray throwing for the Blue Jays, he is a great candidate to end Texas’s run of success against lefties.
Ray’s last three starts have all come against teams with winning records (one against Seattle, two against Tampa Bay), and he is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in those starts. Ray has posted double-digit strikeouts in four of his last seven starts, and after walking nine batters through his first two starts, he has walked two or fewer batters in 14 of his previous 15. Ray has an OBA of .128 and a WHIP of 0.64 in his last two starts and has limited current Rangers hitters to two hits (both singles) in 30 combined plate appearances.
Texas’s Jordan Lyles (5-5, 4.86) has won just two of his nine starts away from home while pitching to a 4.84 ERA and allowing ten home runs through 48.1 innings. The Blue Jays are the best in baseball with a .782 OPS against right-handed pitching, and a lineup that ranks first with 95 home runs versus righties should take Lyles deep a couple of times.
The Blue Jays are 8-2 in their last ten games versus a right-handed starter and have covered the runline in each of their previous two games as a favorite. Look for another big win tonight.
Rays-Braves UNDER 8.5 runs (-105)
When Atlanta lost Ronald Acuna Jr. for the rest of the season to a torn ACL, it took some of the luster off this interleague matchup of two playoff hopefuls. However, this series opener between the Rays and Braves is still one of the most marquee matchups on Friday’s slate, as Atlanta’s Charlie Morton faces his former Rays teammates for the first time.
Morton (8-3, 3.64) is 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA in his last seven starts and has faced divisional opponents in four of his previous five. In the lone start in that span against a team from outside the division, Morton held St. Louis scoreless over 7.2 innings while allowing just three hits and striking out seven batters. Morton has at least seven strikeouts in each of his last five starts and has lowered his OBA from .240 to .211 in that span.
Tampa Bay’s Michael Wacha (2-2, 4.87) is slowly rounding into form and is coming off a season-high six innings pitched in his last start against Cleveland. Even if Wacha cannot give his team similar length in this game, Rays manager Kevin Cash will be confident in his rested stable of relievers that ranks third in the league in WAR and second with a 3.26 ERA.
The under has cashed in Tampa Bay’s last four games and is 5-1 in Atlanta’s last six series openers. Look for a low-scoring game out of the gate between these teams.
Oakland Athletics -1.5 runs (-105)
The Cleveland Indians ended the first half of the season with a home sweep of the Kansas City Royals. However, they are winless in their last eight games against teams with a winning record and should be in for a tough series when visiting the Oakland Athletics.
Cleveland starts this series by drawing arguably Oakland’s toughest pitcher, Chris Bassitt. Bassitt (10-2, 3.28) has won five of his last seven starts and is unbeaten since April 6th. He has allowed two or fewer earned runs in six of his previous seven starts and faces a Cleveland lineup that has scored more than three runs once in their eight games before the sweep of the Royals.
The Indians continue to have injury issues in their rotation, as evidence by the fact that they continue to trot Eli Morgan (1-3. 8.44) to the mound every fifth day. The rookie is making his sixth Major League start and has allowed at least three earned runs while not pitching past the fifth inning in any of them.
Cleveland is winless in their last five games as a road underdog, while the A’s are 4-0 in Bassitt’s last four home starts. Thus, opt for better value in laying the -1.5 runs with the favorites.
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