In yesterday’s column, we talked about the Kansas City Royals and their somewhat muted postseason projections despite their hot start to the season. The following stat should increase optimism for teams like the Royals, the Boston Red Sox, and San Francisco Giants. They were teams not expected to contend for a division title but are atop their division’s standings so far. Over the last 21 years, 53 percent of teams with at least a share of the division lead on May 1 ended up winning the division. Thus, recent history suggests one of those teams will go on to win their division, and all can still be had at plus-money odds in the futures market.
Here are my MLB top betting plays for Tuesday. (Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook):
View the best player prop bets for today’s slate with our MLB Prop Bet Cheat Sheet >>
YTD: 38-27-1 (+6.88 units)
White Sox-Reds OVER 9 runs (-115)
Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease (1-0, 2.96 ERA) is coming off his first win of the season, a complete-game shutout of the Detroit Tigers. We should not get too excited over this, considering the Tigers have scored the least amount of runs per game and that Cease was 5-0 against Detroit before this start. In addition, Cease has not lasted five innings in any of his other four starts and has struggled with his command with three walks apiece in those outings.
Reds starter Jeff Hoffman (2-1, 3.33 ERA) has been lights out at home with a 1.69 ERA in three home starts compared to a 6.48 ERA in two road appearances. His only career start against the White Sox came back in 2017 when he allowed four runs on seven hits in seven innings and struck out just two batters. Four of the seven hits by the current White Sox hitters against Hoffman have been extra-base hits, so they know how to do damage against him when putting the ball in play. Like Cease, Hoffman is coming off an outing where he struggled with his command, as he allowed a season-high five walks to the Dodgers.
The Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds will be rested for their series opener, as each team had a day off on Monday. That bodes well for a bet on the total, as the over is 5-0 in the five games the Cincinnati Reds have played after having a day’s rest. The over is also 3-0 when the Chicago White Sox have been road underdogs, so there is value in the total tonight.
Dodgers-Cubs OVER ***Game 1 of Doubleheader (odds not yet posted)
After a rough start to the season offensively, the Chicago Cubs’ bats are heating up and is a big reason why the over is 5-2 in their last seven games. The Cubs have averaged 7.5 runs per game in their previous four games entering Monday and have allowed at least five runs in six of their last eight games. Despite Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (4-2, 2.09 ERA) toeing the rubber, there is reason to believe another high-scoring game is on tap tonight.
Most of the Cubs’ best offensive players have had success off Kershaw in their careers. Kris Bryant, Wilson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez are a combined 17-for-46 (.370 BA) with six home runs and three doubles off Kershaw. In three career starts at Wrigley Field, Kershaw is 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA. Wrigley Field is just one of two ballparks (Chase Field being the other) where Kershaw is under .500 in his career.
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (1-3, 7.54 ERA) has been lit up by Atlanta in two starts this year, allowing 14 runs in less than eight innings of work against them. However, he has held other opponents to just five runs in 15 innings. Hendricks will look for continued success at home, as he has a career 2.65 ERA at Wrigley Field. However, this Dodgers lineup is a different beast, and despite not having slugger Cody Bellinger in the lineup since April 5, Los Angeles entered Monday third in the league in hits and OPS (.755).
The under is 18-5 in the last 23 meetings between these teams in Chicago but should exceed the projected total tonight.
St. Louis Cardinals ML (+180)
St. Louis Cardinals starter Kwang Hyun Kim (1-0, 3.29 ERA) is no stranger to pitching against the ace of the opposing staff. He matched Phillies ace Aaron Nola pitch-for-pitch in his last outing, eventually earning a no-decision despite allowing one run over five innings. Opposing New York’s Jacob deGrom (2-2, 0.51 ERA) is a challenge in itself, but the odds suggest there is value in opposing him.
Despite the Mets routinely being moneyline favorites of -250 or higher in deGrom’s starts, New York has an overall record of 2-3 in his outings. Hardly any of that is deGrom’s fault, as his team has provided him with a total of five runs of support in those three losses. Regardless, the Cardinals entered Monday 8-2 in their last ten games (5-2 in their last seven home games) and have the third-best run differential in the league.
The Mets rank outside the top ten in batting average and OPS against left-handed starters. New York has been held to one or fewer runs in half of their last eight games, and a team that struggles that much offensively should not be laying this big of a number to a team capable of winning their division.
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