The first half of the 2021 MLB season ends today and we want you to enter the All-Star Break on a high note. Below are our top picks and best bets for today’s games.
Braves at Marlins
7-inning total under 5.5 (-131)
The baseball world mourns the loss of Ronald Acuna Jr. to a torn ACL. His absence will be felt immediately, as the Braves face one of the toughest offensive matchups possible today when they take on RHP Pablo Lopez in pitcher-friendly LoanDepot Park.
Lopez (2.94 ERA, 3.39 xFIP) has been one of the most uncelebrated starters in the National League this season. He’s even more dominant at home (2.03 ERA, 3.01 FIP across 57.2 IP) and borders on “unhittable” at home against RHBs (2.73 xFIP, 11.65 K/9, .266 wOBA). He’ll face 6 Braves who hit from the right-side today and is a near “lock” for a Quality Start.
Braves starter Ian Anderson is in a comparably strong spot. He has pitched better on the road than home this season (4.03 ERA at home vs. 2.57 ERA away) and faces a Marlins offense that ranks in the bottom 5 of most meaningful offensive categories against RHPs. Like Lopez, he projects to twirl a Quality Start and should exit in the later innings while on cruise control.
I think Miami wins this game, too, and there’s potential value to be had on what’s priced more as a pick’em. Consider the Marlins moneyline, but lock in the 7-inning under powered by a gem from Lopez.
Blue Jays at Rays
5-inning moneyline: Toronto (-145)
Robbie Ray appears to have finally found consistency in Toronto. The boom-or-bust southpaw has been pounding the zone more this season and reaped the benefits, entering today’s matchup with a cool 3.36 ERA (3.23 xFIP), which is supported by a career-best 4.96 K/BB (2.73 K/BB all-time). He has tamed this Rays lineup three times already this season and projects for a fourth strong outing this afternoon.
Rays starter Rich Hill has been serviceable this season (3.65 ERA, 4.38 xFIP), but rarely pitches deep into games. His starts also are rarely clean. While he’s likely to be scuffed up for a few runs by the upstart Toronto lineup (.330 team wOBA vs. LHPs), he’s likely to receive little support of his own from a Tampa Bay offense that has been below-average against lefties so far this season.
Tampa has a dominant bullpen once again. Opposing MLB teams want to avoid it, and I do too. Whether the Rays lock down the Jays and rally in the late innings or not, Toronto should enter the 2nd half of the game with the lead.
Those who want to ride Ray beyond the 5th inning can consider taking the over on his strikeout prop of 6.5 K’s. Tampa Bay’s 26.9% K% vs. LHPs is one of the worst in the majors.
Reds at Brewers
Alternate 5-inning total under 4 (-145)
Brandon Woodruff has been one of the very best pitchers in baseball for the past two seasons. His sparkling 2.10 ERA is supported by every significant peripheral statistic, and his sparkling 0.78 WHIP is second best in all of baseball. (We could write an entire article celebrating Jacob deGrom’s league-best 0.50 WHIP through 15 starts.) Even BvP believers can take comfort in his .708 OPS and 37% K% against hitters on Cincinnati’s active roster.
The first half as been a tale of two halves in itself for Reds starter Luis Castillo. After an abysmal first two months of the season, in June and July the 28-year-old right-hander has rounded into the ace-like form that was expected of him pre-season. He put together a sterling 1.71 ERA across 31.2 IPs in June, and has now strung together five consecutive Quality Starts. Similarly to Woodruff’s historic success against the Reds, BvP believers should be able to *really* get behind Castillo’s .396 collective OPS (117 ABs) against this Milwaukee lineup.
This has “pitcher’s duel” written all over it. I’ll avoid the bullpen factor for either side and instead recommend picking the 5-inning under.
- White Sox (-167) – Chicago has been undeterred by a number of significant injuries and continues to play great baseball. Their winning ways should continue today against Spenser Watkins and the lowly Orioles.
- Twins -1.5 (-118) – Detroit starter Wily Peralta has a .835 career OPS against LHBs (383.2 IP) and will face 5 lefties in Minnesota’s lineup today. Twins ace Jose Berrios projects to carve up the Tigers lineup. His prop of over 6.5 K’s is marked up to -150, the matchup couldn’t be better: his 26.1% K% against RHBs is actually lower than Detroit’s collective 26.5% K% for the season.
- Dodgers -1.5 (-124) – The reigning MLB Champions will be willing to empty their full arsenal today in advance of extended rest over the All-Star Break. Arizona’s offense is categorically one of the worst against RHPs, while Dodgers right-handed starter Tony Gonsolin continues to blossom (2.11 ERA) despite being juggled between roles.