Profitable sports betting often means betting against what feels comfortable or safe. It means betting against a favorite that is priced too richly or betting on a low-chance outcome that the public thinks is closer to a no-chance outcome. Monday brings us a couple good opportunities to bet this way, plus a bonus chance to bet against hitting in the best hitters’ park in baseball. What could go wrong?
Here are the bets I like for Monday’s slate of MLB games, along with betting observations on several others:
Bets I like
Toronto Blue Jays (-175) vs. Baltimore Orioles (+ 160)
Keegan Akin is bad. You’ve probably never even heard of him, so I’ll tell you he projects on the same level as Matt Harvey or Derek Holland. Baltimore an underdog because of Akin, but you never hearing of him probably skews the line too far in that direction.
The best news is he’s likely not stretched out, bouncing back and forth between the majors and alternate site camp and operating as a reliever with the big club (3 and 48 pitches in his two appearances). That means Akin matters less and the bullpen matters more. A mediocre bullpen like the Orioles’ will post a 4.30 ERA on average compared to a 5.50 ERA for a bad starter -- that hasn’t been priced in efficiently. And unlike many other bad teams (think, Pittsburgh or Seattle), Baltimore’s offense at least has some pop.
The Orioles are playing in MLB’s top power park against a high-contact, high-flyball pitcher in Chase Anderson, so the upside for run-scoring is there.
Pick: Orioles (+ 160)
Colorado Rockies (-104) vs. San Diego Padres (-106)
It’s always tough to bet against Coors Field, and it’s often not the right thing to do, but this game total looks a bit to high to me. It’s likely being driven by San Diego’s hot streak and the Padres’ recent flurry of trades bolstering the public’s perception of them further, but consider the pitchers here. Marquez is one of the 30 best arms in baseball, and Richards is a low-end No. 2 or high-end No. 3 starter, even if his numbers this year don’t indicate it. After all, he’s faced the Dodgers twice, Houston once and has already visited Coors once. His most recent outing -- a blow-up against Seattle -- is probably driving the nail in the coffin for some, but he’s nowhere near as bad as he’s looked this season.
Pick: Under 12.5 runs (-110)
Kansas City Royals (+ 200) vs. Cleveland Indians (-220)
Elite pitcher against awful offense often sets up as an inefficiently-priced line because nobody wants to bet against the ace -- especially the one that is on a historically good run. But is Shane Bieber the best pitcher we’ve seen in baseball in years? Almost certainly not. He’s great, but he’s not this great.
The odds imply a 33% chance of a Kansas City win, but the true probability looks more like 36%. An outright win will be rare, and while the money line is a small EV bet anyway, the run line looks a bit safer and more profitable long-term.
Pick: Royals run line (+ 1.5 at + 115) or Royals moneyline (+ 200)
Monday’s game observations
- Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Chase Anderson has a 3.68 ERA and had a 4.21 ERA in 2019, but his respective 5.07 and 5.26 xFIPs portend regression
- Buffalo’s Sahlen Park (home park for the Blue Jays this season) has boosted home runs by 40% over a league-average park
- Among teams in the bottom-half of runs scored, only three (Minnesota, Cincinnati, and Baltimore) have hit at least 45 home runs
- San Diego Padres pitcher Garrett Richards has never had an xFIP over 3.80 in a season in which he’s been healthy enough to make 10 starts
- Nick Mahrley is one of the most pitcher-friendly umpires in baseball and projects to be calling pitches in Coors today
- Bieber’s career K/9 entering 2020 (including the weaker minor leagues) was 9.5; in seven 2020 starts it’s been 14.5
- Cincinnati is the hottest game on the slate and the only game with temperatures over 80 degrees