The MLB schedule is a long journey lasting more than half of the year. While that makes it a grind, it also makes it a tremendous betting opportunity. It gives our MLB picks ample time to build a sample and hopefully overcome variance, and it provides the biggest menu of bets (and potential value) when compared to almost any other sport.
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MLB Picks For Wednesday, Aug. 17
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Chicago Cubs At Washington Nationals
Cory Abbott has been about as bad as it gets for the Nationals ever since the team brought him up amid its teardown. Statcast flatters him with a 3.77 xERA but every other peripheral is atrocious, most notably a 7.43 FIP. He simply can’t get MLB hitters to chase out of the zone (a 20.5 O-Swing% is rock bottom) so he’s dishing out almost 6 BB/9. That follows walk rates around 5 BB/9 each of the past two Triple A campaigns so it will likely continue. And Drew Smyly, who has endured plenty of ups and downs in his career, has been in one of his better grooves this year. His new pitch mix seems to be working, especially in regards to inducing soft contact. He has a stellar 85.6 average exit velocity. A Nationals bunch that puts the ball in play often (third-lowest K%) but also without any authority (third-lowest Hard%) should feed right into his strength.
I grabbed the Cubs close to -140 last night, but the market has moved them to the edge of not having value. There’s still a -155 out at BetMGM at the time of writing and that’s as high as I’d play this one.
Current best price: Cubs
Houston Astros At Chicago White Sox
The Astros bullpen was due for some regression, as I don’t see this as a top-five unit, so I’m not too concerned about the two meltdowns on Monday and Tuesday against these White Sox. I also think the numbers overstate the White Sox’s ability to hit lefties right now, as they’re missing at least Tim Anderson (135 wRC+ vs. LHP) and potentially Luis Robert (189). Crucially, even if Robert plays, a wrist injury seems likely to hamper his power. And while Framber Valdez is a southpaw, which is generally bad against the White Sox, he also induces tons of grounders (67%) against a team that loves burning worms (fourth in grounder rate). Michael Kopech matches up poorly here as well, with a fastball rate over 60% against a team that hammers four-seamers at the second-best efficiency in MLB.
Current best price: Astros
What to know about using MLB Picks
Generally, when looking over these MLB lines and breakdowns, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, it’s a long season. There will be hot and cold streaks. Swings of 20+ units will happen. While I’ve had multiple winning seasons, there’s no guarantee I’ll come out ahead this year or any other. Always bet responsibly, and always line shop using our MLB page to find the best lines available at legal sportsbooks in your state. That will give you the best chance of turning a profit.
- MLB futures bets from TheLines writers Eli Hershkovich and Mo Nuwwarah
Furthermore, note that because of the process I’ll be using (attacking overnight markets), lines may shift significantly by the time you read this if you’re checking it out on game day. Hopefully the lines have moved in my favor, and if that’s the case – use your best judgment as to whether you still think the bet is as good as the current line.
I’ll base my plays heavily on starting pitchers, like most any MLB bettor. If you want to learn more about baseball so you can do your own handicapping, start with these resources breaking down a variety of useful metrics:
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