After a weekend where many first-place teams benefited from playing weaker opponents, the opposite is the case as we begin a new week. Two first-place showdowns are lined up as the Rays and White Sox and the Cubs and Mets begin significant series today. In addition, the first-place Athletics and Brewers each face divisional opponents in the Angels and Reds that have been playing much better baseball of late. All in all, today’s slate of games is much more appealing than last Monday’s, with 13 games on the schedule as opposed to three last week.
Here are my MLB top betting plays for Monday. (Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook)
View the best player prop bets for today’s slate with our MLB Prop Bet Cheat Sheet >>
YTD: 80-65-3 (+7.14 units)
Chicago Cubs ML (-105)
There is no denying that the Chicago Cubs are a better team at home than on the road. While they are coming off a home sweep of the Cardinals that improved their home record to 24-10 at Wrigley Field, they are just 14-17 on the road. They are disadvantaged in this game, having played on Sunday Night and not getting into New York until early Monday morning. However, this bet is all about the Cubs’ momentum and how little momentum New York’s starting pitcher has.
Mets starting pitcher David Peterson (1-5, 6.32 ERA) has a 9.88 ERA in his last four starts. Through 11 starts, he is on pace to set career highs in HR/FB rate, BABIP, and LOB%. His xFIP is 3.60, and he has not missed many bats given his 2.52 K:BB ratio. Current Cubs have had just 11 combined plate appearances against Peterson, but they did hand him a loss after tagging him for three runs in 3.1 innings in a game at Wrigley Field on April 21st.
The Cubs counter with Jake Arrieta (5-6, 4.97 ERA), who has allowed two earned runs or less in three of his last four road starts. Though current Mets are a combined 30-for-105 (.286 BA) against him, Arrieta has held New York’s two biggest bats (Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor) to a combined 6-for-26 (.231 BA) with just one extra-base hit.
Chicago is 6-2 in their last eight games versus left-handed starters. They have also owned the Mets at Citi Field, winning their last seven games there. As long as they can shrug off the late travel, the Cubs are a great value play tonight.
Pittsburgh Pirates ML (+105)
We have not often backed the team with the league’s worst run differential, but the Pittsburgh Pirates are an interesting play today. They are underdogs against the Washington Nationals, whose starting pitcher is still looking for his first win. Jon Lester is 0-2 with a 4.19 ERA through his first eight starts. One of Lester’s biggest reasons he is having trouble earning a win is because he has hardly pitched the minimum five innings to qualify. Lester has completed more than four innings just once in his last four starts and has more walks (six) than strikeouts (five) in his previous two outings. He now has to contend with a Pirates lineup that has hit better ever since promising rookie Ke’Bryan Hayes rejoined the lineup. Since returning from injury, Hayes is 12-for-38 (.316 BA) with two home runs and a .579 slugging percentage in his last nine games.
Pittsburgh sends arguably their best pitcher, JT Brubaker, to the mound. Brubaker is 4-5 with a 3.90 ERA and leads all Pirates starters in WAR (1.0), WHIP (1.18), and K/9 (9.7). He has allowed ten earned runs in his last three starts, but all of those runs came against the Dodgers and Braves, two top-ten offenses in the majors. In his lone start against weaker competition in that span, he held the Rockies scoreless over six innings while allowing four hits and striking out five. A Nationals team that ranks 28th in the league with 3.76 runs per game should not be that big of a challenge comparatively. Thus, look for Brubaker to be comfortable in this start and get back to the pitcher that posted a 2.58 ERA after his first seven starts.
The Pirates have lost seven straight games, but the Nationals are an NL East-worst 15-17 at home, and thus the Pirates represent good value as underdogs.
Kansas City Royals -1.5 runs (+143)
We love teams under .500 on losing streaks today, as the Kansas City Royals enter this series opener having lost three straight games. Kansas City returns home after a seven-game West Coast road trip and should enjoy the confines of Kauffman Stadium, where they have won eight of their last 11 games. Two of those wins in that span came against the Detroit Tigers, with who they start a fourth series tonight.
The Royals send Brad Keller (6-5, 5.75 ERA) to the mound, looking to improve his 7.20 home ERA. One of his best starts of the year came against the Tigers when he earned the win after allowing two runs in six innings in Detroit on April 26th. Keller has pitched better of late, winning three of his last four starts. He has faced the Tigers the second-most of any team in the league and has an impressive 2.85 ERA and 4-3 record in 11 career appearances against them.
While one of Keller’s best starts came against the Tigers, one of Matthew Boyd’s (3-6, 3.56 ERA) worst starts this season came at Kansas City just four starts ago. On May 22nd, Boyd was tagged for five runs on eight hits in five innings. Current Royals are batting .316 and slugging .494 against Boyd. Of all division opponents, Boyd’s 5.57 ERA is the worst against the Royals, and he is 7-11 against them in 25 career starts. Boyd won his last start, but he has not won back-to-back starts since 2019, so history says the Royals will not allow him to earn a win in this one.
The Royals are 13-5 in their last 18 home games against the Tigers, so look for them to get right in this series opener.
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