Hitting continues to be down around the league, and Wade Miley threw the fourth no-hitter already this season on Friday night. And those four don’t even include the seven-inning “no-hitter” Madison Bumgarner threw. The league as a whole is hitting just .233 on the year, and the Seattle Mariners (.204), Cleveland Indians (.206), and Detroit Tigers (.207) are all flirting with the Mendoza Line.
Major League Baseball adjusted the baseballs this offseason, and the early returns have been…interesting. For bettors, this is a trend to keep an eye on, especially as the weather starts to warm up around the country. Based on that information, it might seem like you can hammer the under on a daily basis and easily win more than you lose. But it isn’t that simple. If you look at the box scores every morning, you’ll see a lot of crooked numbers.
That’s because the league ERA is currently above 4.00, and the San Diego Padres are 2.84 are the only team under 3.00 on the season. Two teams, the Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers, have a team ERA above 5.00. Even though offense is down around the league, pitching has been inconsistent. There are many bad pitchers in baseball inflating those numbers right now, but there are also pitchers who have been generally reliable over the years who are getting roughed up more often than usual.
Here are my top betting plays for Saturday, May 8. Have questions or want to talk baseball or betting? Feel free to reach out on Twitter @mikeMaher.
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Rockies-Cardinals OVER 7.5 runs (-118)
Saturday’s Rockies-Cardinals matchup is one of three early games on the slate, and I always like to target one of those when it makes sense. The pitching matchup is Chi Chi Gonzalez (Rockies) against Carlos Martinez (Cardinals). As mentioned above, the Rockies are one of two teams in all of baseball with a team ERA north of 5.00. Saturday’s starter, Gonzalez, has an ERA of 4.38 but has only struck out 14 batters over 24 2/3 innings. The Cardinals are batting .232 as a team, which is right at the league average we talked about in the opening, but they have been hitting much better over the last week.
For the Cardinals, Carlos Martinez is coming off of three excellent starts in which he has allowed just two runs over 21 1/3 innings. But if you look at Martinez’s underlying metrics, there are some major red flags. Nearly every metric (average exit velocity, hard hit%, xwOBA, xERA, xBA, xSLG, barrel%, K%, Whiff%, and chase rate) is significantly below league average. His 3.72 ERA comes with an expected ERA of 5.26 and xFIP of 4.96. An implosion is coming, and it could very well come on Saturday against a Rockies lineup that has some of the best numbers in baseball over the last week.
This line is at 8.0 at most sportsbooks but is still sitting at 7.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook.
Washington Nationals over New York Yankees (+110)
This pick is all about the odds and the pitching matchup. Whenever you get an ace like Max Scherzer with plus odds, you have to take a look at that matchup. Saturday’s game features Scherzer against Corey Kluber, who was excellent in his last start for the Yankees. But he was also facing a Detroit Tigers lineup that may very well be the worst in baseball (remember our opening: only the Mariners and Indians have worse offensive numbers right now). That Kluber outing is inflating these odds, as is the fact that the Nationals have not been very good this season.
But the Nationals have Juan Soto back in the lineup and put up 11 runs last night. I flirted with the idea of taking the +1.5 runs as some insurance in this one, but the drop to -192 isn’t worth it when I believe that Scherzer will take care of a Yankees lineup that has a lot of swing-and-miss in it. Don’t overthink this one. Take the ace with the plus odds when it’s offered.
Mariners-Rangers OVER 9.0 runs (-115)
This line isn’t available at every sportsbook yet because the Mariners haven’t officially announced who their starting pitcher will be. I listed the line at 9.0 because that is the consensus right now, but you will probably be able to find it for 8.5 or lower before the start of the game. For the Mariners, apparently going to be Erik Swanson for a few innings and then a bullpen game.
Bullpen games always have the potential to implode on a team since they’re relying on several pitchers, including some usually near the bottom of the roster, to perform well in the same game. For the Rangers, they are countering with Kohei Arihara, who hasn’t been very good and has underlying metrics that say he should be even worse:
Kohei Arihara's Statcast page is one of the coldest things I have ever seen pic.twitter.com/CI9mYhKD0M
— mike Maher. (@mikeMaher) May 8, 2021
With the potential for implosion on both sides here, shop around for the best odds and grab the over in this one. The Rangers have had the third-best offense in baseball over the last week. The Mariners offense has not been very good lately, but they do have some pop in that lineup.
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Mike Maher is an editor and featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive, follow him on Twitter @MikeMaher, and visit his Philadelphia Eagles blog, The Birds Blitz.
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