Baseball is having a hard time getting anything right these days. We’ve got umpires checking knuckleballers – of all pitchers – for sticky stuff, manager’s challenging coaches in the opposite dugout to fights on the field, and pitchers getting so frustrated with pine tar checks that they’re taking their uniforms off on the mound.
The league had the perfect opportunity to distract its fans from all the negative publicity by unveiling the 2021 All-Star uniforms, but alas, another swing and miss. The uniforms, which will now be worn during the game itself instead of during the Home Run Derby (boo!), are an eyesore. I haven’t found a single positive review of this year’s Mid-Summer Classic jerseys, giving baseball yet another mountain to climb in the world of PR.
Turning our attention to the betting windows, we’ve now split our best bets each of the last three Saturdays, and while we’re not losing any money, we’re also not winning any. And after all, that’s why we’re here: to win some money. Have no fear, though. I’ve found two teams I like a lot on this Saturday slate, so let’s dive in and turn some profit.
View the best player prop bets for today’s slate with our MLB Prop Bet Cheat Sheet >>
Pittsburgh Pirates ML (+140)
One of my favorite pieces of feedback from readers and my Twitter followers is how much fun it was to cash a plus-money underdog winner. Here’s my favorite underdog today: the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates are not a good baseball team. There’s no denying that, but they haven’t been all that bad lately.
Pittsburgh went through a brutal 10-game losing skid just a week or so ago, but since then has played much better. They’re 5-2 in the last week, including an 8-2 road victory against these Cardinals on Thursday. St. Louis, on the other hand, has gone ice cold. They’re just 2-12 over their last 14, and they’ve forgotten how to hit. The Cardinals are averaging just 3.3 runs per game during that span, which over a full season would be dead-last in baseball by nearly a third of a run per game.
JT Brubaker will take the ball for the Pirates, and he’s been terrific this year outside of two starts. He’s taken the mound 13 times this season and just twice has he given up more than three earned runs. In fact, he’s held opponents to two or fewer runs nine times. He’s just had very little offensive support to back him up. Brubaker has also really found his groove around the plate of late. In his last four starts, he’s struck out 21 hitters and walked just three over 21.1 innings of work.
JT Brubaker racked up 11 whiffs with his slider pic.twitter.com/ZU4PxXyypZ
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) June 21, 2021
I don’t always love betting against a grizzled veteran like Adam Wainwright, who is expected to take the mound today, but the Pirates have seen a ton of Wainwright over his career. They’ve racked up 103 plate appearances against him and have an expected batting average of .259. That’s nothing to put on a monument outside of PNC Park, but it’s certainly better than the team’s .231 batting average on the year.
A final point on this one, and it’s a bit of an odd one, but it still applies. Nick Mahrley is expected to be the home plate umpire, and home teams are just 4-9 on the moneyline (30.8%) when he calls balls and strikes. Luckily, we’ve got the road team in this one.
Chicago White Sox F5 -0.5 (-130)
A tie game is a loss here, not a push, but I’m willing to take the risk based on how strong Lance Lynn has been this year. He’s sixth in baseball and tops in the American League with a 2.14 ERA, and he’s slated to face the Mariners, who are 29th in the league in team batting average (.215). Huge, huge mismatch in our favor.
The full game price at -190 is way too steep, and I’d rather not put my trust in the hands of a bullpen when I’ve got this dominant of a starter on the mound. Lynn has been especially dominant in his first two passes through the lineup, which is why I love the first five innings price here. Lynn has a 2.08 ERA and a .169 batting average against in the first three innings, and a 2.56 ERA and a .228 batting average against in innings four through six. Much of those numbers in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings are skewed by a .300 batting average allowed and 3.86 ERA in the sixth, and since we’re only worried about the first five innings, it’s of no consequence to us.
Lynn has also owned Seattle in his career. He’s allowed an expected batting average of .204 against the Mariners and has an astounding 33.3% strikeout rate. I expect that strikeout rate to jump even higher in this one, as the Mariners are 24th in baseball with 9.54 strikeouts per game. It will be tough for them to put balls in play, and I don’t expect more than a run or two off Lynn.
The White Sox are slated to face Logan Gilbert, and he’s had a bit of a rough first seven games as a big leaguer. He sports a 4.50 ERA and a 1.118 WHIP, and he hasn’t exactly faced the stiffest competition. Gilbert has done battle with the Indians (twice), Tigers, Athletics (twice), Angels, and Rays. Today, he’ll face a White Sox team that averages more runs per game (4.81) than any of those teams except Tampa Bay. I expect runs early and often from the potent Chicago bats, plenty to cover this half-run spread.
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Mike Wagenman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @mjwags23.
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