MLB picks: 3 best sides bets for Monday (July 8) (2024)

The holiday is over, the dog days of summer are here, and three MLB picks are below to hopefully help with your bankroll.

Play 1: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Atlanta Braves -- Under 4.5 runs in first five innings (-132) ESPN BET

The Braves send Chris Sale to the mound Monday night in Arizona, and Sale looks exactly like the Chris Sale of old.

A near-33% K rate, a 5% walk rate, a .110 ISO against and .249 wOBA against. Plus his hard hit rate is 21.1% -- the lowest of his illustrious career.

And somewhat incredibly, Sale has been a little bit unlucky: He's being BABIP'd to a .283 tune, and his xFIP of 2.45 is lower than his ERA of 2.71.

Now: Might the D-Backs turn on Sale's slider and chase him? Sure, it could happen. But I don't like betting on that outcome. I'll always bet on Sale to keep runs off the board, especially the first two times through a lineup. So I like his chances on Monday night, simply because he's been pitching outstanding baseball.

Meanwhile, the always-dangerous Braves have two things working against them: The cross-country flight Sunday night from home to the almost-west coast, and the fact they're going up against hard-throwing rookie Yilber Diaz.

What we know about Diaz: A lot of strikeouts, a few too many walks, a plus-fastball and a plus-curve.

Fangraphs scouts see him as a "late inning weapon" as his career progresses, which leads straight into this bet.

The Braves batters have never seen Diaz, there's no book on him, and assuming he can get through the first-inning jitters in his MLB debut, I think there's a reasonable expectation he'll be able to get through the lineup at least once.

This bet is not without risk, and truly, if you like it, it might even be better to take the +130 odds at DraftKings for under 3.5 runs. Either way, Sale should do his part; can the rookie match him?

Play 2: Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels -- Rangers -1.5 runs (+115) ESPN BET

Jon Gray is two different pitchers.

Against righties, he's awesome. This year, for instance, he has a 22% strikeout rate against a 1.8% walk rate against righties. A .079 ISO against, a .246 wOBA against right-handed batters

Against lefties, not so awesome: A 19% K rate vs. an 11% walk rate, along with .190 ISO and .378 wOBA against.

Tonight, he's on the road against an Angels squad that will probably be only throwing three lefties at him, and none of them -- Nolan Schanuel, Willie Calhoun, and Mickey Moniak -- should be considered especially scary for Gray.

Meanwhile, Gray is a two-pitcher pitcher, throwing four-seam fastballs and sliders almost exclusively. And if Gray is looking at the same numbers I'm looking at, he's going to hit the Halos with sliders all night. Not one projected batter has an ISO over .175 against the pitch over the last two years, and the most dangerous bat in the lineup -- Taylor Ward -- is at .096 (along with a .234 wOBA).

Gray should coast tonight.

On the other side, rookie Davis Daniel -- who, it should be noted, is 27 -- takes the hill for the Angels. Daniel has a below average fastball and a decent slider, but the dangerous Rangers lineup feasts on both.

Against four-seamers, six batters have .175 ISOs and above, and against the slider, that number stays the same. And it's the big boppers we're talking about, including Corey Seager and Adolis Garcia.

I like Gray to get the job done on the mound, and the Rangers bats to get the job done at the plate.

Play 3: Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins -- Over 9.5 runs (+102) FanDuel

This game has post-fourth of July fireworks written all over it, as Chris Paddack and Chris Flexen take to the hill for the Twins and White Sox, respectively.

Let's start with Flexen -- he's a low-strikeout pitcher (6.67 per nine innings pitched) and he gives up a ton of power (1.59 HR/9) and a decent amount of hard contact (33%). And while he's been reverse-splitsy most of his career, this year -- perhaps a blip? -- lefties are crushing him, but he's doing better against righties.

All of it probably won't matter much against a very dangerous Twins lineup, even without Royce Lewis. To wit: The expected lineup doesn't feature a single batter with an ISO lower than .179 against righties over the last two seasons. Nor a wOBA lower than .318. Also, six players boast walk rates north of 8.2%, and Flexen's control isn't quite up to snuff, walking 9% of all batters.

The Twins look primed to put runs on the board this evening.

Meanwhile, Chris Paddack is what he is at this stage of his career: Serviceable. He's a tick better than Flexen -- a few more K's, a few less home runs, fewer hard hit balls -- but he's not exactly putting fear into the hearts of batters.

And the meat of the Chisox order -- Luis Robert, Gavin Sheets, Eloy Jimenez, and Paul DeJong -- all set up well against Paddack's main pitch, the four-seam fastball.

I figure the Twins are going to light it up, and the White Sox shouldn't be that far behind. The over is the play.

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Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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MLB picks: 3 best sides bets for Monday (July 8) (2024)


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