The MLB season is starting to settle down, and the true contenders are beginning to show themselves after a month and a half.
Still, many of the MLB series that are opening up Tuesday are very much up in the air. So wagering on them could return a fair value over the three-day stretch.
One of the marquee matchups is between the Mets and Nationals. Not because either team is doing well right now, as they both find themselves under .500. But it’s a big series because of the expectations both clubs had to begin the series and the desperation that is beginning to set in.
The red-hot Cubs are also starting a series on Tuesday with fellow NL Central squad Cincinnati. No team can seem to touch them right now. The Reds are five games under .500, yet somehow have a plus-30 run differential.
In another National League affair, the St. Louis Cardinals are headed to Atlanta to face the Braves. Atlanta is coming off an impressive series win over Arizona, while the Cards are looking to bounce back after losing five of their last six.
All in all, I will be covering my favorite series and the keys that will win each one. Odds for each series can be found on SportsBetting.ag.
Chicago Cubs (-120) vs Cincinnati Reds (+100)
On one side, the Cubs are the hottest team in baseball. They started the season at 1-6. Now they’re on a 16-3 run and haven’t lost two games in a row since their poor start.
In the other dugout will be the home team, Cincinnati, who has been an enigma. Baseball-Reference’s Pythagorean win-loss estimates they should be 24-17, yet they’re 18-23. They’ve lost 13 one-run games, while half of their wins have come by three runs or more.
Kyle Hendricks will take the mound first for the Cubbies. He went eight innings in his last outing and the distance in the one before that, allowing zero earned runs in the process.
Joey Votto (8 for 18, 11 BB’s, six runs) has had a lot of success off Hendricks. But take him away, and the rest of the club is batting .224 with only four extra-base hits in 116 AB’s.
It’s safe to say game 1 is the Cubs for the taking, even if they aren’t particularly fond of hitting off Tanner Roark either. He’ll be the Reds’ Tuesday starter.
The second night brings promise to Cinci, as Yu Darvish has struggled mightily since becoming a Cub. He’s only pitched eight innings combined in his last two outings, which were filled with 11 walks.
Sonny Gray hasn’t been particularly brilliant lately either. But I think if the Reds are to win one, it’d be on this day.
If Anthony Rizzo doesn’t suit up tonight, it won’t matter much. The Cubs haven’t needed much hitting with Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, and Hendricks on the bump. And with the way Wilson Contreras (1.035 OPS) and Javy Baez (.988) are hitting, they wouldn’t need him to win this series.
As much potential as the Reds have, it shouldn’t be enough for you to be as timid as the books are right now. Cubs at -120 is highway robbery with the way they’re playing.
New York Mets (-110) vs Washington Nationals (-110)
The Nationals are a team in trouble. The Mets are one sweep away from being in the same position. Both are looking up at the Phillies and wondering what happened to this first month and a half.
Washington needs this series badly, even if it is only May. They’re 16-24, skipper Dave Martinez is already on the hot seat and their bullpen is a disaster aside from Sean Doolittle. Injuries to Trea Turner and Ryan Zimmerman don’t help either.
It doesn’t help that this series includes Jeremy Hellickson and Anibal Sanchez on the mound, and not Max Scherzer. Hellickson (5.62 FIP) and Sanchez (4.86) have had a rough time of it. The latter is 0-6 to this point.
Without Zimmerman, Turner, or Matt Adams in their lineup, this will be a tough one for the Nats to pull out. It doesn’t help that they play no better at home and the Mets have won seven of the last 10 in D.C.
New York’s offense is still spotty. But having Noah Syndergaard setting the tone with the start tonight is big. After mighty struggles to begin the season, the team has won his last couple starts. That includes a complete game, one-hitter.
I like for the Nationals to take Game 2 because the Mets are being forced to start Wilmer Font after the Steven Matz injury. They’ve also had success off game 3 starter Zach Wheeler.
But their own rotational woes will hamper them. And so will the bullpen catastrophe, one that’s seen 12 pitchers come through and only two of them have ERA’s at 3.00 or under. Without Doolittle, their relief ERA would be 7.29. That’s borderline catastrophic.
St. Louis Cardinals (+105) vs Atlanta Braves (-125)
About a week ago, this matchup probably would have had odds in St. Louis’s favor.
But with their rotation in a funk and five of their last six contests being losses, the Cardinals are in a bit of a bind.
They’re not exactly facing a dynamic pitching duo with Mike Foltynewicz and Julio Teheran. Both of their ERA’s have ballooned early on. But rookie Mike Soroka is a different story.
The 21-year-old has an outstanding 1.21 ERA in almost 30 innings of work. He’s yet to give up more than one earned run in any of his five starts and has gone at least five innings in each.
He’ll be up against a shaky Michael Wacha, who’s only 3-0 this year because of crazy run-support that’s covered his 5.35 ERA. The Braves are also .366 as a roster hitting against him. And it’ll be hard for the Red Birds to put up those same numbers for him up against a rookie on this much of a streak.
They are also doing all they can without Matt Carpenter doing much at all at the plate. After a hot start, Marcell Ozuna has gone hitless in seven of his last 10 games. Those were two of their presumed top three hitters coming into this season.
Freddie Freeman should be back tomorrow from illness, if not tonight. Knowing the Braves will have their top hitter in the midst of a little win-streak is imperative. I see them building on this momentum at home and winning two out of three.