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Odds and Ends

MLB Best Bets for August 15

by Kenny Ducey
Updated On: August 15, 2021, 9:55 am ET

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It's Sunday, which means we're gifted with a long, jam-packed day of baseball. I've picked out two bets I really like, and without further ado I'll lay them out below.

New York Yankees (+150) vs. Chicago White Sox (-180) Total: 9

I'm going to grab two underdogs on Sunday, and the first of them will be a team which almost no one considers an underdog on a yearly basis.

Here's the thing about the White Sox: This run they're on right now at the plate over the last two games is somewhat of a mirage. Their body of work since the final weekend of July has been rather pedestrian with a 105 wRC+, and they're not the lefty-mashing machines they once were. The team that sat atop the wRC+ column all year long against lefties is now clinging to a top-five spot, despite the fact that Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez have returned from injury.

Lucas Giolito has also been a vampire this season, refusing to do anything in the daylight. In 10 afternoon contests, he's allowed 11 homers and pitched to a 5.01 ERA, and has tried everything imaginable to get himself going for these early starts. That's concern enough, and then there's the fact that he's been inconsistent over the last two weeks.

Giolito's bout with gopher balls should catch up to him against New York, who has been hitting homers in bunches lately, and a spectacular Nestor Cortes should quiet Chicago's on-the-whole underwhelming bats of late with his expert 3.5% barrel rate.

Edge: Yankees +150

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Colorado Rockies (+170) vs. San Francisco Giants (-200) Total: 8

Speaking of those splits, can we talk about the Colorado Rockies for a second? They rank fourth in the league with a .771 OPS against lefties this season, and will encounter yet another one on Sunday in Sammy Long. The lefty has been a strikeout machine just about everywhere he's pitched in his career, and has made a fast start in the major leagues with some good outings and a solid 3.63 xERA.

I hate this matchup for long, however, who has given up hard-hit contact at an above-average rate and with many walks relied on strikeouts to bail him out. The Rockies are only punching out at a 21.2% rate against lefties this season with a great 8.8% walk rate, which should be nightmare fuel for Long, who is trying to put it back together after a look as an extended starter didn't go so well at the beginning of the year.

Jon Gray stands at the other end of this matchup, and he's been stellar all season long with a great barrel rate and plenty of high-strikeout performances. Though he's coming out one of his weaker outings, allowing four runs on six hits with nine strikeouts, that did come against the Houston Astros. It won't get a whole lot easier against the Giants, but he does have a good track record against his division rival with a great start in San Francisco this year. I think the Rockies are the value play.

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Kenny Ducey

Kenny Ducey is a former member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, writing and editing for Sports Illustrated and Baseball Prospectus. His work also appears at DraftKings and The Action Network. Follow him on Twitter @KennyDucey.