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Odds and Ends

MLB Best Bets for August 23

by Kenny Ducey
Updated On: August 23, 2021, 3:59 pm 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.

Chicago White Sox (-105) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (-115) Total: 8.5

As we saw in Sunday's blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the White Sox have little to play for at this point. They're ahead in the AL Central comfortably by double digits, and as team broadcasters mentioned during the game star players are being rested as the team focuses on the postseason. It wouldn't be a surprise to see one of Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert rested with a long week and quick turnaround after Sunday, but even without them I want to fade this Chicago offense.

The White Sox have a 101 wRC+ in the second half of the season and with so many right-handed power bats match up much better agianst left-handers. They will be confronted by a big, menacing righty in Alek Manoah here, and I don't think it'll go very well for them.

Manoah has had a solid 3.47 xERA to back his 3.34 ERA in his first 12 big-league starts, and his high strikeout rate at 28.3% and low hard-hit rate at 33.1% inspire confidence against a team that makes a boatload of hard contact and strikes out a ton. This is a great way to back Manoah without the fear of Lance Lynn.

Edge: White Sox Under 4 Runs (-105)

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New York Yankees (-105) vs. Atlanta Braves (-115) Total: 9

While the Braves have brought in some reinforcements after struggling all year against left-handed pitching, the numbers are still pretty grim. They are 22nd with a 95 wRC+ against southpaws, making them a firmly below-average offense in those situations, and they have posted a 22.2% strikeout rate in those at-bats.

Enter Jordan Montgomery, who has been a rock for the Yankees and despite a tough last start should be trusted here. Montgomery's fastball is one of the better ones in baseball in terms of velocity and spin, and the Braves have managed just 0.24 weighted runs per 100 pitches there. It should also be noted his last outing came after a COVID-related absence, and he should look less rusty here.

While he should pitch well, he could probably yield three or four runs and still get the win. That's because Huascar Ynoa is going  for the Braves, and he has poor peripherals. A 4.54 xERA and 45.8% hard-hit rate should come back to bite Ynoa, considering the Yankees' excellence in exit velocity and barrels. This is a team that has produced more at the plate statistically in the second half of the season and has the clear-cut edge in the pitching matchup. The Yankees should not be the underdogs.

Edge: Yankees -105

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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.