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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.
Milwaukee Brewers (-196) vs. Chicago Cubs (+165) Total: 9
The slate tonight isn't very ripe for underdogs, so I'm going to so something unpopular and back some run lines on heavy favorites. My first is the Brewers, who will throw Freddy Peralta against a beaten down Cubs team that will roll out Alec Mills.
On the surface, things don't look too difficult for Mills. After all, the Brewers have hit a pedestrian .256 since the break with a .167 ISO, looking very much like an average offense. When you take into account their average mark against righties this year, though, you're getting somewhere; Milwaukee's season-long numbers look very poor and don't really represent the team as it is today, so average is good. Then, you can talk about the Brewers' performance against sinkers, where they rank ninth in weighted runs per 100 pitches. Mills, of course, is a sinker-baller.
Strikeouts have been a killer for the Brewers this year, but Mills sits at just 16.4% as a pitch-to-contact right-hander. This is a potentially dangerous matchup against an offense with a good 77.8% contact rate.
That all sounds like reason enough to back the Brewers, and then there's the Cubs' offense, looking dejected, against one of the most talented pitchers in baseball, Freddy Peralta. Runs should be at a premium for Chicago, and Milwaukee should run away.
Edge: Brewers -1.5 (-125)
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New York Yankees (-180) vs. Kansas City Royals (+150) Total: 10
The Yankees are shorthanded, and haven't even been producing that well at the plate since the All-Star break with a 99 wRC+. I want to take the Royals here — I really do — but this is a downright awful spot for them.
Even without Gary Sanchez, Anthony Rizzo and perhaps Gleyber Torres, this offense is still in a fantastic spot against Carlos Hernandez, who has one of the best fastballs in the game at around 98 mph on average but rarely knows where it's going. He's allowed buckets of hard-hit balls this year, and enters with a very poor 14% walk rate. No team has walked more than the Yankees this season at 10.7%, and only six teams can lay claim to a higher rate of hard-hit balls in the second half.
You also must consider the replacements for the Yankees' names on the COVID list. Kyle Higashioka is one of the team's best fastball hitters, and Luke Voit has walked in 8.7% of his plate appearances this year. The Yankees should be plenty prepared here.
With that, not much should be required with Jameson Taillon on the hill, the way he's been pitching. Taillon struck out 10 in his last outing and has brought his strikeout rate up to 24.1%, and now gets to face a team with an 82 wRC+ in the second half, which is second-to-last in baseball. It feels bad to back a semi-heavy favorite on the road where the power should theoretically dissipate, but the matchup is right.
Edge: Yankees First Five Innings -0.5 (-131)
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