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Odds and Ends

MLB Best Bets for May 21

by Kenny Ducey
Updated On: May 21, 2022, 2:30 pm ET

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Happy Saturday! Let's keep the weekend going with a couple of winners on the diamond. Here is what I like on tonight's slate.

Texas Rangers (+210) vs. Houston Astros (-261) Total: 7.5

The Rangers were on a heater at the plate until they ran into the Astros here in Houston. At that point, all hope was lost offensively; the lineup has produced just four runs in two games after putting up at least six in their last four. That should be the story on Saturday with Justin Verlander on the bump.

The 39-year-old has been really good this season. While his strikeout rate isn't quite in the elite category it's been in for years, 25.3% is still firmly above average. He's posted a 2.67 xERA and has only allowed more than one run twice all year. He's had three scoreless starts, and has gone 13 straight scoreless innings over his last two starts with 10 strikeouts.

Verlander should be just fine against a team in the bottom half of the league in wRC+ in the last two weeks, and I'm confident Jon Gray can play his part as well. Yes, the Astros are first in wRC+ in the last two weeks, but they're 14th in contact rate and 11th in hard-hit rate. They have hit a lot of home runs but haven't made consistent contact or consistent good contact, leaving me a little skeptical here.

Gray has been fine this year with an expected ERA of 3.84 and I think both pitchers should have success.

Edge: Under 7.5

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Oakland Athletics (+125) vs. Los Angeles Angels (-145) Total: 7.5

It's just not happening for these offenses right now. The A's rank 16th in wRC+ in the last week of play and the Angels 14th. Oakland has mustered up just one run or fewer in four of its last eight contests and L.A. has averaged four runs per game in the last five.

On top of all this, the A's are second-to-last against fastballs in the last two weeks and dead last for the entire season. That's not a very good sign heading into a matchup with sinkerballer Michael Lorenzen, who has been pretty great this year. He owns a 3.57 ERA and 3.42 xERA and has been an expert at pitching to contact.

Frankie Montas is another sinkerballer, and he's been even better. The Angels are 21st in run value against fastballs and Montas is allowing a .197 expected batting average on his four-seamer. This should be yet another under. 

Edge: Under 7.5

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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.