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Top 3 MLB Betting Picks for Monday, August 30th (2021)

by August 30, 2021
Nick Pivetta Red Sox

This week provided separation in some MLB division races, as we enter this week with just two first-place teams with leads of less than five games. However, the addition of the second wild card spot will keep many more teams in the hunt for the postseason, which means there will be plenty of meaningful games left to wager on as we head into September.

We start the week searching for our seventh consecutive profitable day as we move closer to double digits in units. Today’s picks feature totals involving some of each league’s biggest rivals and a runline in what could potentially be a playoff preview.

Here are my MLB top betting plays for Monday. (Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook)

View the best player prop bets for today’s slate with our MLB Prop Bet Cheat Sheet >>

YTD: 147-123-7 (+7.25 units) 

Cardinals-Reds UNDER 9.5 runs (-120)

If the St. Louis Cardinals have serious aspirations of making the playoffs, this is a series they have to win. They enter tonight trailing the Reds by 3.5 games for the N.L.’s second wild card spot and still have to leapfrog the Padres. This year, the Reds are 8-5 against the Cardinals, which suggests they have the upper hand in this series opener. However, we prefer to make a contrarian play and take the under tonight.

The under is a contrarian play given that the over is 9-4-2 in the last 15 meetings between these teams and is 5-1 in their previous six meetings in Cincinnati. In addition, St. Louis starter Jon Lester (4-6, 5.27) has not exactly been lights out this season. However, the under is 9-1 in St. Louis’s last ten series openers and 5-0 in Cincinnati’s previous five games.

Lester has allowed just one earned run in two of his last three starts and has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last four road starts. He has been roughed up by Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez in his career, as they have hit a combined nine home runs in 63 plate appearances against him. But no active left-handed hitter is batting better than .250 in their career against Lester, including Joey Votto, who has just 11 hits in 49 career at-bats against Lester.

The Reds counter with Luis Castillo (7-13, 4.29), who has allowed three earned runs or less in 16 of his last 17 starts. He has a 3.50 ERA at home this season and has done a much better job keeping the ball in the park when pitching at home. In 74.2 home innings, Castillo has allowed just four home runs but has allowed 12 home runs in 76.1 innings on the road.

Cincinnati has been held to two total runs in their last two games, so their offense has not been in the best form. In addition, the fact that the Reds have lost back-to-back games bodes well for the under, as the under has cashed in each of Cincinnati’s last five games following a loss.

Red Sox-Rays First Five Innings UNDER 4.5 runs (-105)

Another contrarian play on a total is in the series opener between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. The over is 7-2 in the last nine meetings in Tampa Bay between these teams and 21-6-2 in their previous 29 meetings. However, each starting pitcher’s career numbers against the opposition are too good to ignore.

Boston’s Nick Pivetta (9-6, 4.57) has held current Rays hitters to a .096 batting average (5-for-52) and .154 slugging percentage. Opponents batting in the heart of the order are hitting just .162 against Pivetta this year, which is the best OBA among all qualified starting pitchers. He has also allowed a .316 slugging percentage on the road this season, which ranks seventh among all qualified starters. Meanwhile, in limited action, current Red Sox hitters have gone just 3-for-16 (.188) against Tampa Bay’s Luis Patino (3-3, 4.53).

The reason for the first five innings is that Boston’s bullpen is not the most dependable and that Tampa Bay’s offense seems to wake up late in games. This season, the Rays have scored 240 runs in innings 7-9, which is the most in the majors.

The under is 5-0 in Pivetta’s last five starts against divisional opponents and is 4-0 in his previous four starts against teams with a winning record. Take relievers out of the equation, and look for Pivetta and Patino to keep the scoring down early.

Los Angeles Dodgers -1.5 runs (+105)

It may seem odd to see the Dodgers have such steep moneyline odds over a Braves team that has won 20 of their last 26 road games and 20 of their last 27 games overall. However, oddsmakers have likely factored in the difficulty of traveling cross country without a day off, which means the Braves could be at a significant disadvantage tonight.

The Dodgers have also played outstanding baseball of late, winning 13 of their last 16 games. They will look to shrug off the sting of losing a home series to the Rockies, though they did not have their best arms going in those games. Los Angeles opens the series with Julio Urias (14-3, 3.17), who is looking to become baseball’s first 15-game winner. Urias is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA in his last seven starts and has lost just once in ten home starts all season. Atlanta’s Drew Smyly (9-3, 4.54) has allowed three earned runs in each of his last four road starts, which may be too many if he wants to keep his team in tonight’s game against Urias.

The Dodgers are 21-6 in their last 27 home games against the Braves, and the over has cashed in Smyly’s last eight starts as an underdog. Both of these trends have us confident in a big win by the home team tonight.

MLB Prop Bets

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

Baseball, Picks