The 2021 season hasn’t been an easy one for Major League Baseball, but Thursday night’s Field of Dreams Game went as well as the league could have hoped. A picturesque setting in Iowa between the Yankees and White Sox, capped off with a walk-off home run into the cornfields beyond the outfield wall made for a night even casual baseball fans could enjoy, and it became MLB’s most-watched regular-season game in 16 years.
Now, the league is looking to carry that momentum into an exciting stretch run, starting with a crucial slate of games this weekend. Playoff positioning is up for grabs, and betting opportunities are plenty.
Saturday’s edition of wagers is the fourth and final installment of this week’s best bets. So far, we’ve tallied a 3-2-1 record, profiting 1.1 units in the process. Let’s lock in a positive week and sweep the card on Saturday. Here are my two favorite bets on today’s card.
Oakland Athletics -1.5 (-105)
The A’s are in the thick of a playoff race; the Rangers are absolutely not. So before we even dive into the numbers on this one, we’ve got the clear motivational edge.
There’s no value left on the moneyline – Oakland sits around -190 to -200 at most books. But, with such an edge on both the mound and at the plate, I like getting nearly even money on the A’s to top Texas by two or more runs.
James Kaprielian will start for Oakland, and for those who don’t remember, he was the key piece in return from the Yankees as part of the Sonny Gray trade. It took Kaprielian a bit longer to reach the big leagues than perhaps A’s fans anticipated, but he’s burst onto the scene and been a really nice piece in the middle of their rotation. Kaprielian has made 14 starts for the Athletics, posting a 6-4 record with a modest 3.22 ERA. He’s also striking out over a batter per inning as a rookie, which isn’t an easy feat – especially in a notoriously offensive division in the AL West.
James Kaprielian has bounced back nicely in his first start back from injury. Two runs allowed through six innings with four strikeouts.
— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) August 8, 2021
Kaprielian has been strong lately and against Texas – giving Oakland a big edge on Saturday evening. Sans one start against the Padres when he gave up six runs, the right-hander has allowed two runs or fewer in all four of his other outings since the beginning of July. He’s also pitched against the Rangers four times already this year, and while that may seem like a disadvantage because of the exposure Texas hitters have gotten to him, he’s continued to dominate them each time out. Kaprielian has allowed just two runs in three of the four starts and allowed just three in the other outing. Rangers hitters are hitting an awful .148 off him, and their expected slugging percentage is just .404.
He’ll also have the luxury of facing the lightest-hitting lineup since the trade deadline. Texas is hitting just .189 overall in August with a .558 OPS and a 50 wRC+ – all dead-last in baseball by a wide margin. Oakland, on the other hand, is third in baseball since the deadline in wRC+ (128), sixth in OPS (.799), and eighth in average (.266). They’re also striking out at the lowest rate (17.7%) and walking at the highest rate (10.7%). All great things for our bet, and they’ll get to face one of the worst starters in the American League on Saturday to help their bats stay hot.
Jordan Lyles is scheduled to start for Texas, and his 5.46 ERA and -0.3 WAR certainly indicate how poorly his season has gone. Lyles has allowed six earned runs in each of his last two starts, the latter of the two coming against these A’s. Oakland hitters have a .281 batting average lifetime off the Rangers’ right-hander, so the success dates back to the beginning of his career as well. Lyles has also allowed the most home runs of any pitcher over the last two years.
If laying a run and a half is too rich for your blood, pivot to Oakland F5 -125 instead. I would bet Oakland -1.5 down to -115, and if you decide on F5, I would bet that down to -130.
Atlanta Braves / Washington Nationals Over 9 (-120)
At first glance, this pitching matchup doesn’t exactly scream ‘over,’ but the success and exposure each lineup has had against the opposing starter makes this play a hidden gem – despite laying a bit of extra juice in the process. I’d bet this one down to -130, but I wouldn’t play it if the line jumps to 9.5.
The Nationals will start Patrick Corbin. Atlanta will go with fellow lefty Max Fried. Braves hitters have seen Corbin for an incredibly high 177 plate appearances in their combined careers – more than enough to know what he’s got to offer – and the numbers back that up. The Braves’ current roster has an expected batting average of .267 off Corbin; that’s higher than 23 teams’ cumulative batting average since the trade deadline. Their expected slugging percentage is also .512 off him – higher than 28 teams’ cumulative slugging percentage since the deadline. They’re seeing him often, and they’re hitting him hard.
That's the 36th home run surrendered by Patrick Corbin over the last 2 seasons (184.2 IP). Only Jordan Lyles of the Rangers, with 38, has given up more.
— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) August 8, 2021
Corbin has taken the loss in both outings against Atlanta on the year – the first of which he allowed four runs on six hits in 5.1 innings of work, followed by five runs on five hits in six innings just a week ago. The left-hander has also just been really poor this year overall. He owns a 5.83 ERA and a 1.418 WHIP, both way over his career averages, and he’s only struck out 95 hitters in 122.1 innings of work. That all equates to an ugly -1.3 WAR and 12 of 22 starts allowing four-plus runs. It’ll be tough to hold the ninth-best offense in baseball in check.
As for Fried – he hasn’t faced Washington nearly as many times as Corbin has faced the Braves (77), but nearly every time out has been a struggle. The Nationals have a gaudy .306 lifetime average off the lefty Fried, and his ERA against Washington is 5.94 on the year – two full runs higher than his season mark. The Nationals have also fared far better against lefties than righties, hitting 13 points higher in terms of average, 42 points higher in terms of OPS, and 12 points higher in terms of wRC+.
There should be plenty of runs to go around in this one, so make sure to jump on this number before it disappears.
MLB Prop Bets
- George Springer Prop Bet Odds
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- Pete Alonso Prop Bet Odds
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