We’ve reached the final week of the first half of the MLB season. Each team has two series left before the All-Star break, and there are 10 games to choose from on Monday.
Let’s break down some of my favorite MLB wagers to target on DraftKings Sportsbook.
New York Mets at Atlanta Braves:
Mets ML (+105)
The Mets and Braves kick off a crucial three-game series on Monday. The Mets have led the NL East all year – occasionally by massive amounts – but the Braves have them squarely in their sights. They’ve cut the deficit to just 1.5 games, so they can move ahead of the Mets if they win this series.
Monday’s matchup features an outstanding pitching matchup between Max Fried and Max Scherzer. Fried has had a phenomenal season, posting a 2.52 ERA and a 2.81 xERA across 107 1/3 innings. The Braves have won nine straight contests with Fried on the mound, and he was rewarded with his first career All-Star nod.
Scherzer is noticeably absent from the NL All-Star team, but that’s due more to his health than his play. He’s pitched to a stellar 2.26 ERA and an 11.32 K/9 when on the bump, so he’s shown no real signs of decline despite nearing 38 years of age.
The Braves have been the better offensive squad – especially of late – but this matchup vs. Scherzer could spell trouble. They own the third-highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers, so they could struggle to put the ball in play. The Mets’ offense should also struggle against Fried, but getting Scherzer as a dog is simply too tempting to pass up.
Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals:
Phillies ML (-115)
This is another series with big potential implications in the standings. The Phillies currently own a one-game lead over the Cardinals for the final spot in the NL playoffs. There are other teams still in contention, but both of these squads are expected to fight for a Wild Card spot down the stretch.
The Cardinals will have the benefit of home field in this matchup, but the Phillies have a clear edge on the mound. They’ll hand the ball to Aaron Nola, who has been excellent this season. His 3.15 ERA is strong, but his 2.81 xERA is even better. Nola provides an elite combination of strikeouts and Statcast data, ranking in at least the 80th percentile in strikeout rate and hard-hit rate.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals continue to make subpar contact. They own the second-worst hard-hit rate in the league and the third-worst average exit velocity. They make up for it by putting plenty of balls in play, but Nola should be able to keep their offense at bay.
The Phillies should have an easier go against Miles Mikolas. His 2.72 ERA is excellent, but his advanced stats suggest he’s been lucky. Specifically, his .239 batting average on balls in play is well below his career mark of .280.
Overall, the Phillies’ offense ranks 11th in wRC+ against right-handers over the past 14 days, while the Cards rank just 23rd in that split. They’re a strong play at -115.
Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Guardians:
White Sox ML (-115)
Things have not gone according to plan for Lance Lynn this season. He didn’t make his first start until June 13, and he’s racked up a 5.33 ERA in his five outings. He was roughed up by the Twins in his last appearances, surrendering five earned runs in just five innings.
Still, Lynn has a good pedigree as a pitcher. He posted a 2.69 ERA and a 2.72 xERA in 2021, and he was in the mix for the AL Cy Young award right up until the end of the year. There are plenty of reasons to believe in a bounce-back for Lynn moving forward, especially since his xERA is nearly 1.5 runs lower than his actual mark.
Lynn owns the clear edge at pitcher over the Guardians’ Cal Quantrill on Monday. Quantrill's 3.86 ERA is solid, but his 4.79 xERA is not. He’s averaged just 5.58 strikeouts per nine innings, so he relies on good batted-ball luck to generate outs.
Considering the gulf in quality between these two starters, I’ll take my chances with the White Sox at -115.
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