By my quick math, there are only four Wednesdays left in the MLB regular season. That only means 12 more best bets from yours truly, as we try and wrap the season up with an elusive 3-0 week. Still, I don’t want to paint a picture that’s too bleak. We’ve been making money since April, as I’m now up to 39-20 on article plays in 2021 thanks to yet another 2-1 effort seven days back.
Here are my three favorite wagers for tonight’s baseball slate on the DraftKings Sportsbook.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
I am currently in the business of backing Triston McKenzie, and let me tell you, business is good. The rookie right-hander has been an absolutely different pitcher since the beginning of August. He’s working deeper into games, his fastball has more life and pop than it did in the first-half of the season and, most importantly, he’s not walking anybody. In McKenzie’s last five starts, the 24-year-old has pitched to a 1.85 ERA and a 2.29 FIP, thanks primarily to limiting opponents to a microscopic .157 wOBA. McKenzie has also posted an immaculate 0.50 WHIP within this span of time, as he’s registered just a 2.6% walk rate. I understand it’s only 34.0 innings, but this is incredibly enticing stuff from a pitcher that’s already dripping with prospect pedigree.
It helps that the Twins aren’t really hitting all that well, too. Minnesota has managed an underwhelming .296 wOBA and 86 wRC+ across the past two weeks, as Byron Buxton has really struggled to find his footing after a lengthy IL stint. Yes, this is mostly the same collection of bats that hung six earned runs on Mckenzie back in early May; however, as mentioned above, the right-hander is in a different place now. I’m confident he and a very good Cleveland bullpen can shut down the Twins on Wednesday night.
While I understand that this is a contest that features a pair of rookie starters going up against two of the better lineups in baseball, I just can’t wrap my head around this line. In fact, it’s that quick summation of tonight’s matchup that’s been a problem for bettors of the over all season long when it comes to the Jays and the Yankees. People know these two teams can hit, so oddsmakers inflate the total. It’s why 56.7% of New York’s games in 2021 have gone to the under — the highest mark in all of baseball. Meanwhile, 55.3% of Toronto’s contests have finished under the number — the second-highest figure among American League teams.
When talking specifically about tonight, it’s also crucial to not simply classify Luis Gil and Alek Manoah as rookies, as both have had incredible amounts of success at the MLB level. Gil has yet to allow an earned run across his 15.2 innings of work, and he’s registered a sterling 1.67 FIP when facing right-handed opponents. The ability to dominate that particular split is important when facing a Blue Jays roster that is nothing but right-handed power. We’ve got an even larger sample with Manoah, who is currently in possession of a 3.63 ERA and a 3.63 xERA through 15 starts with Toronto. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in 11 of those outings and is now facing a New York lineup that hasn’t been able to muster an extra-base hit since Sunday. There won’t be 11 runs scored tonight.
It’s pretty easy to suggest that this will simply come down to a matter of innings volume for Gutierrez, yet that’s exactly what’s played out across his past six starts. In the four games during that stretch where the rookie right-hander has pitched at least six innings, he’s covered this prop every time and averaged 6.8 strikeouts per contest in the process. In the two games where Gutierrez has failed to make it through six frames, he’s mustered an anemic strikeout rate of just 9.1%. It’s a real “Jekyll & Hyde” situation.
However, this isn’t only about Gutierrez. In fact, it’s probably more about the Cubs, who lead baseball with a 29.1% strikeout rate and a 13.7% swinging strike rate over the last 30 days. To be blunt, they can make any opposing starter look like Nolan Ryan on a given night, and that includes Gutierrez, as he racked up seven strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work versus this very same roster back on Aug. 17. Considering we only need five strikeouts this time around, I’m willing to trust Cincinnati’s 25-year-old hurler on Wednesday.
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