The first Sunday of the 2020 MLB season is upon us and it comes off the back of a fascinating day of results on Sunday. With a number of teams getting their first win on the board a lot of the series head into their final matchup evenly balanced at 1-1. In terms of the trends of the season, Saturday saw a swing towards the under when it comes to totals and the season stands at 13-16-2 through the first 31 games. It will be interesting to see whether that trend continues on the 7/26 slate and what that means when it comes to betting MLB games over the next week or so.
So far through the first three days of baseball, all of the home teams have registered at least one win with the results standing at 19-12 for the home teams. In terms of the run line, favorites have covered the spread in 17 of the 31 contests, while winning 20 and losing 11.
Let’s dive into today’s slate and see what value we can find!
7/26 Best Bets
Minnesota Twins @ Chicago White Sox: Over 10.5 (-110)
This has been a high scoring series with a total of 28 runs scored, and it does not look like slowing down anytime soon. The weather is expected to be warm in Chicago and there should be a strong wind prevailing out towards the fences at left field, which is the best place in Guaranteed Rate Field Park when it comes to home runs.
Kenta Maeda will take to the mound for the Twins, having been one of the weaker links for the Dodgers last year allowing an ER of 4.04. He struggled with home runs last season, allowing a HR/9 of 1.29 and could be vulnerable in this one against a White Sox team that went deep five times yesterday.
Reynaldo Lopez is one of the more frustrating pitchers in the majors, with a lot of talent, but also prone to be hit very hard. He allowed a gaudy 1.71 HR/9 last season on his way to a 5.38 ERA. While I expect some regression on those home run numbers across the season, this Twins team already has three home runs through the first two games of the season and put up a .220 ISO against right-handed pitchers in 2019. This game could be a true battle of the bats and should go well into double-digits.
Seattle Mariners @ Houston Astros: Astros -1.5 (-157)
This game takes a similar shape to yesterday, at least from the Seattle hitting side. To quote from yesterday:
Seattle’s lineup was inconsistent on the road in 2019, struggling for batting average (.240), but taking full advantage power wise when they were given the opportunity, ranking in the top 10 in both slugging and ISO (Isolated Power): Average number of extra bases per at bat, calculated several ways such as SLG minus AVG.”>ISO last season. Unfortunately for Seattle, McCullers is one of the least home run prone pitchers in the league, with a career average of 0.7 home runs per nine.
Greinke had struggled with home runs in 2016 through 2018, allowing over 1.1 HR/9 in each of those three seasons. However, 2019 saw Greinke get that HR/9 number back under one. When you combine that with Greinke’s stingy walk rate it hard to see how the Mariners will put up enough runs to beat a very good Astros lineup.
Mariners starter Kikuchi struggled massively in his first MLB season, with a 5.46 ERA. As far as the Astros go, they were a top-five offense against left-handed hitters. Having roared out of the gate, the Astros should be set to have another good offensive day Sunday against the Mariners.
The juice at -157 is not ideal, but it is one of the more comfortable looking selections on a day with a lot of questionable pitchers. This could be a game to parlay with one of the other selections in today’s article.
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Pittsburgh Pirates @ St. Louis Cardinals: Cardinals -1.5 (+123)
This game has mismatch written all over it as Mitch Keller and Dakota Hudson go head-to-head. Keller had a disastrous season in 2019, especially on the road, where he allowed 26 earned runs through 21 innings with a .416 batting average against. One thing to watch is that his FIP and xFIP on the road were both significantly lower, suggesting he had a lot of bad luck. However, the Pirates defense is not significantly improved and Keller struggled massively giving up hard contact on the road last season.
In contrast, Dakota Hudson was lights out at home in 2019, with a 2.75 ERA and .224 batting average against. Hudson relies heavily on the work of his defense, as his walk rate leaves him with an inflated FIP and xFIP compared to his ERA. However, Hudson has a strong defense behind him, that ranked fourth in defensive runs saved in 2019, which for a pitcher with a GB% over 55 at is extremely good news. The Pirates put up solid numbers against right-handed hitters in 2019, but struggled for power and Hudson did a good job limiting opponent’s power at home, with just 1.01 HR/9.
Colorado Rockies @ Texas Rangers: Under 8.5 (+102)
A lot was made in the past offseason that the Rangers’ new ballpark would play with a more pitcher-friendly trend. So far that has been proven correct through two games, with a total of six runs being shared by the Rockies and Rangers. Things should not get any more high scoring today with Corey Kluber and Kyle Freeland on the mound.
In 2019, left-handed pitcher Freeland was much better on the road than he was at home, especially when it came to giving up home runs, with a HR/9 rate over 50% lower on the road. The Rangers bats were perfectly adequate against left-handed pitchers last year when it came to power, but they struggled for consistency, with the third-worst average in the majors at .243. Additionally, one of the Rangers he’s hitters against lefties last year, Hunter Pence, is no longer with the team.
The Rockies will see the Rangers’ newest pitcher in Corey Kluber on the mound for his first start as a Ranger. Kluber is coming off a tough final year in Cleveland, but had a strong outing a Rangers’ intrasquad game 10 days ago. The Rockies had solid numbers against right-handed pitchers last season, but their offensive struggles on the road are well known. They finished bottom of the league in average, in the bottom two in slugging and bottom five in ISO when playing away from Colorado in 2019.
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