Best Baseball Bets To Make On August 21

Friday's top wagers focus heavily on run lines.

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Friday’s MLB schedule lost a marquee Subway Series showdown between the Yankees and Mets. While we’re still waiting for that elusive full slate where every team takes the field, 14 other contests remain on the docket. Here are some of the best bets to make on Friday.


Total Runs by Atlanta Braves: O/U 3.5 (-141/+123 DK)


The Braves remain atop an unimpressive NL East without Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, and Nick Markakis. Those key absences will eventually hinder a lineup that enters Friday’s matchup wielding an above-average .326 wOBA and 104 wRC+, per FanGraphs. They’ll face a steep challenge against Aaron Nola, who has re-discovered his ace form. Four starts into 2020, Philadelphia’s righty has cemented himself as a legitimate NL Cy Young Award contender, flashing a 2.05 ERA, 2.27 FIP, and 37-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

When last encountering Atlanta on August 10, Nola held them to one run over eight spectacular frames. That didn’t matter for bettors who took the under, however, as Nick Pivetta then imploded in a seventh-run ninth. That’s the last we’ve seen of him. Philadelphia’s MLB-worst bullpen could nevertheless remain a monumental hurdle to skirting below a tiny over/under line. It’s a risk worth taking if trusting a red-hot Nola to work at least seven masterful frames, which he’s done in consecutive starts.

Pick: Under


Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays: O/U 8.5 (-124/+102 DK, -120/-102 FD)


This game caught my attention because Fade The Noise’s MLB Optimizer projects a combined 7.9 runs, the day’s lowest forecasted run total. After digging deeper, the case for the under doesn’t seem so clear-cut. Four of the Blue Jays and Rays’ six meetings this season cleared the over with at least 10 combined runs. After crossing home plate 20 times in a three-game sweep over the Yankees, the Rays lead the AL in runs scored (141, 5.4 per game).

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, extended their winning streak to five by erasing a seven-run deficit in a seven-inning encounter with the Phillies. Even without Bo Bichette, this offense is dangerous so long as Teoscar Hernández and Randal Grichuk are swinging sizzling bats. They’ve upped their season average to 4.6 runs per game.

Besides, Matt Shoemaker vs. Ryan Yarbrough isn’t exactly a formidable pitchers’ duel. While Yarbrough has blanked Toronto in two outings spanning 8.1 innings, he ceded 11 runs in three other appearances. A 5.11 SIERA forebodes potential doom. Shoemaker’s 4.30 SIERA, on the other hand, comes with a 5.23 ERA and 5.95 FIP. Pairing a .173 BABIP with a 41.4% hard-hit rate hardly seems sustainable. FTN’s Bullpen Usage Report also tells us that both relief units have been among MLB’s most heavily worked over the past two weeks, and neither probable pitcher is known for working deep into games. Let’s pivot from the projections and ride the over.

Pick: Over


Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners: Moneyline (-112/-102 FD)


Neither of these teams is particularly good, but one is certainly worse. After dropping eight of their last nine, the Mariners are saddled with the worst run differential (-53) in baseball. As of Thursday night, they possessed an MLB-low .284 slugging percentage against lefties. Their Friday opponent, Kolby Allard, buys his baseball gloves from The Leftorium. Before getting scared away by a 5.25 ERA, consider that the 23-year-old surrendered six of his season’s seven runs at Coors Field.

The Rangers are stuck in their own slump, relinquishing a grand slam in all four games against the Padres. While not as inept as the Mariners against southpaws, at least their 22nd rank sits seven spots ahead of their AL West adversary. Whereas Allard underperformed his peripherals due to a trip to Colorado, Nick Margevicius‘ hot start won’t last for Seattle. His 3.14 ERA is sweet as pie, but it comes with an unsustainable .205 BABIP and 90.9% strand rate given his opposing 80.4% contact rate. This is, after all, a pitcher who posted a 6.79 ERA for the Padres last season. Seattle’s bullpen is also dead last in walk rate with the AL’s highest ERA, so this series should present a reprive for the Rangers.

Pick: Rangers


Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: O/U (8.5, -120/-103 DK; 9, -105/-115 FD)

It’s easy to envision a scenario where this score gets out of hand. The Dodgers boast one of baseball’s most dangerous lineups, and Jon Gray can never truly be trusted. Walker Buehler also clearly isn’t right yet, permitting a 5.21 ERA in four unnerving starts. That’s why the line understandably leans toward the over hitting. That creates an opportunity, albeit still a risky one, to take the contrarian route.

Colorado’s 10 games away from Coors Field have accrued just 61 total runs altogether. Just two of them eclipsed eight runs, including a pair of 2-1 losses against the Astros to open the week. No pitching staff has a lower wOBA on the road than the Rockies; the same goes for their offense. This could be the perfect get-right spot for Buehler, who hasn’t lost any velocity or induced significantly fewer whiffs than his career norms. Relying on Gray not to implode is the graver concern. While the inconsistent righty has not pitched better on the road throughout his career, he still may welcome the chance to make his first start outside of Colorado since July 25.

Pick: Under


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Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Andrew Gould

Andrew is Pitcher List's DFS Manager who also covers MLB and NFL for FantasyPros and Bleacher Report. He placed second in FantasyPros' MLB accuracy ratings in 2016 and fifth in 2018.

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