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MLB Best Bets for Monday (5/31)

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Memorial Day Weekend, MLB games starting every hour at 1:00 p.m. E.T., and a nearly full slate to choose from, can it get any better than this? Let’s take a deeper look into the holiday board and see where the best value can be found today.

New York Mets @ Arizona Diamondbacks

New York and Arizona open up a three-game series in the desert today with New York entering the matchup leading the NL West, while Arizona has the worst record in the National League. Right-handed phenom Jacob deGrom will take the mound for New York to face off against Arizona’s Merrill Kelly.

Jacob deGrom has been an absolute beast to begin the 2021 season. He’s had a mere 0.80 ERA to go along with a 1.17 FIP while adding a strikeout to his K/9 and reducing his BB/9 by about a full walk from last year’s figures. He ranks in the top 6% of the league in xSLG and BB5, the top 2% in xBA, whiff%, and chase rate, and the top 1% in xWOBA, xERA, and K%. Nearly every stat category suggests deGrom is one of, if not the, best pitcher in the league. BUT, baseball betting is all about taking chances and even deGrom can’t dodge those bullets. While a vast majority of his stats are considered elite, he ranks below average, nearly in the bottom third of the league, in both average exit velocity and barrel% while also getting a great deal good luck with a .227 BABIP and a HR/FB% below league average. His splits aren’t necessarily egregious, but he has been slightly more mortal on the road and against lefties, which makes this a potentially vulnerable spot in an opposing stadium facing a lineup whose best hitters happen to be lefties. Fading deGrom is the furthest thing from a guarantee, but he has lost starts to worse teams with a better lineup supporting him before.

New York’s lineup is in absolute shambles right now with Francisco Lindor, James McCann and Dominic Smith as their only full-time starters expected to be in the lineup. They’ve been brutal on the road so far this year, putting up borderline bottom-three numbers with both a .283 wOBA and 78  wRC+, better than only Pittsburgh and Colorado. Their 6.7% barrel% and 36.9% hard hit% are both on the verge of bottom-five marks in the league and will only start to decline more with them fielding a AAA squad. New York has infamously been terrible at providing deGrom with run support, and a lineup this bad certainly won’t help.

With a 4.84 ERA, the results may not be there for Merrill Kelly yet this season, but his 4.01 FIP and 3.87 xFIP are right in line with what he posted in last year’s successful season. 77% of Kelly’s arsenal has been four-seamers, cutters, change-ups and curveballs, all of which New York has been a bottom-five team against all season long. He’s also been significantly more effective at home, where he has allowed just a .277 wOBA to opposing hitters with a 2.67 FIP. His BB% is in the top quarter of the league with an above-average ability to miss barrels, making him a possibly frustrating matchup for opposing hitters. He has also virtually eliminated left-handed batters at home, holding them to a .258 wOBA with a mere 2.21 FIP, particularly of note since some of the only somewhat respectable bats for New York will be hitting from the left side (Francisco Lindor, Dominic Smith, Jonathan Villar).

Arizona and New York’s offenses have been a lot closer in production this year than most would suspect given their positions in the standings. They both have a wRC+ mark of 92 with a slightly below-league-average BABIP. Their BB%, K%, BB/K, batting average, and on-base percentage are all essentially even, but where Arizona really stands out from New York is in the power department. Arizona’s slugging percentage and ISO are both nearly 30 points higher than New York’s marks and in a game that is projected to be a low-scoring affair, a solo homer could end up being the difference.  Arizona may not have an elite offense, but the main takeaway should be that they haven’t been performing too differently from New York, especially now given New York’s injury issues.

The Pick

The home dog is catching my eye in this matchup. New York is starting at least four reserves in their lineup due to injury issues, and they already have issues scoring runs for deGrom to begin with. Kelly has surprisingly been a beast at home this year and one swing of the bat could be all it takes in a low-scoring game. Do I think Arizona should be favorites at home against deGrom? No, absolutely not. But in this spot, I have Arizona a lot closer to a +125 home dog than the +170 team they’re being priced at. I’ll be scooping an extra half unit of value here on Arizona. Arizona RL (+1.5) -105 & Arizona +170.

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