MLB Best Bets for Monday (7/19)


The All-Star break is in our rearview mirror and the second half of the MLB season is finally underway. The first Monday after the layoff gives us a 13-game MLB betting slate, with Minnesota and Chicago squaring up for a doubleheader at Guaranteed Rate Field. We’re up almost 50 units through just one half of the season, so let’s kick off the second half hot and find out where today’s value is.

New York Mets @ Cincinnati Reds

New York and Cincinnati will open up a three-game series at the Great American Ballpark tonight at 7:10 p.m. E.T. Jerad Eickhoff will be making his third start and fourth appearance overall for New York. He will square off against Cincinnati’s Vladimir Gutierrez.

New York may be leading the NL East and the favorites to win the division pennant, but it’s certainly no thanks to their offense. For all of the offseason noise they made, their lineup has been fairly disappointing, posting just a .301 wOBA and 93 wRC+ against right-handers with an equally mundane .305 wOBA and 90 wRC+ on the road. When facing righties, their .373 SLG (26th), .684 OPS (22nd), and .144 ISO (25th) all rank among the bottom-10 in the league in their respective categories, while their .310 OBA just barely cracks the top 20 at 17th. Not much of their underlying stats point to any significant positive changes coming their way either as their .284 BABIP and 12.9% HR/FB ratio are fairly reasonable, albeit on the slightly low side, and their 7.4% barrel % and 37.6% hard-hit rate are both within the bottom-10 in the league. New York’s offense wasn’t too intimidating to begin with, but now with Lindor on the IL they have even less firepower than before.

Jerad Eickhoff gets the start for New York here, and his career in the orange and blue has gotten off to a rocky start. Through two starts and three appearances, he’s pitched 12 2/3 innings with 17 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts, 7 earned runs and 6 homers, equating to a 4.97 ERA and an astronomical 9.33 FIP. He’s allowed 4.26 HR/9 to start the year for New York and, if anything, his BABIP actually points to negative regression, as it sits at just .262. On the road, opposing hitters are torching him for a .490 wOBA, skyrocketing his road FIP to 11.34. His barrel% is almost touching 15% and his hard-hit rate is north of 43%. While he has only pitched 12 2/3 innings so far on the year, I expect his rocky start to continue in this one on the road against one of the toughest offenses in the majors.

For Cincinnati, their 13th ranked prospect, Vladimir Gutierrez, will get the start. He’s been serviceable so far through the first half of the season, posting a 4.29 ERA with an inflated 5.30 FIP over the course of nine starts. Taking away his two starts against San Diego, where he allowed 11 of his 24 earned runs on the year through just 9 1/3 innings, Gutierrez is pitching to the tune of a 2.85 ERA and a 4.39 FIP. He’s able to limit hard contact, as he ranks within the league’s top 30%, and has limited hitters to a .288 wOBA with a 3.42 FIP since the calendar turned to July. Gutierrez may not be in contention for the Cy Young, but he gets the advantage in this matchup against Eickhoff.

Unlike New York’s offense, Cincinnati has given opposing pitchers nightmares so far in 2021. They have top-10 marks in both wOBA (.342/.330) and wRC+ (109/104) at home and against righties. At the Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati has top-10 marks in BB% (9.9%), OBP (.340), SLG (.449), OPS (.789) and ISO (.194) with a fairly normalized .308 BABIP. They hit homers at a top-5 rate, their home field is the best home-run hitting environment in the majors, and they’re squaring off against a pitcher allowing over 4 HR/9 to begin the year, so this seems like a recipe for runs.

The pick

Cincinnati may be down Nick Castellanos, but I still can’t figure out why they’re just -112 home favorites against Jerad Eickhoff. I’m giving them a distinct offensive advantage in this matchup while still having a decent advantage in the starting pitching department with Gutierrez over Eickhoff. Cincinnati’s bats at home have been tough to silence, and Eickhoff is in a brutal stretch to start his New York career. New York has the bullpen advantage, so I’m cutting this to a first five bet and backing the home squad. Cincinnati F5RL (-.5) +110.

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