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Tipico Tips: Betting Monday’s MLB slate

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The NBA is taking a day off Monday after the regular season ended Sunday, so we have to turn our attention to baseball to find something to bet on. Both New York teams are in action, so the New Jersey crowd betting on Tipico has a couple of the local teams to look at here. I like the Yankees to win anytime Gerritt Cole is on the mound, but laying -300 on the road is never a slam dunk. I do think Cole and the surging Yankee bats can get it done, but at -300, I am not putting my hard-earned dollars on it. The game that has more appeal to me is the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves.

Let’s take a deeper look at that one. 

The Mets are rolling out Taijuan Walker today in Atlanta against Max Fried of the Braves. The Braves are a -155 favorite in a game with a total of 7.5. Walker has been really good so far this year. He is 3-1 in seven starts with a 2.20 ERA and a K/9 of 8.56, which is above his career average. He has also been able to hold opposing hitters to just a 0.22 HR/9, which is almost 1 full HR/9 below his career average. It’s still early, but if he can avoid giving up the long ball, these numbers are going to shine compared to his past performance. Everything is not kosher with these numbers though. Walker has a 2.20 ERA, but the xFIP is over four. That is a massive difference of almost two full runs, and those two stats tend to adjust to the historical norms. For his career, Walker has a HR/9 of 1.17 and an xFIP over four. The outlier number for him is the 2.20 ERA he currently sports. This means he has been "lucky" to only have a 2.20 ERA, as that number should settle closer to four. Another drawback here is that Atlanta is a ballpark set up for left-handed hitters to tee off on right-handed pitching, especially fly ball pitchers, which is what Walker has typically been in his career. Atlanta is a decent team against RHP so far this year with a 101 wRC+ score against righties. Where they do excel is in the power department. They have a .187 Isolated power score, which is currently the top mark in the league against RHP this year. I hate to say it to the Mets fans, but the Braves are in a very good position to put some runs up on Taijuan today. 

On the mound for the Braves is Max Fried, who struggled in his first couple starts but has found his groove lately. Fried is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound former No. 7 overall pick. This is a high pedigree guy who was always supposed to be a star in the majors. He had an under-the-radar breakout last year in the COVID shortened season. He was always a solid pitcher but last year, he seemed to have really figured things out. He went 7-0 in 11 starts with a 2.25 ERA. He lowered his HR/9 big time to a minuscule 0.32 last year, which is why he was so dominant. His ERA was more than a run below his xFIP, so he was arguably a bit lucky. He is a young, improving pitcher so some advancement is warranted. He has decent strikeout stuff, but it's not in the elite category. He averages just over a K per inning for his career. He does have a slightly elevated BB/9, but as long as he keeps the HR/9 down, that does not hurt him as much. He has really found that groove the last couple of starts. After not looking good in his first couple, Fried has gone 11 innings in the last two starts, striking out 10, giving up under a baserunner per inning and just one earned run in each of those starts. 

The better reason to be high on Fried today is the offense he faces. Sorry Mets fans, but this team is not built to take advantage of a lefty in this ballpark. Righties have a harder time in Atlanta than the lefties do, which means the advantage in splits goes to the left-handed pitcher. The Mets own just a 100 wRC+ against LHP this year, basically exactly on the nose of league average. The bigger problem is that the way to get to Fried is with power. Sure, the Mets have a couple of guys that have power but overall, this team owns one of the worst ISO scores against LHP in the entire league. 

I love the Braves here today at -155. I think this line closes 10-20 basis points higher in the -165 to -175 range. I am not anticipating money coming in on the Mets side, but if it does, take the better number on Atlanta if one is offered. Fried may end up giving up a run or two, but this could be a disastrous start for Taijuan Walker, who is due for some negative regression, and this could end up being the ballpark that does him in and starts that ERA climbing back up to be in line with the xFIP he currently holds. 

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