MLB Picks: Three best sides bets for Saturday (June 22) (2024)

Another 2-1 record yesterday, huzzah! Today, three favorites catch my eye, mostly because the odds seem entirely too generous.

Play 1: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Tampa Bay Rays -- Rays moneyline (-104) FanDuel

The bad news: Zach Eflin's strikeout rate has cratered a bit this year. It's down to 18.4% from last year's 26%.

But that's about it when it comes to bad news.

His walk rate is down to a teeny 1.6% from last year's 3.3%.

His barrel rate is down to 7.7% from last year's 9.2%.

ISO and wOBA numbers are steady enough, and his BABIP is 10% higher this year.

All told, Eflin will more than likely get a bunch of weak contact and eat up innings. And while he has four wins in his last four outings, he's struggled a bit to get through the games. But again: He's been BABIP'd at .300 or higher in three of those four games.

Today, he goes up against the Pittsburgh Pirates squad that strikes out at a 25% clip against righties, walks only about 8% of the time, and is dead last in the majors in ISO at .122, second to last in wOBA at .284, and yet is a respectable 19th in the league in BABIP at .282.

A lot of K's, not a lot of walks, not a lot of power or ability to get on base and ... Eflin and the Rays are only -104 favorites?

One potential reason for that is the Pirates hurler, Jared Jones, has certainly flashed at times this year. But he's also been exposed just as many times.

Could Jones come in and shut down the Rays? Of course. But I certainly like the chances of the Rays being able to plate enough runs to get the win, especially if Eflin gets a little lucky on the BABIP side.

Rays to win is the clear play.

Play 2: Texas Rangers vs. Kansas City Royals – Rangers moneyline (-127) BetRivers

Jon Gray of the Rangers is basically two pitchers in one: Against lefties, he is ... not good. This year, a .183 ISO and .364 wOBA, getting hit hard at a 40% clip, and is walking batters at a near 12% clip.

But against righties? Dust of the Cy Young award. Gray is dealing: A 24% K rate, a 2.2% walk rate, a .066(!) ISO and a .248 wOBA.

Today, he takes the hill at home against the dangerous Kansas City Royals -- but a Royals team that will probably be sending only three lefties to the plate, with first baseman Vinnie Pasquatino being the only objectively scary one -- he's at a .189 ISO and .326 wOBA against righties this year, along with a mere 13% K rate.

In short: Gray matches up exceedingly well against this Royals squad.

On the other side of the ledger, the Rangers look primed to tee off against Michael Wacha, who is also struggling mightily against lefties this year -- .182 ISO, .342 wOBA, and a ton of flyballs -- but the difference is the Rangers will almost certainly be sending five lefties to the plate, including Corey Seager. Of course, the righties -- especially Marcus Semien and Adolis Garcia -- aren't exactly what one might call "easy outs."

All told, if feels like the Rangers should be much bigger favorites than -127.

Play 3: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks – Phillies -1.5 runs (-115) Caesars

The Phillies are home, the wind is blowing out, it's hot, it's humid. The ball is going to carry.

But the Phillies are also pitching Zack Wheeler today, and in order for the Diamondbacks to see the ball carry, they're going to have to A) hit the ball B) hit the ball hard and C) hit the ball in the air.

Wheeler, as it turns out, isn't particularly likely to allow any of the above.

A 27% K rate matched with a 28% hard hit rate matched with a OK-but-good enough 41% ground ball rate looks pretty solid. Add in a barrel rate of 7.6%, and it's going to be not-quite easy for the D-Backs to get things going against one of the NL's Cy Young favorites.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball ... look out below.

Lefty Tommy Henry is taking the mound, and on paper, he's not looking likely to get the job done.

To righties this year, he's getting walloped to the tune of a .280 ISO and .414 wOBA. For comparison's sake, Braves' slugger Marcell Ozuna has a .278 ISO and .417 wOBA on the year. So basically Henry turns every righty batter into Ozuna. And the Phillies will probably be sending seven righties to the plate.


He's not much better against lefties, either: A .167 ISO and .367 wOBA. Of course, the two lefties he'll be facing are Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber.

Yikes again.

Baseball is baseball and anything can happen, but the fightin' Phils look ready to romp today.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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MLB Picks: Three best sides bets for Saturday (June 22) (2024)
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