Smart Money MLB Picks For 8/31/2020

August 31, 2020by Mike Barner1
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Smart Money MLB Picks For 8/31/2020

MLB Overall Season Record - Gerrit Cole - New York Yankees vs. Atlanta Braves

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With so many games being postponed Thursday, none of our picks ended up being in play. That keeps my overall record for the MLB season at 38-13-1. Let’s dive into Monday’s 11-game slate and discuss four wagers that could turn out to be profitable. All odds were obtained from the BetMGM Sportsbook.

Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies: Over 10 Total Runs (-117)

Both of these teams are coming off of high-scoring affairs Sunday. The Nationals combined to score 14 runs with the Red Sox, while the Phillies and Braves totaled a whopping 22 runs. Both teams have struggled in the pitching department this year, leaving the Phillies to allow an average of 5.5 runs a game and the Nationals to allow an average of five runs per contest.

Things likely won’t get much better for either team in terms of limiting runs in this matchup. The Nationals will start Erick Fedde, who has a 5.65 FIP and a 1.54 WHIP this season. He also doesn’t miss many bats, recording a total of six strikeouts across 22 2/3 innings. Meanwhile, the Phillies will start Spencer Howard. Although he has proven one of their top prospects, he had never pitched above Double-A prior to this season. His inexperience has shown in his overall MLB season record, with him allowing nine runs (eight earned) and four home runs across 11 2/3 innings.

Atlanta Braves @ Boston Red Sox: Braves ML (-190)

The Red Sox have been sellers as the trade deadline approaches. They have already traded away two of their best relief pitchers. And they dealt first baseman Mitch Moreland to the Padres on Sunday. To make matters worse, J.D. Martinez had to leave Sunday’s game after being hit by a pitch on the hand. If he has to sit out Monday, their lineup could be severely depleted against Max Fried, who has been excellent this season with a 1.35 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox will start Colten Brewer, who probably wouldn’t be starting if they had any better options. He has a 5.99 FIP through his first 10 appearances of the season, three of which were starts, and he has allowed 2.1 HR/9. Look for the Braves to capitalize on this significant pitching mismatch and come away with a victory.

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Cleveland Indians @ Kansas City Royals: Under 2.5 Runs Through the First Three Innings (-152)

The Royals will find themselves hard-pressed to score runs in this game with Shane Bieber on the mound. He has a 1.35 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP for the season to go along with a dominant 42.9 percent strikeout rate. The last time he faced them, he recorded 14 strikeouts over six scoreless innings.

The Indians don’t exactly have a potent offense of their own, averaging 4.2 runs a game. They will be facing Brad Keller, who hasn’t allowed a single run in three of his four starts. Even when the Cardinals got to him for five runs in his last outing, he only allowed one run through the first three innings. I’m a little worried about the Royals’ bullpen, so instead of taking the under for the total runs in the entire game, let’s just shoot for the under through the first three innings.

New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Gerrit Cole Over 9.5 Strikeouts (+130)

Let’s take a chance on a wager with plus odds. Cole has seen his strikeout rate decline since joining the Yankees, but it’s still excellent at 32.9 percent. He has recorded at least 10 strikeouts in a game two times this season, both of which came in matchups against these same Rays. The Rays have struck out the third-most times in baseball as a team. So don’t be surprised if Cole reaches double-digits in the category against them for a third time.

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