Top 3 MLB Betting Picks for Friday, July 2nd (2021)

Jul 2, 2021 - 10:08 AM

In yesterday’s column, we highlighted the Chicago Cubs’ epic collapse, who allowed 15 earned runs after leading the Milwaukee Brewers 7-0 in the top half of the first inning. However, one could argue that the New York Yankees’ loss was worse, as they led the Los Angeles Angels 8-4 in the top of the ninth inning, but the usually reliable Aroldis Chapman allowed a game-tying grand slam in a game the Yankees went on to lose.

The Cubs had a scheduled off day yesterday while the Yankees were rained out, so both teams had time to regroup before they started series openers against rivals in the Reds and Mets.

Does either of these teams make our daily picks column today?

Here are my MLB top betting plays for Friday. (Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook)

View the best player prop bets for today’s slate with our MLB Prop Bet Cheat Sheet >>

YTD: 101-84-3 (+6.86 units)

New York Yankees -1.5 runs (+128)

New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner was ticked off by the team’s recent loss and took to the media to declare that most of their problems were the players’ fault. The timing of this quote is somewhat dubious considering they are about to embark on a three-game series against their crosstown rivals. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees’ players respond to this criticism, but Steinbrenner also gave his team a vote of confidence.

The Yankees enter this series having lost five of their last six games, including their last four Friday games. However, the Mets are 0-6 in their previous six interleague road games against teams with a winning record, so there is value in betting the Yankees tonight. Instead of keeping ace Gerrit Cole on regular rest, the Yankees decided not to skip Jordan Montgomery’s turn in the lineup. Montgomery (3-2, 4.06) has just one win in his last seven starts but has pitched to a 3.35 ERA in that span, along with 39 strikeouts in 40.1 innings of work. His home ERA is 2.61 compared to 5.53 on the road, with a WHIP of 0.97 and an OBA 0.66 points lower in his home starts.

The Mets counter with Taijuan Walker (6-3, 2.38), whose ERA is 1.80 points higher (3.32 vs. 1.52) on the road than at home. Current Yankees are a combined 21-for-61 (.344 BA) against Walker with a .557 slugging percentage. At times, the Yankees lineup has holes in it, with Roughned Odor and Miguel Andujar hitting at the bottom of the lineup. However, those two “weak links” are a combined 8-for-15 against Walker, and Giancarlo Stanton is one of three Yankees slugging 1.500 or better against Walker in limited plate appearances.

Based on their owner’s comments, the Yankees have a “backs against the wall” approach to this game, and I look for them to respond in their most high-profile series opener to date.

Houston Astros -1.5 runs (-120)

The Houston Astros had lost five of their previous six games entering last night’s series opener against the Cleveland Indians. They were coming off an embarrassing home sweep against the Baltimore Orioles, in which they totaled just 22 hits. However, their offense got right in yesterday’s 7-2, and another offensive outburst should be in store.

The Indians are starting to feel the effects of all the injuries to their frontline starting pitchers, especially Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale. Tonight’s starter, Sam Hentges (1-2, 7.32), is one of Cleveland’s injury replacements that has struggled this year. Hentges has allowed 11 earned runs in his last 13 innings (which spans five appearances) and allowed a .358 OBA with a 1.85 WHIP in June. Houston leads the league in batting average and OPS against left-handed pitchers, and facing Hentges is just what they need to rejuvenate a sluggish offense. 

Houston counters with Lance McCullers Jr. (5-1, 2.94), who is 3-0 with a 2.86 ERA in five road starts. McCullers’ K:BB ratio is better on the road, and he has allowed three earned runs or less in all his road starts this season. 

The Astros are 5-0 in their last five games against teams with a winning record and 6-2 in their previous eight games against a left-handed starter. The Astros are also 5-1 in their last six meetings with the Indians, and their runline still represents good value with a tremendous pitching mismatch tonight.

Miami Marlins ML (+115)

The Atlanta Braves have owned the Miami Marlins at home. They have won 22 of their last 30 home games against the Marlins and 37 of their previous 53 meetings overall. In addition, the Marlins have struggled on the road recently, losing 13 of their last 17 road games. However, this bet is all about fading Atlanta’s struggling starting pitcher, Drew Smyly.

Smyly (5-3, 4.79) has pitched to a 5.76 ERA in five home starts despite all of those starts coming against offenses ranked 17th or worst in the league in runs per game. Smyly earned the win in a June 13 start against Miami when he held the Marlins to two runs on six hits over five innings. However, we expect some regression in his home park, where his WHIP and OBA are worse than on the road. In addition, he has allowed eight home runs in 25 innings at home versus seven home runs in 42.2 innings on the road.

Miami’s Zach Thompson (2-2, 1.50) is still a largely unknown pitcher as he makes just his fifth Major League start. However, he has allowed one earned run in his last fifteen innings, including holding the Braves scoreless through five innings in a win on June 12. In addition, Thompson’s strikeout total has increased in each of his starts, a sign he is getting more comfortable on the mound.

Miami is just 4-10 in their last 14 games against a left-handed starter, but we like their chances as road underdogs to get to Smyly tonight.

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