Looking to improve on a 6-4 record on Daily Best Bets, Dalton Brown is back with two more plays on Monday's MLB slate.
5:05 p.m. ET: Pittsburgh Pirates at San Francisco Giants: OVER 8 (-115)
The Pittsburgh Pirates will continue their west-coast road trip by traveling south from Seattle to San Francisco after losing two of three to the Mariners, and Monday afternoon's series opener should produce plenty of offense.
Rich Hill takes the mound for Pittsburgh, a 43-year-old lefty who has pitched to a 5.50 xERA this season. Hill has allowed three or more runs in four of his last five, and was shelled by the Texas Rangers in his last start for five runs and seven hits. He is surrendering the highest xBA and xSLG of his career, suggesting that he's fortunate that his numbers aren't worse - and given that San Francisco has posted a strong wRC+ of 110 against left-handed pitching in May, I'm expecting plenty of hard-hit balls for the Giants.
Anthony DeSclafani will get the start for San Francisco, a righty due for negative regression (his xERA of 4.48 is more than a run higher than his actual ERA). He has allowed a whopping 19 earned runs over his last four starts, including a clunker last outing in which he gave up seven runs to the Twins. He's inducing fewer swings-and-misses than 91% of Major League pitchers, and allowing harder contact on average than 88% of pitchers.
Pittsburgh and San Francisco aren't the first two teams anyone thinks of when they imagine an offensive powerhouse in baseball, but this number is too low. It is difficult to imagine either starting pitcher allowing fewer than three runs before making their exits, and Pittsburgh's pen in particular ranks just 22nd in ERA in May. On a sunny day with a light wind blowing out to left field at Oracle Park, we may even see a few home runs.
2:20 p.m. ET: Tampa Bay Rays at Chicago Cubs: Rays moneyline (-125)
Given each team's current form and the regression each of these starting pitchers is due, this line should favor the Rays much more heavily than it does.
Chicago has fallen into the basement of the National League at 22-30, and has won just four of its last 15 games. The Cubs were swept at home over the weekend by the lowly Cincinnati Reds, and now welcome MLB's hottest team through the first two months of the season to Wrigley Field in the form of Tampa Bay.
The Rays, fresh off of an impressive 7-3 homestand against Milwaukee, Toronto, and Los Angeles, have faced a brutal schedule in the month of May and are primed to pounce all over the slumping Cubs. It helps Tampa Bay's cause that Taj Bradley will start Monday, a young fireballer due for positive regression. Bradley's xERA of 3.12 despite already facing the Red Sox, Astros, Mets, and Blue Jays through five starts speaks to how electric his repertoire is, and he's walking a miniscule 4% of batters he's faced (34 strikeouts, 4 walks overall). The Cubs rank just 21st in baseball against right-handed pitching since May 1, so they're ripe for the picking for the Rays' No. 1 prospect.
Chicago will hand the ball to Marcus Stroman, a pitcher due for negative regression. Stroman's 4.04 xERA tells a very different story than his 2.95 season-long ERA does, and we've seen powerful offenses like the Dodgers and Twins punish him for five or more runs already this season. His Baseball Savant page quietly reads below-average in nine of 13 measured categories, and the Rays are a nightmare of a matchup right now. Tampa Bay has scored five or more runs in five straight games and eight of its last ten, leads the league in homers, and pounded out 15 hits Sunday against the Dodgers.
Riding the hot hand shouldn't be anywhere near this cheap. Let's roll with the Rays at Wrigley.