Here are 5 wise wagers for May 21-22 games

May 21st, 2022

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Quite a few mismatches on the mound this weekend. Let’s expose some of them.

Follow along on Twitter (@Nick_Friar) for updates.

Red Sox
vs. Mariners
The wager: Red Sox minus 1.5 runs
: +115 (bet $100 to win $115)

Boston’s offense is rolling right now. Be it a righty or lefty, they’re hitting everyone. Over the past two weeks, the Red Sox are top four in OPS and wOBA. They’re also top 10 in ISO during that stretch. Chris Flexen has been alright, posting a 4.35 ERA to this point in the season. But between his 4.92 FIP and .276 BABIP, some rough days are on the horizon.

Opposite Flexen is one of the more exciting young arms in the game. Garrett Whitlock has struck out 37 while posting a 2.43 ERA over 29 2/3 innings, yet he’s still in search of his first 2022 win as a starter. Given the Red Sox usually hit well behind him and are in particularly good form of late -- making the over on their team total a lock at 4.5 runs (-145) -- the young right-hander is in position for that W. Also, if you’re looking for a Boston hitter to back in this one, Trevor Story is cooking and the over on his total bases prop is somehow at plus-money (+120).

Cardinals at Pirates
The wager: Cardinals minus 1.5 runs
: +115 (bet $100 to win $115)

Matthew Liberatore is set to make his big league debut Saturday. Who better for the rookie to take on than the Pirates? Pittsburgh has a team .653 OPS and a .291 wOBA against left-handed pitching. The Pirates also have the third-highest soft contact rate against lefties. Even still, some Pittsburgh hitters have high BABIPs against southpaws, so they’re somehow due for more regression.

As Liberatore tries to battle José Quintana, the St. Louis rookie will have one of the best lineups against left-handed pitching backing him up. The Cardinals lead all of baseball with an .846 OPS, a .372 wOBA and a .206 ISO against left-handed pitching. Also, several Cardinals hitters have seen Quintana frequently and have experienced a fair amount of success against the lefty. Check on Paul Goldschmidt’s total bases prop when that goes live.

Astros vs. Rangers
The wager: Justin Verlander over 18.5 outs recorded
: -105 (bet $105 to win $100)

Verlander’s last start was only the second time this season he hasn’t logged at least six innings -- the other time being his first start of 2022. He still threw five innings of scoreless baseball; he just threw a lot of pitches vs. Washington. Those days happen. What’s more important is he’s still throwing well and going up against a lineup that can’t hit right-handed pitchers.

Whether you’re looking at OPS, wOBA or ISO, the Rangers are a bottom-10 lineup against right-handed pitching. Moreover, they don’t walk much against righties (7.6% walk rate) -- not that Verlander needs a ton of help there -- and they have one of the higher strikeout rates against right-handed pitching (23.1%).

at Blue Jays
The wager: Total under 8.5 runs
: +100 (bet $100 to win $100)

Plain and simple: The two starters in this game are in good form, and the lineups they’re facing are not. Connor Overton just shut down a Cleveland lineup that’s given right-handed pitching a very tough time. Now he faces a Jays lineup that’s sporting a .303 wOBA against right-handed pitching. With Toronto also having a 6.6% walk rate against right-handed pitching, Overton has a good chance to work deep into this game.

As for Yusei Kikuchi, it really doesn’t matter who he’s facing on a given day right now. Toronto’s left-hander has a 24.3% walk rate and is generating a ton of grounders (50% ground-ball rate) while limiting line drives (12.2% line-drive rate). Taking on a lineup that has the worst OPS and wOBA against left-handed pitching, plus a .095 ISO, should be a walk in the park.

However, with Overton on the mound, the Reds are a reasonable run line play (+100) or straight up as big underdogs (+215).

Brewers vs. Nationals
The wager: Brewers minus 1.5 runs
: +100 (bet $100 to win $100)

Before getting into the pick itself, keep tabs on Saturday’s action in Milwaukee. With inclement weather in the forecast, Saturday’s game could get pushed to Sunday. If that happens, keep in mind this pick is about the Freddy Peralta-Aaron Sanchez matchup.

Sanchez used to have some of the nastiest stuff in the game. Now he’s sporting a 7.94 ERA and a 5.25 FIP. He’s still generating grounders, but he’s giving up more fly balls than ever while generating a 16% home-run-to-fly-ball rate. That doesn’t bode well against a Milwaukee lineup ranked among the top five in OPS, wOBA and ISO against right-handed pitching.

The Nationals haven’t been as tough on right-handers, but they’re also not bad against them. Regardless, Peralta is rolling after a rough start to 2022. He’s generating far fewer fly balls than usual and his 44.7% ground-ball rate is the highest it’s been in his career -- and Peralta is still punching out plenty of hitters (32.4% strikeout rate). On top of all that, with his FIP all the way down to 2.02, Milwaukee can expect this current trend to continue for Peralta.

All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.

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