Monday MLB Betting Tips: Ragans To Lead Royals To Early Lead

4 September 2023

It’s Labor Day in the US, which means a feast of early baseball for MLB fans in Europe. Seven games get underway between 7:10pm and 9:10pm UK time, with only one game starting after midnight.

Here are our three best bets from tonight’s slate… 

Royals v White Sox

First pitch: 7:10pm Monday

It’s rare to see the 42-96 Royals favoured. Kansas City has had a horrendous 2023 campaign, and is currently on a 2-12 run. Their Monday starter, Cole Ragans, has been one of their very few positives this season, however.

Ragans arrived in the Aroldis Chapman trade, pitching to a 1.73 ERA in seven starts. His FIP is 1.67, he’s striking out hitters at an elite rate, and he’s conceded one or fewer runs in five of his seven appearances as a Royal.

Jesse Scholtens gets the ball for the lowly White Sox. Scholtens has a 3.99 xERA and has a 4.73 ERA in August. Those numbers are fine, but he’s been a long way from Ragans’ level. 

Both offences are subpar, though the Royals’ 96 wRC+ since the start of last month is considerably better than the White Sox’s 83 mark. 

Neither bullpen has been good over the last few weeks, so let’s take that variable out of the equation. If you look at this as Ragans versus Scholtens in the first five and two relatively even offences, there’s great value on Kansas City to cover. 

Prediction: Royals -0.5 after five innings @ 1.85

Cubs v Giants

First pitch: 7:20pm Monday

Logan Webb and Justin Steele have been two of the National League’s best pitchers in 2023. Both are in the mid-threes in xERA, with Webb’s ERA sitting at a similar mark, while Steele is at a 2.69 ERA. Neither were quite at their best in August, but their underlying metrics remained solid.

This is a game, and a series, for ace-calibre performances. The season tiebreaker is on the line, which has major implications on the wild card race. San Francisco is under pressure after losing three in a row to the Padres over the weekend. Chicago will be desperate to take advantage of Steele’s start and increase their cushion.

Given the starters taking the hill, this total seems a bit high. Yes, the Cubs scored 15 on Sunday, but they have only been slightly better than a league-average offence since the start of August. The Giants have been among the worst line ups in baseball for several months.

The two bullpens are solid, ranking in the top 10 in ERA over the last 30 days. Chicago had gone under this number in six straight before Sunday’s game. Only two teams have hit the under more often than the Giants.

Prediction: Under 9 runs @ 1.84

Angels v Orioles

First pitch: 02:38am Tuesday

The Angels are on an 8-21 run. They went all-in before quickly giving up on the season and waiving multiple big-leaguers to cut salary at the end of last month. 

Their offence has been the worst in the Majors since the start of August by wRC+. On Monday night, they send Kenny Rosenberg to the mound, who has a 5.09 ERA in 17.1 MLB innings and had a 4.95 ERA in 100 triple-A frames this season.

The Orioles are giving the ball to Grayson Rodriguez, who has been stellar over the last six weeks. Rodriguez pitched to a 2.64 ERA in August, including six innings of one-hit ball in his prior start.

Baltimore has covered the run line in 61% of games this season (second-best in the Majors). Just three teams have covered less often than the Angels, who are totally overmatched here. Backing the Orioles is a no-brainer. 

Prediction: Orioles -1.5 @ 1.88

Recommended bets

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox: Back -0.5 after five innings @ 1.85
Chicago Cubs v San Francisco Giants: Back Under 9 runs @ 1.84
Anaheim Angels v Baltimore Orioles: Back Orioles -1.5 @ 1.88

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