As the month of August begins to wind down, the postseason races heat up, and our MLB weekend picks disect several matchups featuring teams expected to be involved in the postseason. BetRivers.com has a wide variety of MLB game lines, team futures and player markets for you to choose from. Longtime Poker broadcaster and sports bettor David Tuchman is here to preview the notable games and make his MLB Weekend picks for Friday, August 20 to Sunday, August 22.
RELATED: VSIN Weekend Betting Guide
Last week, we missed our parlay, but went 3-1 on our picks, rolling with the Brewers, the India….uh…Guardians, and Cardinals to win. The only blemish was the Phillies, who lost to the Reds as Zach Wheeler failed to come through for us. The Sunday Funday Parlay wasn’t so much fun, but winning ‘em all is hard.
Going into this weekend, we’re 57-35 on the season. In addition to these, going forward, I’ll be posting an additional two games each week via video so keep an eye on twitter. Now, lets get to my MLB weekend picks.
MLB WEEKEND PICKS: FRIDAY, AUGUST 20
CHICAGO WHITE SOX (71-51) at TAMPA BAY RAYS (75-47), 7:10 p.m. ET
PITCHERS: Lucas Giolito (CWS, 9-9, 3.83) v. Michael Wacha, (TB, 2-4, 5.91)
MONEYLINE: White Sox -118 ML, Rays +102 ML
SPREAD: White Sox -1 (+102), Rays +1 (-127)
OVER/UNDER: 8.5 runs (-115/-103)
This is one heck of a matchup to kick off my MLB weekend picks on Friday night. The first place 75-47 Rays take on the first place 71-50 White Sox in a possible preview of the AL Championship Series. Both teams are coming in hot. The Rays will turn to mediocre journeyman Michael Wacha, but don’t read too much into that, as the Rays typically only let Wacha pitch 4-5 innings per start. The Sox will go with their pre-season ace, Lucas Giolito. During this season the ace for the Sox has flipped between Carlos Rodon and Lance Lynn. Giolito has been up and down, but he’s kept his ERA under 4, and netted 9 wins (and 9 losses). Giolito handled the Rays fairly well the last time he faced them (June 16), going 6 IP, with only 3 ER and 7 K in a no-decision. The Sox won that one, 8-7.
Michael Wacha hasn’t faced the Sox this year, yet, but I can tell you that over his last three starts – all in August, against Seattle, Baltimore and Minnesota, he’s gone 14 IP, 18 ER, 30 Hits, and 4 HR, going 0-2 in those 3 games. That’s not spectacular.
Look, these are two first-place teams, and they can both hit a ton. Both have fairly solid, effective bullpens. This one, I think, comes down to the early innings, and the Sox have the edge. Take the White Sox to beat the Rays in Tampa on Friday night.
The Pick: Chicago White Sox
LOS ANGELES ANGELS (62-61) at CLEVELAND INDIANS (58-61), 7:10 p.m. ET
PITCHERS: Jamie Barria (LAA, 2-1, 4.71) v. Sam Hentges, (CLE, 1-4, 7.95)
MONEYLINE: Angels -105 ML, Indians -113 ML
SPREAD: Angels +1 (-148), Indians -1 (+120)
OVER/UNDER: 9.5 runs (-115/-104)
Another one for the dumpster unless you’re betting or a die-hard fan of either team. The Indians are a distant second in the AL Central, 12 games behind Chicago, at 58-61, while the Angels are in 4th place in the West, at 61-61.
Neither starting pitcher is particularly effective, as Jamie Barria is making just his 5th start of the season, while Sam Hentges is making his 11th start. Both pitchers are only in there because of injuries. Hentges is merely an “opener” for Cleveland however, and likely won’t go more than 1-2 innings before the game goes to the bullpen. Meanwhile, Barria has been slightly more effective, going 6+ innings in three of his last four starts – he’s 2-1 over that stretch.
So…who do we pick here? Shohei Ohtani. Shohei Ohtani is the pick. The likely 2021 MVP has 40 HR and 8 wins on the year. In case you’re wondering what that means, it means the Angels’ ace has more home runs than Mike Trout and Bryce Harper combined. And it’s not even close. The last time Ohtani faced Sam Hentges (May 17), he went 1-3, with a HR, 2 BB and 3 RBI. In 3 games this year v. Cleveland, Ohtani is 4-9, 3 RS, 3BB, 2HR and 4 RBI. Cleveland is gonna need at least one game to figure out how to pitch to him – if they can figure it out at all. Go with the Ohtani’s to beat Cleveland on Friday.
The Pick: Los Angeles Angels
SEATTLE MARINERS (66-65) at HOUSTON ASTROS (71-50), 8:10 p.m. ET
PITCHERS: Yusei Kikuchi (SEA, 7-6, 3.82) v. Lance McCullers (HOU, 9-4, 3.22)
MONEYLINE: Mariners +170 ML, Astros -195 ML
SPREAD: Mariners +1.5 (-124), Astros -1.5 (+100)
OVER/UNDER: 8.5 runs (-112/-107)
This is, shockingly, a huge series, as the third-place Mariners, at 65-56, take on the 1st place 70-50 Astros, in Houston. Seattle has a golden opportunity to do some damage in the West, but they really need to sweep this three-game set in Houston. Houston is coming off five straight losses while the M’s have won three in a row, albeit against lowly Texas.
To say this is a big game is an understatement. Overall, Houston leads the season series 6-4, and they are 31-8 from 2019-2021 against Seattle overall (including an astonishing 18-1 in 2019!). The Astros need to bounce back after getting swept by the Royals and they need to win Friday to avoid a snowball of a losing streak. Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel are all expected to play Friday against Kikuchi.
Why does that matter? Atluve has an .850 OPS against Kikuchi; Alvarez, 1.091 OPS; Carlos Correa, .847 and Yuli Gurriel, .761. Recently acquired OF Chas McCormick also has an .804 OPS in 8 plate appearances. The bottom line is, Yusei is the cure for what ails the Astros. They need to win this game and they know how to hit Kikuchi. Go with the ‘Stros to beat the M’s on Friday.
The Pick: Houston Astros
SATURDAY, AUGUST 21
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS at. OAKLAND ATHLETICS, 4:10 p.m. ET
PITCHERS: Kevin Gausman (SF, 12-5, 2.40) v. Sean Manaea (OAK, 8-8, 3.77)
Another fantastic series, as the first-place Giants, at 78-43, take on the second-place Athletics, in what could be a World Series preview (unlikely, but both should make the playoffs). The Giants… I did not see that coming. What can you say about the Cinderella squad for 2021?
Buster Posey has found the fountain of youth, as he’s slashing .322-15-39; .952 OPS; Evan Longoria is hitting .289-10-31, .908 OPS (only 55 games); Brandon Crawford could be an MVP candidate, as his magical season continues, (.300-19-70-9 SB; .902 OPS., 104 hits, 21 2B). And the Giants have a deep bench – Brandon Belt (16), Alex Dickerson (13), Mike Yastrzemski (18), Wilmer Flores (15), LaMonte Wade (15) and Darin Ruf (13) all have double-digit homers playing in and out of the lineup as the opposing pitchers dictate.
The Giants have also benefited from finding starting pitching seemingly out of thin air. Last year, Alex Wood was 0-1 with a 6.39 ERA for the Dodgers. This year? 10-3, 4.14 ERA, 121 K in 115 IP, 1.21 WHIP. Anthony DeSclafani was 1-2, 7.22 ERA for the Reds, in 2020. This year? 11-5, 3.26 ERA, 123 K in 132 IP, 1.09 WHIP. Logan Webb was a rookie in 2020 for these Giants and went 3-4, 5.47 ERA in 13 games. This year? 7-3, 2.92 ERA, 98 K in 92 IOP, 1.14 WHIP. From 2017-2020 (4 seasons) Giants close Jake McGee had four saves – or one save a year on average. This year? Yeah, he’s got 26 saves.
Finally, the Giants ace, who pitches in this game against Oakland, Kevin Gausman, was 3-9 with a 5.72 ERA in 2019 with the Braves and Reds. The Giants took a chance on him last year, and he went 3-3, 3.62 ERA with 79 K in 59 IP. The Giants liked what they saw and committed to Gausman. He’s rewarded them this year with a 12-5, 2.40 ERA, 169 K in 142 IP, 0.98 WHIP, and is a Cy Young contender. We all just keep waiting for the San Francisco train to fall off the tracks, but at this point, we just can’t fight it anymore. The Giants got what I’m looking for – go with the Giants to beat the A’s on Saturday.
The Pick: San Francisco Giants
SUNDAY, AUGUST 22
ATLANTA BRAVES at BALTIMORE ORIOLES, 1:05 p.m. ET
PITCHERS: Touki Toussaint (ATL, 2-2, 4.10) v. John Means (BAL, 5-5, 3.44)
What sort of low-hanging fruit is this? The Braves over the Orioles? Not quite. As Michael Keaton said in a movie once, “You wanna get crazy? Let’s get crazy!” The Braves are coming in hot-hot-hot, winners of six in a row, and have moved into first place in the NL East, at 65-56.
Meanwhile, the Orioles have lost FIFTEEN STRAIGHT GAMES!!! They’re flopping around at 38-82, the worst record in baseball. So, why are we even talking about this? Well, wait, there’s more. On Friday, Aug 20, the Braves will roll out ace SP Max Fried, 10-7, v. Keegin Akin, who is 0-7, 8.13 ERA for the Orioles. On Saturday, it’s Drew Smyly, 8-3, 4.50 for the Braves and Matt Harvey, 6-12, 6.25 for the Orioles, which means, I think it’s likely the Orioles will enter Sunday losers of SEVENTEEN straight games.
Will they lose 18 straight? I say NO! Here’s my point. The odds on this game will be ridiculously skewed towards the Braves. They’re hot, they’re good and the Orioles are awful. I believe BetRivers has the O’s at +200 right now. On Sunday, the Orioles have John Means on the hill. I will warn you, after starting 4-0, and since he shut out the Mariners with 12K on May 5, Means has gone 1-5 and his ERA has gone from 1.37 to 3.44. But overall he’s pitched fairly well. The Orioles just stink. But this is the beauty of this game. The Orioles should lose every game – but we know they won’t. The Orioles could lose 18 straight games, but this game – John Means on the hill, it’s the best odds the Orioles have to win at least 1 game this series. What’s more, most of the Braves hitters have never faced or even seen John Means before, which will help Means more than the Braves hitters.
The Braves will rely on young Touki Toussaint in this one – he’s an injury fill-in. Over his last 4 games, he’s pitched 20 IP, allowed 14 R, 18 hits, 9 BB and 6 HR. The Orioles can hit him. SO….here’s my crazy play for Sunday. The miserable Orioles will BEAT the Braves! Yep, I’m ending my MLB weekend picks on a high note, or a low note, depending on which team you are pulling for.
The Pick: Baltimore Orioles
Good luck and Enjoy the games!