It’s time to pay another visit to baseball’s low majors. The Central Divisions in Major League Baseball are what the Mid-American Conference is to college football: the worst collection of teams their respective leagues have to offer – and a great place to find some betting value.
Sure enough, there’s one game on Saturday’s slate that’s worth a solid moneyline bet, and it features two Central teams. The computers at OddsTrader have also sussed out some value on two very large totals; we’ll be recommending the Over for both, as we try to take advantage of this early summer heat before the betting market catches up to the mercury.
- Brewers ML (-104) at SBK
- Braves-Reds Over 11.5 (-105) at Bet365
- Angels-Rockies Over 12 (-115) at Caesars Sportsbook
Saturday, June 24, 2023 – 04:10 PM EDT at Progressive Field
The comparison between the two Central Divisions (American League and National League) and MAC football is actually twofold. Quality-wise, there are no winning teams in the AL Central and just two in the NL Central as we go to press, while the MAC came in last among FBS conferences in 2022 according to the Simple Rating System at Sports Reference.
The other angle is geography. These groupings are nestled mostly in the American Midwest, which is practically a foreign country in the minds of the East Coast media that continues to set the national sports conversation. The farther you get into the heartland, the smaller the markets get, and the more betting value you can dig up at the odds boards.
Which brings us to Milwaukee (38-36, plus-0.41 betting units). They’re one of those two winning teams in the two Centrals, and one of the smallest markets there is in baseball – not just in terms of local interest, but national and international as well.
The Brewers have a date Saturday with Cleveland (36-38, minus-5.01 units), one of the larger markets in the Rust Belt, and the OT computers don’t think it’s going to be one of those magic moments for the Guardians. They have Milwaukee winning 4.1 runs to 3.5.
Let’s take a quick look at Saturday’s starting pitchers to see if the computers have been fooled by ERA again:
- Freddy Peralta, MIL: 4.60 ERA, 4.13 xFIP
- Tanner Bibbe, CLE: 4.05 ERA, 4.53 xFIP
Interesting. Maybe that 3.5-run projection for Cleveland isn’t too low after all. Then again, the Brewers do have the No. 28-ranked bullpen on the FanGraphs WAR charts, compared to No. 17 for the Guardians.
Let’s make this a small bet on Milwaukee just in case, but they do have all the traditional and advanced-stat earmarks of a sharp baseball pick.
MLB Pick: Brewers ML (-104) at SBK
Saturday, June 24, 2023 – 04:10 PM EDT at Great American Ball Park
Our first mega-Over is in Cincinnati (Over 44-33), easily the best of the Central clubs now that they’ve caught fire at the plate, moving up from No. 18 in hitting WAR on the season to sixth in the month of June.
Supplying the opposition is Atlanta (Over 41-31-2), the top team in the NL East. This is also the top team on the hitting WAR charts for June, up from third on the season thus far; the Over is 5-3 during their current eight-game win streak, and 6-5 for Cincinnati during their 11-game surge.
Atlanta will send Jared Shuster (6.20 xFIP) to the mound opposite Graham Ashcraft (4.74 xFIP) in a battle of young hurlers, with the rookie Shuster the more vulnerable of the two. Great American Ball Park is great for scoring, ranking eighth this year with a 106 park factor for runs at Baseball Savant; the OT computers have Cincinnati scoring 6.1 runs to Atlanta’s 5.7, which seems about right as far as the combined score is concerned.
MLB Pick: Over 11.5 (-105) at Bet365
Saturday, June 24, 2023 – 09:10 PM EDT at Coors Field
Nowhere in Major League Baseball (outside of Mexico City, at least) can you score more runs than you can at Coors Field. We’re used to seeing big totals come out of Denver, but Over 12 is still the right call here with the OT computers projecting the Angels (Under 36-35-5) to beat the Rockies (Under 43-33-1) 6.8 runs to 5.5.
Seems reasonable. Griffin Canning (4.19 xFIP) shows promise for L.A., and he’s got the Under at 7-4 thus far, while Chase Anderson (4.85 xFIP) has the Under at 4-3 for Colorado – but both pitchers have posted career-high numbers for runners left stranded: 75.5% for Canning, and 83.3% for Anderson.
These gentlemen will also be pitching on what should be a clear and warm night in the Mile High air, albeit with 10-mph winds blowing down the third-base line. Bet accordingly – the computers have spoken.
MLB Pick: Over 12 (-115) at Caesars Sportsbook