MLB Betting Guide: Monday 8/17/20

Should you side with Alex Cobb and the Orioles against the Blue Jays? What are the best bets in numberFire's model?

numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, a line, or moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting on any given night. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.

For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110 spread wager, if we give a 3-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300.

Using our models as a guide, let's take a look at the best bets to make at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.

Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles

Orioles +1.5 (-130): 2-Star Rating out of 5
Orioles Moneyline (+128): 2-Star Rating out of 5

Arguably the season's biggest surprise has been the Baltimore Orioles, who are 12-9 and would qualify for the playoffs if the season ended today.

Part of this has been fueled by Baltimore's bats being hot at the plate -- their 114 wRC+ ranks sixth overall this year -- but some of their pitchers have surprises, too, including Alex Cobb, who's managed a 2.75 ERA over four starts.

Cobb's certainly benefited from a lucky .182 BABIP, so regression should be expected, but there are some positive signs that he can continue producing at a quality level. Strikeout rate and ground-ball rate are two of the stats that stabilize the earliest in a given season, and early returns show an improved 20.2% strikeout rate and 64.9% ground-ball rate that's more reminiscent of the Cobb we saw on the Rays prior to Tommy John surgery in 2015.

Cobb hasn't been perfect, as his walk rate is up (9.5%) and he's issuing a lot of hard contact (44.8% hard-hit rate), but he still holds a solid 4.11 SIERA, and there's enough here to think he could produce another beneficial performance against the Blue Jays tonight.

On the other side, Hyun-jin Ryu has upped his strikeout game thus far, with a 28.2% strikeout rate and 13.4% swinging-strike rate, so the Orioles' offense could have their hands full. But the good news is that Ryu is issuing more free passes (10.6%), which has contributed to exceeding 5.0 innings just once in four starts (6.0, 5.0, 4.1, 4.2). And while we should be wary of the small sample, the Orioles have been one of the top teams against southpaws this year, too.

numberFire's model likes the Orioles' chances of keeping up their recent play, giving the runline a 62.22% success rate and the moneyline a 50.42% likelihood -- both two-star bets.

Colorado Rockies at Houston Astros

Astros -1.5 (+114): 1-Star Rating out of 5
Astros Moneyline (-170): 1-Star Rating out of 5

Our algorithm doesn't see a plethora of betting value in tonight's lines, but siding against the Colorado Rockies on the road is always a viable move.

Dating back to last season, the Rockies' active roster has far and away the league's worst wRC+ in away games (74), producing a middling .287 wOBA and .146 ISO. Houston Astros starter Brandon Bielak hasn't posted exciting peripherals to support his 1.76 ERA -- such as a 17.7% strikeout rate and 11.3% walk rate -- but this matchup should help him post another positive result.

Furthermore, the Astros should assist him on offense against Kyle Freeland. Houston's active roster boasts the top wRC+ versus lefties from 2019-20 (135) and have performed well in the split if we narrow it to this season, too (126).

As for Freeland, he's bounced back over four starts following a disastrous 2019 campaign, but the numbers largely don't support his 2.45 ERA. Other than an excellent 58.7% ground-ball rate, his SIERA (4.88) and strikeout rate (13.3%) remain poor, and a .230 BABIP and 93.8% strand rate will regress over the long haul. Against a potent lineup like the Astros, that non-existent strikeout rate could get him into a heap of trouble.

Our game projections see Houston covering the runline 48.25% of the time and winning straight-up at a 65.24% clip. That's good for a pair of one-star wagers.