A pretty full Monday MLB card is on tap for the final day of August. Rosters expand on Tuesday and that will throw another wrinkle into the MLB capping for the rest of the season. As most of the focus shifts to football this week, I know that you’re going to be excited about the start of football and will put most of your time and effort into the gridiron, but don’t forget about baseball. Even if you just look for situational betting spots to pick up a unit or two for your NFL or CFB bankroll, it’s worth it.

A quick note that there will be no edition of The Bettor’s Box on Monday. With a College Football Podcast on tap for Week 1 of the season, our podcast host does not allow scheduling conflicts like that and my return from Las Vegas didn’t give me a chance to do a Sunday night recording. Things will be back on schedule with the MLB podcast on Thursday.

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Tampa Bay (-115) at Baltimore; Total: 7

Chris Archer and the Rays take on Wei-Yin Chen and the Orioles in this one on Monday night. The Rays are small road chalk with Archer on the mound, which should come as no surprise. There are a few interesting elements to this line. First, the Orioles are just 1-9 over their last 10 as they have completely fallen off the pace in the AL Wild Card race. Second, the Rays have a top-five offense against left-handed pitching this season with a .331 wOBA and a 113 wRC+. Their wRC+ against lefties actually ranks third in all of baseball. That’s what makes this line so perplexing. It looks like a great spot for the Rays, but they’re a suspiciously-low favorite.

Perhaps Chris Archer’s recent starts have shaken the betting market’s confidence about him. If that’s the case, that’s not the right way to go about it. Archer’s been a little bit inconsistent, but he has also struck out 37 batters over his last four starts. Batted ball luck hasn’t been on his side at all. As for Wei-Yin Chen, he has allowed three runs or less in 22 of his 25 starts this season. He’s been a pretty underrated pitcher this season, though a very high strand rate has allowed him to have an ERA more than a run lower than his FIP.

This is one of those lines that just doesn’t look right. I really like the price on Archer and the Rays, especially with how the Orioles have been playing. But, that’s where the “trappy” part of the line comes in. I’d back Tampa Bay if I had to take a side, but the line seems to suggest otherwise.

Miami at Atlanta (-115); Total: 8

How little faith does the betting world have in Mike Foltynewicz and the Atlanta Braves? They’re a very small favorite against Chris Narveson, who is making his second start in three years and was blown up in his last outing. It is worth mentioning that the Braves are 25th in wOBA against lefties this season, but the Marlins are the worst team in baseball against righties.

Foltynewicz has some ugly stats this season. His 1.77 HR/9 and .349 BABIP against are evidence of his subpar command. His 5.71 ERA with a 5.04 FIP and a 4.56 xFIP are not exactly going to inspire any confidence. That’s clearly the case here. With Narveson, perhaps the expectation is that he got some first start jitters out of the way. But, the fact that he owns a career 4.74 ERA, 4.28 FIP, and 4.16 xFIP as a Major Leaguer and a 4.81 ERA, 4.21 FIP, and 4.10 xFIP as a Major League starter shouldn’t inspire much confidence in him either.

In a “pick your poison” type of game, I think you roll with Folty and the Braves. He has a lot more upside than Narveson, who is really fortunate to be in the bigs right now. Folty may bomb as a starter, but he’ll have every opportunity to be one.

New York (AL) at Boston (-115); Total: 9

This is yet another strange line. Rick Porcello is making just his second start off of the disabled list and the Red Sox are a small favorite over the Yankees. Ivan Nova is coming off of a terrible outing against the Astros, but for a guy coming back from Tommy John, he’s thrown some decent innings for the Yankees. I have a hard time believing that Porcello is magically fixed from shutting down a poor White Sox lineup over seven innings the last time out.

To be fair, Porcello was coming around before going on the DL, but the increase in fly balls and decrease in command are not good signs against a Yankees lineup that is still putting up a lot of crooked numbers. Again, this is a scary line because of how oddsmakers have put this game, and money has even come in on the Yankees as an underdog, but I really can’t see Porcello being on top of his game in this one. And, if it happens to be close, New York has a much better bullpen.

Arizona (-115) at Colorado; Total: 10.5

This one is fun. Robbie Ray tends to be more of a fly ball pitcher, which is never a good thing at Coors Field. However, no offense in baseball has a worse wRC+ against lefties than the Rockies. Frankly, the fact that the Rockies own a .358 SLG against lefties when they call Coors Field home is pretty embarrassing.

Ray has been pushed back in the rotation for the second straight time as the Diamondbacks inexplicably look to monitor his innings. The additional day of rest hurt his control and command against the Cardinals the last time out and he has struggled since starting like a bat out of hell for Arizona earlier this season. The red flags are there with Ray, but he is facing a horrible offense against lefties.

Does that make Chad Bettis the wild card in this one? Bettis is making his second start back off of the DL and he was strong against the Braves with one earned over five innings. Back in the rotation, Bettis has been decent with a 4.69 ERA, but a 4.13 FIP and a 3.95 xFIP. There are so many layers and variables to this game that it becomes really hard to handicap. The Diamondbacks are a better offense and have a better defense. The Rockies have a home-field perception that is definitely evident in almost every home game.

I think the Diamondbacks are the play here because of how bad the Colorado offense is against lefties.

Los Angeles (AL) at Oakland (-110); Total: 7.5

The board for Monday is really tough. This is another very strange game. The Angels and Athletics are basically a money line pick ‘em depending on where you look. Hector Santiago goes for the Angels and everybody has been looking at him as a regression candidate due to his ERA/xFIP discrepancy. Santiago’s ERA has gone up to 3.13 now after sitting below 3.00 most of the season. His FIP of 4.37 and xFIP of 4.63 are reasons why the market has been going against Santiago of late.

By losing eight of 10, the Angels have really fallen off of the pace in the wild card chase. Is that why they’re not favored over an Oakland team that is just 57-74 on the season? It could be a contributing factor for sure. Felix Doubront is on the mound for the A’s in this one, after having his start pushed back a couple of days due to a foot injury. Doubront has been serviceable this season with a 3.70 ERA, 3.24 FIP, and a 4.02 xFIP. But, that’s over just 41.1 innings of work, so there’s really not a whole lot to go on here.

There’s no reason for oddsmakers to give this much respect to Doubront unless there’s something that they see about this game. I’m inclined to believe that’s the case. The A’s have a terrible record against lefties, but their 93 wRC+ is in the middle of the pack for the season.

Other Games

Cleveland at Toronto

Philadelphia at New York (NL)

Cincinnati at Chicago (NL)

Seattle at Houston

Washington at St. Louis

Arizona at Colorado

Texas at San Diego

San Francisco at Los Angeles (NL)