By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh
* 2019 MLB Record: 130-110-5 (54.2%) *
Betting the MLB All-Star Game
Welcome back to the 90th installment of the Mid-Summer Classic. The American League does have a narrow 44-43-2 advantage lifetime over the National League in this exhibition game, and also the tight run-total advantage at 369-367. However, the AL has taken 24 of the last 31, with one tie mixed in.
While the game doesn’t decide home-field advantage to the winning league for the World Series, it’s still the only All-Star Game of any professional sport that actually puts the effort in. As a fun antidote to this year’s game, if it goes to extra innings, a runner will be put on second base in order to expedite the scoring chances late.
* Starting Pitching
Justin Verlander has given up the most homers (26) in MLB this season, but he is allowing an 0.81 WHIP, which is best in the league. Verlander has a lot to prove tonight, considering he lashed out at MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred about the baseballs being juiced, thus leading to more homers than ever in the sport. Look for him to have a solid two-inning performance, and a puffed chest to boot.
On the other side, Hyun-Jin Ryu gets the ball for the NL, and he’s been nothing short of spectacular this season, posting an MLB-best 1.73 ERA through 17 starts. What’s interesting here is that Ryu won’t have the benefit of pitching at home, where he’s gone 7-0 with a 0.85 ERA this season. Granted, his numbers are still solid on the road (3-2, 2.98 ERA), but Ryu has been tagged for quite a few hits in some of his starts away from Dodger Stadium. Look for that loaded AL lineup to get a good piece of him early on in this one.
Looking at the two bullpens for each side, this is where the AL has a slight advantage. Guys like Jose Berrios, Gerrit Cole and Lucas Giolito could have potentially started this game, while Aroldis Chapman, Brad Hand and Ryan Pressly have all had dominant shut-down stuff this season. I’m looking for them to be magnificent behind Verlander in this one.
It’s not like the NL has a bunch of misfits pitching, though. After all, this is the All-Star Game. Walker Buehler, Luis Castillo and Jacob deGrom all have some of the best stuff in the game, but they do have guys like Sandy Alcantara, Sonny Gray and Brandon Woodruff mixed in there and the situation could prove to be too big for them. If the AL has a big inning tonight, it’ll likely come against one of those three.
When we look at the hitting on both sides, it’s hard to find faults on either. Once again, this is the All-Star Game, so if you’re looking for a soft spot – good luck. In years previous, it felt like the pitching has always been the deciding factor, and that should be the case once again.
It is worth noting, though, that Mike Trout was tied for the league lead in homers (6) over the last seven days heading into the All-Star break. Cody Bellinger had three, which is the most for any NL hitter over that span.
The AL lineup will have a solid all-right-handed lineup for the first seven hitters against Ryu, who has been more vulnerable against that side. On the other side, Verlander will get to face two right-handed bats out of the AL’s first five hitters.
* Betting the Game
In terms of placing a wager, the SpreadKnowledge system sees no other way than to go with the AL and the over in this one. Given the history of their dominance, in addition to having the home-field advantage in this game, it makes the AL the favorite and we’re getting nice odds (according to FanDuel Sportsbook), risking -112 on the moneyline.
We’ll give it a final score of 8-3 in favor of the AL. Taking it a step further, our prediction for MVP is Mike Trout – he does have the best odds of any player on the board at +950.