MLB Best Bet for Today 09-04-23: A Pitchers’ Duel

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Welcome to The Bet Club for our MLB Best Bet of the Day which is an afternoon game featuring two sides with exciting pitching and underperforming Bullpens and that’s what we are targeting with this best bet pick.

MLB Best Bet Today: CHI White Sox vs KC Royals – Game Totals Pick Under 9.0 (-105)

In the realm of mid-season acquisitions, where debates swirl around the likes of Jordan Montgomery, Max Scherzer, or Justin Verlander, one name often overlooked is Cole Ragans. This left-handed pitcher, who flew under the radar, had tallied a 5.92 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP across 24.1 innings with the Rangers before a trade sent him to the Royals in exchange for Aroldis Chapman. The deal proved mutually beneficial; Chapman bolstered Texas’ bullpen, and Kansas City secured their desired asset.

However, Ragans’ impact with the Royals has been nothing short of remarkable. The southpaw has crafted a 3-1 record alongside a sparkling 1.78 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP over seven starts with his new team. In this span, Ragans has stifled batters, limiting them to a meager .222 batting average, a .201 expected batting average (xBA), while also boasting a formidable 34% strikeout rate and a 35% hard-hit rate. These statistics paint a picture of elite performance for a player once deemed of lesser value by the Rangers.

Now, Ragans faces off against a Chicago lineup that, since August 1, ranks 23rd in weighted runs created plus (wRC+) and holds the dubious distinction of being the most strikeout-prone team against left-handed pitching. To elevate Ragans’ performance further, he enters this match on the back of an impressive 15-inning scoreless streak.

In response, the White Sox will unleash their rising star, Jesse Scholtens. After enduring years in the Minors since 2016, Scholtens finally secured a spot in the big leagues in his rookie season. Initially deployed in the bullpen for long-relief duties, he transitioned to the rotation following the departure of Lucas Giolito at the trade deadline. In his newfound role, Scholtens boasts a 4.73 ERA, limiting batters to a .242 expected batting average (xBA) and inducing a 37% hard-hit rate.

Scholtens’ primary weapon, his fastball, is also his most effective pitch, but he relies on his slider when holding the upper hand in the count. This tactic is especially promising against the Royals, who have struggled mightily against sliders, ranking 29th since August 1. Furthermore, in more recent times, Kansas City has languished at the bottom of the league, ranking 29th in batting average and 30th in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and wRC+ against right-handed pitching since mid-August.

While the bullpen’s reliability remains questionable, the starting pitching duel promises to provide a buffer of a few runs. In light of this, we confidently back the under.

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