Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Brief for Friday, July 5. In this column, we’ll set the stage for Keystone State sports bettors’ day ahead and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities.
Baseball commands all our attention Friday. We start by taking a look at the betting outlook for next week’s MLB All-Star Game festivities at Pennsylvania sportsbooks. Then, we’ll hone in on the Pirates and Phillies, as both teams begin three-game series against division rivals to wrap up the first half of the season.
Pennsylvania Sports Betting Industry News
With MLB All-Star festivities on tap, PA sportsbooks offering numerous wagering options
All-Star games in the various North American professional sports leagues all have one main common thread — they’re “exhibitions”. Regardless of what unfolds, there’s no impact on any team’s won-loss record. No individual season stats are accrued, either. But try telling certain bettors these games have minimal lasting importance, other than showcasing that season’s best and brightest. All-Star games have longed served as a proverbial oasis in the desert for many wishing to plunk down some cash during what is typically a sport’s mid-season break. And, the increasing number of complementary events surrounding them have picked up plenty of wagering steam over the years as well.
We see that on display again over the next several days with Major League Baseball holding All-Star festivities early next week. The centerpiece is naturally Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Progressive Field in Cleveland. But the annual Home Run Derby, a fixture that dates back to 1985, grabs the spotlight first. That unfolds Monday night and sees eight of the game’s most prodigious sluggers engage in a single-elimination, bracket-style tournament. The final list of participants was announced Wednesday night, and Pennsylvania sportsbooks are locked and loaded with odds for the contest.
SugarHouse Casino, Parx Casino and Rivers Casino all have HR Derby futures up on their respective boards. None other than the Pirates’ Josh Bell leads the field at +300 odds, vaulting over MLB home run leader Christian Yelich. The Brewers outfielder checks in right behind him at +375. It will be interesting to see if Bell’s designation as the odds-on favorite holds up through the weekend, and if it’s just largely a case of the Keystone State public showing a bit of favoritism to its home-state hero.
Check back for more All-Star-related PA wagering updates Monday and Tuesday of next week.
Friday’s Best Bets at PA Sportsbooks
Major League Baseball
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:05 p.m. EDT
- SugarHouse Casino Total Runs Odds: Over 10.5 (-106)/ Under 10.5 (-109)
- Parx Casino Total Runs Odds: Over 10.5 (-108)/ Under 10.5 (-112)
- Rivers Casino Total Runs Odds: Over 10.5 (-108)/ Under 10.5 (-112)
The Pirates begin their final quest to head into the All-Star break with some momentum Friday night. They open a three-game set against the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers. The two squads are intimately familiar with each other as division mates, and they’ve already played more than half of their scheduled games this season. Milwaukee has been dominant while generating an 8-2 record. The two teams started off their 2019 meetings putting up plenty of runs. Notably, four of their first five games went over Friday’s projected 10.5-run total. That included a 12-10 slugfest at PNC Park, site of Friday’s game.
However, things have settled down between the two division rivals since then. The subsequent five meetings — all at hitter-friendly Miller Park — have come in under that 10.5-run figure. In fact, the two squads have barely exceeded that number in their last three meetings combined. Milwaukee and Pittsburgh have scored a total of just 12 runs over that trio of contests. Friday, the oddsmakers are apparently putting faith in a return to the higher-scoring games of earlier in the season. However, there are a couple of indicators that won’t necessarily come to pass.
One would be the starting pitcher matchup. Zach Davies and Steven Brault will take the hill for the Brewers and Pirates, respectively. There is a caveat in that this will already be Davies’ fourth encounter with the Bucs in 2019. That can often lead to teams teeing off on a pitcher largely based on familiarity with his repertoire. However, it’s hard to ignore how effective Davies has been against the Pirates this season. He owns a 2-0 record and 2.95 ERA in those three meetings and has allowed them just one home run over 18.1 innings.
Then, Brault has overcome an uneven start to the season to put together a stellar stretch of outings. The southpaw has allowed three earned runs or less in eight consecutive trips to the mound. The most recent start in that sample came against this same Brewers squad last Sunday. He allowed them just one earned run over 4.2 innings while recording five strikeouts. Brault has also held current Milwaukee hitters to a collective .220 average over an 82 at-bat sample while only yielding three homers.
Finally, also consider the Brewers own a middling .222 average, .292 wOBA and 22.2 percent strikeout rate against lefties on the road in the last month. Plus, Milwaukee enters Friday’s game on a 23-inning scoreless streak, an indication of how badly their bats are scuffling at present.
By the Numbers: The Under is 25-16-2 (61.0 percent) in the Brewers’ away games this season, including 7-5-2 (58.3 percent) in their games as away favorites.
The Pick: Under 10.5 runs
Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets, 7:10 p.m. EDT
- SugarHouse Casino Run Line Odds: Phillies +1.5 (-137)/ Mets -1.5 (+118)
- Parx Casino Run Line Odds: Phillies +1.5 (-139)/ Mets -1.5 (+115)
- Rivers Casino Run Line Odds: Phillies +1.5 (-139)/ Mets -1.5 (+115)
The reeling Phillies also look to head into the All-Star break on a positive note when they face off with the Mets for a three-game set to wrap up the first half of an up-and-down season. Philadelphia’s pitchers have taken it on the chin over the last two games. They allowed a total of 21 runs to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday and Thursday. While they face a less potent offensive team in the Mets on Friday, they still have plenty of challenges to contend with.
One is Jacob deGrom, who’ll toe the rubber for the Mets. The right-hander has partly been a victim of poor run support, but he’s still managed to cobble together a respectable 3.32 ERA. He’s also coming off a strong month of June during which he generated a 2.70 ERA while posting six quality starts in as many trips to the mound. And while deGrom is yet to face Philadelphia this season, he’s held current Phillies bats to a collective .233/.299/.327 line over a generous sample of 159 at-bats over his career. That includes an impressive 45 strikeouts and only two homers allowed.
Then, the Philadelphia’s current pitching issues may not see much improvement Friday. First, there’s the matter of starter Vince Velasquez‘s track record versus New York. He’s allowed current Mets hitters a collective .308/.439/.600 line over 65 career at-bats. That includes 10 extra-base hits (five doubles, one triple, four home runs). Velasquez has also had plenty of trouble on the road thus far this season. He sports a 2-4 record, 5.50 ERA and .269 BAA across 34.1 away frames.
And, there isn’t much reason for optimism for Philly once Velasquez exits, either. The Phillies bullpen continued to unravel over the last two games versus the Braves and has been abysmal on the road overall during the last month. Philadelphia relievers own an MLB-worst 8.72 ERA and .415 wOBA allowed over that span when traveling.
The Pick: Mets -1.5, Mets moneyline