MLB Weekend Betting Preview (July 9-11): Rising Jays Visit Tampa to Headline Last Weekend Before MLB All-Star Break

Matt Wiesenfeld

This is the final weekend of play before the MLB All-Star Game in Colorado. I think it is fair to say that we have had a pretty entertaining first half. We’ve had no-hitters, cheating scandals, and superlative performances from a number of the game’s best young players. Despite the constant criticism, I think the game is in pretty good shape. And if things have gone the right way for you, your MLB betting bankroll should be in pretty good shape as well.

This weekend we have a number of compelling series. The one that gets the nod for me is the Toronto Blue Jays’ trip to Tampa to take on the Rays. Cincinnati’s visit to Milwaukee is super compelling too, but that one started last night with the Brewers taking Game 1 and adding to their NL Central lead. I am also secretly rooting for the Yankees to drop all three of their game against a first-place Houston team, which is a very real possibility. That would drop them under .500 heading into the break and make for some great talk radio.

MLB Series to Watch: Toronto Blue Jays vs Tampa Bay Rays

Toronto is the wild card in the AL East race. Their lineup is legit, second in scoring and first in home runs, and it is finally healthy with OF George Springer back in the lineup hopefully for good.

The Blue Jays have scratched together a solid first-half record even though their bullpen has been a question mark since mid-May. If that group gets and stays healthy, and gets real reinforcements, the Jays might be able to storm the AL East. They are in third right now but have games in hand and have been aggressive making moves to improve the pen.

The Rays are a few games up on the Jays and pushing the Red Sox, but I am not liking their outlook for this series and beyond as much. I am not expecting a meltdown, as they are too good for that.

That said, this does not look like a top-ten offense to me, even though they are currently 9th. Also, top starter Tyler Glasnow is out with no immediate timetable for return. They do not have the quality depth to just patch over that loss, especially with the way they deploy their arms as it is.

I am not sure what moves the Rays have to make too. They have already called up their best pitching and position prospects in Shane McClanahan and shortstop Wander Franco. I think it is fair to say their impact has only been modest.

In general, I am looking to buy Blue Jays’ stock and short the Rays going forward.

Top MLB Betting Matchups: Friday, July 9

Atlanta Braves vs Miami Marlins, 7:10 pm ET

Probable Pitchers: Charlie Morton (7-3, 3.91 ERA) vs Zach Thompson (2-2, 2.25 ERA)

These teams met last weekend with Atlanta taking 2 of 3 at home. Atlanta is the team that most still think will ultimately catch and pass the Mets to take the NL East, but this group has struggled to play consistent baseball. They have to be more than OF Ronald Acuna Jr. and a little bit of hope.

Charlie Morton pitched last weekend, giving up 4 runs in 5 innings in a game the Braves did win 8-7. Early in the season, he struggled but he has shown he can still bring it. He had back-to-back starts with no runs allowed in June, including a one-hit outing with 11 Ks against the Mets.

Miami couldn’t quite pull off the four-game sweep against the Dodgers to start the week. Still, a few wins against the best team in the NL shows this Miami team might not be totally dead just yet. They just need to find consistent offense to support a good pitching staff.

Rookie righty Zach Thompson has had some early success. He was lined up with Morton in that previous game and outpitched him going 6 innings and allowing just 3 runs. This will be his third time facing Atlanta through just six MLB starts.

Braves vs Marlins July 9 Best Bet

I love quality rookie hurlers making their debuts. Thompson pitched 5 shutout innings against the Braves the first time around. They got to him the next time and now this is already his third start against Atlanta. I am not expecting the Braves to crush him, but that unfamiliarity advantage is gone. Take the Braves with Morton being able to have success against a Marlins team that does not hit at home.

Atlanta Braves vs Miami Marlins July 9 Matchup: Picks, Odds, Stats and More

Top MLB Betting Matchups: Saturday, July 3

New York Yankees vs Houston Astros

Probable Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (8-4, 2.91 ERA) vs Zach Greinke (8-2, 3.64 ERA)

The Yankees closed their series with the Mariners by getting shutout 4-0 by Logan Gilbert, a rookie who had been winless at home. They had just one hit for the ballgame as the offense continues to struggle. I am not saying one game is indicative of a whole season, but what is it going to take for this offense to get rolling? It is hard to know at this point.

Gerrit Cole is Exhibit A of what the pitchers were doing to the baseball, right? His overall numbers for the season still look pretty good, and he still has great stuff. But his ERA numbers have gone up every month this season. Whether he was cheating or not, something is up with the Yankees' best pitcher. Still, he is the MLB betting favorite to win the AL Cy Young award. How long will that remain the case though?

Houston lost yesterday to Oakland but extended their lead over the A’s by taking 2 of 3 in the series. This is MLB’s top-scoring team thanks to a lineup whose top six is as good as any in the game. They are sixth in homers and can certainly hit the long ball. But they just hit well overall, coming in first in batting average. Their offense puts a lot of pressure on the opposition.

Zack Greinke is having another strong season for Houston. Since joining the Astros in 2019, he is 19-6 in 40 starts. I love the way he is crafty on the mound. I am not saying he wasn’t doing what others pitchers were doing, but it seems like he was willing to adjust rather than take advantage. Backed by a strong offense he is tough to beat.

Yankees vs Astros July 10 Best Bet

The Yankees have been favored in every start by Cole this season. Houston is a familiar spot for him, but if the Yankees are favored, I will look to fade him. With these pitchers and these teams in this spot, it is a bit of a toss-up. Go with whoever gives you better MLB betting value.

Top MLB Betting Matchups: Sunday, June 11

Cincinnati Reds vs Milwaukee Brewers

Probable Pitchers: Luis Castillo (3-10, 4.81 ERA) vs Brandon Woodruff (7-4, 2.10 ERA)

The Reds have emerged as the greatest threat to the Brewers in the NL Central. That might be a bit of a surprise, but this is a solid Reds team that I think can keep it up. I am just not sure they can be much better, so if they want to be in the race they have to take advantage of the games against the teams they are trying to catch.

Luis Castillo is one of three pitchers who have 10 or more losses already this season. It might be a lost season record-wise, but when he has his changeup going he can be very effective. He pitched against Milwaukee twice last month and was very effective. In two starts, he allowed only three runs and four hits in 12.2 innings.

Milwaukee begins the weekend with the biggest cushion of any division-leading team in the NL. It is pretty amazing stuff given how little they have gotten from their top bats this season. I love that they are being aggressive, most recently acquiring 1B Rowdy Tellez from the Jays in the search for more offense.

Brandon Woodruff gave up four runs in his last start against the Mets. It was not a great outing, but he has still been excellent in the first half. Even though these teams have played a few series already, he has missed the Reds so far this season. If you are looking for an MLB betting opportunity to fade one of the best pitchers in the league, it is hard to find.

Reds vs Brewers July 11 Best Bet

I am not giving up on Castillo just yet, but I don’t like the situation on Sunday. Woodruff has given up three or more runs in a start just three times all season and never in back to back starts. I am expecting a nice bounce-back from him. You can take the run line if you have to.

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