MLB weekend best bets: Can Alcantara continue Cy Young run vs. Mets?
We swept the board with our MLB picks Thursday, extending our win streak to six straight games entering Friday. Can we keep that undefeated run alive? Here are our best bets for the weekend:
Padres (-145) @ Rockies
June 17, 8:40 p.m. ET
It's always intimidating to bank on a young pitcher to survive the conditions of Coors Field for the first time. However, if anyone can do it, it's MacKenzie Gore. He's been one of the best young arms in baseball through his first 10 starts.
Before Saturday's six-run letdown versus the Rockies in the second leg of a doubleheader, the Padres rookie allowed one or fewer runs in four consecutive starts and eight of his first nine starts of his MLB career. Gore's also allowed just one home run this season, which came in his big-league debut. That's a positive sign that he can weather the thin air in Colorado.
Gore will have support from this surging Padres lineup, which has plated a combined 37 runs across the last three games with the stellar play of MVP contender Manny Machado (6-for-14, 5 RBI) leading the way. This line should be tilted much further in favor of the Friars, who won the last two meetings by multiple runs.
Phillies-Nationals under (TBD)
June 18, 4:35 p.m.
We've been picking on this Nationals lineup all season, and we'll likely be eyeing their team total under for Saturday. But there's also value on the overall game under in an intriguing pitching matchup of proven versus prospect.
Aaron Nola hasn't been the most consistent ace in his eighth season with the Phillies, but he still leads the NL in walks per nine (1.1) and tops all of baseball in strikeouts per walk (9.10). That level of command has helped him settle in after a rough few weeks, posting back-to-back string starts against the Brewers (8 IP, 0 ER) and Marlins (7 IP, 2 ER) coming into Saturday.
Most impressively, Nola boasted 16 swinging strikes in his most recent start, one more than he'd notched in any start this season. That bodes well ahead of this matchup with the Nationals, who rank in the top 10 in swing rate (48.5%) and chase rate (29.7%).
Conversely, Josiah Gray owned baseball's worst ERA just a few weeks ago, but he's turned it around with three consecutive starts allowing one or fewer earned runs in five or more innings. He issued just one free pass with six strikeouts in his last start and should be able to hold his own against a tired Phillies lineup coming off Friday's doubleheader.
Mets under (TBD) vs. Marlins
June 19, 1:40 p.m.
We've been telling you since before the season about the brilliance of Sandy Alcantara, who had the profile of a Cy Young winner coming into the year despite a so-so strikeout rate. Through 13 starts, he's been arguably the most unhittable pitcher in baseball.
The Marlins ace has thrown an MLB-best 91 1/3 innings and owns the fourth-best ERA (1.68) in the majors, posting 10 quality starts in 13 tries. Alcantara's been especially brilliant since May 11, spinning a 0.81 ERA with 51 strikeouts, 11 walks, and just one home run allowed in 55 2/3 innings of work.
Yes, this Mets lineup is daunting, but New York's offense hasn't been nearly as prolific over the past two weeks as it was earlier in the year. This group is especially prone to weak contact, which is a virtual death sentence against Alcantara. Expect another strong showing from the Cy Young front-runner in this one.