MLB Tuesday best bets: Ride Rodon in rare underdog spot vs. Dodgers
We struck out on our three MLB plays on Monday, but we've got a juicy slate ahead of us Tuesday to raise our metaphorical batting average. Here are our best bets for the day:
What better place for Mike Clevinger to make his long-awaited 2022 debut than in the ballpark he called home for four-and-a-half years before the Guardians shipped him to San Diego? The Padres starter hasn't pitched since 2020 while recovering from Tommy John surgery (2021) and a sprained right knee (2022), but he'll have a chance to do some damage against Cleveland, which ranks in the bottom five in hard-hit rate (34.4%) and xwOBAcon (.360).
He should have some help at the plate with San Diego facing off against struggling starter Zach Plesac, who was sharp in his first start against the Royals but has fallen apart in three games since. He's allowed seven hits in each of his last three starts with more earned runs allowed (11) than strikeouts (nine), and he's coming off a start in which the Angels tagged him for six runs in just 3 2/3 innings.
Such struggles against better competition have been the story of the Guardians' season thus far, as they've posted a combined 10-2 record against teams with losing records and a 0-10 mark against clubs above .500. The Padres (15-8) are firmly in the latter camp should take care of business in this one.
After losing 10 of 11 games over a two-week stretch, the White Sox have won two of their last three and nearly stole the third with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. They're in a solid spot to keep that momentum alive against their crosstown rivals.
That starts with Michael Kopech, who boasts a 1.42 ERA through four starts after a breakout 2021 campaign. He's been aided by a low BABIP (.200) and hasn't surrendered a home run, and the Cubs aren't likely to change that as they lead the majors in ground ball rate (50.6%).
Conversely, the White Sox have absolutely crushed left-handed pitching in recent years, leading the majors in OPS (.803) against lefties since 2020 and ranking second in OPS (.821) and slugging percentage (.479) in 155 plate appearances this year. Good luck to veteran southpaw Drew Smyly, who has allowed a pair of home runs in each of his last two starts for the Cubs.
At what point will Carlos Rodon finally get his due as one of baseball's best arms? The 2021 Cy Young finalist has turned it up a notch in his first season with the Giants, pacing the NL in FIP (0.96) and xERA (1.74) while striking out an MLB-best 43.2% of batters he faces. That's Jacob deGrom territory, albeit across a much smaller sample.
Despite his torrid start, Rodon finds himself as an underdog for the first time this season and only the fifth time over the last three years. That's a good sign for bettors: the former White Sox lefty helped his team to a win in nine of his last 18 underdog spots with a $401 return in that stretch.
Given how consistently excellent he's pitched this year - he's allowed three or fewer hits with at least eight punchouts and two or fewer walks in all four starts - he's worth backing against the Dodgers, who have struggled to find any consistency this season. After plating six runs against the Tigers on Sunday, don't bet on a big day at the plate for Los Angeles on Tuesday.