The Major League Baseball season is a marathon, but we’re starting to see the finish line. By the end of this week, the calendar will have turned to September and playoff baseball will be around the corner.

It also means that the rosters will expand to 40 players, something that’s extremely significant in your baseball handicapping down the stretch. Teams out of contention are going to start giving more playing time to their minor league call-ups, eager to see what they’ve got to work with for 2019. Meanwhile, squads battling for playoff spots will be playing their regulars, and the added depth on their bench and in their bullpen should give them a significant edge in the final month.

We may also have a better opportunity to make money in the MLB betting market now that football is kicking off. Oddsmakers will be focused on the first full week of NCAA action and prepping for the start of NFL, so hopefully we can cherry-pick a few spots of value on the MLB schedule!

Here are four games I’ve circled for this week in which I think we might catch the bookies asleep at the switch.

Cubs over Mets (Tuesday, 8:05 p.m. eastern)

Jacob deGrom is having a spectacular season for the New York Mets. With a month to go in the campaign, he owns an ERA well under 2 (1.71), has allowed an opposing batting average of .203, and owns a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 11:2 per 9 innings.

But all of that dominance hasn’t translated into much success in the win column for either deGrom or the New Yorkers. DeGrom comes into this game with an 8-8 record (basically the only reason he won’t run away with the NL Cy Young Award, even though I think it’s pretty clear that he should win it), and the Mets have won just 11 of the 26 games in which deGrom took the hill.

That’s exactly why there’s been a lot of value in fading deGrom on the season. His statistics force oddsmakers to list the Mets as favorites or short underdogs most nights, but if you’d bet $100 on deGrom in each of his starts this season, you’d be down $845 on the year. Of course, when you’re fading deGrom, it also helps a lot when the opposition has a strong pitcher on the mound, and that’s exactly what we have here with Cole Hamels taking the ball for the Cubs.

Heading to the North Side of Chicago last month has revitalized the veteran lefty. Prior to being deal to the Cubs, Hamels was scuffling along with a 5-9 record, 4.72 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. But in 5 starts in Chicago, Hamels has been absolutely dirty, posting a 4-0 record and sparkling 0.79 ERA. In his last outing, he went the full 9 innings (just the 11th time in the NL this season that a starter has gone the distance) in a 9-1 rout of the Reds.

Just to throw some extra fuel on the Cubs fire here, there are a couple of trends that back us up for a play on Chicago. The Cubbies have absolutely torn up right-handed starters of late at Wrigley Field, entering Monday’s action with a 23-8 record in their last 31 home games versus righties. Meanwhile, the Mets opened a series at Wrigley this week having lost 7 straight meetings with the Cubs and 23 of the last 32 in Chicago.

Betting Prediction

We’re going to have to lay some juice to take Chicago here, but trust me, we’re still getting a bargain on the Cubs because of deGrom’s presence on the mound for New York. I’ll be all over Chicago as long as we can get -160 or less on the moneyline.

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Diamondbacks over Giants (Tuesday, 10:15 p.m. eastern)

There’s no question that Clay Buchholz has been an enigmatic pitcher over the years. This is a guy who went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA for the Red Sox in 2013, then went 8-11 with a 5.34 ERA the very next season. And last year, Buchholz was roughed up for 10 earned runs in 7.1 innings in two starts with the Phillies before being shut down for the rest of the season to undergo elbow surgery.

But when Buchholz is on his game and in the right mental frame of mind, he’s still got the ability to mow opposing hitters down. That’s what he’s shown this season, at least, as he comes into Tuesday’s action with a 7-2 record and sparkling 2.25 ERA with the Diamondbacks. Those season numbers don’t even tell the whole story about how good Buchholz has been of late. The slender righty hasn’t allowed more than 3 runs in a game in nearly 3 months (June 12 versus Pittsburgh), and he’s given up just 10 earned runs in his last 8 starts.

Buchholz’s opposition on Tuesday will be Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, who sports a solid 2.88 ERA in 15 starts on the year. However, this isn’t the same dominant Mad Bum that we’ve seen in the past. Bumgarner’s walks per 9 innings are up significantly (3.27) while his strikeout rate per 9 innings has dipped (7.78). With Buchholz likely to hold the Giants’ offense down in this contest, an extra free pass or two from Bumgarner may be enough to tip the scales in the Diamondbacks’ favor.

This series will be hyped up as the Giants’ last chance to get back into the playoff race, but don’t be fooled. San Fran comes into this week 2 games under .500, 8 games behind Arizona for first in the NL West, and 8 games behind Milwaukee for the second NL wild card. The loss of Buster Posey last week (season-ending hip surgery) was the death knell for any faint playoff hopes the Giants might have had. To top it off, San Francisco simply isn’t good enough to make a big run in the final month, evidenced by their 3-9 record in their last 12 home games against teams with winning records (going into Monday’s action).

Betting Prediction

San Fran’s “must-win” status and Bumgarner on the mound will likely mean the Giants are overvalued in this clash. Given the way that Buchholz is pitching right now, getting the Diamondbacks anywhere higher than +120 on the moneyline would be a great deal.

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Brewers over Nationals (Friday, 7:05 p.m. eastern) or OVER

If Clay Buchholz has a rival for the most enigmatic pitcher in baseball, it’s the Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez. Like Buchholz, Gonzalez can look brilliant when things are going well, but he’s also been known to unravel quickly when things don’t go his way. And they haven’t been going the way of Gonzalez (or his Washington teammates) very much lately.

Prior to a 3-0 loss to the Mets on Friday night, Gonzalez had been lit up for 19 earned runs in his previous 19.2 innings (spanning 4 starts). Shutting down the Mets’ feeble attack doesn’t necessarily prove to me that Gio has turned things around (he only struck out 2 in 7 innings of work), and I put a lot more stock in his awful season-long numbers. With a 4.35 ERA and awful strikeout-to-walk ratio of 7.68 to 4.29, Gonzalez’s 7-11 record is no fluke. Neither is the fact that he is 1-9 in his last 10 decisions, and that only victory since June 21 came against the Padres.

Milwaukee is projected to counter Friday with Jhoulys Chacin, who takes a solid 13-5 record and 3.61 ERA to the mound. Chacin’s career ERA is 3.89, so it’s not as if the veteran is suddenly drastically overachieving and due for regression. Actually, one reason Chacin is having such a banner year is because of his ability to put poor starts behind him. Coming off a loss Saturday versus the Pirates (when he allowed 3 runs, 8 hits and 4 walks in 6 innings), I’m interested in backing him to bounce back in style.

From a motivational standpoint, there’s no question who has the edge in this contest. We’ve all been waiting for Washington to suddenly turn it on and claim its rightful spot atop the NL East, but it’s simply not going to happen this year. Management knows it, dealing Daniel Murphy to the Cubs last week, and the players know it as well. Meanwhile, the Brewers come into this week holding the second wild card spot in the NL, and with first place in the Central well within their reach (4.5 games back).

Betting Prediction

Milwaukee’s won 5 of the last 7 meetings with Washington, and I like their chances at making it 6 of the last 8 on Friday. Hopefully we’ll be able to get the Brewers as a short road dog, which is enough value for me to take a shot with the better team.

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Padres over Rockies (Saturday, 8:40 p.m. eastern)

I unsuccessfully faded the Rockies’ Tyler Anderson with an Over ticket last week, but the logic was solid. The light-hitting Padres knocked Anderson around for 10 hits and 4 earned runs in 6.1 innings of work, but Robbie Erlin and the San Diego bullpen held the Rockies to just 3 runs on the evening as the game went Under the total.

There’s no reason to get off the Anderson fade train now. Since that outing against the Padres, things got even worse for the lefty, who was pounded for 6 earned runs in less than an inning Sunday at home against the Cardinals. He’s now allowed 19 earned runs in his last 3 starts, given up 4-plus runs in 5 of his last 6, hasn’t won since July 4 and is just 6-7 for a team that is in contention to win the NL West.

Erlin is the likely starter for San Diego here in a rematch of that game last week at Coors Field. I wasn’t convinced that he could pitch deep enough into that game to keep the Padres’ middle relief from getting involved (hence the Over ticket), but the converted reliever is proving to have an ability to consistently give his team 5-plus innings. And if regression was likely for Erlin, he already got some Sunday when the Dodgers got him for 8 hits and 4 runs in 4.2 innings. Erlin’s strikeout-to-walk ratio remains a sparkling 7.17 to 0.95 per 9 innings as he continues to force opponents to beat him with their bats.

Betting Prediction

It’ll be interesting to see how the betting marketplace values Anderson in this matchup, especially after Sunday’s debacle versus the Cardinals made everyone aware of his recent struggles. But it’s rare for the Padres to be lined at less than +120 this season, even on their home field. Taking San Diego to win is one of my least favorite things to do as a baseball bettor, but if we’re offered +130 or better on the moneyline, I’m going to have to plug my nose and pull the trigger on the Padres.

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