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Good afternoon gamblers, it's Chris Bengel back with you after spending last week in the Caribbean on my honeymoon. It was a tad strange not paying attention to every line that the baseball world had to offer, but I'm happy to be back in the groove.

The most exciting time of the Major League Baseball season is about to be upon us. The All-Star break is just a few weeks out, which means that the playoff races are about to start heating up. Four of baseball's six divisional races are currently separated by just 4.5 games or less. On top of that, having two Wild Card up for grabs makes the races all the more interesting.

I've got three MLB picks for this evening, so let's get to them!

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook


The Hot Ticket

Cardinals vs. Braves, 7:20 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds: St. Louis Cardinals +122
  • Key Trend: The Cardinals are 14-3 in their last 17 games against a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30
  • The Pick: Cardinals (+125) 

The Cardinals have dropped four of their last five games while the Braves have won three of their last four games, so it may come as a bit of a surprise that I'm siding with the Cardinals in this spot. But I'm confident in attacking the pitching matchup.

Braves starting pitcher Ian Anderson enters Tuesday's start having surrendered 11 runs over his last two outings.He surrendered seven runs on seven hits in just two innings of work against the Phillies in his last start. In three of his last four starts, Anderson has yielded at least four earned runs and registered 11 walks during that time. 

Meanwhile, the Cardinals have an explosive offense. This is a group that has the sixth-highest batting average (.253), the fifth-most RBIs (368) and sixth-most total bases (1,144). Star third baseman Nolan Arenado is hitting .529 to go along with three home runs over his last four games. With the Cardinals capable of putting an abundance of runs on the board, I expect them to be able to get to Anderson early and take this game on the road.


More MLB Picks

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Nationals vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds: Philadelphia Phillies -170

The Pick: Phillies (-165)-- These odds are a little lower than some may have predicted, but that stems from the uncertainty within the Phillies' pitching staff due to injury. Zach Eflin and Ranger Suarez are currently on the injured list, which is why left-hander Cristopher Sanchez is taking the mound on Tuesday.

Despite the uncertainty, I'm riding with the Phillies here. Nationals starting pitcher Paolo Espino is coming off of a start in which he gave up four runs in just 3.2 innings against the Pirates with two of those runs coming via the long ball. On the other hand, the Phillies have really started to find their stride at the plate -- despite being without star slugger Bryce Harper. They rank sixth in the majors in home runs (103) while also knocking in 366 runs, which is good for No. 7 across the league. 

It's also worth noting that Nationals star outfielder Juan Soto will likely be out of the lineup on Tuesday as he deals with a calf injury. If Sanchez doesn't have to deal with Soto, that'll make matters a whole lot easier for the Phillies to come away with a win.

Key Trend: The Phillies are 4-1 in their last five games against a team with a winning percentage below .400

Angels at Marlins, 6:40 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Sandy Alcantara Over 7.0 Strikeouts (-120) --
 This seems like the perfect storm of a wager if I've ever seen one. Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara has blossomed into a frontrunner to win the National League Cy Young Award. In addition to that, he's facing an Angels lineup that leads the majors in strikeouts on the season.

Alcantara has recorded at least eight strikeouts in three of his last seven starts, including a 14-strikeout performance against the Braves back on May 28. The Marlins right-hander may have only had seven combined strikeouts over his last two starts, but facing a struggling Angels team could be just what the doctor ordered for Alcantara. It is a lofty number, but if Alcantara can go deep into the game, there's no doubt that eight strikeouts is attainable against a free-swing lineup like the Angels.

Key Trend: Alcantara has registered at least seven strikeouts in four of his last eight starts