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Rick’s MLB Plays 7/31

Our first negative night in UFC since May (-1.23u) happens after Brandon Moreno shuts Kai Kara-France down with a liver kick just 30 seconds before we need him to and Amanda Nunes miraculously doesn’t Julianna Pena. Leaves a bad taste in the mouth after being so close to another phenomenal card, but that’s part of sports betting. Sometimes you analyze, research, do your homework, are on the right side and your wager just doesn’t hit. More often than not it does though and the record (+23.56u) shows that. Enough about UFC, lets get into MLB where after 3 straight positive days since the All-Star Break we have regressed and look for a bounce back. Lets get it started!

Arizona Diamondbacks @ Atlanta Braves (1:35 ET)

Favorite: Braves -240

Total: 8

Pitchers: Merrill Kelly (3.04 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) vs. Max Fried (2.73 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)

Would it surprise you if I told you both of these pitchers have double-digit wins already this year? Maybe not Max Fried, but given the 45-55 Diamondbacks, I’m sure a 10-5 record doesn’t come as naturally. Merrill Kelly has been nothing short of fantastic for the DBacks utilizing 5 pitchers including 3 variations of the fastball with his 4-seamer, cutter, and sinker to keep batters off-kilter and avoid the sweet spot of the bat. He’s a master at getting soft contact and has only improved as the year goes on. In July he’s pitched 34.1 innings and has a 1.57 ERA while opponents are hitting merely .175 off of him. In addition, his offense has been one of the best in the majors. Highlighted by an OPS that ranks 5th in July and 6th over the past two weeks, Arizona’s offense has been swinging the bats substantially better than Atlanta lately (19th over last 14 days). Max Fried has still been great, but has been a bit of a shnide lately with a 1.44 WHIP and 4.00 ERA over his last three outings. I’ll take the Merrill Kelly to shut down the Braves’ offense through five and potentially help Arizona avoid the sweep.

Pick: Diamondbacks F5 +1-120 (1.5u)

Rose Cameron - USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Guardians @ Tampa Bay Rays (1:40 ET)

Favorite: Rays -220

Total: 6.5

Pitchers: Bryan Shaw (5.46 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) vs. Shane McClanahan (1.76 ERA, 0.76 WHIP)

The Cleveland Guardians are going for a bullpen game against the best pitcher in the major leagues this year on a Sunday and I respect Terry Francona for the bold move, but they’re essentially throwing away this game. Having played 10 games in the last 9 days and not getting a day off for another 8, Francona is resting starters and looking to get out of this game with everyone healthy and re-energized. Tampa gets Monday off and will look to cease on the opportunity behind the Cy Young favorite to create more distance between themselves and the Guardians in the Wild Card race. Expect the Rays to jump on a below average Bryan Shaw early in addition to the other arms they’ll throw.

Pick: Rays F5 -.5 -130 (1u)

Jonathan Dyer - USA TODAY Sports

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