It's a smaller slate of games on Monday, August 21st, but we still have plenty of ways to go for MLB betting picks and baseball best bets today. Our top MLB picks for Monday night feature two matchups with tons of postseason and Wild Card implications. The San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies will jockey for positioning in the NL Wild Card standings while the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros start up an entertaining AL series. Plus, we look at an MLB player prop for Atlanta Braves slugger Matt Olson. Good luck with your own baseball picks and MLB bets today! 


MLB Best Bets for August 21

San Francisco Giants vs Philadelphia Phillies – 6:40 pm ET

The top two teams in the NL Wild Card standings will start up a three-game series tonight as the San Francisco Giants visit the Philadelphia Phillies. There are plenty of postseason implications here and we can expect both teams to come in motivated. The Giants will send out left-hander Scott Alexander as the opener tonight with another lefty in Sean Manaea likely following as the bulk reliever. While the Phillies offense has hit left-handers well recently, Manaea has been very effective in this long relief role for San Fran. He boasts a 3.86 ERA and 2.58 FIP as a reliever this season compared to a 7.54 ERA and 5.91 FIP as a traditional starter. Manaea also has a 2.25 FIP and 3.42 ERA since the All-Star break with only one run allowed over his past six appearances. Alexander, by the way, has a 2.91 FIP since the AS break and should hold down the first inning or two. It’s important to note that the Phillies have traveled a ton in the past 48 hours after playing in last night’s Little League Classic Game in Williamsport, PA. There could be some tired bats for the Phils.

On the other side, we have Aaron Nola starting for Philadelphia. It’s admittedly been a pretty shaky season for the Phillies right-hander with some rough outings lately. Still, there are reasons for optimism tonight. First off, Nola will face a Giants offense that’s terrible against right-handed pitching right now. In the month of August, San Francisco is dead last in the majors vs righties in wOBA (.254), batting average (.198), wRC+ (58), and ISO (.087). The Giants are averaging only 2.7 runs per game over the past 10 contests with the offense, in particular, costing them ground in the Wild Card race. Nola, meanwhile, will benefit from pitching at home where he’s been more productive (3.59 ERA, 3.44 FIP) than on the road (5.26 ERA, 4.81 FIP). He also still has a 3.87 xERA this season, which suggests some potential positive regression to his 4.58 ERA. Even if Nola runs into trouble, the Phillies have a well-rested bullpen to clean things up and play matchups in the later innings. 

Pick: Giants/Phillies UNDER 8.5 Total Runs (-110 on BetMGM)

New York Mets vs Atlanta Braves – 7:20 pm ET

When you’re dealing with a home run hitter like Matt Olson, sometimes the best analysis is, “He’s due.” Olson’s 43 home runs are nice and all, but the Atlanta Braves slugger hasn’t gone deep in a week (August 13th). The current six-game homerless drought is his longest since early June, before he reeled off 26 home runs over 53 games prior to this recent “slump.” Honestly, similar to Shohei Ohtani, every day we DON’T see Olson leaving the yard is surprising at this point. If you need some stats to back up why he’ll hit a home run tonight, let’s dive in. Olson is slugging .635 at home and .554 against left-handed pitching this season. New York Mets lefty starter David Peterson has a 7.75 ERA on the road this year and is allowing a .304 BA and .544 SLG to left-handed hitters. Plus, Olson already has three homers in his career against Peterson. He’s bound to go deep tonight, tomorrow, or the next day – so it’s worth putting a half-unit or more on Olson’s HR prop until it happens. 

Pick: Matt Olson to hit a Home Run (+300 on FanDuel)

Boston Red Sox vs Houston Astros – 8:10 pm ET

This series between the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros features two teams firmly in the AL Wild Card hunt. For tonight’s series opener, let’s bank on a higher-scoring battle with both offenses having distinct advantages. Red Sox starter James Paxton is on the worse end of his home/road splits with a 3.94 ERA and 4.56 FIP on the road compared to a 2.58 ERA and 3.50 FIP at home this year. The left-hander has also pitched to a 4.45 ERA and 4.92 FIP over his last six starts since the All-Star break. The Astros offense, meanwhile, is hammering left-handed pitching lately to the tune of a .425 wOBA, .267 ISO, 177 wRC+, and 1.001 OPS over the past two weeks. Houston has been a more dangerous lineup vs lefties all season and that’s been very evident recently. 

Then there’s Cristian Javier starting for the Astros and he could run into trouble himself. The right-hander has taken a significant step back from last year’s breakout campaign as he’s sporting a 4.49 ERA and 4.63 FIP so far. Javier has experienced poor outings on multiple occasions, including five runs allowed to the Marlins last start. He has a 4.94 ERA and 5.78 FIP since the All-Star break and doesn’t bring much upside into tonight’s matchup. The Boston offense has been notably better against righties than lefties this season and it boasts a .357 wOBA, .287 BA, and 125 wRC+ vs right-handers over the past week. Both sides of this game suggest plenty of offense and the over in the first five innings is the way to go.

Pick: Red Sox/Astros 1st 5 Innings OVER 4.5 Runs (-130 on DraftKings)