MLB Best Bets Today July 8:

Seven games are on the big league betting board for Monday, as we have a very early 12:35 p.m. ET start, one midday game, and five night games to start out the final week of the first half. As I mentioned last week, the first half has technically been over for a while, but the All-Star Break is often treated as the line of demarcation between the first and second halves and that begins on Sunday after all the games are completed.

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Here are the MLB best bets today for July 8:

St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals (-112, 9)

4:05 p.m. ET

Options are pretty limited today with some big favorites and a lot of inconsistent pitching performances, but I found something I like in the Cardinals and Nationals matchup. We’ve got two pitch-to-contact guys here in Miles Mikolas and Mitchell Parker on a simply sweltering day in D.C. with first-pitch temps around 97 and a little breeze blowing out to LF.

The Cardinals are also swinging it well at present with a .340 wOBA and a 123 wRC+ as they head into this matchup with Parker, who has a 3.61 ERA with a 4.08 xERA and a 3.93 FIP. Parker has allowed 12 Barrels over his last six starts and now ranks in the 30th percentile in Barrel% and 40th percentile in Hard Hit%. He allowed five runs last time out to the Mets and has allowed at least four runs in three of his last five starts.

I certainly have concerns about a pitch-to-contact guy like Mikolas in this type of environment. There are some positive regression signs in the profile, including his 62.2% LOB%. Dating back to May 12, Mikolas has a 4.30 ERA with a 3.53 FIP and allowed 10 of his 29 runs in one start, which came back on June 27 against the Reds. For the most part, he’s pitched pretty well and been able to avoid significant damage.

The Cardinals also have a big bullpen edge here. The Nationals pen has a 5.51 ERA and a 4.73 FIP over the last 14 days, while the Cardinals have gotten themselves back on track with the help of a pen that has a 2.42 ERA and a 3.30 FIP over the last 14 days. The full-season numbers are much stronger on the STL side as well with a 3.43 ERA and a 3.69 FIP compared to a 4.09 ERA and a 3.86 FIP for the Nats.

I’ll trust a Cardinals lineup that has been more consistent and a better bullpen in a game where both starters may very well struggle. I also want to fade Parker on an extremely hot day with his recent Barrel%.

Pick: Cardinals -108