Isn’t afternoon baseball the best?
Thursday brings with it four day games on a nine-game slate, and we have betting recommendations for each one. From A’s-Red Sox to Guardians-Rockies, we have underdogs, favorites and totals to get your day started off on the right foot.
Be sure to check back later for our best bets on the evening slate, but for now, here are our four best bets from Thursday afternoon’s Major League Baseball slate.
MLB Odds & Picks
Oakland Athletics vs Boston Red Sox
Jules Posner: With their best starter taking the hill in Paul Blackburn, this is the A’s best chance to steal aa game on the road against the Red Sox.
Speaking of hills, Rich Hill looks to prove that he is not over the … hill. But he has really struggled at home this season. His 8.04 ERA and 6.71 FIP are pretty ugly home numbers and he’ll be taking on an offense that is actually in the top 10 in team wRC+ on the road against LHP over the past month.
The A’s have a relatively right-hand-heavy lineup and the struggling Hill could provide a great opportunity for the A’s to put up some runs.
On the other side, the Red Sox were hot for a stretch in late May and early June, now they are starting to cool off. Over the past three weeks, their offense has cooled considerably and they’re squaring off against a pitcher who has a microscopic 0.91 road ERA.
The A’s bullpen has struggled, but hopefully Blackburn can minimize their usage and help lead the A’s into the win column. They aren’t huge underdogs in this matchup, but the A’s sit comfortably in plus money and should be taken as long as their in that range.
San Diego Padres vs. Chicago Cubs
Will Boor: The Cubs have lost nine in a row and are 1-9 over their past 10 games. Meanwhile, the Padres have won three straight and are 7-3 over their past 10 games, with six of those six wins coming by at least three runs.
Not only are the Padres the better team, they also have a massive edge in starting pitching. Joe Musgrove has been dominant all season, but he’s also taken it up a notch of late. The 29-year-old right-hander has allowed just one run over his past four starts (27 innings) and has pitched to a 1.50 ERA this season.
His 2.59 xERA suggests some regression is looming, but that’s still a really good number and reinforces the fact that he’s been dominant this year. Musgrove ranks in the 90th percentile in average exit velocity and in the 87th percentile in xSLG.
Meanwhile, Matt Swarmer got crushed in his last start. Yes, that was against the high-powered Yankees’ offense, but Swarmer’s 5.23 xERA isn’t overly encouraging as the 28-year-old adjusts to top-level competition.
Swarmer only has 17 innings under his belt so the sample size is small, but the early returns aren’t great and facing a Padres lineup that has scored in the double digits in back-to-back games doesn’t seem like it’ll be a good bounce back spot. The Padres hit better on the road (.693 OPS on the road, .660 OPS at home entering Wednesday) and I’m expecting that to continue Thursday.
The Padres are 10-1 in Musgrove’s 11 starts and eight of those 10 wins have been by two or more runs. DraftKings opened the Padres moneyline at -155. If that number is still there, you can certainly take it. However, if it gets much higher than that, feel good about taking the run line and playing it down to -125.
Baltimore Orioles vs Toronto Blue Jays
DJ James: Tyler Wells have fared well this season. He ranks in the 85th percentile in walk rate, the 71st percentile in average exit velocity and the 66th percentile in hard hit rate.
However, the Orioles have had one of the worst bullpens in baseball in the month of June. They have combined for a 4.75 xFIP with only a 13.9% strikeout rate. Toronto has a 157 wRC+ off of right-handers this month, ranking second in MLB to only the New York Yankees. On top of that, the Blue Jays are slugging .527 as a team with a .379 OBP and only a 17.4% strikeout rate.
Wells ranks in the 10th percentile in strikeout rate, so even if he has been solid this season with a 3.45 xERA, Toronto will push some runs across the plate with him at the helm and a mediocre Baltimore bullpen behind him.
Take Toronto over five total runs at -125, and play this to 6 (-110).
Cleveland Guardians vs. Colorado Rockies
Tanner McGrath: These are two pitchers just beginning for regression.
On the surface, Triston McKenzie and Chad Kuhl both have ERAs below 3.75. McKenzie is way down at 3.09. But if you dig a little deeper, both rank among the bottom 10 percent of pitchers in average exit velocity.
McKenzie has allowed a ridiculous .176 BABIP this season, and has posted a 4.08 xERA and a 4.49 xFIP through his 10 starts this season.
Meanwhile, Kuhl backs up his 3.70 ERA with a 4.48 xERA and 4.65 xFIP. His 9% HR/FB rate is quite low for a guy who’s allowed higher than a 15% HR/FB in three straight seasons.
Neither guy misses bats, either. McKenzie strikes out 7.7 batters per nine while Kuhl is down at a lowly 6.5.
Both pitchers will receive contact and are due for regression. What better ballpark to force two letdown starts than Coors Field?
Neither offense has posted great numbers, but both have power hitters who can take advantage of this unique circumstance. Whether it’s Jose Ramirez or CJ Cron, someone has to post runs on these extremely fortunate pitchers.
I love the over 6.5 and am happy to bet it to -110. However, I’d advise staying away if the number somehow creeps to seven.