I’ve been handing out some losers as of late, so I doubt anyone will be too upset that tonight’s article will be my last of the week. I’m taking Friday off. It’s Canada Day and I’m exercising my right as a maple syrup lovin’ Canuck to drink beer and eat hamburgers by a pool. That said, I wouldn’t recommend actually betting Canada’s team tomorrow. The Jays’ red jerseys are cursed and Jose Berrios is broken.
But you’re not here for advice for Friday, you want winners tonight. We’re 35-30 on article plays for the season and here’s three wagers I like on Thursday.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates
Team Total: Pirates Over 3.5 Runs (-140)
I don’t hate just betting the Pirates as a home underdog this evening, but the team total seems like a safer way to go. So, why the sudden trust in one of baseball’s worst lineups to produce runs? Let’s dive into the recent performance of Adrian Houser to answer that question. In his past six outings, the RHP has pitched to an ugly 6.54 ERA and 1.67 WHIP. However, the most important aspect of those struggles is specifically the handedness of the opponents doing all the damage. In that same span, Houser’s faced 65 left-handed bats, and those men have combined for a massive .428 wOBA.
Pittsburgh might not have much it can be proud of in 2022 — or the last half-decade of baseball, for that matter — but it does have an absurd amount of LHBs on the roster. In fact, the Pirates have the second-most left-handed plate appearances against right-handed pitching in the majors (1,262), and that was mostly accomplished with Oneil Cruz in Triple-A. Heck, in Wednesday’s 8-7 win over the Nationals, Pittsburgh trotted out a lineup with seven lefties, one switch-hitter and Ke’Bryan Hayes. Not too shabby, particularly when said switch-hitter is Bryan Reynolds, who’s hitting .337 with a 173 wRC+ in June. Look for the Pirates to platoon Houser to death on Thursday.
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Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners
Mariners -1.5 (-110)
There’s no need to get too complicated with this one. We’ve just got ourselves a really lopsided pitching matchup. In one corner, former top prospect Logan Gilbert. The 25-year-old has come slightly back down to Earth after a lights out month of April, yet Gilbert’s still posted a 2.21 ERA and a 2.99 FIP across his past six starts. In the other corner, recent call-up Adrian Martinez. I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know much about Martinez beyond what I can recite from his FanGraphs page, but a 5.48 ERA over two seasons at Triple-A leaves a lot to be desired. Also, 5.1 innings of scoreless baseball in his debut is nice, but it comes with a massive asterisk considering it was against the Tigers.
The other aspect of this bet is obviously offensive potential, where Seattle easily trumps Oakland. The Athletics come into this contest in possession of a .262 wOBA against RHPs — tied for the worst mark in all of baseball. The only warning I’ll give in this space is the looming suspensions that are staring down Jesse Winker, J.P. Crawford and Julio Rodriguez. The trio are currently playing after appealing the initial ruling, but if all three are suddenly unable to suit up this evening, I’d have to re-think this bet.
Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays
Yusei Kikuchi Over 2.5 Earned Runs (+125)
When I tell you I racked my brain for half-and-hour trying to best figure out how to attack this game, I’m not lying. Everything in my being knew I had to bet against Kikuchi tonight, but with so many options available, which one was the route to take? It came down to this prop or simply taking the Rays on the moneyline, and honestly, the prop paid out more.
To say Kikuchi has had a nightmarish month of June would be an understatement. The lefty has only been able to muster 15.1 innings in his past five outings, pitching to a ghastly 9.39 ERA and 10.63 FIP. Kikuchi’s surrendered 5.28 home runs per nine and an .846 opponent slugging percentage in this span, while also managing to walk an eye-popping 13.9% of the batters he’s faced. There was some local rumblings that Charlie Montoyo was contemplating a move to the bullpen for Kikuchi this week, but with few alternatives to turn to, the veteran will make his 15th start of the season on Thursday. Considering how taxed the Jays’ relievers are and that there’s a doubleheader already scheduled for Saturday, Toronto might just need Kikuchi to eat innings tonight. Things could get ugly.
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