Thursday features another big MLB slate with 11 games to choose from. The action kicked off with the Pirates vs. the Twins at 1:35 p.m. ET and wraps up with the White Sox vs. the Brewers at 8:10 p.m. ET.
Here are five of my favorite bets to target on Thursday’s MLB slate.
Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics: Over 8.5 (-115)
This bet is all about the weather. The wind at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland is blowing straight out to center at nine miles per hour, which has historically been a good thing for offenses. The over has gone 991-838-87 since 2006 with a wind of at least eight miles per hour blowing out to center field. That’s good for a 54.2% cover rate, which is more than enough to make this trend profitable over such a large sample size.
The pitching options in this contest aren’t particularly intimidating either. The A’s will turn to Mike Fiers, who has posted a 4.60 xFIP last season, while the Rangers will give the ball to Mike Minor. He’s a slightly better pitcher than Fiers, but he’s still struggled with a 5.91 ERA through his first two starts.
San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies: Giants ML (+145)
The Giants are moderate underdogs here, but they have the potential to do some damage on offense. They’re taking on Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland, who was an absolute disaster on the mound last season. He pitched to an ERA of 6.73, including an ERA of 9.25 at Coors Field.
The line movement also indicates some sharp activity on the Giants. They opened up as +164 underdogs, but they’ve dropped to just +145 despite receiving just 21% of the moneyline wagers. That’s typically a good sign that the bets the matter are coming in on San Francisco.
Toronto Blue Jays at Atlanta Braves: Blue Jays ML (+100)
This is a bet on Nate Pearson, who will be making his second career start for the Blue Jays in today’s contest. He was absolutely fantastic in his first outing, going toe-to-toe with Max Scherzer and the Nationals. He allowed zero earned runs over five innings while racking up five strikeouts.
Pearson entered the season with huge expectations – he was listed as the ninth-best prospect according to MLB.com – and he’s off to a fantastic start.
The Braves will turn to Touki Toussaint, who was a highly regarded prospect in his own right at one point. That said, he has failed to live up to that billing at the professional level. He struggled with a 5.62 ERA over 41.2 innings in 2019, and he’s pitched to an 8.10 ERA through his first 6 2/3 innings in 2020.
Cincinnati Reds at Cleveland Indians: Under 7.0 (+104)
This should be an excellent pitching matchup between Luis Castillo for the Reds and Carlos Carrasco for the Indians.
Carrasco struggled last year after making his way back from leukemia, but he’s looked excellent through his first two starts in 2020. He’s averaged 11.25 strikeouts per nine innings, which would actually represent a new career high. He has given up some long balls – that tends to happen when you face the Twins – but his 2.86 xFIP suggests that he’s pitching well.
On the other side, Castillo has been quite possibly the unluckiest pitcher in baseball through his first two starts. He’s posted a K/9 of 12.75, but basically batters have managed a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .438 when they have managed to make contact. He posted a BABIP of .262 last season, so he’s due for some positive regression in that category. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that his 2.13 xFIP is significantly lower than his 4.50 ERA.
Both of these pitchers should be able to keep the opposing offenses in check today.
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Baltimore Orioles at Miami Marlins: Orioles ML (+118)
The Marlins are favored in today’s contest, and I’m not sure that the Marlins should ever really be favored against anyone. I know they’re off to a 5-1 start this season, but we’re talking about a six-game sample size. That’s hardly large enough to draw any real conclusions.
This also isn’t even the best possible Marlins roster. They still have nine players on the IL after an outbreak of COVID-19.
The Orioles are not a good team, but I will almost always take the underdog when there’s very little to separate two rosters.
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