After getting up over eight units early in the season, we are in the midst of our coldest streak yet. 1-8 in the last nine bets is nothing to be proud of, yet it embodies the MLB season to a tee. The best of teams and every bettor will get hot and subsequently get cold. But all we can do is get back on the horse and trust what gave us so much success to begin with. The funny thing is that one of the only winning bets in this streak was arguably the riskiest bet of all, taking the under in Jacob deGrom’s strikeout prop. However, the numbers dictated the Red Sox would put the ball in play a bunch, and in the numbers we trust.
Here are my MLB top betting plays for Thursday. (Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook):
View the best player prop bets for today’s slate with our MLB Prop Bet Cheat Sheet >>
YTD: 31-25-1 (+2.78 units)
Athletics-Rays UNDER 8 runs (-113)
Whenever the average bettor sees a pitcher’s name they do not recognize, the inclination is to bet the over. However, often these new pitchers have the advantage in their first couple of starts, as the opposing hitters do not have much by way of scouting or no live hitting experience against the pitcher. That is the case today in Tampa Bay, as the Rays’ No. 5 prospect Shane McLanahan makes his first-ever start in the big leagues.
McLanahan was used as a reliever in the postseason last year, so he has some big league experience. He is reportedly stretched out to last four or five innings and will then hand it over to one of the best bullpens in baseball. His opposition on the mound, Oakland’s Chris Bassitt (2-2, 4.13 ERA), has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last three starts. Bassitt has electric stuff, as the strikeout totals indicate, whiffing 16 batters over his previous 12 innings.
The under is 10-0 in the last ten games that the Oakland Athletics have been underdogs against opponents from the AL East. That trend loosely applies today, with the game being a virtual pick’em (each has moneyline odds of -105). However, the more applicable trend is that no game in this series has totaled more than seven runs, and no Tampa Bay game in the last six games has totaled more than eight runs.
Oakland’s team ERA is 2.89 ERA, and their hitters are batting a collective .208 in their last ten games. Tampa Bay’s team ERA is 3.31 and their batting average is .240 in that same span. That sounds like the recipe for an under to me.
Philadelphia Phillies ML (-130)
It is not often one can get Phillies ace Aaron Nola, at such short odds, but that is the respect that the St. Louis Cardinals get when playing at home. Nola (2-1, 2.84 ERA) has allowed six earned runs over 24.2 innings in his non-Coors Field starts, and just two starts ago, threw the first complete-game shutout of his career. His 0.98 WHIP ranks in the top 23 of the league, and his 31.2 IP ranks in the top 12.
St. Louis’s Kwang Hyun Kim (1-0, 4.15 ERA) is making just his third start of the season, and he has momentum after striking out a career-high eight batters in his last start. He has never lost a decision in his career (4-0), but he has also rarely faced an opposing pitcher the caliber of Nola.
Philadelphia was 3-8 on the road entering Wednesday but was 2-2 as a road favorite. Nola is 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA in seven career starts against the Cardinals and will lead them to victory once again.
Texas Rangers ML (+115)
We are getting good value in this matchup on a home underdog facing a team playing its fourth straight road game and one who did not get into town until the early hours of the morning after their night game against the Mets. The Boston Red Sox continue to own the American League’s best record, but I am not sure how long that will last considering they had much more muted preseason expectations. The Rangers have their best pitcher on the mound, and that should be enough to earn at least a win in the series opener.
Kyle Gibson (2-0, 2.30 ERA) is tied for the team lead in wins and leads all of Texas’s starters in WHIP and ERA. He has allowed just two earned runs over his last four starts and has held opponents to a .235 BA this season.
Texas’s bats face Martin Perez (0-1, 5.71 ERA), who has not lasted through four innings in either of his last two starts. He has a 4.91 ERA in two career starts against the Rangers, though no current Rangers hitter has more than three career at-bats against him.
The Rangers entered Wednesday just 4-7 at home, but a profitable 4-5 as home underdogs. Boston has not lost as a road favorite (3-0 this year), but that is a big reason for the inflated odds with Texas’s best pitcher on the mound.
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